August means back to school for Marissa Benjamin, a math specialist in the Hoover City Schools. It also means back to The Bell Center for her daughter, almost 3-year-old Cami.
“This is the time of year that’s hard,” says Marissa. “I’m excited about starting my new year at school, and I’m glad Cami will be back at The Bell Center, but we have such fun being together in the summer and I hate for that to end.”
Marissa and Cami bonded deeply not long after then-foster parent Marissa brought 2-month-old Cami home from the NICU. Cami had been born prematurely, was still tiny and had already worked through a host of medical issues. She’d been with Marissa less than 24 hours when her oxygen levels dropped and she went into cardiac arrest – Marissa said she did what anyone in the situation would do: she calmly laid Cami back on a boppy pillow, gently compressed her chest with two fingers, and alternated rescue breaths covering little Cami’s nose and mouth with her own mouth. And back they went to the NICU
After the crisis passed, Marissa learned that Cami’s path to reconciliation with her family had ended, and Marissa was asked if she was a potential adoptive option. She’d only intended to be a foster parent, but with their bond at such depths, Marissa jumped at the chance to make a family with Cami. The adoption was finalized in January 2017.
“Cami is such a fighter,” Marissa sys. “She has fought for every milestone she’s attained. She’s making great gains, and I attribute her success to The Bell Center. The support from her team at The Bell Center is just amazing, and their knowledge about what she was up against as a preemie was so encouraging to me as a parent.”
“We both have excitement for the new school year,” Marissa says. “And I’m so grateful Cami gets another year at The Bell Center to grow and learn and develop – we can’t wait to see all she can do!”