The life of a foster child can be one of continual transition, says Anne Bryson Doyle. She would know. Bryson Doyle is an adoptive parent and member of the board of directors for Amara, a Seattle-based agency focused on placing children into foster and permanent homes. Bryson Doyle, alongside fellow 2017 Superhero and Amara post-adoption program manager Angela Tucker, seek to create permanence in a world that can feel anything but stable to a foster child.
The foster care system is a transient one; a quarter of foster children move five times while in foster care, according to Amara. Each time, they lose about six months of academic progress.
Both Tucker and Bryson Doyle know firsthand the importance of a stable home life. After her mom’s death from pancreatic cancer, then 14-year-old Bryson Doyle couch-surfed for four years.
Her experience with teenage homelessness fed her drive to establish a stable home for children in need; she adopted her first child, a boy who’s now 16, from foster care in 2004 with her ex-wife. Now that Bryson Doyle has remarried, her family includes eight children ranging in age from 8 to 16 — seven of whom she adopted from foster care.
“Amara is like an extended family for these kids, to help them have the permanence that they need,” says Bryson Doyle.
Tucker was just barely a year old when she was adopted through foster care by a white family in Bellingham; that family eventually expanded to seven children, six of whom were adopted from foster care. Tucker embarked on an emotional search for her birth parents in 2012, chronicled in the 2013 independent film Closure.
Finding a career in the field was a natural fit, says Tucker. In her current role at Amara, she helps smooth the transition for kids between foster care, adoption and a permanent home with services that include a mentorship program that pairs adoptees with adults who were adopted. “After the finalization of an adoption, supportive resources can be tough to access. Amara is working to change that,” she says. “We’re recognizing that adoption is a lifelong journey.”
What did you want to be when you grew up?
AT: The first black female president; I wanted to see black people in powerful roles.
ABD: I grew up playing house with baby dolls. I always wanted to be a mom.
What’s the most misunderstood part of your job?
AT: The myths about what it takes to be a foster parent: that the kids are damaged, that it costs a lot of money, that it’s just too difficult to parent a child who has experienced trauma.
ABD: We have eight kids, so people think that our home must be chaotic, but it really isn’t.
What book saved you or changed your life?
AT: Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. Life in foster care can involve trauma, and the quote “Love wins, love always wins” helps put it in perspective.
On a rainy Pacific Northwest morning, what gets you motivated and out of bed?
AT: Hot chocolate with whipped cream! Milstead & Co. in Fremont is a favorite.
ABD: I have eight kids — I can’t stay in bed!
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
AT: I’d love to alter society’s norms around the meaning of family, and expand our norms to include blended families, families with gay parents or one parent. Family is family.
ABD: If I could pause time, I’d get more done and get more enjoyment out of each day.
If you could dine with anyone, living or dead, whom would that be and why?
AT: Journalist Ann Curry. She chooses to go into the heart of catastrophe to tell stories of human suffering. I admire how she uses her platform to benefit society.
ABD: I love living in the moment, sitting around the dinner table with my own family.