How to Become a Foster Parent in Virginia.

Did you know there are over 5,000 children in the VA foster care system?

Why are kids in foster care?

Children enter foster care who are removed from biological parents and legal guardian’s.  This is NO fault of their own and factors include abuse and neglect.

Thinking about becoming a foster parent?

Virginias’s children are in need of a nurturing, loving and supportive home when their parents or other relatives are unable to care for them. Foster parents provide a safe and nurturing home until a child or sibling group can be reunified with their prior custodian, placed with a relative or placed for adoption

Different Roles

Approximately one-third of children exiting the foster care system each year return to their parents’ custody. Other outcomes include adoption, the transfer of custody to a relative, and emancipation. Foster parents are a part of a team effort (Social workers, GAL’s, CASA, Therapist) to support the child. Options to support Virginia’s foster care needs include:

  • Foster Care – Provide temporary, 24-hour care for children and youth placed in foster care
  • Respite Care – Offer part-time, short-term relief to foster parents as an approved respite provider
  • Foster-to-Adopt – Foster a child or youth in foster care with the goal of adoption

What is the most important factors in choosing to become a foster parent?

Hands down it’s your willingness and ability to open your heart and home to children.  It’s getting attached, it’s advocating for your child and loving them as they are.  Kids from hard places needs families who will NOT give up on them.  As a foster parent, you provide the critical support these children need as they experience a loss and disruption from their previous home.

Consider if there are a lack of homes in your community, children are being shipped to other areas of Virginia which is NOT in their best interest.

We Need families who are willing to say YES to older children, complex medical needs and sibling groups.

Biological children must be apart of the process and its WORTH IT.

  • You must be 18 years of age or older to be approved as a foster parent.
  • Foster parents can be single, married, divorced or widowed.
  • Individuals and/or couples must have the time and energy to give to a child and must meet all the approval requirements, which include, but are not limited to, the following:


Approval requirements.

Steps in the approval process

Attend a one-time orientation meeting to learn what foster parenting is all about

Successfully complete pre-service training

Complete a home study

Participate in at least three (3) face-to-face interviews

Submit a national Fingerprint Criminal Record check, a child abuse and neglect history check, and a DMV check

Provide a physician’s report verifying that you are physically and mentally capable of caring for a child

Verify that you have enough income to provide for your family

Submit the names of three (3) references

Start your journey TODAY by contacting your local DSS agency in Virginia.

Foster Love Ministry Logo

Tips for Mothers Day – the brokenss of Mothers Day

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching – let the handmade cards and breakfast-in-bed rituals begin! Moms play a very important role in the lives of children, there is no disputing that. However there is also deep brokenness that our kids feel.  They may not be able to name it- but they feel it.  It’s important that we show our kids that we respect there mothers. I have found when  appropriate making them a card, sending flowers, and a photo book of memeiores have made a big emapct. I always emphasize with the mother of my children.  I understand the brokenness of that day for her.  I know she did not set out to be in this situation and so I pray for her heart- and mine.  The beauty and brokenness of Mothers Day for a child in foster care.

I wanted to share  some helpful advice from

  • In order to help you prepare, we wanted to share some suggestions for how you can help the child or children in your care cope with the upcoming holiday:
  • Simply be aware of how difficult this day may be for the child in your care. Do your best to prepare yourself and other family members for possible emotional “meltdowns” or other chaos. 
  •  Do some pre-Mother’s Day prep by talking about the upcoming day with the child in your care. Depending on how the conversation goes, your family may decide to “lay low” for the day, and engage in some alternative activities. 
  •  Understand that Mother’s Day, for your family, may not look the way it does for other families. Emotions may run high, so you might plan some low energy, at-home time. Activities that positively engage children’s minds and bodies, like yoga, mindfulness exercises, or Theraplay, may be just what your family needs to celebrate the day your way. 
  • In addition to those tips, you might also plan some time for you and the child in your care to think about how he or she can honor his or her birth mother, such as:
  • If appropriate, help to set up a visit for the child and his or her birth mother. Your case manager and the child’s worker may have some input about how to manage the visit and make it go as well as possible. 


