The holiday season is a time for giving and a time for family. In the spirit of helping those helping others, we would like to use this platform to bring attention to a nationwide effort to support the Kinder Family—a couple dedicating their lives to helping children in the foster care system.
The couple have fostered more than 20 children over the last eight years, many of them children affected by a growing opioid crisis that has flooded the foster system in their home state of West Virginia.
In 2020, the Kinders made the remarkable decision to adopt five girls, including four sisters who were put into separate foster homes. All of the girls were victims of the opioid crisis, and the Kinders wanted to give them a permanent home, together.
In 2021, they adopted two baby boys, both of whom were born with drugs in their system.
Fostering and indeed adopting children in need of love, protection, and nurturing homes is one of the most selfless decisions a couple can make, and the Kinders did so even though it meant they would struggle financially. They knew they would be rich in the things that matter the most.
Robert is a bulldozer operator at a coal mine, working the night shift for a modest wage, while Monica spends her days and nights caring for the children and keeping the household running. They were struggling to support their growing family when the Washington Post included their story in a piece about the opioid epidemic in their state.
Soon after, they appeared on the Today show, and there was a national outpouring of support for the family. Donations helped to literally put a new roof over their heads and to buy a transit van big enough to fit the entire family.
Of course the cost of raising seven children on one modest income continues to put stress on the family. In an effort to give them a financial boost, the Oxford Group in Baltimore, Maryland launched a GoFundMe for the Kinders.
Join Us in Supporting the Kinder Family
The DePonte Family Foundation is proud to support the Kinders’ heartwarming efforts with a $10,000 donation to their GoFundMe campaign. We applaud Robert and Monica for the selfless compassion they have shown to so many children in need over the years.
If you are as moved by their story as we are, please consider donating to the campaign. Together we can make their holidays and the coming year a little brighter for this very deserving family.
Support Foster Families or Become a Foster Parent
According to NBC News, more than 7,000 children in West Virginia are in the care of the state, a 71 percent increase in the past decade. This increase is in large part due to a growing opioid crisis, as more children are being removed from their homes because of parental substance abuse and neglect.
The issue reaches beyond West Virginia, with 424,000 children in foster care nationwide. Foster care systems in every state are in need of families to foster children, and existing foster families, like the Kinders, are in need of support as well.
Today put together a list of resources for anyone interested in becoming a foster parent or those interested in supporting foster families and the overburdened foster system. For ease, here is that list of resources copied directly:
Resources for becoming a foster family
The Adopt US Kids site also has basic information about the first steps to getting approved as a foster family.
To adopt or foster in West Virginia, reach out to Mission West Virginia to request information.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway, managed by the Children's Bureau, the Administration for Children and Families, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides plenty of information about how to become a foster parent.
The National Foster Parent Association is a non-profit organization that works to provide help, support, and information to those who are hoping to become foster parents and those who are already fostering.
Resources to help foster families
The Foster Coalition has assembled a list of "foster closets": spaces where people can donate clothing, toys, furniture, baby accessories and more. Many states have these resources, but this list can be a good starting point.
For inspiration on other ways to help, Mission West Virginia has compiled a list of what help foster families might need.
This list from KVC Health Services gives some simple tasks that people can do, like mentoring teens in foster care or assembling welcome boxes for those entering a foster family.
Support organizations like Mission West Virginia, Together We Rise, or your own state organization with fundraisers or donated supplies.
The Children's Home Society of West Virginia has their own list of things people can do to help. Try supporting a foster family by providing babysitting or helping with errands, or assist with recruitment activities and events. Or look up the Children’s Home Society for your home state.