Westmont Magazine And Then There Were Six
Adopting four children in four months created a lot of changes for Heidi Zellweger Kilgore ’96 and her husband, Kurt. “We had to get a new car, remodel our home and rearrange our schedule,” she says. “The house was louder and messier, and I was driving an hour each way to school.”
But the real challenge was dealing with the boys’ emotional trauma. Placed in three foster homes in eight months, the three oldest, then 9, 11, and 13, had grown up with a drug-addicted mother. They had only seen their baby brother once as he was removed at birth, but they asked Kurt and Heidi to take him too, and within four months they did. It was highly unlikely that anyone else would adopt all the siblings. Four years later, the boys are thriving, and they have two new brothers, 7 and 3, from Ethiopia. “We’re stopping at six,” Heidi says. “This is what we are supposed to do, this is our passion. I can’t honestly imagine our life any other way.”
Volunteering with Sidewalk Sunday School for four years ignited Heidi’s love for inner-city kids. She led the ministry for a year and often invited children to campus. “I was overwhelmed by the vast discrepancy in wealth, services, attention and opportunities in the world, particularly in wealthy communities,” she says. “I am thankful Westmont offered so many experiential learning opportunities.”
A liberal studies major intent on teaching elementary school, Heidi spent a semester in the San Francisco Urban program, where she interned with ROCK, a development program for inner-city children. This experience increased her desire to help children, and she worked for the non-profit for eight years after graduating. That’s where she met Kurt, who supports the family by working for a software company.
Heidi played soccer under Coach Mike Guiliano at Westmont. She remembers when he and his wife adopted an African-American child. “He told me that people wait and wait to adopt Caucasian children, while many children of color wait and wait for a family,” she says. “After that conversation, I knew I would adopt an African-American child one day.
‘We’ve been amazed at God’s ability to heal our kids’ hearts,” she says. “God gives us just enough energy, patience and ingenuity. I remember a chapel speaker who said, ‘The experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work God will give us to do,’ and that has been so true for us.”