The Knox Family: A Portrait in Perseverance

Program: CASA of the 31st Judicial District
Location: Iola, Kansas

Our CASA volunteer was the only stabilizing factor in a long, trying adoption process. If it wasn’t for him, we might have given up.

The Knoxes own a big house in the wide open country spaces outside Wichita, Kansas. It’s a perfect setting for someone who might be inclined to adopt a ready-made family of children in need.

But Renée, a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom, and her husband, Forrest, a Kansas state senator, already had nine biological children, three still living at home. What made them consider adoption?

“It just seemed like God said, ‘Now take a family that would not be easily adoptable and keep them together,’” Renée explained.

The Knoxes met a quartet of brothers — ages 12, 6, 5 and 3 — who would eventually join their family. The boys had been through numerous foster homes and caseworkers in their short lives, and they came with a load of behavior problems. But even tougher than raising the boys with love and consistent discipline was dealing with the courts and the child welfare system during the adoption.

Enter Don Sewell, their CASA volunteer.

“We were introduced to Don, and we fell in love from the moment we met him. He’s such an amazing man. He treated the boys like he was their grandpa,” Renée says.

The adoption — which, according to Don, should have taken nine to 12 months at the outside — dragged on past two years before it was final. And as committed as Renée and Forrest were to their new family members, she admits there were many times they might have thrown in the towel had it not been for Don’s help and perseverance.

“The adoption process was a mess the whole time. Don was really the only stabilizing factor, the only one who was helping us,” she says. “If it wasn’t for Don, we might have given up on the whole thing.”

Renée calls the CASA volunteer “such a mainstay” through the adoption, going to bat for the family at each confusing turn in the process and always keeping the boys’ best interests at the forefront. She’s especially grateful for Don’s intercession with a tough judge when the family wanted to begin homeschooling the boys.

This high level of dedication and love is what has endeared Don to the Knox family. He keeps up with the boys and still brings Christmas presents to the house and sends birthday cards.

In fact, the Knox family has been so taken with Don that they recently had him over to dinner — and they told him they wanted to keep him as part of the boys’ lives.

“It seemed to me our family met a need in Don’s life,” she explains. “I felt like he was always giving to us, but that we were giving something to him as well. We just feel like he’s a wonderful addition.”