The journey into foster care is both challenging and rewarding, and it takes amazing individuals to provide consistency and love to children who have experienced trauma and loss. Rachel and Al Offredi were ready to open their hearts and home. The couple was willing to adopt, but always understood their purpose was to provide a loving, safe home for children unable to reside with their biological families – whether that placement be short-term or long-term. Through fostering, Rachel and Al Offredi grew to be a family of four as their foster home became an adoptive home to sons John and Michael, ages 13 and 15.
“When health issues made it impossible for us to become biological parents, we began exploring other options,” says Rachel Offredi. “Our ultimate goal was adoption, but by fostering, we could make a difference for a child in crisis. Our home is a safe place and we have plenty of love to share.”
Family Support Services at The Children’s Institute (formerly Project STAR) matches children who are unable to remain at home with loving, caring families who provide a safe and supportive environment. Team members provide the highest level of support to families throughout the emergency placement and matching process, whether it is short-term assistance or long-term support on the path to potential adoption. The Children’s Institute strives to match both children who are meeting developmental milestones and those with physical, emotional, and intellectual disabilities.
“Rachel and Al are a compassionate, committed couple who always put the children’s best interests first,” explains Foster Care Specialist Marylee Hendricks of The Children’s Institute. “They are two of the most patient people I have ever met but they are also stubborn! They never give up when it comes to securing the best resources for their sons.”
John – who was placed with Rachel and Al in April 2018 and adopted Feb. 1, 2019 – and Michael – who was placed in May 2019 and adopted on Nov. 21, 2020 – are both learning to manage several mental, emotional, and behavioral health challenges resulting from trauma they experienced with their biological families. Rachel and Al also attend therapy, have been active participants in support groups, and serve as a resource for other parents navigating the foster care system. They have also fostered two other children. Through it all, Hendricks continues to serve as a valued resource for the family.
“Foster parenting is hard, but the rewards are great,” says Al Offredi. “We show the boys unconditional love, we always keep our promises, and they know they are our children. Michael and John have worked so hard to learn to trust and feel safe with us.”
“I love being John’s brother,” says Michael. “And our parents are amazing, awesome, and loving. They are always there for us, no matter what.”
“I agree,” John responds. “I agree with that.”
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Currently, about 15,000 Pennsylvania children are in foster care. Learn more about becoming a foster parent today.
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