Bob Weber of Graettinger recently called Catholic Charities. “Do you have a certificate to recognize a special adoption milestone?”, he asked. Voice beaming, he described how on June 22, 1972 he and wife, Sheryl, drove to Catholic Charities in Sioux City to meet their son. That instant, they became a family, and the Webers are now celebrating 50 years together.
Bob and Sheryl met at Ayrshire High School and later married while Bob was in the Air Force. They desired to add children to their marriage, but eventually learned medical reasons would make it impossible to conceive.
The couple turned to their Catholic parish and the late Fr. Vincent Beacom for counsel. In his understanding and resourceful way, Father listened and encouraged them to meet with a Ruthven couple who had adopted. Bob and Sheryl were relieved to hear the couple tell them the adoption process had not been at all difficult.
Still, they were skeptical and worried about their worthiness to adopt. How would they ever be chosen to receive a child? They were not affluent. Bob was on the processing line at John Morrell & Co. and Sheryl worked for the Northwestern Bell telephone company. Soon, however, they took the leap of faith and contacted Catholic Charities.
Pat Pumputis, their kind case worker at the Fort Dodge office, calmed their fears. “You’re just the people we are looking for”, she told them with an assuring smile. Catholic Charities placed children with loving couples, and Pam recognized the love between Bob and Sheryl.
Prior to adopting, they first needed to attend parenting classes. Bob and Sheryl were unsure about taking on the commitment to travel 75 miles to Fort Dodge for class. Yet, after the first two meetings, they found themselves excited to go back to the next. With five other couples, they wrestled through deep discussions and shared many laughs, too, as they learned all about parenthood. Looking back, Bob and Sheryl often reflect on this blessing. “All parents would benefit from preparing in this way”, commented Sheryl.
During a work shift at John Morrell, Bob was pulled away for a phone call. He wondered what emergency it might be. No one on the line was permitted to leave for just any call. Picking up the payphone receiver, he heard Sheryl exclaim, “Bob, you’re a father!”
They drove to Sioux City in their Dodge Charger, back seat laid down and lined with baby blankets. Upon arrival, a staff member led them to the room where their baby boy awaited. He was nine days old, lying naked so they could receive him just as if he’d been born to them that day. They held him, hugged him and named him Paul Edward, after Sheryl’s father. The new father and mother left Catholic Charities, and their first stop was to a local church to baptize Paul. On their way home to Graettinger, many more stops were made to show him off.
Fr. Beacom later blessed Paul and they celebrated his baptism with friends and family. It took 2-3 months for the adoption to be official, waiting for final word that Paul’s birth father had rescinded his rights. It happened. Paul would forever be a Weber. Bob and Sheryl immediately applied to adopt a second time. They knew chances were small, but a year and a half later on March 26, a daughter came into their world through Catholic Charities. She was 3 weeks old and the perfect child to complete their family. She was named Jennifer Kay after Sheryl’s sister. As the kids grew, Bob and Sheryl would often smile to themselves when people, unaware of their adoptions, commented how the kids looked like one of them. They loved to hear it, and always took it as a compliment.
Bob and Sheryl both spent part of their work careers in law enforcement. Sheryl became a teacher and EMT ambulance service volunteer. Paul and Jennifer were crowned Homecoming king and queen their senior years of high school.
Paul, now 50, lives in Phoenix with his wife, Renee. They have two children, Aaron and Hillary. “Paul has always been brilliant,” says Sheryl. “I can’t take credit for that, but it is true!” Paul at one time worked with Bob at Skyjack, Inc. He moved up the ranks quickly and later took his business savvy to Tuff Spas, his current employer. Grandson, Aaron is carrying a 4.0 at Arizona State University while studying to be an astronautical engineer. Hillary is a high school senior.
Jennifer is married to Nick. They reside in Ankeny with their three poodles. Jennifer is a loan specialist at Wells Fargo, and Nick works in the insurance industry.
Both Paul and Jennifer have connected with their birth families. Paul perused his roots for medical reasons and met his mother before she passed. He learned her very difficult story, which made him additionally grateful for the loving decision she had made with his future in mind. Jennifer always carried a curiosity about her birth mother and father, and she has met them both. Bob and Sheryl encouraged their children to make the family connections.
“From the moment we saw Paul and Jennifer, we thought of them as ours,” shared Bob. “To couples thinking about adoption, I say, ‘it is so natural’ – don’t even give it a second thought.”