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Photo courtesy of Lisa Cuza Lisa Cuza and husband George will be honored at the Angels in Adoption event in Washington, D.C.

They didn't know about the award, and sure didn't realize someone had nominated them for it.

But Lisa and George Cuza know all about the Angels in Adoption now.

The couple was surprised with news of the honor recently, and will head to Washington, D.C., for a series of events.

The three-day trip in September includes training on how to "use their personal experience to effect change on behalf of children in need of homes and to celebrate their hard work and dedication to the issue."

According to a news release, the Cuzas "have been chosen for this honor because of their dedication to adoption and positive child welfare practices."

Congressman Mike Thomson's office nominated them after hearing their "amazing" story.

"We were floored and in disbelief," said Lisa Cuza, an Antioch High School teacher. "We had never given it a second thought to what we had done with our children. We didn't think there was anything extraordinary about our story."

But, now, off to the nation's capital goes the family, which includes Rhoda, 23, a Cal State East Bay student majoring in kinesiology; and John-Ronald, 20, a UC Merced student with a double major in mechanical engineering and computer science engineering. The couple also has 11-month-old George, their first biological child.

Leaving behind an abusive situation, the siblings moved in with the Cuzas when they were 17 (Rhoda) and 14 (JR).


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"The children asked for our help and we agreed to open our little home to them. We fell in love with them and they learned to trust us and love us back," Lisa Cuza said. "We loved them as if they had always been ours." By the end of 2008, the two were officially in the Cuza home.

Now six years later, they find themselves celebrating their custom-made family and being put in the spotlight. But they need some assistance first. They have set up an account in hopes of getting enough money to cover transportation and lodging. The goal is $4,000 with a Sept. 7 deadline.

"While this is a tremendous honor, we need financial help to be able to attend," she said.

For more information and how to contribute, visit http://www.gofundme.com/d727h8. For more information on the program, visit www.angelsinadoption.org.