Wednesday, July 2, 2014

An unforgettable four-year-old named Darrell

It's very rare that you see a child under the age of five on the Adopt A Child link on the Department of Children & Family Services website.  It's not that there are not young children available for adoption, it's that the state is trying to focus on the hardest to place children in this select group online.

Typically, only 75 or so profiles are listed for the entire state, although there are close to 400 children ready to be adopted today in Louisiana.

When I saw four-year-old Darrell's profile online, it definitely caught my attention.  I thought, "How is this young cutie 'hard to place?'  Look at that smile!"

Then I read his short bio.  Darrell has several medical conditions.  That's a deal-breaker for many.

I have to admit that I was worried when the adoption supervisor with the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) hand-picked Darrell to be featured in The New Family Tree on KPLC.  The segment has been incredibly successful so far in matching children ready to be adopted with families.

The children that we've featured up to this point, though, are healthy, vibrant and well-spoken.

Questions started swirling through my head...What about Darrell?  Will there be a response from people when they learn the extent of his special needs?

When I showed up with my camera to one of Darrell's physical therapy appointments, he was having a rough morning.  He cannot talk, but I could see through his crocodile tears how tough this session was on his fragile body.

Darrell cannot walk without assistance.  His goals on this day were to practice with the help of a therapist and special equipment - walking and riding a tricycle down the hallway.

Most four-year-olds have no problem with these skills, but for Darrell it took all of his strength.

I was so moved by watching him fight to get stronger - and occasionally, his big, bright smile would shine through.

Darrell's adoption worker, Desiree' Bellard, says a forever home could transform his abilities.  "Just a home that would be patient with him, they would have to spend a lot of time with him, give him a lot of attention and most of all - just love," she said.

Darrell has been in foster care for more than half of his life. It is going to take a very special family willing to take on Darrell's special needs to bring him the stability and love to thrive.

DCFS will work with an adoptive family to provide the resources Darrell needs at no cost. "He is getting different therapy sessions for his developmental delays and whatever is out there that we can help provide, we will do that," said Bellard.

Even though Darrell is non-verbal, he can communicate.  He lets you know when he's happy, sad, hurting or excited.  ""He's just fun-loving, he's full of energy, he loves to play, he loves things that are musically inclined," said Bellard.

If you have the capacity to embrace this special child and match his excitement for life, you may be the mom or dad Darrell hopes to be with forever. "Darrell can just give life to a family just like any other child," said Bellard, "he'll just make the family more complete."

Darrell is ready to be adopted through DCFS. 
 His special needs make him a candidate for adoption subsidies to help with expenses. 
Call 337-491-2470 to learn more about the adoption process. 
Click here to check out Darrell's story in The New Family Tree.


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