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“There Are so Many Kids Out There, Special Kids, Who Need Help,” Says Father of Texas Foster Family Honored For Years of Service

Wanda and Fred Vinson have spent the past 14 years as foster parents in Abilene, Texas, with much of that time spent caring for medically fragile children. Now that the Vinsons are set to end their illustrious career of service, the Taylor County Child Welfare Board took the time to honor their contribution to the community. The Abilene-Reporter News reports:

Asked how many children have been brought into their home through the years, Wanda Vinson makes a confession.

“We quit counting at 100,” Vinson, 58, said Tuesday evening. “When we closed our home (in March), we were certified for seven.”

The Vinsons acknowledge that fostering children, especially medically fragile ones, can be challenging, but felt compelled to do so after raising their own biological children:

“God gave us two very healthy biological kids,” Wanda Vinson said. “We kind of felt led that this was our place to help give back.”

“Sometimes you get stretched pretty thin, (with) a lot of sleepless nights,” said Fred Vinson. “But in the long run, it helps those kids, and we’ve been able to help a lot.”

While there have been “lots of tears” over the years, the Vinsons thrive on the moments of joy that fostering children can bring. Witnessing those moments firsthand is what they say makes it all worthwhile:

“Any milestone that these kids make — they’re not supposed to walk, they’re not supposed to talk,” she said. “When you reach any of those particular milestones, it’s just celebration time.”

Beyond helping kids, the Vinsons also helped their local child welfare system. Gretchen Denny, Child Protective Services program director, has worked with the family since they first became foster parents and says being able to count on them made a big difference:

“It was particularly comforting to know when we put special needs children there, that they were taken care of, and (they) loved them and cared for them as if they were truly their own,” she said. “There are placements and then there are foster homes, and Wanda and Fred truly gave a home to children.”

For Fred Vinson, knowing that he was helping kids in need was reward enough:

“If a person can and has the time to put in to helping kids, I think it is a good idea,” he said.

“It’s opened my eyes to a lot of things,” he said. “People don’t realize there are so many kids out there, special kids, that need help.”