Two years ago, Joanne Blum received a call from her sister (whom she hadn’t seen for years) telling her that Olivia, her newborn great-niece, had been placed in foster care. Olivia was born with positive toxicology for cocaine and opiates and had been taken from her mother, a substance abuser, and placed in JCCA’s Foster Home Services Medically Fragile program. After talking it over with her husband and five sons, Ms. Blum decided that, “we had to give Olivia a place in her own family and a chance for a normal, healthy life.” With JCCA’s help, 5½-month-old Olivia came into the loving home of Ms. Blum, her husband and five sons, ages 10 to 26.
Now 2½, Olivia is coddled and cherished by her new family. “Each of my sons has his own unique relationship with her. They are so gentle and always want to help me take care of her. She lights all of us up,” Ms. Blum says. Olivia has grown from a nonresponsive, withdrawn child with a spectrum of health issues to a playful, healthy toddler who is beginning to talk and hitting developmental milestones.
“Olivia didn’t like to be touched at first, but she’s really changed,” continues Ms. Blum. “Now she’s starting to learn words, is becoming more independent and just adores my husband and sons. I love to see them interacting—it melts my heart.”
“JCCA has been really helpful. They have guided us in court procedures and paperwork, and assisted us with health care issues. Olivia receives special education, speech therapy, physical therapy and is going to nursery school now. She’s really starting to come into her own,” she continues.
Ms. Blum and her family hope to adopt Olivia. She adds, “She’s the love of our lives. I can’t imagine life without her.”