Please take a few moments to read a truly inspiring story, featured in the Spring 2013 edition of the Fort Mill Magazine (pages 50-53). The story is written by HOPE Credit Expert, Michelle Black, about an amazing couple who recently graduated from the HOPE Program. We believe you will find their story to be as encouraging and uplifting as we do!
Adopting the Perfect Attitude to Reach Your Goals
At HOPE (Home Ownership Program for Everyone) we have a slogan, “Bad credit happens to good people all the time.” I believe that statement to be 100% true, but it has never been any MORE true than in the case of recent HOPE graduates, Todd and Melissa Melton. Their story is one of selflessness, extreme generosity, and love. Over the past 12 years in my field as a credit expert I have never been so happy to assist a family in overcoming credit issues, nor have I ever felt so personally inspired afterwards.
Todd and Melissa, teenage sweethearts who married in 1994, always knew they wanted a family. A little over 5 years after being married Melissa gave birth to Brandon, a blonde haired, blue-eyed, beautiful baby boy who stole mommy and daddy’s hearts at first sight. As Brandon grew older Todd and Melissa wanted to grow their little family of 3 and they hoped to give Brandon, aka Bam Bam, a baby sister. However, the years passed and Melissa was unable to conceive again. In 2007, Melissa had to undergo a total hysterectomy due to a severe case of endometriosis which she had battled for 6 years. Still, Todd and Melissa knew that their family was not yet complete. They didn’t want Brandon growing up without a sibling.
Since Melissa could no longer carry a biological child of her own, the Meltons began to consider adoption. Previous full-time missionaries with Ambassadors to the Nations, Todd and Melissa first began to research adoptions from China where so many baby girls are born unwanted due to China’s strict one-child policy. Shockingly, Todd and Melissa soon learned that the cost to adopt a baby from China was close to $30,000 – a price that was, unfortunately, out of reach. Still desiring to adopt, Todd and Melissa looked into adoption through foster care in their county. Upon learning about the large number of local children in need of foster homes they promptly applied and were approved to be foster parents. From 2008 - 2011 the Meltons were able to care for and love a total of 7 precious foster children.
In 2009 Todd and Melissa became foster parents to 2 children - an 8 month old baby girl, Shyann, and her 3 year old brother, Isaiah. Shyann and Isaiah’s other 2 siblings, Nathan and Elijah, were being fostered by 2 separate families as well. Then in 2010 a baby girl, Summer, the biological sister of Shyann, Isaiah, Nathan and Elijah, was born and placed with the Meltons at the age of 3 months. In total, there were 5 siblings being cared for by 3 foster families. When the children were finally cleared for adoption in 2011, the Meltons were the only family out of the 3 foster families involved who was able to adopt all 5 children. Yes, their plan was originally to adopt one little girl, but Todd, Melissa, and Brandon had fallen in love with their foster children and couldn’t imagine them being permanently separated from their siblings, or living with anyone else for that matter either. Their little family of 3 had suddenly become a large family of 8!
Shortly after the adoption was finalized, the Melton family was nominated to receive a home from Extreme Makeover Home Edition for their newly enlarged family. In fact, the Meltons were not merely nominated, but they later learned that they were one of the 5 finalists selected to receive a brand new home! Todd, Melissa, and all of the children attended the pre-show rally for Extreme Makeover Home Edition at Belmont Abbey College. The fact that the rally was held at Belmont Abbey College seemed like a good sign since Todd was a student there. (Todd ultimately graduated in May of 2012 with honors from the college receiving his BA in education – no small feat considering that he also worked full time, volunteered at his local church as the children’s church pastor, and was father to a family of 8 all while keeping up with a full time college student’s coursework!)
On the night before Extreme Makeover Home Edition would go to the winners’ home Todd and Melissa sat down with their children. “We explained to them there was a chance that we would be chosen to receive a new, bigger home that next morning,” says Melissa. “But, we also told them that even if we were not chosen we knew that God still had a better plan in store for our family of 8.” Everyone woke up extra early the next morning, a Sunday, and got dressed for church as they did every week. “We knew when they weren’t at our house by a certain time that we weren’t the chosen family. So, we stopped and prayed together. We thanked God for the family that was chosen (in Lincolnton only 20 minutes from our home) and we went to our church, Freedom Christian Center of Charlotte” recalls Melissa. “A lot of our friends were very disappointed, but we were at peace. We really were very excited for the family that was chosen.”
