Family adopts disabled teen and her brother

January 16, 2011 8:11:04 AM PST
Adopting older children can be challenging. It is more of a challenge when they have disabilities.

A Chicago area family thinks all children deserve to be happy and loved regardless of their age and disability.

It has only been three and half years since Brandi and her brother Benjamin found a family that is giving them a life they never thought they would have despite Brandi's struggles with an uncontrollable disability called dystonia.

Board games are one of the favorite things this family enjoys doing together.

Brandi, 17, and her brother Benjamin, 14, were adopted by Kelly and Paul through Easter Seals in Joliet.

"They called us one day and said, 'We have this young boy and this young lady with dystonia. Would you like to meet them?' So I went on the internet and figured out what dystonia was, and I figured, OK, she's gonna move a little differently but bring her over," Kelly said.

"They came over and we spent the day out in the backyard and we played and we went swimming and my husband came home and said, 'What do you want to do? What do you think?' and I said, 'Pack their bags. They can come on in,'" Kelly said.

Dystonia is a disability that causes your body to twist. Brandi's dystonia affects her walking and speech.

"She can move really good one day and need so much assistance the next day, and you have to take each day as it is," Kelly said. "Brandi, unfortunately, is a child who's not responding to any forms of medication."

But she has a beautiful smile and a great personality.

"Mom, she's a great person, and my dad, he's awesome," Brandi said. "I like going to school and hanging out with my family and so far everything going really happy and stuff."

Her brother Benjamin now has a better understand of his sister's condition.

"All I knew is that it makes you walk weird and stuff, but it's really like in your brain and then what happens like it contracts all the muscles in your body," Benjamin said.

In addition to giving Brandi and Ben a new life, Kelly and Paul also got them involved with Dystonia Foundation.

"They were never exposed to children with disabilities like that, and I think it brought a lightening to Brandi that she's not alone," Kelly said. "Benjamin met a lot of siblings that understood how he felt dealing with a sister with special needs everyday."

"Every child deserves a loving environment. Every child deserves to be happy. There's many children here just in the state of Illinois that need love. Any child in the foster family system, they're gonna need special attention, regardless if they have a physical disability or not."

Easter Seals

Dystonia Foundation