Sunday, Mar. 5, 2006
This couple has been compared to Elizabeth and Zecariah, who had their son — later to become John the Baptist — at a very late age.
But Benjamin Mata, retired commodore, and Librada, a dentist, now both 75, are not Biblical figures. They are just an ordinary couple who fell in love with a two-month-old boy and took him in as their own son almost nine years ago.
“We were content with what we had, with all our six children giving us 10 grandchildren,” Librada said. “We had the usual family life — having problems sometimes with how the family business goes up and down, family relations. It was a normal life for us.”
But Benjamin admitted that after all of their children were married and had left the nest, their house became “so quiet.”
“We were left behind here, the two of us. It became lonely because this house used to have six children running around. The children would visit us once in a while but we still longed for their company,” he said.
Peter, now nine, knows the story very well. He joined his parents during this interview and they talked about the past like they were recalling a favorite movie.
It was in September 1997 that one of their daughters brought them a nameless baby boy who was abandoned by his mother in a hospital. They named him Peter Emmanuel.
“When I saw the boy, he was already so handsome. There was a full crop of hair on his head but there were so many lice. His bottom was raw because he was not properly cleaned,” Librada recalled.
“That was me,” Peter joined in.
Peter was the product of an illicit affair between the husband of a friend of the Matas’ daughter and his paramour. When the boy was in the hospital, his father was in the United States, visiting his legal wife.
Apparently frustrated with the situation, Peter’s mother left him in the hospital but not before letting the family know about the affair.
“The first wife called my daughter and asked her to check if it was true. So my daughter went to the hospital and found Peter there. She took pity on him so she brought him to me,” Librada said.
When Benjamin learned that Peter was coming home to them, he immediately rushed to a mall to buy diapers, infant formula, feeding bottles and nipples — practically everything a baby could need because they no longer had any “baby stuff” at their home.
“At that time both of us were already 67. While I was in the baby department buying in a rush, the sales girls there were all surprised that this old man was buying all these things. (I presumed they were thinking) ‘Is that another man, making his last hurrah?’ I could see the faces of the salesgirls. They were not smiling but smirking. That started our life with Peter,” he recalled with a hearty laugh.
With Peter, Benjamin experienced being a father for the first time. Before, his job had kept him away from home for long stretches.
“I was a ship captain when my wife started having children and I did not experience seeing my children born, sit up, make the first step, speak their first words. I hardly (saw) them grow up,” he said.
Peter’s coming into their life became “a chance for me to experience what I missed — caring for my own biological children — because of my occupation.”
“It’s a very nice experience because I started to learn how to carry a baby. From that time on, it was like recapturing all over again the lost time, the lost experience of rearing my own children. That is how my wife and I started to get so attached to him,” Benjamin said.
The couple decided to give their name to Peter through legal adoption. But when they told their children about their desire to legally adopt Peter, almost all of them refused to give their consent, as required by the court. They were worried that due to their advanced age, their parents would not be able to raise another child.
“I was hurt because I thought my children wanted to make me happy and this boy was the source of my happiness,” Benjamin said.
Librada said their children opposed the idea “because they thought we were already too old to be worrying if Peter gets sick,” and about other problems associated with parenting.
“They wanted us to just enjoy each other… There was even a time they gave us a European tour for more than a month. They did not want us to worry about anything anymore,” she said.
The couple resorted to filing a simulated birth certificate in their desperation to “show the world” that Peter was their son. But in 2003, they again sought approval from their children, who readily agreed this time.
“That was a gift from God. I really prayed hard for it. I think they realized that’s the reason why mom and dad are living longer, happy and very proud. Each time it’s grading period in school, we always go up the stage to receive Peter’s awards,” Librada said.
She said that Peter, now in the second grade, always tops his class in mathematics, reading and English and is even a “high blue belter” in taekwondo.
“He is now at the top 10 of his class. He talks like an adult. This boy is very intelligent but sometimes so makulit (naughty). But we see to it that he will not be spoiled. We want him to be a God-fearing and a law-abiding citizen,” Librada said.
According to Benjamin, they told Peter about his status as an adopted child on Valentine’s Day last year, upon the prodding of their children.
“We were lying in bed when we told him the truth. He was listening intensely. After that, we asked him how he felt. He said he was okay,” Benjamin said.
Peter quipped: “I already knew. The maids told me but I did not believe… I am still happy. They take good care of me and I have a fun time living here.”
But the boy, Benjamin said, fell silent during their talk and suddenly asked them: “What if they (the Matas’ biological children) abandon me?”
