Beth and Madison are fraternal twin sisters who were referred individually to the HOPE program while still in the hospital following their birth. The girls were born very premature (26 weeks gestation), had been exposed prenatally to drugs and had significant medical complications. A protective services report was made regarding Beth and Madison due to their birth parents’ lack of involvement in their care.

Beth had severe gastro-esophageal reflux, vision problems, anemia, significant respiratory issues and serious developmental delays due to her prematurity. After her placement with Pati and David Swartzbaugh and through lots of hard work and patience, Beth’s condition improved dramatically. Pati, David, Department of Social Services and the Center for Family Services worked with the twins’ birth parents in an effort to realize the goal of Beth’s reunification with them. The girls’ birthmother was unable to successfully complete the goals required of her by DSS, but their birth father worked diligently with the team. Pati and David opened their home and their lives to the birth father. Nine months after Beth’s placement, she was happily reunited with her birth father and paternal grandparents.

Madison was more gravely ill. Due to complications shortly after her birth, she needed both intestinal and liver transplants in order to survive. Madison had a feeding tube placed in her stomach. She also had severe jaundice due to her liver condition. Madison needed oxygen 24-hours a day due to a severe respiratory condition and was very susceptible to sepsis (blood infections). She, too, was severely developmentally delayed.

After Beth’s reunification with her father, Pati began visiting Madison daily at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital. Madison had never lived outside of the hospital and the staff wasn’t sure if she’d be able to successfully leave until she had the necessary transplants. Pati, her birth father, CFS and DSS lobbied the hospital staff to place Madison with the Swartzbaughs while awaiting the transplants. Madison thrived under the Swartzbaugh’s love and care, and began to make developmental progress. Due to her susceptibility to infection, Madison couldn’t leave the house frequently, so her father visited her regularly in the Swartzbaugh’s home. He also went with her and Pati weekly on the four hour round trip to see her liver specialist in Washington, DC.

Six months after her placement with the Swartzbaugh’s, Madison had to be re-admitted to hospital due to a deterioration in her condition. In April 2007, Madison received a new liver and it was determined that an intestinal transplant was no longer needed). In June 2007, Madison was reunified with Beth and her birth father, who now has custody of both girls.

The twins are thriving and Madison has made incredible progress since she received the new liver. The strong connection between the Swartzbaugh’s and Beth and Madison’s family made a very complicated situation work. HOPE has a very high level of support from a case manager and a part-time nurse to better address client needs.

HOPE needs your help in continuing the CFS mission of building and strengthening families. Please spread the word about the need for more foster families – so we can serve more children and families with these special needs. We are actively recruiting more dedicated families like David & Pati Swartzbaugh for this very important program.

You may know someone who has specialized training in the area of nursing or who is willing to be trained in working with the medically fragile population. Prospective foster parents should be comfortable attending multiple doctor/hospital appointments, enjoy acting as a role model for birth families and be able to provide a nurturing home.

Meet Brenda Fitzgerald, a foster parent for 2 years who has fostered more than 200 children. Click here.

Meet Charlotte Janssen, foster parent for 16 years who has fostered 22 children. Click here.