During a recent trip to Pennsylvania, I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda Pietrocola. Ms. Pietrocola and her family are friends of the ministry, and last summer she attended our Boundless conference. Amanda shared with me that she and her family had recently fostered two young girls. Their story provides a good snapshot of the realities associated with foster care. It’s rarely the neat and tidy Hollywood screenplay. While we enthusiastically champion foster care, we also think it’s important to paint an accurate picture of the challenges associated with the ministry. I appreciate Amanda’s candid and heartfelt story and applaud the Pietrocola family for answering God’s call to care for the orphans in our midst. – JD
I’ll never forget that phone call. It came out of the blue.
Two young girls I used to babysit were in a dangerous situation. Child welfare services had removed them from their home and they needed a foster family. I could hardly believe the question my parents and I were being asked.
Were we interested in fostering them?
In a two-week whirlwind of background checks, talking as a family, and spending a lot of time in prayer, we came to the only conclusion there was for us.
We would do it.
They arrived on a warm summer afternoon in August. While happy to be with familiar faces, we saw brokenness in their eyes. We welcomed them into our home, and before we knew it, they had captured our hearts. We realized as the weeks progressed that their emotional wounds went much deeper than appearances let on.
We tried to remind ourselves we could help – but only God could heal.
We didn’t know how long they’d be with us, but we knew every moment was vital to not only their survival, but our own. We started by merely counting the days they had been with us, not knowing if we would make it through. Temper tantrums, fearful nights, and painful memories shadowed their first few weeks with us. Each night after the girls had gone to bed, we’d have a family meeting where we’d share our favorite or most difficult moments of the day. We started to see, little by little, how God was bringing healing to these little girls. They started to change, as did we. Our family grew closer to each other and to God through the days and months they were with us.
Before we knew it, it was December. The Christmas tree was up and the gifts were wrapped. The children had become a part of our family. It was no longer “us” and “them.” It was just simply, and beautifully, “us.”
But anyone who knows anything about foster care knows things can change quickly. You never know when a call might come announcing things are changing or that the biological family is back in the picture.
It was the Friday before Christmas when that call came for us. We knew that biological unification was the priority, but we knew more than most about the situation and circumstances.
The girls left our home three days before Christmas. There was no shortage of tears shed. We hugged and kissed goodbye on that Monday afternoon and haven’t seen them since.
But we think and pray for them every day.
People gave advice on what to expect when the girls arrived, but no one told us how to handle them leaving.
It hurt and stung deeply. We had no choice but to cling to each other and to the Lord.
We had the honor and privilege of four months with these innocent little ones. We were blessed to love them the way Jesus would and to share with them that there is a God who will never leave them or forsake them. They came to our home fearful and broken, but God restored what the enemy had stolen. When they left, they were no longer fearful and they had learned how to trust.
Nearly eight months later tears are still shed when we think of them. We miss them dearly and pray that things are going well for them. Should social services be forced to step in again, we would welcome the opportunity to be reunited should it be God’s best for them. What I’ve learned through this, though, is that God can be trusted. He loved them enough to bring them to us, and He is fully capable of protecting them regardless of where they are.
Fostering wasn’t easy, but through it we learned how to trust and rely even more heavily on Him.
When asked if we would do it all again, our answer is simple. In a heartbeat, we would. Life forever changed that summer afternoon, not only for those girls, but also for our own family, too.
Amanda Pietrocola works as a Director of Customer Success by day and is an avid blogger by night. To read more from her and follow her journey through fostering and life as a 20-something, visit her blog www.happilyme23.com.