June 18, 2019
Colorado middle school math teacher Finn Lanning changed his entire life when he learned one of his students would have to leave school due to medical problems. His student, Damien, has kidney disease and had to move into a hospital while he waited for a kidney transplant. But Damien is also in foster care and there weren’t any families willing to take on his medical needs. And worse, patients often can’t get an organ transplant without a stable home for the recovery process.
"He's smart and funny and he was always a student that stood out. Then one day he just came to me and said, 'I'm not coming back to school,'" Lanning told CBS News about Damien. "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.”
So Lanning became Damien’s new foster parent, which means hospital trips for dialysis, along with all the other adjustments that come with going from bachelorhood to single dad life.
"I never thought that I could leave school and take one of them with me and still survive," Lanning told CBS News. But it’s now been six months of living together—and Lanning has plans to legally adopt Damien as soon as he can.
"I was like, 'Yes! I get out of the hospital.' But I was like, my math teacher? Out of all the people," Damien told CBS News. The 13-year-old also said that he’s been let down by foster families before. But Lanning said, "Whether he believes it or not doesn't change the fact that I'm not going anywhere.”