East Texas woman gives back to community by fostering children

Published: May. 15, 2023 at 7:32 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - May is National Foster Care Month, meant to recognize foster children and those standing for them.

This Mother’s Day, an East Texas woman is sharing her story about how foster care has impacted her life.

It was about 20 years ago when Tonya Kirkpatrick was at her son’s baseball game.

“This one little girl was sitting all by herself. So I walked up to her and said ‘hey sweetie, do you not like to play softball? Do you not want to play?’ And she said ‘I can’t I’m a foster kid.’ And just the look on her face, it just broke my heart.”

Tonya always had a drive to help people and that moment was the turning point for her, to start fostering children.

So the Kirkpatrick family connected with foster agencies and welcomed 22-month-old Shyann to their home in 2006. But it was not long until Shyann was placed back with her biological family, only to be returned to state custody.

So Tonya decided to adopt Shyann.

“It is hard of course when you have a kid and you have this bond and then they leave and it’s like this big empty space. I mean it was hard on everybody when she left so when we got the phone call, we were like you know what, she’s the one.” said Tonya.

Shyann said, “I really feel like everyone has a place in this world and people like my mom really love us.”

Now 16 years later, Shyann will graduate from Brownsboro High School this month.

“She’s really inspired me in a lot of ways. I hope to be the mother that she is and I hope I bring as much greatness as she has to this world.” said Shyann.

The family has fostered 20 children over the years and Tonya says she has no plans of stopping.

“Because I want to make a change like I want to make sure that those kids are taken care of cause I mean there’s so many kids in the foster care system and they need a voice. I just want to protect and try to help as many kids as I can.” said Tonya.

According to the Texas Department of Family Protective Services, there are over 1,200 children in the east Texas central region who are in foster care.