Connecting with Kids--Part III

A news story on WTOC many years ago changed the lives of a very special couple, Robert and Jean Whitfield. They saw a story about three siblings who were going to be separated because their parents were giving them up.

It broke Jean's heart and they decided to do something about it.

When the state puts brothers and sisters into foster care, they often have to be separated, making an already difficult situation almost unbearable for the children.

But because of that story that aired 15 years ago, the Whitfields have kept many families together.

Homework time is fun time at the Whitfield home. As easy as they make it look, you'd think this family has been together forever. But it was just a few years ago that Daysha, Germany, Devita, Waltney and Robert joined this family. They were all in foster care and stole Jean and Robert Whitfields' hearts. They adopted all five.

"You raise a child from the time he came into this world," said Robert. "Most of them we got from the hospital. It's hard to move on."

So they didn't. Through the years, this group has become very close knit with the two older sons helping out wherever they can.

"I have to take responsibility for the rest of them,"  said Germany.

"I talk to them and play with them," said Waltney.

"A lot of children come into the system all messed up and abused and whatnot," said Robert. "If we can let them know that there is a better is a better way, that there is a different way of living, then we have done something."

Something that is already making an impact outside their home. Just the other day, one of the children asked for money to help a classmate.

"My daughter Daveta, she came in, she was getting ready for school and she said, 'Daddy, I need 75 cents,'" Robert told us. "I asked, 'What do you need 75 cents for?' She said there is a little girl that cannot eat breakfast in the morning. That reinforced the idea with me that me and my wife are doing something good."

Right now, the Whitfield's home is pretty crowded. One biological daughter, five adopted children and two foster children. They hope others will follow their lead and connect with kids.

"I am saying to the people out there, why not open your heart and let these children know there's a different way of living where you don't have to worry about being abused or are you going to be fed or go to school?" said Robert. "Reach out and help and I promise these children will make you proud. You will never regret it."

The Whitfields are also in the middle of a major renovation, adding space to their home so that they can take in more children in need. Their oldest biological daughter is also following their lead. She is also a foster parent.

Tomorrow we'll introduce another special family: two girls and a boy who are in need of a loving home.

Reported by: Dawn Baker,