This heartwarming story follows the journey of a 10-year-old Michigan boy who was officially adopted on the same day his family adopted a rescue dog.
Jessica Banzhof, of Temperance, Michigan, has been with her now-husband, Thomas Banzhof, for seven years. Her oldest son, Gabe, immediately considered Thomas to be his father.
Jessica told Liftable, a section of The Western Journal, that Gabe was always drawn to Thomas, and the two quickly developed a strong father-son bond.
“They were very close since the beginning,” she said. “An instant bond, Gabe asked Thomas if he could call him Dad within the first year of us being together and of course, Thomas said yes, and was absolutely thrilled!”
“He has always introduced Gabe as his son,” Jessica continued. “They have always done things together such as Pokémon leagues, video games, Nerf battles, school field trips (skiing was the favorite) and all father-son school activities.”
The Banzhof couple welcomed their son, Eli, about five years ago, and the family has lived as a close-knit family of four ever since.
While they were already a family in their hearts, the Banzhof family unanimously felt that the next step was for Thomas to formally adopt Gabe as his son.
“We all wanted it!” Jessica said of the adoption decision. “Gabe was part of the decision-making process the whole time.”
“We started the process about a year ago and Gabe was so excited to be a Banzhof,” she said. “When asked why, Gabe said he had been his son for so long and he just wanted to make it official.”
According to Jessica, the process took about six months to finalize, from initiating the paperwork to meeting in front of a courtroom judge.
“We had to go through background checks, interviews, home inspections all before it could be placed before the judge,” she explained.
A few days before Gabe’s April 17 adoption date, Banzhof went into a local pet shop to run a quick errand. It was there that she first laid eyes on “Cupid,” and it soon became clear to her that a second adoption might be just around the corner.
“I met Cupid by chance,” Jessica said. “I went to the pet store to exchange some dog food because my chihuahua, Coco, is a very picky eater.”
“Cupid was there with a volunteer, I was actually unaware he was adoptable. I just saw a cute dog and asked if I could pet him. That’s when she told me he was actually adoptable and he was just on a field trip for the Dogs on the Town program.”
“It’s a new program that the shelter started to get more dogs noticed, and it worked!” Jessica said. “My boys had been asking for a larger dog for a while, and I thought Cupid was perfect!”
The Banzhof couple went to the shelter the following day to meet Cupid, and Thomas ended up falling in love with the pooch, too. They introduced their other dogs to Cupid to see how they would get along, and upon seeing how well the dogs interacted together, brought their two boys in to meet Cupid.
“It was instant love for all!” Jessica said. “He played and listened to my boys so well and was so gentle.”
The Banzhofs walked away confident that Cupid was meant to join their family.
“We knew it was meant to be because of the interactions everyone had with him and because we had met so completely by chance — it wasn’t planned at all, but everything just fell into place,” the mom said.
On April 17, Gabe stood beaming as he was formally adopted into the Banzhof family. Jessica recalled how Gabe and Thomas looked at one another right after the judge made the adoption official, and smiled.
“Gabe said, ‘I can’t believe he’s finally actually my father!'” Jessica said.
“Gabe was so thrilled to tell all his friends and everyone at school that his last name will now need to be changed at the school. And at home now things just feel so content, and we have accomplished making our family whole. Everyone is very happy.”
Following the adoption, the Banzhof family ate a celebratory lunch. But their celebration wasn’t over yet.
“I asked Gabe what he wanted to do next. He said, ‘let’s go get our dog!'” Jessica said. “And everyone happily agreed.”
At Lucas County Canine Care & Control, Gabe was thrilled to formally adopt Cupid, since his dad had just officially adopted him.
“I was adopted and now I’m ready to do it for him!” the boy said.
“Gabe was thrilled to finally be able to bring Cupid home to join the family,” Jessica said. “With Cupid here, we all feel even more love and he even makes us feel safer, as well. The boys have enjoyed teaching him new tricks, too, and Cupid is extremely smart and catches on quickly!”
The Lucas County Canine Care & Control page had to share in the family’s joy, too. “Cupid got adopted by a family that couldn’t be a better fit for him, and what’s even more amazing is that the family officially adopted their son(in the middle) today as well!” they shared, along with a photo of the happy new family.
“This family actually met Cupid when he was on a DOTT (Dogs on the Town) field trip this past weekend with a volunteer and they fell in love!! Congrats to all!”
Jessica said that Cupid is adjusting very well to his new home and is learning basic obedience commands.
“He makes us all feel very safe because he is always very alert and attentive. He doesn’t bark unless he has a reason. He is perfect!” she said.
Jessica hopes that by sharing her family’s story, others might be inspired to adopt a rescue pet.
“We would love to spread the word that shelter pets do deserve a second chance,” she said. “They are amazing pets and they seem to know when they have been saved and they are so appreciative! Cupid has been such a great example of that.”
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