The couple did not have an easy answer so they immediately called a “family counsel meeting.”
“During the meeting, our biological children professed their love for Peter and they promised to take care of him when we are gone. We all cried. That was one of the happiest moments in our life,” Benjamin said.
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006
A five-year-old girl found wandering the streets of Toronto’s east end was rescued by a quick-thinking parking enforcement officer early Monday morning and returned to her mother in the afternoon.
Lidia Lungu went to bed in the same room Sunday night as her mother and sister. But she was gone when her mother woke up.
“I woke up and I saw that my daughter was not beside me anymore,” Claudia Lungu told CTV Toronto’s Desmond Brown. “Of course I was shocked.”
Lidia was spotted walking in the frigid weather along Cosburn Avenue near Donlands Avenue by Officer Muhammed Khwaja around 3:45 a.m. Monday morning.
“I observed a little girl walking on a sidewalk alone without her parents,” Khwaja told reporters on Monday. “I asked her where her parents were. She had no idea.”
Lidia, who lives on the sixth floor of an apartment building, told Khwaja she ran out of her building after having a nightmare.
“She told me she lives in a land far, far away,” Kwaja said.
Khwaja said she was wearing white shirt, and a pink dress and boots when he found her. He said she didn’t seem cold or distressed despite the fact the wind chill at the time made the temperature feel like -17 C.
“She talked to me about how she likes candy and she just likes walking. She said she wasn’t cold and doesn’t get cold,” 26-year-old Khwaja said. “She was really chatty.”
Khwaja, who didn’t know how long she’d been outside, put Lidia in his car and turned on the heat. He then called police after she couldn’t tell him where she lived.
Lidia’s mother called Khwaja her daughter’s guardian angel.
“I feel really good that I tried to save her life, and anyone would have done the same thing,” Khwaja said. “I feel lucky for her.”
Her mother believes she may have been looking for her father who went to work in Costa Rica a month ago.
“Her father had to leave Canada and she misses him,” Lungu said. “(For) a month, she’s (been) difficult.”
Lungu called the police after a neighbour told her about media reports of a wandering child.
“Her mom was very, very upset and frightened that her daughter was missing and she didn’t know it at the time,” Toronto Police Staff Sgt. Stan Ellis said.
The girl also ran away from her kindergarten class last Friday, her mother said.
Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2006
A mother in South Philadelphia is about to be reunited with her daughter, who she has not seen for 22-years.
Olga Vega plans to leave for Donna, Texas, sometime Tuesday, to see her 23-year-old daughter who she thought she would never see again.
“Oh my God, I’m so happy, I’m overjoyed,” said Vega.
Vega’s daughter was 18-months-old when she last saw her in 1982. Two Philadelphia Police officers came to her South Philadelphia home on Saturday and told her that her daughter, now 23, was living in Texas and wanted to come home.
Vanessa was taken to Mexico as a young child by a young couple after an alleged adoption dispute, officials said.
Last week, the couple notified Vanessa that they were not her birth parents. Police said she took a bus to Texas and contacted local authorities.
With the help of Philadelphia Police, Vanessa’s mother and sister were located and contacted.
“Every birthday, that was it, I want my family together and now it’s going to happen” said Vanessa’s sister Daisy Vega.
Leaders of the Latino Community in Philadelphia from Progresso, have provided plane tickets for Olga Vega so she can travel to Texas and return with her daughter.
Investigators are unclear if criminal charges will be filed.
Saturday, Feb. 11, 2006
During pregnancy, some women gain 37 pounds. Not Eloysa Vasquez.
That’s how much she weighed before she became pregnant.
In what doctors say is an incredibly rare event, the tiny Tulare woman overcame the odds and gave birth to a healthy baby boy Jan. 24 at Stanford’s LucilePackard Children’s Hospital.
Timothy Abraham Vasquez — 3 pounds, 11 ounces and 16 inches long — arrived eight weeks early but otherwise healthy and strong. He did not inherit the weak-bone disorder that stunted his mother’s growth to 3 feet and has required her to use a motorized wheelchair since childhood.
Eloysa Vasquez, 38, credits her Pentacostal faith and the support of the hospital doctors and staff for her miracle.
“I always dreamed of having a child,” she said. “I wanted to know what it felt like to have him growing inside of me, just like any other woman.”
She and her husband, 5-foot-8-inch construction worker Roy Vasquez, were beaming Thursday when they showed off their son to the news media in the hospital’s neonatal intensive-care ward.
After previously having two miscarriages and listening to doctors warn against pursing such a risky pregnancy, the couple nearly gave up on their dream of becoming parents.
