Steve Hedberg Photo
Ronald Scott, 60, and wife Viola, 58, moved to Richmond in 1999. The Scotts became respite- and receiving-home providers in 2004. A receiving-home provider accepts children at all hours after they have been removed from a home by social services; respite homes offer care so foster parents can get a weekend reprieve. More than 50 children have come into the Scotts' home, mostly ages 9 to 16, staying from one night to several months. Ronald and Viola adopted three of the children they fostered — Emanuel, almost 16, Dynikki, 15, and Tony, 16.
Ronald: I see things on the television and on the news, and I hear how many children go to bed hungry in the city of Richmond. We decided we would make a statement in the community to show them that there is love.
Viola: We had two grown children of our own. We decided to do foster care because we still wanted to give some love to someone.
Ronald: We went to the classes, and they said nobody wants a teenager. So, we said we would [do] it. We got on the list for respite care and were called within two weeks. Just like a doctor, they call you 24 hours, seven days a week. They just want to get them out of harm's way.
Viola: First thing, you feed them, regardless what time of the night. You see if they want to take a bath. Because we have older adopted-foster children, they usually come out and talk. Our children calm them down, and they talk to them.
Ronald: Basically, we listen. They open up to you and tell you the things they have been through. You just have to show them love, embrace them. A lot of them have never been embraced.
Viola: One time I went down to social services to pick up a child for respite care, and Ronald was in New York. And I don't like to see that a child doesn't have anywhere to go. Ronald came back and said he thought I was bringing one child back, and I said, "But these other seven don't have anywhere to go!" We kept these seven for a few months.
Ronald: The hardest part of dealing with teenagers is they are always afraid of someone coming into the house to take them out. They didn't want to even unpack the garbage bag that they brought with them. One child we had had been in 11 different foster homes.
Viola: You can get so attached to the children. If you feed them long enough, it's like they are yours.
Ronald: More people need to step up, to stop talking about the pain but do something for the community. You may not be able to save them all, but you can save one. —As told to Bethany Emerson