Kristen and Andy Weatherford are grateful after North Suffolk restaurateur Ricardo Perez made a substantial donation to help them adopt a special-needs child from Eastern Europe.

Archived Story

Couple aims to adopt special-needs girl

Published 9:01pm Saturday, September 29, 2012

A young North Suffolk couple sacrificing to raise enough money to adopt a special-needs child from overseas recently found an angel in their midst — and he serves up a mean burrito.

Kristen and Andy Weatherford, both 30, met on a blind date in April 2008 and married in October 2010.

They rescued two “fur kids” and volunteer to foster other homeless dogs; but the otherwise very happy couple felt their life was missing someone, Kristen Weatherford wrote on the couple’s blog.

The former special education teacher, now working as a consultant and trainer, went online and discovered Ava, a child with Down syndrome and “big blue eyes” languishing in an Eastern European orphanage.

The Weatherfords decided to adopt Ava before trying for biological children so they can give her the undivided attention she needs.

They’ve raised a little over half the estimated $40,000 needed to get her home.

“She’s in a mixed-baby house” with both special-needs and non-special-needs children, Kristen Weatherford said. “She gets three meals a day, but of course she’s over a year old now, and it’s still formula through a bottle, and she’s probably not getting any therapies.”

Weatherford says orphanage conditions in the country, disclosure of which could jeopardize Ava’s adoption, vary significantly between facilities and even within facilities when crib placement determines how much interaction a child gets.

So for the Weatherfords, who with the red tape involved will need to travel abroad three times to adopt Eva, fundraising is crucial.

Enter restaurateur Ricardo Perez. He was haggling over a dish at the Weatherfords’ Sept. 8 fundraiser yard sale when Kristen, recognizing him as the man who sometimes refills her soda at La Parrilla in Harbour View, the Weatherfords’ favorite Mexican restaurant, told him of Ava and the cost of adoption.

“I really had no idea he was the owner — we go there all the time,” Kristen Weatherford said.

“He got really serious. ‘Tell me about this,’ he said. ‘How much is it going to cost?’

“He said, ‘I’m going to write you a check.’”

Kristen had hoped to generate $3,000 from the sale, halfway toward the $6,000 extra needed for the first trip.

Perez said he would donate $1,000 for each of his restaurants — Harbour View La Parrilla, a second La Parrilla going in off Bridge Road and the Three Amigos he shares with his brother in Chesapeake.

Together with the proceeds from the yard sale, whose target was met, the first trip is funded.

“What happened at our yard sale affirmed our belief that there are no coincidences in life,” Kristen Weatherford said. “Everything happens for a reason, and our yard sale was a beautiful example of that.”

The Weatherfords had hoped to have Ava home for Christmas, but after adoption regulations changed in the country they’re dealing with, early next year is the new hope.

“In our hearts she’s already our daughter,” Kristen Weatherford said. “We just want to get her home as early as possible.”

Perez said, “It does not bother me to help someone. When it comes to little kids, I always help.”

He said he had dropped by the yard sale, where he bought some glasses and a couple of other things, to kill time after arriving to the restaurant a little early.

The Weatherfords have taken on frugal lives to fund Ava’s adoption. Kristen Weatherford said that while they once ate out regularly, often at La Parrilla, they now settle for Easy Mac and movie rental.

Andy Weatherford said he was “overwhelmed” by Perez’s generosity, adding, “I guess the first emotion was complete shock that someone would be that generous to do this for us.”

  • Lovebug

    My husband and I “looked” into adoption about 13 years ago and even back then it was more like “purchasing” a child than it was adopting one. From beginning to end it was going to cost us just up to $30,000. Because it felt more like buying a child than adopting one we decided against it. Its a wonderful thing that people are adopting children to give them good lives but its also a shame to me that not only does it cost an arm and a leg but people are adopting international children rather than american children because its cheaper. What a shame on one hand but wonderful for the international children.

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  • TJP
    • mcdb

      So this couple was supposed to turn into foster parents in the hope of getting one of the kids that passes through their door? I don’t understand the argument against adopting internationally. When this baby is home, here in Suffolk, that’s one less kid just laying and wasting away in an orphanage crib. Domestic or international, adoption is a blessing to the child and to the adopting family and putting a price tag on it, looking for the kid that’s ‘on sale’ is just tacky. Why it costs anything to adopt a child that was not wanted, is beyond me. If a couple can prove they will provide a stable home for a child to flourish, they should be able to rescue that child…without going broke. But until then, thank God for people like the Weatherfords and Mr. Perez, who will do whatever it takes to bring home one more deserving child.

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  • TJP

    Wow! They’re paying $40,000.00 to get a child with Special Needs from another country! What a shame! There are thousands of children, right here in the US with Special Needs, that they could have gotten for free. In fact, they probably could have gotten paid to take the child!

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    • mcdb

      First- Rude.
      Second- Fact: American Adoptions estimates that the expenses for domestic and international adoptions are roughly the same: between $8,000 and $40,000, with an average of between $15,000 and $25,000.

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      • TJP

        Rude? Perhaps! But true! I was speaking of a foster care adoption, which generally cost from $0 – 2,500. As referenced from

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    • kiweather

      Dear TJP,
      We certainly understand your concern for children here in the United States needing loving homes and we are grateful to those who step up and provide them. When we chose to adopt, we wanted to give a child a future, regardless of where they were born.

      Many aren’t aware that 90% of babies with Down syndrome are aborted in our country. As a result, parents in the US wait for children, whereas in Eastern Europe, children wait for parents.

      In Eastern Europe, where screenings are not widely used, over 900 children with Down syndrome are orphaned at birth with no place in society. If they are not adopted before age 4, they are transferred to adult mental institutions where most die within the first year.

      We’re grateful for the opportunity to give just one a family and bright future.

      Thank you,
      Kristen Weatherford

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      • MrJiggyFly

        Mrs. Weatherford . . . this is a beautiful step that you and your husband are taking. God bless the both of you and especially the little child y’all are adopting.

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      • mcdb

        Best wishes as you await your little one. Thank you for opening your home and hearts to a little girl so far away.

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  • whitemarshtaxpayer

    We have loved this restaurant since it opened .. Food is awesome and the service can not be matched in this area. Obviously this gentleman cares about everyone .. His generosity should be admired by all of us ..
    If you go there to eat you just might be hooked like some of the rest of us !
    My hat is off to you Ricardo and we will see you Friday night

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  • mcdb

    What a great story! La Parrilla will definitely get our business! Best wishes to the new parents as they await their little girl!

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  • thekytikat

    And… La Parrilla just became my fav Mexican place even tho I’ve never eaten there. As soon as the economy turns around and we have a few dollars of disposable income, we will check it out.

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