Ferrum baseball family grows through foster care: ‘There’s just a huge need’

As two-time foster parents, Ryan and Rebecca Brittle have seen firsthand the need that exists for others to step in and help.
Published: May. 2, 2021 at 8:12 PM EDT
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FERRUM, Va. (WDBJ) - Ryan Brittle first adopted Ferrum College as his home in 1994, playing baseball there for two years before transferring to Virginia Tech.

He returned in 2013 to take over as the Panthers’ head coach, planting roots with his wife, Rebecca, and their three kids: Cooper, Ryland and Dylan.

“And then we have Teagan and [our little boy],” said Brittle, via Zoom call alongside Rebecca.

The Brittles added to their family, but not in the traditional way. Exactly three years ago, on May 2, 2018, they got a call about a child in need of a home.

“We picked [Teagan] up when she was two-days-old from the hospital and brought her home and we’ve had her ever since,” said Ryan.

But while fostering Teagan was something the couple had planned and prepared for, what happened a year later was more spontaneous.

“We weren’t looking for another foster child,” said Ryan.

But while on a family bike ride around the Ferrum baseball field, Rebecca’s phone rang. It was the Department of Social Services: another child needed help.

“Rebecca looks at me and she goes, ‘We gotta’ go clean the house! We gotta’ go home,’” said Ryan. “So we went home and picked things up, and we got [our little boy] about an hour and a half later, and have had him ever since.”

The Brittles have formally adopted Teagan and are hoping to do the same with their other foster child by the end of the year. But, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing.

“We’ve had lots of calls since,” said Rebecca, including one just last week late at night for a 1-year-old emergency placement.

“And that was our second call for placement within three days.”

As two-time foster parents, Ryan and Rebecca have seen firsthand the need that exists for others to step in and help.

“There’s just a huge need for what they have,” Ryan said. “I think that D.S.S. is probably overwhelmed trying to find homes for all these kids.”

Ryan says becoming a father, both to his own kids and the ones he’s adopted, has helped him become a better coach to his players at Ferrum.

And with their lives permanently changed for the better, the Brittles’ message for others looking to grow their families is a simple one.

“What I would say to someone who’s considering it is to just do it,” said Rebecca. “Stop thinking about it. I think people get so worried and they think too much about it, then they talk themselves out of it. So, just pick up the phone, make the phone call, get the information about it. You won’t regret it. I don’t think you’ll ever regret making a positive impact on a child’s life.”

“Take the selfishness out of it of your own personal emotion that you’re going to get hurt,” said Ryan. “Take that out of it and think about the children that you’re impacting and the positive impact that you can have because they need it. They desperately need it.”

This story has been edited to omit the name of the Brittles’ second foster child, who is still in the process of becoming adopted.

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