God's Gift to the Hammer Family

Photos courtesy of Patty Hammer.

by Chris Meehan

September 21 was a happy day for Dana and Patty Hammer (Buffalo). After a two-year process, they were able to finalize the adoption of a little boy named Corey, who has lived with them since a few days after his birth. The finalization happened over Skype, with a judge and adoption agency representatives calling in from their homes. Corey sat on the call with Dana and Patty and his big brother Bentley, whom the Hammers had adopted in March, 2019.

The Hammers' adoption story began in 2000, after the birth of Jacob, their fourth child. Dana and Patty told God four was enough--their family was the right size. As time went on, however, they felt convicted to be open to more children.  Their wait lasted for many years. “No one could have predicted what ended up happening, but we’re grateful and in awe of the Lord’s plans, which are bigger and better than what we can come up with,” says Patty. 

“In 2016 when our children were pretty well grown, we took some classes on becoming foster parents,” says Dana, “and Patty got interested in taking care of drug-addicted babies.” They passed all the necessary requirements through the local Catholic Charities office. Then one day a call came, asking if they could be foster parents to a six-month-old named Bentley.

Bentley wasn’t addicted to drugs, however. Left at the hospital soon after birth, he had been living in a foster home for six months. There he was neglected and suffered malnutrition, “probably left in his crib all the time,” says Dana. He was several pounds underweight, which is significant for a six-month-old. Finally a doctor recognized his condition as  ‘failure to thrive’ and removed him.

Corey's adoption is finalized via Skype.

Dana was on a Buffalo branch men’s retreat when Patty received the call. Patty went to see Bentley and sent pictures to Dana. “It was love at first sight on my part,” says Dana, but there were some obstacles. Officially, he and Patty were open to a “foster-to-adopt” situation, but he really didn’t expect it to happen. They both considered themselves too old to start adopting younger children (Dana was 54 and Patty was 51 at the time). They agreed to take Bentley into their home as a foster child. As they took care of Bentley, however, the idea of adoption grew on them. They began to notice other older adults adopting and got encouraging comments from social workers. Patty, a part-time nurse at a local convent until Bentley’s arrival, was urged by the older nuns to take on the challenge.   

They took the step of applying to adopt Bentley, and on March 20, 2019, the adoption was final. “He was skinny when he came to us,” says Dana, “but he’s quickly gained weight. He has big hands and big feet. He may grow to be over 6 feet tall. His motor skills have come back quickly. He's a very active boy, says lots of words, knows his alphabet and likes being read to.”

Little Corey was a surprise to the Hammers. Catholic Charities, which had facilitated Bentley’s case, discontinued its work with adoptions. Patty, who had been hoping Bentley wouldn’t feel like an only child, began to resign herself to the possibility that he would grow up like one. But on September 7, 2018, five days after Catholic Charities ended its services, the Hammers received a call from the new adoption agency. Five days earlier, Bentley’s birth mother had given birth to another son (Corey).  Dana says, “The agency asked if we would take Corey in as well. Wanting to keep the  siblings together, we said ‘Yes.’”

“There's lots of laughter and joy in our house these days,” says Patty. “No more empty bedrooms--we’ve filled them up. Our other four children: Emily, 26; Hannah, 24; Levi, 22, and Jacob, 20, love the boys. Emily and her husband, Elliott, have signed documents committing to caring for the boys should anything happen to us.” 

“It’s been a privilege to care for them,” she adds. “It feels so right to have the boys around. They’re a perfect fit. Some people even say they look like us. Through it all I learned to be open to things, to be patient. God provides for everything. His handiwork is amazing.”                                                                                            

Responses

  1. Anne Brewer says:

    What a wonderful story! God is"new every day"!

  2. Miriam Pena says:

    God bless them.

  3. Sarah Hammer says:

    I am tearing up being reminded of the mighty work God has done in these sweet boys lives! We are blessed to call them “cousins” and even more blessed to witness the “yes” from Dana and Patty that has been literally life-giving to Bentley and Corey!

