Becoming Parents Was Unexpected

RSK helps family find hope and navigate a path forward

When Tony Blanco walked downstairs to the clinic at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, he had no idea of the support and care he would receive. Tony is an RN for the neurosurgery division at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. After talking with colleagues about his family’s experiences, they urged him to talk with Family Support at Raising Special Kids. Tony and his husband William unexpectedly took on the care of his great-nephew Nathaniel (Nate). Nate experienced significant trauma, drug exposure and abuse in his life, and after being abandoned by his mother, Tony and William willingly stepped in to help.

They faced a tough path, navigating the court system to get guardianship of Nate and struggling to obtain needed medication. They also faced issues with establishing medical care and services for Nate while waiting for legal permission. Tony credits a social worker at the UMOM homeless shelter with caring for Nate and his mother before she left. Tony is also grateful to Mind 24/7 for treating Nate and assisting them with getting refills for medications he’d gone without, and for providing behavioral health care and counseling. And most of all, Tony tearfully expressed his heartfelt gratitude when talking about the help he received from Raising Special Kids.

“Who does the captain of the ship talk to when they need support? Who do they decompress to when everything is so overwhelming?” Tony said. “Nannette at Raising Special Kids was that person for me. She rearranged her schedule to be at Nate’s IEP meeting. She helped us get funding for emergency respite and to get connected with the Arizona Department of Child Safety. She helped me understand what services he needed and how to navigate it all.”

Tony and William are also grateful for the support they received from Nate’s school. Nate has intellectual disabilities and severe delays, and the IEP team came together to support the Blanco family and to help Nate get established at his new school. Nate also started receiving behavioral health services, and Raising Special Kids is guiding them with applying for the Division of Developmental Disabilities and the Arizona Long-Term Care System. Tony says they are finally finding their way.

While this experience has been full of challenge and heartbreak, Tony, Nate and William are happily settling into their new routine. Raising a teenager was not in the Blanco family’s plans, but they stepped up and they’re doing a wonderful job. When Tony asked Nate what he would like them to call him, he asked to be their child and if Tony and William could be his parents.

So much love abounds in this family, and Raising Special Kids is grateful to be a small part of their journey. “Raising Special Kids is hope,” Tony said. “I had no hope before and did not know a pathway through this. I do now. Everything happens for a reason, and never out of order.”

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