Fostering, Adopting, Special Needs Parenting.... OH MY! Today we talk to Eric Voltz-Benoit about his experience navigating the foster/adoption system as a special needs parent. Eric shared some FANTASTIC resources with us that you won't want to miss! It's a long episode but totally worth it! A lot of our resources in this episode are Massachusetts based but please use these as tools to find resources in your area as well.
[00:01:22] So, uh, we like to welcome to the show, Eric . Uh, thank you very much for joining us today. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity. Yeah. We're super pumped. Eric is a parent of how many children, Eric, uh, currently five, but we're working on a couple of them. A couple just working on a couple more.
[00:01:43] This is, yeah. We talked to her earlier today about a potential placement. So we'll see. I mean, we've been foster parents for about 10 years now. That's exciting. I kinda call us a foster failure because we tend to adopt the kids that comes to live with us. I like, I like that way of putting it. Yeah. Kind of limits our ability to take more foster kids.
[00:02:05] Cause we just keep them off. Yeah. Well it's like more of like a instant foster success, right? Yes. It's like it doesn't even, yeah, it ends right there. It sounds like a failure at all. Not toss it. Isn't these guys, the kids are fantastic. That's awesome. So tell us a little bit about your story, how you ended up with five and adding in, you know, and a little bit about you.
[00:02:34] So I'm, I'm, I'm a nurse. So I kind of, you know, I kind of do my taking care of people thing. I like to take care of people. Um, you know, when my husband and I got married, we were. I was all about having kids. I've always wanted to have a big family. And he was like, I don't know how I feel about that. Well, a few years in, he kind of gave him, he says, you know what, let's go ahead and try for it.
[00:02:58] And so we, we tried for a few years and we weren't very successful because surrogacy is, is horribly expensive. I mean, it can cost anywhere from 50 to a hundred thousand dollars. That's insane. Is absolutely insane. And at the time we had a couple of German shepherds. So DCF, doesn't like to talk to you, if you have German shepherds, Dobermans, or pit bulls as a foster parent, that's crazy.
[00:03:23] Yeah. It's kind of sad. So yeah, our German shepherds kind of age and, um, eventually passed away. We were like, okay, you know what. You're not going to get any more dogs right now. We're going to call DCF and see about what we can do. So we call them up and, you know, we took our classes and we did everything we were supposed to.
[00:03:41] And. You know, Oh, you know what, I'm going to have to back up here because I got two of my kids before we hooked up with DCS. Okay. We got a couple of those free range kids that you can pick up, you know, down the road. So we range. Yeah. See, I'm trying to jump ahead and not spend the whole hour talking about don't worry.
[00:04:03] How does that work? How do you pick up kids before DCF is before all that? So we had hooked up with, uh, one of those Catholic, uh, one of those religious adoption agencies. Um, and we worked with them for probably three years. We didn't have a whole lot of success. Um, I'm not sure if that we just had a horrible home-study Whitten for us, or, you know, nobody wanted to go to a religious agency and adopts to dads.
[00:04:31] Um, I don't know what the story was, but it took a real, that's amazing. First of all, like that's kind of. Uh, funny
[00:04:42] the irony, the irony is amazing in there. Well, absolutely. But because they were operating in Massachusetts, they're legally not allowed to discriminate against any family. Well, yeah, and I mean, there's a lot of prep. There's probably a lot of. Same sex families looking to adopt you. Can't be in Massachusetts and at least in Massachusetts and you can't be in Massachusetts and be in that industry for lack of a better word and be discriminating against anybody.
[00:05:11] You're not going to. Help place families that's for sure. Yeah. Correct. I mean, it's, it's, there's such a huge deficiency in the amount of foster homes in the state to begin with, but to discriminate against anybody because of who they're married to or what they look like. It's just, it's like shooting yourself in the foot.
[00:05:31] Yeah. Well, you'd think that other States would think that way as well. It's surprises that they're not. Intelligence isn't for everybody. Chris, I'm actually from the deep South and I lived in the deep South for a few weeks, for quite a few years. Um, so I'm kind of used to stay. Yeah, we shouldn't be used.
[00:05:50] It just shouldn't be a thing we have to be used to. It should just be okay. It is 2020. I mean, you hope that some people would come out of the dark ages, but yeah. What can you do? Yeah, so we had, we were getting really frustrated with this agency that we were working with. The social workers were fantastic.
[00:06:09] They were really supportive, but we weren't getting any hits. And a girl that Dennis went to high school with, um, had had a baby who had had some medical complications and wasn't expected to survive. So. He was in the NICU for about, at about weeks three, the medical team told the mom that this was it and she should get him baptized and turn off the ventilator.
[00:06:34] Wow. So mom did that. She prepared herself to let him go. And, uh, they turned off the ventilator and he breathed on it. No, he is a fighter. He is, he's a fantastic fighter. Well, she got him home and the poor mom. I mean, she was a single mother of now three kids, one of them with medical issues. Yeah. Um, and it was really difficult for her.
[00:07:00] And one of her other kids was it's a lot of sibling rivalry, so it was not easy for her. So at about. I want to see it. About two months old, she was realizing that he, she couldn't do it. She couldn't meet his medical needs and take care of her other kids who were difficult to deal with at the time as well.
[00:07:19] So she had reached out to her circle of family and friends to see if anybody could take him. That's a big choice to make. I mean, that's a big, I mean, I mean, it kudos to her for even like, Make it T to T have the forethought of making that choice. We hear all the time that there's mothers who are neglectful or don't make a choice to think 40, to have a forethought, you know, in a way of reaching out to anyhow, buddy, for help.
[00:07:48] Yeah, it definitely took a lot of strength on her part to realize that she couldn't do it. And maybe she, I'm not sure, but maybe she looked at it as that she didn't want somebody like DCF involved. Yeah. Or, or, or his life. Yeah. Correct. Yeah. Um, so we heard about, um, this through. Oh, okay. It's a convoluted story, but basically her ex fiance's family, uh, knows Dennis's family.
[00:08:20] So that's kinda how we got hooked up. And we actually met her in the baby at, um, her ex's house, who she was very close to and, and she was like, Hey, would you guys think about taking them? I know you guys are looking to adopt and we're like, okay. Wow. So that weekend, I picked him up on Friday night after work and he came to stay with us for the weekend, just to, you know, uh, trial baby, how things went and he never lasts.
[00:08:51] Oh, wow. That mom called on set us on Sunday night and she says, Hey, what do you think? What time do you want to drop him off? I'm like, we're not dropping off he's home now. Wow. That's awesome. I'm like, I have like goosebumps right now. I'm like, I'm like, can't even handle it. Yeah. Instantly we fell in love with him and it was hard not to.
