I'm Leah, mom to lots of kids. In additon to our 6 adult kids, the last 6 years I have adopted four kids (all have Down syndrome), lived through breast cancer with chemo, had 16 major surgeries (most related to cancer, including bilateral mastectomy and numerous breast reconstruction surgeries), added another child, scratched my head along with doctors when deciding how to keep one kid alive, moved house, wiped noses, brushed teeth, trimmed toenails, cleaned gtubes, and did more laundry than I care to remember. And here we are.
"Amos" was the last to join our family in May 2015. For two years he has been our child. Two years we have done everything for him that a parent should do. Due to circumstances out of our control, we weren't able begin the process to finalize his adoption until November 2016. We fundraised $2500, which was half of the attorney retainer. What we had paid up to that point:
Homestudy + background checks - $3000
Attorney retainer - $5000 (minus $2500 raised)
In February we had to retain another attorney in another state. Our attorney here was gracious enough to transfer what was left of his retainer - which was $2000 - to the new attorney. For two months we scrambled to complete the necessary steps for that state. Finally a hearing to finalize the adoption was set! On April 3rd, 2017 we drove 10 hours with 6 kids to appear before the judge. This was to be "Adoption Day!!!" Well, first we had to stop at the attorney's office and pay him an addtional $1500. We were thankful this would be the end of the attorney fees. Then off to court we went. All the kids were dressed up for those special pictures we have taken of every one of our adopted kids on adoption day. The picture of Amos at the top of the page was taken as we waited to appear before the judge. Only there was a problem. We didn't even get to SEE the judge because he changed his mind! He decided we should finalize the adoption in our home state of Minnesota. TEN HOURS we drove! WEEKS that he'd had our file!! Only for him to change his mind???? This child has been with us for two years!
We were heartbroken.
We loaded all the kids into the van and started the drive home quietly answering their questions. "Why aren't we taking pictures? Why aren't we happy? Is Amos still ours?" We drove in silence. After about 20 minutes we decided to stop at Denny's for an early lunch and gather our thoughts a bit. I won't lie. We do not have easy kids. All 6 have Down syndrome, five of them who surived life in terrible conditions before coming to us. All with some unusual habits. Restaurants are HARD for them, and hard for us as parents. And here we were, in Denny's, dressed for our day in court, with 6 very busy kids. We were seated next to a man who had the entire back of the restaurant to himself, and he looked a bit annoyed when this big group of kids was seated next to him. But our kids are amazing, and everyone used their best manners, to the best of his or her ability. Those who are non-verbal were signing their orders to the waitress, all were full of pleases and thank-yous, yes ma'ams and no ma'ams. (thanks to our friends from TX!) While it was all going on Dean and I discussed what did - or did not -happen in court. We were so confused! All the while I noticed the lone man watching our family. We are used to stares, so I wasn't bothered. Finally he got up to leave. A few minutes later the waitress came by to tell us the man paid our bill. "He said he has never seen such an amazing group of kids! He told the waitress he was especially taken with the little guy in the coral colored shirt." (do you see the pic at the top of this page?) Amos. He was taken with Amos. He had no idea Amos was the reason we were there. The tears started running down my face right then and it took me several minutes before I could speak enough to say thank you to our server. Finally we finished up and loaded the kids back in the van to continue the 10 hour drive home.
Over the next couple of weeks our out-of-state attorney continued to complete paperwork there. Finally he sent us his final bill of another $1500, giving us until January to pay it. That was great, because we had to retain another attorney here in Minnesota, for another $3500, in addition to the post-placement report of $500 we need to fulfill state requirements. In case you've lost track, so far that's $5500 of unexpected expenses for this adoption. Thankfully all the paperwork is done, the state of Minnesota has given their approval, and the attorney only needs to submit everything to the court to finalize.
So here we are. I'm stressed out!! We don't HAVE any extra money to keep coming up with more. People have garage sales to raise money and I have no idea how they actually have TIME to do it! Every night I wake up anxious and stressed. As a way to de-stress I started running using the Couch to 5K running program. I made it through breast cancer, rebuilt my body and lost 70 lbs, why not start running, right? Now, I have started this program before. Several times, in fact. But I have never made it past week 3. Tonight I started week four, I felt pretty good starting out but by 15 minutes in I thought it was going to kill me. While running I was begging God, "God, please make this running thing easier. Please make my knees stop hurting. Please make me not feel 50 years old. And please make the pavement not so hard. Please make breathing easier. Please give me motivation. Please please please...."
And then I realized something. I lack focus. I spend the entire run wishing for it to be over, which is why I've never made it past week three! What if there were something at the finish line? What if, instead of running just to run...I run for a purpose!!! People do this every day, right? They run 5k's as fundraisers for various organizatons, and causes. I would be running a 5K three days a week for the next six weeks!
So now, I'm going to run for Amos!!!! Yes, that's right. I made it through the easy part of the Couch to 5K program and now I need motivation, and I'm going to run to that finish line for Amos. Will you help me? I have five weeks left of this program, and I'd like to raise the rest of the funds to complete this adoption in that 5 weeks. Five weeks of running to give that smiling little guy at the top of this page his forever family once and for all. Every dollar raised - roughly $92 per mile - will be your words of encouragement to me. Will you help me? Will you be my cheering section? Will you stand at that imaginary finish line holding his picture up, shouting his name?
I'll post updates here, but you can also follow me on twitter https://twitter.com/gardenofeagan
- Alan R
- Melissa Vandiver
- Ann Johnson
- Faith Deforest
Organizer and beneficiary
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