Over the past 12 years, 61-year-old Guy Bryant welcomed more than 50 young men to his East Flatbush home in Brooklyn. As a foster dad, Bryant devotes his heart to caring for these foster children and treats them as his own children for life.
Bryant served as a youth advocate coordinator for New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services for over 30 years, working with the Supervision to 21 program to provide services for young adults aged 18 to 21.
Working with the New York agency Rising Ground, Bryant helps young men plan their future and supervises that they will actually follow through with it. He makes sure all of his foster children aren’t just plopping on the couch and sitting around all day.
Bryant’s own childhood greatly influenced his life story as a foster parent. Growing up with his mother and aunts in a three-story home in Brooklyn, Bryant remembered living in the “Kool-Aid” house. Neighbors would sit on their front steps and drink Kool-Aid.
People from the neighborhood would swing by to hang out, eat, take a shower, and even sleep on their couch. His family lives a community-oriented life, and the altruism of reaching out rooted in him at an early age.
Guy Bryant has been a foster parent for the past 12 years, opening his home to over 50 young men who otherwise would have aged out of the system. He wants to set up these young adults for success, and he wants them to know they’ll always have a home.
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In 2007, the city started breaking up group homes such as where Bryant worked for 10 years as a young adult. One young man he was working with at the time asked him, “Would you be my father? Would you take me in?” That was the moment when Bryant made the decision to become a foster dad.
He took in the young man along with two other boys and warmly welcomed them into his apartment. Since then, more than 50 young men have become his “children,” with as many as six individuals at a given time. He ended up renting the floor above his apartment to allow more space for increasing simultaneous care. Even those who have moved out still stop by to hang out.
“You could become a brain surgeon or you could be a bathroom cleaner — it doesn’t matter. Once you come into my home … you’re my kid for life." ❤️
Bryant believes the key to successfully raising children is trust, and he does make sure each one of his children has the literal key to his apartment as well. He spends a great deal of time talking and doing activities with them, from going on fishing trips to cooking meals together.
He reinforces in them the idea that they are loved and cared for. Past relationships with adults may have scarred these young men, so Bryant strives to build strong bonds with each one.
Thank you @BK Reader, for recognizing Guy Bryant and his message that every child has value. We invite any other adults with love in their hearts to become a #foster #parent with us. http://bit.ly/2Wkv1jf
Bryant coined the “Mr. Bryant approach,” characterizing a creed of “I love you regardless,” and he sticks by it.
“You could become a brain surgeon or you could be a bathroom cleaner—it doesn’t matter,” said Bryant. “Once you come into my home and you’ve been with me and you’ve been here, you’re my kid for life … you’ll always be able to come home. This is home.”
Although the age of 18 is when teenagers often look forward to the freedom of transitioning to adulthood, life in the adult world isn’t always better for foster youth. Foster children who “age out” of the foster care system are often vulnerable and ill-equipped to maintain a self-sufficient adulthood.
In the United States, around 20 percent of children in foster care become instantly homeless after reaching the age of 18. Only 50 percent of foster young adults will find some form of employment by the age of 24. Furthermore, around 60 percent of young men who age out of the system and are legally emancipated have been convicted of a crime.
Although his plan was to retire at the age of 60, Bryant retracted that plan when he saw how many foster young adults still need to be cared for. Foster children need to be showered with affection, and every bit of support makes a difference in brightening their future. Embracing these kids is a task that he was literally raised for.