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Spring Housing Guide

Local family shares heart and home with 31 adoptees

The stretch of I-25 north of Bowling Green could easily be called the middle of nowhere, but for 31 lucky adoptees, this is the center of the world.

A rather imposing steel structure lies just off of the highway. However, when one steps into the residence of Joanne and Scott Nuzum, it feels more at home than anywhere else in the world.

This may be why the University’s Student Alumni Connection has little trouble getting members to visit the Nuzums’ home every Friday.

“I have always said that there should be a bumper sticker that says ‘Adoption is Addicting,'” said Joanne, the adoptive mother and teacher of 31 home-schooled adoptees.

“Once you begin bringing these kids into your home, it’s hard to stop.”

The adoptees range from young to old, many of whom are special needs individuals, like Tony, a 31-year-old who experienced a devastating fall from a second-story window when he was 4 years old. This led to brain damage and paralysis on the left side of his body. He uses a wheelchair, but this does not hinder him from being one of the most outgoing of all the Nuzums; which entails the serenading of all visitors. It is also said that he is deadly with a squirt gun.

After an emergency hysterectomy due to complications during their second pregnancy, the couple began to look into adoption. The Nuzums waited for four years with no luck, but they finally found inspiration that would lead them to a life they had never dreamed of.

After meeting a family who had adopted several special needs children, they considered a similar route. They decided to take classes that would educate them to care for the challenges adoption can present.

After that, the Nuzums adopted their first child through friends, named Megan. Megan was slowly developing as an infant, and the mother cold not care for her. She was the Nuzums’ second child (behind their biological first-born son, Dan).

As Megan grew and developed, many of her challenges began to turn into triumphs. Now she is a happily married degree-seeking student at Eastern Michigan University.

After Megan, more adoptions followed. Due to the low demand for infants with special needs, the Nuzums began to be contacted when these children, particularly those in sibling groups, needed a home.

Presently, there are three sibling groups of five and two sibling groups of three living under their one big roof. The others were separate adoptions adding up to one big family of 31.

Over time, the Nuzums began to notice things about their children that were inconsistent to many things they were told upon their adoption.

As the children grew in the nurturing environment, surrounded by others with challenges of their own, the kids started proving the skeptics wrong. When Christina arrived at the Nuzums’, she wasn’t expected to ever be able to walk; but she did.

“It’s called keeping up with the Jones’,” said Scott. “Christina looks at Megan and thinks, ‘Well, Megan can walk why can’t I?’ In this environment they all compete with one another.”

Amy, one of the Nuzums’ adoptees, a spunky girl who is quick with a hand-shake and conversation, turned her dad’s comment around on him, “But, he is ornery 24-7.”

You would have to be to do what the Nuzums do. They care for child and adult adoptees with multiple levels of disability. The disabilities range from light to severe, including cerebral palsy, seizure disorders and autism.

In addition, the Nuzum family welcomes University students into their home for educational experiences they would never gain in any classroom.

“It is the most amazing experience,” said Dan Stypa, the membership coordinator of the Student Alumni Connection. The SAC has been traveling to the Nuzum house for several years. On Fridays, the group travels out to the Nuzums custom-built, 16,000 square foot home.

When they walk in the door an electric excitement runs through the family. It is not lost on the students either. They spread out across the home, some going to the gym off of the living room, some going up to the computer and art stations in the classroom on the second floor.

The favorite activity is always the Dance Marathon line dance that the kids learn every year. Christina, whose prognosis said she would be crippled for life, barely missed a beat.

The home is appropriate to the astonishing proportions of the Nuzum family themselves.

A charitable effort of contractors from around the area, fundraising walk-a-thons by the Nuzums themselves, and two appearances on the Today Show helped them relocate their brood of 30 from their home in Holland, Ohio, to the present address on Kind Road near Haskins.

It could be called a miracle home. Joanne calls it “ingenuity.” The networking of contractors and donors took years to collaborate. In the meantime, the home in Holland received six additions of almost 2,000 square feet to accommodate the new arrivals.

When the miracle home was finally finished, even UPS helped out moving all 10 truckloads of the Nuzum’s possessions for free.

Kayla, an 18-year-old girl with aspirations of attending Toledo Beauty College said, “I think our house is cool.” Her favorite part of the house is the kitchen.

With three sinks, three George Forman grills, two stoves and an endless amount of helpers, it is pretty cool.

Alex, her 17-year-old brother, agrees and adds that he cant wait until next year’s Dance Marathon, which the Nuzums have attended in past years.

The SAC continues to go to the house every Friday as part of what Stypa calls “one of the coolest things we do.”

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