As a foster parent, I know that if we don't get these
kids into the specialists for evaluations right away, we may never have the opportunity
again. If the child returns home, or moves to another foster home, the needed follow-up
may not be complete. Records are lost, and appointments missed. They are in our home for
only a short time, and our role is to get all the necessary assessments.
The boys came into our lives at three months of age. When the call came, we were so excited -
twins! In our 16 years as foster parents, we had always wanted twins, and now I
was picking them up. As I drove to the Children's Place, where they had spent the first
three months of their life, the words of the caseworker kept racing through my mind -
"basically healthy, born 4 weeks premature to an alcoholic, drug-dependent
The early days
I arrived at the Shelter, and found one baby. The other was back in the hospital
with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), which led to pneumonia for the third time. I was
given the baby, a list of appointments, and instructed to take my "basically
healthy" baby to the pulmonologist that afternoon. He had immature lungs, asthma, and
what they suspected was a blocked nasal cavity. I was sent home to await delivery of the
machines that would control our life for the next 10 months.
Aaron had to be deep suctioned 10 times a day, breathing treatments four times a day, and had major reflux. After Damion was released from the hospital, he joined his brother
in the reflux medicine, and the breathing treatments. Medicine schedules, procedures, and
doctor appointments became a way of life for our family. In addition, Damion had head to
toe eczema, one of the worst cases our dermatologist had ever seen. He had to be greased
four times a day, and wore gloves (and later socks on his hands) for his first year of
life. By the end of their first year, the boys were diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Effect,
asthma, Gastrointestinal Reflux, strabismus (for which Aaron later had surgery), and many
We are lucky to have had the same pediatrician for about 7 years. He knows me, my
kids, gives them excellent referrals, and coordinates their medical care. He also has a
vested interest in the twins for he was also the pediatrician for the birth mother, and
had been instrumental in advocating for her other children. Our pediatrician was present
when the twins were born and has cared for them since. He has a special bond with them. He
has also come to trust my judgment, and when I go in for a Healthy Kids exam, I simply
tell him who I think the baby needs to see. He adds his concerns, and we decide together
how to prioritize, and he makes the necessary referrals.
most foster and adoptive parents don't have the same luck with their children's medical
care. Our kids are on Medicaid, mine through adoption subsidy until the age of 18. I have
witnessed endless "doctor bouncing" by other parents. Doctors stop taking new
Medicaid patients, or change to a different practice. At one time, I had kids seeing one
of three different pediatricians, because one would stop taking new patients, so the next
child I got had to have a new doctor.
When I first brought the boys home we met with the service coordination from our
local early intervention services. What a blessing she was! Not only were my boys getting
services, the services were being brought into our home. As we were averaging 8 doctor
appointments a week (we had a total of eight children at that time), the in-home treatment
was most welcome. The twins benefited greatly from physical therapy, occupational therapy,
eating evaluations, and other services as the needs arose.
By the time they were a year and a half, they were ready to enter a community-based
preschool, with their early interventionists at their sides. The boys thrived in that
environment; many milestones and firsts were celebrated. We were all excited with the
achievements they made with the support of the early intervention program. We miss the
staff that had become so much a part of our lives, in addition to becoming our friends.
At age 3, Aaron and Damion moved onto preschool special education. They are
almost four now, and continue to make strides. Thanks to an excellent program, and awesome
special education teachers, we see new accomplishments almost daily. While Aaron still
struggles with speech, he receives speech therapy in his preschool classroom twice a week.
Damion is working on the motor skills he failed to develop because of the gloved hands in
his early years. They still have a long way to go, but thanks to the early intervention
and early childhood programs, it is not a battle we fight alone.
In August of 1999, in a ceremony at the county courthouse, my husband and I,
along with our other five adopted special needs children, welcomed Aaron and Damion into
our forever family. It was simply a formality, as they had become our children in our
hearts the day I brought them home.
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