Motherhood comes in unexpected ways

Lori Nuehring took an unexpected path to motherhood while living in Las Vegas. Seeing the need was so great, she wanted to help by adopting. Pictured are (from left): Chance, Victoria and Lori.
Lori Nuehring took an unexpected path to motherhood while living in Las Vegas. Seeing the need was so great, she wanted to help by adopting. Pictured are (from left): Chance, Victoria and Lori.

Adoption brings two children to Little Falls mom

by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

It was April 4, 2004, when siblings Victoria and Chance came to live with their new mom, Lori Nuehring.

“I will never forget that day, ever,” said Nuehring.

Many times, she had watched a weekly segment on her local news in Las Vegas — “Thursday’s Child” — which showcased children in need of permanent homes. One night, something just clicked for her.

“They showed stacks and stacks of files on kids who needed a home,” she said. “I thought, ‘I’ll go check it out and see if that’s something I should do.’”

The more Nuehring got into it, the more she saw how much of a need there was.

“It was so sad. I’d always wanted kids, but knew it was going to be hard since I was single,” said Nuehring. “I decided to try to be a foster mom first.”

She looked through countless books of kids waiting for someone to love them, knowing that the longer they are in the foster care system, the more problems they might have.

Nuehring had to take classes to be a certified foster care provider. She was classified as a “foster home with intention to adopt.” No sooner did she have the certificate in hand, than she received a phone call asking if she was ready for some kids.

She agreed to meet the children, siblings who the state was leaning toward separating.

“I didn’t want them busted up,” Nuehring said. “These two were so little; you just can’t do that to siblings — it’s just not right.”

Victoria was 23 months old and Chance was 10 months old. The state had severed parental rights. Nuehring’s was the fourth foster home for the kids in six months.

Nuehring grew up in Little Falls, graduating from high school in 1981. She worked a variety of jobs before going to Las Vegas in 1991 with friends.

Eventually, they all moved back or married and she was on her own. She married for a time and then divorced, and was working at the MGM Grand Hotel. The time for kids was just right.

“We had a little over a year trial period,” she said. “Thank heavens for double strollers — I could keep hold of them by myself.”

Both kids were in diapers, both still using bottles.

“I was an ‘instant mom’ and it was a lot of hard work,” she said. “Everywhere I went, they went. We took walks and went to the park.”

The MGM Grand had on-site day care, so the kids were right next door while Nuehring worked, close enough to pop in and say “hi” during her lunch hour.

Shortly before the adoption was complete, Nuehring was diagnosed with relapsing/remitting multiple sclerosis.

“They were already part of my life,” she said. “I was not even going to consider not going through with the adoption.”

Her former in-laws were very supportive, but Nuehring could see that Las Vegas was no place to raise children.

“There were gangs, smog, illegal aliens looking for work and it was very crowded,” she said.

Three days after the adoption was finalized, Nuehring packed up everything and moved back to Little Falls, arriving on the Fourth of July in 2005. The family of three moved into a basement apartment in her parents’ home  south of Little Falls.

“We helped them out, since they are snow bunnies and enjoy taking cruises, too,” Nuehring said.

Without any expectations, Nuehring had applied to be a homeowner with Habitat for Humanity. There were forms to fill out and a committee to meet. Still, Nuehring was shocked to receive a phone call from Habitat’s Executive Director Kathy Kahlhamer one day letting her know that she had been chosen.

The typical house plan was modified to be handicapped-accessible, which was a great comfort to Nuehring.

“And the kids love having their own rooms,” she said. “They have their dogs and room to play, both here and next door at Grandma and Papa’s.”

“We’re glad they’re close by,” said Lori’s mom, Lorrayne.

The house was the first built by Habitat in Morrison County outside city limits. Nuehring’s parents donated land next to their home, so they are near to provide support when needed.

“Lori is a mom who clearly loves her children, and it shows,” Kahlhamer said.

“Habitat provided a home for Lori, but it’s Lori who provided a home for Victoria and Chance,” said Lori’s pastor at Faith Lutheran, Nate Bjorge.

It’s been an eventful journey, but even now, Nuehring wouldn’t change a thing.

Being a single parent is really hard, but she would rather see kids in a single-parent home where at least one parent loves them, than in a foster home where they don’t get much attention, Nuehring said.

“I do what I have to do to make their lives easier, to help them deal with the effects of their early months,” she said. “I can’t even think of what my life would be without them.”