How does one decide to become a foster parent? Maybe you’re inspired from another person’s story. Maybe you see a child on television who immediately grabs your attention. Maybe you were in foster care and want to contribute to society by paying it forward. Everyone has their own unique story as to what inspires them to embark on the journey of becoming a foster parent. No matter what the circumstances are that spark the decision, there is one thing that should ring true for everyone – the love for the children.
Phyllis Dinardi made the decision to become a foster parent after most of her children were grown. She was a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) worker when she met a young boy that pulled her heart strings. In nine years, he had been in 17 different homes and through three failed adoptions. He was on nine different medications and was no doubt experiencing a lot of difficulty in his life. Phyllis didn’t have the heart to send him to another home that may have possibly returned him, so she went through the process of opening hers. In time, the child in her care stopped taking all but one of his nine medications. Phyllis’ decision to open her home changed his life.
Foster Parent Story – Positive Family Impact
As a mother of six children and grandmother of six grandchildren, Phyllis’ family is anything but small. When she expressed her interest in becoming a foster parent, her family was very supportive and got involved immediately. According to Phyllis, her youngest birth son, who was accustomed to having more attention from his parents, had the most difficult time adjusting. She didn’t how much of an effect it had on him until she read his essay for college. In the essay, he talked about how hard it was to have to share his parents with non-biological siblings. In time, however, he started to see the value of what his parents were doing. He began to understand that all children needed to be in a home where unconditional love was provided. What started off as one of the hardest things he had to deal with turned into one of the best things that had ever happened in his life.
In fact, if you ask Phyllis, opening her home has changed all of their lives for the better. She spoke about her husband, Anthony, who was known to be a serious person that rarely laughs. Well, since opening their home, laughter from him is now common! Becoming foster parents has given them a different perspective on life. It’s a rewarding experience that has opened their eyes to a whole new world, adding to the love they already give and receive.
Foster Parent Story – More Than a Foster Home
When the DiNardis originally opened their home in 2010, they started off as emergency placement and respite care providers. That did not last, however, as they have ended up fostering over 30 children and have three foster girls in their home to this day. In addition to fostering, Phyllis is also a Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education (PRIDE) and Support Trainer for Monmouth County in NJ and is the Monmouth County Support Network Chair for Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS). She is very knowledgeable about Division of Child Protection & Permanency (DCP&P) policy and is a strong advocate for not only foster children but also foster parents. She believes and stresses the fact that everyone has to work together and support one another for the greater good of the children.
While Phyllis has never adopted, she keeps in contact with most of the kids that graced her home – it is open, available and will always be home for any of the children that once lived there. She has a house on the New Jersey shore that often receives their visits on the weekends and during the summer. She also sees her former foster children during holidays, special occasions and even ventures on trips with them to New York City. Many of the children have gotten to know each other through the DiNardis and have formed lasting relationships.
Foster Parent Story – Encouragement for Foster Parents
Phyllis encourages foster parents that may feel they’re not doing enough to focus on the time they have with the children. The love and support shown during that period will leave an indelible impression on the children’s lives.
Furthermore, Phyllis says, “When it gets frustrating, just think about why you’re doing it…and that’s for the kids.”
Salendria Mabrey is a Communication and Development Associate at Foster and Adoptive Family Services.