It was Kendal’s 14th birthday the day she was adopted.
Scott and Theresa Riggs of Beavercreek Twp. finalized the adoption of Kendal on Dec. 15 in Montgomery County Probate Court. The Riggs have four biological children. They met Kendal through videos of the nonprofit group Grant Me Hope.
Grant Me Hope was founded in September 2014 by Helen Zeerip of Michigan and president of Teddy’s Transport.
Zeerip said she is determined to continue until she dies, because foster children have a low chance of being adopted after they turn 10 years old. She said no one should lose hope.
Grant Me Hope airs videos on TV that profile children awaiting adoption. Grant Me Hope has been working with Montgomery County and other counties and states on these videos for close to a year and a half. They fully fund the videos (valued at about $2,000 apiece). Segments highlight Montgomery County and Hamilton County kids as well as children from Michigan and Illinois.
Kevin Lavoie, communications coordinator of Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services, said, “Our segments have been airing locally on the (Channel) 22 and 45 morning shows since June.”
The Riggs had considered being foster parents for a while, but Scott was deployed a lot when their four biological kids were young. “In November of 2016 we decided it was the right time to become foster parents,” said Theresa Riggs. They decided to opt for foster to adopt in case they fell in love with a child who was unable to return to their parents.
To become foster parents there are classes. During the older child and teen class the instructor mentioned the Grant Me Hope organization and shared some videos. “All of a sudden, the foster kids we were learning about went from statistics to real children, with faces and names and goals and ambitions in life,” said Theresa. “What struck us most was that the children in the Grant Me Hope videos were asking for what we considered to be basic human rights of being a child. They were asking for love, attention and support, and the opportunity to realize their dreams and become the amazing humans they were born to be.”
The first time they saw Kendal’s video they thought, “Wow, it’s like she was born to be in our family.” That was the first time they considered adoption might be an option for them.
It’s been about a year since it all began. “We started the process of being licensed for foster care in December of 2016 and we were licensed by the end of March,” said Theresa.
“Kendal is a pretty amazing human. She is one of the most empathetic and caring people we have ever met. She literally will not kill a fly. She will catch it and take it outside. Kendal is a very eclectic child. She has an old soul and loves Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, but then two seconds later she has moved on to ‘The Walking Dead’ (cable TV show). Her curiosity and wonder for the world around her is inspiring. She’s always reading and learning and investigating things she’s interested in. Kendal is loyal and fiercely devoted to those she loves.”
Kendal moved in with the Riggs at the end of May. Adoption day was formalizing their journey to growing their family.
“Family is much more than the people you share DNA with,” said Theresa. “Your family are those in your life who you love and are loyal to, sometimes we share DNA with those people and sometimes we don’t. We are very blessed to have both, not everyone is. We aren’t perfect, we argue and make mistakes, but we’re real. We also love and forgive and have fun.”
Contact this contributing writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to help
What: Grant Me Hope nonprofit works to find adoptive homes for foster children.
Mail donations to: Grant Me Hope, 930 Interchange Drive; Holland, Mich. 49423
Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services: 937-224-KIDS (5437)