By: Michelle Salyer
52, Rockledge, Full time Foster Parent. Married to Ronald. Mother of Ronald and Ricky, 23: Foster mom of more than 50 children.
For sisters Rochelle Sandridge and Chris Ross, talking about their late mother, Betty J. Ross, who passed away four years ago, often evokes tears. But Sandridge takes comfort in knowing that she is following in her mom’s footsteps as a foster parent.
With two biological sons who are now 23 and beginning careers in psychology and aviation, Rochelle and her husband Ronald have seen at least 50 additional foster children come and go… and come back again over the last 14 years. “When these kids walk out the door on their 18th birthday, they still call me. They still come back,” Sandridge explained. “They’re not my foster kids. They are my children.”These children aren’t babies, however. They’re all teenage boys. All kids whom no one else would take. “These kids have a lot of baggage. And yes, it’s bad,” she admitted. “But when they come in this door, it’s a clean slate.”
With so much experience in raising troubled teen boys, Sandridge is often called upon for advice and is honored to give it. “I want to meet with new parents interested in fostering. I want to give them what my mother gave me – these kids have a heart and they need to be loved.”