[00:09:09] I mean, he was a cute little funny looking baby. Um, now that's a big deal. He, you, this isn't just, he here's a kid, a baby, a newborn or a baby. You know, this is. A kid who had, at that point, I'm assuming some major medical needs, right. That you're just taking on. Yeah, he had seizures. He had some breathing difficulties at first, but when he came to stay with Oxy, he was relatively stable.
[00:09:39] Okay. Maybe he was feeding good. Um, which she had been on a tube feed in the hospital, so things were going pretty good. Um, then we ran into some issues with the state of Massachusetts. Apparently private adoption is not legal here. Okay. So at that point now you're just hanging out with someone else's kid.
[00:09:59] Correct. And we were trying to figure out how to go about this. We contacted an adoption agency and they said, Oh, Yeah, we can do it for, you know, we, we generally do this for $20,000, but because he's special needs, we'll give you a discount. We'll do it for $50. We'll give you a deal. Yeah. We'll give you a deal.
[00:10:18] Plus the plus side of special needs kids, you get a deal.
[00:10:24] What a deal that is very nicely told them where to stick their deals. For sure. Yeah. Yeah. So then we pursued it through the legal system and actually what happened was we went to, um, juvenile court and we, um, we obtained a guardianship of the baby of Zack. He was, I think he was about just over three months old when we got the temporary guardianship.
[00:10:51] And then, um, when we went back for the permanency hearing, uh, the, the biological mom actually went with us. And, uh, stood up with us and said, you know what, judge, you're going to be an idiot. If you don't let these two guys take care of my son. That's awesome. So the judge approved the guardianship and we have been his legal guardians ever since that's, that's insane.
[00:11:12] That's like the best story. Yeah. And he'll be 13 this year. Wow. Yeah. I can't believe it. That's that's awesome. Yeah. So that's how he came to us. Um, and then not long after that, we severed ties with the religious, um, adoption agency and a friend of ours had started his own adoption agency with some grant funding and was working with all of the DCFS across the country.
[00:11:45] So it was really kinda cool. And we had. It's it's weird thing. It's, it's a, it's a website called adopt us kids and it's, it's a creepy, like catalog of kids, pictures with a little snippet about them. I said, he's favorite. He loves going on. The site, what is the one? Like the mass one? The Massachusetts one.
[00:12:10] Yeah, mayor. And he just checking out. He's always like, he know we could foster look at these cute kids. I'm like stop now. Awesome. Okay. We we've already had a child with a disability, like. It's it would be number three. And then even after three, um, Eric, you can vouch for this after three it's like nothing, right?
[00:12:30] It's it's after three kids, you're gonna have like 20 and three 20 doesn't matter. Right. How they start to play with each other and occupy each other. So they don't need you as much. Right. Okay. So, and I know like we want to be young and stuff. And so I want to like the adopts, like the older kids, like we just want to like instant kids.
[00:12:49] Let's jump on the trampoline. We'll have a Nerf war. Then we go play some Legos and then we're going to end it off with some call of duty. Okay. Close to the end of the line, where we can like go out to dinner and have like a life again. I'm good for now. But think how life is happiness. Yeah. Our house is very tiny.
[00:13:13] Hmm. Yeah. You'll have to work on that part. Yeah. Yeah. It's not very tiny. I can make it work. Okay. Well, I have this cabin. I can fit more people than this house anyways. Okay. So not long after that. Yeah. We hooked up with my friend's agency and we saw this kid that we had applied for previously. Who we knew had some special needs.
[00:13:36] Um, and yeah. We had been declined. Okay. So we saw it, he was back on the site again. So we called our social worker and said, Hey, you know, we're interested in this kid. And it was really funny because this kid's foster parents were retiring, so he needed to be moved fast. So everything moved really, really, really quickly.
[00:13:58] And this, this little boy was in Oregon. That's far. Yes. Exact cross the country. Very beautiful. I love it out there. Um, Oh, the country. Okay.
[00:14:15] I thought you were kidding.
[00:14:22] That was amazing. And I was always a geometry. Okay. Okay. You're done doctor. Um, how, how old was. How old was he at the side? Yeah, Ty was Ty was two and a half. So it was funny. We get a call from our social worker saying, Hey, they were, they want to select you for, um, for this kid, but we have to close our agency because we ran into funding.
[00:14:50] Oh my goodness. So it was really kind of cool. He kept. The social worker on to work with us until the adoption was finalized, but we were selected to be this kid's foster parents. We flew out to Oregon to meet him. We brought him home and, and, um, a year later the adoption was finalized. Okay. Yup. I'm like visualizing the process of him.
[00:15:14] Like just running like Indiana Jones. It's like your father, Pam, family's retiring. They're closing. It's like everything's coming after that. Everything's still worked out, which is great. Just slid right here. It's kind of crazy because nothing ever works that quickly with DCF. No you've ever known anybody.
[00:15:32] Who's worked with DCS, but everything moves at the speed of snail. Yeah. Not even a snail snail. That's pretty horrible. How slow things move, but it was late ice. I want to say it was probably less than three months from start to finish with this kid before he was in our house. Oh, wow. And what's really great about working with DCF is there's there's minimal costs involved, right?
[00:16:01] Like the state of Oregon actually flew us from Massachusetts to Oregon to meet this kid and then bring him home. Oh, wow. And they paid for our hotel room as well. Well also w when it's that way, I feel like it's making it more accessible for these kids to be at homes. Absolutely. And hopefully the right homes, you know, like forever homes, if they can be, you know, just homes that are.
[00:16:24] Yeah. And it was fantastic. I mean, you know, he, we knew we had medical needs just like we knew Zach had medical needs previous, um, and both of the boys. Thrived when they came to be with us. I mean, we were able to focus all of our attention on them because it was just us two and the two boys and all of our dogs and cats.
[00:16:44] So we had plenty of time, you know, and work and everything like that too. But we were able to, you know, Zach had some medical challenges, quite a few medical challenges, those first few years that we had him. Um, multiple hospitalizations, a few surgeries, um, out of control epilepsy. So, you know, feeding difficulties where he was no longer eating on his own and we had to get a G-tube put in.
[00:17:09] So there's a lot of things that we went through for those first few years. And then all of a sudden he started to stabilize. And Ty was the same way. I mean, you know, we first got him, it's trying to figure out everything, get them involved with the specialists and then everything kind of stabilized. I mean, we're in a great routine.
