Jacob Hein

Rough Start Turns Into a Blessing

Stephanie Thompson first met Jacob, when she was assigned to his case through her job as a home health nurse. She instantly fell head over heels for the sweet little boy that was having a very difficult time. There was such a connection she told his family that even after he grew older and she wasn’t his nurse anymore, she would still stay in touch with him.

As it turned out, less than six months, he would become her son.

“Jacob was staying with his aunt and uncle when I first started working with him. Then his mother asked for him back, so I started to treat him at her home. One day, his mother asked me if I could take Jacob. Since I often took him to doctors’ appointments and the like, I asked her where did she want me to take him,” she chuckled.

The answer? She wanted Stephany to adopt Jacob. Jacob was eight months old at the time and couldn’t sit up by himself or crawl. He was on a feeding tube, breathing machine and apnea device. He was suffering from failure to thrive and from a neurological disorder called CMT, which is a genetic condition that causes smaller, weaker muscles in the feet and legs. CMT is related to muscular dystrophy type conditions.

Stephany was not deterred by his health issues, but as a single mother of five, felt like it was a family decision: “I prayed about it and talked to the kids very openly about the responsibility this would place on the entire family, and my kids were all for the adoption.” So, she and his social worker waded through the paperwork and she brought Jacob home to his new family.

His new brothers and sisters doted on Jacob and after the first couple of weeks, he responded to the outpouring of love. He quickly learned that it was okay to cry and that when he did, he would get the attention he needed. “The kids treated him like a real life baby doll!” said Stephany.

Snell's: Jacob at State Fair
Snell’s: Jacob at State Fair

While Jacob and the family were finding the adjustment smooth sailing, they were hit by utterly devastating news two months after the adoption. Oldest brother Daniel was diagnosed with a brain tumor. “I had to take Daniel to St. Jude in Memphis multiple times for treatment, so had to make arrangements to make sure Jacob was well taken care of while I was away. One of the most astounding questions I got was ‘what are you going to do about Jacob now?’. I was polite about it, but thinking inside that he’s a little boy, not a puppy that I can return or take to the pound!” she said.

But the positives of having Jacob as her son well outweigh any other considerations. Within weeks after the adoption, Jacob was improving dramatically. He began to take bottles and was relieved of the feeding tube. He started breathing on his own, and sitting up by himself. Today, he walks, eats regular food and is an active 4-year old. Jacob is getting ready to start pre-school, as well. “He will be going to a special pre-school where he can get physical therapy for his legs. Apparently, the muscles are shortening up faster than we thought, even though we do his exercises with him every day. His braces help quite a bit, though,” stated his mom. While Jacob has some developmental delays, his mom, brothers and sisters read to him regularly, help him practice identifying shapes and learning his numbers. Says Stephany: “He will take a book into Daniel’s room before bed every night and sit in his little chair and “read” to him.”

Snell’s fits Jacob with ankle knee orthotics and Stephany couldn’t be more pleased with his care there. “They’re awesome! He sees Clyde every time so Clyde knows exactly what is going on with Jacob. He’s not working from someone else’s notes and trying to catch up. Everyone there is kind and courteous. Jacob was a little standoffish at first, but now he comes in like he owns the place!” she laughed.