Kids & Family

Epic Outpouring For Foster Families Featured On National News

They're caring for children of the opioid epidemic, and shining a spotlight on the desperate need for foster families in their state and beyond.

Monica and Robert Kinder were living a quiet life in southern West Virginia with their five adopted daughters (four of them biological sisters) and two foster babies. Louisa Snuffer and her wife Nikki were doing the same, parenting eight foster children, five of them siblings.

Members of the Snuffer family.Louisa Snuffer Facebook page

Now, thanks to a series of stories first published by the Washington Post , then produced by NBC News , these two families have become the poster families for the foster system crisis in West Virginia, created by the state's drug epidemic. They've also become the recipients of an epic outpouring of love and moral and financial support from thousands of people across the country.

NBC/The Today Show

This morning, Monica and Robert Kinder got a huge surprise, live on NBC's Today Show, where the hosts announced that Lowe's, with their partner Rebuilding Together, is donating $12,000 to fix the leaking roof on couple's home. Sam's Club is offering $15,000 to take care of the family's grocery bill and other incidentals for a year. "My heart is overflowing," said a tearful Monica live via satellite from Charleston. "We didn't do this for money. We did this to have our voices heard and I'm just thankful that people are listening finally."

(Monica Kinder and her daughters)

Indeed. West Virginia lawmakers are now taking up bills that would support the state's foster care system which has seen a 71% increase in children in state care, an estimated 80% of them removed from drug-addicted households. With fewer than 4,000 foster families to take these children, many are forced to live in temporary shelters, even detention centers meant for juvenile offenders.

Serenity Kinder (L) and her three biological sisters.

Four of the Kinder's daughters were taken from their mother who was addicted to drugs. 14-year old Serenity told the NBC reporter they often dug through the trash for food. One of her younger sisters told the reporter that "home" is "where parents give you love and care," which all the girls say they're now getting with the Kinders.

The Kinders feel the same way about their daughters. "I'm so proud of them and I'm so thankful we were given the chance to give them a second chance," Monica Kinder told NBC. "If i could take more kids I would, but I know I can't save them all."

If this story inspired you to get involved in helping children who need homes here are some resources to get you started. If actual fostering isn't for you there are lots of other ways to make a difference:

  • Adopt US Kids is the place to go for information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent. They even have specific state by state information on adoption and fostering (click here).
  • To help the Kinder and Snuffer families, you can contact Mission West Virginia. That's where you can also find out more about how to be a foster parent in West Virginia. Here's a great video from their Facebook page featuring two other foster families talking about how rewarding it's been:
  • Together We Rise is a great organization that operates many programs to help foster children have a better experience in foster care. Click here for a link to their website and to donate.
  • Many organizations collect donations for "Foster Care Closets" of clothing, toys, furniture and baby items to help out foster children and families. Click here to find a "closet" nearest you to donate.
  • If you live in Pittsburgh, check out this story we did on a non-profit called For Good Pittsburgh, and their program Foster Good, where you can volunteer to decorate suitcases that are given to foster children, who often carry their belongings from home to home in garbage bags.

We hope you'll #StartSomethingGood for the children in your neighborhood who have no parents or families and desperately need the love and support most of us take for granted.

How can you start something good?
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