Refuge comes in many, often unexpected, forms


In 1984, Doug Broadbent, the son of former Mayor Robert Broadbent, was looking for refuge. He was working in the accounting office for the Stardust when the Nevada Gaming Commission raided the casino’s offices. Many people were fired, and several ended up in jail. The commission fined the casino $3 million and revoked its gaming license.

While he was not implicated and did not lose his job, it led him to seek out a more peaceful life in his childhood home of Boulder City. He opened an insurance company and can be found on Nevada Way, still running it with his son today.

One day, a member of his staff came to him and asked him how one goes about adopting a child. A local TV show highlighted children who needed families, and she wanted to begin the process to adopt Marissa, a young girl who had been highlighted. Broadbent’s sister-in-law had adopted children, and his co-worker assumed he knew something of the process.

Over the next few months, Broadbent, his wife, Carol, and this co-worker began the process to become foster parents. Somewhere along the line, the co-worker changed her mind, and Marissa came to live with the Broadbents. This was the first of several children that were fostered by them.

This led to the next opportunity. Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada needed homes to care for babies for 72 hours as a waiting period before they could go to their adoptive parents. The birth mother had a 72-hour window to change her mind about the adoption, and the baby needed to be cared for during this time.

“It definitely lowered our sleep, but it was worth it. We still get cards from these families today. One child, we ended up taking care of for several months due to paperwork issues,” Broadbent recalls.

Life went on and they were almost empty-nesters with the all the freedom that entails when they got a call from Child Haven. There had been a big increase of children in need, as is common around the holidays. There were infant twins that Child Haven could not find a home for. The boy had terrible asthma and had been admitted to the hospital twice in his first two months of life. Given this, they could find no foster home able to care for him and his sister.

The Broadbents had extensive experience with caring for infants and children with asthma. The twins’ mother was working a plan to get the children back, so it would only be for a short time. The Broadbents once again opened their home. A short time later, the mother, still struggling to change her life, saw Carol interacting with her children and decided that, if the Broadbents would agree to adopt her children, then she would relinquish her rights.

It took several years to make it official, but these twins have been a happy part of the Broadbent home for 11 years now.

The story would repeat almost three years later, this time with twin baby girls. They now are, again, a home with four children.

Donald Trump’s election and subsequent executive orders has pushed the plight of refugees around the world to the front of many of our minds. Refugee is most commonly defined as someone forced to leave a country, but more broadly it is defined as one who is in need of refuge. Trump has made his policy known, and it will be decided between him, a few in his circle and the courts.

You and I might have very little say in that decision, but we each have total control over what our personal policy will be when it comes to the people we will find who are seeking refuge.

Adoption and foster care are not for everyone, nor should they be, but there are many other ways to get involved in assisting the plight of refugees. Boulder City provides refuge for many children at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, and it is always looking for volunteers.

Another great organization in nearby Las Vegas, the Ethiopian Community Development Council/African Community Center, helps place refugees from all over the world and is always looking for help. If you would like to volunteer, call LaFawn Harrison at 702-826-3324, ext. 115.

I am grateful for so many in Boulder City like the Broadbents who consistently give up sleep, time, money, their home and a piece of their hearts to provide refuge. I only hope my personal policy on refugees will someday be as selfless and successful as theirs.

Nathaniel Kaey Gee resides in Boulder City with his wife and six kids. He is a civil engineer by day and enjoys writing any chance he gets. You can follow his work on his blog www.thegeebrothers.com.