Our Little Angels
Sammy is a real medical miracle! Sammy is not my biological son. I know the deep piercing bond a son from my womb can bring. I love my Sammy just as deeply! Sammy was born at 23 weeks at the fragile weight of 17 ounces when his birthmother's placenta burst due to an abortive cocktail she utilized to help end his life - which landed her in the hospital. When Sammy tested positive for methamphetamines and barbiturates, Sammy was taken into the custody of Children's Services. His mother's rights were suspended until she tested negative for the drug, and attended parenting courses set forth by Sammy's social workers and the court.
His extreme prematurity meant his organs were not developed enough to sustain his life. His lungs were so underdeveloped, and he couldn't take his first breath. His brain and nervous system were so undeveloped they couldn't remind him when he needed to breathe. Sammy survived for the next 20 months in the hospital under the care of medical personnel. They were utilizing mechanical ventilation and IV drips, while he fought his mother's drug addiction and his preterm birth. He rapidly produced hundreds of hemangiomas on the outside of his body and thousands more on the inside that impeded the natural function of all his organs. This condition subjected him to several years of chemotherapy. To the amazement of hospital staff, he endured seven painful abdominal surgeries and survived five long flat-line code resuscitations. Sammy was continually pricked with needles. He was so troubled by this he slept sitting up. Afraid to relax into dreamland, poised for his next onslaught of cold, painful medical procedures delivered by sterile hands and blue scrubs.
Against extraordinary odds, Sammy continued to fight for his life, alone, without the emotional support of a nurturing mother. The severity of his illness, medical costs, and a grim prognosis prompted doctors to request a "Do Not Resuscitate Form" to be signed by the appointed court judge. Thankfully, the judge refused and Sammy continued to make use of the hospital's personnel's heroic resuscitation efforts. Miraculously, and to the continued amazement of the nurses, therapists, and physicians charged with his care, he stabilized enough to be discharged from the hospital.
He was placed in a group home for medically fragile children, where he was able to bond with other children. Who were also fighting incredible fights of their own. Months later, after a long career in child care, the owner of the group home was set to retire. She was frightened that if Sammy ended up in the local institution he was slated for," he would wither away and die." She called me on Thanksgiving Day when she'd heard I was a veteran pediatric nurse and now certified as a medically fragile foster parent. Convinced Sammy wouldn't make it without a vital infusion of love and heartfelt dedication, she urged me to take him into my home.
Several days later, he crossed the threshold of my doorway, infusing me with the wonder of his survival.
In less than three years, Sammy has moved from indwelling catheters, feeding tubes, and numerous daily medications to being tube and drug-free.
In 2007, my husband and I adopted Sammy. Securing his promising future and enriching our lives beyond the expectations we mulled over when we started this journey of safe-housing tender souls.
Sammy is a true blessing from God. Besides needing corrective lenses, a high caloric diet, and vitamin B12 injections. Sammy is a happy, healthy, and intelligent young gentleman; who understands an in-depth meeting of life, a divine knowledge far beyond most of us. He tells me (his Mama), "he has been on the other side so many times- he has come back with business cards from GOD."
To know Sammy is to love Sammy, and I eagerly await by his side, to see what life has in store for this remarkable little Warrior.
Currently, Sammy Has become a warrior for viable 24-week preemies who do not have a voice.
Learn More About Sammy's Divine Will
There are so many other little boys and girls just like Sammy. While we cannot adopt all of the little "Sammy's in waiting." We have opened our home to heal and love as many little ones as we can and help them move onto loving homes of their own. As a result of this endeavor, the birth of our charity Angels in Waiting occurred as well as our determination to affect as many lives as possible and do so through the Hearts and Hands of Dedicated Nurses.
Thanks for reading.
Linda West Conforti RN
Founder of Angels In Waiting
Crystal was born in Sacramento in 2008. Her parents were from Mexico and spoke little English and had limited resources and finances. The pregnancy was uneventful and without complications. However, soon after birth, it became very clear that Crystal had a serious medical condition. Crystal failed to breathe when she was asleep. At 3 days of life, Crystal was diagnosed with Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome (CCHS), a very serious, rare, and deadly disease. In order for Crystal to survive she would need to be hooked up to a machine (ventilator) that 'breathed' for her when she was sleeping. She would also require a tracheostomy (hole in her neck to her lungs) to connect to this breathing machine. The complexity of care that Crystal required was significantly more than her parents could provide and Crystal was placed in CPS custody. And this is where Crystal's story goes from sad to unbelievably terrible...
the next 8 years of Crystal's life were spent in a hospital. Yes, 8 years.
Crystal resided in a peds-subacute nursing home facility for nearly 3,000 days/nights.
During these years Crystal was kept alive....but she was NOT living..
She had a bed, a tv, and an iPad. No family. No visitors. No, mom. No, dad. Just hospital staff that was overworked and underpaid.
