Close your eyes. Picture a kind, nurturing foster mother with a heart of gold. Got it? Good.
You’ve just imagined Karen Riley.
A licensed foster parent since 2011, Riley has opened her home to several special needs children over the last six years.
According to Chalice Lusk, fostering families program manager for Children’s Home Network, Riley is known to go above-and-beyond for the children she cares for – even opening her home to the children’s biological parents when permitted in order to practice “co-parenting.”
“Karen is truly amazing,” said Lusk. “She continues to care for children with high needs, while honoring birth parents through exemplary co-parenting.
“In one case, she opened her home to a young biological mother and invited her to come nightly to learn to feed, bathe and care for her newborn. She even went as far to help provide a place for her to live in order to be reunified with her child. They still remain close to this day.”
Riley, a single mother, has three biological sons and one adopted son. Currently, she’s fostering two infant boys and a two-year-old little boy. She also owns and operates a cleaning business.
“My goal is to foster 50 children and adopt three,” explained Riley. “To date I’ve fostered 37, and I’ve adopted one. So I’m on my way – but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
Once a therapeutic foster parent, Riley has since transitioned to being a traditional foster parent, but plans on getting a medical certificate soon so she’ll be able to accept children with more serious health concerns.
“It’s become a passion,” said Riley. “I knew there was a need out there for a children, but I didn’t realize how great it was. I went to three separate orientation sessions before I finally decided to get involved. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.”