More foster, adoptive parents needed for special needs children

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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Bill and Teresa Long are a one-income family, with him working long hours at the local utility company in Blount County. They told Local 8 News they are thankful they have been able to provide a home for five adopted children so far, and they want more.

Bill Long said, "God is the one who's in control. When you ask for children, you'd better say how many. If not, he'll just keep sending them to you."

The couple said they're proud that their son, Eli, is thriving in school and church life, with a special interest in math, drawing and music. The Longs said he's made tremendous academic progress since he came to live with them.

They also said they appreciate the support from church members and community volunteers like Brian Chamberlain, who mentors Eli on a regular basis.

"He is very talented. He has a lot of gifts that a lot of people don't have in life," Long said of his son.

"I was adopted three years, one month and 13 days ago," said the boy who has a memory for details.

Mentor Chamberlain said there is a need for people like him, who may not want to adopt children, to support the families that are taking more children into their homes.

"You got as many kids as Billy and Teresa do and their washer breaks, you're talking about 100 dollars a week at the laundromat," Chamberlain said. "Well, I've got a washing machine and a dryer."

Ada Hernandez-Bell of Holston Home for Children also said there is a tremendous need for parents and others to help special needs children who need homes. She stressed that nonprofits like hers offer extra classes and other support to educate parents. But ultimately, she said parents don't need to worry about having a special skill set to parent these children.

Hernandez-Bell said, "I think the most important thing is showing up every day. For any child, a special needs child, your biological child, showing up and showing that child that they're lovable, that they're special and that they were made for a purpose is ultimately the most important thing you can do for a kid. And then we will figure everything else out as we go along."

Long added about parenting, "You've gotta have a lot of open heart and open mind and have a lot of patience."

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