[00:17:26] And I was like, Hey, you know what? Maybe do, you know, I think that, you know, w we've heard this time and time again with almost every special needs parent we've talked to, you know, even when, and everybody, I feel like it's like, you hear the same story. You get a diagnosis or whatever. And those first year, two years, three years is just, it feels like chaos.
[00:17:52] Everything is just everywhere and you're it. It's almost, I don't even know that it's, if it's the child that's not stable or it's that you don't have a stabilization in general, you're just figuring out how things are going to work for you. And then you kind of. You figure it out, you, you figure out the doctor's appointments, you have less of them, or you have a routine as, as a couple or as on your own.
[00:18:18] And you know, you know, okay. And we wake up in the morning, we do X, Y, and Z, and then we're going to go to these appointments and we have school, and now I know how to advocate properly so that if I have to get on the phone with me with, you know, Medicaid, I'm going to do that at this time of day, not on Monday morning, you know, to maximize my time and be efficient.
[00:18:35] And these are the things I'm going to do. And all of a sudden it's now this is my norm. Yeah. Yeah. My life is in chaos and things stay ways for us though, because we get used to it. It's easy. Yeah. Now you've built that routine. Well, the, what I always like to say and how I break it down to everybody is you don't have another frame of reference.
[00:18:58] There's not another life that you lived to be like, Oh yeah. To hold in comparison that this is different. This is, this is not. Typical. And this is not the same because when, you know, um, when we talk about, you know, Eddie and his disabilities, um, people that that's crazy, you got to do that. And I'm like, well, no, because he's the only son I've ever had.
[00:19:18] And for me is, you know, us using the bathroom. This is how he uses the bathroom. I didn't have the teach another son a different way, how to use the bathroom compared to Eddie. So it's, it's not different. It's not. Difficult. It's it's, that's what it is. And this is, this is, and same with him. He like, people will say, Oh, he's so brave to do this or this at school.
[00:19:39] I'm like, he won't, he went to school for the first school. And this is how he goes to the bathroom because he doesn't know a different way to do something. Or he doesn't know that when he goes to the biggie, he takes his wheelchair because his legs get tired. Like, I mean, he does now. He's getting older.
[00:19:55] He's realizing that, you know, Not everybody takes a wheelchair to the biggie, but like, this is his norm because he just knows, Oh, I'm a little bit different. So this is how I do things like it is. And maybe that's just because that's how we talk to him. But I think that's probably how most parents talk to their kids in general, special needs or not.
[00:20:17] You just whatever's normal in your house is your normal. Yep, absolutely. And I guess it was kind of weird for us because you know, Zach and Ty were our first two kids and. There were both special needs. And, and I wasn't sure that we knew how to Aaron, a normal or neuron quote unquote normal or neurosurgeon local kids.
[00:20:39] So I was kind of terrified of getting hooked up with DCF after we lost the German shepherds. Um, but we did, and we got some placements. We had a couple of temporary placements that, that. Didn't work out because they went back to their biological family or they went somewhere else. Um, and we just kind of along the way, started collecting more kids.
[00:21:01] I mean, we had Zach and Ty, then we got Jayden and we had Jayden for, well, I want to say three plus years before he was finally adopted. I love that you say collecting, like it's. Bunch of like Apple teaspoons that your grandmother had in her kitchen. Like I just like those blue plate. Yes, exactly. Like pottery or something, which is like, once we started collecting them, they just really look great in our kitchen.
[00:21:26] Yeah. It worked out great. We had a few to tag sale here and there. Yeah. Yeah. Jayden came across us when he was two, um, had a lot of behavioral issues. Uh, which is something I wasn't used to because neither one of my previous kids knew how to talk. Right. So now I have this two-year-old chatterbox who never, ever, ever stops talking.
[00:21:50] I have a 34 year old one. I thought we're going to talk about her son. No, you know,
[00:22:01] I anyways, about mine the same way. I'm like, yeah, this is my oldest child. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So you, I mean, how, what is it like every, like two to three years where you kind of, where you guys kind of like, Oh, things are stabilizing. Yeah. I mean, Mandy and Ryan were, they were sibling group that came together.
[00:22:23] So probably about. Year and a half to two years after Jayden came, we had had a couple of other temporary placements and that's when the Indian Ryan came to us and they kind of completed us. They know the three of them. We adopted them actually all in the same year, within a few months. Oh, wow. Which was kind of neat and scary and cool at the same time.
[00:22:44] Yeah. Yeah. And then we kind of decided, you know, after, you know, after number five was adopted, we were done adopting, but we were, you know, we were interested in still doing a little foster here and there. Um, we'd like to do what's called weekend respite. Okay. And we can, respite is when a kid comes into foster care on a Friday afternoon and they have nowhere to put them.
[00:23:04] So instead of being like in a group home, or they'll just come stay with us for the weekend and they go back to DCF office on Monday, that seems okay because weekend instead of hanging out in the DCF office with a social worker, Oh, they have to stay in that office all day long. That seems terrible. Well, I've heard stories about that.
[00:23:24] Um, I, you know, Because there are so few foster parents and there are so few people willing to take kids who may or may not have special needs or behavioral problems into their homes. It's sometimes kids are stuck going to group homes. Some kids end up in the hospital until they can find us off a foster placement.
[00:23:43] So it's kind of scary. So we decided to do that and we got a little girl, um, at three months old, it was quote unquote neuro-typical. Um, and it was kind of cool when I saw you out at the store. I had her for almost three years before she went back to her biological family. Oh, wow. Kinda neat, because that was the first time I've ever been able to go through all the normal.
[00:24:08] Developmental milestones. And you started with a baby, so it's like you had, like, I don't know. I, I, it was kind of cool. Cause I realized that, Hey, I really can raise it like a real, like what you did raise children
[00:24:25] for me, because I was never sure that I can actually do them. Right. Well, you did. I know what you mean. Yeah. Yeah. And from seed from the beginning, like you're raising them from the beginning and like watching them, like, I know what that feels like. Like I think like with Annabella, like we, it was so crazy to see her develop into like, For that, like when they become something you're like, Oh, that's not something I taught her that's her.
[00:24:56] Or, you know, and then say, even with Eddie, like there was a lot of things that he. Developed later. So I was constantly trying to figure out like, is this because this is who he is or is this because of a developmental thing or did Bella develop faster? And we were constant. And I remember like an early intervention.
[00:25:18] They were constantly telling me like, just stop. It really, it just doesn't matter. Just hang out with early is not to compare your children to other people's kids because they all develop a difference. Yeah. And they're in your house. So they're also just a little bit of a product of you. So you can't keep comparing them to like other people's kids or even your own other kid, because it just doesn't matter.
