Teachers often go above and beyond for their students, working long hours and putting in an extraordinary amount of effort to ensure their students’ needs are met. For many teachers, their dedication to their students extends far beyond the classroom. In extraordinary circumstances, teachers become far more than educators to their students – sometimes, they even become family.
Finn Lanning, a math teacher from Aurora, Colorado is a favorite among his students. He trusts his middle schoolers, instilling in them a sense of responsibility that helps them become more self-sufficient. Two years ago, a student named Damien approached Lanning with heartbreaking news – he wouldn’t be returning to school.
Unwilling to let his student walk away that easily, Finn questioned the 13-year-old, trying to understand the circumstances that led to the abrupt news. Lanning never could have anticipated the bomb that the fun-loving, intelligent teen was about to drop – Damien showed up to school and worked hard, but his home life was non-existent. Damien was in foster care, but due to kidney disease, it became impossible for social services to find a foster home willing to take on the extra responsibility of a foster child with medical needs.
Since foster care was no longer an option, Damien was being sent to live in a hospital. As if his situation wasn’t challenging enough, receiving the transplant he desperately needed was nearly impossible since those without stable homes to return to after surgery were less likely to be approved.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks. I mean, you just can’t sit across from somebody that you care about and hear them say something like that and know that you have room to help,” Finn recalled to CBS News.
Though Finn thoroughly enjoyed his life as a childless bachelor, something changed after his conversation with Damien. The teacher was both unwilling and unable to sit by as one of his students lost everything. The young teacher made a decision, one that would change both of their lives forever – Finn Lanning became a foster parent.
Damien was hesitant to let himself feel excited, though he was thrilled he wouldn’t have to call a hospital his home. “It’s kind of bad thinking about that, but some people actually do that. Like, they’ll be happy with you one day and then just kick you out the next,” he said.
But two years later, Damien no longer has to worry about whether or not he has a place to call home. A few months ago, Finn adopted the now 15-year-old, making their little family official. Damien even received a kidney transplant, finally allowing him to live his life as a normal, happy teen.