AJ came into our home Dec. 14 of last year, so it wasn’t quite yet Christmas, but he was our most wonderful gift nonetheless.
In fact, he had claimed a place in our hearts even before he arrived in our home.
My husband, Alan, and I were open to fostering a child with mild needs. Our two oldest children have epilepsy and we have seen firsthand the importance of parent advocacy. However, we didn’t want to take on too much.
Then came AJ. He is a medically fragile child with cystic fibrosis who was born very prematurely and has a gastric tube.
AJ, 3, lived in the hospital until he came to live with us at our home in New Freedom, York County. It was heartbreaking.
Becky Delp and her husband have fostered children in the past, but for the first time, they are providing care for a medically fragile child. Although she had some concerns at first, those passed quickly as she gained confidence in her ability to manage the little boy’s needs and her family embraced him.
At first, I thought: I’m not qualified, I’m not trained.
Andy* needed to be fed through a g-tube when he first came to us. He was born prematurely and spent his first six months in the hospital and then went to a special facility. He had cancer and a weakened immune system. He has chronic lung disease. He needed physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy. It felt overwhelming.
But you’re not on your own. We got training through the hospital and nursing care agency. A nurse stayed at our home every night. Because Andy was under the age of three, his therapy visits were done in our home. We got great support from our Diakon caseworker. Someone was always available to help.
Caring for a medically fragile child does entail extra steps from the foster family. There are lots of appointments. With the nurse there every night, we had to get used to having someone else in our home. But the nurses quickly became like family and their expertise was priceless. As a foster family, you go with the flow anyway.