At any given time and day there are children in both Missouri and Kansas who have nowhere to call home.
A local couple opens their home to children in need and now they're hoping to help other parents who want to do the same.
Gene Balloun's wall is covered with pictures of places and memories of his family that started with one little boy. Balloun and his wife no sooner made the decision to foster a 3 to 12-year-old when they got a call they were not expecting.
"I was actually in court when my wife called and said they've got this 14-month-old baby. I said ‘how long do we have to decide?' and she said, 'well until noon' and that was about 10 o'clock," he said. "My secretary quickly got us a baby bed, another got diapers for us, and we were in business."
Though younger than they signed up for, it didn't take long for the couple to fall in love.
"So when we got into it, it was with the idea of fostering. We'd had David two days and we thought, 'Oh my gosh, we've got to adopt this child,'" Balloun said.
As the years passed by, the Ballouns went on to foster many more children, bringing the current total to 29. They've adopted three more, including their youngest, a little girl named Hannah.
Balloun is an advocate for foster parents and sits on the board of the Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association. The organization offers support and financial assistance for foster parents wanting to adopt.
Sadly, he says there are more children than parents.
"There are a whole variety of people out there trying to help children, but there are so many to help, it's staggering," Balloun said.
The MFCAA also founded a scholarship fund granting more than $500,000 to adopted foster children since it began in 2001.
Balloun said each child is different and he's grown used to both the reward and the bittersweet endings being a foster parent brings.
"So it just went like that. One finds a place, then you get another one. Then there were lots of heartbreaks along the way, without any question, but that goes with the territory," he said.
Click here to find out more about the Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association and how you can get involved.
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