At the urging of her teenage son, a Dawsonville woman has taken in more than 50 children over the last seven years as a foster parent.
On a recent afternoon, Marcia Walters fought back tears as she recalled that conversation with her son, Adam Coon.
“We were reading through a book that lists photos and stories of Georgia children available for adoption, and one is the story of a little girl who tells her brother, ‘Someone will love us there (their new foster home),’” said Walters, a nurse.
“Adam looked at me and said, ‘No one should have to feel that way.’”
Coon suggested the family take in a few foster children.
“My best friend had been in a shelter and in foster care, and I thought it would be something we should do,” he said.
Now 18, Coon lives in a house with about half a dozen foster and adopted siblings.
The Walters family situation is remarkable, if not rare.
There are close to 14,000 children in foster care across Georgia and a dire need for foster parents. Officials are calling attention to that need during November, which is National Adoption Month.
Walters’ approach is straight forward.
“They’re part of our family, whether they are here for a few days or a few years,” she said as she reached for a 6-month-old boy she’s raised since he was 2 weeks old and hopes soon to adopt.
Brooklyn Walters, 16, understands.
About 18 months ago, Marcia Walters answered the phone in the middle of the night to learn the teen had been removed from her mother’s care and needed a warm bed for the night.
“I came here with only a toothbrush,” said Brooklyn Walters, who had spent most of her life shuffling between relatives.
The teen’s life has changed dramatically since she moved in with the Walters family.
“I had never really had any structure,” she said, recalling the first time the family sat down together for dinner.
Through counseling and the love of her adopted family, Brooklyn Walters is now well on her way to graduating high school. Her adoption became final a few months ago.
Marcia Walters also adopted Jayden, a dark-haired 3-year-old who has lived with her since he was an infant.
“He’s such a mama’s boy,” she said, wrapping him in a bear hug that sent a squeal of laughter throughout the five-bedroom house.
Marcia Walters said she long ago quit counting the number of children who have passed through her home.
She also said she plans to keep her home and heart open to children in need for many years to come.
“If I can help, I have the room,” she said. “I don’t have a whole lot of money, but they don’t need a whole lot of that. I have plenty of love.”