This big, wonderful family had to start somewhere and with someone. Long before Cheryl and Carole knew one another, Cheryl started the family be choosing Andy to be her son.
ANDY"Andy is one great guy!"
At six years old, Andy was attending the school where Cheryl was the Speech and Language Specialist. He had lost his foster home placement and was going to be sent to a state hospital. Andy had spent his entire young life moving from one foster home to another, 11 in total. Cheryl knew he deserved a home and a family; she offered to take care for him until another foster home could be found. Time went by, no home was found and Cheryl decided to adopt him.
Andy is the oldest child in the Kohler-Crowe family. He was born with a very small skull (microcephaly) that wouldn't allow his brain to grow. He has a seizure disorder, is visually impaired and developmentally disabled. He is also a 23 year survivor of metastatic testicular cancer.
Andy is a hard worker and one of the happiest people you will ever meet. He works at WATCH and participates in Hi-Gear. He loves sports and enjoys many Special Olympic events.
"Geoff keeps us on our toes and makes us smile everyday!" GEOFFREY
Geoff was just nine months old when Carole and her husband, at the time, adopted him. They wanted a young child who might not otherwise have a chance to belong to a forever family. Not only was Geoffrey bi-racial, but he was born to parents who were both patients in a state hospital. As a baby and toddler, he reached developmental milestones slowly. He did not bond easily. He had disturbed sleeping patterns as well as eating problems.
As he grew older his difficulties escalated. He raged when frustrated and was inconsolable when upset. His out of control behavior eventually became impossible to handle at home and Geoff lived for some years in residential care facilities, including a state hospital.
Geoff has been home for more than 11 years. Having atypical psychosis, depression and developmental disabilities combine to make his life a constant challenge. His medication regimen allows him to function. He is able to express his quirky sense of humor and his love for his family. He attends the WATCH program and participates in Hi-Gear . The combination of family, small town, psychiatrist and specialized programs offer Geoffrey the best chance for security and happiness he has ever had.
BRIANNE "Brianne delights in telling everyone about her great family!"
Brianne was the first child placed in the Kohler-Crowe's group home. She was removed from her biological parents because of allegations of physical and emotional abuse, domestic violence and drug use in the home. Due to her inability to protect herself, she had become an easy target and scapegoat for most of her original nuclear family. Brianne has cerebral palsy with spastic quadriplegia as well as developmental learning disabilities and mental health issues.
Although she was nine years old when she came to the group home, Brianne weighed only 35 pounds and wore toddler sized clothing. She was unable to support her own weight and was using an umbrella stroller for mobility.
Brianne's adoption changed the course of her life. She moved from being a victim, to being a self-assured, personable young woman. Even though she has limited use of her arms and hands, she is a productive worker at WATCH. She enjoys taking part in Hi-Gear activities and loves to race at Special Olympics. Music is her passion and the Back Street Boys make her positively giddy!
"Gina's smile sends rays of joy to those around her!" GINA
Gina was born a beautiful, normal baby. At only a few months old, she was removed from her family for allegedly being left alone for long periods. At her biological mother's insistence, Gina was removed from a foster home and placed with a relative. During this placement, Gina was given repeated dosages of PCP via her formula. At five months old, she began a neurological decline that continues to this day.
In 1995, at eight months old, Gina came to the Kohler-Crowes. They were told her life expectancy was five years. Today, Gina is one happy soul! Her cognitive development is between 6-12 months of age. She has a permanent tracheostomy and gastrointestinal tube. She is on oxygen and a ventilator 24 hours a day. At home, her hospital bed is located in the gathering room so that she's a part of all family activities; she is constantly surrounded by those who love her.
Gina goes to school on a bus with a nurse. She's learning to use a switch to activate lights, music and toys. Carole says, "People ask, 'why send Gina to school when she can't learn anything?' But the reason for sending Gina to school is so that other people can learn not to be afraid of her. She enjoys the activity of the classroom."
JOSHUA"Joshua always brightens the day with his cheery disposition!"
Joshua came to the Kohler-Crowe home when he was four years old. They describe him as being "like a little cherub." He did not seem to be emotionally affected by the severity of his disabilities. Josh was born having cerebral palsy with spastic quadriplegia, seizure disorder and developmental disabilities due to reported drug and alcohol exposure in utero.
Today, Joshua is a very happy young man. He is non-verbal; he uses gestures to indicate his needs. He is learning to use a communication device to interact with people. With a lot of assistance, he is able to use a specialized walker. After graduating from his school program, Joshua will attend the WATCH program.
Whenever Josh comes in contact with anyone, his first response is to flash a big smile and wave "hello." He loves to play with cars and trains, and he really enjoys throwing the dice when the family plays board games.
"Jeffrey reminds us that laughter and hard work make the world go around!" JEFFREY
Jeffrey grew up in an environment of domestic violence. Shortly after his fifth birthday, he was the victim of a severe domestic violence incident that left him as the sole survivor of his family. As a result of the violence and the anoxia caused by a fire that was purposely set, Jeffrey is severely brain injured. He suffers from cortical visual impairment which renders him legally blind.
He has made remarkable strides in his recovery. The little boy who came to Carole and Cheryl from the hospital, totally unable to see anything except light and dark, unable to walk or have a conversation; has blossomed into a handsome, ambulatory "chatterbox." He uses a white cane and the guided sight method to negotiate unfamiliar environments and needs assistance with many activities of daily living.
Despite the challenges, Jeffrey is able to attend WATCH and participate in Hi-Gear activities with one-to-one assistance. He is also active in Special Olympics and recently participated in Special Games held at UC Davis. Jeffrey has an excellent memory and enjoys music and imitating voices.
Hear Jeffrey recite "The Raven."
ANNIKA"Annika enjoys helping and really makes a difference in our house!"
Born at 25 weeks gestation, weighing just over one pound and experiencing right ventricular bleeding in her brain, Annika spent a lot of time in the hospital before being released to her biological family. Continued reports of drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and child abuse led to her removal from her birth family and placement in the foster care system when she was two years old.
Annika is a very complex individual. Before coming to live with Carole and Cheryl, inaccurate diagnoses led to the mismanagement of her developmental disabilities, mood disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and hyperactivity. She was moved through several foster homes prior to her placement with the Kohler-Crowes.
Appearing to be an average young woman of "twenty-something"; behaviorally, emotionally and academically Annika functions on a level closer to that of a child of eight to ten. She requires a highly structured environment with consistency and expectations within her realm of competency. Annika is very artistic and loves to make craft projects. She attends the WATCH program and some Hi-Gear activities. She is currently practicing for the Special Olympics.