The couple began exploring adoption, thinking that they’d be willing to take on an older child and possibly siblings. The first three boys to join the family were Dustin, Kyle, and Travis, then ages 7, 6, and 5 (now 15, 14, and 12)—biological siblings who had been separated from each other and were languishing in foster care after being taken out of their abusive home in Oregon. “We felt we could give them a loving, Christian home and home-school them. We found out later that if we hadn’t adopted them they would have been split up,” Tammy says of the brothers.
Kevin, in particular, related to the boys’ plight. As a child, he had been bounced between homes, separated from siblings. He knew what it felt like to be a child nobody wants. “It wasn’t until I was 14, when my uncle and aunt in North Dakota took me in and made me a part of their family, that I feel my life began,” recalls Kevin. “I don’t know what would have happened had they not been there for me.”
On his uncle’s 8,000-acre farm, Kevin was given responsibility and learned life long skills. He was cared for alongside his two cousins, and graduated from high school before enlisting in the Army. After eight years in the Army, he came out a trained computer specialist—training that helped him land well-paying jobs in the private sector.
When Kevin joined Capital One Financial Corporation in 2000, the banking giant hadn’t yet introduced its $5,000 benefit and two-week paid leave for employees who adopt. So Kevin and Tammy adopted the first three boys without assistance.
The benefit was offered for the first time in 2005. “I remember being very excited to see how generous [the adoption benefits] were,” says Kevin. “We were in the process of bringing Michael into our family.”
Michael had already been adopted by an American couple from Louisiana who found him in an orphanage in the Ukraine. For three years they tried counseling and medications to deal with Michael’s behavior problems. They’d decided they could no longer parent him.
With Capital One’s new adoption assistance benefit in place, the Grindheims used the $5,000 to pay for a home study and a lawyer to complete a private adoption of Michael.
“Michael was such a tiny little boy. I was a little apprehensive about him being 11 years old. But he was artistic and fit so well in our family,” says Tammy. Today Michael, 16, enjoys taking care of the family farm animals. He also sells eggs and raises baby chicks for a family friend’s business.
Three more private adoptions would follow, and all would take advantage of Kevin’s employer’s generous benefits. “I appreciated Capital One’s support with each adoption over the past several years, and their understanding when I need to take time to help with appointments and meetings dealing with the adoptions,” says Kevin. “The financial benefits of the reimbursements allowed us to continue the effort.”
The Grindheim’s fifth adopted son is Cole, who came to the family when he was 9 (he is now 13). Cole had spent his early years in an orphanage in Russia before he and his sister were adopted by a single mother in Wisconsin. But the woman later decided she couldn’t deal with a boy, says Kevin.
“He was described as active and all-boy,” says Tammy. “His mom had allergies and couldn’t watch him outside. I just had to help this child enjoy the outdoors.” Cole also loves to help Tammy in the kitchen.
Capital One Financial Corporation: Kevin and Tamara Grindheim|
Jun 01, 2010
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