Being a successful foster parent is hard work, and not everyone is up to the challenge.  But Tech. Sgt. Brian Thomas and Tech. Sgt. Leah Thomas certainly are. In addition to their Air Force duties, the Box Elder, S.D. couple has fostered more than 40 children over the last four years. They are also adoptive parents.

The successes they have enjoyed are in part due to their extensive training, due in part to their experience, but mostly due to the care and loving environment they provide to the children who cross their threshold.

“The most difficult part is to knowing that all the children come from different backgrounds,” Brian said. “You don’t know what they are coming out of or what got them into that situation. Sometimes we get a brief synopsis of what’s going on with the child, but you never know. You may know a part, but you don’t know how it actually affected the child.”

During their 18 years in the military, the Thomas’s have been involved, both stateside and overseas, in mentoring youth. They participated in different organizations for supporting children before they became foster parents. They also have been actively recruiting other families to become foster parents, as well as mentors to younger children when fostering is not feasible.

The couple has volunteered their time for Big Brothers and Sisters, as well as with the Angel Tree program at Ellsworth Air Force Base, a program that teams airmen, the U.S. Post Office and Santa and Mrs. Clause to deliver holiday gifts to the children enrolled in the Youth & Family Services program.

Leah serves as the non-commissioned officer in charge of Quality Assurance, Aircrew Flight Equipment, and Brian serves as the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron’s non-commissioned officer in charge of power production.