Candice got an urgent phone call from social workers. A baby named Tara desperately needed a loving home. Little Tara had been exposed to drugs in the womb. And she had had a severely traumatic experience at only 5 weeks of age that compelled social workers to remove her from her birth parents. Tara needed someone to step up for her. Candice and her husband, Daniel, had their own baby, Declan, who was just two weeks older than Tara, plus 4-year-old Seamus. Could the family give baby Tara a home?
Though their hands were full with two little ones, Candice and Daniel knew Tara needed them. They made room in their loving family for the baby girl. They adopted her.
As Candice and Daniel got to know Tara, they saw she wasn’t developing the skills appropriate for her age. When she was 18 months old, Tara entered Wayfinder’s Early Intervention program with several types of developmental delays. She didn’t understand emotions on faces or comprehend simple phrases. She fell down frequently. Wayfinder early intervention specialist Maria Gomez took on Tara’s challenging case.
“Wayfinder jumped right in and tried to understand,” says Candice. “They were really good listeners and thought outside the box. Maria watched and caught things that I even missed.”
One of the first goals Candice and Maria established in our program was for Tara to pay attention to a book while Candice read to her. Candice and Daniel did not know why this was hard for Tara. They wanted her to love book-reading as much as Seamus and Declan did. Then Maria had an idea.
“Maria said we should try books with more realistic illustrations of people,” recalls Candice. “I would have never thought of that. It was a game changer. Now Tara loves reading books.”
Maria used emotion cards—with realistic illustrations—to help Tara learn to decipher emotions on people’s faces. “We realized how much she was starting to improve when we showed her the laugh card one day,” Candice remembers. “Tara threw her head back and did the biggest laugh. We hadn’t modeled it for her. What she did was funny. We laughed for 10 minutes.”
Tara has loving relationships with her brothers, who adore their sister. In Tara’s sessions with Maria, Declan helps her by demonstrating activities. “She watches Declan and follows what he is doing better than she follows me,” Candice says with a smile.
After a year in our program, Tara is making great strides. Her vocabulary has increased dramatically, and she is using two- and three-word sentences. Her physical stability has improved.
During these very trying times, Candice is grateful for Wayfinder’s support. Tara is able to continue improving through telehealth sessions and learning materials that Maria drops off. Wayfinder’s virtual parent support group was a big help to Candice. “It came at a hard time,” she says. “I appreciate the check-ins on self-care.”
The story of Tara’s family is just one example of Wayfinder’s work that you make possible. Your support provides a full spectrum of programs for children and adults with vision loss and multiple disabilities, one of the state’s largest foster and adoption services, residential programs for children with multiple disabilities and in the child welfare system, and so much more.
Candice, Daniel and their boys stepped up and stood in the gap for Tara. Wayfinder stepped up with innovation and compassion to help Tara learn about words, emotions… and laughter. In this time of great need, we ask you to step up for Wayfinder families.
We know that many of you may not be able to gather with your families and friends this Thanksgiving. Please know that you will be in our hearts as we give thanks. Your generous support of Wayfinder’s work means so much to so many people. Please consider a gift today.
November 1, 2020