“It’s a miracle Josh is even alive today,” said Stefanie, Josh’s mother. “When we adopted him at four months old, he had never had any medical care and was facing several health issues. I still believe the way he came into our lives was divine intervention.”
In May 2000, Stefanie sat in the CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital emergency department waiting room, unaware that her life would change when a young mother entered with a small baby in a stroller. Josh was only four months old the first time he entered CHRISTUS Children’s, formerly CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital.
Stefanie and her husband, James, had just recently adopted their first child, one-year-old Olivia and were fostering another, four-month-old Chance. While in the waiting room, the young mother sat with Stefanie and shared her story. Without hesitation, Stefanie befriended the girl and helped her find a shelter. Several weeks after learning of the young mother’s inability to care for her child, Stefanie became aware of the opportunity to adopt Josh and they welcomed him into their home with open arms.
“When I first saw him that day in the emergency room, I could tell he had some underlying issues, but then he looked up at me and smiled,” said Stefanie. “We had an instant connection and I didn’t know it at the moment, but my life was changed forever.”
Severe Medical Challenges
The day after his placement, Stefanie made arrangements at CHRISTUS Children’s to have Josh undergo a health assessment and started treatment right away. He was diagnosed with Spina Bifida, clubbed feet, caudal regression syndrome, sacral agenesis, neurogenic bladder and failure to thrive. With faith in their hearts, Stefanie took Josh to CHRISTUS Children’s once a week for two months to have his tiny casts removed, feet stretched and then recast to prepare him for a surgery that would be the most monumental in his life. In August 2000, Joshua endured an orthopedic surgery that would give him the possibility of walking someday.
Josh is the “superstar” 7th grader that everyone knows and loves at La Vernia Junior High School. He played Little League baseball for many years and, not seeing his disability as a hindrance, joined the 7th grade football team. He runs, plays, and argues with his siblings. Josh has a love for the outdoors and is particularly interested in animals, bugs and other creatures.
“Josh will have lifelong issues that he will have to manage on a daily basis. There are more surgeries in his future, but we have peace in knowing that our CHRISTUS Children’s family will be there to support and encourage us every step of the way,” Stefanie added. “The hospital’s Spina Bifida clinic has been a vital part of Josh overcoming and exceeding so many obstacles. They have been like a family to us, giving us hope, prayers, advice and guidance, and we are forever grateful.”
“The Greatest Gift”
Today, Josh is a happy and thriving 13 year old who has overcome and exceeded expectations physically, cognitively and emotionally. He is mobile in a wheelchair or on crutches and often crawls and climbs to play and interact with his peers. “God had truly given us the greatest gift,” said Stefanie. “Josh inspires so many because of the incredible humility, wit and humor he was able to carry on through this adversity.”