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In Plain Sight

On the edge: A family fights to keep its home

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Before the recession hit, the Sadowskis, a family of four in upscale Orange County, Calif., believed they had it made.

They lived in a four-bedroom home in a cul-de-sac. They had an outdoor kitchen, a gas fire pit and a custom pool lined with boulders they had craned in, because they didn’t want artificial rocks. For the Sadowski sons’ birthdays, they celebrated big, with neighbors, family and bounce houses.

They also put away money for emergencies: Tim Sadowski, the father, earned about $160,000 a year and managed to squirrel away $80,000 in savings. They had health insurance, and they had put down 20 percent when they bought their home.

But in 2007, Tim Sadowski’s interior construction business started losing customers. That’s when reality hit: The family might lose their home.

“We don’t want to lose our home,” Krichelle Sadowski, the mother, said. “We love it. We love this neighborhood. My kids have gone to the same school their whole life.”

The Sadowskis weren’t an anomaly. In fact, friends agreed that they were “part of the crowd” of people on the brink of losing their homes. Between 2007 and the beginning of 2010, 6.6 million foreclosures were initiated. And even though the recession has ended, more than a million families in the U.S. are still fighting to save their homes.

Dateline met the Sadowskis in April of 2009 as their financial struggles were underway. We connected with them over the next four years as they negotiated with banks to keep their home and negotiated with each other to maintain their marriage.

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