She was treated like an invalid and was not taught how to eat, go potty on a toilet, or even talk.
She wore a diaper, had a G-tube for nearly all her nutrition, and was spoon-fed puréed baby mush 3 times a day. She was never given water in a cup. She was on a continuous pulse oximeter that acted like a ball and chain inhibiting her movement drastically. She did not communicate with others and her language was nearly incomprehensible. She ate inappropriate objects and was required to be hospitalized several times each year when she lived in the peds-sub acute hospital for various reasons. She was on over 10 medications daily. She would watch TV or play on her iPad all day, every day.
In February 2016 Crystal finally got the chance to start living.
Crystal was taken in by an Independent RN foster mom and dad!
And this is where Crystal's story goes from unbelievably horrible to wonderful!
For the first time in Crystal's life, she had a mom, dad, brother, dog, and cat. She was LOVED! And she had 2 experienced ICU nurses caring for her. The consistent nursing and benefits of being in a loving home had a drastic impact on Crystal's health and well-being! She now had rules, expectations, and stimuli. She flourished and within 6 months she was potty trained, eating all of her nutritional needs by mouth (G-tube was removed), learning how to communicate, attending special ed school, running, jumping, riding a trike, and on zero medications!
Crystal had MANY 1st experiences...she flew on a plane, rode a horse, watched a parade, went camping, played at the beach, went grocery shopping, played at a playground free from her pulse oximeter....
And Crystal continues to have many 1st experiences since she continues to grow and flourish. She has never been healthier (has not had a hospitalization since she moved into a foster home) and she definitely has not been happier. And as of October 2018 her Independent RN foster parents officially became her guardians and Crystal is no longer a foster child!!!
Crystal is an amazing example of perseverance and how RN foster moms/dads are saving children with love and nursing.
By Her Nurse Mommy
My baby boy Francisco came to me through the foster-adopt system. His social worker called me and asked me if I would be willing to accept a baby who was born at 24 weeks, drug-exposed, and who has been in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit since birth and in need of a home. She said he had a few medical conditions and still required oxygen. I gladly accepted him into my home because I had been praying for a child and felt that whoever God sent me was who I was meant to take in!
I went to the hospital to receive my new baby, and I learned about his history that he and his birth mother both tested positive for Methamphetamines. She also confessed to using opioids throughout her pregnancy. Francisco's biological mother stated that she did not know she was pregnant until she went into labor and admitted into labor & delivery with profound bleeding on the day of his birth. A C-section was performed. The tiny baby was born at 24 weeks gestational age at 1 pound 7 ounces and resuscitated even though his birth mother asked the medical team numerous times not to revive him.
Since the ward of the court had already taken three of Francisco's siblings from his birth mother due to her ongoing drug use, the day Francisco was born, he became a dependent of the foster care system immediately with her rights terminated.
Francisco had excellent care at the Nicu for the three months that he stayed there. I met all the nurses who had cared for him, and they all loved him so much. They were so happy to see that he was going to an adoptive forever home. They told me he was a very easy-going baby, for which I also found to be true.
While Francisco was in the Nicu, he had to have heart surgery to correct a cardiac defect and also was diagnosed with mild pulmonary stenosis. Since then, his heart is doing great and his Cardiologist only needs to see him once per year and predicts that he will not need any more cardiac surgeries. He was on oxygen due to his immature lungs but was able to be weaned off within a few weeks of coming home to us with no breathing problems at all.
Francisco was born with Retinopathy of prematurity. When Francisco was five months old, he had to have laser surgery to save his eyesight. The operation was 100% effective, and according to his most recent follow-up eye exam, has perfect 20/20 vision. Due to this condition, he will never be able to play contact sports such as football. So we will get him a piano! Or whatever he fancies!
Francisco has continued to grow and thrive in our care! He has only been sick once since coming home, and even that was short-lived! He is an adorable little boy and giggles and smiles a lot. He seldom cries! I have 4 four kids, and he is the easiest baby ever to care for!
He easily tolerates his feedings and has no problems with GERD. He has a great appetite and insists on feeding himself!
Francisco is now 13 months adjusted age and is already on the threshold of walking! He is babbling, letting his needs and wants to be known! He is very tactile and handles and touches anything he can, seemingly with great thought!
He seems to be on a mission in this life and is so meant to be here! I know that God has a significant purpose for Francisco, and I am so grateful his path led him to my home, hands, and heart!
We are hoping that others who read this can see the impact we nurses have on these precious little souls. The only thing purer than helping these pure souls are these pure souls themselves! We need more nurses to help these little angels in waiting.
The picture above is of my daughter as she lay in recovery after her most recent heart surgery; a complicated 6 hour surgery at CHLA. I am standing over her with tears of joy and grateful to God that she has made it through.
