I was asked to respond to this video for ABC news, Susan James – here is what I said:
Zach is absolutely correct in that my children (Lisa and mine) don’t ask for special treatment. Lisa and I set out to foster and then adopt children with no “forever family”. After fostering 25 children and then adopting 4 from the State of Washington we knew our family was complete. We worked hard to be advocates for our children, who all have special needs. Michael is mentally retarded and has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (now age 20). Lisa and I worked tirelessly seeking the best treatment and now the 24/7 care Michael needs to live outside of an institution. Danielle born addicted to heroin and suffers from severe ADHD (now age 17). Danielle is a Police Explorer in our town, manages 3 sports at her high school, drives and helps me out as I battle my Multiple Sclerosis. She is getting ready to take the SAT and looking at colleges this coming year. David born addicted to cocaine and exposed to HIV (now age 15) also suffers from severe ADHD and below average IQ. However, there is not one person that meets David and doesn’t say he has the kindest soul. David played on his high school football team and golf this spring. Though in he receives Special Ed support in his classroom he earned 5 A’s and one B- in his first semester in High School. Katie born exposed to HIV (now age 13)attends a performing arts middle school. She is an excellent violinist, plays basketball, volleyball, and soccer. She still holds some State records in swimming, though she won’t get in the pool following Lisa’s death, that was “their” special activity together.
Our kids are different than some families since we did not give birth to them; however, we love them beyond measure. And any adoptive/foster family would say the same about their own “forever family”. Losing Lisa undoubtedly changed our children and me. We work through her loss a little more each birthday, holiday and anniversary. It will be 4 years since her passing in just 16 days (2/19/11). Lisa instilled in our children the desire for community service, respect for teachers and others in authority, help friends and never to bully. Lisa left me huge shoes to fill and I pray I am doing them justice.
and here is Susan’s Report