Sammy is a true medical miracle! Sammy is not my biological son. I know the deep piercing bond a son from my womb can bring. I love my Sammy just as deeply. Sammy was born a full four months early at the fragile weight of 17 ounces when his birthmother's placenta burst due to her addiction to methamphetamines and landed her in the hospital.
When he tested positive for methamphetamines, Sammy was taken into the custody of Children's Services; his mother's rights suspended until she tested negative for the drug. His premature delivery meant his organs were not developed enough to sustain his life. His lungs were so underdeveloped; he couldn't take his first breath. His brain and nervous system were so undeveloped they couldn't remind him he even needed one.
He survived for the next 16 months in the hospital under the care of medical personnel utilizing mechanical ventilation and IV drips, while he fought his mother's drug addiction. He rapidly produced hundreds of hemangiomas on the outside of his body and thousands more on the inside that impeded the natural function of all his organs. This subjected him to several years of chemotherapy. To the amazement of hospital staff, he endured seven painful abdominal surgeries and survived four, long, close-call resuscitations. Sammy was continually pricked with needles. He was so troubled by this he slept sitting up. Afraid to relax into dreamland, he posed for his next onslaught of cold painful medical procedures delivered by sterile hands and blue scrubs.
Against extraordinary odds, Sammy continued to fight for his life, alone, without the emotional support of a nurturing mother. The severity of his illness, medical cost and a grim prognosis prompted doctors to request a "Do Not Resuscitate Form" be signed by the appointed court judge. Thankfully, the judge refused, and Sammy continued to make use of the hospital's personnel heroic resuscitation efforts. Miraculously, and to the continued amazement of the nurses, therapists and physicians charged with his care, he stabilized enough to be discharged from the hospital.
He was placed in a group home for medically fragile children where he was able to bond with other children who were fighting incredible fights of their own (see Alexia's Story). Six months later, after a long career in child care, the owner of the group home was to retire. She was frightened that if Sammy ended up in the local institution he was slated for, he would shrivel and die. She called me on Thanksgiving Day when she'd heard I was a veteran pediatric nurse and now certified as a medically fragile foster parent. Convinced Sammy wouldn't make it without a vital infusion of love and heartfelt dedication, she urged me to take him into my home. Several days later, he crossed the threshold of my doorway, infusing me with the wonder of his survival.
In less than three years, Sammy has moved from indwelling catheters, feeding tubes and numerous daily medications to being tube and medication free. He is a brilliant, cognitively gifted and active nine year old boy who enjoys every aspect of his precious life and has an exceptionally gentle, sweet soul.
In 2007, my husband and I adopted Sammy, securing his promising future and enriching our lives beyond the expectations we mused over when we started this journey of safe-housing tender souls.
Sammy is doing Wonderful and now is 8 years old, Happy and Healthy.
There are so many other little boys and girls just like Sammy. While we cannot adopt all of the little Sammy's in waiting, we have opened our home to heal as many and love as many as we can and help them move on to loving homes of their own; and so the birth of Angels in Waiting and our determination to affect as many lives as possible.
Thanks for reading.
Linda West Conforti, RN