But then Timothy was conceived, and they were referred to Packard, where they saw Dr. James Smith, who specializes in difficult pregnancies.
Because of Vasquez’s small size, the growing fetus put pressure on her fragile bones and crowded her organs, he said.
Doctors carefully monitored what went into her child-sized stomach to make sure she and the baby received the nutrition they needed. She gained 20 pounds.
“I was a little afraid,” she said. “I just took one day at a time.”
Out of 4 million births a year in the United States, only a handful are believed to be born to women with Vasquez’s condition, which is called osteogenesis imperfecta type III.
In his 15 years of handling high-risk pregnancies, Smith said he has only had one other case. That, too, had a good outcome.
As the pregnancy progressed, the couple moved into a temporary apartment near the hospital in case Eloysa went into labor. She didn’t need drugs and was hospitalized only for the final few days before the birth by caesarean section.
By Thursday, Timothy was doing well enough to be moved to a less-intensive care unit at the hospital.
But it will be several more weeks before the couple can take him home to Tulare.
“Hey, big guy. Want to come out for a little bit?” Roy Vasquez says, gently lifting Timothy out of his incubator and putting him in his mother’s arms for a photo opportunity.
“He’s got his mother’s cheeks,” he said.
The couple is already talking about sending him to college.
Roy and Eloysa Vasquez come from large families. They grew up in the same neighborhood and were married at her mother’s house 2 1/2 years ago.
For Eloysa, it was incredible to finally get to hold her son for the first time.
“It’s a blessing to have a child,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. I just felt like I was in a dream.”
Friday, Feb. 10, 2006
A woman in a northern Quebec community was shaken and scared, but otherwise safe, after facing down a polar bear to save her children.
Lydia Angiyou, 41, was attacked by the bear on Wednesday night in Ivujivik, a community of 280 people on the northern coast of the Quebec mainland.
Angiyou was with her seven-year-old son and two other young boys when they came across the bear. She says all she could think of was stopping the animal.
“‘My boy, my boy, my boy is going to be killed, nothing I can do,'” she recalls thinking at the time. “But I started yelling and after that I felt better when he was far, the boy was far.”
The bear clawed at Angiyou and climbed on top of her, but retreated after gun shots were fired. The bear was eventually tracked down and killed.
The children were unharmed.
Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2006
The day after Christmas.
Hitting the outlets, picking over cold turkey, grumbling about gifts.
But not for the Green-Edmundson family and their 8-year-old daughter, Brooklyn. Monday was a flight to Baltimore to meet with a specialist Tuesday to decide when exactly she is to have her legs dislocated and a partial hip replacement.
For many, going through what Brooklyn has had to endure so far in her short life — chronic rheumatoid arthritis, 13 operations before she was 5, including three on her mouth for a cleft palate and eight on her severely clubbed feet — might lead them to curse the heavens. [Conquering Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Latest Breakthroughs and Treatments]
Yet Brooklyn yearns for the divine. “Do you know guys,” she tells her bemused friends, “there’s this really cool place that’s free where you can go and learn about God?”
But in November, when one of her team of surgeons at the Shriners Hospital for Children said she’d have to have the tops of her femurs cut off and her legs rotated or she could face paralysis, Brooklyn asked her mother, “Why doesn’t God love me?”
Her parents, Malinda and Harold, are devoted to Brooklyn’s medical team at Shriners. “They truly want to help children,” Malinda said. “It’s been wonderful to have them in our lives.” But the enormity of the operation they are recommending left them no choice. They decided to seek a second opinion.
“I want to make sure this absolutely has to be done now,” Malinda said. Three percent of children with diastrophic dysphasia, a form of dwarfism, have to have hip-replacement surgery. “But it’s not even on the charts for a child Brooklyn’s age,” she said.
Malinda wrote a seven-page, tear-stained letter to Dr. Michael Ain, pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Johns Hopkins Children Center in Baltimore. She told him how Brooklyn was born without the roof of her mouth — if she opened her mouth, you could see into her nasal cavity — a recessed chin, an ulna deviation that meant her hands were constantly raised upwards and club feet. Nine months after birth, she then developed a 47-degree curvature of the spine that required her to wear a thoracic brace for three years. The chin, arms and spine were resolved non-surgically; her feet, however, show the scars of the surgeon’s knife. She refuses to wear skirts because she thinks her legs are “gross.”
The appointment with Ain brought both good and bad news.
