SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) -- You don't have to actually have children to be a parent. There are people who may only be someone's parent for a day - or a year - but still have a big impact on their life.
Shannon and Matthew Shaw were destined to be parents, just not to biological children. When they couldn't have their own, they began fostering kids. Their first was Randy, just one year old at the time. Shannon says, "We were actually his seventh foster family. And he was only one."
The Shaws eventually adopted Randy and his sister Tiffany, but have continued to foster other kids; some two months, some 17 years old.
Shannon says some people might think the job is too tough for them, but it's hard to think about that when you get a spontaneous hug from someone who thanks you for keeping them safe, or actually feeding you three meals a day. "And then you have the normal parenting stuff like getting to watch a child take first step or learn how to read, or ride a bike without training wheels. And you don't know whether they would have had that kind of positive opportunity if you weren't involved," Shannon says.
She says anyone who loves kids can foster them. There are parents who take in a lot of children; some who just foster from time to time; some who only take babies, or only teenagers. Or people like the Shaws, who help kids who've dealt with a trauma. Shannon says, "Man, woman, young, old, single, married; there are all sorts that are good successful foster parents."