  • If a visit isn’t possible, perhaps you could set up a phone call or social media connect for the child and his or her birth mother. 


  • Very often, children have time in school to make cards or gifts for their moms. Perhaps the child’s school went the extra mile and the child in your home has a handmade card or potted flower for both moms (birth and foster) in his or her life; if so, how wonderful! If not, and the child has brought home a card or gift for you, first, remember to embrace and enjoy the moment! Then, claim the opportunity to show the child that you value and respect his or her birth family. Get out the finger paints and construction paper, or a clay pot, potting soil, and a flower and help this child create a Mother’s Day gift for his or her birth mother, as well. (Even if the child can’t give the gift to his or her mother on Mother’s Day, you can save it for the next time the pair have a visit.) 
  • Perhaps most importantly, rely on your wonderful empathy – it’s something that has always been in your skill set”. 


 However you celebrate or acknowledge the day, all of us at Foster Love Ministries honor all  mothers – birth mothers, foster mothers, and adoptive mothers❤️ 

What Residential Means to Us.

We don’t talk about it much, residential. I often wonder how we got here. Sometimes I wondered if we “failed” our sweet daughter( I know we didn’t ). I remember meeting her for the first time at our local Panera. Her nervous reluctant smile and pages of questions for us. I felt that God placed us together, and still do. She was/is so inquisitive, honest and scared. That was the beginning of our Journey.

I know that the brokenness of her past is overwhelming and at times debilitating. The silent struggle that she has within herself, this war that is raging inside of her is overwhelming. The system is broken, the people who are meant to protect you have hurt you. And then you have the family that says I love you no matter what but I do not like your behavior.- but Her mind can not grasp it… it’s more like, yikes not safe- these people probably lying, just wanna get way. This reactive attachment is so real.

So this whole raising a child from trauma, it’s one of the most difficult things we’ve ever done. But I don’t want to be silent about what residential means to our family. Other families are with me, I want to stop isolating and start educating. I have learned more in three months about service than I ever dreamed- more than I ever wanted too.

Like did you know, that you can get case management from your local  Community service board.

If your child has Medicaid that they are eligible for the therapeutic day treatment program in your school district.

For us retrospectively speaking , Intensive in-home therapy should probably have been done at the start of our adoption, to help facilitate an attachment assessment. It would have also be helpful for our  family to learn each of our own attachment mechanisms and how to best attached to their child. 

….If I am honest, I remember reading post, of local families  stating their child was either coming home from residential treatment, or  they were on their way to residential treatment. I looked at my husband and said  “well at least that is not us”. Yet here we are. 
I still have no idea how to navigate this new world of brokenness and of loss. We are losing a child that wants nothing to do with us. We are over four years into this adoption, And I surely thought if something were to happen it would’ve happened sooner. Our kids cry for her, and they still feel the pain of the trauma that she inflicted on us. 
To be honest I think we were very naïve about all of it, and we believed if we just LOVED her enough she would know it.  But this  same cycle of what happened over and over again. Trauma debilitating trauma triggered daily, she would be in fight or flight constantly for months fighting and flighting over and over and over. 

Our biological children had no idea what to do; we had no idea what to do, friends had no idea how to help us but here we are. Walking this road, that many don’t speak about. I always said my daughter would NEVER go to a residential treatment facility. If she could just understand how much we LOVE her. But that was unrealistic for me to ask, how can a child know what love is when they have been moved from home to home. How can a child know what love is when they’ve had two failed adoptions prior to us. How can a child know what love is when they are labeled by their behavior and not by their potential. How can a child know what love is when the people who were meant to protect them failed them every single time.
Her story is her own, but there’s hundreds of other stories just like hers. There is hurt and pain with inside these sweet precious kids.

I pray with all of me that she would regain insight – but like many of her peers she suffers from mental illness and personality disorders that have been debilitating recently.

How I wish I could make her feel safe.

That’s the hardest part of all of this-

I can’t make her better. She has to want it to.  

