Meet The Children….
I would like to introduce you to Tyrece.
Meet Tyrece This is the victim witness statement that was read when Tyrece’s perpetrator was sentenced. Our victim witness advocate cried when it was read. The perpetrator was sentenced to 9 years – not long enough. Good Morning Judge and others in the courtroom, Tyrece was shaken at 3/12 months. We picked Tyrece up from Las Niño’s hospital in Phoenix on December 16, 2014. He was our first foster child; he was 5 months old. We agreed to take Tyrece a month before he was discharged from Phoenix Children’s Hospital. During that time, we received multiple phone calls from the DCS investigator that he might not make it. His injuries were very severe; his seizures were uncontrollable with medications. When we picked him up, we entered the room to find his birth mom, his maternal grandmother and a maternal aunt. This was such a difficult situation – we were not prepared to handle it. After several hours, we loaded him into our car and immediately went to a scheduled neurologist appointment. The neurologist began educating us on what happened to Tyrece and how to care for him. Even though I am a nurse, I was overwhelmed emotionally. It was hard to hear the neurologist talk about the devastation that occurs in the brain from being shaken. It was hard to look at the MRI. As a direct result of being shaken, he has cerebral palsy, global developmental delays, a history of seizures, feeding difficulties, chronic constipation, cortical vision impairment, chronic sleep disturbances, communication difficulties, and the inability to do anything for himself. He grinds his teeth so severely that some have been capped and others will need it soon. Capping his teeth requires a trip to the Operating Room and anesthesia. He is often in pain because his muscles are spastic; when he has spams, he hurts. He has multiple spasms every single day. Tyrece is totally 100% dependent on someone else to meet his needs. He is five and he cannot do anything that other five-year old’s can do. It is tragic. It is overwhelmingly heartbreaking. The first few months that Tyrece was in our home, he had to be soothed continuously. He had to be rocked, swayed or held. He cried a soft hurt cry that alerted us to his discomfort if we put him down. His cry at that time reminded me of a little mewling kitten. I remember hours and hours of walking, rocking, swaying and soothing. If he fell asleep in our lap, we would literally sit there for hours until he woke up again. The neurologist recommended that we touch him, talk to him and stimulate him a lot. Everyone in our home took that task seriously. That Christmas is a blur because we absolutely devoted every second to him and his needs. The perpetrator robbed Tyrece of everything – his physical well-being, his birth family, his culture – everything — his future is not the same as it should be and it never will be; that is the harsh reality. Tyrece should be playing, getting ready for kindergarten, annoying his siblings, tending to sheep, learning his Native Navajo language and being a daily part of his family. He should be laughing and getting into a little bit of mischief. Instead Tyrece attends therapies – Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Vision Therapy, Feeding Therapy, Water Therapy, Horse Therapy; he has multiple specialists appointments. In addition to a pediatrician and a dentist, Tyrece sees a neurologist, a gastroenterologist, a neurosurgeon, a vision specialist and an orthopedist. He takes six medications daily; we give him medications three times a day. Those specialists will never not be a part of Tyrece’s reality. The medications are a permanent daily part of Tyrece’s life. He has to be put to sleep every three months so that he can have Botox injections in his hands and legs. These injections help reduce a little of the rigidity that he has. Each time he goes under anesthesia, he suffers from severe constipation. Every time he goes under anesthesia, I worry because I know the risks. I know untoward things can happen in an Operating Room. I despise the fact that he has to be put to sleep every three months. A typical day for Tyrece begins early – he does not sleep well. He cries out when he wakes up and he is given a sippy cup of pediasure – we hold the cup for him. He cannot hold it himself. We try to get him back to sleep, but we are not always successful. It is not unusual for him to wake up at 1 or 2 am and not go back to sleep. After we get him out of bed, he is fed in a feeding chair; he takes his medications and then he goes to school or to appointments. When he is home, he uses his special equipment for cerebral palsy. He