UPDATE. THE NAMES OF THE FAMILY ARE BEING CHANGED TO REFLECT THE ACTUAL NAMES OF THE FAMILY AT THIS TIME.
Introducing Ezra (Elam), his brother Lain (Josh), and their new parents Marcy and Ed Fisher (Mary and Tom).
Ezra on his first night home with his new parents, exhausted from long days and long nights at the agency.
I come to you today with one of the most moving stories that I’ve seen in my 10 years in child welfare. It truly made me believe that miracles do happen, and everything happens for a reason. While this story is still in progress and has some very sad parts to it, my goal in writing to you all today is to make you see that angels do live among us. I also hope that after reading this story, someone may be so moved to become a part of this story and make a difference. This is a long blog. I’ll break it down into sections. The entire story is very important, to show how the Opiate Epidemic continues to orphan children, neglect children, and how communities have to pull together as it “takes a village to rais a child”.
Ezra’s Story: How Ezra came into care, and the agency became his parents
Several weeks ago, I received a text from my supervisor asking for help from the caseworkers. There was a 5-year-old boy who along with his brother was taken into custody on Friday. The caseworker who had the case, who has only worked in this agency for about six months, received a call from the mother asking her to come to the hotel where she and her children were staying and asked her to take her children. This mother and children have been moving from place to place for several years. Our agency and neighboring counties had struggled to find her for years. When the caseworker arrived at the motel room, she found mom and her three children, living in deplorable conditions. The younger two were 5 and 9 years old. She also had a 24-year-old son. This adult child was curled in the fetal position on the floor. He weighed only 50 pounds and was emaciated and malnourished. The caseworkers called an ambulance, and adult protective services, and then requested custody of the younger two children. Mom admitted she had an opiate addiction and had come to a point where she couldn’t care for the children any longer.
That Friday, the boys were taken to the agency. Both boys were autistic and minimally verbal. The youngest, Ezra, was aggressive, biting, pinching, kicking and was eating dirt off his shoes. Caseworkers gave the boys McDonald’s, but Ezra gagged when it was offered to him and continued to try and eat dirt. He drank only from faucets and appeared to be feral. Ezra was not potty trained and was wearing diapers. The caseworkers and foster team spent the day searching for placement with family and foster homes. Our agency and county struggle with placing children in our county, due to our foster homes being completely full. A home was located about two and a half hours away and the caseworkers went to the home with the boys. The caseworkers left shortly after to go grab dinner, as it was evening by now, and also to purchase diapers and a sippy cup for the child. While at dinner, the foster home called and asked the caseworkers to return as they couldn’t keep Ezra due to his violent behaviors.
The caseworkers returned and took Ezra to the hospital for an evaluation. The hospital could not do anything for this child and released him. The caseworkers returned to the county after midnight and the agency obtained a room at a local hotel where the on-call supervisor stayed with Ezra for the evening.
Saturday came and the caseworkers were contacted asking to come to the agency to help watch Ezra while another placement was located. A local foster home agreed to take Ezra, but again, the next day said they could not keep Ezra due to his behaviors.
Sunday came and Ezra “moved in” to the agency, while our caseworkers worked shifts coming and staying with him day and night. Caseworkers who are not trained specifically to care for a child with high special needs, and who had violent behaviors. Everyone banded together to help with Ezra.
Monday arrived and an entire department in the agency was cornered off to make a makeshift home for Ezra. The caseworkers halted their normal duties to help care for him, and figure out his likes and dislikes. Ezra didn’t eat for days until we found out he loved cool ranch Doritos. ONLY cool ranch. If another type was mixed in, Ezra would gag and spit it out. Ezra would not drink from cups or bottles, only the faucets. Bathing him was difficult and he became violent as he did not like his hair washed. Caseworkers bought toys, bubble machines, clothing, diapers, and parented Ezra the best we could.
Over 70 places were contacted by the agency all over the state as well as neighboring states. NO ONE would take Ezra. It was heartbreaking. It was dumbfounding. Workers who have done this job for 25+ years had never seen anything like this.
Finally, one worker had a thought “outside the box”. She has a special needs daughter herself, and while she wanted to take Ezra, she is a single mom and works full time. Ezra needed full-time care. She contacted a long time family friend, who works with special needs children and has a special needs child of her own. She presented Ezra’s story and the next day she and her husband agreed to meet with Ezra. They agreed to take Ezra as a kinship placement. I was privy to the conversation when they were asked to take him, out of the blue. Their main concern was “how long” they would have him and if he would return to his mother. They were fearful of becoming too attached to him and having to lose him. The list of behaviors and concerns did not phase them. They fell in love with him through his story and wanted to provide him with a loving home.
