Powell couple named Foster Family of the Year by Marion County Children Services
Micah WalkerMarion StarView Comments
A few years ago, Randy and Hannah Riggs fostered a 4-year-old girl.
Being in an unfamiliar place and uncomfortable around men, the girl was frightened and ran out of the kitchen when she met Randy. Within a few days, the Riggs learned about the girl’s situation, which Randy said seemed “more like a movie than real life.”
About a month in, the girl became comfortable around Hannah and their two biological children. She eventually warmed up to Randy, saying she loved him after a family prayer. The child would stay with the Riggs for about six months before she was reunited with her parents.
Randy talked about his fostering experience at a recent Marion County Commissioners meeting, where they proclaimed May as National Foster Care Month. In addition, the Riggs were named the 2021 Foster Family of the Year by Marion County Children Services.
Foster Care and Community Engagement Coordinator Elizabeth Moore said the family was nominated by staff members and then voted by supervisors in March. Moore said the Riggs stood out from the 36 other foster families because of their willingness to take care of children of all ages.
“Their preferred age group is the younger kids, but they have even helped us out with a few older kids, and they just did a great job with them,” Moore said. “They had a lot of patience…and there wasn’t a single complaint from them about it. They were just so willing to be helpful.”
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An obligation to respond
The Riggs first showed an interest in fostering when they worked in a residential facility in Chicago and became house parents to 10 high school girls. Then when the couple moved to St. Louis, they were exposed to the need of children who were in difficult situations.
“Those experiences opened our eyes more to the world around us and what the need was for many children,” Randy said. “Plus that foundation of our faith, the belief that we should care for those around us; those two just kind of go together. And so, once we saw the need, it wasn’t really something that we felt like we can say ‘no’ to. We felt like we had an obligation to respond to that need.”
In 2015, the Riggs became licensed foster parents in Indiana. They eventually went on to foster 10 children, including the 4-year-old girl. Three years later, the family moved to central Ohio and began working with MCCS.
Randy and Hannah have since taken in seven children. The Riggs have fostered children as young as infants and as old as 16 years old. Currently, they are fostering infant twins. Randy said they have had the babies for 14 months, which is their longest placement.
“As we approached the opportunity to be foster parents, we’ve tried to have an open mindset, that whatever call came through, we would be open to discussing the possibilities of having them in our home,” Hannah said. “And so, when we got the call, it just made sense that we have the ability to take them in and if we could help provide them a safe, secure, healthy environment at that stage of life, then we should give all we got.”
Due to confidentiality reasons, the Riggs cannot mention the twins’ names or how they were placed into foster care. However, Randy said the infants have adjusted well to their new environment.
Also adapting well are the couple’s 11-year-old daughter, Mona, and nine-year-old son, Gavin. Randy said he and Hannah like to include their children in the fostering process as much as possible and that they enjoy seeing new placements come in the home.
“We look at ourselves as a foster family, not just foster parents,” he said.
“We think it makes them more empathetic people, makes them more understanding of people who are in less fortunate circumstances than they are. Our kids, at this point, they would probably think it was odd if we didn’t have other children in our home.”
The Riggs said they were surprised when they heard the news about being named Foster Family of the Year.
“It was extremely generous and kind and there are just so many deserving families that do this day in, day out,” Hannah said. “I just feel honored that they thought about us and that we can be that spokesperson to those who might be considering doing foster care.”
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