Jan Otto loves kids.
"I was a camp counselor when I was younger."
She knew she wanted to start volunteering and become interested in foster children after her sister adopted. Jan signed up to be a Foster Friend with the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition. Her volunteering included things like a parents' day out where foster/adoptive parents could drop their kids off for a couple of hours of play time. After meeting the kids and talking to foster parents, Jan decided she wanted to start fostering.
She was surprised by some of the information she learned in her classes.
"The number of kids that are taken out of their homes and none of them are really, it's not their fault. Not one kid is gone because of their own doing. In society, people think foster kids are bad kids or wild kids and they are just normal kids. They are fun to play with. They are looking for a forever home like everybody else. We hear all the time about animals on the news, but we never really hear about the kids being abused daily. So that was shocking to hear some of the stories."
Jan said it was always hard to sent them back home, but she knew she had done her job.
"Of course, once you have them in your house, you fall in love with them and attach to them. And the goal is to go home. But the ones you know that can't go home, you know, they need a home."
Jan knew she wanted to adopt. She was part of nine adoption staffings for other children before she was selected for Kayla.
"I saw her picture and fell in love with her. And even though I had a 7 month old at my house at the time, they picked me and I met her 2 weeks later! Kayla and I fit. She attached immediately. She has called me mommy from day one. we were meant to be together."
And Kayla has fit right in with the rest of the family.
"Oh my gosh, she is a joy to the whole family. She's just a big bundle of hugs and kisses. She's papa's little girl.and she loves her papa."
Jan encourages people to start out volunteering and see what it might lead them.
"There are a lot of ways to connect with them (foster children). You don't have to have them in your house. You can just go hang out with them or mentor them. There are so many opportunities to help."
If you would like more information about volunteering, foster care or adoption, please call the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition at 1-800-FOSTER3 or visit www.foster-adopt.org.