Even the most capable can’t save the day on their own. Salinas ‘Superhero’ foster mom Pam Bradley who has fostered more than 45 children, relies on Coastal Kids Home Care (CKHC) to provide crucial support. Pam’s son, Luciano, and CKHC co-founder Margy Mayfield were commemorated by Monterey artist John Cerney, renowned for his giant highway art, in a larger than life, painted plywood mural of the pair which is displayed at CKHC’s permanent new home, The Rodgers Center for Children’s Health.
When Pam decided to adopt Luciano, she’d long ago found a special place in her heart and home for children with different needs. Pam and her husband, unable to have children of their own, adopted two boys early in their marriage. Later, when their sons were grown Pam decided to open her home to foster children. The couple later adopted four children with a range of complex health and developmental needs. At the time of his adoption, Luciano, who was just six, could barely walk or eat, but did not yet have a formal diagnosis. With insider’s knowledge of the healthcare system, Pam pursued more information on this precious little boy’s challenges. The eventual answer brought with it many tough questions.
Luciano had muscular dystrophy, an inherited disease that causes muscle damage and increased weakness over time. His condition was life-limiting. Pam knew Luciano’s journey would be difficult and that she would be exposing her entire family to challenging times, yet in her heart she also knew there was only one choice. She once again began the adoption process.
Thankfully, as Luciano’s care became more complex, Pam discovered that Luciano qualified for CKHC’s pediatric palliative care program. Now a bright, funny 15-year-old, Luciano’s wheelchair does not prevent him from exuding confidence and positivity. As he’s gotten older, meeting Luciano’s increasing care needs, along with those of his siblings, has become difficult for Pam. That’s where CKHC comes in. Designed to respond to the medical needs of the child while also meeting the practical and emotional needs of the family, the services are a lifeline for Luciano and Pam.
Today, Coastal Kids Home Care and certified nursing assistant Yimi “Jimmy” Gutierrez provides full-time care for Luciano. In addition to facilitating everyday tasks like bathing, putting on his braces, moving into his wheelchair, Jimmy also helps with g-tube feeds and breathing treatments. Thanks to Jimmy’s support, Luciano’s health has improved. Pam is thrilled to get out on her own occasionally.
“We know that Luciano’s condition is progressive and Coastal Kids will become a huge part of our life,” said Pam. “When dealing with medically fragile kids, parents need to know they are being taken care of and Coastal Kids does that. They pop in and out when you need them. It’s so comforting to know they’re there.”
The journey of the Bradley family continues to be exceptional – just like each of their children. Choosing to adopt and parent four children with complex special needs is extraordinary. According to Pam, “I can’t separate our infertility story from our adoption story from our foster story because it is all a part of our story. People can tell we are coming because we are different, and we wouldn’t change it for the world.”
To see Luciano's mural, visit The Coastal Kids building at 427 Pajaro Street, Salinas, CA 93901. (See below)