Some people call Roger and Marcia Scott crazy. Others have called them extraordinary.
They think of themselves simply as parents.
Over the past 25 years, the Scotts have taken in more than 40 foster children, and their family continues to grow.
“I thought I would do this for a few years, help out a few children, and then he would retire and we’d be off on our own,” Marcia Scott said. “But it just never happened that way.”
DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott and Marcia’s family consists of five adopted children: Tom and Angie, both 22; Ebony, 19; Alex, 14; and David, 8. They currently are fostering a 5-year-old boy with special needs and a 16-month-old girl. The DeKalb couple also have three grown biological children and nine grandchildren.
Although the Scotts have gone the extra mile in helping children in need, there are many more who still need help. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services reported nearly 15,000 children in Illinois were placed in foster care, group homes or institutions last year, while about only 1,700 are adopted each year.
More than 100 of the children placed in foster care in Illinois live in DeKalb County.
Eileen Liezert – the northern Illinois regional vice president of Children’s Home and Aid, a private agency that places children in foster homes – said the need for foster parents is on the rise as the agency receives an additional 50 to 75 children a year.
Marcia was inspired to become a foster parent around the time Roger became sheriff in 1985. She was watching an Oprah special on the need for foster parents and thought she would be up to the challenge. She persuaded her husband, and they eventually became licensed foster parents.
After taking in several children over the years, the Scotts went from foster parents to a family.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be at the point of adopting our seventh child,” Marcia said.
The relationships the Scotts have formed with their foster children are part of the reason they chose to adopt.
“When they come as babies and they stay six and seven years, what do you do? Pat them on the back and say, ‘Oh, it’s been nice having you, but it’s time to move out and find someone else?’ “ she said. “Some people can do that. I just couldn’t do that.”
Ebony Scott said every morning in the house with so many people can be hectic, but that’s why they have established a routine. But she’s grateful for the life she has built with her family.
“You can be raised by a really loving family like we were, or it could be the opposite way,” she said. “It just depends.”
Even after fostering children for 25 years, Roger said the job can still be difficult.
“Recognize that it’s not easy,” he said. “It’s not like TV. It’s not like the Duggar family.”
Marcia said her goal of taking in foster children is to provide them with a childhood full of the love and happiness they deserve.
While some people may expect praise for the work they put into raising foster children, the Scotts said it’s become a way of life, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I think the hugs and the smiles make it all worthwhile,” Roger said. “The piggyback rides. You’re always doing it. Our life is just a recycle.”
“Sometimes people ask me, ‘Aren’t you tired of this?’ “ she said. “But how can you be tired of hugs and kisses?”
DeKalb County foster care numbers (as of April 30)
• 103 children placed in out-of-home care
• 64 children in foster care
• 38 children living with relatives
• 1 in institution or group home
• 2,500 children legally free for adoption
Source: State of Illinois