After Andrew and Alison Wiltzius married in 2011 they knew they wanted to adopt one of the more than 5,000 children in Colorado’s foster care system.
In July, they will gain custody of the child who has lived with them for the past 17 months, but the couple still felt compelled to do more for foster kids. Now, the couple has turned their love of barbecue into a new product that benefits the Windsor nonprofit Adopt Colorado Kids.
Last month, the couple created Bubba Shane BBQ, named after their soon-to-be adopted son, and are selling a line of two Colorado-made barbecue sauces through their website, www.bubbashanebbq.com. $1 from each bottle sold goes to Adopt Colorado Kids.
“We knew we had infertility since we met and that we we’re going to adopt,” Alison said. “When I got the call when I was at work, they said this little guy needed help and asked if we’d take him, and I said OK. We thought he was going to be a short-term placement — we got him when he was 10 weeks old, but now he’s 19 months old, and we’re adopting him. He wasn’t planned, but he was the greatest blessing that occurred to us.”
Andrew and Alison always loved barbecue and made a point to try local barbecue joints when they travel. The couple had taken Bubba to see family in Indiana, and decided they should stop in St. Louis to get a bite to eat.
“One night, we we’re sitting there in one of the barbecue places and we we’re joking around and said, ‘Bubba, you’re going to need to open your own barbecue restaurant so we’ll always have barbecue. We’ll call it Bubba Shane’s Barbecue.’ And it just kind of stuck.”
The barbecue sauce is dairy-free and made in Colorado with all-natural ingredients. The sauce comes in two flavors: whiskey and Carolina styles. Currently, the couple only sells the sauce through their website, but said they would like to expand in the future — possibly selling the barbecue sauces in local stores or farmers markets.
Alison said that while at times being a new adoptive parent can be difficult, she can’t imagine a moment of her life without him. She said he has needed a lot of medical attention and early-childhood intervention therapies over the past year-and-a-half.
“It’s a never-ending job,” Andrew said. “Sadly, it seems like there will always be a need for the foster care system, and in turn, a need for foster parents to support those kids. That’s where Adopt Colorado Kids is such a wonderful organization. They are working to pair up people that may or may not know anything about foster care, but they have a heart and want to help a kid who’s just waiting and yearning for a parent or a family.”
Adopt Colorado Kids, founded by Brian and Julie Mavis, has been in Windsor for the past seven years.
“There are approximately 5,000-6,000 children in Colorado who are in foster care,” Brian Mavis said. “Right now, there are just under 300 who are legally free to be adopted. That means that their biological parent has permanently lost custody of their child.”
He said the state pays between $30,000 and $50,000 for each child in the foster care system each year.
“To put it real simply, these kids feel like nobody wants them, and then when someone says ‘we want you to be our son or daughter,’ they feel wanted for the first time in their lives,” Brian said.
The couple said the whole process has been a roller coaster of emotions, but they are looking forward to July 10, when the adoption process will be complete and they will be Bubba’s permanent legal guardians.
Alison Wiltzius said she is still in contact with Bubba’s birth family, and that he’ll be able to know them as he grows up. She said his biological grandmother visits and even calls Andrew and Alison her adoptive kids.
“Adoption is never what you think it will be,” Alison said. “We didn’t just get a son, we got a new family.”