I want to share with you a little bit about my husband and our family. I think that my husband is truly an “exceptional parent” and is a perfect example of how a person with a significant Disability can make a difference in the lives of others.
Jim Silcock is 36 years old and the parent of nine children. He is the adoptive father of three children with severe physical and medical special needs. He is also the foster father to six children with multiple handicaps. Additionally, Jim and I are in the process of adopting twin two-year-old boys with physical and developmental disabilities.
The Silcock boys range in age from 2-20 years old. The children have disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Seizure Disorders, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Spina Bifida, and various other birth defects and developmental disabilities. Some of the children have been prenatally exposed to drugs, suffered from severe child abuse and neglect, or have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses. Abandoned by their biological parents or removed from their birth families by the courts, many of the children had been in the foster care system or living in state-run institutions for years. These children were left with relatively little hope for permanency or adoption before being matched with our family. It is obvious that Jim absolutely loves caring and advocating for his children. Jim has not only provided a warm and loving home for these children, he has also provided his boys with opportunities to grow and progress well beyond any of the professional’s expectations and predictions. His kids are incredible, it is a treat, as one of Jim’s helpers, to watch the boys grow and make progress. Jim takes pride in providing a highly stimulating, and wonderfully loving home for his children.
He gets so excited watching the children develop their skills, not to mention their interests and personalities. As they experience success, inevitably their self-esteem grows. Sometimes Jim’s kids have made giant gains, like Barry who spent over half of his life in the state hospital for people with severe disabilities. When Barry was placed with Jim he was considered very medically fragile. Diagnosed with spina bifida, shunted hydrocephalus, a seizure disorder, and Arnold Chairri Syndrome, along with dependency on a tracheotomy, gastrostomy, and a urostomy made Barry very difficult to move from an institutional setting. Six years later, at the age of 14, Barry is a fully included eighth grader at the neighborhood middle school. He is now a Blue Belt with a Green Stripe in karate, competing against his peers without disabilities. During a recent regional tournament in Las Vegas, Barry took first place in his division!
Robert is another incredible story. After a near drowning child-abuse incident, Robert was institutionalized at the age of two. At that time, Robert could neither walk, talk, nor feed himself. He was considered profoundly retarded and severely physically handicapped. Robert was placed from the institution into Jim’s foster home. Robert is now 17 years old. While still considered moderately developmentally delayed, he walks, he talks, he feeds himself, and he is a movie star! Robert has been in a number of movies (including “Touch” and “Crocodile Tears”), commercials, public service announcements, and plays. Robert is now represented by one of the major agents in the industry Bob Preston, from CED. Because he has worked so much in the entertainment field, Robert is a member of The Screen Actor’s Guild.
Robert is fully included with his non-handicapped peers in The Performing Arts Academy at Huntington Beach High School. Robert is so popular now he even has a girlfriend! Sometimes, of course, the gains the children make are not quite as dramatic, but they are no less spectacular. Take Eric for example, he is a quadriplegic with multiple and profound disabilities. When Eric moved-in to Jim’s home at the age of five, he behaved very much like a fussy infant. He cried most of the time; he could not roll over in bed, or sit unassisted. Eric used a g-tube for all of his nutritional needs, and wore diapers 24 hours a day. Eric is now a happy little guy who recently celebrated his ninth birthday. Today, he not only eats regular food, but he feeds himself. Eric is almost completely toilet-trained. He can scoot all over the floor, sit in a regular chair, stand, and he is beginning to walk with a walker! I could go on and on about the boys, as each child has a story to tell that is just as exciting. What makes Jim’s story even more remarkable is the fact that Jim himself is also severely disabled. Jim sustained a broken neck as a result of a diving accident in 1987. Jim is a C-5 quadriplegic, with only limited use of his arms and upper body. He is unable to walk or even stand. He uses a power wheelchair for mobility, a ceiling mounted I-TEC lift to get in and out of bed, and drives, with hand-controls, a specially designed minivan.
As you are aware, sometimes people who have suffered from such traumatic high-level spinal cord injuries have difficulty accepting their disability and limitations. Often they focus on finding a “cure” and returning to their pre-injury status. Many people with spinal cord injuries, it seems, spend much of their time advocating for themselves in order to receive the services they need to get through each day. With all of the physical care and health issues related to a spinal cord injury, it is often difficult for a person with paralysis to get through the day with a positive attitude.
Jim, it seems, is one of the exceptions to the rule. Jim focuses his unending energy and excellent advocacy skills on bettering the lives of the children in his home. Additionally, in order to make sure his children get the proper care and supervision they need, get to their doctor appointments and various lessons on time, and that the household routine runs smoothly,
Jim employs 14 full-time assistants to help him with his “family.” Jim is a generous and supportive employer as well as a patient, warm, and caring father and husband. Jim is not only a wonderful role model for his children, but also an inspiration and a hero for anyone who has the opportunity to cross his path. If you are interested in finding out more about Jim and his family please feel free to contact us.
To reach Jim and Ann:
20541 Minerva Lane
Huntington Beach, CA 92646
(714) 219-4861 pager