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Glenwood widower adopts foster child

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson
ALL |

Life doesn’t always follow a plan.

One of the last and most important discussions Steve Addie had with his wife, Hope, before she passed away last May, was about the future of their 12-year-old foster son, Christian.

The conversation was brief.



They both knew it would have to wait until her health issues were resolved, for better or worse. But they both agreed that the young boy, who’d been through several foster homes since the age of 2, deserved a permanent family.

“We were ready to adopt Christian,” Steve said. “But because of her illness it wasn’t a possibility at that time.”



Christian had been living with the Addies since February 2006. They hoped this, his fourth stay with them, was his last. Steve planned on living the rest of his days with his wife and their three other adopted children, Cliff, Cori and Angie. (Cliff, 21, and Cori, 19, now live on their own.) They also planned to add Christian as soon as possible.

But life doesn’t always follow a plan ” for adults or children.

For Steve Addie, the days begin and end with family.

The Addie house off Midland Avenue in Glenwood Springs, as the evening slowly poured darkness into the valley one Wednesday, is an infectious dream ” a snapshot of the American family.

Angie, 11, a petite blond-haired, blue-eyed, bundle of energy, enjoying the trampoline. Her soon-to-be-older-brother by adoption, well-mannered Christian, plays with the family’s golden lab, Daisy, in a yard that still holds the green of summer.

A red do-rag covers Steve’s long graying hair; his jeans, worn from years of physically demanding work, match the weathering of his hands. His stare as confident and firm as his carpenter’s handshake. He washes dishes before preparing dinner for the two youngsters.

Steve and Hope built the home in 1994. Steve did all the work except the drywall by himself. Hope opened a day care service shortly after.

“She just had so much fun with the kids,” Steve remembered. “She looked after cops’ kids, and people with odd-hour jobs.”

Some of the kids would stay well into the night. It was a way she could help out. That’s when she decided to become a foster parent.

“She asked me what I thought about foster care,” Steve said. “I said, ‘We could look into it.'”

Another brief conversation.

Hope and Steve opened their hearts to more than 50 foster children over the past 10 years.

“None of them are in the situation because of anything they did,” Steve said. “They deserve better. Unfortunately we couldn’t adopt them all.”

They would have, too. It’s difficult to say goodbye after getting to know the kids.

“We’ve had lots of kids here,” Steve said. “It’s so hard to let them go back into the system after you’ve gotten to know them.”

Adoption wasn’t anything they were planning for. It was just a part of the unmapped plan that presented itself, an unexpected gift.

Life doesn’t always follow a plan.

Christian was still in diapers when his birth mother’s health deteriorated. Back surgery left her physically unable to care for Christian. It couldn’t have been an easy decision nonetheless, asking Garfield County Social Services to find her son a home. About a year later, Christian wound up at the Addies’ home for the first time.

“It was a pretty good fit,” Steve said, looking directly at Christian, the trio sitting at their large wooden dinner table. “We make a pretty good team.”

“Are you sure about that?” Christian sarcastically answered.

“Am I going to have to thump you,” Steve said trying to keep a straight face.

His response elicited giggles from Christian and Angie. The two kids often laugh at their father.

Christian’s birth mother died in November 2003. His hopes of one day returning to his home were gone. Since then he’s had a handful of bedrooms, he has to count with his fingers to make sure.

“Seven, no eight,” he says.

“I think it’s seven,” Steve says. “But he’s always ended up back here with us. We’ve been his home base for whatever. He’s always known that he could come back here, didn’t you?”

Christian agrees with a nod of his head.

“But now he doesn’t have to go anywhere anymore,” Steve said.

It had been nearly five months since Hope succumbed to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (C.O.P.D.) when Steve asked Christian if he wanted to stay for good.

Another brief conversation.

Christian said, “Yes, definitely.”

Then Steve asked his daughter Angie if she thought that would be OK, because, according to Steve, it’s partly her decision, too. Every member of the family is included in the conversation.

Angie said, “Yes, definitely.”

“They’ve grown up together, and they need each other,” Steve said looking at his two young gifts.

It’s the right time for the trio, but it’s also, in part, to honor what Hope wanted for them. She didn’t want Christian to leave again, even during her illness. And now he doesn’t have to.

Life may not always follow a plan, but there is always hope.

Saturday was National Adoption Day 2007. Ninth Judicial District Judge Denise Lynch opened her courtroom for the special day, for a special kid she’s come to know over the years.

“It’s a day just for Christian,” Lynch said. “He holds a special place in my heart. I couldn’t be happier for him, and I am happy that I get to make it official.”

Lynch got to know Christian, without ever actually meeting him in person, handling his case as an assistant city attorney for four years. She’s gotten to know Steve and Hope through the process as well. She knows the kind spirit he is and knows Christian is in good hands.

Working on a Saturday to give Christian a permanent home with Steve was the subject of another brief conversation.

“(Steve) is very special, bless his heart, doing this on his own,” Lynch said. “I think they deserve a special day.”

From there, it’s back to the place the trio have come to know as home. Since Hope’s passing, it’s been difficult for Steve and the kids, but it’s the kids that have helped him find a way through the days.

The days begin and end with family.

“These guys help me get up in the morning,” Steve said. “That’s what we do, we’re a team. We all need one another to get up in the morning and go on, and these guys are it for me.”

They’re a family, perhaps unconventional, but they’re still a family as solid as the home’s foundation, which Steve built himself. Hope helped build the family, and they all have what it takes to keep it together.

Life doesn’t always follow a plan. Sometimes it doesn’t need to.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

jgardner@postindependent.com

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO


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