An adoption is a special gift for a family as well as the child, when placed in the right home. Adoption organizations go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that children are placed in loving and caring homes. This is especially the case when a special needs child is placed and when there may be special circumstances of managing their medical care as well as associated developmental delays. Whether the delays are physical or emotional, the importance of accessing care early through Early Intervention can make an enormous impact on the future health of the child.
One such family embarked upon this journey not just once but four times! They soon realized that their effort and care, delivered more in return than they could ever have imagined. Cynthia Bradley – King chose to adopt four special needs children over the course of 6 years.
“I have an addiction to infants!” says Cynthia, “I’d had one biological child but was unable to have any more children. I knew I wanted to parent more children!” She reflected back to a popular talk show host Phil Donahue and his program in the late 1980’s. “There was a feature on the stories of foster children and the large number of available children (mostly minority) for adoption. Something spoke to me! I called the 800 # and was put in touch with Family Services of Western PA.” FSWP was heavily involved in child protective services at that time.
Special Needs Children Developmental delays can be addressed through Early Intervention
Cynthia’s journey began soon after that call when an 18 month old girl in foster care with medical issues was placed in her care. “My daughter was premature; only 2 pounds when she was born to a teen mom. She had extensive respiratory issues and required a trach. She had been living in a foster home that was not equipped to handle her needs.” As a nurse, Cynthia was able to address the medical issues, but noticed extreme developmental delays very early on “. My daughter was unable to walk properly and unable to talk (due to extensive time with a trach); I knew right away that she needed to have support. I reached out to teli which at that time was St Peter’s Child Development Center for Early Intervention Support”.
Based on the child’s needs, teli therapists came to Cynthia’s home to provide Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy. This support helped this medically fragile child “catch up”. “The teli therapists became a true partner in the care of my daughter. They provided all the Early Intervention support she needed, as well as supported me as I worked with her to provide every opportunity for her to grow and develop,” reflects Cynthia.
Just 6 months later, another premature child, who was born to a heroin and alcohol addict came into Cynthia’s care. Cynthia remembers, “He cried inconsolably and was experiencing tremors and I knew I wanted this precious baby.” Recognizing the delays similar to her daughter, Cynthia immediately enlisted the help of the same teli staff that had helped her daughter make such progress. “I made sure my son began at 6 months to ensure his development; primarily in the areas of feeding and gross motor control.”
Within 6 years, Cynthia had formally adopted her foster children, including two more prematurely born sons with histories of pre-natal substance exposure and developmental delays. Her youngest son was placed in her care 2 days after birth!
In each case, the children were exhibiting the devastating effects of maternal drug use which can drastically impact an infant’s development.
Premature birth, poor growth, birth defects, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) are all potential risks for an infant exposed prenatally to drugs and alcohol. While Cynthia could not control their entrance into the world, she was insistent that they had every opportunity, once born, to grow and develop as they should under her watch.
The Success Story!
Fast forward to today, Cynthia takes great pride in the accomplishments of all of her children, All have grown into independent individuals in their own right:
- Oldest son, 45-a Nurse in Buffalo
- Only daughter, 26 -working on her Masters in Social Work at University of Pittsburgh
- Second son, 25-a University of Pittsburgh graduate working with individuals with Autism
- Third son, 24 , Air Force Airman recently returned from Afghanistan
- The baby, 21, Junior in Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh
Becoming a foster parent and eventually an adoptive parent is something that Cynthia obviously embraces with open arms. “While the agencies have changed since I began to adopt my children, I would offer to potential parents options that exist to support them in their journey such as: Adoptive Families magazine-great articles and a wealth of information for prospective and current foster/adoptive parents. Other sources include:
Ultimately, as Cynthia reflects, “Whether you give birth or adopt a child, you never know what you are going to get. There are tons of children natural or adopted that need help working through issues. There are supports like adoption and Early Intervention through teli.”
Interested in learning more about how teli can help?
Visit teli Early Intervention Services or Call 412-922-8322. ext 10 to set up an appointment for evaluation. Most insurance plans are accepted.