has a stander, a gait trainer and a little room that is designed specifically for children with cortical vision impairment. Tyrece wears braces on his hands and feet. These things are not very comfortable, but again Tyrece will wear these the rest of his life. This is his reality. On March 21, 2018, Tyrece had bilateral hip surgery because his right hip was dislocated 30% and he was in pain because of it. Hip dislocation is common in babies who have been shaken. The surgery was 5 1/2 – 6 hours – they were some of the longest hours that I have ever experienced. Postoperatively, he stayed at Phoenix Children’s Hospital for three nights. It is an understatement to say that Tyrece was miserable. Tyrece cried and cried for months after this surgery. He would not eat. He had to be put on Duocal. He literally looked like a concentration camp survivor because he lost that much weight. He was in a lot of pain and had to be on narcotics for several months. Narcotics exacerbate constipation. He cried pretty much continuously for 3 1/2 – 4 months. He hurt. He was confused. He did not understand why had to wear an orthopedic pillow and leg braces 24/7. He wanted to move his legs. He wanted to be held the way that we always held him, but it was impossible to do with the pillow and brace – and the absolute need to keep his hips from further injury. His skin broke down because he was super thin to begin with and bony prominences have a tendency to break down when one is not able to move freely. Someone asked me if we wanted restitution; initially, the question caught me off guard, but I have had time to think about it. Yes, Tyrece deserves restitution. He has to have a 24/7 caregiver. We need a wheelchair vehicle for him. We need an accessible home for him. He will need specialized equipment all of his life. We need a communication device for him. Anything that is for special needs children is very expensive and not everything is covered by insurance. Your Honor, I ask that you award Tyrece restitution. I do not know what to ask for, but please award him as much as possible. Stem cell research is promising in patients with cerebral palsy, but it is very expensive and not covered by insurance. His life is worth so much more than any amount of money, but I must be realistic. He has tremendous needs and will always have those needs. And, sadly, his needs will only increase as he gets older. Mr. Jackson took Tyrece’s life from him. Tyrece deserves justice. He cannot speak for himself. I must speak for him. As one of Tyrece’s mom, I believe that Mr. Jackson should be locked away forever so that no one else is ever harmed from him. I won’t celebrate whatever sentence you decide, because there is really nothing to celebrate. Mr. Jackson hurt Tyrece irreparably. And he permanently hurt Tyrece’s birth family and his own family. He will have to live with that the rest of his life. I don’t feel sorry for Mr. Jackson. He is an adult who lost his temper and took it out on a helpless 3 1/2 month old infant. This is the part that hurts me the most – Tyrece almost died and no one – no one – called 911. Can you imagine how Tyrece felt – the pain that he endured? He must have been so confused and so hurt. I cry every single time that I think of him being hurt and his pain and confusion. He was totally helpless and the adult who was supposed to care for him shook him and caused all of the issues that Tyrece has to deal with on a daily basis for the remainder of his life. His issues are permanent; they are life long and they are debilitating. We do not allow anyone to talk negatively about Tyrece and his prognosis in front of him. I do not even allow myself to think about it much because it paralyzes me. But, I think it is important for the court to hear some of our fears. We have so many goals and wishes for Tyrece; he is very motivated and works hard every day. He tries hard, but his body has been significantly damaged. We honestly do not know if he will ever be able to walk, to see, to talk or to gain any independence whatsoever. We do not know if he will ever be able to shower or toilet himself. We are not complaining; we do not mind taking care of Tyrece. It is our sacred duty. But, we want so much more for him than what he is currently capable of doing. Honestly, we want for him to be a typical child. He will never be typical. He will always have special needs. It shatters our hearts. The other thing that I think about is his life span. It will be shortened because of his physical issues. Thank you for allowing me to share some of Tyrece’s story. Please know that he is loved and treasured beyond measure. He is the son I never knew that I needed.
