The Hemming Family:

Parents Gust and Monica with Adopted Child Kevin

The Hemming FamilyMonica was a social worker when she was asked to drive seven-year-old Kevin to an event for foster children. She and her husband Gust, a Navy retiree and private contractor, adopted the avid reader.

"(My husband) Gust and I were already thinking about having biological kids, so we got licensed to foster (children) to test our compatibility as parents," says Monica, who didn't think much of it when her coworker mentioned the little boy was currently up for adoption.

Monica was more than impressed when she met seven-year-old Kevin. "He was so personable and interesting," says Monica, who felt an instant connection with the young conversationalist. "I literally felt like I was talking to someone I'd known forever."

That evening she told Gust all about Kevin. The Navy retiree and private contractor had some serious reservations but agreed to meet the boy for basketball later that week. After a couple of hours on the court with Kevin, Gust returned home to his wife and said, "Okay."

They turned the home office into a bedroom and allowed Kevin to decide what kind of room he wanted. He chose an outer-space theme. "We worked on the room for three months," says Monica, "and Kevin moved in on Thanksgiving Day." Upon seeing his astronaut room for the first time, Monica says, "He wanted to stay in there forever."

There were some initial concerns about Kevin's fear of the family dogs and cat. It was overwhelming at first, but "eventually Kevin warmed up to the dogs and now he wants to go everywhere with them," says Monica, who enjoys horseback riding with her son.

Kevin has a strong passion for knowledge and prefers adult non-fiction to children's literature. "When we go to the library, he heads right for the autobiographies," says Monica. "He has an appetite to know how and why people become who they are."

The Hemmings are proud of their son, who is on the A/B honor roll and active in 4-H. "Kevin goes above and beyond the norms and expectations," says Monica. "I feel like I can take some responsibility, but honestly, it was all in his spirit when he got to us."

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