Oh how we love her. 
Her brothers and sisters miss her so much.
So what do we do now- we show up, we keep loving her. She expects us to move on. That’s what all the others families have done. She is use to restating – we are trying to show her you can go through pain with the same family- we all need healing. With her being older she has more of a say in her disposition, but we continue to tell her we love her no matter what. In the good the bag and the ugly. 
Oh- we regret NOTHING and would do it again.

Launch of Foster Love Cville

Oh how my life has changed!  Sitting in church in late January or early February, Pastor Pete at City Church Charlottesville, called us to serve our community, even if it meant stepping out of our comfort zone.  That was when I felt a “Jesus Jab.”  You know that feeling, when something from scripture or a sermon remind you that you could be doing more than you are currently for others.  Call it conscience perhaps.  Whatever the name, I felt it.  Something moved in me, and it gave me the confidence to approach Pastor Pete in the parking lot after church one Sunday. I had already been working on this very website for Foster Love Ministry, so the idea had been planted for awhile.  The plan was simple, convince Pastor Pete to let me hold a bag drive to further support our local foster children and perhaps ease the burden of the hard working churches already involved in this project.

Pastor Pete loved the idea.  After a few email exchanges, we met to discuss the particulars with the pastoral team.  I came to realize that Pastor Pete has lofty goals.  It changed from a bag drive to a full blown ministry before I even knew what hit me.  Best of all, I was in charge! EEK!  I left that meeting wondering what just happened.  Oh boy.

Fast forward to March.  The date was set!  I was to present on 3/19.  I enlisted all the help I could and prepared a presentation.  I worked very hard on preparing bag tags and an easy way to pick them up.  This meant crafting.  I have no complaints about that!  I worked all day to finish the presentation board so that people would take me seriously.  What a day.  Finally, that evening, I had a few minutes to think of what to say.  I had a feeling Pastor Pete would ask me what I did and explain.  He knew that my cohorts and I are pediatric intensive care nurses.  Absolutely everyone asks how we do it.  I knew I was going to have to explain that onstage, I needed to formulate a good response.  Some of the time, I have no idea how I do it!

Sunday morning came and time was rapidly counting down before I had to go on stage.  Talk about anxiety!  My husband said he never saw me so nervous!  It has been a very long time! I don’t think I heard a single thing Pastor Pete said, as I waited to hear the cue for me to go onstage.  As I made my way on stage, I had two missions: 1.  Don’t faint.  2.  Don’t trip – the most difficult of all challenges for a clumsy person.

By the end of it, I have no clue what I said.  I heard it was good though!  People came to my table in the lobby not long after I finished speaking.  The bag tags were flying off the shelf!  It felt like Bodo’s Bagels on a Sunday morning.  I watched in awe as the last tag was pulled off the board.  I grossly underestimated the size of the hearts of the people at City Church.  I can’t believe how overwhelmingly positive the mission was received.  I had so many other employees of the UVA health system approach me to tell me how wonderful it was that we were taking this on.  My favorite was the mom of a former PICU patient thanking us and vowing to get involved.  I even met her little daughter, that my unit was responsible for saving.  I had moms wanting to donate clothing and even one family approach who was interested in foster care.  A current foster parent was interested in helping me identify community needs to improve the outlook of our local foster children.

I am in complete awe over yesterday.  If anything, it was an affirmation that what I am doing is worth it.  All the hard work in the next few weeks is appreciated and meaningful.  I was told by the founder of the parent ministry, that her one time foster daughter, now adopted, loved her bag so much that she slept with it and took it everywhere with her.  That really pulled at my heart strings.  If we had the opportunity to help one child feel a little love, all of this is worth it.  Money is no obstacle.

Please consider getting involved.  Email or use the contact form found on this website.  Shopping lists are available online if you would like to buy your own bag.

Before service
After Service

Thank you for reading this!

