Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How It All Went Down...

On Twitter (follow me @jthenderson76), I follow Jake Tapper, who is the ABC NewsSenior White House Correspondent.  Today (at around 12:30pm), he asked his Twitter followers if they were worried that a prolonged government shutdown would delay their tax refund checks.  I responded with "In a word, YES."  Within five minutes, Tapper contacted me and asked me to email him our story and how we were dreading not getting our return.  Here is what I emailed him:


Thanks for the opportunity to explain why so many "normal people" are dreading a government shutdown. While I am sure our story is a little different from others, the tenets are the same.

My wife and I had to file our taxes by mail this year because we are set to recieve the Adoption Refund. We adopted Tedi (4 years old, picture attached) from Ethiopia in July 2010. I work in development for a non-profit in Louisville, KY. Our agency aids children who have been sexually abused, neglected or been exposed to violence. My wife is a first-year Pediatric Resident at Kosair Children's Hospital.

As one can imagine, we have large bills from medical school loans, moving expenses, Tedi's adoption, etc. For the past year, we have been scraping by to get things paid off in hopes of receiving a substantial 2010 tax return (which would be more than 50% of my annual pre-tax salary). News of a government shutdown and subsequent halting of IRS functions (especially for those returns mailed in) has not set well with me.
If I had the opportunity to address President Obama, Speaker Boehner, Rep. Pelosi, Sen. Reid or Sen. McConnell, I would urge them to take action and remember that grandstanding by both parties has real consequences for those of us downhill. This potential shutdown is not just played out on the news by the talking heads- it is played out in living rooms all across America by real people. I read that our soldiers would not be paid until this was all settled! How can this be? Unfortunately, I cannot run my household and family budget like our federal government! I am required to pay my debts as they are due.

I would love to discuss this with you further and delve into our story even further. If needed, I will be a spokesman for what this shutdown is going to do to middle America. I really enjoy your work. Keep it up!

To my surprise, Tapper emailed me back within five minutes and said our story was compelling and one of his producers would contact me about being on the news.  About 1:15pm, Daniel (one of Tapper's producers) called my cell phone and asked me a few questions.  He then asks if they could send a crew to either my office or home and shoot some footage and do an interview.  By 2:30pm, a film crew was in our living room.  They came in and moved furniture and set up lots of lighting.  We discovered our living room's light is not conducive for filming (who knew?). 

When they had us all set up, Jake called the producers' cell phone and interviewed me via speaker phone.  One of the producers held the cell phone up by his face so it would look more conversational on camera.  

It was amazing at how quickly this all came together.  It is also neat to see how small our world is because of social media.  I was in Louisville.  Tapper was in DC.  Daniel was in NYC.  Together, a story was pulled together in under three hours.  I'm glad ABC found our story compelling and interesting. 

Most importantly, I am glad that people all over the country got to see our multi-racial, blended family.  Natalie and I both feel called to change the world in any way we can.  Our hope is that someone watching the news will be convicted to either adopt or inquire about orphan care.  Notice the carefully placed T-Shirt on Tedi.  It is from one of our favorite organizations, 147 Million Orphans (

Finally, Natalie is a little perturbed at me.  For the past week, she has been arriving at work by 4am.  In an attempt to savor as much sleep as possible today, she went to the hospital without fixing her hair after her shower.  When I called her to fill her in on the camera crew at our house, her first words were, "I'm going to kill you."  She still looked beautiful in the piece if you ask me.  She is an amazing woman, wife and mother.

If you haven't seen it, here is the finished product:


  1. So Awesome, you guys! Thanks for speaking for all of us...;) You looked great, Natalie! (But I would have killed Greg too! ha ha) AND..loved the 147 million shirt on Tedi.

  2. That's so amazing. Watching it gave me goosebumps since I've been following your blog since before you brought Tedi home! And since you've posted this it looks like your media exposure is only continuing to spread from what I've seen you post on Facebook!

  3. Very cool! Glad you were able to help spread the word that this potential government shutdown could greatly affect regular folks like us. We are also waiting for our refund which will be used quickly as we pursue another adoption.

    Speaking of that, taking a page out of your book (and hopefully we can be half as successful as you were with yours) we will be selling t-shirts and a few other things to help raise money for our adoption. I will pass along the info about our fundraiser when we get the shirts in and maybe you guys can help us spread the word.

    I am pretty sure Tedi would look good in our shirt.

    Thanks again for spreading the word.

  4. I am so proud of all of you!! This has been the craziest 24 hours ever!!

  5. amazing... thank you for taking a stance and for speaking so well about adoption and middle america!

  6. This was great! And it was awesome to get to show your amazing family to the nation! Well said JT!

  7. This is such a cool story! I love you guys and I hope that others can see what an amazing leap of faith you've taken over the past few years!