TAMPA (FOX 13) - Kind, loving, and compassionate – those are just some of the words Kim Hernandez's children use to describe their mom.
"She has taught me a lot how to be a kind and considerate woman and to contribute and volunteer," said Kim's daughter.
Kim has one biological daughter and three adopted boys who love her very much. But her family is much bigger than that. Kim is a foster parent, and over the last 18 years has invited more than 100 children into her home.
"It became a passion because I realized that every day there are children coming in, everyday there are children being abused or neglected. And it broke my heart in a way that changed my life. I never stopped fostering since the day I took my first placement," said Kim.
She's fostered babies, teens, siblings and kids with medical needs. Her door is open day or night, anytime a child needs a place to stay.
"When you get that call that they have no place to go and you know you can make it happen, you try to open your home a little bigger and make space," said Kim.
She's fostered two, three, four – even five5 children at a time. She's never turned her back to a child in need.
"There are children right now that need a warm, loving home. They need a place to stay that we can love them, heal them, nurture them, and show them unconditional love," said Kim.
Kim says you don't have to be a perfect parent to help a foster child; you just need to have the space in your home and in your heart.
"If there is even a thought in your mind, please pick up the phone, because today there will be children that are coming into our foster system in Hillsborough County who need a bed," said Kim.
Kim admits being a foster parent isn't always easy and she's shed a lot of tears along the way. But she also says the reward of helping a child is worth the sadness she feels when they leave her home.
"I am going to help this child while they need me; I can make a difference in their life. I can show them love, safety, structure, unconditional love. I can help them heal. And then when it's time for me to let them go, I know I've made a difference in this world," said Kim.
To learn more about foster care and the adoption process go to www.eckerd.org.