Tim Wieland of CBS4 reminisces on a dinner he attended 25 years ago. The story of hope and faith he heard that night cemented a connection to adoption that would last throughout his lifetime.

Wieland’s news station had been long-time partners with the Adoption Exchange. Founder and Executive Director Dixie Davis hosted a dinner to get him better acquainted with the organization.

During the meal she told the story of a ten-year-old boy. He had been in nearly 20 foster homes. Families who were interested in adopting him couldn’t seem to get past the emotional wall he had built around him. When he was twelve, a couple decided to take a chance on him. They adopted the child. Every morning before the boy left for school, he would pack all of his things into a garbage bag and put them by the bedroom door. He always wanted to be ready in case he was unable to stay.

His parents reached out to the Adoption Exchange. Together the parents worked with him on trust issues. They accepted help from counselors. No matter what they tried, the packing of the trash bag continued. The family spent time together, and the parents were sure they were bonding with him. Still the bag was packed every day. Just as the parents had lost hope, the mom went into his bedroom after he left for school. To her amazement, all of his belongings were neatly put away and the trash bag was where it belonged, in the trash can.

The story had such a profound influence on Wieland that he joined the Board of Directors for the Adoption Exchange. The organization, founded in 1983, helps children in foster care who are victims of traumatic abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Many of those kids face special challenges because of their age, being in sibling groups who don’t want to separate, or dealing with physical or emotional issues.

Without a forever home, half of these kids will not graduate from high school. Many of them will go on to be homeless, experience an unplanned pregnancy, or be incarcerated. Without the stability of a family to fall back on, life’s challenges can be completely overwhelming. With the support of a family, they can be overcome.