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Retired Chesterfield father adopts 5 children

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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR) -- While more than 6,000 children in Virginia are spending Father's Day in the foster care system, a Chesterfield man knows the impact a father's influence can have on foster children.

"I have a second set of family now," said Alvin Smalls, who along with his wife, Cheryl, have adopted five children, ages five to 14 now, from Virginia foster care over the years.

"They would be stuck in the foster care system. They would never get the chance to have a mother, a father," said Smalls.  "I don't know what kind of freedom they would  have in there [foster care], but I think this helps tremendously."

Most children in foster care come from difficult family backgrounds, according to adoption experts.

"They're often victims of abuse or neglect, and are in circumstances that are so dire that they can't remain with their biological family," said Nadine Marsh-Carter, president of the Children's Home Society of Virginia.

When the permanency of a father figure is introduced in into a foster child's life, they tend to blossom both mentally and physically.  Marsh-Carter said there is "no price tag" on the value a father's influence has on children.

Smalls retired five years ago after spending 19 years commuting from Richmond to New York on a weekly basis.

During that time, Smalls' five biological children were still living at home.  Instead of taking a break, Smalls is now raising a whole new generation of youngsters.

Smalls said raising his adopted children is a whole different process from his biological children. However, his mission for the adopted children has remained the same.

"Teaching them; guiding them; and of course, you to give them love," said Smalls. "Without the love, I don't know what direction they'll go into.  There's a bound there that I have to make sure I maintain, nurture and keep strong."

In Virginia, there are 1,200 foster children who are eligible for immediate adoption.

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