IMPACT

Boy Sells Lemonade To Help His Family Raise Funds For His Own Legal Adoption

Nine-year-old Tristan Jacobson raised more than $7,000.

Tristan Jacobson’s lemonade stand was an overwhelming success. Hundreds of people came by over the weekend to support the 9-year-old’s entrepreneurial enterprise in Springfield, Missouri. One couple even drove more than two hours to buy Tristan’s lemonade; while another stranger, driving from California to Chicago, made a detour in his journey just to get a bottle.

The boy’s legal guardian, Donnie Davis, says the outpouring of support was a huge boost for Tristan, a child whose life has been marred by struggle.

“I think this helped to show him there are good people in the world,” she told The Washington Post. “So many people just wanted to give him a hug.”

They also wanted to help Tristan achieve his goal: To raise enough money for his own adoption.

Davis has been caring for Tristan since he was just a baby. Her ex-husband, she said, had cheated on her with a teenager who’d become pregnant. When the girl gave birth, she was unable to care for the infant, and Davis was granted temporary custody of him.

When Tristan was about 4, however, his biological mother sought custody of him and the boy returned to her care. But a year later, he was abandoned on the steps of a local homeless center. The police phoned Davis, who promptly attained legal guardianship of the child. He's been living with her ever since.

That year apart, said Davis, was one full of neglect and trauma for Tristan. His biological mother allegedly abused drugs and had sexual encounters with strangers while he was in the room. Those experiences, said Davis, contributed to a slew of problems for Tristan, who’s been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, impulse control disorder and depression.

For years, Davis has wanted to officially adopt Tristan -- but the cost of the legal fees, she said, have been prohibitively high.

He is absolutely our son. He is in our hearts,” she told the Springfield News-Leader. “[The adoption] is more for reassurance for him, knowing that he has his forever family and he has our name.”

Davis and her husband have been doing what they can to raise money for the adoption, which will reportedly cost about $10,000.

“Anything I could downgrade to save money, I did,” Davis told ABC News. She stopped getting her hair and nails done; and the family got cheaper cell phone, internet and TV plans, and even canceled plans for a summer vacation.

Tristan, who Davis said “likes to take responsibility,” also wanted to lend a hand.

So, he set up a lemonade stand in the hopes of raising a few extra bucks for his family.

Little did he know that he’d achieve that -- and then some. 

After word of his cause spread across the country via news reports and social media, hundreds of strangers flocked to his aid.

Davis told the News-Leader that Tristan’s lemonade stand raised more than $7,000; and another $15,000 has been raised via a YouCaring.com fundraiser.

“There’s not enough words to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who has shown support or given us donations,” Davis said. “Everyone has made this possible. We will make sure this child will forever be ours.”

On Saturday, as bottles of lemonade were snapped up at his stand, Tristan told his customers: "Thank you for helping our adoption."

"She will be my parent," he told the News-Leader, pointing to Davis. "I'm happy because I have a new mom who loves me."

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