An update on Tyrece….April 2021
Tyrece had a baclofen pump inserted right before Thanksgiving; we are in the hospital for a week. Unfortunately, he had a complication and had to go back to the OR. He seems to be over that bump in the road and his spasticity has improved. Tyrece is saying more words! We are thrilled with this progress. He is working on a communication device in speech therapy. In fact, he no longer wants to work on feeding in therapy; he wants to work on his device. We hope that the device will come home soon so we can work with him also. Tyrece really wants to walk; he is a very motivated kid who loves life. Tyrece is in the first grade. His teacher whom we adore, and trust is retiring after this year. This is really a hard thing for us as a family. The teacher is K-2; Maddie and Tyrece have the same teacher.
I would like to introduce you to Jordan.
Here is a personal message from a mom. We never shared her story on our page but she reached out to us back on May 2, 2013. We asked her if we could share this with everyone here. This is an incident that happened in 1995
18 years ago today I got that call while I was at work that no momma ever wants to get. Jordan won’t eat and she is acting funny. “what do you mean funny?” “she is breathing funny and is really sleepy.” “I don’t think she is feeling very good.” I was 22 years old and my daughter who was just 7 weeks old was home with my boyfriend because I had to work. I asked him to bring Jordan to my work. When they got there she was lethargic, making small crying noises and pretty limp. No knowing what to do I called her Pediatritian, they to me to have HIM bring her right up. At this point I did not realize how serious her condition was. HE to Jordan to the doctor, the doctor took on look at her and called an ambulance. You see what I did not know and what HE did not share until 2 days later was that Jordan had been crying and he had SHAKEN her to get her to stop. HE lied and pretend not to know for 2 days while my baby lay fighting for her life in to intensive care unit. Long story short, Jordan held on for 2 days and lost the fight on may 4th 1995. She was ONLY 7 weeks old when she went into Gods arms. ONLY after the results came back did he finally admit what he had done. he was sentenced to only 10 years in prison and has been out since 2005. The bad thing is her came back to our home town and lives in the same city I do. Everyone around me tells me I need to let go of my anger towards him and move past it. How do we let go of the fact that someone we loved and trusted took away our child?. its been 18 years and the pain is just as strong now as it was then. HOW DO I FORGIVE?
I would like to introduce you to Maddox.
Meet Maddox Kennedy Maddox was one year old when we picked him up from our local hospital. We had to fight hard to become his foster parents because we had three other foster children at the time. Maddie was born in Arizona, where we lived at the time. He was abandoned when he was very small. His birth parents joined a traveling carnival and left him with a paternal aunt and uncle. In January 2016, Maddie was life-flighted to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The hospital really blew this case right from the beginning. The uncle is a paramedic, is charismatic, and he talked his way (and his wife’s way) out of being a suspect in Maddie’s abuse and neglect. Maddie was on a respirator for over a month, had seizures and displayed the typical signs of non-accidental head trauma. His paternal uncle made Maddie a DNR/DNI and refused all therapies and treatments – except for a NG feeding tube. His MRI is traumatizing to look at; when we moved to Atlanta, his current neurologist had not seen an MRI that was so horrific. His paternal uncle made Maddie was severely neglected and abused. Evidently, he was left alone in a crib; he had the typical flat head (plagiocephaly) in the back of his head. He also had a flat head on top – we believe he was pushed up against crib slats for too long. Maddie had some of the common after-effects of shaken baby syndrome – CP, CVI, seizures, and global developmental delays. In addition, Maddie could not tolerate liquids/food by mouth and was diagnosed as failure to thrive. He was malnourished simply because his caregivers