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Mother of three raising awareness about serious need for more help for foster children in Shelby County

Amy Sullivan and her husband, Eric adopted their 7-year-old son, who was just three at the time.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — May is Foster Care Awareness Month, and here in Shelby County, there are 1,200 kids in the foster care system, so there is a serious need for more people to step up and help.

ABC24 spoke with Amy and Eric Sullivan, who fostered two children prior to adopting their third child, John Michael.

“John Michael is a really energetic, really curious, fun little guy and we have had the chance of parenting him since he was a baby,” Amy said.

Seven-year-old John Michael has been a part of the Sullivan family since he was just a month old.

“As I have started to learn about foster care and adoption, I’ve learned that it’s really important for people to be able to piece together their story and whatever is age appropriate for them to understand.”

Amy and Eric adopted John Michael at the age of three, after it became apparent early on that he was not going to be reunited with his birth family.

“They’re always trying to reunify, always trying to find family members, always trying to reach out and find anybody in the child’s family that they can. And when that’s not possible, they start the process of terminating the parental rights so that the child is available for adoption,” Amy said.

The Sullivans became open to the idea of adoption after miscarrying a baby and experiencing other challenges in life, but research made the Sullivans realize just how high the need was in Shelby County, so they explored different options.

“People that we knew at our church, they had been foster parents, and then also I was visiting a community in Memphis where there were a lot of children living in less-than-ideal situations,” Amy explained. “It became very apparent that there were kids right here that needed stability and love, so we ended up going the foster care route.”

Amy said the journey, was worth it.

“A lot of people are hesitant to jump into fostering because they say, ‘Oh I could never get so attached to a child. I could never handle it if a child left.’ I always just say, ‘For that child, it’s worth it to know that there’s one caring adult or family of people that really see their value and is willing to take a risk for them," Amy said. “That could change the trajectory of their life.’”

To adopt, you would have to take about an eight-week course, get a home inspection to make sure it is safe, then do a series of interviews and a background check. 

There are also other ways to support that do not involve you bringing a child into your home including babysitting, running errands, doing laundry, and more.

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