“He said he wouldn’t recommend the operation on her hips,” Malinda said, opting instead for a drug injection and neuromuscular therapy that doctors believe will reduce pain and loosen the tight grip of the muscles around her hips.
But while the family appreciated the delay of the hip surgery, Ain also discovered that Brooklyn has scoliosis in her right shoulder blade and neck. [Growing Up with Scoliosis (A Young Girl’s Story)]
“We had no idea,” Malinda said. “Do I feel better or worse now? I don’t know.”
That Brooklyn is a fighter is undeniable. She has defeated every medical prediction: that she’d never reach 4 feet (she’s already 3 feet, 8 inches), that she wouldn’t walk until second grade (she started walking when she was 3), and that she’d have great difficulty talking (she’s a giggly chatterbox with a deeply soulful stare).
If Brooklyn’s conversation is largely “adult,” her other concerns are very much age-appropriate.
“She’s at that age,” says her mother, “where what other kids think about her is all that matters.”
Like many other little girls, Brooklyn walks around school during recess with a friend, Rija, and giggles about a boy they both like. Under her jumper she shows off a pink T-shirt that says “Blame my sister.”
Struggle as she might to fit in, there are aspects of her life that mark her apart. When she stands up, she has to sway constantly side to side not to lose her balance. Each morning when she wakes up, she has to have her legs massaged because if she puts her feet down straight away, she falls over.
Afraid of surgery, she has a very high tolerance for pain. The only thing she said about a raging six-month-long gum infection after a dentist discovered it was that it had itched. Her constant pain, though, has also given her an empathy for others’ suffering.
“We were standing in a queue in a supermarket,” Malinda said, “and she went up to an old man in front of us, took his hand and rubbed it, telling him he’d be all right. I told him I was sorry for her annoying him. He turned ’round, tears in his eyes, and said it was fine. He’d been diagnosed with cancer that week.”
Her mother is convinced her daughter is here for a higher purpose. This girl, who is nicknamed “the angel” by her family, “has changed all of our lives.”
There is one area her parents have resisted. Her parents both say that negative experiences with their respective religions (Malinda, LDS; Harold, Catholic) turned them away from their churches. But with this new crisis, Brooklyn’s religious needs mean they have to confront their own attitudes toward God.
“It’s crystal clear this year we have to renew our faith in some way,” Malinda said. “She has so many questions, so deep, we don’t know how to answer.” [When God Doesn’t Make Sense | Where Is God When It Hurts?]
For Brooklyn, questions of faith have an extraordinary importance. “She said to Harold,” her mother said, ” ‘Look me in the eye, tell me the truth, does Santa Claus exist?’ ”
Malinda begged her husband to give Brooklyn one more Christmas. “It was wonderful the look on her face when she heard the Christmas stories.”
But behind her questions lies a struggle that only someone who has spent her life in hospitals, with doctors and nurses, can understand. In the world of adults that she has grown up in, she is, her mother says, “fighting every day to remain a child.”
Sunday, Dec. 18, 2005
The agony of almost two million parents and children, legally “lost” to each other and kept apart by bureaucracy, is about to end. Britain’s first “adoption reunion” website – aimed at helping to reunite adopted children with their birth parents, and vice versa – will be launched next week.
The searchable online service is expected to generate a huge response, with thousands of people set to log on for information on how to find family members they have never known or have missed for most their lives.
On average, some 5,000 children are adopted in England and Wales every year, with the total number of adopted people believed to be between 500,000 and one million. In the 1950s and 1960s alone, an estimated one-fifth of all children born illegitimate were adopted, mostly as babies.
The new website – launched by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) – will allow users to set out to seek “lost” relatives through its own comprehensive database of specialist sources of information in England and Wales.
Designed as a “first port of call” for those who wish to trace relatives, the website, which launches on 23 December, will highlight national and local records-holding institutions, legal guidelines and agencies. This will dramatically streamline the search for birth family, a laborious, fraught and costly process.
The Adoption and Children Act 2002, which comes into force on 30 December, gives birth relatives a legal right – for the first time – to ask for an intermediary body to make contact with an adopted adult. Adopted adults may also ask an intermediary body to help them to trace birth relatives.
Mark, 43, was adopted when a few months old. He found his birth mother, Maureen, nine years ago.
“When I was in my 30s, I asked my adoptive parents if they minded if I started looking, and my mum brought out a box of papers that we went through. She was fine with it, as was dad.
“Once I made the call to the charity Norcap, I discovered my mum had registered with them five years before. After going through intermediaries, we met a few weeks later. Her first words were: ‘You look just like your dad.’ Within a month of meeting my birth mum, my adoptive mum met her. They are good friends to this day.”
