Taking on Challenges

Smiling mom squatting next to daughter in wheelchair

Raising a medically complex child takes a village. Jennifer Smith has reached out to Raising Special Kids many times for assistance and has always received the support and answers she’s needed to help her daughter Madison.

Jennifer and Maddie live in Holbrook, Arizona and travel back and forth to Phoenix for Maddie’s medical care. Jennifer is a special education teacher, is passionate about teaching children with disabilities and has a deep love for the families she serves in her community. While Jennifer’s professional experience and expertise is very helpful, she shared that it is much different advocating for her daughter than it is advocating for one of her students.

As Maddie approached 18, Jennifer made the decision to petition the court for guardianship of Maddie. She felt overwhelmed with the process and reached out to Raising Special Kids. “I was nervous and intimidated about the process and the 2 inches of paperwork that needed to be filled out!” Jennifer’s worries eased as the family support specialist explained the guardianship process, how to file for it and what to expect with the court proceeding. “I don’t know who I would have turned to, or how I would have figured that process out had it not been for Raising Special Kids.” She was pleasantly surprised to learn that she and her family support specialist related personally as well. “Before we even talked about guardianship she asked about my daughter’s story, and it turns out both of our children were adopted and are medically complex. I was comforted that she understood what we were going through.” 

Jennifer again found the need for Raising Special Kids as she was trying to navigate the world of palliative care and connecting with a medical team that could handle Madison’s increasing health issues and hospitalizations. Changing doctors and getting second opinions can be daunting for any family. Jennifer felt overwhelmed and was nervous about what the word “palliative,” would mean for her daughter. She was reassured when the new family support specialist she connected with shared that she was also going through the same experience with her own daughter. Jennifer was able to learn more about palliative care and the tremendous support it can be for a family with a child who has chronic medical issues. Her family support specialist gave her the information she needed to refer Madison, helped her connect with a compassionate palliative care physician and once again, helped put her mind at ease. “I am so grateful she gave me the courage to refer Madison to the palliative care program. It has been a lifesaver for us — both in and out of the hospital.”

Raising a child with intense medical and developmental needs will always be a challenge for Jennifer, but with Raising Special Kids just a phone call away, she knows she has people by her side who truly understand and are willing to take on the challenges with her.

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