Eric and Julianna Ryan began fostering on Mother’s Day of 2014 through FaithBridge Foster Care. The Ryan’s fostered a sibling group of three which included a 6-month-old, an 18-month-old and a 3-year-old. After fostering for 11 months, they adopted the three children that were in their care in April 2015 through FaithBridge Foster Care child placement partner, Promise686.
While working at Perimeter Church biggest drive and motivation to foster was keeping the children together.
With a desire for a family to place all three children, and the termination of parental rights being imminent, the church the children attended while at their previous foster home took the initiative to find them a Christian home and reached out to Perimeter Church. Perimeter Church then stepped in to help and recommended the children be placed with the Ryan family.
Eric said, “We came into the scene because they needed a family to take all three children. For us, it wasn’t just a matter of praying about the situation, it was a conviction from God. When the opportunity came up for us to help these children, ironically, we had just listened to a sermon that confirmed that we wanted to welcome children into our home.”
Eric Ryan shared his thoughts about fostering in his own words:
“The transition in fostering was unique since FaithBridge practices the Community of Care. We came into fostering with a ‘natural’ Community of Care because we already had a robust support system in place. We had a tremendous community, plus both of our parents are here in Atlanta. We also had families at the church to do respite. Having an established Community of Care was a huge part of success for us. We talked to at least ten other couples to confirm that we could do it.
Our kids had some emotional trauma, so through our fostering experience, we were reminded that our lives were not our own on a daily basis. It was the hardest thing we had ever done, but was best for our own growth. We learned that life is not about us. We saw and felt it every day and knew that we couldn’t just focus on ourselves.
I told the Lord that I was open to foster and adopting and the very next day, my friend and mentor at Perimeter Church told me about the three children that needed fostering. He said that my wife and I immediately came to mind to do it. Ironically, I literally prayed about fostering the day before. Fostering for us came by conviction and God called us to do it. At that point if we hadn’t, we would have felt that we were being obedient to God.
Julianna works in the medical field and has worked with children in rough places in their lives. For me, God convicted me about the issue and presented an opportunity for us to do something about it. I felt that deeply about doing it. My wife and I had an open dialogue and received counsel from another family just to talk about the adoption process and then we decided to move forward with fostering. We only fostered for 11 months before our adoption was finalized.
People interested in fostering should know that going in, this will be gritty and hard and there are countless people open to witnessing it. Fostering is such a dark world. We were most surprised about the industry during our first time going to court. But even in that dark place, we were able to shine light to the judges and lawyers in our case that often times did not see the good in the cases they oversee. When we adopted our children, the presiding judge mentioned that it was a bright day for her and that she often didn’t have those while presiding over child welfare cases. For us, it was cool as believers to know that the case workers, lawyers, the whole world were able to see the Gospel through our process.
I would try to caution those hoping to “shop around” for the perfect child to foster shouldn’t take that approach. It just so happened that these children were recommended to us and seemed to be made for our family. Accept that fostering comes with struggle. There are hard aspects of it and sometimes you forget that that the hard aspects are actually the blessing. Our fostering experience has made us better parents and followers of Christ. It’s when we see that it is only Him that will help us through it and help us grow as individuals.
Fostering is something God has to equip you to do and sustain you for. He is not calling because you are able, He’s calling because you are NOT able, but in that brokenness of fostering, you will see clearly how to cling to Him.”
Eric and Julianna reside in North Atlanta and in addition to their three adopted children, they now have two biological children as well.