  4. Dave Roth - Indy says:

    Love the story. Thanks for sharing it. Brings soo much hope and love. They are such powerful gifts in our relationship with God and each other.

    Favorite quote: “No one could have predicted what ended up happening, but we’re grateful and in awe of the Lord’s plans, which are bigger and better than what we can come up with,” says Patty. —- so true of who God is and what our response should be!! 🤓

  5. Lisa Krueger says:

    My heart is simply swelling with love for the Lord and joy for you all! What a beautiful story. Thank you Hammer's for your love of the Lord, His goodness and mercy for the Bentley and Corey. God bless you all.

    Your sister in Christ,
    Lisa Krueger
    Servant Branch

  6. Mike Rosener says:

    Great story. Our 1st child Matthew was adopted at age 30days. We were trying to have children but were unable for 3-4 years. We were able to adopt him from another community. He is now 49 years old. Wouldn't you know we had another 3 children, 3 boys and 1 girl. 2 more boys a year apart and Mary came 8 years later

  7. RICHARD GLEASON says:

    These wonderful boys have not only been a blessing to Patty & Dana but actually to our whole branch!

  8. Michael A. Zusi says:

    Congratulations!! What a story of deliverance for all involved! Glory to God! And thank you Patty and Dana for being open to such a marvelous work of the Lord!!

  9. Elizabeth Kaiser says:

    I got tears when I read your story. What an act of love. May our good Lord continue to bless your lovely family.

  10. John Carnick says:

    Praise the Lord! Thank you Dana & Patti for being alert to our Lord, and for your kindness to these boys!

  11. Marilyn Northway says:

    Your story is so inspiring. Bud and I have told it over and over to so many people. So glad these little fellas are part of our life, too.

  12. Ray Hickey says:

    Great and moving story. Love the pictures.

  13. Locksley Robinson says:

    God bless you Hammers, for your response of love. This is a perfect example of LOVE in action. Any way you turn it, this is what it's all about.

  14. Christine Rosener says:

    Hi. My husband Mike and I are from Servant Branch. Members since 1972 and adopted our first child 47 years ago and then had 2 more in the next 2 years. All boys and then a girl in 1980. Such a blessing and changed our lives forever! Just had to ask about your name Hammer. My great grandmother was a Hammer and was an editor of the Norwegian newspaper when she was younger. Quite an accomplishment for a woman at that time. Just wondered if there’s any relationship??
    God bless your new family. So happy for you—Chris

  15. Mary L Louise Duddy says:

    What a sweet story.

  16. Karen Heintzelman says:

    What a joyful story!! God is blessing your whole family with love! You will have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  17. Nancy Grams says:

    What a beautiful story of love being poured out , beating fruit in abundance!

  18. Kathleen Heinrich says:

    God is so good!!

  19. Pam Seale says:

    Beautiful story of the life of a Spirit filled couple. Glory to God!

  20. Bernadette Anne Fossen says:

    Heartwarming, beautiful adoption story. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  21. M’Lou says:

    Patty and Dana, I just read your beautiful blessings He has given you. Patty you are a wonderful Mom and God heard your prays. And you heard Him him calling You. And you said “Here I-am Lord, Is I Lord I have heard you calling in the nights. And with your love, theLord said “yes” and in obedience you answered, “ I will go Lord, if You lead. I will hold your people (children who need a loving home and family) in my heart.

    I was adopted at 4 years old and my Dad was fifty and fraught to adopt me and my brother. At that time they were hesitated to let people over 50 to adopt they thought if the y died once again the child would have to be back. I
    am so thankful that you also adopt his brother. Bc I have a brother and sister that I lost through adoption. Bless you and enjoy your addition.

  22. Jacqueline Bertrand Vaughan says:

    God's glory is shining brightly in you two! Thank you for saying yes to the Holy Spirit and truly being Pro-Life! What a great example you are to the rest of us!

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