[00:25:40] And of course, I'm type a, so I compare everything to everything and. Yeah for me, I was just there to like, enjoy the ride. That's like, what I miss. I miss. Like, I, it, for me, like, as, as a guy and stuff, I feel like I always get like, looked at weird and stuff, but like, I love, like, I love babies, like, like in that's like we see babies and Chris and looks at me immediately.
[00:26:03] She was like, no, no, because that's like, I'm like, Oh my gosh. Like, and that's what I miss so much. Having the kids like getting it cuddles whenever you want. But also you have like this little puppet that you can, you know, like we were just talking about like, Bella, like when she was a baby, like doing that little thing under their throat where they like, uh, they also are just laughing and then you start laughing and then they get just she'll look at you.
[00:26:27] Uh, and then they just expect you to start doing it. And so it was like always is on the stomach that makes them long. Yeah. Like, I can't tell you the last time they were like, you do that like four years older. That's it. Other than that, I still think it's funny to do it over us because I'm like, so like starved for affection, like them.
[00:26:52] I'm like guys, come get him a dirty, old group hug. And he was like, get out of here, dad I'll hug her. I'm a touch her. I'm a hugger. Like I touched her. And when I talked to you, so. I've always been all over the kids. Like I hug a lot. I it's funny because my girlfriend's kids, um, they're not huggers. They're not touching.
[00:27:13] Yeah. Yes. But you know, in the past year that we've been hanging out, the two families have been hanging out. It's like the kids expect a hug for me now. That's great. And hers, her youngest is got sensory issues. So he doesn't like people touching him. And even though it doesn't hurt, he goes out, out, out. Oh yeah, I got it.
[00:27:32] Cause like that he's got one like that. He still lets me hung him. Yep. Break down those barriers, man. Awesome. But I love it. That's what you do, dude, like hugs and he's very physical, like very. Sensory like that way. And I'm the opposite. And so our kids, I mean, I'm not with the kids, but just in general. And our kids are very much like that.
[00:27:55] Like, but Bella is, don't go anywhere near her. Don't touch her. Don't anything she's like, and she'll say out, she'll be like, Oh, I'm like no one even came near you. And then little Eddy all day long. Well, can I just have a hug? I'm like, yeah, well, hold on. So you want a hug? Oh, right there. Well, and it's like, it's like, I always want affection from the kids, but God forbid, if Dennis touches you, you're like, Oh, don't touch me.
[00:28:21] Get away from me. So funny go away. So we're curious. I mean, it. I know to you. And you're like you said, like, Oh, you know, and then we just started collecting them. Or we, you know, we were looking for to start a family. And so this is the route, but you know, with us, like we say, we, this was our norm, you know, we, we were given a diagnosis with our son, you know, that was our diagnosis.
[00:28:47] So we had to make this our norm. Right. For you, you, you made a conscious effort. You. Someone came to you and said, Hey, you know, we have this idea w with Zach, I mean, we didn't know what his medical needs were at that point. He was three months old. We knew he had had seizures at birth. We knew that he had been intubated at birth.
[00:29:09] Um, but we didn't know what the future was going to hold. And basically the doctor said, you're not going to know what he's going to be like until he starts missing milestones. Got it. Right. So you weren't, you didn't know. What medical future you were walking into necessarily? No. And it's funny because Dennis was pretty kind of actually gung ho about taking Zack and.
[00:29:34] Not because I didn't want Zack, but because I'm a realist and I'm a nurse and I know what kind of things could happen. I kind of tried to talk him out of a little bit just to make sure he was a hundred pounds. Yes, I get that test. Yeah. We, uh, we, I think we're similar, like our personalities, like when we got Eddie's diagnosis, we say this a lot, like Eddie with big Eddie was very like, bring it on, bring it, bring it on.
[00:30:01] We got this, this is nothing we can handle anything. And I remember I was very like, I'm just a realist. So I look at all of the like worst case scenario first. And then I say, can I handle worst case? And I remember saying to the doctor, like what's worst case. And they were like, well, I don't know if you're in work.
[00:30:19] And I was like, I need to hear worst case scenario so that we can decide if we can handle worst case. And then if we can, okay. But I need to put myself in all of the situations before I can truly wrap my head around everything. Well, you're braver than I am. I never asked for worst case because I'm a nurse.
[00:30:38] I knew what worst case law. I think otherwise I would have my, I would have just been going down this, like, you know, rabbit hole and anxiety written. Yeah. Well, I want to be clear, like, you know, I was like, bring it on, but that was after, you know, I fully supported you too. Choo, you know, make your choice.
[00:30:57] You do what you felt was right. Like I respect you as a woman. Um, and that's not my body, my choice. So I just want you to know, I stand behind you. You wouldn't have had a choice, your choice. So moving on with me. Same way. I listened to what was going on. I listened to what I needed to do and, and I was, I was okay.
[00:31:20] What's the next step. Okay. Yeah. He's not feeding properly. I've been telling you this. I've been telling these doctors he's not feeding. Right. I'm having to practically force feed him. He won't take the bottle. Well, he's not losing weight. Well, yeah, because I'm making a meat. Yeah. But it it's. So it's, it's, let's make the NEPs next steps.
[00:31:38] And then once everything was accomplished, that's when I broke down and had my little meltdowns and my little Hines. But you have to have, yeah, absolutely. You have to let that emotion out, but it's, it's like, I try to be the strong one until everything's done. Like every hospitalization it's. And you go through and you, you, you deal with the intubations and the seizures and the infections, and you, you deal with all of that.
[00:32:04] And you, you finally, you know, you, when you're a little battles and he gets taken off the ventilator and graduates down to high flow oxygen, and then he graduates from high flow oxygen. Down to regular nasal cannula, and then you're excited and you finally get to go home. And on the way home from the hospital is when you break down and you know, you call mommy and mommy is like, I know, I know.
[00:32:27] And, and you just kind of freak out and do your thing, and then you move on with your life. Yeah. And what's kind of how, and then life gets normal again, and then just normal. You get your new normal, because it's not always normal. Again. You have, I remember one time Zach went in for RSV and I just fricking hate cause he had been there yeah.
[00:32:50] To nebulizer unusual stuff for months. Yep. So one time he went in for RSV and he ended up having to go home on oxygen. It was a little rough. I mean, you know, this is a new normal for us and we worked really hard and we did a lot of pulmonary exercises for him and got him back on track and got him off the oxygen.
[00:33:09] It was fantastic. It was really great. We got them off the oxygen and then the following fall, he had RSV again. And he's able to get them off the oxygen. So he's been on oxygen since he's about two years. Oh, wow. Yeah. So that's your new normal? So that's my normal one. My new normal, yeah. With all the respiratory treatments, you know, the seizures got really bad for a while and we dealt with the seizures and now the seizures are a lot better.
