Foster parenting is a complex role; one that asks you to love children as if they were your own, yet wholeheartedly support reunification efforts. That is no easy task (especially when you have a desire to adopt), but for one of our foster dads, his example has shown it is possible and then some.
Meet Ryan Stockton and his wife, Monica.
Growing up, Ryan’s parents fostered more than 30 children, an experience that played a large part in his desire to become a foster parent and hopefully adopt a child someday. After marrying his wife Monica, they started the process of becoming approved through Koinonia earlier than anticipated after finding out they were unable to have a biological child of their own.
Once they were approved as foster parents, the Stocktons quickly experienced the reality of reunification and the heartbreak that accompanied it. “We learned more about loss and grief, loving selflessly and became more and more committed to being gracious foster parents and helping hands to our community,” Ryan said.
In 2016, they welcomed their fourth placement, Sam*, who was only supposed to stay with the Stocktons for a few months until his grandma was able to care for him. A few months turned into several months, until nearly a year had gone by with Sam in their care. Recalling the time together, Ryan shared how it “allowed us to grow in our love with our little guy, establish a friendship with his great grandma and birth mom, and eventually with the rest of the family.”
After Sam was reunified with his mom, Ryan and Monica were unsure if they would ever see him again, but they made sure his mom knew they would love to visit and be there for them.
“Two weeks after his move,” Ryan remembers, “Sam’s mom called us and asked to hang out. About a month later, she asked us if we would take Sam to visit his father in prison. Sam’s mom said she did not have anyone else she felt safe taking him to visit his father in prison.” Ryan recalls the first visit was “super intimidating, yet Bill* was very nice and amazing with his son. My first impression was how great he was playing with and showing love towards his son. It was as if they had never been separated, even though they had never really spent much time together before the visits. Bill was very grateful. That first trip to prison started off with me being super scared, and afterwards I was very encouraged and filled with joy.”
When asked how Ryan’s relationship with Bill changed over time, he said “Over the two years of visiting him in prison, we came to trust each other. I trusted him completely with Sam. And he saw how we were genuinely committed to helping their family thrive and not just pushing to stay in Sam’s life.”
Sam’s father has since been released from prison, Ryan and Monica have adopted two siblings and the families continue to spend time together, supporting each other in their parenting journeys. The road has not looked like they thought it would, but it has made life that much richer, as they are able to parent in different capacities. Ryan’s advice to other foster fathers (and all parents for that matter) is this: “Be vulnerable, take courage and reach out when you feel overwhelmed,; we are in this together.”
*Names have been changed for confidentiality purposes
Ryan has more great advice for foster parents – read the full interview here.
Tiffany Garza, Contributor
Tiffany and her husband have four amazing kiddos, who love spending time outdoors together, preferably next to a beach. Her music tends to be loud, coffee cold and creativity key. As a former Resource Parent with Koinonia and adoptive mama, she enjoys her new role as a Resource Parent Coordinator in the Sacramento office where she guides families through the approval process.