It is estimated that more than 400,000 people in the UK have not been reunited with their birth parents, with about two-thirds of them yet to try. It was only in 1975 that adopted people were granted the right of access to birth records. The Government recently estimated that some two million people might have an interest in tracing relatives.
“About 50 per cent of people that have been adopted in this country are likely to have tried to search for their birth relatives at some point in their lives,” says Ms Feast.
Making contact can be an emotional but positive experience. One BAAF study found that nine out of 10 birth mothers were pleased that their son or daughter had made contact with them.
Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2005
A teenager who has been desperately trying to contact the half brother she has never met has got an early Christmas present, thanks to the Evening News.
Khemi Trick, 13, is delighted to now be in contact with Max, 18, by text message and the pair are hoping to meet up for the first time in the next few weeks.
The teenager made a heartfelt appeal through the Evening News urging her half brother to get in touch and he had responded within days of our report.
Miss Trick was born in Norwich in 1992, but left for Bristol with her mum Clair when she was just two years old.
When she moved she never got the chance to meet her father’s son Max.
Now 11 years later they are in contact and both looking forward to meeting each other in the flesh.
Khemi’s mum Clair said: “Khemi has had Max’s number for just one day but they have already exchanged text messages.
“She is very happy to be in contact but also very nervous. They are both quite shy so I think they are taking it slowly and just starting off with text messages.
“She has wanted to meet him for so long and hopefully they will get together before Christmas.”
Clair Trick moved to Norwich in 1983 when she was eight, when she was 16 years-old, and living in Unthank Road, she gave birth to Khemi. The father was 21-year-old Andrew Jason Joseph.
Mr Joseph already had a son called Max, who was four years old at the time.
Max was living with his mother Karen, meaning there was never a direct link between the two families.
Miss Trick, 31,now works as a pub manager in Bristol while Max lives with his mother Karen in Rockland St Mary.
He said: “I was really pleased to hear from Khemi and I am looking forward to meeting her, hopefully before Christmas.
Mum Karen said: “Max is pleased that they are finally in touch.
“Clair said she would be happy to come up from Bristol with Khemi and we are hoping they can do this in the next few weeks.
“Max is really looking forward to finally meeting Khemi. He has three little brothers so it will be a change for him to be around a sister.”
Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2005
A one month-old baby, found abandoned at the Government Maternity Hospital, Nayapul, was reunited with her mother on Tuesday after a DNA test confirmed the relationship. [Trace Your Roots with DNA : Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree]
K Glory gave birth to twins—a boy and girl—on Oct. 19, and lost the baby girl when she went to the Government Maternity Hospital at Sultanbazar, on Nov. 2 for treatment.
Glory handed over the baby girl to two women she met in the bus on the way to the hospital and went inside the doctor’s room.
After coming out of the room, she found the two women missing from the hospital premises along with her baby. She immediately lodged a complaint with the police. [Missing Children]
However, photograph of an abandoned girl at Nayapul hospital was published in a section of the media on Nov. 9, and as she looked similar to her daughter, Glory along with her mother Sujata went to the hospital and identified the baby as her daughter from a tattoo mark on her right leg.
Police, however, sent Glory and her daughter for a DNA test to confirm the relationship on Nov. 16. Forensic experts on Monday submitted a report confirming Glory’s claims.
DCP (east) K V Rajendranath Reddy, in whose presence the baby was handed over to her mother, said they were yet to trace the two women who abandoned the baby at Nayapul hospital.
A visibly happy Glory said, “Thank God. I am very happy that I got my child back. My daughter is lucky to have the tattoo with which I could identify her,” she said.
Monday, Nov. 21, 2005
This is the time of year usually set aside for giving thanks, and Scott and Kathy Wetton of Lake Linden are doing just that.
In September, the Wettons opened their hearts and their home to 8-pound, 1-ounce Jack Robert Wetton, who became their son through adoption. [Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew]
Three years ago, the Wettons, unable to conceive a child of their own, contacted Lutheran Social Services of Marquette, an adoption resource center. Their hope was to one day become parents..
In August, when they were informed they had been selected as adoptive parents, their dream was beginning to become a reality.
“We are so thankful that there was some way that we could be parents and be a family,” Kathy explained. “We are so blessed that his family chose life and chose us. We are just so happy.”
The Wettons are one of thousands of adoptive parents across the country being recognized during November, National Adoption Month.
