HIXSON, HAMILTON COUNTY (WRCB)  --  For the Collins family the last two years has been a growing experience.

"We had no intention of adopting three, much less four, but you know I fell in love with all of them," says Kathleen Collins.  

Most parents who have children in their 20s begin thinking about settling down or retirement, but Kathleen had other plans despite the bad economy and working three jobs.

Last August, she and her husband Tim adopted three boys from Ghana.

Phillip, Godfred and Joseph quickly adjusted to their new life but they were missing one piece, Clinton, who was added to the family in August. 

"I just thought children should have a better life than that," explains Kathleen.  

Clinton's adoption caught the eye of Ellen Degeneres who flew the family out for just a simple show visit, or so they thought.

"I thought it was weird we weren't going in the front door where everybody was going in," laughs Kathleen.  

However, Ellen had bigger plans. She surprised the family with a new car and a $15,000 gift card to Sam's Club.

"I just kept thinking I read it wrong," Kathleen says. "I was thinking, 'thank you for the $1,500', and she said, 'it's $15,000!'." 

"I said, 'oh my gosh'," adds Kathleen.

"I have never seen a family more deserving than this family," says Chrissy Cooper. 

Cooper is Kathleen's best friend and fellow teacher at Sequoyah High School, but she is also the boys' Godmother.

"We honestly could not love them more if they were are own children," Cooper says. "Kathleen's been through cancer, she has battled so many things in her life, but the one thing she's always talked about is more kids."

"We are so appreciative, of course, I was still tickled to death that I was standing next to Ellen Degeneres," says Kathleen.

The Collins family will head back to the Tennessee Valley Tuesday night.