[00:33:39] But then my second oldest Tai, who has. Um, developmental delays and autism, and he has a feeding tube. And this kid who had not had a seizure since he was a baby, all of a sudden two years ago started having seizures again, real quick. I wanted to get this little zinger in your back, back when we were talking about, um, you were like, Oh, Oregon flew us out there.
[00:34:00] And I was like, of course, they're gonna fly you out there. And I hear nobody makes it out through the trail. Sorry. That's that's all I wanted to get out there. I'm sorry. I'm totally plugging that. I'm going to edit that in. So let's see, let's get back to our questions cause I forgot, um, classic me. Okay. I know I'll do that.
[00:34:24] And then I forget Eddie is dying to ask you. Cause I think he's really interested in this with everybody that we talked to, but specifically you guys, but the connection of. Anyone that that does good. We feel that foster care adoption is doing good. I mean, you're making a difference in these children's lives.
[00:34:46] You you're. Yes. You started a family and you're having a family, but you choose to have five children and you're making a difference in five children's lives. What was your childhood like? What do you think that there's a correlation between, you know, your childhood and. Choices you're making to make these children's lives better.
[00:35:09] Um, I'm not sure. I mean, I was. Was he the oldest of three at home growing up. Um, and I was, I don't know. I think I kind of was kind of really disconnected from my family, um, growing up because I just felt different and I didn't. I dunno, I didn't mature. Well, like physically I'm matured early. I think it was around 11.
[00:35:33] When I was in full bloom. Puberty. You got your breasts early. You got your faces. That would that's appalling. Yeah, it was kind of creepy, but. Mentally, I didn't mature. And Ty was much older. Like I was 16 or 17 before I started to mentally mature. Um, my parents were hard workers. My dad was in the military.
[00:35:56] He had a part-time job. My mom always worked full time. So it was mostly just the kids that were home. We were, we were latchkey kids from the eighties and nineties, so we were always. No, we were mostly home alone. That's on military basis. So of course it was a lot safer for us. Um, we lived overseas, so. I mean, I lived in Germany for 11 years with my family and then another three years on my own when I was in the military.
[00:36:27] So my upbringing was a little bit different from, you know, yours or most other people who are born here in the States. I have friends right now. Who've never been out of the out of new England. Yeah. And I grew up Paris. Yeah. Getting to travel and see. Yes, it was the coolest thing ever. Um, I always knew from a young age that I wanted to have kids, um, you know, when I was a kid, I didn't know what gay was and it was a bad word.
[00:36:59] I didn't know that it meant that I wanted Timmy to kiss me instead of Susie to kiss me. So I didn't that's, that's where my, my lack of maturity as a, as a teenager kind of. Kind of shocked me a little bit. Cause I didn't realize that that the way I was feeling wasn't normal. Yeah. Uh, and so I was a little bit older and then I had some really weird experiences that kind of turned me off from the whole thing.
[00:37:23] Anyways, Eddie wanted Susie and Julie and Tina and everybody else to kiss him. It wasn't like that teenager. It wasn't your typical red blooded American horndog teenager. That just wanted to me everything that wouldn't run. Right. Um, and that wasn't me. I had no interest in sex, a paternal figure with your, with your siblings, like as the oldest child, were you like a typical older child is taking care of the siblings.
[00:37:52] Oh, yeah. My, my middle brother is he's a year and a half younger than I am, and I constantly Boston around and told him what to do. He hated it. Yeah. And we used to get in fist fights all the time. It was fun. Yeah. So you have that typical kind of personality. I think, you know, where. I always think that, but then I don't feel like I have that personality, but I only have one sibling, but I think someone who has more than one sibling and they're the oldest, I think has kind of that.
[00:38:23] Personality to be like that. He's also a lot younger though when I was in a caretaker role in a little bit. Oh, it was, yeah. I mean, I was, I was hoping to take care of my baby brother. Um, see my mom had him when I was seven, kind of like, yeah. Yeah, well, it was 10 30 slept in my room too. So, you know, I would be the one who woke up with the middle, middle of the night and got him his bottle.
[00:38:47] You know, my mom's off to work at four o'clock in the morning. I would be getting him ready for my dad to pick up for daycare. Oh, so you were set to be in that, I guess looking back, you could kind of say it wasn't set up. Yeah. Yeah. It's their fault. It's their fault would go about it a different way.
[00:39:04] Cause neither one of us have a uterus. Which is probably a good thing. Cause if I had a uterus, I'd probably have like 12 kids. Oh no, you wouldn't trust me
[00:39:16] as a teenager. Sure. I would have been a knocked up girl at 16. Let me tell ya. Well, you'd have one and you'd be like, nevermind.
[00:39:28] Cuban Ben there not all it's cracked up to me. Well, yeah. I already knew that I wanted to have a big family. Um, and I never really fought that I'd have five or, or potentially seven placement works out. Um, but you know, it just kind of happened. Yeah, well, the foster parent would DCF calls you and they're like, Hey, I got a placement.
[00:39:53] Are you interested? I'm like, Oh, I guess so. Yeah, sure. Why not? I'll make that work. You think like, you'll just know when you're kind of completed as a family and you guys are. Right. Almost so DCF has rules. Well, that makes sense. They should probably exactly. You're not supposed to have more than six. Okay.
[00:40:14] Um, but because this, this, uh, these two boys that we're looking at right now, because they're a sibling group and they're a little older than normal adopted kids. Um, they're going to give us potentially, we're going to get a waiver to allow us to take a seven. Got it. And do you typically only do faster to adoption, do business down?
[00:40:34] All right. That's it exactly university's closed. See if the uterus is closed. Um, we originally went into this as foster to adopt. Okay. Um, but we, we had many foster placements that we knew were only temporary, you know, when we're looking for the right fit sometimes. Yeah. We'll take kids that are just temporary placements, but that's kind of how Jayden ended up with us.
[00:40:59] He was an emergent emergency placement social worker said, Hey, I got a kid that needs a place to go starting tomorrow. Cause his foster family, um, Uh, they, they need him gone. Yeah. So that's how Jamie ended up here and he's still here. Wow. There'll be 10 this year. I love it. So it's kind of cool. Yeah. I love that for them.
[00:41:23] I think it's great. Cause you know, like, um, I was really excited about this interview because like, because, because that's, that's something that I like, I absolutely admire, you know, and it was, um, I re I remember we were over at some, like, it was like the taste of something. We were at the fundraiser for Chris and we ran into him.
