She was so tiny. Her skin so pale, her body so fragile.
We were afraid to take our eyes off her for even a second for fear she’d quit breathing.
How could you not love and care for this new, precious little life?
But addiction has a way of numbing all one’s emotions and focusing them solely on finding that next high. And both her parents were addicts.
That left a four-week-old baby girl struggling to survive.
She wasn’t alone. She has three older siblings. Two that should be in kindergarten but had never seen the inside of a classroom. And a one-year-old sister, guarded and withdrawn, but to her advantage she had caught the attention of a nearby neighbor who would take her home and look after her. She was the lucky one.
They had another older brother but he didn’t live with them. He’d been placed in his maternal grandma’s custody years ago after an incident in his home left him with permanent neurological damage.
And that older brother now attended Roots & Wings.
The neighbor that watched 1-year-old Pamela noticed how sickly her newborn sister looked. She offered to take her to the pediatrician where she received the alarming news. Katia was severely malnourished. Without intervention, the doctor warned she would live another two weeks, at most.
When grandma Patricia got word of the severity of the baby’s condition, she broke down. She knew of her daughter and son-in-law’s addictions, but wasn’t aware of just how bad things had gotten. She immediately came to Roots & Wings for help.
Our first priority was guaranteeing the children’s safety. So, our team went and picked up the children and reported the case to child protective services.
But what would happen to these children?
Their grandmother couldn’t possibly take them all, could she?
Raising five children is a big task under the BEST of circumstances. Raising four more young children when you are a single, 50-something grandmother already raising your special needs grandson – that is a BIG ask.
We offered to search for a home, but grandma Patricia was determined. She did not want to see the children separated, a likely outcome if placed in an orphanage or even in foster care.
And so we took them all to her home, supplied her with everything she’d need to get through that first night, and after baths, dinner and lots of tears, left her with five sleeping children.
Oh, how we prayed she’d be able to handle the challenge – but also to have the strength to admit if it was too much.
The days that followed were tense, full of visits to the pediatrician, blood tests, vitamins, forced feedings, and lots of prayers.
We tried to reach out to the children’s parents and offer our help, but it was ignored. Supervised visits were scheduled at Roots & Wings. They came to their first visit, and that was it. They never came back.
So our team went in search of them – hopeful that we could get through to them and help them understand that we could help them recuperate their children. We went to their home and banged on their door. They didn’t answer, too high to notice or care.
A month after taking them in, grandma Patricia had to have emergency appendicitis. She spent a week in the hospital without any time to prepare.
But Roots & Wings families rallied around her. Another mom in the program took in four of the children and cared for them the entire time she was hospitalized.
One Roots & Wings family has been keeping Katia clothed with their own baby’s hand-me-downs. Another mom meets her every morning to help her bring the children to Roots & Wings.
It has been 4 months since she took them in. Is it difficult for Patricia? Yes. We’d be lying if we said it wasn’t. It’s been very difficult.
But is it worth it? She would say it is. Every single minute. These four siblings are growing up together. They’re safe, their needs are being met, and equally important, they’re loved and they’re a family.
Then, four weeks ago, a miracle happened. Their dad showed up at our door, bags packed, asking for our help. He doesn’t want to lose his children permanently. He wants to change, and that change, he knew, needed to begin with rehab.
We are praying mom will follow suit.
Whatever the outcome, the future is looking much brighter for Michelle, Diego, Pamela and Katia.
And little 5-month-old Katia, she is doing amazing. She is healthy; she is strong; and she is so, so very loved.
Would you like to be a part of one of these precious children’s journey? We need sponsors that want to come alongside each child and help us bring stability and healing to their lives.
Your sponsorship will allow them to continue in Roots & Wings program and give them and their grandma the support they need right now. If you would like to sponsor Michelle (6), Diego (4), Pamela (1) or Katia (5 mo), click here to fill out our sponsorship form. Fill in the name of the child you would like to sponsor.
As always, thank you for helping us keep children in families and help them as a unit grow healthy and strong.