Guy Bryant spent his career working with teens aging out of the child welfare system before using his experience to foster more than 50 children in his Brooklyn apartment.
Bryant became a foster parent in 2007 after feeling like he could only help kids so much in his role at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services.
Guy Bryant Has Fostered More Than 50 Children in 12 Years
Bryant spoke to NPR’s StoryCorps recently about his foster dad experience, particularly about caring for Romario Vassell, 21, his first foster child. Vassell and Bryant first met when Bryant was assigned to his case. At the time, Bryant recommended Vassell try foster care in order to get out of the homeless shelter where he was currently staying. After discussing it further, they decided he would live with Bryant.
“I lived alone at that point, and he was a kid that nobody wanted to take because of his behaviors,” Bryant said about his first foster child experience. “He got in a fight and appeared at my house.”
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He continued to foster more kids after the experience with Vassell, at one point having nine live with him at one time.
“You know, every time I turned around there was a kid who needed a place to stay,” he said. “I felt like, it’s so simple. If you have the space in your home and heart, you just do it. You don’t really think about it.”
Now, the kids who once lived with Bryant still have keys to his apartment and many return on Sundays for a big family meal.
Of his experience living with Bryant, Vassell shared, “If I feel down and like I’m concerned, I have someone I can reach out to and talk to. And that’s what I really love.”
Bryant, who wants to be remembered as “Pop,” said his foster children say he “can be somebody’s Pop without being biologically connected with them.”
Vassell told Bryant, “Well, you know you’re mine.”
“Yeah, I know I am. And I love you to death,” Bryant said back.
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StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.
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