Parenthood
Math teacher adopts student after learning why he wouldn’t be able to attend school
"It just became really hard for me to look the other way."
Jessica Adler
09.28.21

A 13-year-old boy named Damien met a true hero in Finn Lanning, his math teacher in Colorado.

Damien told his teacher just before Thanksgiving that he wouldn’t be returning after the holiday.

Sadly, Damien suffers from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, an autoimmune disease that takes a toll on his kidneys. Being that he had no parents, he was left with no choice but to move into the hospital.

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CBS Evening News - YouTube

Damien’s kidneys shut down, and he had to have dialysis treatments for 12 hours every day.

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CBS Evening News - YouTube

Lanning, a math and science teacher at AXL Academy in Aurora, visited Damien once a week.

The teacher was heartbroken to learn that Damien needed a kidney transplant.

He didn’t have stable housing which meant he wasn’t eligible to be on the donation list.

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CBS Evening News - YouTube

Finn wasn’t giving up on this kid. He applied to be Damien’s foster father and was approved last March.

Finn explains,

“I’d really thought a lot about this decision, I didn’t want to be another person in a long line who’d made a commitment to him and then couldn’t keep it. I wanted him to trust me and feel comfortable.”

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CBS Evening News - YouTube

He also told KDVR,

“He spent, at that point, three or four months living in the hospital waiting for a placement, And over that time, I started out going in to give him his work and just hang out with him a little bit, keep him caught up in the classroom. And as I learned more about his story and what he was facing and what his needs were and why they weren’t being met, it just became really hard for me to look the other way.”

Damien went through his transplant in June. He’s been in remission since September after two months of intense treatments.

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CBS Evening News - YouTube

A strong-willed Damien also opened up about his trust issues.

He’s been around because of his condition, and he narrates how people can be happy with you one day then kick you out the next.

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CBS Evening News - YouTube

From teacher and student to father and son.

Damien is 15 now and is your typical teenager. The best part is that he’s happy with Finn, who says he’s keeping the kid even though he never imagined his life turning out this way.

A viewer named Ani Bell says,

“This should not be unusual & rare, but it is. Wow. What an uplifting & touching story. So proud of Finn for stepping up, & really really proud of Damien for opening his heart & trusting again.”

Sometimes, taking that leap is well worth the risk.

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CBS Evening News - YouTube

Finn set up a GoFundMe page to settle the bills and was able to raise more than twice his goal of $30,000.

Those generous donors are heroes as well. Had it not been for them, this story would have been different for Damien and Finn.

This kid has a better life ahead of him.

Damien is proof that hope can get you places. He got his happy ever after. And a cool dad too.

CBS Evening News - YouTube
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CBS Evening News - YouTube

Learn more about Damien and Finn’s heartwarming story in the video below!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

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By Jessica Adler
hi@sbly.com
Jessica Adler is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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