Micki Silva, co-president of the local Adoption Resources group, said the designation is “designed to recognize the hundreds of thousands of adoptive families in the country as well as designed to look at all of the positives (adoption) brings to the children, adoptive parents and birth parents.”
“It is also designed to make people aware of the many children still awaiting permanent family homes,” she said, noting there has been a variety of awareness promotions across the Upper Peninsula.
Recalling a time when it had almost seemed impossible they would ever have a child they could call their own, Scott said it was one of the most devastating moments they had ever experienced.
“We had got to the point where we said ‘we know this was a time that we have got to move on.’ It was the hardest thing we ever went through,” he explained. “But now we can say that dreams do come true.”
At 11:07 a.m. on Sept. 4, one month after they met their son’s birth parents in Escanaba, the Wetton’s dream came true.
Born Jack Robert Wetton, he was named after each of their fathers. Jack is now 11 weeks old, and continues to bring love and joy into their lives.
“We’re enjoying all of his firsts,” Kathy said. “The smiles, coos, squeals and talks and even the dirty diapers and waking up at 3 a.m. He’s brought so much into our lives and into our family’s and friend’s as well.”
Infants tend to grow faster than their parents would like, but Scott has been enjoying the changes he sees in Jack.
“Everyday it’s something different. When he smiles, I forget everything that was bothering me. Words can’t even describe it,” he said.
“I’m enjoying everything that’s changing about him, I never thought I would ever be so excited about all of those changes.” [What the Heck Were You Expecting? : A Complete Guide for the Perplexed Father]
Adoption Resources has been around since 1986 with a current membership of 60 adoptive families.
While there are a variety of adoptions that can occur, whether it’s domestic, single parent, and grand parent, Sliva said adoption provides an answer for birth mothers who may not be ready to parent.
“Many couples aren’t able to have children and want to add to their family even though they can’t,” she explained. “Adoption is a positive answer to all who are involved.”
Little Jack still seems like a dream to the Wettons, who have been married for 14 years. Kathy, a fourth-grade teacher at C-L-K Elementary, said she still finds herself waking in the night to find her child in the bassinet next to her.
“At night time I will wake up and think that I am dreaming, and then I reach over and touch him and know that he’s right there next to me,” she said.
Monday, Nov. 14, 2005
STAB victim Abigail Witchalls and her husband Benoit are planning to call their newborn son Joshua – which means salvation.
Joshua is top of the Catholic couple’s list of favourite names for the 5lb 6oz baby born last Friday.
It is a Hebrew name, meaning “the Lord is salvation”, and Joshua was a Book of the Old Testament.
The Witchalls, who have a two-year-old son Joseph, will confirm their choice in the next few days.
A source said: “The whisper is that Joshua is to be the name. It’s a great name, especially with its religious connotations. And it fits very nicely alongside Joseph.”
Abigail, 26, was paralysed from the waist down after a knife attack seven months ago. She has slowly regained some movement and spoke of her joy after giving birth at St George’s Hospital, South London, where she was first treated after the attack.
With husband Benoit, 27, and Joseph by her side, she said: “I’ve found great strength and comfort carrying this child over the past few months and it is such a blessing and a joy to finally see him face to face.”
Excited Joseph shouted, “Baby come out!” when he saw his new brother. Emotional Benoit was full of praise for hospital staff. He said: “Once again the health care professionals here at St George’s have been so attentive and generous to us.”
He added: “We are really looking forward to an exciting homecoming once more, except now with another beautiful son and brother for Joseph.”
Abigail and Benoit’s family are “almost lost for words” to describe the joy over the baby who born early at 35 weeks. [Preventing premature birth]
The source added: “At last there is something wonderful to celebrate. The baby is beautiful. The family is almost lost for words.
“Benoit’s sister, a nun in a convent in France, is visiting the family to help look after Joseph. So there’s lots of family about at the moment.”
Abigail is likely to be discharged and return home to Little Bookham, Surrey, “in the next few days”. She did not require a caesarean section and has successfully begun breastfeeding.
After the attack, doctors feared that Abigail would not live. She had the last rites read to her by a priest. Even after her recovery, medics did not believe the baby would survive.
Prime suspect for the attack is Richard Cazaly, 23, who later killed himself with a drugs overdose.
A spokeswoman for the family said it had taken them three weeks to decide on Joseph’s name, adding: “The baby has not been named yet.”
Thursday, Nov. 10, 2005
Surprise – it’s a girl! Such was the case for Saugus firefighters and EMTs when a Wakefield woman gave birth in Ambulance 1 outside Sears Automotive on Route 1 on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Fire Chief James Blanchard said the Wakefield couple was driving south on Route 1 when the pregnant woman’s water broke. They pulled over to Sears Automotive and called 911. Engine 1 arrived on scene as well as a state police officer.