Deanna Pototschnik

Kids Helping Kids :)



Imagine you are 12 and about to celebrate your birthday. You are thinking about planning your party;  who you will invite, the cake, the decorations and a fun time to hang with friends.   Then you find out kids who enter foster care commonly are given a trash bag.  Instead of caring about yourself you think, I want to help these kids.  I go to school with theses kids. This is exactly what 12 year old girl Julia from Virginia did.  She knew that children are worth more than trash bags and wanted to show them they are loved.  So with the help of her mom and family she set out to do a Journey Bag drive.  With a goal in mind she quickly surpassed and made 28 bags to local children entering the foster care system.  Julie you are a world changer!  THANK YOU and HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

It Takes a Village


2016 was a tumultuous year.  I got married, moved across the country, started a new job, and my new husband started Graduate school.  My life changed from watching sea turtles gracefully drift past me on the beach to watching painted turtles (I’m told their painted turtles by my husband-childhood turtle expert) dive off rocks at a lake behind my house.  I felt like the painted turtles diving into the depths.  I needed to figure out who I was all over again.  One day at work, I had a conversation with a coworker who happened to mention that she ran a charity that supported foster children.  I was intrigued! My husband and I had participated in a donation collection helping a local school to fill backpacks for the new year and her charity sounded a little like that.  It’s simple, buy things off a list, and brighten a child’s outlook.  It couldn’t get easier.  I don’t remember how exactly it came up, but my guess is she was reaching for a miracle and happened to ask if I knew anything about websites.  Here’s the creepy part.  Not only did I know about wordpress, I wrote a blog a few years back on this very website. (insert chicken skin).  I had heard a sermon around that time period reminding us that God speaks, it’s up to us to listen.  Luke says it best, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28.  I paid attention that day.  God knew I needed to be apart of something and he basically tossed it in my lap.

Fast forward a couple of months.  Same coworker, different conversation.  Out of the blue, she asks me if my husband and I could foster a little girl in our same hospital. The little girl needed a bone marrow transplant.  Without it, she would die.  The doctors wouldn’t perform the procedure without a stable home of how medically intensive the procedure is. I have taken care of many bone marrow transplant patients, and I know that is no small feat!  Imagine the conversation I had with my husband.  That is a very difficult thing to ponder.  How can we sentence this child to death by not helping?  This weighed heavy on me for a good week.  My husband and I were already busy, so it would be a solo mission on my end.  I didn’t see how I could do that and give the best for this little girl!

A week before Christmas, I walked into work- same coworker was there.  This time she tells me of a miracle!  One of our coworkers, Kristen, had decided to foster the little girl!  I almost cried on the spot!  What an amazing gift Kristen was giving her!  All around me people were donating money out of their pockets to ease the transition for Kristen to bring her home from the hospital. I heard a doctor on the phone with his wife giving sizes for clothes  and other nurses who are mom’s offering hand-me-downs from their children.  If there ever an example needed of “it taking a village,” we had it. I remember talking to Kristen about it and barely being able to contain my emotion.  She seemed less worried about fostering, more worried that it was right before Christmas and she didn’t have any gifts for the little girl.  Kristen had already adopted a boy and had gifts piled under the tree for him.  It would hardly be fair for the little girl to watch him open his gifts and her not have any!  Kristen has a heart of gold.  THAT was her worry!?!  She is one tough momma!

Kristen and I worked together on Christmas Day and she told me about how their Christmas as new, bigger family went.  The little foster child didn’t  seem to understand that she had more presents.  She was fine with the first one.  She had to be encouraged to keep unwrapping more!  How much do we take for granted in our lives? How many times are you disappointed when your finished unwrapping?  I’m sure she was used to not getting much, or anything at all.

If by the end of this, you got chicken skin, maybe God was talking to you as well. Perhaps you know a foster mom who struggles to get by, but always seems to have a smile on her face. Lift her up! See if she needs help! Buy her some coffee-she probably needs it!  Perhaps you do a lot of shopping, but what you buy doesn’t really give you joy.  If you feel like you aren’t doing enough, reach out to Foster Love Ministry.  We have needs for all age groups of Journey Bags.  $80 is plenty for a good bag.  Make it a group effort if you want!  We also have an amazon wish list if that is more your style.  What doesn’t get donated, comes out of Jen’s pocket (My coworker listed above).  Gift cards are another option.  If you’re really feeling called, there are agreat number of children that need fostered and adopted.  Thanks for reading!  Have a blessed day!

Deanna Pototschnik