NORTH OGDEN — A Utahn in the middle of an adopting a girl from Latvia has been furloughed due to the government shutdown, and she said she doesn't know how she will raise the money to complete the adoption.
Theresa Heaps didn't know what it was, but she said something drove her to reach out to 12-year-old Kate, an orphan in Latvia.
Heaps went to her Catholic Priest to ask why she couldn't seem to get an image of the young girl out of her mind, after she saw her picture posted on Facebook through an adoption agency.
"We just discussed God's will and God's way," Heaps said. "And how God calls you to help orphans and widows, and anybody who's less fortunate than yourself."
As a single mom with two children, Heaps decided to start the expensive process of adoption, estimated to total around $34,000. Through video calls over Skype she said Kate developed a relationship with her family.
"She was already calling me mom, and she had already met my kids," Heaps said. "She'd seen the house, and she'd seen her bedroom and the dogs. She was excited to be here, and we were excited to have her."
Heaps spent a month in Latvia with Kate, while attending the initial court dates. The two of them returned to North Ogden on Sept. 7. Heaps said she didn't want to name her employer, but said that she was furloughed Tuesday, Oct. 1 when the government shutdown began.
- Theresa Heaps c/o Adoption Related Services
- 8 South Main Street
- P.O. Box 201
- Shrewsbury, PA 17361
"I felt defeated," Heaps said, starting to cry. "I just want it done. I want her to be home."
Theresa and Kate now spend their days running English and math learning apps on an iPad. Since Kate is in the United States on a visitor's visa, she can't yet attend school.
While the American side of Kate's adoption complete, Heaps still has to take her back to Latvia for two court dates. Attorney fees alone are estimated at around $10,000.
"I've been on my own since I was 18 years old, and I've never had to depend on somebody else to provide for me and my children ever," Heaps said in tears. "Now I can't even afford to fund what I started, let alone pay my bills."
Heaps said she's held yard and bake sales, but the financial burden to finish the adoption still seems unsurmountable with no end to the government shutdown in sight. Still, she said she will not give up.
"We're not going to fail," Heaps said. "It's not an option for us. It's just a matter of how we're going to do it."