My story begins in year 2004. I was working a RN Supervisor for 4 group homes for medically fragile children and adults. I heard about a little 4 year old girl-ventilator and g tube dependant with a very complicated cardiac condition. She needed a forever home. Her loving foster home mom was not able to adopt her due to having already adopted 4 hard to place children and because her aging mother was needing to move in with her for care.
When I thought about the little girl, I felt a tug in my heart to meet her and see if I would be able to help her. Before long, she was transitioned to my home to be adopted by me. I was able to continue involvement with her former foster family for her best interest and as it turned out, we became very close friends and in fact like family. We are still very close and see each other regularly. So my child benefits by keeping the family support she had known all her life before coming to me.
When I first brought my 4-year-old daughter home, I was not aware that I could be her nurse too. I had to leave her with nurses so I could go to work each day. Even though I knew she had good care, I missed her every day and still worried about her when I was gone. One day someone told me about a program in which I could stay home and be my daughter's nurse and earn enough money to support us without outside employment.
I was very happy to learn about this program called Angels In Waiting and very soon I was able to send the nurses home and quit my job at the group home to dedicate myself to the care of my medically fragile child. It has been very rewarding for me to know she receives the care of a passionately dedicated nurse (myself) along with the tender touch and love of a mommy at the same time!
Sometimes I am asked how I can do all her care. Well, I do not take credit for all I do for her. It is God who blesses me with strength and knowledge and support. God works through me to care for this very medically fragile now 16-year-old young lady.
These days, my daughter tires easily. She lives with Chronic heart failure, Chronic Respiratory Failure, and recurrent pulmonary stenosis with recurrent and future angioplasties. She has dysphagia and so is G tube dependant for all her life. She lives with bilateral diaphragmatic paralysis, bilateral vocal chord paralysis, scoliosis, hemiplegia, ataxia, and moderate brain damage caused by hypoxia at birth. Even so, she blesses all whose life she touches and has a silly sense of humor all the time.
I am so Grateful that God has entrusted her to me and I pray for guidance from God in all I do. We are a joyful and grateful family and being able to be her nurse at home makes everything so much more natural and happy for everyone!
Judi Austin RN
My name is Danielle Sneed and I started my nursing career in 2007, where I worked in Home
Health Services and Hospitals throughout the 8 years of my career. Although I loved caring for
my patients, I still always felt a yearning to do something more rewarding. When I discovered
Angels In Waiting while online looking for new employment 2015, I immediately knew that
becoming a nurse foster mom was something I was meant to do. Linda from Angels in
waiting was so helpful every step of the way.
Christopher was born 32 weeks premature weighing 5lbs due to the effects of his
mother’s mental illness and drug abuse problems with methamphetamines and
marijuana while in the womb. Christopher was diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis, a
Cardiac Tumor, Vocal Cord Paralysis, Chronic Lung Disease, Continuous G-tube
feeding, continuous Oxygen, and prescribed over 13 medications. Christopher had an
uphill battle from the start, I knew it was a big challenge to take on but I was ready for
it. The moment I saw him I fell in love and the bond formed between us was almost
Although he has many health issues and learning disabilities Christopher has made so
many great strides and gains since birth that it truly become a miracle to nurture him. I
was fortunate in 2018 to be able to adopt Christopher and legally become his mother.
He’s been such a blessing to me and my family's life more than I could’ve ever
imagined. I will always be grateful to Linda the founder of Angels in Waiting and the EPSDT
Program for allowing me to provide my son with the continuous nursing care he needs.
Danielle Sneed, LVN.
Autumn spent over three months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Professionals diagnose her with institutional-like syndrome. Shortly after that diagnosis, Autumn developed a troubling syndrome that appears to be a form of narcoleptic-like episodes and failure to thrive issues. I prefer not to speak of the social situation that led her into the foster care system. As a medically fragile little Angel, as I'm still in contact via Facebook with her large extended family. However, I would like to show how a dog named Toby spent countless hours with this little girl during her narcoleptic-like and postictal episodes. These episodes lasted for days and some times a week. The 2nd photo in the below gallery is showing an occurrence after her physical therapy appointment. Any negative stimuli: physical therapy, loud noise, emesis, injections, etc., would cause Autumn to have narcoleptic-like incidents. She would go into a narcoleptic-like coma and would not wake up! Autumn needed to be tube-fed, frequent assessments, and position changes. Our dog Toby would not leave her side when she was in these coma-like states. He would gently lay his muzzle on her chest and stay there for hours and gently lick her feet and her toes. One afternoon after Toby was performing his "toe licking therapy," I heard her giggle as I walked by. The below photos are of Autumn and Toby shortly after her giggle episode. She has not had another narcoleptic event from this day on. She has shown no signs or symptoms of her tragic past thanks to a dedicated dog named Toby.