Local couple find wonderful beginnings with Hillside Foster Care
By: Johanna Elattar,
In the realm of foster care, where the lives of countless children are often marked by uncertainty and instability, the significance of belonging can be a beacon of hope. Meet Amy, a 35-year-old home care nurse with dreams of becoming a psychotherapist, whose path towards fostering and adopting children from the system has been a profoundly transformative journey, filled with both the joys and challenges of providing a loving, stable home. In this heartwarming exploration, we delve into Amy and James’ extraordinary story, shining a light on the profound power of love and care in the lives of children who have faced unimaginable adversities.
Amy’s life is a testament to the power of resilience and determination. Juggling a successful career as a home care nurse with her college studies, where she’s pursuing a degree in psychology, Amy’s dedication is truly awe-inspiring. She is not alone in this journey; her steadfast partner in life, James, stands alongside her. Together, they are the proud parents of three biological daughters. But what makes their story truly exceptional is their decision to open their hearts and home to children in need, forever altering the destinies of those they’ve embraced with love.
The journey into foster care for Amy and James commenced when they were introduced to Hillside Foster Care, a renowned organization that has touched the lives of countless vulnerable children. Amy’s sister-in-law had herself fostered children through this organization, igniting a calling within Amy and James. This calling prompted them to provide a stable and nurturing environment for vulnerable teens, and they eagerly embarked on this life-changing mission. Over the years, they have fostered numerous teenagers, offering them a chance to heal, grow, and build brighter futures.
Amy’s connection to foster care runs deep, inspired by a poignant moment in her childhood. At just nine years old, she discovered that an elderly relative who had recently passed away was, in fact, a foster mother. Attending the funeral were a multitude of unfamiliar faces – former foster children who had found solace and care in the embrace of the now-deceased relative. This powerful experience added a deeper layer of meaning to Amy’s own fostering efforts, shaping her dedication and passion.
While many of the teens Amy and James have cared for have moved on as they reached the age of 18, several of them remain closely connected with their foster family. These enduring connections bear testimony to the profound impact that the couple’s love and support have had on the lives of the children they’ve taken into their home. These connections are a testament to the lasting impact of their unwavering commitment.
Amy and James are not just foster parents; they’ve also opened their hearts to adopt five children from foster care. Their selflessness has created a permanent, loving home for these children who have faced unimaginable adversities. However, the road to adoption is not without its challenges. Their eldest adopted child, Tracy, had a tumultuous past marked by alcoholism and drug addiction in her biological family. Tracy, now 18, found her forever home with Amy and James after spending six years in the Alleghany County foster system, where she was considered a “hard to place” child. Tracy’s struggles with Reactive Attachment Disorder and other issues have presented challenges, including episodes of self-harm and violent outbursts. Yet, Amy and James have remained unwavering in their commitment to Tracy, understanding that her behavior is rooted in her traumatic past.
“We love the children for who they are, not where they come from,” Amy says with a deep sense of conviction. This mantra reflects the essence of their fostering and adoption journey, grounded in unconditional love and an unwavering commitment to the well-being of the children they embrace.
Amy also shared heartwarming stories about some of their younger adoptive children who came into their home with limited knowledge of basic life skills such as personal hygiene, tying shoelaces, and getting dressed. In less than a year, these children have flourished, becoming self-sufficient and thriving, knowing they are cherished. These small but impactful milestones are a testament to the power of a loving, stable environment.
In their journey through foster care and adoption, Amy and James have had invaluable support from Hillside Foster Care. The organization’s nurses have facilitated appointments for the children, provided insight into their unique needs, and shared their medical and social histories. During the challenging times of the pandemic, Hillside remained a steadfast ally, offering constant support and assistance to the couple as they navigated the complexities of raising children who had faced adversity.
Amy’s advice to anyone considering fostering a child is to begin with respite care, an option where temporary care is provided to a child. She emphasizes the importance of open and honest communication about what one can handle and the need for external support. “A person can make a difference for a child, even if they only foster the child in their home for one day,” Amy concludes, highlighting the profound impact that even a brief period of care and love can have on a child’s life.