An adoption story we can call our own…meet former Hope House parents: The Rinaldi’s
Here’s a story of one family’s journey through fostering and adoption:
“Some of my friends don’t know our story and may be blessed by it.” Diane Rinaldi, adoptive parent, shared with us “adoption has been the most amazing blessing Dan and I have experienced together, and continues to be! I am hoping that maybe one friend will read this and KNOW they need to open their hearts and their home to give a foster child the thing every child deserves: a forever family. The need is so great!”
The Rinaldi’s met their precious sibling group through the Florida foster care system after going through training classes to become foster parents, in 2006. “We knew we were being nudged by God” Diane explains, and so their journey began.
Many times, siblings are separated from one another in foster care, due to a shortage of homes. They are placed into a “strangers” home or a group home, away from the familiar support of their brother(s) and/or sister(s). The Rinaldi’s learned of the need to take in sibling groups, and had heard of our organization and our efforts to keep sibling groups together. “It seemed like Fostering Hope had been waiting for us!” exclaimed Diane.
After becoming licensed, the Rinaldi’s became House Parents in our New Port Richey Hope House. They immediately took in a brother and sister who had been living in a group home for 7 months. (Single family foster homes are lacking in the community, and it had taken Florida’s placement coalition that long to find them a home that would take the two of them. Sometimes, children will grow up in group homes until they age out of the foster care system at age 18). The siblings, ages 5 and 7, stayed with the Rinaldi’s the remainder of their foster care journey. Their biological mother worked diligently and successfully on her case plan, while the children enjoyed lots of love and consistency with the Rinaldi’s.
The Rinaldi’s were still getting used to their new role as foster parents when they were called by the local agency to take in two twin boys, who were 2 1/2 years old. Knowing how much attention is needed for toddlers, the Rinaldi’s declined the offer, thinking the addition of such young children might be more than they could handle and might take needed attention away from the other children.
A month later, the foster care agency called again to see if they would revisit the idea of taking in the twins, and this time…they said yes! It was two days before Christmas, when they whirled into their lives, full of wild energy and very sick with bronchitis. The brothers were asthmatic and had run out of medication. The Rinaldi’s were worried and had “visions of gasping toddlers and EMTS” and decided to take action and rushing them to the pediatrician before anything drastic could happen.
The twins brought much joy and entertainment to their lives, and just one month after arriving, the boys were officially up for adoption. After an adoption process that seemed to last forever, the twins were officially Rinaldi’s in the Fall of 2009!
A year later, the Rinaldi’s decided their calling for growing their familythrough adoption was not yet complete. Diane called the local foster care agency and said “We would like to take in another child. Do you happen to have a baby girl who needs a home?” She said, “Why, as a matter of fact, yes we do! She just arrived last night and I’m looking at her right now!” They immediately began making moves toward acquiring proper baby supplies and went to pick her up the very next day!
“When I arrived to pick her up, she was peacefully sitting in a car seat, ready to go, explained Diane. I am amazed, looking back, at how some of our foster kids just seemed to roll with the punches. Being removed from your home is so monumental, but these little ones knew they had to trust us! They had no choice.”
It’s amazing how small events can create an impact for a lifetime. At the time, we don’t realize how a seemingly small choice can bloom into a life change for so many. Looking back, we are able to connect the dots and see how the building blocks aligned together, perfectly for Dan and I, and for our children.
“My son remembers one thing from the day I arrived at his preschool to pick him up with a baby in the back seat. He says, ‘Mom, I remember the day you brought her home because I said ‘Who’s that kid?” Little did he, or we, know that three years later, she would become his sister!” explains Diane.
The Rinaldi’s foster care adventure included many other sibling groups who touched their hearts and kept them busy and happy – and who were eventually reunited with their biological families. The Rinaldi’s finalized their adoptions with their three amazing children and continue to build a family life where they all grow together.
“Adoption has greatly blessed ALL of our lives and I’m so very glad we chose this path! I pray that this month sees an increase in open eyes, hearts, and homes for the over 100,000 children in foster care in our country. Every child deserves a forever family.”
— The Rinaldi’s