By GLENN KAHL
Hope Van Der Maaten is about to turn 3 years old.
The Little “Miss Minnie Mouse” has cerebral palsy. Her adopted mom is working to short circuit the disease to keep it from affecting her in the future.
A GoFundMe Account has been set up in the child’s name to help provide for her special medical needs.
At this point the youngster has found a love for Disney characters and especially Minnie Mouse preferring the appropriate clothing to show her dedication to the loveable rodent.
Hope was adopted by Doctors Hospital RN Jennifer Van Der Maaten earlier this year after her sister – who also suffers from cerebral palsy – was unable to care for her from the time she was seven days old. She was about to be put into foster care when Van Der Maaten stepped up.
The toddler refers to herself as “Momma’s Baby” and a close aunt wanting to be called “La La’s girl” serves as her Nanny. They all live in the same home. Lisa Bailey takes care of her during the day when her adoptive mom is working and caring for others in the hospital.
“I definitely have fallen in love with that little girl,” said Bailey who is a paralegal.
Van Der Maaten said she had been notified that her sister had a baby and could not care for her due to her illness. She said she couldn’t envision the baby going into foster care.
Adopting a baby, after having two boys, now 17 and 22, never crossed her mind, “but this sweet little girl quickly stole our hearts,” she said. Since her birth mom is almost completely reliant on caregivers, it became Van Der Maaten’s mission as Hope’s adopted mother to do anything and everything possible to ensure that her future is everything it can be.
The adoption was final in May of this year.
“Hope was born at 36 weeks – just a tad bit early,” she said. “At nine months old, I noticed she was not meeting her milestones on time. During her 12-month checkup, I shared my concerns with her pediatrician. We chalked it up to her being early and the pregnancy with her mom having been in a wheelchair. At 15 months, I knew something was just not right. Within another three months, we were referred to several doctors that led to an appointment with her Pediatric Neurologist at which time she was diagnosed with Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy.”
In addition to her love for Disney characters, she has a family of small babies of her own that she puts in their beds from her chair and talks with them. She also loves her animals dearly, according to her mom.
Hope is currently receiving one hour of physical therapy and speech training a week, occupational therapy quarterly and has a teacher once a month. She was experiencing speech delays and was unable to walk without walking sticks or a walker.
“I was fortunate enough to enroll Hope into a three-week-long intensive therapy program in Los Angeles back in April. It was an amazing experience for both of us. Hope is now able to use the walking sticks more successfully to get around and is so close to walking on her own that enrolling her into a second three-week therapy in October is my goal,” Van Der Maaten said. She also has shown a new strength in attempting to climb small stairs which she couldn’t do before.
She added that it is unfortunate that the second series of intense therapy at the NAPPA (Neurological and Physical Abilitation) Center is not covered by her insurance and the costs have to be paid ahead of time. The three weeks of therapy, five days a week and four hours a day of therapy have proven to have positive results but beyond her ability to pay the $13,000 required. She added that the Los Angeles, El Segundo facility was the only one she found providing the intense therapy for children with patients coming from Australia, England, Japan and China and other parts of Europe with their children.
“It was amazing when she went to therapy in April. She can now ride her trike, sit independently and can use her walking sticks instead of her walker. Her next step is walking independently – hoping to see her become independent by next year. They think she is so close,” she said.
A GoFundMe.Com/Hopes-Future has been opened online hoping that members of the Manteca and Ripon communities might offer some assistance in the therapy that promises to reduce the later affects of the disease in her growing years as is expected by her doctors.
Van Der Maaten’s First Christian Reformed Church in Ripon is planning a fund raising dinner in August to augment the future costs of the child’s care.
Additional information on the physical therapy center for children in Southern California can be found online at NAPA Center.org.
To contact Glenn Kahl email email@example.com or call 209.249.3539.