"The Ellen DeGeneres Show," in which the Collins family from Hixson will appear, will be telecast on WRCB-TV - Comcast cable channel 4 - today at 4 p.m.
Ellen DeGeneres surprised a Hixson couple who had adopted four children from Africa on her talk show Monday by presenting them a $15,000 Sam's gift card and a new Toyota Camry.
The talk show host had invited Kathleen and Tim Collins and their four sons, Joseph, 8, Philip, 5, Godfred, 9, and Clinton, 13, less than two weeks ago to share their story. During the taping, which airs on WRCB-TV today at 4 p.m., she presented them the gifts.
Mrs. Collins had written the show to share her story, according to a show publicist.
The couple, who also have three grown children in their blended family, initially wanted to adopt a child from Haiti following the country's 2010 earthquake.
However, because that country's government halted adoptions, the Collinses learned of another adoption source in the West African country.
When, following a mountain of paperwork, they were approved to adopt, they decided to adopt one child but wound up with three, Godfred, Joseph and Philip, when they adopted the original child and his two brothers,.
"They got over there, saw the boys and fell in love with them," said Mrs. Collins' father, Phil McGregor, "and didn't want to break up the family."
This past summer, they returned to Teshie, Ghana, to adopt Clinton, who was the brothers' best friend at the orphanage and who humbly promised to eat just one meal a day if he could join them.
Clinton now attends Hixson Middle School, while the other three are enrolled at McConnell Elementary. All three boys like to play soccer and quickly learned how to swim, ride a bike and speak English.
On Monday, since a limousine already had been ordered, Mrs. Collins was trying to marshal her troops to get dressed and get a bite to eat before being whisked off to the show.
"They're nervous but excited," she said. "I have no idea what all is going on."
The official invitation for the whirlwind trip to Burbank, Calif., for the show was made Friday, and the family is scheduled to return this evening.
"They filmed nine hours [Saturday] at our house," said Collins.
When DeGeneres originally called to invite her on the show, the Hixson woman saw the call was coming from California, figured it was a wrong number and didn't bother to answer it, McGregor said.
Then, he said, she got curious, called the number back and learned it was connected to the talk show. Eventually, he said, the host did call her back.
Kathleen Collins is a math teacher at Sequoyah High School, while Tim Collins is a self-employed carpenter.
Sequoyah principal J. Todd Jackson said Mrs. Collins has taught at the school for nearly 20 years.
"She very experienced, very caring, very giving [to] her students," he said. "She's very much involved with them personally - with mentoring her students."