The phone rang at midnight in the Dinnie home. By 12:20 Brittney Dinnie was out of bed, dressed and driving to Orangewood. A two-month-old baby girl needed someplace to spend the night. No one knew where her dad was, and mom was just taken to jail. Brittney would take the little girl home with her – as she had done with so many before her – rather than leave her to the uncertainties of the child welfare system.
Patrick Dinnie is the son of long-term Toyota of Orange sales manager Bill Dinnie. He says that when he and Brittney began dating 16 years ago, they knew they wanted a large family – and they knew they wanted to eventually foster children who did not have families of their own. It would be difficult to do justice to the story of this remarkable couple; so we have opted to let Brittney tell their story in her own words:
“Patrick and I have three biological children: 5, 8, and 11. We began fostering 3 years ago, and have fostered over ten children ranging in age from 2 months to 8 years. It is the best thing that has ever happened to our family. These kids have brought so much joy to our family; and we and our children have been truly blessed by each one of them.
There are so many great stories over the years. One of my favorites is a 3-year-old girl who had never known a father. In the first few days in our home, she bonded very strongly with Patrick. When he would get home from work she would run to him and give him a big hug. At the dinner table she would move her chair to sit so close to him he could barely move. It was amazing to see her realize for the first time in her life what it felt like to have a father figure who loved her.
Many of these children we have kept in touch with over the years. One boy was adopted by his aunt and uncle in Missouri; and they send us updates and photos monthly. We love sharing these with our family and friends in the same way we share photos of our biological children.
The most difficult part of being a foster parent is having to eventually say good-bye. Many people say they could never do what we do because they would become too attached to the children and not be able to let them go. We tell them that we absolutely get attached to these kids – and it hurts to let go – but it is worth it. It is worth the heartache because we know that if we did not take these kids in, they would literally have nowhere else to go. By taking them into our home we are able to introduce them to a loving family environment they may have never experienced.
Patrick and I realize that we are just a small part of these children’s’ stories. Our hope is that they will remember the love they shared when they were with us, and that it will have a positive effect on the rest of their lives.”