Bryan Jayne doesn’t fit the profile of a typical foster parent and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
He remembers being told by the teachers who were helping him through the six-month process to become a foster parent that he was the first blind person they knew of to pursue a license. Instead of deterring him, the news made him even more determined to put his own mark on a program that is dedicated to providing healthy and accepting environments for children.
Bryan and his wife of three years, Rebecca, have been foster parents for a little more than a year. It was Rebecca who introduced Bryan to the idea, which turned out to be a life-changing move.
“For me, I know my capabilities/limitations, and I am always looking for ways to push limits and find ways to grow,” said Bryan, who took advantage of Envision’s upward mobility opportunities in 2012 and moved from a bag folder/picker in manufacturing to a cashier/stocker at the McConnell Air Force Base Xpress store. “Being a foster parent is a chance to make a difference in a positive way, and I don’t know if I could do it without my wonderful wife, who inspired me to try.”
Right now, the couple has two foster children in their home, and they are in the process of taking in their three younger siblings. Having five foster children at one time might would be overwhelming to some, but not Bryan.
Having lost his vision at the age of 24 – his right eye was removed at birth due to retinoblastoma and the scar tissue from pursuing treatments led to the loss of his remaining vision – Bryan wants to be a positive role model for as many children and fellow foster parents as he can. Bryan’s appreciation for life comes from his own experiences that led him to overcome feelings of hopelessness to find confidence and regain his independence.
“I like to show kids that just because I can’t see, it doesn’t mean I can’t still work and do a lot of other things,” Bryan said. “They have a natural curiosity, and so far they have been very open to learning how I do things as well as offering to help with anything I need. To me, this early exposure to people with disabilities will make them more open to others.”
In bringing attention to his story, Bryan also hopes to shine a spotlight on retinoblastoma, an eye cancer begins in the back of the eye, most commonly in children, that can be fatal when left untreated. The disease is rare, but there is at least one student in the Envision Child Development Center who shares the diagnosis with Bryan. That child's family recently learned that they are receiving a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World, sponsored by Envision and Scholfield Honda.
Bryan is just one of many employees at Envision who continue to defy expectations and put a focus on ability over disability.