For love of the children

November 27, 2001

For love of the children


The Imes family of Hagerstown goes through eight to 10 gallons of milk a week. They consume a loaf and a half of bread at breakfast or lunch, a couple of boxes of cereal every day and an 18-ounce jar of peanut butter about every three days. The family uses a case of diapers every week.


There are two adults - Ed and Shirlee Imes, both 46. Derick Imes, 16, is the couple's only biological child still at home. Daughter, Lisa, 22, is in the U.S. Navy. Heather, 20, is married.

The family adopted two children this year: Rajon, 6 and Nathaniel, 3 1/2. The boys were in foster care in the Imes home prior to their adoption.


The couple also cares for four other foster children - three 3 1/2-year-olds and one 4-year-old. They hope to adopt three of them.

That's a lot of little kids.

Why does this couple want the responsibility and work of starting another family?

Their answer is simple: "Because of our love of children," Shirlee Imes says.

Members of Hagerstown Bible Church, the Imeses' faith also has something to do with their choice. "It was a ministry," Shirlee says.

The couple believes if they have the opportunity to change the life of one child - even for one day - the effort is worthwhile, Ed Imes says.

"You have to give everybody a chance. Everybody deserves a chance," he adds.

The Imes family was nominated for adoptive family of the year by Washington County Department of Social Services. The family - the whole family - traveled to Glen Burnie, Md., in their big white van for Maryland's annual adoption celebration at the beginning of November.

The Imeses have had foster children who have had to leave because the family couldn't help them. "It's difficult to admit," Shirlee says.

But while they're with you, you go to bat for them in every way possible, Shirley says. She learns how to handle each child and his or her individual needs. When the couple realized that the carpeting was affecting one of children's allergies, they ripped it out.

Caring for so many children is not easy. "We live for bedtime," Shirlee says with a laugh.

The children are well behaved, but Shirlee asks, "Do you need a chair?" after they didn't respond to her first request to stop running in the house.

"That's timeout," Ed explains.

The Imes family is exceptional in caring for several children in foster care, adopting two children and hoping to adopt more. But Ann Pittman, foster care supervisor for Washington County Department of Social Services wants people to know that you can also be special by adopting one child.

At the end of October, there were 227 children in foster care, says Ingrid Backman, Washington County Department of Social Services program manager for foster care and adoptions.

There are 126 licensed homes in Washington County. The "resource parents" are licensed for both foster care and adoption. There always is a need for more resource parents, Backman says.

Children can be in foster care from birth to age 21, if they are still in school or a training program. Families who care for the children receive a monthly board stipend - $535 for kids from birth to age 11; $550 for ages 12 and older. If the children have special needs - including emotional, physical and learning problems, or if there are siblings who need care - additional subsidies are available, Pittman says.

Nobody's going to get rich from taking care of foster children, Ed Imes says.

But there are rewards.

Shirlee recalls a recent kiss from Nathaniel. "I love you," she told him.

"I love you, too, honey mom," he told her.

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