There is nothing more amazing and wonderful to witness than people opening their hearts to help a child, loving and caring for that child unconditionally. There are many individuals in the child welfare system that give their heart and soul to helping children that have been abused and neglected. Sometimes, however, we encounter a special someone who far exceeds the expectations. In response, all you can say is “that is true love.”

About a year ago, an infant was placed in foster care after his parents were arrested. Shortly thereafter, the baby tested positive for cocaine. This sweet child had a rough start.

This baby was placed in the foster home of a couple that had young children of their own. From day one, these parents loved, nurtured, and cared for this child as if he was their own. Over time, he flourished in the foster parents’ care. The foster mother printed a photobook of the child’s biological family members, relatives, and family friends. She showed him there were many people who loved him.

These loving individuals cared for the child for one full year. One year of celebrating his growth as he learned to crawl, walk, and run. One year of navigating appointments with his pediatrician, specialists, therapists, and dentist. One year of participating in evolving visits with his family of origin. One year of teaching him how to sign, speak, and communicate his needs. One year of adventures to the Richmond Zoo, Belle Isle, Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, the Blue Ridge Tunnel, and Carter Mountain Apple Orchard. One year singing “Twinkle, Twinkle little star” and “Old McDonald had a Farm.”  One year of playing peek a boo, blowing bubbles and library visits. One year of learning, teaching, laughing, crying, singing, exploring, hugging, and loving.

While this couple focused on loving this child, others, including his CASA, worked towards a plan for permanency through kinship adoption. With tears, these loving individuals prepared this precious child to be placed with his relatives. They would miss him, as after one year together, this would be a big change and loss for their family. However, they were also so happy to see that he would have a permanent home with relatives who love him and are excited to raise him.

Nelson Mandela stated that “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”  These special individuals took a child, who they did not know, into their hearts. They gave him the beginning he deserved as if he was theirs, knowing that he wasn’t and their time together wouldn’t be forever. These foster parents, and other like them, are everyday heroes and showing the world what true love means.