LSSI Foster Parents Recognized for Dedication

When Lori Randolph and her husband James set out to become foster parents, they knew they would be open to adopting a child through foster care. The Randolphs, who live outside of Carbondale, have been foster parents to four children and adopted one. Along the way, they’ve also provided support to biological parents whose children have been placed in care.

Their experience has been nothing short of life-changing, or as Lori describes it, "God changed our hearts." As a result, Lori has become a strong advocate for both children in foster care as well as their biological parents. That commitment has earned her a nomination among three others as "Foster Parent of the Year" from the advocacy group Transfiguring Adoptions. The final award winner will be determined by online voting, which concludes on June 22.

"I felt humbled," Lori Randolph said upon hearing about the nomination. "There are so many foster parents who are deserving of recognition, so it's fabulous that foster parents are being nominated for an award at all. This encourages other foster parents."

"They have been my 'extraordinaires,'" said Cheryl Smith, Foster Care Licensing Representative with LSSI's Marion office. "Lori and James go above and beyond, and they work closely with the children's biological parents."

The Randolphs' biggest fear about becoming foster parents was that they'd become too attached to the children they fostered—a common concern that makes people hesitate when considering foster parenting. Lori Randolph is helping to ease this concern.

"Knowing the impact that you can have on a child's life supersedes the fear of getting too attached," she said. "Children in foster care need to feel that attachment." That positive bond is something that will have a positive impact on a child forever, she added. And, as the Randolphs discovered, they also are influencing the lives of biological parents with whom they work.

Lori Randolph is returning to school to become a licensed clinical social worker to more strongly advocate for children, like those in foster care, who have been impacted by trauma. "Whenever you have the ability to share love with a child, that is a joy," she said.