Ala Eddeen was destined for a miserable, perhaps short life. Born with cerebral palsy, the 9-year-old orphan was on his way to an institution where at best "he would stare at a blank wall for the rest of his life," says Scott Southworth, a US military officer who managed against all odds—Iraqi law prohibits foreigners from adopting Iraqi children—to adopt and bring Ala home to Wisconsin.
It took years, the AP reports. First Southworth got permission to bring Ala stateside for medical treatment. Then he campaigned to get Ala "humanitarian parole," lining up everyone from a nun who cared for Ala in Iraq to Wisconsin's lieutenant governor. Southworth and Ala made it home in January, 2005. Last June 4, Ala officially became Southworth's son.