Jank's family was initially told he would have 24 months, but this summer his condition continued to deteriorate and by Aug. 20 he was signed into hospice care. He has made several lists for himself of things he wants to accomplish in that time. There is the “helping others” list, which includes saying 100,000 prayers and raising $100,000 for an orphanage in Mexico, spreading the word about the importance of signing up to be an organ donor, encouraging others to donate blood, and, of course, the importance of being a forever-after family for adopted children.
While waiting to speak at the courthouse Sheriff Ken Fries gave Jank a gold challenge coin. A ride in a sheriff's car is one of the items on Jank's bucket list. He was clearly thrilled with the gift, and hopeful he was a step closer to checking another item off.
His mother, Brenda Jank, said Josh's coming forward to speak was very unusual for him, because he has Asperger's, so he doesn't like to talk in front of groups or have his picture taken. But Thursday he stood before a crowded hall in the south end of the courthouse and told the gathering why adoption is so important.
“Adoption means a Mom and Dad, learning to dream big dreams, learning to live together, and adoption means love,” Jank said.
Jank has chosen the symbol of a simple plastic red diamond to represent his causes. He hands the items out to people as a reminder and has a website, built by friends of the family, to tell his story.
“Red, because love matters, God does good things under heat and pressure,” Jank said.
Jank grew up in a family with three adopted children, including himself and another brother and sister. He is the oldest of the siblings, Samuel, 18; Joseph, 16; Anna 14; and Noah, 13.
Brenda said she and her husband, Tim, had known from the time they married that they would be adopting part of their family, and because of her husband's past work with children with special needs they wanted to adopt children with those challenges as well. She and Josh are writing a book together about adoption, another item on his list to complete. Brenda Jank read a poem dedicated to her son, their family and adoption during Thursday's presentation.
“Josh, you are a blessing, God calls you by name, there is no one like you, no one is the same,” Brenda Jank said.
Thursday 25 children were given their legal forever-after parents during a special day of celebration of National Adoption Day at the courthouse.
“This day is really not about us; it's all about the children,” Judge Charles Pratt said.
Annually 150 children are adopted in Allen County.