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After more than two decades fostering children in Michigan, the Loftons continue helping in East Tennessee

June 14, 2010

Sherman and Delorse Lofton

Delorse and Sherman Lofton are cut from old cloth.

To them, family means more than being related. Their living room has many family pictures, graduation photos and photos of a lot of happy, smiling children.

The Loftons have been foster parents going on 30 years, and have adopted three children. As of April, they were fostering Caitlyn, 14, and her sister, Cailee, 12.

Become a Foster Parent
Children in foster care need caring families to give them a safe home and meet their emotional needs. Becoming a foster parent is one of the most rewarding ways to have a positive and long-lasting impact on a child. To be a foster parent, you must:

• be 25 years of age or older
• be legally married or single (if married you must have been married for at least one year)
• be a resident of the state of Tennesse and have a valid Tennessee driver’s license
• be employed or have viable income
• have adequate space in your home
• have a working automobile and auto insurance, as well as homeowner’s or renter’s insurance
• complete the required training and certification process.

Youth Villages provides a wide array of support to foster parents, including free training and therapy for child and family, 24-hour on-call support for children and foster families and much more. Visit youthvillages.org/foster to learn more.

“Growing up, my best friend was adopted,” Sherman said. “I was raised by my grandparents, and most of the children I grew up around were living with foster parents or extended family.”

The Loftons moved to the Knoxville area about 10 years ago from Michigan, and although they had no plans to resume being foster parents, once here, they saw the need and called Youth Villages.

“You don’t know where the child is coming from, but you can make your home a place where they feel at home,” Delorse said. “You love them as if they’re your own, give them a clean bed and make sure they feel like there’s some worth being in the world.”

With their adopted children in college, Delorse found out she still had the energy and desire to help. Many times in Michigan, the Loftons’ home was a place the children and their friends would come for good food and fellowship. Most importantly, though, Delorse and Sherman knew where their children were and what they were doing.

“There’s a need and we can help,” Sherman said. “But you have to understand with children that you can’t really raise them the way you were raised – they have to know and feel love in the home.”

“Our children were raised in the church,” Delorse said. “At night, we knew where our children were – they were home.”
Many of the children fostered in the Lofton home remember them. Some don’t. All are welcomed as part of the family, including Caitlyn and Cailee.

Youth Villages offers free information sessions periodically for those interested in seeing if foster parenting is right for them. For information, call 865-560-2558 or visit www.YouthVillages.org/foster.

“Being a foster parent is very rewarding,” Sherman said. “So many children need help from good people. People should see what they’re made of and see if they can do it.”

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