Since more space was still desperately needed, Todd and Melissa decided to try to buy a larger home. Unfortunately, they soon discovered that a home large enough for their family of 8 was way out of their price range, especially since Todd was now the sole breadwinner with the task of caring for such a large family making it impossible for Melissa to continue working outside of the home. So, instead of buying a new home Todd and Melissa would build on to their existing home. By adding a 2nd level to their one-story house the Melton family could add an additional 4 bedrooms, 2 more bathrooms, and an extra laundry room – a great necessity if you have ever tried to do laundry for a family of 8! It was the perfect plan, a more affordable way to provide their family with the space they needed to thrive. Blueprints were purchased, a contractor was found, but when Todd and Melissa went to apply for the construction loan they hit yet another road block. They learned that their credit scores were not high enough to qualify. This was rather surprising because Todd and Melissa always worked hard to maintain good credit and took their financial responsibilities seriously. However, Melissa was uninsured during her 6 year battle with endometriosis and her hysterectomy and we all know how astronomically expensive medical bills can quickly become. The other factor that negatively affected their credit scores was a simple mistake. Todd and Melissa had worked hard to pay off several of their credit card accounts. After paying off the debt, they closed the accounts, believing that to be the right thing to do. What they didn’t realize was that closing those old, seasoned credit lines would drop their credit scores significantly.
You have probably figured this out by now, but Todd and Melissa Melton are not quitters. When they learned that their credit scores were not high enough to qualify for the construction loan they needed they decided to do something about it. Here is where I come into the story. Melissa contacted HOPE for professional credit restoration assistance. The Meltons began working with our team immediately and, before long, their credit scores had increased tremendously! Melissa says, “We would encourage anyone whose credit doesn’t seem to have any hope to contact the HOPE Program! Don’t think it’s impossible to bring your dreams to pass because of low credit scores. HOPE can help your dreams to come true just like they helped our family. Because of the team at HOPE our scores have increased and construction begins on the 2nd level of our home next week!”
Todd and Melissa are a shining example of why we should never give up on our dreams. No matter what setbacks they encounter along the way the Meltons kept their faith in God and their belief that their dreams would come true. When a hysterectomy stopped them from having another biological child of their own, they decided to adopt. When adopting a baby girl from China proved to be out of reach, they opted for a local adoption through social services. When they were not able to adopt the first children they fostered they continued to love other children in spite of their own heartache and vulnerability in doing so. When given the opportunity to keep 5 siblings together in one, loving home, they said “yes!” In the face of great disappointment at not being chosen by Extreme Makeover Home Edition they kept positive attitudes and they taught all 6 of their children the grace to being truly happy for someone else’s miracle instead of being bitter or jealous. When purchasing a new, larger home proved to be unaffordable, the Melton family decided to build on to their existing home. And when unforeseen credit issues made approval for their construction loan impossible, they found HOPE with a company who would help guide them through the process of rebuilding healthy credit again.
Life isn’t always easy and dreams often don’t come true without a fight. You may fall down a hundred times along your journey, but determine now that you will never stop getting back up again. Your dream is worth fighting for just like Todd and Melissa’s dream was worth overcoming every obstacle they encountered. The funny thing is I have a feeling that their dream is not quite through coming true just yet. A national television show may not have decided to build them a dream home, or to pay off their mortgage and debt, but who knows what the future may have in store…
Michelle Black is an 11+ year credit expert with HOPE4USA, a published author, the credit blogger at www.HOPE4USA.com, a recognized credit expert on talk shows and podcasts nationwide, a contributor to the Wealth Section of Fort Mill Magazine, and a regularly featured speaker at seminars up and down the East Coast. She is an expert on improving credit scores, budgeting, and recovering from identity theft. You can connect with Michelle on the HOPE Facebook page by clicking here.