FEATURED STORY

Foster Appalachia

Young Alums Open Home to Teen Brother and Sister; Create Foster Care Organization

BY TY DEMARTINO ’90

When Cody Brill ’14 and Macy McLaughlin Brill ’15 announced to friends and family that they were adopting their two foster children, they received some questionable looks. The two children are not that much younger than they are.

The Brills, in their mid-20s, adopted Bryson and Morgan when they were 17 and 13, respectively. Age, however, was the last thing on the minds of this Garrett County couple when they saw children who needed a home and felt the calling to help.

"People thought we were crazy because we're so young," Macy said, admitting that those same people suggested that the couple adopt younger children or have biological children of their own. "They didn't understand why we'd bring this stress into our lives."

Bryson, Macy, Cody and Morgan Brill

"Half of your friends and family don't understand," Cody added. "It's definitely the most important thing you could ever do – change the trajectory of someone's life."

The couple now has two grown adopted children and oversee a nonprofit organization that supports the needs of area foster families.

Cody first met his future son, Bryson, when Cody was a coach in the community. He heard that Bryson was a foster child "couch surfing" from home to home. When Cody shared Bryson's story with Macy, they felt the need to help this young man.

The Brills became certified foster parents in November of 2017 to officially welcome Bryson into their home as a foster child. A few months later, the couple discovered that Bryson's biological little sister, Morgan, also needed a placement and took her in as well. The siblings' foster home soon became a forever home, when Bryson approached Cody and Macy with the possibility of adoption.

"It wasn't our intention to adopt either of them," Macy said. "But they were very excited to have a place where they belonged. No matter how old they are and what they are going through, they can always rely on us."

"Changing their last name is a commitment from us to them," Cody explained.

Like all foster parents, Cody and Macy relied on the financial support from the state of Maryland to help raise their foster children. They soon realized there were shortfalls that the state stipend didn't cover. The Brills helped create Foster Appalachia, an organization that provides funds and mentorship for local foster children and their families. To date, the nonprofit has assisted with paying for clothing, athletic fees, dance lessons, technology, holiday gifts, among other needs. It even purchased a needed infant heart monitor.

“You don't have to know everything. You just need the patience and the willingness to understand that you're going to make mistakes.”

Cody and Macy also host meetings called "Foster Love Group." These gatherings are a safe place for foster parents to share their victories and challenges and offer support to one another. They estimated an attendance between 50 and 60 individuals at one of their events.

While Foster Appalachia can provide items and opportunities to help foster children feel like "normal kids," Cody is quick to point out the biggest need is community mentors who simply care.

"What these kids need most is people," he said. "A lot of these kids need one-on-one attention."

Bryson has since moved out into his own place, and Morgan, still in high school, is entertaining the idea of attending FSU. The Brills may be empty nesters by their early 30s, but it has been a life lesson and learning experience that they wouldn't change for anything.

"You don't have to know everything," Macy said. "You just need the patience and the willingness to understand that you're going to make mistakes."

"And have the willingness to care and put another person's needs first," Cody added.

To find out more about Foster Appalachia, please visit www.fosterappalachia.org.