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Dear Tom,

I could not decide if I wanted to reach out for help for my mother or my youngest brother. I realized that any help provided for one, will help the other. They live in North Carolina so I am not there to help on a daily basis.

For the last 10 years, my mother has been helping her community as a therapeutic foster parent. She has taken in children of both genders, all ages and various ethnic backgrounds.    Seven years ago, one child captured her heart more than any other child had in the past.    At the time, she was 50 years.  With very little outside help, she had already raised three children.

My mother took Amari in, when he was nine months old. People said she was crazy to take on such a responsibility.  But there was something special about him and she knew our family could give him the love, attention and stimulation to help him thrive.  Doctors said he would not live past the age of two.

Amari was born two months premature.  There were several medical conditions Amari was born with due to his birth mother’s lifestyle and his premature birth.  Amari has Hydrocephalus (water in his head), cerebral palsy, epilepsy and hearing loss in both ears. When he came to our home, he had a feeding tube inserted because he could not chew or eat on his own.   He was on several medications and had to have brain surgery, to have a shunt placed, so that the water could constantly drain from around his brain.

He was not able to cry, move, respond, and did not even seem to notice when anyone else was in the room with him.  She told me that she saw how delicate he was, she could not risk sending him to another foster home for him to perish even further, so she kept him…and held him close.   She adopted him when he was three.  All total, Amari has had three brain surgeries, intestinal surgery, eye surgery, and is now completely deaf in one ear.

Amari is amazing.   He is 8 years old. He loves playing video games and baseball. His favorite cartoon is SpongeBob and his favorite color is yellow. He has learned to communicate.

He knows some sign language, can speak some words and is able to form some short sentences, such as “mama want more pizza. please”.   I think that is his favorite.  He is unable to walk  His legs just are not strong enough.  He crawls around to get where he needs to go, can get around in a wheel chair and uses a walker on occasion. He can stand a few minutes now unassisted, but does not take steps (not yet anyway!)

Whether my mom wants to admit it or not, she is getting older and is not in the greatest health.  She has Fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.  Amari is four feet tall and getting too tall and heavy for her to lug him and his wheelchair in and out of the house and up and down the stairs for school every day, or to medical appointments and personal outings.

Please grant my Christmas wish, to get them a wheelchair ramp.   It will definitely take away a lot of the physically stress my mother feels on a daily basis.

CHRISTMAS WISH: Ria Siller  was originally published on