[00:41:47] Okay. Yeah. And so we had written. Yup. Yup. So we had ran into you and do you know, there you are with all your kids and I'm just like by yourself and I'm just like, I can't. Yes. We also saw you at the two adults to five children. That's still insane. Like, cause like in my philosophy, the adults should out number of the kids.
[00:42:13] so you guys have a system? Yeah, his mom lives with us too. Okay. So you have a little bit extra support. So she does help. Yeah. So, I mean, you know, I, I'm not that big of a Saint because my mother-in-law lives with us pretty tastic. And I don't know if we'd be able to do it without her. Yeah. So, so you're, uh, you're a, in the Starbucks world, you're like a grand day size saints.
[00:42:37] Well, that's what I mean, even regardless, there was still the initiative to move forward with this role too, to take these children to you guys have put yourself in this situation where you have this, you know, large family. I know he's going to continuously act like this was just happenstance, but. And be modest, but I really truly believe that you don't even realize yes, it is.
[00:43:01] I admire like I absolutely between what you and Dennis do. Like I just, I just admire that. I admire just, you know, the person you are because that's huge. It was a big. Part of what the world around us is missing. And it's just, it's so nice. And as a team doing it as a team, the team you're doing, I, I love like just, you know, when I get to see the posts and stuff, and then like, I'm jealous, you know, when you guys are out there, I'm like, I'm so jealous.
[00:43:27] Like I don't have I'm sure. Okay. I know, I know, like, I'm sure if we were putting that Robinson in that same position, like I would be able to handle it, but it's just like, I couldn't wrap my head around that right now, but it's our new normal. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Your time it happens. It's our new normal and, and, you know, I'm, I'm kind of selfish.
[00:43:47] I mean, I wanted to have all these kids. You know, I might be a little flippant about it and say, yeah, we're just collecting kids, but no, I wanted every single one of these kids. I'm seriously glad that we did this. Um, and when I, when you know, people ask me what I do, um, you know, the first thing I said is I'm a dad.
[00:44:05] Yeah. Yeah. Because that is my primary responsibility. I mean, yeah. I go to work and I earn a living and I have a really good job that pays well and it allows us to have nice things, but my. Primary responsibility is dad. Yeah. And that's the one thing that's most important to me as being a dad core Dennis.
[00:44:25] I mean, I feel bad for the guy come first. Sorry. I think like the big thing that, you know, we haven't really said, but I think is huge is the fact that you guys are clearly a fantastic team and on the same page or this wouldn't work. Well, I mean, you know, we have our struggles, just like everybody else. We fight, we better.
[00:44:47] We screamed at each other this afternoon.
[00:44:52] Yeah. I mean, we told each other where to stuff it, like he was going to go do something. I said, don't come back. He says fine. He slammed the door. And then he called me a minute later. He was like, Hey, what was the number to that thing? Well, there's nowhere to go right now. We're stuck in a stupid coronavirus.
[00:45:09] I'm stuck with him 24 seven. You're welcome here. You know, how many people would kill to be in that position? Kristen, there's at least like two people in this world that would kill to be in that position. My mom, and then I love to be social and I like to see people. I love going to work because I get to interact with people.
[00:45:30] So it's been a little tough since this pandemic has started to, uh, to. Focus on trying. It's just, this is all crazy. Yeah. This is definitely crazy. Yeah. It's incense to Twilight zone. Then there's this fear and anxiety that one of us is going to get it and we're going to give it to Zach and, Oh, I can't imagine we have a fear over it.
[00:45:51] And for us it's so much more minimal, you know, like I have a fear that we'll give it to Eddie. And I know that, I know that if Eddie gets it, he probably won't even get it. But we know that any infection could affect Eddie, but I also know that like for Eddie, his immune system is strong. And so we're probably okay.
[00:46:11] But I also, it doesn't matter to me, like any infection puts them in the hospital. There's no choice for us, but I can't imagine being in your world where it it's, you know, if it walks in that house you're done. Yeah. I mean, it's terrifying. I mean Zach's life expectancy is 25 to 30 years. That's it. I mean, he is, uh, he's uh, uh, uh, if there's a scale that they use for cerebral palsy kids, um, and it's like, GFCs, I think, I don't know what it stands for, but, um, there's, there's level one to five and five is the most severe.
[00:46:47] Um, and Zach is a five. Okay. Now, do you ever wonder, like I see this a lot, like even with Eddie's diagnosis, they, the life expense expectancy keeps changing because. So quickly the medical community is changing and what they can do for us. Totally. They're learning things so quickly. Um, the thing with Zach is his, you know, cerebral palsy may be his main diagnosis, but it's not, that's not going to kill him.
[00:47:12] Um, what's going to get him eventually is either his epilepsy or his chronic lung disease. Yep. He's he's such a fighter. Zach is a huge fighter and he's come back from so many life-threatening things, but this, this coronavirus is it's terrifying because it, this disease really hits people with his kind of problems.
[00:47:33] Really, really hard. Yeah. And it's so fast. I mean, there's not, you can't, there's no time to fight it. It's just like, bam. Absolutely. Yeah. Um, I love that we state that we kind of we're on this topic of the foster care adoption system. I think it's really good for our, I say for our listeners, I keep saying that's what the last couple of guests, because we're so new.
[00:47:54] We haven't released anything the episodes yet, but I'm willing that we're going to have so many listeners. Millions millions that, that this is, you know, this, I think that this is going to be important to them. And so I know that we had an initial topic, but I think that this topic is beneficial and informative and I'd like eight.
[00:48:13] Do I think that, wow, absolutely. Anytime I talk about sponsoring and foster care and DCF, I always have to put in the plug that we DCF and foster parents DCF is desperate for foster parents who are willing to take kids with medical needs. I can't imagine it's probably so many out there, simple medical needs, like epilepsy or diabetes or, or even, you know, uh, cystic fibrosis.
[00:48:37] That Kristen, you know, those kinds of things that are kind of simple, they're desperate for foster parents that are willing to take. So anybody in the special needs community or anybody period who's willing, um, they can be trained in how to take care of kids with any kind of medical. And so that's my, my, I would say like for my biggest question and I'm in the special needs community, but I would say.
[00:48:58] You know, what's the biggest misconception is it that people assume that it's going to be too hard of an undertaking. And that they won't not be able to handle a child with a need. Cause I would guess that a lot of these kids that I want in there probably may just have some emotional needs as well, that are easy to handle.