failed to feed him. At the beginning of May 2016, they called Child Protective Services and surrendered him. This is when a case manager at CPS called us. We were fairly confident that we knew how to care for Maddie because we knew how to care for Tyrece (our first foster child who was also shaken). What we quickly and painfully learned was that shaken babies are not alike! Maddie has been teaching us that lesson since he entered our hearts and our home on May 6, 2016, his very first birthday. The first night that he was with us, he pulled his NG tube out. Even though I am a nurse, it had been a long time since I put an NG in an infant. Once I conquered that task, I realized that the one feeding bag they sent me with was defective. I am so grateful that one of our case managers had extra bags. Maddie was withdrawn and was frightened. The first time we bathed him, we cried. His fear of the water was horrific; we think the aunt or uncle attempted to drown him. His cries of fear and panic were traumatizing. Thankfully, with a lot of time and patience, he learned to love bath time. It is one of his favorite activities these days. When he came to us, Maddie was really malnourished. He was a tiny little baby who was obviously abused and neglected. He cried a lot. He did not like us to touch him or hold him. He preferred to be left alone. It took him one year to learn to trust us; it was literally one year before he relaxed. After the year passed, he learned to enjoy contact. Now he loves to be held and he laughs more than he cries. Today Maddie has a g tube; he was finally able to complete a swallow study in 2019 – he had never been able to complete one. Unfortunately, he aspirated a little, but we were thrilled that he successfully completed the study. Now, he borders on chunky. He has epilepsy and is on a ketogenic diet and some pretty hefty medications. He is in special needs pre-k and will go to kindergarten in the fall. He tolerates school and does not cry nonstop like he did last year. He attends therapies and is making some slight progress. But, most encouraging to us is that he laughs and demands to be held. He interacts with us and is making a little progress with his vision. Maddie is an old soul; he loves Bing Crosby. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get his perpetrators charged for his abuse. I have not given up. The birth patents returned to AZ when we gained custody of Maddie. In 2016, Maddie’s birth mom gave birth to another son. Again, we had to fight for CPS to allow him to be placed with us. We adopted Maddie, his brother (Quinn) and another child on July 24, 2018. July 24th is Tyrece’s (our first foster and adopted son) birthday. We have many things to be grateful about on July 24th. In December 2019, Maddie and Quinn’s birth mother gave birth to a third son. He is in the foster system in AZ. I keep in contact with their birth mom; we exchange pictures on the photo-circle app. The new baby looks a lot like Maddie and Quinn. It is hard for us to not take the new child, but we really have our hands full with four young sons with special needs. Mom has a lot of intellectual and learning disabilities and cannot provide care for a child. The Dad is not willing to do what is necessary to raise children. Maddie has taught me so much about myself and about life. He has taught me that I do not know everything, that he is in control and on his own timeline and that trust is earned. We love this child with all of the love that is in our hearts.
An update on Maddox….April 2021
This year, we have worked hard on getting Maddie on a very strict ketogenic diet. We dilute his pills so we know that we are administering medicine only – without any added sugars. His seizure activity, has for the most part, stabilized. We had a recent scare, but he is much better now. Maddie is participating in life more. He enjoys interacting with people in his environment. Speech/feeding is going much better this year. He enjoys the sugar free lollipops that we use for oral stimulation. A new personality trait emerged this year – he gets jealous when “his nurse” or “his teacher” interacts with any of the other boys. It is quite comical. Maddie is in kindergarten; he seems to be enjoying school more this year.
I would like to introduce you to Reily.
