Breeze Family Story

Breeze Family Story

A CPR Party for Rafael

Andrea and Timothy Breeze became foster parents six years ago. Their first placement was a newborn with elevated medical needs. Andrea, a registered nurse, was already familiar caring with the needs and demands when caring for infants in the NICU. But the couple still went through the additional training required to support a child with heightened medical needs, and have been providing care for youth who need this level of care ever since. 

“In some ways, it’s no more challenging than a traditional placement,” says Andrea. “It requires learning [about the] equipment, medication and going to more medical appointments. The most challenging aspect of care has been having nurses visit our home and having room for all of his equipment, but the training and impact on our day-to-day is easier than we thought.” 

The Breeze’s most recent child, Rafael, was eight months old when he came into their care. He was born prematurely and, as a result, had weak, underdeveloped lungs. One day, he stopped breathing. Not knowing what to do, his biological parents unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate him and shook him in a panic, causing head trauma. They took him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome. After being discharged, he was temporarily placed in the Breeze’s care to recover. After several months, he is making good progress.

“He is resilient and so strong,” shares Andrea. “He is now sitting, rolling, almost crawling, talking and relearning how to eat by mouth. We have learned never to lose hope or put a limit on what we think he can achieve.”

Rafael comes from a large family with multiple generations living in the same home. They are eager for Rafael’s return home and are committed to taking all the necessary steps for a successful and safe transition, beginning with unsupervised visits and attending church together on Sundays. One of those requirements includes the entire extended family passing CPR and first aid training. Finding a course to accommodate such a large group presented some unique challenges. Fortunately, the Breezes are creative problem-solvers.

“My husband and I feel strongly that he should be able to attend that family time and experience his culture,” explains Andrea. “I asked if I could teach the family, and joked that we would make it a party. A CPR party. The [case management] team felt very comfortable with that.”

The Breezes gathered adult and infant CPR dummies along with Rafael’s breathing machine, inhalers, medication bottles and syringes and hosted the whole family for a CPR party. Everyone learned how to assemble Rafael’s nebulizer machine, how to draw correct dosages of his medication and when to call the doctor rather than 911. They discussed signs of choking and how to do the Heimlich maneuver on infants, children and adults.They spent significant time talking about when and how to start CPR and everyone was able to practice on the dummies. The biological mother’s little brother even became Andrea’s demonstration assistant, which generated a lot of laughter and helped calm some nerves during an important training that they all took very seriously.

“At the end, Rafael’s parents opened up about what happened and how scary it was,” confides Andrea. “They shared their feelings of how practicing was difficult because it brought back memories of the horrible night he stopped breathing. However, it made everyone feel better that they were prepared to handle it if something ever happened again.”

Though medical foster care is a specialized form of care, it doesn’t require individuals, couples or families to have previous medical experience. Right now, there is a significant shortage of homes available for children with elevated medical needs. Timothy and Andrea’s willingness to learn new skills and think creatively have made them an incredible resource to our team and the children placed in their home — and through our certification process, you can join them in serving this resilient group of children in critical need of safe homes.

The Breezes with their biological and adopted children.

“It is so rewarding,” says Andrea. “[Caring for] a child with medical needs doesn’t mean your home changes into a hospital or that you need a medical degree. We have found so many wonderful supports to help us with each of our children's needs. The community always goes the extra mile, and we never feel alone.”

If you are interested in becoming a medical foster care home, let us know and one of our specialists will be in touch to answer your questions.