A House Full of Love for Children in Care
Pamela and Richard Webb run out of fingers as they count the number of children who have filled their home with love over the years.
There are their five biological children, two adopted children, two current foster children, four grandchildren, and the 12 former foster children, several of whom still stop by on a regular basis to check in on this big extended family.
Pamela readily admits that their situation isn’t for everyone, or even for most people. “The energy is through the roof. It’s chaotic...and I love the chaos,” she says with a big laugh and a broad smile in her spacious living room. The Webb’s meticulously decorated, and immaculately tidy home belies any sense of chaos.
The Webb’s only began to explore the foster parenting process with Envision in 2005, once their youngest biological child was an adult. They didn’t know anyone else who had fostered or adopted children, but Pamela had been licensed for home childcare in the past, and the house they were about to close on had more space than the empty nesters needed for themselves. So, they took a leap of faith after seeing Envision’s foster care program advertised on cable access TV. After completing the required training and licensing, the Webb’s sat back for what they assumed would be a period of waiting before a child was placed with them.
They were wrong about the waiting part. In one whirlwind weekend, their youngest daughter got married on a Saturday, and their first foster child arrived that Monday. Jeramiah was 15 years old and on his 11th placement when he arrived at the Webb’s home for what was known as an emergency placement. He was only supposed to stay with them for seven days until a residential facility had open space for him. That approval took three weeks, however, and by that time they had bonded with him.
Through the help of their Envision caseworkers, the Webb’s were able to keep Jeramiah at their home and give him the structure and support needed to thrive. His mom, with whom he had a good relationship, even though he was not able to live with her, followed him through every step of the way in foster care. Pamela said they had realized that fostering was more than just the child: “In reality we had to foster families.” And these families made it work.
Jeramiah was emancipated at 18 but would live with the Webb’s until he was almost 20 when he left for college. Now he lives in North Carolina, but he calls home five times a week. The Webb’s also keep in touch with Jeramiah's mom. In an amazing twist, it wasn’t until years later that the Webb’s realized Jeramiah had grown up just blocks from their old home; they had actually met him when he was a young child.
Pamela and Richard prefer the term “children in care” over “foster children,” as that term reflects their belief that every child needs, and deserves, a network of caring, loving adults in their life, regardless of whether or not those individuals are related by blood. The Webb’s have been tireless advocates for children in care across the state in leadership roles with the Envision Foster Parent Advisory Council and for Pamela, as a three-year member of the Statewide Foster Care Advisory Council.
Their home currently has eight children in it, and the Webb’s are as busy as ever. But don’t call any of this work; it’s just who they are. As Pamela explains, “Fostering is not a job, it is a commitment.” Richard agrees, and shares their philosophy for keeping calm among the chaos: “Lead with your heart, because that’s the only way, really, that you’re going to find what you’re looking for. You have to love children to do this. No matter if it’s the first child or you’ve been doing it for years.”
Ask the Webb’s if they have any plans for adding to their household and they give a knowing glance to each other. As a couple who unexpectedly became foster parents overnight over a decade ago, they know that the best-laid plans could always be interrupted by another child in need of their warm, loving home. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Learn more about the Specialized Foster Care program.