Landon Whipp is a five-year-old boy who was an orphan at birth. In his adoptive mother’s words, “Landon is a bright, sweet, strong, brave, and spunky five-year-old boy with blonde hair, blue eyes, and an infectious laugh. He has a great sense of humor and has never met an animal, insect, tree, or flower that he didn’t like.”
Landon’s life got off to a rough start; in utero, he was exposed to drugs, copious amounts of alcohol, and violence. By age four, he had been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and had lived in five different homes, leaving him distrustful of adults and a lacking sense of self-worth.
Enter Clarke graduates Amy Schroeder-Whipp ’00 and Jake Whipp ’02. Amy and Jake met as undergrads at Clarke and have remained together through medical and graduate schools, residencies, career changes, and big moves from Dubuque to Chicago to St. Louis, and back to Chicago. They married in 2007. Amy’s undergraduate degree was in Biology, and then she earned her medical degree in podiatry from Chicago Medical School. She had spent six years as a physician when she was asked to go to Haiti as part of an earthquake relief mission. Beyond the lifesaving work she did there, she met another orphaned child named Jean. She told Jake, “I’ve met our son. This is our child.” They began the process of adoption. Unfortunately, Jean had significant medical complications and passed away before the adoption could be completed. Both Amy and Jake were devastated and forever changed. Amy went through a spiritual journey, and finally, together, the couple decided to become foster parents. They had more love to give, despite the extreme heartbreak they’d already suffered.
Landon was their very first foster child. When he came to Amy and Jake’s home, he had already been placed with multiple foster families. Amy and Jake transformed their lives to help this child in need. They developed an understanding that his type of irreversible brain damage affects his adaptive reasoning, causing him to have learning issues. Amy and Jake fell in love with him, and after a failed adoption placement, they have begun the process of adopting Landon themselves.
Jake explained that Landon is a very smart child with a high IQ, but he requires specialized care and a unique school environment to thrive. After an extensive search, the couple has narrowed down Landon’s educational options to a private school in Nashville, Tennessee, called Currey Ingram Academy, which provides one-on-one assistance every day. So, this extraordinary family is packing up once again, hopefully to embrace what will be the forever home for the whole family.
The specialized care that Landon needs to thrive requires a large financial investment. This investment includes his educational expenses, medical care, therapy, and so much more. Jake estimates that Landon’s enrollment at Currey Ingram Academy will cost upwards of $700,000 from kindergarten through twelfth grade.
Jake shared, “Landon is such a special and brave boy. The other night he said to me, ‘When you don’t have a mommy, it is very hard to find one.’ He may only be five years old, but he has an understanding of what he’s been through in his life. Sometimes he’ll still ask us if we are going to send him away. It’s just heartbreaking to think that thought even enters his mind. I just reassure him that we are forever.”
To learn more about the Whipp family’s journey and ways you might help them, please visit the webpage they have established. They are so grateful to those who hear their story and feel compelled to learn more about their situation.