Wednesday's Child: The Yown-Pontoriero Family

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By: WCTV Eyewitness News
May 3, 2017

MONTICELLO, Fla. (WCTV) -- At the field of Florida High, the middle school “Striders” track team are working on sprints. Reed and Riley Yown-Pontoriero are two of the fastest members on the team.

The two aren’t just active at school, but also at home, in Monticello.

Reed, Riley and little brother Ryder play outside almost every night until dark, with moms Lisa and Melissa.

"We're always in the yard playing football…chasing,” says mom Melissa Yown. “A few weeks ago we were floating on an inner tube down a mountain."

The boys also take care of their goats and chickens. But what makes this family so special, is that Reed and Riley are both adopted from Guatemala.

"I don't feel different. I’m just glad to have a good family," says Riley.

Ryder was a former foster child who found his forever home with Lisa and Melissa. He says his moms are “superman.”

"I've always wanted to be a parent,” says Melissa. “I love being a parent. I think they keep you young."

"It's probably one of the most rewarding things I've done other than being a parent," says mom Lisa Pontoriero.

It doesn’t stop with the three boys. Lisa and Melissa have fostered close to a dozen. They are now caring for a little girl.

"Seeing all the kids out there that really need a chance, a day, a night, a roof over their head....just anything. I don't want to get upset,” says Melissa.

"They need someone who will say 'I’m going to love you' and if it means I’m going to cry, my shoulders are broad and can take that," says Lisa.

Lisa and Melissa will sometimes only spend a couple of hours with a child. At other times, it can be years. They say saying goodbye to these “family” members can be heartbreaking, but ultimately, rewarding.

"We've had kids come in like damp washcloths, limp and lifeless, with blank stares on their faces,” says Lisa. “To see them turn that corner and run to you, and hug you, and not be afraid anymore, melts you.”

They say their household is never too full. They hope other families will accept the challenge of fostering.

"I don't know that it's ever easy. You have to know there's a reward there and that it is rewarding,” says Melissa.

"It's something you can't put a price on. It's been absolutely amazing,” says Lisa.