Virginia teens in foster care share what they want others to know

“Foster care has given me a real dad and saved me from a dark road.”

Jenna Zibton spoke to teens at the annual Project Life conference in Roanoke. (Copyright 2022 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

ROANOKE, Va.There are more than 700 children who are ready for adoption in Virginia. They are ready to find a permanent and loving forever family. 10 News is profiling one child who needs a home every day during the hours of 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. in 30 Days of Hope. The children are all ages and races and were put into foster care due to no fault of their own. 2022 marks the sixth year 10 News is doing this series.

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Many of the kids in foster care who can be adopted are teens. They may not have a support system, family to turn to for support or somewhere to go for the holidays.

Recently, WSLS 10 News Anchor Jenna Zibton had the chance to talk to teens from all over Virginia in the foster care system at a conference put on by Project Life.

They met in Roanoke for the weekend and learned skills they may need later in life while connecting with other teens in a similar situation.

Jenna talked to them about what happens behind the scenes at the station each day to put on a newscast. She also told them that they have a voice and a choice in how they use it, encouraging them to speak up when they’re ready to tell their story and advocate for themselves and others in foster care.

Jenna asked them to write down what they wanted people to know about children in foster care so she could share their answers anonymously. (Answers have been edited for clarity)

  • There are a lot of good things about foster care. Yes, it hurts for a while but it’s worth it. It gets you the help you may need. A roof over your head and a plate to eat. Coming from a home filled with drugs, being in foster care helped me out a lot. Life gets hard sometimes and being in a safe place helps a lot. And you get amazing workers. Then you also get to go to amazing things that give you a break from reality for a bit. Everyone is there for you even if you don’t feel like it. These people make giant impacts on people every day. Having this help, helps a lot. In no way possible could I ever repay them.
  • Foster youth are not how the media portrays them. We are not all evil. We are not all criminals, and we are not all bad people. We are all goal achievers and need others.
  • Take advantage of the resources.
  • They deserve grace.
  • Even if the odds are against you, trust who you are and overcome. You have it within you, just keep the faith.
  • Foster care is tough and the future can seem bleak but make use of the resources and strive for independence. Learning and introspection are key to life. So is empathy. You come first.
  • I want youth in foster care to know that they are heard and that their opinion matters. Never be afraid to want to prevail.
  • Even though you went through hard challenges, just know that there is a rainbow at the end. Don’t think little. Think big because you can do anything.
  • Don’t give up. Keep going no matter what happens.
  • There are people who truly care about you and your future and aren’t in it for the money.
  • One thing that’s good about foster care is you get the help you need and a safe place to be especially when the world feels like it’s falling apart.
  • Foster care is a temporary placement. Foster care helps you meet new people. Homes are so good when in foster care.
  • Foster care is like a roller coaster that will soon end. Every door is a new opportunity.
  • I’ve come a long way.
  • The kids in foster care have many hopes and dreams in their lives. There are many workers in foster care who care and want to teach these bright kids skills in life that they would need. We work together to make our lives better and the kind people who work alongside us welcome it.
  • They are learning life just like everyone else except sometimes, most times, they don’t have a village. So be gentle and patient with them.
  • Foster care is a very interesting experience. It has changed my life in amazing and horrible ways. I have met people I thought I would never meet. These people have changed my life. Foster care changed the way I look at life.
  • When I first came to foster care, I was terrified. Then as time went on, I ended up having a wonderful experience. I also learned a lot. One of the things I learned is change is going to be scary or exciting, but change is how we grow. Without change, we wouldn’t learn a lot about ourselves. It will be scary at first but in the end, you will cherish it.
  • Foster care has given me a real dad and saved me from a dark road.
  • Why you came into foster care does not define you. Foster care is bigger than just getting taken away from your guardians. It’s about your growth, how far you’ve come as an individual and how strong you have become. While foster [care] can be an overall horrible experience, good things can come out of it. In my case, foster [care] has made my family stronger than it has been before and we have received so many benefits from it. So you may ask would I start all over again and go through this again? Yes, yes I would. I would love to be a foster care advocate for the youth as well as mental health support. And what not help someone when I know what it’s like?
  • Just because we have a past, doesn’t mean we don’t deserve love as well. A lot of foster kids don’t get families because of people judging them. Also age. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a family. Everyone wants a child/baby with less problems. Everyone deserves love regardless of age, race or gender.
  • My kids are my inspiration each day. Their stories and life matter. Their past will not define them. – Heather Akin, Richmond DSS IL Coordinator

If you have questions about foster care/adoption, contact VDSS Division of Family Services Adoption Recruitment Coordinator, at

To see other 30 Days of Hope stories visit us here.

We also have a list of frequently asked questions about foster care and adoption including the qualifications, cost, and training required in this link.

About the Author

You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m. She also leads our monthly Solutionaries Series, where we highlight the creative thinkers and doers working to make the world a better place.

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