MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Some parents meet their children for the first time in a hospital, but others could meet them when they walk through the front door.
Natoria Carpenter said her mother inspired her to help others through the foster care system. Carpenter also recognized that her giving nature helped her understand the impact she could have on others.
Now, after fostering children for 5 years, she's adopted three girls: 6-year-old Lariyana, 11-year-old Alaysha, and 15-year-old La Jerrica.
"It's been a joy just being able to help the girls that I have fostered over the years," Carpenter said.
The girls are the new siblings for Carpenter's 11-year-old biological son Caleb.
"He gets jealous sometimes cause he feels like the baby is getting all the attention. So you have to mend the bond. You have to show him and show them that you love them. You have to show equal love," Carpenter said.
It's success stories like these that representatives with Porter-Leath say they're looking to see more of.
According to organization officials, there are more than 8,500 children in foster care in Tennessee.
Annually, Porter-Leath helps more than 10,000 low income children and families. They said the area where they need foster parents the most is teenagers.
"Fosters parents shy away from teenagers because of their age and maybe the behaviors that they think they exhibit," Lisa Arnold, Porter-Leath recruiter trainer said.
Carpenter said as with many new families, there can be uneasy moments from both sides.
"It's hard for the children going into somebody's home that you don't know. So it's scary for them. So you both have to get to know each other," she said.
She adds that it all boils down to who's right for the part of a parent.
"It has to be a passion and you've got to have love in your heart to do this, because it's heart work and it's hard work."
Arnold said the process to become a foster parent includes a background check, home study, CPR, first aid, and medication administration courses, and five sessions through the program Parents as Tender Healers (PATH).
The course includes the care expected of foster care parents and an education into the child welfare system. The curriculum lasts between 7-8 weeks.
The organization also says foster care parents are paid for keeping a child based on their age and the level of their needs.
The next PATH class that starts on March 24 at 10 a.m. Anyone interested can ask questions about the program.
For more information visit the Porter-Leath website.