Story and photo by Debbi Casini Klein | Audio edited by Louis D’Aria
For almost 40 years, Alan Williams and his wife Diana have been opening their hearts and their loving home to almost 40 foster children.
Some of these children are just a few days old, mostly babies and toddlers, and occasionally a teenager. Depending on the situation, some stayed for a few days, others for weeks, months or a year, and many at one time.
It began in the early 1970s when they were living in Rhode Island and Alan read an article about fostering.
“At the end, it ended with, ‘Do you like the idea of a child in a group of eight in an institution, or would you like the idea of a child in a loving home?’” Alan said.
At the time, they had three small children of their own, but that prompted them to open their home to those children in crisis. Their first two children were toddlers — two brothers — and from then on, their home was an open door to children in Rhode Island and years later when they moved to Pittsburgh.
Sometimes with little more than a day’s notice, a child would arrive, and many times right before their family vacation.
“Sometimes you pick up the kid before the vacation, so we just pack them up, bring the diapers, bring the diaper bag, they go with us wherever we go,” Diana said. “The kids really have fun, the adults get tired, but it’s good for the kids. It’s a chance for them to get to the beach and play in the sand that they’ve never seen before.”
Doris Burke has known Alan and Diana for many years and has helped babysit from time to time.
“So much love they have for the children, even the children look at them, and it’s like, this is mom and dad,” Doris said. “You can just feel the love they have for the children.”