The Lamar family of Danvers was celebrating the 4thof July on the beach in 2014 when the phone rang. It was a call that would change their family’s life forever. Nate and Nicole, the parents of two girls, Addie and Maggie, 6 and 3 respectively at the time, were about to add a son.
For Nate, an academic program coordinator at Northeast Metro Tech in Wakefield, and Nicole, a kindergarten teacher in Danvers, adopting a child was always a priority. In fact, they started talking about adopting when they were dating. After much research, they collaborated with A Chosen Child in Orlando, Florida. On July 6th, Nate and Nicole were on a plane to Florida to meet their son, the boy they adopted and named Griffin on July 7th.
It was a family affair from the beginning with Nicole’s parents, her sister and brother in-law, and all of the grandchildren, including big sisters Addie and Maggie, arriving a few days later to bond with Griffin as they fulfilled the ten-day waiting period required for interstate adoptions.
The average cost of an adoption is more than $38,000 and the Lamar’s took out a personal loan in order to make their adoption dream come true.
Knowing the expense the Lamar’s incurred to bring Griffin into their life, their friend Matt Smith came up with the idea to offer no interest loans to help people in the adoption process. The Lamar’s loved the idea, but with three little ones at home they didn’t take immediate action on it.
In August 2016, when Griffin was just two years old, he died in a tragic accident. Despite their immense grief, the Lamar’s wanted to do something to honor their son. Just two days after Griffin’s passing the Lamar’s, Matt Smith, and a few other close friends met and came up with a plan.
Griffin’s Gift, a501c3 nonprofit organization, was born with a goal of helping build families through the gift of adoption. Because the upfront costs of adoption can add up to thousands of dollars, it creates a major road block for deserving people looking to complete their families through adopting a child. Griffin’s Gift aims to alleviate this financial burden by granting non interest loans to families chosen through an application process. As loans are paid back, new families will be chosen to receive the life changing gift of adoption – a continuous cycle of blessings and joy.
The first recipient of Griffin’s Gift was for the adoption of a baby girl named Elora who came through Adoption Resources in Waltham, the same Massachusetts organization the Lamar’s had originally worked with when adopting Griffin.
The latest baby was born in New York. The adoptive parents were literally walking in to charge everything on their credit cards when a friend of a friend told them about Griffin’s Gift. Ironically, the Lamar’s were on the beach when the call came in requesting help. Nicole was able to get in touch with the committee and quickly provide a no interest loan. The adoptive parents were able to pay off every charge without interest, making the adoption of Grace much less stressful.
Griffin’s Gift currently has three families awaiting placement who have been pre-approved for loans.
To-date Griffin’s Gift has raised over $200,000 and has capital available to help more families looking to adopt.
Funds have come in from a variety of sources. In December 2016, in honor of Griffin’s love for Star Wars, the Lamar’s friends, Jackie and Ted Blake, organized a huge Star Wars themed fundraiser that raised nearly $80,000. For the last three years the Danvers Youth Soccer Social has raised over $20,000 for the organization. And for the last two years, Griffin’s Gift has hosted a road race and family fun day on Griffin’s birthday, which has raised over $40,000 each year. “We see it as Griffin’s birthday party,” said Nate Lamar.
When asked about coping with the loss of a child, Nate said, “The path of grief if not linear. It has no predictor on how you are going to feel the next day. There are surprise triggers that bring you back down to that feeling of despair.”
“We were anchored and supported by family and the community of Danvers,” Lamar added. “We felt such support and love from everywhere in the community. It held us up at moments that we wanted to give up.”
The community is ready to support the Lamar’s with their next adoption. They have recently stepped down from the board of Griffin’s Gift after finalizing the application process to adopt again. They are again working with Adoption Resources in Orlando as they wait to bring another baby into their family.
Hopefully it will be another beautiful beach day when that next phone call comes letting them know their newest family member has arrived.
To learn more about Griffin’s Gift please visit: www.griffinsgift.org.