“The crew on Engine 1 took out their obstetrics kit and checked for crowning, which there wasn’t any,” Blanchard said. “That indicated that the baby wasn’t coming right away.”
But soon after the woman was placed into the ambulance, paramedics came out to report the woman was having the baby.
“It turned out that this woman has spontaneous births, meaning she has babies more quickly than your average woman,” Blanchard said.
The condition is rare, Blanchard said, but it happens. This was the woman’s third baby.
But what Blanchard jokes he was most concerned with was whether not the baby was a girl or a boy.
“It was a beautiful little girl and mother and daughter are doing great,” Blanchard said. “But I was hoping for a little boy because then I could have tried to convince them to name the baby after me because today is my birthday.”
When something like this happens, Blanchard said it’s a special thing and makes everyone feel good when it all goes alright.
“It’s a miracle,” Blanchard said.
Monday, Nov. 7, 2005
CANCER sufferer Hayley Newbery gazes tenderly at the miracle baby daughter she owes her life to – after finally being allowed to take her home.
Hayley’s disease was spotted only because she fell ill while pregnant.
Daughter Lucy was delivered early at 29 weeks so her mum, 25, could start treatment.
And after the six-week infant was discharged from hospital last week, Hayley beamed: “She’s so special – she really is my miracle baby.
“She saved my life. Without her I would still not have known I have cancer.”
Hayley begins a three-month course of wonder drug Avastin tomorrow after the Daily Mirror last month exclusively revealed her battle to become the first NHS patient to receive it.
The mum-of-three was diagnosed with bowel cancer when 17 weeks pregnant, which later spread to her liver. But she rejected the chance of an abortion that would have let her start treatment right away. Hayley, of Melbourn, Herts, said: “There was never any question of that in my mind. By simply being there Lucy gave me a chance to live, so I had to give her the same chance.”
Doctors at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge decided a caesarean at 30 weeks would be best for mum and baby. It was brought forward by a week after Hayley’s mum Vicky died and she felt she could not handle the wait.
Hayley added: “I had waited for nearly 12 weeks and if Lucy had passed away I couldn’t have lived with the guilt. I sobbed from the moment I was on the operating table until I heard her cry. Then I knew she’d be all right.” But doctors found Hayley’s cancer could not be operated on and warned she would die within two years without Avastin, which shrinks tumours.
It had not yet been passed for NHS use and private treatment would have cost £48,000. But just over two weeks ago NHS chiefs relented.
Hayley has already been fitted with a wig because the drug will make her hair fall out. She said: “I don’t want people to be able to tell – I don’t want them to look at me with pity. I thought about wearing a scarf but I looked awful.”
Lucy, just 3lbs at birth but now a healthier 5lbs, was allowed home on Thursday to join her father Christian, sister Megan, four, and 22-month-old brother James.
Hayley added: “I’m so happy now we’re all together.
“I feel like all my Christmases have come at once.”
Friday, Nov. 4, 2005
A WOMAN underwent a cancer operation while pregnant, knowing it might kill her unborn baby.
Claire Higgins was four-and-a- half months pregnant when she realised she had cancer.
The 24-year-old, who was a petite size eight, had expected to gain weight, but in just 18 weeks she put on six stone and went up in shoe size from a size four to a nine.
Worried about her ballooning size, and on the recommendation of a midwife, the first-time mother went to hospital where, after numerous tests and scans, doctors located a tumour on her kidney.
The tumour had reached the size of a golf ball and was growing faster than normal because of the pregnancy hormones Claire was releasing.
Doctors told her she needed an emergency operation to remove it. But they warned such an operation could cause her to go into premature labour and lose the baby.
Miss Higgins, from Cardiff, said, “I knew I had no choice – I had to have the tumour removed, but I was terrified for my baby. It didn’t seem possible that he could survive.
“The doctors said to me, ‘We can’t think of the baby, we have to do the best we can to save you. You are our first priority’. But I so desperately wanted to become a mother.”
Miss Higgins became pregnant last Christmas and quickly began putting on weight.
She said, “My body and legs swelled up so much that I looked as if I was much more pregnant than I actually was.
“It was my first pregnancy, but I knew something wasn’t right. At my 12-weeks scan, my bump looked more as though I was five months pregnant.”
A visit to Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport resulted in a prognosis of gestational diabetes and instructions to change her diet, but six weeks later she was still gaining weight.
