Next to join the family was Caleb, then 12, who had also been born in Russia. “We had considered adding him to our family a year or so before, but I got cold feet,” says Tammy. “I didn’t know if I was capable of helping him overcome his issues.
“It was a challenging journey,” she continues, “but Caleb has turned into such a wonderful young man.” Caleb, now 15, likes using his wood-burning tools to make signs and picture frames to give as gifts.
The most recent addition to the family just over two years ago is Timmy, now 11. He was born in Kazakhstan. “He has epilepsy and learning delays,” says Tammy. “Missing my special needs children, I was very excited to bring him into our family.”
All of the boys have daily chores tending to the animals and the garden, and they also help with housekeeping, laundry, and meal preparation. The family eats only natural and organic foods, because the Grindheims believe that preservatives and chemical additives trigger emotional distress in some individuals. Several of the boys came into the house with a daily arsenal of mood-altering drugs that they have since been weaned off of.
In addition to home-schooling the boys, the Grindheims have also taught them about carpentry, plumbing, masonry, and heating/air conditioning skills. The couple believes that these skills will help the boys be self-sufficient when it’s time for them to strike out on their own.
“The one thread in all of our adoptions is that we wanted to stop these children from having to move from family to family,” says Tammy. “If that cycle didn’t stop, they would never know what a family is and may end up alone.” As part of such a big, close family now, it’s unlikely that any of the boys will ever be alone.
Tammy and Kevin admit that parenting their unusual family wasn’t always easy, but they also insist that the effort was well worth it. “There’s a gem inside every child,” says Tammy. “You just have to find and polish it.”
A version of this story was originally published in the Summer 2010 issue of Conceive.
Capital One Financial Corporation: Kevin and Tamara Grindheim|
Jun 01, 2010
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