When we were first deciding how Patrick would go about moving to California we didn't know if we would take him out there or if Ann would come pick him up. We decided that we really wanted to take him out there ourselves so we could meet her and the other boys even though it would cost us more money. Now that we made the trip we are so glad we did. What an experience! We were so blessed to have been able to get to know this amazing family and meet one person who gives their life for others in a way that not many would be willing or able to do.
First question. Was Ann as awesome in person as she was on the video?
Absolutely and then some. We spent quite a bit of time with the family on Thursday and Friday and we loved every minute. Here she is with "the other Patrick".
Looks happy doesn't he? He actually was poking his fingers in her eyes for a lot of the time we were talking but she didn't even seem bothered.
He is actually 14 years old and has DiGeorge syndrome. Cute in pictures but a real stinker in person.
This kid, Andre, met us at the airport with Ann to help with the baggage. He and some of the other boys had had a bad report come back from the skate park so Ann said if they wanted to go back again that day they needed to write a one-page essay about what they did wrong and apologize to her for it. Andre has Tourrets's so it took him a while to write it because he was obsessing a bit. We were so impressed though that the boys did not even question her or complain about it but just set to writing right away. She is very gentle and soft spoken but she obviously means what she says with them.
This is Kevin. He is one of Ann's helpers. Did I mention that she has 30 full time employees? Yeah, so that's how she is able to get it all done. Kevin is super high energy and super passionate about his job. Here he is with Dimitri, another boy with Cerebral Palsy but in much worse physical condition then Patrick. Kevin is trying to teach him to walk. Dimitri is a cute looking kid but he likes to spit in people's face when he is mad. Kevin says that's o.k. because it's good to have his patience tested. He also told us that he would never work anywhere else for any amount of money, he loved what he did that much.
This is Matthew, one of the older boys. He rode with us in the car to the restaurant. All the boys were ogling the car because Christian managed to upgrade us to a 2011 convertible Mustang for such a killer deal. They were funny.
The first day we were there we went to a Christmas party for ALL of her boys, even the adult ones living out of the home. You think you have trouble with your 2, 3, 4, or 5 kids in the restaurant, try 50 kids and all with special needs. They were so good! You would never believe it. She said they had to practice a lot to make it happen.
This is Ann's Mom at one of the tables. Every year she buys all the boys new PJ's and a sweatshirt/jacket. This was the Christmas party for those presents. Ann has to have different parties for different presents to keep everything under control.
This is Nick. Cute autistic kid that could give you directions to anywhere you wanted to go on the map. Seriously, he was better then having a GPS. So funny!
Andre again and Jobe. Andre is originally from Romania and Jobe is from Ethiopia.
Jeffrey. Very social, engaging and sweet. Loves music and his "band of brothers".
Whoo Hoo! High five Jeffrey!
Jeffrey was crippled in one arm and also in the process of going blind. It's very sad but Ann says he seems to be taking it well.
Jeffrey's biological brother Jonathan was cracking me up. He kept introducing himself over an over again and asking me what kind of christian music videos I liked. His favorite was Carmen. He also wanted me to come to his church play. He was VERY excited about it and asked if our church had any plays he could come to. I don't think he knew where Pennsylvania was. :)
Dylan has a type of muscular dystrophy that is terminal. Make A Wish Foundation was out there at the house the one day asking him what he wanted. Hawaii? No. Disney Land? No. Meet a famous person, perhaps the president? Nope. He wanted to be a spy! Not sure how they are going to make that happen but should be interesting.
This is David and Patrick. When David first met Patrick he stuck to him like glue. He did not want to leave his side and wanted to do everything for him. Feed him, push his chair, play with him etc. Ann said he didn't even want to leave him to go to school. The cool thing is that we were told a couple of different times that David was a real handful just 2 years ago. It sounds like he was a lot like Patrick in many ways but now he is doing great. Maybe he saw himself in Patrick, I don't know. I just think it is awesome that Patrick now has a big brother who use to be like him but is now doing well.
Patrick loved all his new brothers. He loved all the attention and I am sure he is going to thrive on being "the baby" of the family.
There was one other thing I was thinking of that might be interesting to know. You would think that with having so many children that they wouldn't get the same kind of attention or care as children in a smaller family. We saw in person that that was certainly not the case with Ann. She knew those boys inside and out. She knew them just as well or better then some parents with much fewer children know their own kids. She really pushed for the best for each one of them and truly wanted to see each of them achieve their fullest potential to the best of her ability. I think that having so much help in the house with day to day chores and organization helps a lot. She is able to give her full attention to each one. She is also passionate about what she does and it shows.
We are so blessed that we were able to go out there and spend time with the family. We are so happy for Patrick and excited to see what the future holds for him.
Next time I will post our pictures from our touring around beautiful Southern California!