Joe and Deanna Gaumer

Our only living son lost part of his arm in a farming accident in 2003. We were so thankful for all of the inspiring people we met who had disabilities and inspired him to not let this tragic accident affect his dreams. It was this experience that led us to becoming foster parents for children with special needs. We want to be able to help these wonderful children to reach far and beyond their dreams.

We have already had several children that we have been able to help but we were never interested in adoption. We just wanted to be able to help children to get on their feet, show them how much others can love them, and let them enjoy our farm with its therapeutic animals, ranging from our pet llama to a guinea pig.

In March of 2007 we got two little boys at the ages of 2 and 4, Leo and Louis. They were a challenge, especially Leo who would throw 20-40 temper tantrums a day. Leo has the diagnoses of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, PDD-NOS, Disruptive Behavior Disorder and ADD. Of course, when we got him there was no diagnosis and this took almost 2 years to accomplish. Louis is a very bright boy who is socially and emotionally delayed which affects how he can function with others, especially his own peers. Like I said they were a challenge, but one that has proved well worth the little battles we have had to win. They both have a way of melting the hearts of the people they come into contact with, especially with their smiles, dimples, and sparkling eyes.

In October of 2007 we had a blessing in disguise of a little boy, who was 15 months old. He was not expected to live to 2 years old. He was diagnosed with 2 strokes in utero, Dandy-Walker Syndrome (he actually is missing the left side of his brain and the upper part of the back of his brain), cerebral palsy, mental retardation, deaf-blindness and a seizure disorder. We took him despite the pain it would cause us to lose him since we had 5 children of our own that had died because of complications during pregnancy. He was unable to even hold his head up, smile, cry or even roll over when we got him. He would just lay there for hours at a time.

He has changed so dramatically in the last 2 years. He has grown 9 inches in 21 months, got 12 new teeth and he can see, but needs glasses to help him. He was having 20-30 seizures a day and is now only having 1 every 6 months or so. He rolls and scoots on his back everywhere he has a desire to go. He is smiling, laughing, babbling and crying when he needs to. He even shakes his head appropriately for “NO!” and nods his head yes for fun. He has learned to walk with assistance! He is such a happy little boy that he has changed our lives forever.

He entered our hearts in such a way that we have decided that we could not be just foster-parents to these 3 beautiful boys, but rather we chose to be their parents for as long as they need us. Louis and Leo were adopted on June 30th, 2009 and we signed the adoption placement agreement for our youngest son on August 18th and hope to have it finalized by October.

Families Together has been such a good influence and help to our growing family. I’ve been a child advocate, an education advocate and now a parent-to parent sponsor. Families like ours are helped by all the resources that they have, as well as the seminars, trainings and the many hours on the phone that they spend with families listening to complaints about the system and singing the praises of our children’s amazing accomplishments.

This is a small part of our success story. We have been married for over 25 years. We have an amazing son, Gabriel, that became State Champion in heavy duty diesel mechanics and placed 7th in the nation. He has a new wife, Christa, and a very soon to be born grandson, Joshua Gabriel. We have a very special daughter, Barbara (13 years old), that loves and appreciates those wonderful and inspiring persons with disabilities. Last, but not least, we have our three new sons.