The concept of foster care had always been on Bridgitte Ferraro Hatfield’s mind and heart, particularly after having worked in Catholic social services and as the co-founder of the nonprofit organization Refuse To Do Nothing. Yet, as a wife, mother of six and a business leader, the timing never seemed right. Then she took a trip to an African orphanage in 2017 and everything changed. She returned home on a Tuesday and by that Sunday she and her husband, Craig, had developed a partnership with FaithBridge Foster Care. “We consulted within our family because it wasn’t about me being a foster mom—we had to be a foster family. We all had to be on the same page and on board,” Bridgitte recalls.
Soon, the Hatfields, who include children ranging in age from 10 to 21, began the meetings and intensive training that are required to be certified in the state to foster young children. They planned to serve strictly as a reuni cation home, which comes with the primary goal of keeping children safe and happy until they can reunify with their biological parents. And not long after, they received their first placements: sibling brothers ages 4 months and 15 months.
“That beginning stage is the honeymoon stage. The kids are learning a brand new environment, and there are so many emotions going on. You just have to be present. You want to stay in the moment,” Bridgitte explains. And as she and her family cared for the brothers over the next 11 months, she also came to know their mother well, mentoring her as she strived to retain custody of her children. At that nearly year mark, though, state law required the Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS) to find a more permanent arrangement for the boys. With their mother still unable to bring them home, DFCS found “fictive kin,” or a family friend, to take the siblings. “That was heart-wrenching,” Bridgitte admits. “It was difficult because you fall in love with them. And when they go, there is a grieving process.”
However, Bridgitte continues to be a part of the boys’ lives and mentor their mother. The Hatfields are currently
housing their second sibling placement. “I’m a boy magnet,” Bridgitte muses about the 7-year-old and 20-month-old
brothers who have joined the household. “Foster care stretches and shapes you and puts you back together,” Bridgitte concludes. “As a family, we’ve always been a tight group, but this has elevated us. The bar has been raised.” As an Alpharetta resident, Bridgette enjoys eating at Milton’s Restaurant, browsing the shops at Avalon, and buying fresh produce and goods at the Alpharetta Farmers Market.