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November 16, 2005

Mr. GRIJALVA. Mr. Speaker, I rise to day to honor Jessie, George, and Kyle Hetherington. Jessie and George Hetherington, two grandparents, have faced many obstacles in the process of adopting their grandson, Kyle. This family is to be commended for they have persisted through personal and legal struggles to ensure Kyle's adoption. 

Kyle entered Jessie and George's home in October of 2000. This family joins the growing trend of 6 million children being raised by ``Grand Families' keeping children in loving homes. The Hetherington family is exemplary proof that often the best chance a child has at leading a normal life filled with affection is with a family of their own. 

It is Grand Families such as the Hetherington's that provide a safe and stable home for children who would otherwise fall into foster care systems. But the commitment to a happy family has many obstacles and requires perseverance. The determination of this family defines unconditional love. 

When Jessie and George first brought Kyle home, they lived in an age-restricted community. To keep Kyle, the family moved. Finding a new home was the first obstacle. Then, 15 months later, Kyle's mother regained custody. Kyle later returned to the Hetherington home, but his health, physically and emotionally, was worse than before. Since then, the family has been through several legal battles to keep Kyle from being returned to his mother, an absent father fighting Jessie and George's adoption rights, and accessing services for Kyle's health needs. 

The family has undergone an intense legal pursuit but has been guided with love, patience, and support from Kinship, Adoption, Resource, Education (K.A.R.E.) program. The K.A.R.E. program works with Grandparents raising Grandchildren, and helped the Hetherington family navigate a system that does not understand the strength and needs of Grand Families. 

The Hetherington family will soon celebrate a legal victory and adopt Kyle on December 6 of this year. Their emotional and legal struggle represents the battle of will over circumstance. This day is an early birthday gift for Kyle and a life long family gift. Kyle is a second grader at Miller Elementary School in Tucson, AZ and turns 8 on November 23. 

Jessie and George Hetherington's love, hard work, and dedication, and that of all Grand Families, should be acknowledged today. 

As Jessie states "Love can work wonders done in the right way."

(The above story is a reprint from the Congressional Record, proceedings and debates from the 109th Congress, November 16th, 2005.) Jessie, George and Kyle Hetherington faced many obstacles in their journey to adopt Kyle. Many grandfamilies chose to adopt their grandchildren but face challenges related to unsupportive policies and financial constraints. Policies that support efforts of grandparents and other relatives to provide safe and loving homes through adoption or guardianship help ensure more positive outcomes for families like the Hetheringtons.

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