Marcy and Ed came to visit Ezra the next day and it was love at first sight, on both ends. The interaction was amazing and they knew right away they wanted Ezra in their home. They agreed to come the next day and get him. They were very concerned, however, about not having room for Ezra. Marcy and Ed had been slowly renovating their home over the past year, and doing the work themselves. They did the upstairs, but the downstairs was under construction. They did not have a bedroom for Ezra, as they themselves were staying in the living room during construction. We agreed it was fine, as long as Ezra had a bed and the love he needed. After all, he had lived in our offices for almost a week! The next day, Ezra went to his new family’s home.
The workers at the agency were tired, beat up, bruised, and exhausted. But when Ezra left, there were tears shed in happiness and sadness, as everyone in some way had become attached to Ezra.
Ezra’s Mom and Dad: How opiates have orphaned more children
When Ezra was taken into custody, with his brother, his mother told the caseworkers that their father passed away about two years ago from an overdose on heroin. She had never really recovered from this loss and had struggled for years with her own opiate addiction. After the children were removed at her request, the caseworkers did not hear from her again. She did not call the agency or attend court hearings.
Ezra had been doing well and made huge improvements in his new home. He started eating other foods, not just Cool Ranch Doritos. He started drinking from a water bottle and cup and has stopped drinking from the faucet.
Soon after, the agency learned that Ezra’s mother had overdosed and it was fatal.
Ezra and his brother were now legally orphaned.
Both parents were taken by their opiate addiction.
The caseworker called Marcy and told her. She cried. Marcy told me later, that she felt terrible for the boys as they lost both parents and do not have the developmental capability to truly understand this, as well as to grieve. “I have to grieve for them”, she said. While Marcy and Ed realized then, they would likely be able to keep Ezra forever, they were heartbroken that this addiction took not one, but both parents from them.
Marcy told the caseworker then that she felt compelled to take in Lain, Ezra’s brother. Lain had moved to a new foster home, several hours away and was progressing as well. Ezra and Lain were all they had in the motel room they stayed in with their mother. It became very apparent to Marcy and Ed they needed to keep the boys together, and are working toward having Lain come to their home. There is one huge thing making this difficult at this very moment, and that is the physical structure of the house. The house is under construction, and they have minimal room for the boys to thrive and have their own space.
“We will do it though, we want to make this work. God put Ezra, and maybe even Lain in our lives for a reason. We will somehow make it work”, Marcy Said.
Marcy and Ed’s Story
Marcy and Ed were married this past October and have been together four years. They had talked about children but never really decided they wanted children of their own until about a month ago. While they could not have natural children together, they had considered the idea of adoption. When they received the call from our caseworker, the opportunity presented itself.
I met with Marcy and Ed in their home and observed Ezra with them. The bond is strong, even just after a couple weeks. Ezra is a completely brand new child. He is calm, is not aggressive and is happy. Marcy and Ed are natural with him, and Marcy’s children have adjusted well too.
Marcy showed me around their home. The upstairs is beautifully finished, for her children, and they gave them the brand new bedrooms; while she and Ed lived in the living area during construction. They have done all the work themselves and were planning to do the same. But with the arrival of Ezra, and possibly Lain, they are overwhelmed with the idea of how they will finish their home. They talked about dreams of expanding out or upwards, to make bedrooms for the boys, and a playroom where they could do occupational and physical therapy with the children. They told me they would pray that something would come along to help them finish these plans, as they are much different than the original plan of expanding the kitchen and bedroom. And now, they need to put a rush on this due to Ezra and Lain moving in.
They assured me they will make it work, however they can. The home is actually Ed’s childhood home and has not had work done on it in decades. The foundation needs re-done if they want to build up, and the windows need replacing.
They talked about dreams of having a handicapped shower put in the bathroom and remodeling the bathroom for the children to be conducive to their special needs.
While listening to these wonderful people, all I could think of is “How on earth can I help them and make these wishes and dreams come true?”. Trying to convey in words, the feeling of happiness, warmness, and hope for humanity, that Marcy and Ed exude, is near impossible. They make you want to laugh, cry and hug them all in one feeling. Two angels who have committed their lives to a child, that two weeks ago they did not even know existed.
Where do we go from here?
This story is still in the making. I plan to provide updates as they come. But the story was so compelling I could not wait to share. A special needs child, orphaned by drugs, who no one wanted and lived at an office building for a week. Who now has a wonderful loving home. And that home needs our help.
My call to action is to you, my readers. I would love to help Marcy and Ed complete renovations on their home. They have opened their lives and hearts to a very special child. Hopefully/maybe two children!! They need a blessing to finish this home to make it match the size of their hearts.
If anyone reading this blog has ideas of ways to help, please contact me.
To Be Continued……..
UPDATE: part two of the story has been published. We have created a GoFundMe account that you can donate to Here
The family found a larger home and we need your help purchasing materials!!!! Thank you for your help. Any amount will be a blessing ❤️