[00:49:21] Absolutely. I mean, there's some kind of trauma with these kids. I mean, whether it's the trauma from being removed from their biological family, or if it's, um, domestic violence they witnessed or, or drug use. Or, or maybe they were neglected. Um, there's a lot of different traumas that can cause behavioral issues as well as having kids with medical issues.
[00:49:45] And is there a lot of support from DCF and the agencies that are given to these families so that, you know, do they like, is that something to tell them that like they will get all the support that they need. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, kids with medical complexity, um, you know, anybody who's interested in fostering those kids.
[00:50:07] Um, a lot of times those kids will qualify for a special program called special kids special care. And it's a, it's a case management program that is directly through mass health that helps them manage their kid's care as well as. Uh, help coordinate the appointments, um, push through prior authorizations and referrals.
[00:50:28] So it's a really cool program. Awesome. And I know you're not like an expert in this, but is this something do you know, like across the board, DCF wise in other States as well, do they offer these same kind of resources? Not necessarily. I mean, it's best to contact their, your, your local DCF, wherever you are.
[00:50:48] Um, I know that in Massachusetts, the DCF system is pretty robust. Um, and there's a lot of support. They've hired a bunch of new social workers to help reduce case loads. Um, they have programs like special kids, special care that help there's case management programs for behavioral kids. Um, there are contracted agencies that do foster care.
[00:51:12] So it's a big, huge, robust system in Massachusetts, at least. Um, and you know, DCF like any employer has really great workers and some prodding. So, you know, I mean, one thing I say to people is that if you have a worker that needs some crying, don't forget that worker has a supervisor. Yeah. Right. And that supervisor would rather hear from you that there's a problem then for everything to blow up, needs to be placed somewhere else because you didn't get the support you needed.
[00:51:48] Yeah. Right. Anything from parent AIDS to, um, they can hook you up with therapy. A lot of kids who are, uh, birth to three, uh, will automatically qualify for early intervention, even if they don't have developmental delays. So there's a lot of things that they can put in place to help stabilize a placement for somebody who wants to take a, and we know I've said this time and time again.
[00:52:16] Any kid birth to three would benefit from early intervention. I've learned this over and over. And to be honest, I think that any kid from birth to five with early intervention, those kids that fall through the cracks, like your kids who age out of early intervention, but they aren't severe quote unquote severe enough with needs to get into the preschool preschool school.
[00:52:43] Those kids fall through the cracks and we really need to have extended services for early intervention. And I really wish that the state would get on board with that. Yeah. And there's a lot of towns that don't have preschools. Yeah. A lot of towns don't have preschools. Yeah. I mean, I love that we live in a town that does have.
[00:53:02] A preschool opportunity. Not every kid can get it. You're on a waiting list. You're on like a, it's like a lottery, but most kids have the opportunity in their area to jump in and spring in the town that we're in. But I almost whatever but most, um, I mean, it's not hard to do a Google search, but, um, it's, I, I know that most towns.
[00:53:27] Don't have this, you know, free public access to preschool. And it's crazy to me that. That isn't accessible because you know, you're going to hit me on my soap box because that official, well, I think that should cure in this country should be free. Yes. Well, let's talk about those, those situations. Um, I kind of think it all kind of tangles together and we wouldn't have this opportunity to create, you know, this podcast.
[00:53:53] If we didn't have issues, we just, all these issues use together. Um, you know, when we do, when we talk about, you know, early intervention, but just childcare altogether, um, because that plays a huge role with, for all children, including children with disabilities. Um, I think that, you know, all of that kind of tangles together, so it's a good thing that we're kind of kicking it off and getting this thing rolling.
[00:54:17] Creating waves is how you get that. Change how, how, how we get those, the, you know, the progress that we're looking for. Absolutely. I agree. I mean, you know, back in 2008, when Zach came to live with us, there were no support groups in the area. There was no, there were no support groups for, um, for cerebral palsy, nothing for epilepsy.
[00:54:40] I couldn't find anybody to talk to other than my child's physicians. I knew no other special needs parents. So I felt like we were traveling this journey all by ourselves. We keep hearing that. What would you say to parents in this that are in the same situation right now, coming in new or something, how to find that resource, that group, those other parents that feel like they're coming in this alone.
[00:55:07] They don't know other. You know, parents with the same, like we're learning. I know the same thing. I felt like there's nobody else that whose child has this disability. And then I find there's five or six kids in the same town when I thought this was such a rare thing. Absolutely. What advice would you give those parents that just feel alone at the moment?
[00:55:28] If I would have known at the time, my first phone call would have been to the Federation for children's special needs. Okay. They have the it's a Massachusetts based group. They have a lot of fantastic, amazing resources. May have a parent support line. They have, uh, they have an arm called family ties who does trainings like let's get organized and excuse me, and how to organize all your medical stuff.
[00:55:54] Um, there is family, uh, not just family ties with the Federation. They may have so many resources available to them. Um, and they can help point you in the right direction. You know, if they can't help you, maybe Easter seals can help you, but they can always tell you where to go to find better resources. So really just reach out.
[00:56:14] And just say, Hey, my child just got this diagnosis of a, B or C, what do I do now? And they are fantastic when you in the right direction. If I would've known that when Zach was first diagnosed, Uh, I would've, it would've been so much easier for us. Um, you know, it was funny for me. So my special needs journey, um, you know, after Zach was finally stable authorized, and he was, we were at our new normal, and he wasn't having as many hospitalizations, his physician, um, who was absolutely amazing.
[00:56:50] Dr. Pixie plumber. I will love her till the day I die. That's the best name? She was fantastic. Unfortunately, she moved back to the Midwest to open a complex care clinic. Exceed desperate plumber. Yeah. He made that up right now. Yeah. Dr. Pixie plumbers. That's a cover name for a superhero because if anybody knows Clark Kent.
[00:57:11] Um, what are the other ones like, you know, they all have the BB that was her Clark Kent name. Cause he definitely wasn't superhero. So he was a physician. She was a pediatrician who specialized with kids with complex medical needs. So she was the one who let me know that, um, there were actually family leadership courses that you could take to learn how to be a family leader.
[00:57:33] So, um, I took, uh, there's. Uh, mass DPH department of public health has a family leadership series that I took with them was actually super fantastic. I learned a ton of stuff. I met a lot of other special needs parents, and it was just, it really gave me a better voice to help my kids. Because there was a better way to focus my energy.
[00:57:56] Yeah. Was Dennis okay with you being like, I want to be the leader, I'm going to the courses. He was like, all right, fine. I mean with that, because he's more like a backseat driver. Yeah. I was, you know, what's ironic is a few years ago. I would've never been able to sit here and talk to you guys like this.