Meet Reily Original Story 3/25/2013 After three years of silence, it is finally my turn to tell the world my story – the story that no one has heard yet – the emotions and the memories of that unforgettable day. My son was a wonderful baby. Being a young, 19-year-old single mom who was working full-time as a manager at a local restaurant and going to school, all while living independently, I was so blessed. He hardly ever cried and was always happy and playing. I couldn’t have asked for a better little boy. Mid-October, at 8 months, he started to act differently. He would play for 15 minutes and then fall asleep for 45 minutes, every hour, which was very unlike him. He didn’t want me to touch his head when I gave him a bath, which he normally loved, and he screamed when I would lay him down for bed, like he had a horrible headache. Something just wasn’t right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Oct. 25, 2001 is a day that I will never forget. I took my son to the baby sitter’s house. For about three weeks prior to that, he had been getting extremely upset when I dropped him off there, trying to cling on to me and screaming when I handed him to the baby sitter, and that day was no exception. My motherly emotions kicked in and I cried all the way to work. I went to breastfeed him at around 1:15 p.m. that day, as I had done everyday on my lunch break since the day he was born. He ate well and was again upset when I left. At around 4:15 p.m., I got an emergency phone call from the baby sitter saying that he had stopped breathing and that I needed to get to the hospital right away. My heart dropped into my stomach. I called my mom to come pick me up. I was hysterical – crying and shaking – and definitely in no condition to drive myself. My mom came and got me and we raced to the hospital. The whole way there, I was just praying that he was alive. I have never felt so much fear in my whole life. I had a million thoughts racing through my head, most of them centered around what had happened and if I was going to have to bury my precious baby. We raced into the ER. The first thing I heard was my son crying. I was relieved until I saw him. He was grey in color – literally. It was a sight that I never would want any other parent to see, a sight that is forever etched in my mind. By this time, my grandparents were at the ER and I can honestly say that was the first time I had ever seen my grandpa cry in my whole life. It was a scary sight to see my baby crying uncontrollably and not being able to focus on my face. He kept turning his head and looking up to the right. I thought he was blind and I thought I was never going to see my son’s blue eyes ever again. We had a CAT scan done on him that revealed two spots of bleeding on the brain, brain swelling and midline shifting. I remember sitting on the floor, crying, wondering what had happened and why it had happened to my son. After the CT, a phone call to DCFS and the police department, my son was given the diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome by our family physician who had graciously rushed to the ER after a family member’s urgent phone call to him. We were sent by ambulance to SwedishAmerican in Rockford. As soon as we got to Rockford, I threw up in the ambulance. I was so scared and confused. I could only hope that it was all a dream and that I would wake up any second, but the nightmare had just begun. My son had so many tests done – EEGs, CT scans, MRIs. I will never forget when he went into his MRI and because of his age they had to sedate him. He looked up at me, smiled a beautiful smile, and fell asleep. I walked out of the room holding his precious little socks and heard the pounding of the MRI machine. To this day, I can still hear that pounding in my ears. I didn’t eat or sleep while he was in the hospital. He lost so much blood that he required a blood transfusion. The doctors told me that if his brain didn’t stop swelling, he would have to have surgery to put a shunt in to drain the blood. He had bleeding behind both eyes. I was so scared and felt so helpless. All we could do was pray and pray some more. My pastor and many families came up to Rockford and prayed over us. There were churches not only in this area but all across the United States that were praying for my son. My son ended up being in the hospital for, amazingly, only 5 days. We were sent home but he was not in my custody. I had to be cleared as a suspect. I was treated as a criminal and could not be alone with my own son. We stayed at my mom’s house and both her and I had to take a four-week leave of absence from our jobs because of the situation. After much pleading and begging, I took a polygraph test, passed with flying colors, and was released home in mid-November. I was labeled by the system as a typical 19-year-old single mom who had no clue on what life was all about or how to raise a child. That infuriated me, and I made it clear to everyone who interviewed me that I was not your typical young mom and that I wanted them to hear me out and hear my story before they automatically judged me. I had police and DCFS workers in tears after hearing what I had to say. Because of political issues and conflict of interest in this town, it took until May of this year to prosecute the case. I was so emotionally tired of the whole situation and the feelings