WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Rita Griep is just your average mother in Wilmington. She will spend mother’s day with her two young kids and husband. But, she has been a mother to multiple children over the past few years. That is because she and her husband are some of New Hanover county’s foster parents.
“We just looked at each other and were like ‘we have room, we have space and we’re willing, so we are here for our city. We want to help our city and we want to help these children so I felt like that was where we were destined to be,” Griep said.
She is not alone in this desire to help. According to New Hanover County, more than 400 children are in the care of the county social service but there are only about 120 foster families. With so many kids needing help, people like Griep and her husband stepped forward.
“It’s really hard, but it’s really fulfilling. It’s almost like having your own kid- it can be the hardest thing you’ve ever done but it can be the best thing you’ve ever done at the same time,” Griep said.
Griep and her husband knew they wanted to adopt and “had a heart for the orphaned”. A social worker came to their home and informed them about foster care. They had to take a class to be foster parents and that sealed the deal for them
“After that course, we were totally on board to be foster parents here in New Hanover County and it was just back to back. We got licensed and then we got our call for our first placement and we had them for about seven months, so we were foster parents,” Griep said.
According to New Hanover County, many issues factor into the high amount of children in the foster care system such as opioid abuse, domestic violence and mental health.
Children in the system can range from newborns to 18-years-old. Griep and her husband have taken care of a few young children ranging from one to five-years-old and an eight year old.
“You have to have about a 10 year age difference between you and the child. So since I am 26, I can only care for kids that are about 16-years-old,” Griep said.
She wishes for more people to reach out and help these kids, to give them a loving experience. Griep says it can be difficult to not get too attached as many kids will start to see you as mommy or daddy. But in the end, it helps the kids feel again.
“These kids need homes, they need parents to care for them and to love them and so it starts to get really fulfilling for my husband and I, to get to see these kids learn to be children again,” Griep said.
If you are interested in helping the foster care program, call 910-798-3566 or go to their website.