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A decade ago, the Hansons made a ‘good kind of crazy’ decision

A decade ago, Gypsum couple finalized adoption of five orphans and launched their practice of giving back to Peru

Snowshoe for Peru participants take off from the start line during last year's event.
Photo courtesy Bartnik Photography

Snowshoe for Peru

  • What: 5K snowshoe outing for all ages and abilities to benefit the  Corazon de Esparanza program in northern Peru
  • When: 9 a.m registration and 10 a.m start on Saturday, Feb. 1
  • Where: Sylvan Lake State Park
  • Details: Cost is $35 and participants can register the day of the event. To learn more visit snowshoeforperu.com

GYPSUM — Robyn and Joel Hanson are well aware that some people thought they were nuts when, 10 years ago, they decided to adopt five siblings from an orphanage in Peru.

“For the people who thought we were crazy, they were right. We are crazy. But it’s a good kind of crazy,” said Robyn Hanson. “We have had our ups and downs like any family. But the best decision that my husband and I ever made was to start our family with five kids.”

The Hanson family was legally created in December of 2010 when their international adoption was finalized and Karina, Araceli, Dany, Yen and Zuleica left the Hogar de Esparanza orphanage and boarded a plane for Colorado. The children settled into the family home in Gypsum and began attending local schools. But Hansons have made sure that the orphanage where their family was born has remained a part of their lives. This Saturday is a great example of how.

The seventh annual Snowshoe for Peru is planned at Sylvan Lake State Park on Saturday. The 5K event is appropriate for all ages and all abilities, with faster participants racing around the course and non-competitive snowshoers taking a strolling approach. The entry fee is $35 and proceeds fund the efforts of Corazon de Esparanza.

Continuing relationship

The Hanson family’s relationship with Corazon de Esparanza predates their decision to adopt their children. When they were just a couple, Joel and Robyn decided to sell everything they owned and spend a year working at the orphanage in Peru. They had always planned to adopt from the orphanage. At the conclusion of their time there, they knew they had found their large family.

During their work at the orphanage, the Hansons were increasingly drawn to five orphaned siblings. The children also began bonding with the couple and one day the kids asked Robyn and Joel if they would be willing to adopt all of them. By that time the Hansons had already decided to go for the adoption, but having the kids make the request really sealed the deal.

The adoption process took more than a year and seemed torturously slow at the time. But the family was all together to celebrate Christmas in 2010.

“It has been a wonderful thing to raise our kids and be a family. Joel and I are so thankful that we did not relocate to Denver and instead decided to be a part of this community,” Robyn said.

From Gypsum, she serves as the CEO of Corazon de Esparanza, described as a “nonprofit dedicated to providing hope to orphaned children, at-risk youth and impoverished women of northern Peru through the support of youth transitional homes, orphanages, youth and women’s programs, short term mission trips and volunteer programs.” Until 2018, she also worked as a teacher at Eagle Valley Middle School. Joel is a full-time UPS employee.

During craft fair season, Robyn can be spotted working the Hilos y Semillas booth — selling knitted items and other hand-made crafts fashioned by single mothers from rural areas in Peru.

“It helps women earn an income and provide for their own families,” Robyn said. “Hilos y Semillas translated means threads and seeds and it represents a common thread of community for these women, planning seeds in their lives.”

Great adventure

Like any family, the Hansons have experienced challenges during the past decade. Last year, the clan added another member when Karina gave birth to Charlotte. Robyn and Joel have custody of their 19-month-old granddaughter.

“My daughter had a baby before she was quite ready to take care of her,” Robyn said. “Charlotte is an absolute joy. She is very loved by her aunts and uncles and she has a good relationship with her mother, who is working in Denver.”

The Hansons say raising their children has been the greatest adventure of their lives.

“Basically our kids, and going through life with them, has been such an opportunity,” Robyn continued. “We want to do something for the kids in Peru who don’t get adopted.”

In three weeks, Dany and Joel plan to travel back to the orphanage. They are the only members of the family who haven’t already traveled back to Peru. Robyn added that Araceli is currently fundraising so she can spend two months working at the orphanage this summer.

“It’s important for our kids to know their Peruvian culture and heritage,” Robyn said.

Today, if she could go back in time and offer some advice to herself at the launch of her family, Robyn had a practical suggestion.

“I would tell myself to remember that when you go out to dinner, we are always a group,”  she offered with a laugh. “Having five kids drastically changes everything but it has been a great adventure and something I am very grateful for.”


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