Childhelp of East Tennessee guides hundreds of abused children in Knox County through the justice and healing process each year.
But many times, the children cannot go back to the homes where the abuse occurred. In the state of Tennessee, there are nearly 8,000 abused children that have to be removed from their homes and placed by agencies like Childhelp.
What is Childhelp?
Childhelp Director Hugh Nystrom said their most critical needs right now are foster and adoptive families.
Michael and Ivy Ketterer of Fountain City decided to become adoptive parents two years ago, when their then 10-year-old daughter begged and pleaded for little brothers.
"I told my mom and dad that I had a dream. And I had it for years that I wanted these three brothers," said Sofia Ketterer.
After some persuasion from Sofia and talking to friends who adopted through Childhelp, the Ketterers decided to move forward with fostering to adopt.
"We had to be constantly reassuring her that we could have little girls or there might not be three. And the very first call we got was for these three little boys," said Michael Ketterer.
Jared, 4, Jaiden, 3, and Jeriah, 1, came to live with them in 2010 after police found them running in the woods.
"The boys came from an abandoned trailer with no electricity or water," said Ivy Ketterer. There were also meth labs inside the home.
The boys needed a lot of help, but for the Ketterers it was love at first sight.
"When we met these kids, we fell in love, I mean we fell in love," said Michael.
The happy family of six thought they were complete.
"We're like, we're done. We're perfect," said Ivy.
Then, they got a call about Rodee, 2. A child shaken from birth, blind with a feeding tube.
"We prayed and we asked God, 'do you want us to take in this child?'" said Michael.
Micheal, a registered nurse, decided he could help Rodee heal. His recovery is now considered a medical miracle.
Eleven months later they added another baby boy. Shawn came to live with them as a foster child.
Now they're a family of eight instead of three. Life is a lot busier, but they say the boys are the most rewarding part of their lives.
"It was easy to see a transformation happen simply by having a child coming into a home where they were loved," Michael said.
If you are interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent, they are having an information session on January 15th. Call Childhelp of East Tennessee at 865-637-1753.
Childhelp is the beneficiary of the latest Labor of Love project. In 2011, the Knoxville Homebuilders Association and Channel 10 helped renovate the homes of the Love Kitchen Sisters-- Helen and Ellen.
This year the Homebuilders approached Childhelp when they heard their roof and brick foundation needed repairs after the April 2011 storms.
They put finishing touches on the roof, but still need volunteers for painting and repairs in the new year.