Adrianna became a client of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois’ (LCFS) Extended Family Support program when she started caring for her nephew Marcello (both pictured, above).
Marcello’s first couple years were rough. His mother gave birth to him in prison at the start of a 25-year sentence. He bounced from family member to family member, and ended up in the care of his father Adrianna’s brother in law. Shortly after that, her brother-in-law went to prison on drug charges and is now facing a 20-year sentence. This left an innocent, precious boy alone in the world. Adrianna was already stressed out taking care of her two children, working full-time, finishing her master’s degree, and caring for her husband who had back surgery. They were barely making ends meet. To be honest, she wasn’t sure how she was going to provide for Marcello, but Adrianna knew she had a loving, stable home to offer him.
This skinny little toddler with downcast eyes showed up on Adrianna’s doorstep with no belongings. At almost three years old he didn’t speak much. He had serious emotional, abandonment and developmental issues. He also had a problem with his feet that affected his walking.
Feeling completely overwhelmed, Adrianna started looking for services to help Marcello. That’s when she found LCFS. Adrianna had faith that the Lord was watching over them … and when their LCFS caseworker Sidney Harvey came in to their lives she knew this was true!
First, LCFS connected them with insurance for Marcello. It helped them access needed services like speech therapy, counseling and podiatry care. We also linked the family with a grant to help care for him. During the holidays, Adrianna was so stressed out about providing gifts for another child. Then one day, Sidney came by with new clothing, toys and a gift card to help make Christmas special for Marcello.
Adrianna started the path to getting legal custody of Marcello in early 2013. Since then they’ve accumulated roughly $10,000 in lawyer fees and have had to pawn belongings to pay their debt. This hasn’t been an easy journey for the family, but Sidney is always there to listen when Adrianna is crying and upset. Sidney even came to their trial for guardianship, and stood alongside the family members. In October 2013 the court awarded Adrianna and her husband legal custody of Marcello. LCFS was there with them … their precious support system during these trying times.
Thanks to LCFS’ guidance and the stability of their family, today Marcello is a completely different child. He is a loving, caring little guy who will be starting Kindergarten in the fall. Over the past two years he’s gone from almost no speech to being bilingual. He’s gone from extreme tantrums and outbursts to handling his feelings as best a child his age can. He’s gone from being detached and withdrawn to showing his feelings and sharing many I love yous and hugs. Without LCFS’ help, Adrianna would not have been able to do as much for Marcello. Together we provided them with hope during the most difficult time of their lives.