The decision to adopt Ayden was a no-brainer, according to Bob and Beth. They’d been privy to underground reports of the Great Infection and witnessed the zombification of several fellow actors and one director. When everyone else was making plans to get out of Los Angeles, Bob and Beth were trying to figure out how to fly their private plan back in and help a child.
Beth: We’ve always been very interested in helping disadvantaged children and when this catastrophe struck, the first question we asked was “what can we do to help?” Some friends had inadvertently corralled a cute, little six-year-old in their paddock. When they posted pictures of him on Facebook, we were hooked. We had to have that child.
But every decision has a price. Bob and Beth learned that they could leave their second home in Switzerland, but the country’s neutrality did not extend to zombies. Ayden would have to remain in the United States.
Beth: We loaded our entire brood onto the plane and planned a quick pick up and departure from LAX. We were only an hour out when we heard the news that Ayden wouldn’t be allowed out of the country. We were devastated.
A quick family conference took place,as well as an impromptu chat with civil rights leaders and the United Nations, but the world community stood firm that any conveyance carrying zombies would be destroyed. Bob and Beth decided to purchase a ranch in Montana and raise Ayden and the other children there.
Though the plane had been hastily retrofitted with an enclosed cage-like structure, once in Montana reality quickly set in. The ability to hire quality nannies and keep experienced bodyguards was sabotaged by the pervasive fear people felt when they learned their duties included tending a zombie child. Even with the promise of hazardous duty pay and massive bonuses, once the word got out about Ayden, no one applied.
Beth: It didn’t just hurt Ayden, we had eight other children that needed nannies and bodyguards, too. It was an eye-opening experience for us, seeing the ugly side of discrimination.
Ayden was moments away from biting his sister, Penelope, when Bob and Beth heard about our organization. They decided to enlist Ayden in our Visitor’s Weekend Experience. This program is an opportunity for parents to have a little downtime and for the child to be in a safe, controlled environment. At the end of the weekend, Beth and Bob watched from our security center as Ayden interacted with his fellow zombie children. At our haven, Ayden was able to be a kid. He tussled, chased, and moaned along with the other children. He fit in.
Beth: Once we saw how playful and carefree Ayden could be when he was with others like him, our hearts melted. How could we deprive our loved son of this opportunity?
Beth and Bob enrolled Ayden into our program full-time. He responded so well to our interventions that within three months he went on a supervised, off-site visit to the family home in Beverly Hills. The visit was a happy one. His siblings were respectful of his need for space and found activities they could all enjoy. The Z.E.R.O. staff were alert for dangerous situations and intervened as needed.
Beth: The difference three months in the Z.E.R.O. program made in Ayden’s behavior was remarkable. As he was preparing to return to the haven, the children were all planning his next visit.
Bob and Beth then reached out to their Hollywood friends and raised money for a program called “Friends of Ayden.” This program helps to ensure all zombie kids with families can return home and visit in the warm bosom of their family. It pays for training and travel expenses for companions to accompany zombie kids on home visits. Since Friends of Ayden has started, over thirty zombie children have had the most precious gift of all, being able to return home again.
Here at the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization we wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, filled with food and family, and free from the worry of being infected by a zombie.