Kylie was born three months premature, deaf and partially paralyzed from the waist down. She would never walk or run like other kids. Her parents, Madeline and Marcus, both addicted to methamphetamine, did not understand how to care for their child. When she would cry they would pinch her cheeks or throw a blanket over her face. Two months after Kylie's birth, Madeline became pregnant with Stewart. She ended up delivering him nearly four months premature.
The nurses in the hospital were the first to begin making reports about the children. Stewart was born with severe physical challenges - quadraparetic and suffering from systemic cerebral palsy. For three months, Madeline rarely visited her baby son in the hospital and when she did she never stayed very long. Madeline and Marcus often left Kylie at home alone to be taken care of by her seven and eight year-old siblings, Sophie and Ben. Kylie stopped showing up for her doctor appointments and a public health nurse was dispatched to the home. When the nurse arrived she found Kylie in her crib, her diaper and crib matt soaked with urine and with bruises on her forehead and face. A little over year after Kylie had been born, Child Welfare Services removed Kylie from her home and claimed guardianship over Stewart who had yet to be released from the hospital.
Stewart and Kylie had been born into a world unprepared for them, but soon their lives changed completely. Stewart and Kylie were assigned a CASA volunteer, Christina. When Christina first met the children, she was overcome with the severity of their case. Kylie was barely alive. Stewart had little hope of a normal life. Fortunately, Christina worked as a public health nurse and had focused her career on answering the special needs of children. Kylie required breathing therapy that had been neglected, and her breathing had eroded into a raspy wheeze. Stewart had yet to be released from the hospital, with his condition showing only gradual improvement.
Christina knew these children would need special care for their entire lives. She diligently began preparing a case for the children, knowing the likelihood of adoption was slim. Kylie was placed into the care of a local Foster cfamily who had been helping children for over twenty years. Soon after, Stewart followed.
"We had been foster parents to twenty-seven children," said Gloria, who ran the foster home with her husband Frank, "and these children were the first ones that ever had a CASA." In the court case that followed, re-unification with the parents was considered and ultimately rejected. The children's needs were too great. "We got such great support from the CASA worker," said Gloria. "She really looked out for the kids side of things and really kept me updated on the court activities."
Christina visited the children often and built a strong relationship with them, as well as with Gloria and Frank. "Christina was a wonderful person for us. She was a great sounding board for the case because there was a lot of medical issues and she really helped us to understand exactly what the children needed."
The children began to thrive in their new environment. Stewart, responded more quickly to treatment than Kylie, but both children began the business of growing up – however different it might be for them. Christina continued her regular visits and became what Gloria described as, "a member of our family. "
"Christina has helped us so much," said Gloria. "And when we decided to adopt the children into our own family, Christina really helped us with every area of the process."
Today Stewart and Kylie are valued members of a loving family who will always be there for them. Each day, Gloria and Frank help both children undergo a regimen of physical therapy, and with perseverance, both children will someday walk unassisted. They have four siblings, two parents and a very special person who will always be a part of their lives. "Christina has always been there for us, " said Gloria. "If I had a problem I could tell her and I knew she'd do her part to try and find a solution. She will always be a part of our life and she'll be able to see these children grow up. She's a member of our family now and we expect that our bond will last our lifetimes."
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