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HARD TO PLACE, EASY TO LOVE


THE HOLSTEINS


THE HOME FOR A BUBBLY, SMILING BABY OR YOUNG TODDLER MAY NOT


TAKE LONG TO FIND. FOR OLDER KIDS AND KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS, IT’S


A DIFFERENT STORY AS THEY SEARCH FOR A FAMILY TO CALL THEIR OWN.


BY KRISTINE MELDRUM DENHOLM W When many parents ready their hearts for adoption, they dream


of a newborn. Their empty arms ache to cradle a baby and read Goodnight Moon to him. What about the older child who needs those hugs? Hard-to-place children usually are older, have a mental or a


physical handicap, are a minority or belong to a sibling group. “These are children who do not need a family through any


fault of their own,” says Kathy Ledesma of AdoptUsKids.org, a federally funded organization that displays photos of special-needs children from local agencies. “These are children with difficult life circumstances who survived them.” As of mid-August, in Cuyahoga County, there were more than


650 children in permanent custody, more than 200 with no identified family, who are available for adoption. Nearly 500 are African American and more than 225 are 15 and older. “A child doesn’t just need a family until he’s 18,” says Deborah


Forkas, director of Cuyahoga County Department of Child and Family Services. “He needs a family for the rest of his life.” Meet a few parents who’ve stepped forward to love these kids.


B


erea resident Patricia Holstein, 62, speaks calmly about her seven kids, four of whom are adopted, three deemed medically fragile. Six-year-old twins Avery and Anna are victims


of shaken baby syndrome, Holstein says. When she took them at 9 months, Avery had lesions on the brain and fractured ribs. Anna “bore the brunt of everything” and is quadriplegic. She suffers from severe reflux and cortical blindness (blood vessels rupture behind the retina when shaking). “Anna wouldn’t look you in the eye because she was so


traumatized. They said she did not have quality of life and were considering a home because of all the brain damage. But I said, ‘Let’s take you home and see what we can do with you.’” It took two weeks of holding her day and night to get her to


respond, Holstein says. “Now she’s attached to me at the hip.” “I never intended on doing this,” she says of her and husband


Dennis, 65, raising four age 14 to 32 after embarking on the adoptions through Cuyahoga County. When the Holsteins met daughter Renee, 4, she was a


23-week-old preemie at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. They were told she was quadriplegic. “The first time I saw her, she was just lying there at Rainbow,


like a little slug.” She’d had six abdominal surgeries, was fed through a tube and suffered from asthma. The birth mother couldn’t accept the physical problems and


hospital time, so the Holsteins took the baby home, unafraid of the medical maze. It helped that Holstein is a retired LPN, experienced with 16-hour shifts. The good news? What Renee needed was care and attention.


“When we started with Help Me Grow — occupational and physical therapy and speech — we found she had movement. She was just delayed, and she caught up.” Now, Renee rides a bike, runs and dances. Holstein urges other parents to test the waters by providing


respite care. “Take other people’s medically fragile kids for a night or a week. You need to know if you can do it, if you can stay up all night. “For us, adoption was the right thing. We know the kids aren’t leaving, that they’re ours.”


Continued on next page www.NEOhioFamily.com / November 2010 25


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