Sunday, December 28, 2003

Foster children 'make my heart bigger every time'

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] Rick Fardo (right) helps sort through Christmas ornaments with four of his foster children (left to right) Michael,10; Nathaniel, 6; Bill, 14, and Ricky, 9, at their West Chester Township home.
(Michael Snyder photo)
WEST CHESTER TWP. - Just two weeks before Christmas, Rick Fardo and his six children were packing boxes to move instead of wrapping gifts.

Fardo, 49, is a foster parent with Butler County Children Services.

For the past 17 years, he has opened his home and heart to more than 40 foster children and adopted five boys - Ron, 27, Bill, 14, Michael, 10, Ricky, 9, and Nathaniel, 6.

"It makes my heart bigger every time I bring another child into my house," Fardo said.

He also has one biological child - Lindsey, 18.

Fardo's interest in the foster care system started when Lindsey was a year old. As a volunteer at the Diocesan Catholic Children's Home in Northern Kentucky, he decided to go through the process to become a foster parent with his wife. The couple took in Ron at age 12.

When they divorced in 1992, Fardo continued his work with the foster-care system.

"Rick's uniqueness is that he is exceptional in the way he works with each of the boys so that together, they can accept and acknowledge their lives prior to the time they were adopted," said Margaret Devereux, director of community relations for the Butler County Children Services.

"With this, Rick and his sons have developed insights and understanding regarding problems they have encountered or may face in the future."

There are approximately 400 children in foster care in Butler County.

All of Fardo's children come from neglectful or abusive backgrounds, but the family has managed to work through problems.

His job as an investor gives him the flexibility to serve as the vice president of the support group for resource families in Butler County.

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