MAHONING VALLEY Foster parents open their hearts

Last year, 161 children were placed in foster homes in Trumbull County, officials said.
WARREN -- It's difficult for Lorrie Perks to remember when her home was quiet.
Perks is a foster parent with Trumbull County children Services, and her Cortland home is almost always filled with noise. As a foster parent with Trumbull County Children Services, Perks' Cortland home is almost always filled with noise.
Perks, who is single, decided seven years ago that she wanted someone to share her life, so she went to the agency and asked to be a foster parent.
Full house: Today she has two adopted children, Tricia, 15, and Chris, 7, and two foster children living in her home.
"I've actually had more than 20 children in my home over the years," Perks said. "Some days are stressful and I wonder why I gave up my carefree lifestyle, but I am really glad I did. I love my children, and now I have a big family."
Perks noted that Tricia and Chris were both foster children that she was able to adopt.
Emma Motley, supervisor of the county's foster services program, and Yolanda Perez, a caseworker, said Perks and the other 103 foster parents in the county help the agency protect children from abuse and neglect.
"Our foster parents are truly wonderful people who love kids," Motley said. "They care enough to open their homes and their hearts."
May is Foster Parent Appreciation month across the nation.
Dinner planned: The Trumbull County agency is having a dinner to honor the families at 6 p.m. May 14 at DiVieste's Banquet Hall.
Motley said she also wants to invite others who are thinking about becoming foster parents to apply. Anyone who would like more information about adoption or foster parenting is invited to call the agency.
"There is definitely a need for more foster parents," Motley said.
To be a foster parent, a person has to be at least 21 years of age and in good health. Background checks are also completed on all foster parents, Perez said.
Last year, 161 children were placed in foster homes in Trumbull County, officials said.
Need safe homes: Perez said most of the children who are referred to the agency have been through difficult times and agency officials want to place them in a safe home as soon as possible.
"It's hard for the children because all of a sudden they are being sent to another home," said Louise McGhee, who has been a foster parent for 15 years. "The first thing I tell my children is that I don't know what has happened to them in the past, but from now on they will always have me. Even after they leave, most of my kids still call or stop by."
McGhee, who raised 12 of her own children, said she loves knowing that she helped a child.
"I want to be there for the children," she said.

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