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Damion's Story

The boy's at their last day of Preschool First Step, June 1999, "Having Fun Making Music!"

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 mother".

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 other disorders.

Medical Care

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.

The boy's last day of Preschool First Step.  "Our teachers Fatima Taylor and Barbara Purvis."However, 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.

Early intervention

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.

Preschool services

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.

Adoption

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.

All photos are the property of the families that donated them. The photos are used on the FICC website with the permission of the family who donated them, and may not be downloaded, reproduced or used in any manner without the prior written permission of the family. For additional information, please review our copyyright notice.

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This page last modified on 11-13-2002 (gkp)