[00:58:13] Yeah. I was very shy. Um, not a whole lot of self-confidence. And after taking these family leadership classes, you get to find that inner voice inside you, and it helps you bring you out of your shell and give you more confidence. You learn more, you learn more about the law because they definitely teach a lot about Moe law, especially needs laws that help protect your children.
[00:58:38] And there's IEP classes where you can, you get to learn the fundamentals of IEP and five Oh fours. There's, you know, knowledge is power. Yeah, absolutely. And the more, you know, the more you can advocate for your child. And a few years ago, I actually, um, did something I never, ever thought I would be able to do.
[00:58:59] And I actually got up at the state house. The Massachusetts state house and gave a speech in front of a lot of, um, leaders about, uh, one of the critical needs for my family is the lack of private duty nursing. Yep. So Zack gets nursing hours because of his multiple disabilities and w. Especially on Western mass where we live, there is a huge deficit in, in private home care nurses that are funded through NES health or, or Massachusetts Medicaid.
[00:59:33] Yeah. And, and I couldn't believe it that, that these groups, these leadership classes that I had taken gave me the balls to be able to stand up in front of the state house in front of me. Representatives and senators and, and industry leaders to tell them my story about why my child needed, um, the ability to get more nursing care.
[00:59:55] Well, I think having that voice, I mean, other guests that we've had on have said the same thing, like having a voice and being an advocate helps your child be an advocate for themselves in the future, seeing you be an advocate and being a leader. Is going to help them. If they're, even if they're sitting in a doctor's office and a doctor says to them, you're going to take this medication.
[01:00:17] It's going to give them a voice to turn back to that doctor and say, no, I don't want to be on that medication. I don't like that side effect. I want this medication. They need to feel that they have the strength and the power to say no, absolutely. Because you've done it as a parent. When you don't have that voice as a parent, I don't have done it.
[01:00:38] There's been times I've sat in a doctor's office and just. So you're the doctor. So you must know what's right. And they don't, I mean, I'm with them every day and sometimes times were in the same, you know, same aspect that you sat in the doctor's office is like, no, I know you're wrong. You have this feeling in my gut, you know, I just feel like this is where we, and how many times have we done that?
[01:01:01] And then we came home and you're like, I'm so glad I spoke up. You know, I feel like we made the right decision and they're just like, yeah. Cause that's that's yup. Knowledge is power and being a voice for your child when your child can't use their own voice is, is key. Yeah. Yeah. No, I think that's great advice.
[01:01:20] Um, , it's huge to know that there's a community out there and you need to find it and, and where to find it and utilizing it properly, I think is huge. Yeah. And even if your state doesn't have something like, um, the Federation for children's special needs, um, a call to the department of public health.
[01:01:43] Maybe able to point you in the right direction. Okay. That's actually huge. I didn't even think so. Like, that's always something you think of, like you think of the department of public health as just an agency that oversees something and not necessarily makes a lot of rules in the resources that enforces something.
[01:02:00] It doesn't necessarily have tools to help guide you. Right. Yeah. So Massachusetts DPH also has a community Caroline, which is able to get people in touch with resources and not just special needs resources, but any kind of resource. Oh, that's great. You're actually fantastic. Our, uh, Massachusetts DPH also has a small division called, um, it's the division of children and youth with special health needs.
[01:02:25] Oh, wow. So it's a specific, very specific. Yes. And, and I know the director of that division, she's actually a special needs mom. Oh, well, that's always the best. Yeah. That's how people get involved. Right. Well, what we'll do is at. When we put this up on all of our socials, I'll make sure we link all of the things that we've mentioned.
[01:02:48] Cause I think that they're really good resources for anyone listening. Um, I don't think we normally have so many, but I think that they're, I know as a parent I'm always looking for resources and then somewhat I'll listen to something while I'm driving in my car and I'm not necessarily remembering. And I always think, I wish that they linked that and I can go back and conference yet.
[01:03:07] I have not. We went to meek. It was pretty cool, but they're usually like there as a booth. And I think we've talked about, we've never been to so every year it's usually like the end of February, beginning of March, the Federation puts on a conference at, um, the Seaport in Boston. Okay. And it's all about special needs.
[01:03:31] Oh, we'll have to check it out. That's all it is. Especially the small day Saturday conference. And it's, they have vendors set up. They have a lot of different sessions that you can go in. Did it just get at camp? Did it, was it supposed to be at the March and it got canceled because of COVID. No, it didn't, it's actually on February 29th.
[01:03:50] Yeah. This is a different one. Yeah, but it's a pretty awesome conference and you get to meet a lot of special needs. Well, we'll definitely check it out next year. Awesome. Yeah. Yeah. I go every year, even though some of this stuff can be a little redundant sometimes it's, it's pretty awesome. Closer. You might get something each time I pick up something new.
[01:04:08] Every time I go. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Eric, for coming on this show. I really appreciate it. You know, I'm usually free in the evenings. Perfect. We'll definitely have you on again. Well, thank you so much for listening. We really hope you enjoyed this episode as always, please make sure you share with a friend and leave.
[01:04:29] You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode, on our Facebook or Instagram on, at special about special. Thanks again. And we'll see you soon.
If you are a TikTok stalker like me spending hours going down a TikTok rabbit hole, I guarantee you have seen our next guest. Jordan Toma is a motivational speaker and viral TikToker spreading words of inspiration and support...
What a fun resource we have for you guys today. Mark Ostrom is the Executive Director of Joy Collaborative. Joy Collaborative is a non-profit partnership that connects designers, architects, and builders with donors, voluntee...
This week we spoke with Prakash Radhakrishnan, Creator of the award-winning "This... Is... Me" Docudrama. A film about being a sibling and about how life can be different as a sibling. We speak about the "caretaker" role of ...
Welcome to our first minisode. Where we'll be discussing a variety of topics, most importantly a more personal look into our lives and a chance to discuss previous episodes and hot topics. These will be shorter episodes witho...
This week we spoke with clinical therapist Teanna Diggs. She specializes in Perinatal Mood Disorders. What a fantastic conversation we got to have, you won't want to miss it! Check out her podcast, "The Well: A Mother's Journ...
Today we welcomed two very special guests, our amazing and insightful daughter Annabella as well as our beautiful loving friend Janyce Carroll (or to our kids Auntie Janyce). This week's episode strayed a little from our usua...
Changing the landscape of fashion, Mindy Scheier spoke with us about her experience as a special needs mother as well as how she created her foundation, Runway of Dreams and her new venture Gamut Management. She gave us some ...
Here is the first of many opportunities to hear us! Can't wait to share so many great interviews with you to come in the next few week!