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“Having each other made life easier for our children—and for us”

Ryan Brinkman with husband, Christopher, and their six children.

Ryan Brinkman and his husband, Christopher, knew that they wanted to be parents and that adoption was the way to make it happen. What they didn’t realize was that they would go from being childless to parents of four in five months—and that would only be the beginning.

How did it happen? A series of phone calls and conversations—and a strong commitment to keeping siblings together.

  • Within days of being licensed, Ryan and Christopher received the first call from their worker: three siblings—ages two and three years old— needed a foster placement. Ryan was “open to it.” Christopher was “super freaked out.” Together, they took the plunge and, Ryan says, have “never had one regret.”
  • Four months later, the second call came in: Their children’s mother had just given birth. Ryan and Christopher were on the road to being parents of four.
  • Then came a third call: Mom just had a fifth baby. This was one more than Ryan and Christopher felt prepared to parent. The solution? Ryan’s father and step mother, who lived nearby, would get licensed to adopt the baby. Ryan and Christopher would keep her in the interim.

Ryan and Christopher, who both work full-time, settled into life as parents of four. They enrolled their older children in day care, which Ryan calls a godsend. Ryan’s parents helped, too. They experienced the passing of the “honeymoon phase” and survived their children’s subsequent period of testing them. And they connected with other adoptive parents, who gave them parenting tips and directed them to helpful resources.

“There were minor medical and behavioral challenges in the beginning—our kids had experienced trauma before coming to us—but I truly believe that having each other made life much easier for our children—and for us as parents,” Ryan said.

“We’ve experienced the reward of creating a family—and the even bigger reward of knowing that we’ve kept six children from growing up with a hole in their hearts and a yearning for lost connections.”

Ready to do more—and to give teens a try!

In 2019, Ryan and Christopher decided to help the LGBT community by providing respite care to other parents. They knew that many foster parents were reluctant to take LGBT children and teens because they didn’t feel that they could provide a supportive home. They’d also heard the stereotypes about adopting teens.

“People think of teens, and the worst-case scenario comes to mind: drugs, sex… But in many ways, teens are easier because they’re more independent. You’ll never have to pour milk on their cereal or find a sitter for them—they’ll sit for you!” Ryan said.

Ryan and Christopher’s first respite placement was a 15-year-old who came for a respite weekend—and ultimately stayed.

“He instantly felt like part of our family that weekend. When we went to see the holiday lights at the zoo, he scooped up one of our daughters, who snuggled into him as we walked. It felt like a scene out of the movie Instant Family! So when we got a call on Monday saying that the boy’s foster placement had disrupted and he’d be heading to a group home, of course we said that we’d take him. And we’d close our home to more placements for good!” Ryan said.

Answering one final call

A few months after Ryan and Christopher adopted their now 17-year-old son, their caseworker called again. Their children’s birth mom had given birth to a sixth child. Ryan and Christopher renewed their license and became foster parents for one final time. They adopted their final son in March.  

“Truly, this is it. Our van is out of seats, and Christopher and I are outnumbered 3:1! Through adoption, we’ve experienced the reward of creating a family—and the even bigger reward of knowing that we’ve kept six children from growing up with a hole in their hearts and a yearning for lost connections.”

Read more about the benefits of keeping siblings together on our website.