While we were in the process of becoming foster parents, I remember struggling with how to answer the section detailing the level of need we were able to take into our home. As first time parents, we had no idea what it would be like to have a child at all, let alone what it might look like to have a child with specialized needs and equipment. It was nerve wracking to have to decide who I thought I might be able to parent without ever having parented at all. I thought “Can I do this? Am I strong enough or skilled enough to be a parent to a child with special needs?”
Then I read about parents like Jamie Jenkins and Anthony Ramsey, who have opened their home and hearts to not one child, but four children in need of acute specialized care.
Jamie, a registered nurse and mother of five, has stated on her You Caring fundraising page “Family, friends, and new friends… We are in need of your help to build a handicapped accessible home for our three adopted, wheelchair bound, special needs children. Like most families, our kids- Adacia, Kayden, Rylee, Angel and Ashaun- are our world! But, unlike most families, four of our children have special needs.”
In order to understand the magnitude of need in this family, it is important to get to know these remarkable children. The oldest is Adacia, their daughter biologically, who is described as an amazing big sibling to her brother and sisters.
Next there is Kayden, who was born 9 weeks early addicted to illegal substances. He went through six months of withdrawals and required a feeding tube for the first four and a half years of her life. Kayden has recently graduated from therapy and is full of energy.
Rylee, a month apart from Kayden in age, was born healthy. At three months old, she was shaken and left with traumatic brain injuries that left her blind and developmentally delayed. At the time of injury, she was not expected to live. Today, at five years old, Rylee requires a feeding tube and a wheelchair, and while she does have many special challenges, she is thriving.
Angel, who has suffered a brain injury, two years of hospitalizations, and numerous major surgeries, is “full of smiles” and brings joy to those who help in her round the clock care. Although she in unable to speak, she is learning to use a specialized eye-gaze device to communicate with her family. Angel requires equipment to help her breath, a feeding tube, and a wheelchair.
Rounding out this amazing family is Ashaun, the baby of the family. Ashaun came to Jamie and Anthony’s home following the physical abuse he experienced at nearly two years old. He was left with a traumatic brain injury, suffering from seizures, blind, and unable to walk, talk, or eat on his own. Though he was not expected to survive his injury, he is thriving in spite of it. He is loving, happy boy who loves music and will soon be officially adopted into his wonderful family.
In an interview with Elissa Koehl of USA TODAY, Jamie stated that if they are able to accomplish their fundraising goal and build the home their children need, they will donate their current home to a family who wants to provide foster care, so that they can help even more children. The love she has for children- all children, of all abilities- is clear and overwhelming. Although I have never met her, her example inspires me to be a better parent.
With their children growing, Jamie and Anthony will continually need to adapt to their changing needs. A home that is able to accommodate wheelchairs and other specialized equipment required would mean that they can focus as a family on helping their children thrive. “The home we are currently living in cannot be adapted to meet the needs of our three wheelchair dependent children,” Jamie explains on their fundraising page. “We have searched and brainstormed options to make things work for them, but as they continue to grow, our home is becoming unsafe for them. We have discovered that the cost of building or adapting an existing home for them reaches far beyond our means. We are nearly $500,000.00 away from what it will cost to provide them with the adapted home they require. We appreciate you taking your time to hear our story! Any help will be greatly appreciated!”
As of now, they have quite a way to go before their goal is met. But we can change that! Together, we can help this family reach its goal. Please consider visiting their You Caring fundraising page and reading more.