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A New Start for a Medically Fragile Child

By Kinship Center Adoption Social Worker Sherie Dechter, LCSW

On November 3, 2010 in honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, I was invited by Orange County Social Series and Orange County Juvenile Courts to attend a reception for six families selected as their adoption heroes for 2010.  One selected family was the Nelsons, who have  a long history of adopting children with Kinship Center. The Nelsons had previously adopted eight severely disabled children and were open to finding a new member for their family.  In March 2010 they successfully adopted two-year-old Jacob (Jake) as the ninth young member of their family.

Jake was a “medically fragile” infant. Finding a special family for children who have the most severe medical conditions can be a challenge, but a family’s commitment to a child can make such a huge difference in his or her growth and development.

Jake was born with multiple congenital abnormalities and defects, including too much spinal fluid in his brain.  He is blind and possibly deaf. Only three pounds seven ounces at birth, he had lived in foster care or medical facilities his whole life.  But Jake is aware of hands holding him.  He knows when someone is talking to him and rewards them with a huge smile.  He is a sweet child who had a hard road in his life before the Nelson family arrived.

I was able to witness Jake when he met Bob and Linda Nelson for the first time.  As Linda held Jake in her arms she couldn’t take her eyes off him.  Jake seemed to melt into her and his face stayed turned up to meet hers.  They stayed that way for the whole two-hour visit.  Jake was smiling up at her and burrowing into her warm embrace.  The Nelsons took Jake into their home without hesitation.  They have proven to be the strongest possible advocates for Jake, giving him every opportunity to reach his full potential.  Today Jake is thriving, and many other medically fragile children placed through Kinship Center’s STAR program are thriving, thanks to families like the Nelsons who can see past the medical conditions to a little child who needs a “forever family.”

Kinship Center’s STAR program is dedicated to finding homes for children with medical conditions that would normally prevent them from being considered for adoption. Kinship Center specifically recruits and trains families to adopt these special children and give them a chance at living in a loving home.

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