Carter family

Gabrielle Jansen / The Outlook Eagle Hill residents Terry and Sherri Carter began fostering children in 2015 and even adopted two of them. Pictured from left are Bryant, Terry, Jacob, Sherri and Brilynn.

Faith went a long way for Eagle Creek residents Sherri and Terry Carter. The couple remembers the day they adopted their now 3-year-old son Bryant — all because of a prayer.

The Carters were fostering Bryant and were in court during a parental termination of rights when Terry said things were going south and the lawyers were constantly talking. While waiting to speak to the judge, Terry wanted to pray with Bryant’s biological parents.

After saying the prayer, Bryant’s birth mother told Sherri she and her partner wanted to give the Carters parental rights.

“I had peace about me then that whatever happened he was going to be OK,” Carter said. “We could go forth with adoption and I’ve never felt so much relief in all my life. … I got to keep my little baby.”

Since 2015, the Carters have fostered six children including their now-adopted kids Bryant and Brilynn, 1. Terry said he and his wife never intended to adopt children but it ended up happening for the two because when it came down to the parents terminating their rights, the Carters could either adopt them or send the children to other foster parents. They picked the former

“We went into this for helping the kids to be able to show them love and to be able to give them things they don’t normally get,” Terry said. “It just so happened these two came along.”

The Carters decided to foster after hearing about children in the care of Tallapoosa County Department of Human Resource (DHR) who needed homes.

The Carters took in Bryant when he was 6 weeks old and Brilynn at 4 days old. Both children were born with drugs in their systems and they were both adopted on the Carter’s biological son Jacob’s birthday, Aug. 9, according to Terry.

“(Bryant and Brilynn) were ours,” Terry said. “It came to the point to where we had to make the decision whether we were going to adopt and I couldn’t see (Bryant) going anywhere else. Me or Sherri couldn’t see him going anywhere else.”

Tallapoosa County DHR’s goal is to reunite children with their biological parents or relatives before having to terminate parental rights. Both Sherri and Terry said fostering is hard and heartbreaking. 

“It’s the hardest blessing I’ve ever done,” Sherri said. “You can’t change the world but you can make a difference one (child) at a time.”

Sherri said every child who has entered her home are her babies and she treats them like her own. The first children the Carters fostered were twin babies, who were in their care for seven months.

“My life changed forever when those twins left,” Sherri said.

Sherri and Terry include Jacob in conversations when they talk about adopting and fostering.  Jacob said he likes his adoptive siblings.

The two have also done respite foster care, which is temporarily looking after another family’s foster children. 

“If it wasn’t for my mom and family members and stuff it would be very hard to have three kids,” Terry said. “We give praise to God for the two we have that He allowed us to have.”

Sherri said in her experience foster children adapt well to their new home and act like siblings.

Terry said he’s often heard people say they won’t foster children because they don’t want to get too attached and feel heartbroken when children leave. But Terry said biological children usually leave their parents’ home and fostering is worth helping children.

“We’ve got our heart broken and we’ve not always agreed with the decision that was made but yet we have to do what needs to be done for the child,” Terry said. “The ultimate goal is to get the child back to Mom and Dad.”

While a foster parent’s heart will get broken, it will also be fulfilled from taking care of a child. Terri said when a foster child leaves a good home he or she knows they were loved.

Another common myth is all foster children are mean, according to Terry, but he said are well mannered and smart.

“They just want somebody to love them and pay attention to them and show them things they need to learn,” Terry said.

The Carters can’t foster again unless they get a bigger house with more rooms. Regardless, Terry said he’d continue to foster if it was possible.

“You can ask any foster parent; it’s a hard thing to do, but we have to look at it as we need to show the kids who come in to foster care,” Terry said. “We need to show them the love when you have them as long as you have them.”