Annie and Joseph Faulk always aspired to have children and a family of their own, so when they began experiencing infertility issues, they decided to explore new opportunities that would help grow their family.
"We wanted to keep our options open," Annie and Joseph said.
Keeping their options open led to a discussion with a friend about Rappahannock Area Foster Families Team, or RAFFT, where the Faulks spent 30 hours training before being approved to foster in 2012.
RAFFT's primary goal is to reunite children with their biological family. If that option is not possible, however, adoption might be pursued.
"Spotsylvania's foster care system is behind you 100 percent," Joseph Faulk said. "I couldn't ask for a better group of people to work with."
The Faulks explained that their family caseworkers are very open and supportive, but they also inform the couple of what they are expecting of them and their role as foster parents.
"Having that support has made our job really easy," Annie Faulk said.
Fostering is not always easy. Explained Joseph Faulk, "It's difficult for the children and the parents, and it takes a certain kind of person."
Annie and Joseph Faulk want to help children transition, but they explained that it can be difficult to bring kids into a new and unknown environment.
"They are often very mad and sad that they have lost their parents and that things have changed," Annie Faulk said.
"It's a rollercoaster...but it's the best rollercoaster that I've ever been on."
However, the couple quickly expressed that fostering is a worthwhile endeavor and there is always a need for foster families. They said the emotional attachments they create with the kids are nearly impossible to prevent.
"It's an emotional rollercoaster. We had a teenager once, and I pray every day that her life is the best that it can be for her," Annie Faulk said. "We really do want the [biological] parents to fix their problems and get their kids back, but it's hard to not become attached."
The Faulks explained that most foster kids do not get adopted, but if the opportunity to adopt presented itself, they would adopt the children they foster themselves.
That opportunity became a reality in 2014 when they were able to adopt their daughter, Abby, and their sons, Grayson and Matthew. Annie Faulk explained they were able to become an instant family then.
"We got Abigail when she was 3 weeks old, and she's in the "Terrible Twos" stage now," Annie said, laughing. "She's a little stubborn."
Brothers Grayson and Matthew were wary when they arrived at the Faulk's home, and Annie and Joseph explained the bond between them is strong.
"Grayson loves to play, and he's very passionate and protective of Matthew," they said. "Matthew is very shy, and he had a hard time opening up to us."
The couple agrees that fostering and adopting their children has been the most rewarding experience of their lives. Annie Faulk explained that getting her children to trust her has been her greatest achievement as a parent.
"It's a rollercoaster. I've said that before," she said, "but it's the best rollercoaster that I've ever been on."
Rappahannock Area Foster Families Team is a program with the Spotsylvania Department of Social Services. According to their website, their mission is to recruit, train, approve, and support foster, adoptive, and resource parents who can provide safe and loving homes for foster children.
If you're interested in learning more about fostering, call RAFFT at (540) 507-7898.
Alexandria Gryder is a freelance writer and blogger who studied English and Film at the University of Mississippi. Her work has appeared in The Daily Mississippian, The View from Ventress Newsletter and Emerge the Magazine.