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April Calendar Kids: Overcoming unimaginable odds and thriving
April 09, 2024
CHoR April calendar kids with racetrack drawing behind them

    Siblings Rosie, Zeke and Micah have their family and CHoR team with them every step of the way

    “When exposed to this level of selfless giving by a mother to her family, one cannot help but respond in exactly the same way, and certainly hope to do as good a job,” said Dr. Jeffrey Haynes of Stephanie McFarland.

    Stephanie and her husband adopted their children Rosie, Zeke and Micah Higgins – three of the 10 kids in their family – knowing they had medical needs that would require ongoing care. They’ve partnered with our experts at CHoR to get these special kids on a path to health and happiness for a lifetime.

    Adopting children with complex medical needs and finding a team for support at CHoR

    CHoR patient Rosie HigginsRosie was the first to join her new family at 22 months old. Then came Zeke at 2.5 years of age. Finally, Micah came home at 7.5 years. Now 6, 5 and 9 years old, respectively, they’ve been through a lot individually and as a family.

    “At the time of their adoptions, we knew they had a diagnosis of trisomy 21. We also knew that Rosie had a repaired aortic coarctation and that Zeke had Hirschsprung’s disease. They were severely malnourished which affected their general health greatly,” said Stephanie. “We were originally referred by our pediatrician to various specialists when Rosie came home, but when Zeke came home in such a fragile state, Dr. Haynes recommended Dr. Kimbrough take over the kids’ care and we are so very thankful. Because of her amazing support – and the support of the entire complex care team – we were able to also adopt Micah knowing we could meet his extensive medical needs.”

    Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough leads a team dedicated to caring for kids like the Higgins siblings.

    “I have no idea how she provides the level of care that she does to all of her patients. I’m positive she’s superwoman,” Stephanie said of Dr. Kimbrough. “Along with Brittani, the complex care nurse, and Alethia, complex care social worker, there have been many challenging days made easier and brighter with their support.”

    In addition to caring for the kids’ overall health, the complex care clinic team has helped the Higgins family connect with specialists across CHoR, including in surgery, ENT, ophthalmology, gastroenterology and nutrition, endocrinology, cardiology, urology, nephrology and pulmonology. They’ve made additional diagnoses – such as a kidney condition, obstructive sleep apnea, a chromosomal deletion, autism and vision issues – and supported the family through numerous procedures and hospitalizations. While all three children have had their fair share of hospital stays, Zeke once spent 16 days in the PICU recovering from septic shock following a surgery for his Hirschsprung’s disease. With prompt screening and treatment, he returned to his smiley, cuddly, normal self.

    The Higgins siblings are growing, learning and thriving every day

    CHoR patient Zeke Higgins“The Higgins family is a ball of energy and fun. I always look forward to seeing them come to clinic,” said Dr. Kimbrough. “The kids' personalities are honored and celebrated while focusing on their current medical and developmental needs to help them meet their full potential. I love collaborating with this family to set goals and coordinate their individual care plans.”

    All three kids started public school in February this year and Micah is very close to walking. New goals are continually being set as these hardworking kids grow.

    When asked how they’re doing today, Stephanie replied, “Oh, they’re amazing. They’ve blossomed so much, and we’ve been so honored to be on the sidelines watching them grow and learn and thrive!”

    They love being outside, playing in the water and following their older siblings around. They each have their unique likes and talents too.

    “Micah loves to explore the world around him, and he loves to sit on your lap and just ‘talk.’ Rosie is very curious about how things work and likes to take things apart. We’re still working on the putting back together. Haha. She also loves her dog, Harley. Zeke loves to clap for himself, as his friends in the PICU can attest, and listen to you singing him songs,” said Stephanie.

    Mutual respect – CHoR’s pediatric specialists and the Higgins family work together to bring out the best in these special kids

    CHoR patient Micah HigginsWhile Stephanie, her husband and other children are by these kiddos’ sides helping them every day, they’re supported by their team, including those in the complex care clinic and many more, at CHoR.

    Dr. Edmondson has worked tirelessly to help our Rosie’s complex urology concerns so she can live a healthier and more comfortable life. Dr. Nelson is the kindest, most encouraging provider. Dr Al-Samarraie is one of the most compassionate, knowledgeable doctors we’ve ever met, and he has been so dedicated to improving Micah’s vision through surgery so that he can explore his world and learn. The entire palliative care team – Amanda, Dr. Dan and Dr. Kelly – is beyond extraordinary. They bring such calm, peace and joy whenever they enter the room. Dr. Haynes is not only such a skilled surgeon but also one of the very kindest humans. He loves our children, and that love helps comfort us when making hard decisions,” said Stephanie. “Everyone is extraordinary. We cannot express how highly we regard CHoR and every specialist we’ve worked closely with in the last five years. We truly love them all.”

    The team holds the Higgins family in equally high regard.

    “Stephanie's advocacy for and care of her adopted special needs children is unparalleled in my experience. With such a large number of children having unique needs there is unlikely to be a spare moment in her days and nights but she seems to handle all of this with complete positivity and love.”
    -Dr. Haynes

    “They are just so fun! I love seeing how they have progressed medically, developmentally and academically at their visits in complex care clinic. I cannot describe in words the bond they have with one another and with their adoptive family. Love shines brightly in their home!”
    -Dr. Kimbrough

    “Stephanie is an amazing person! She is one of the most compassionate and positive people I have ever met. Our encounters typically go beyond patient care. We chat about her life handling adopted kids with special needs in addition to her big family, navigating family struggles of personal illness, and the move to a new house and city with great positivity and high spirit!”
    -Dr. Al-Samarraie

    A new country, home, family and hospital for Rosie, Zeke and Micah

    In the end, it’s easy for family and medical providers to rally around Rosie, Zeke and Micah. Stephanie sums it up best.

    “These kiddos faced unimaginable odds…being born with an extra chromosome in a place not yet ready to accommodate or embrace people with disabilities. There’s so much loss in their story, and yet they bravely stepped into a life entirely different from all they’d known in their orphanages. Every day they learn new skills, try new things, explore new parts of their world. They have shown us what strength looks like. Sometimes people will commend us for our choice to bring these three into our family, but it’s the kids that are amazing, not us. We’re just the lucky ones who get to love them and that’s really very easy to do.”

    Check back each month to meet all the unstoppable patients from our 2024 CHoR calendar.

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