‘A house full of children’

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Boo Perkins wiped tears from her eyes as she talked about the hardest part of being a foster parent: letting the children go.

“There is no way not to get attached,” Perkins said. “I would adopt them all.”

Perkins and her husband Jerry have taken in seven foster children through Northern Virginia Family Service — an Oakton-based nonprofit serving low income families.

Home-schooling three children of her own, Boo Perkins, 45, said she is thankful for the support she has received from NVFS social workers. They “become like family too,” Boo Perkins said. When the family decided not to adopt one of the two toddlers currently in their Fairfax home, their social worker Meghann Albhers cried, she said.

Northern Virginia Family Service was founded in 1924. In addition to its foster care service, the organization offers job training, health care and medical assistance.

When NVFS’s foster program began in 1978, it was the first service of its kind that was privately run in the region, said Mary Agee, the organization’s president.
At first the organization only served people with serious physical or mental disabilities. Now it places children — infants to 18-years-old — with families who have been trained to deal with traumatized children. In 2007, the nonprofit served 125 foster children, according to spokesman Graham Marsden.

“We have an outstanding group of parents and we would love to see us expand to meet whatever challenge comes next,” Agee said.

Jerry and Boo were married later in life and always wanted a house full of children,” Boo Perkins said. They became involved with Northern Virginia Family Service about three years ago after hearing about it through a family in their church.

Every time one of their foster children leaves, they ask their children if they want to keep taking others. “It’s definitely a family decision,” Boo Perkins said. “Their hearts are broken but they are ready to do it again.”

The hardest part of working with foster children is not knowing what will happen with them, Albhers, the Perkins’ social worker, said. “But it is rewarding to see how much they grow and thrive with their families

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