Martindales: Raising 10 Children Takes Faith
For many years, PHS has partnered with Faith’s Lodge – a peaceful retreat for people coping with a serious illness or death of a child. And for one PHS family, Faith’s Lodge was an integral part of their recovery process after losing a son and has continued to serve as a resource as they raise 10 children, some medically-complex. The Martindale family leads an extraordinary life, and mom Julie blogs about it at Not Just an Ordinary Life.
The Beginning of Their Journey
The Martindale’s adventure began with the birth of their first son, Tyler, who is now 21 and lives in Kenya. After their daughter McKenna was born with disabilities, Julie and Mark remember realizing how many children there are who have disabilities and need homes.
“We first adopted Aaron, who is now 21 and has cerebral palsy. He’s the happiest kid around, so he made caring for kids with special needs look easy,” Julie says. She and Mark then adopted Hope, now 18, Jordan, 16, and Brennan, 14. All have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Thinking they were done adopting, Kaden, now 8 years old, changed their minds. At 8 months old, his prognosis was that he would never walk.
Today, Kaden deals with FAS and ADHD and a few other conditions. And his prognosis was right: he doesn’t walk; he runs! He no longer uses a wheelchair.
Precious Time at Home
Right after Kaden joined the Martindale family, his brother Evan was born addicted to cocaine and meth. The hospital asked Julie and Mark to take care of this baby with a trach and ventilator, “so we got trained, ready and brought him home,” Julie remembers. “This is the first time we were exposed to PHS, who guided us through every step. He came home at 13 months, and was with us for about three weeks before going into cardiac arrest.”
Evan passed away at the hospital the next day. But as Julie explains, “Without PHS, Evan never would have come home. As hard as it was, it was so amazing and miraculous that he came to us; we were able to give him a family. We knew it was meant to be, and that he was supposed to come home.”
Mark and Julie then adopted Elijah, now 6. Diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, the doctors explained to them that he would die without a bone marrow transplant, but wasn’t strong enough to live through one – they recommended taking him home, loving him, and hoped he’d get strong enough to handle a transplant. And at 5 years old, he did.
Then Maisy was adopted, and came home on a ventilator 23 hours a day. 27 surgeries later, this spunky 5 year old has a pacemaker and still deals with FAS, but has been weaned off her vent and was decannulated when she was 3.
“Within about 15 minutes, she started talking, and she has not stopped,” says Julie.
Finding the Right Cares
The youngest Martindale, Isaac, is now 3. Healthy at birth, he contracted a virus at 10 days old that attacked his brain and after being shifted around foster homes, he ended up finding a place to call home with the Martindale family. Now, Isaac has grown into a happy, interactive boy after finding the care that fit his needs. “So Isaac is our last. But we’ve said that before,” Julie says with her calm smile.
“PHS was in our home at the hardest times of our lives, getting us set up to care for kids with special medical needs. Faith’s Lodge was our home when we needed time to grieve and heal. PHS and Faith’s Lodge both help our family thrive,” Julie says.
And we’re so happy to be with them on their journey.Originally published: February 8, 2013