GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Grand Junction fireman Ted Weber and his wife Judi, a school counselor, went to great lengths to become parents.
Infertility issues led the couple to initially consider foster care.
From the neonatal intensive care unit, they brought home a boy born five weeks premature from a mother who couldn't care for him. The Webers cared for the boy for six months, until the biological grandmother adopted him.
The Webers then opened their home to a 13-month-old girl with significant medical issues who had been living with another foster family. That family was not interested in adopting. So, she went to live with the Webers, who then adopted the toddler in 1999. Hannah will be 15 in January.
In 2008, the Webers began the search for a sibling for Hannah and turned to America World Adoption Agency to adopt a child from Ethiopia. The agency requires a home study by a local agency, which is how the family ended up working with Hope's Promise, a Colorado-based company with an office in Grand Junction.
Abrham - they kept his given name - was adopted from an orphanage, and he came to live with the Webers in 2009 when he was 6.
"Hannah and Abrham were great together," Ted Weber said.
Then, "they began clamoring for a brother and sister."
In the spring of 2010, they started the process again by looking for another boy and girl to adopt from Ethiopia. A year and a half ago, the couple brought home Yemisirach - they call her Emi - who was 9, and Tadele - who goes by Tade - aged 7. Both had been living in an orphanage.
Tade was ill, his mother had died, and his father could not care for him. Emi's father had died, and her mother was ill and could not care for her either.
Judi and Ted first had to adopt their children through Ethiopian court, and then through domestic court.
"It's not cheap," Ted Weber said.
Adoption costs for Abrham came to nearly $30,000, and for Emi and Tade fees totaled about $40,000. It did not cost the Webers anything to adopt Hannah because she had come through the foster care program in the United States.
"We took out a second mortgage on our house to adopt Abrham," Weber said.
Donations, a matching grant from Life Song for Orphans, and a home equity line of credit enabled the Webers to adopt Emi and Tade.
"All that was easy compared to what we're going through now," Weber said. "There are cultural differences, all sorts of issues. Our work has just begun."
None of the three Ethiopian children spoke English - and each spoke a different language from one another. Their English is pretty good now, and two of the children are reading and writing at grade level, said their dad.
Emi, who will turn 11 in two weeks, misses her mother who is dying of AIDS.
Still, Ted Weber, 43, said he and his wife have no regrets.
Prayer, friends who have also adopted, plus their extended family lends support to the family.
"Our faith played a huge part in all these adoptions," Weber said.