I had to deal with every day that I was ready to give up on the whole thing. I was frustrated and disappointed, but I knew that my son was alive and that made me stick through the hard times. The baby sitter ended up with a felony conviction of aggravated battery, giving her a sentence of two years probation, anger management classes, and taking away her privileges of working or running a daycare. I believe she deserved much more. To this day, any ambulance or police siren freaks me out. I can’t stand the smell of IV tape. Every time he gets a fever, I get scared because he is more likely to have a seizure after what has happened to him. I trust no one and I am always second-guessing myself. These are things that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life, things that will never be forgotten, emotional baggage forever. My son, only through the power of prayer, is alive and has recovered 100 percent. His brain is fine and at his annual eye doctor appointments at the University of Wisconsin, the doctor just looks at him in amazement, knowing that he should have permanent damage and has none. Later on in life, he may have learning or behavior problems because of the abuse he suffered. But for right now, he is an intelligent little 3-and-a-half-year-old with no permanent problems who loves to do normal kid things, and we rejoice in them all. I never would wish on anyone what I had to go through. I want everyone to know that just because someone has a license for daycare means no more than if they didn’t have one. Anyone can abuse a child, no matter who they are. Trust your instincts. If things just don’t seem right or you aren’t quite sure about the person watching your children, trust your gut and pull them out before it’s too late. My son is the luckiest little boy alive today and he makes me so happy, but I could’ve lost him – he could have been another statistic, and I am so thankful God gave him a second chance on life and that I can enjoy life with him. Child abuse is a serious issue in our community and our world. Children cannot tell you when someone is hurting them, they can only speak through their tears and pain when they are being abused. Listen to your instincts. If it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Never, ever, shake a baby. Serious, permanent damage can occur. Thank God everyday for your children. They are life’s most precious gifts. Update March 2020. Reily is now 19 years old. He is in the Army National Guard and works full time at a call center. He moved out with his girlfriend and is looking to start college this fall.
I would like to introduce you to Cristian.
Meet Cristian Between mid-July and mid-August 2007, Cristian Nicholas Fravel suffered unexplained illnesses, including hair loss, lesions inside his mouth and eyelids, two air pockets in the back of his throat, retinal hemorrhaging, and a displaced lens. Doctors had not been able to officially diagnose the cause of these illnesses. The team of specialists at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana have NEVER seen anything like Cristian’s condition. Cristian was lethargic and semi-conscious. He was pumped with strong antibiotics such as vancomycin, thinking it was a serious infection, but he was not responding. Doctors gave him 24 hours to live. As time went by, and 24 hours turned to 48 hours, and 48 hours turned to 72 hours, it began to appear to many as if someone was intentionally trying to kill this innocent little boy. We believe that my ex-boyfriend is the cause of his injuries. We later discovered that he had earlier in 2007 been charged with Felony Neglect of a Dependent for the abuse of his very own daughter when she was just 2 months old! We never even knew he had children. That’s when more doctors and specialists became involved and started doing more testing. If Cristian survived, we were told he would probably be blind, never walk or run, require therapy services and would require special education. There are numerous references in the medical reports indicating “suspected child abuse”, “non-accidental injury”, and/or “inflicted trauma”, yet the Justice System has failed us and the person who did this never was charged. After 8 days in a semi-coma, Cristian woke up. The trauma left him with partial complex seizures and being legally blind in his left eye. He underwent his 1st surgery to remove the displaced lens in October 2007 and a 2nd for eye muscle surgery. Finally, in June 2010, Cristian was referred to a Neurologist who confirmed that his injuries are consistent with that of Shaken Baby Syndrome – 3 years later! We presented these findings to the Prosecutors Office, who still failed to prosecute his perpetrator. Everyday, Cristian continues to grow just like any other 13 year old. By the grace of God, Cristian has overcome the odds that were stacked up against him. He is a living testimony of the power of prayer. He is an honor roll student in 8th grade, and has been tested twice to determine that he is considered “high ability” and “gifted”, currently playing soccer and running track for his middle school teams. It has almost been almost 13 years since my family’s lives were shattered by such a cruel and heartless individual, but we continue to grow stronger each passing day and fight for what we love – Cristian!
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