Caring for a Family with Complex Needs

DoraLee smiles for a photo

Tara and Amanda from Hamilton are well acquainted with the services at McMaster Children’s Hospital, as they have adopted multiple children with complex physical or developmental needs.

DoraLee’s Journey

Tara and Amanda’s third child, DoraLee, was born prematurely at McMaster Children’s Hospital and spent some time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“DoraLee was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) shortly after her birth,” explains Tara. “She experienced brain bleeds that caused significant damage.”

Tara and Amanda first met DoraLee shortly after her first birthday. Although DoraLee was supposed to be fostered for only a short period, the family fell in love with her.

“In our hearts, we knew DoraLee needed to be a permanent member of our family,” says Tara. “We officially adopted her when she was two-and-a-half years old.”

“Every parent wants their child to be happy, to feel loved and to be accepted in the community.”

From birth, DoraLee received occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapy as part of the Developmental Pediatrics and Rehabilitation Program (DPRP).

Now a teenager, DoraLee continues to receive occupational and physiotherapy at Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre to enhance her mobility, as CP causes extreme muscle stiffness and the loss of motor control. She also visits the Prosthetics and Orthotics Service for leg braces.

“DoraLee will reach her full potential thanks to Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre,” says Tara. “The Centre makes our lives easier and it’s comforting that they’re just a phone call away.”

Cheering for inclusivity

DoraLee currently visits Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre weekly to participate in the inclusive Cheer Squad.

“The Cheer Squad is fun, but it’s also therapeutic because DoraLee is able to stretch using her full range of motion,” says Tara. “The Cheer Squad also helps DoraLee develop her social skills and connect with kids her age.”

The family’s history with McMaster Children’s Hospital

Tara and Amanda’s other children have also experienced the life-changing care of McMaster Children’s Hospital and its Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre.

Their adult son was born with a rare genetic disorder that causes abnormal brain development. He received care through the DPRP as a child, which included physiotherapy, occupational therapy and custom-wheelchair seating, in addition to many outpatient clinic visits at McMaster Children’s Hospital.

“DoraLee will reach her full potential thanks to Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre.”

Likewise, their adult daughter was hospitalized as an infant multiple times for encephalitis – an inflammation of the brain. She also received care throughout her childhood in the DPRP.

“Every parent wants their child to be happy, to feel loved and to be accepted in the community,” says Tara. “McMaster Children’s Hospital and Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre has played a significant role in helping our children achieve their hopes and dreams.”