She said, “I was wearing size 22 trousers and even they were feeling tight.
“I knew something was wrong. I’d already asked the midwife at the scan if I was carrying twins as I was so huge, but she had assured me I was only carrying one baby.”
It was only after a visit from a midwife who told Miss Higgins she’d “never seen anything like it in her 30 years of midwifery” that she had an MRI scan at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, which revealed the tumour.
In a four-hour operation last May, doctors used key-hole surgery into her abdomen, and around the womb to reach the kidney and successfully remove the tumour.
Miss Higgins said, “The first thing I did when I came round from the operation was ask to hear my baby’s heartbeat. I was just so relieved when I heard it going strong – at least he was still alive.”
Five weeks after the operation, her son, Jack, was born by Caesarian, weighing 6lbs-5oz.
Miss Higgins, who fractured her pelvis through having to carry so much extra weight, said, “It was so amazing to see him and cuddle him for the first time after the operation.
“It seemed such a miracle he had survived me being operated on. He was a real little fighter and hung on, and I’m so proud of him.”
She added, “He’s 16 months old now and he’s always smiling. But every time I look at him I know how lucky I’ve been. To survive a major operation like this while he was still in my womb is just remarkable.
“When he’s older I’ll tell him what a miracle he really is.”
Sunday, Oct. 30, 2005
A year ago Joe Culpepper boarded a plane in Colorado with his 5-year-old daughter, Meagan, and flew home to Galveston County.
At the time, Meagan had not seen her home state in almost four years.
Colorado social services took custody of the girl when she was 20 months old after a trip to visit her biological mother, Mystina Turner, ended with both parents behind bars — Culpepper for yelling in the hallways of the nursing home where Turner worked and Turner for slashing Culpepper’s tires and falsely accusing him of stealing $600 from her.
“The reason I took Meagan to Colorado was because I wanted her to know who her real mom was,” said Culpepper. “I felt bad and I wanted her mom to be a mom, but I have learned that if someone doesn’t want to be a parent you can’t make them. You can’t change other people.”
As Culpepper’s case went through the court system, he was allowed limited time with his daughter.
In 2001, Meagan was placed with foster parents, and Culpepper was not allowed to see her for almost two and a half years.
“At one point I was living in my truck in Colorado,” he said. “It was really hard, but all I was concentrating on was getting my daughter back. I didn’t care about anything else.”
Last year the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled the social services agency had erred in taking custody of Meagan. On Oct. 30, 2004 — one year ago today — Culpepper was finally allowed to bring his daughter home.
By then, Meagan had lived with her foster parents for about three years and referred to them as “mommy and daddy.”
“The first couple of weeks were pretty rough because it was different for both of us,” said Culpepper. “It was a major change. I left home with a (toddler) and came back with a 5-year-old. She didn’t understand why she had to go from one place to another. We sat her down and explained it to her, and about two weeks later it was like it never happened.”
Today, Culpepper is raising Meagan with his girlfriend of five years, Rachel Vaughn. Meagan calls Vaughn “mommy” and has had no contact with Turner.
Culpepper describes his daughter as a happy, active, normal 6-year-old. She is a star player on her softball team, the Little Texans, a straight-A, first-grade student and if given a choice she would eat pizza for dinner every night, said Culpepper.
“Meagan is a very outgoing, talkative kid,” he said. “She is definitely a daddy’s girl. She looks like me, talks like me and acts like me. She always has to be doing something until the minute she goes to sleep and when she wants something, she wants it and that’s it.”
When asked what she enjoys doing, Meagan candidly recites a list of activities, including fishing with her dad, swimming and recess at school.
Her favorite color is pink. Her favorite subject at school is math, and “Casper” is her favorite movie, she said.
For Halloween, Meagan said she is going to dress up as a fairy-mermaid and go trick-or-treating.
She has had very little contact with her former foster parents.
“When we first got back we were taking her every week to a psychiatrist, and they said it would be better if she didn’t talk to them and we just let it go away,” said Culpepper. “We sent a couple of letters, and they still send her stuff. At first we wouldn’t let her actually read the letters they sent. I would just read them to her, because at the bottom of them it would say “love mommy and daddy,” and that’s not her mommy and daddy. Now, I guess they have accepted it because they sign (their names), and we let her see those.”
Culpepper said he plans to sue the state of Colorado.
“They need to pay for the mistakes they made,” he said. “I also want people to know what happened because it was not right. What was done was clearly not harmless. I missed some of the best years of Meagan’s life, and those are years I can never get back.”