“Love fiercely and hold loosely.” This is the mantra of Niki and Seth Reichart’s decade-long journey of fostering.
Their mission began with a desire to adopt shortly after their first son was born. The emotional toll of five failed adoptions eventually led them to fostering, a decision made based on the teachings of the Bible.
Time after time, they hear the question – how can you bring these children into your home without getting too attached? To that, Niki says, “We don’t do it because we are immune to the heartbreak. We do it because we are commanded to by Jesus. You have to love with a great risk to your own heart.”
Today, the Reicharts’ home and hearts are full with four biological boys and four adopted children ranging in age from four to twelve. Niki admits fostering wouldn’t be so easy without her “tribe” of fellow foster moms, who are her safe zone for venting.
Niki’s tribe includes her sister-in-law Hannah Origel, who, along with her husband Jesus (otherwise known as Zeus), has fostered a total of eleven children.
For Hannah, fostering is contagious. Her parents and grandparents took in kids while growing up, and she saw the joy her brothers’ families derived from fostering. She and Zeus believe that the Bible has called them to bring in children and give them a loving place to stay. They want to serve the community, and fostering is a real, tangible way to do that.
With two biological sons, Hannah and Zeus began fostering in 2014 in response to the need for bilingual families to care for undocumented Hispanic youth in Pittsburgh. From there, they adopted one child (and hopefully, soon to be two).
Just like the Reicharts, Hannah and Zeus are inevitably questioned about the heartbreak that comes with fostering. “You can’t think about yourself. Imagine a kid being ripped from their home with nowhere to go. It’s an honor to be the one to get that phone call and to be a part of these children’s stories.”
Hannah, too, relies on the invaluable support of the foster mom tribe. When times get tough, they remind her of her purpose. She and Niki also lean heavily on the staff of Pressley Ridge, who is available 24/7 and has been with them through the good times and bad. Monthly meetings provide time for both the foster parents and children to connect and learn from one another.
Both families are grateful that their biological children have grown up with foster care and adoption as a part of their lives. The experience has made them empathetic, loving and generous, just like their parents.
The Reicharts and Origels are a testament to the difference that one family can make in the life of a child.