National Guard September 2012 : Page 44
Major M m By Ron Jensen N ot long ago , M a j . T rish K och was a widow with a big empty house and even bigger heart. T oday , both are full , and so are the lives of si x special k ids RENO, Nev. OON AFTER LUC Koch was born, he was whisked away from his mother and placed in a foster home. And then another foster home. And another. And another. And one more after that. “Luc had a rough childhood,” says Maj. Trish Koch of the Nevada Army S | National Guard. “I was his ﬁfth foster home at the age of 4½.” He once spilled milk at her home, she recalls, and wondered, “Will I have to go to another home?” When she tells the story now, Koch says her response was, “No, buddy, you’re stuck.” That he was. Koch adopted Luc, now 7, in August 2010. And then she adopted another child. And another. And then another. And one more after that. And then she got married and plans to adopt one more. At the same time Koch adopted Luc, she adopted his birth brother, Jason, now 5. Koch also adopted birth brothers Cory, who is 4, and Jaxon, now 2, in November 2011, along with their half-sister Miranda, who is 21 months. Koch, 49, and her husband soon will adopt Thomas, 8 months, who is brother to Cory and Jaxon and has lived with the family since shortly after his birth. All the children lived as foster chil-dren in her home. If you are keeping track, you know she adopted ﬁve young children while 44 Na tional Guard
Not long ago, Maj. Trish Koch was a widow with a big empty house and even bigger heart. Today, both are full, and so are the lives of six special kids
SOON AFTER LUC Koch was born, he was whisked away from his mother and placed in a foster home.
And then another foster home. And another.
And one more after that.
“Luc had a rough childhood,” says Maj. Trish Koch of the Nevada Army National Guard. “I was his fifth foster home at the age of 4½.”
He once spilled milk at her home, she recalls, and wondered, “Will I have to go to another home?”
When she tells the story now, Koch says her response was, “No, buddy, you’re stuck.”
That he was. Koch adopted Luc, now 7, in August 2010.
And then she adopted another Child. And another.
And then another.
And one more after that.
And then she got married and plans to adopt one more.
At the same time Koch adopted Luc, she adopted his birth brother, Jason, now 5.
Koch also adopted birth brothers Cory, who is 4, and Jaxon, now 2, in November 2011, along with their halfsister Miranda, who is 21 months.
Koch, 49, and her husband soon will adopt Thomas, 8 months, who is brother to Cory and Jaxon and has lived with the family since shortly after his birth.
All the children lived as foster children in her home.
If you are keeping track, you know she adopted five young children while Single, a widow since 2007. She married Chris Koch early this year. He officially adopted the children last month. Thomas will join this happy clan in a month or two.
“Because I always wanted kids,” she says to answer the obvious question.“And I had the house to do it.”
She does have a big house, but it pales compared to the size of her heart. And to her capacity to love.
And to her simple belief that children who start life a bit shy of the starting line deserve a chance to catch up in the race.
The six kids she has welcomed into her life come from two mothers, both of whom were substance abusers, using illegal drugs such as crystal meth even as they were carrying their unborn children. One of the kids was born on a hotel balcony.
“It puts them behind developmentally in a lot of different areas,” Koch says.
She’s fortunate. Her brood seems to be growing out of any early problems.
For example, Luc, whose name is pronounced as Luke, was finished with play therapy in a short amount of time and seems to be doing fine.
The others, too, are doing well, Koch says with fingers crossed.
They are helped, of course, by an environment that enriches and nurtures them, providing each with a childhood beyond what anyone could have expected when they were born and light years beyond some of the foster homes in which they lived.
Cory and Jaxon thought car keys were toys when Koch took them in as foster children. Luc spotted a small dog kennel in a store and offered that he used to sleep in one.
So things have changed.
As the chaos swirls around him one early Saturday morning, from missing socks to breakfast complaints, Chris Koch says, “It’s like they’ve been together their whole lives—brothers and sister.”
Trish Koch and her late husband, Kurt Svare, talked about adopting children when they operated the Hippity Hop Learning Center in Reno.
He died in 2007, but the idea of adopting remained alive in Koch.And despite being single and in the Guard, she became the mother to five children.
Why, she is asked, was a single woman allowed to take on the responsibility of raising five developmentally challenged children?
“I think a lot of it is my background,” Koch says.
She has a degree in human growth and development with a minor in family studies from the University of Nevada-Reno. She ran the learning center and was a preschool teacher.She was once in charge of the Nevada Guard’s family programs.
Cindy Adams is a social worker with the Washoe County Department of Social Services and has helped Trish Koch with the adoptions. She says “a variety of things” made Koch a good bet for adopting these children.
“She was well aware of family issues,” she says. “She has been around a lot of kids. She has done a lot to educate herself.”
Certainly, she says, it is not often that five children will be placed in one home, but, Adams adds, “she had done so well with the first two.”
Koch, too, has help. Her mother, Helen Frank, has done the required amount of training to be considered a capable provider in a foster home and lives with the family.
As Frank cuddles Thomas and Feeds him with a bottle, she says, “It’s actually a good thing for me. If I can be part of what Trish has done, that’s good for me.
“It didn’t surprise me. She has always been in tune, for lack of a better word, with children. She babysat. I know my daughter. If she couldn’t do it, she wouldn’t do it.”
Frank is even more impressed, however, with her new son-in-law, who already had raised one family of four children.
“I always considered Trish a saint. And now I consider Chris a saint,” she says. “How many men would have done what he did? Not very many.”
Chris and Trish Koch had known each other for years, but had lost touch. When he bumped into her sister and inquired about her, he was told she was single but had five children.
“It didn’t scare him off,” Frank says.
He says, “It didn’t matter to me if she had 40 of them.”
It’s been a great union for Chris’ youngest child, his daughter, Sierra, 11, who lives with her mother, but spends time at the Koch home.
“I like it a lot,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to have younger siblings. Now I have them.”
Trish Koch has been honest with her kids. They know how they came to be together in this happy home.
“We’re adopted,” Jason tells a visitor without any prompting.
She says she tells them, “It’s not that Mom didn’t love you. Mom couldn’t take care of herself.”
“It gives them a sense of who they are,” she says.
Cory, Jaxon, Miranda and Thomas even have contact with their maternal grandparents.
Miranda, by the way, is named for Sgt. 1st Class Miranda McElhiney, one of the four Nevada Guardsmen killed in a shooting at an IHOP restaurant in Reno last September. The soldier worked for Koch in the Nevada Guard’s strategic planning section.
Koch will retire from the Guard in January when she reaches the 20-year mark.
The family will buy Jump Man Jump, a party place for children filled with all manner of inflatable amusements.
When Luc overhears his mother telling this to the visitor, his eyes widen and he asks, “We’re going to own Jump Man Jump?”
Told that that is the plan, his jaw drops and his eyes widen even more.It’s a paradise on earth for any child, but especially for one who once slept in a dog kennel.
As much fun as Koch has had bringing children into her life, she says that Thomas will be the last one.
“I told them, ‘After Thomas is adopted, I’m changing my [phone] number,’” she says.
But she is smiling when she says it. The family is planning a move to a bigger house.
Ron Jensen can be contacted at 202-408- 5885 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the full article at http://www.nationalguardmagazine.com/article/Major+Mom/1168937/125298/article.html.