After Shelia Cooper’s father awoke from a coma, he shared a story with his daughter that he was given a choice to come back or stay in a beautiful place surrounded by children. A few days after awakening, he told Shelia that he couldn’t wait to see the new baby. Shelia reminded him that this wasn’t possible, although his words strengthened her family’s resolve to have another child. Finally, they decided to adopt; and by the following week were signed with an adoption agency. Adoptive parents Shelia and Shane were on pins and needles, when they they got the phone call they had been praying for. A baby had been found for them, a little boy only one week old. The child had suffered a stroke, and the first set of adoptive parents changed their minds, making room for the Coopers to adopt him. The only thing Shelia and her husband Shane knew was that it was a baby boy who had seizures, although he was doing well and needed a family that could be open to what the future held.
They both decided this was it, they felt it was right, and they jumped in their car to drive 12 hours through the night to St. Petersburg arriving 30 minutes before the meeting with the social worker. After that meeting, they had to don hospital gowns an intimidating process for any new parent. But Shane and Shelia pushed those worries aside as they entered the NICU, walking all the way to the end of the hall to meet their son Charlie for the first time. On their first day at the hospital, a social worker asked them where they were staying. The couple hadn’t given any thought about where to stay already, having drained their finances throughout the adoption process.
Once they learned about RMHC Shane went to fill out the necessary forms and get them checked them in at the Ronald McDonald House. Shelia had no knowledge of RMHC, but the organization has changed their lives forever. Shelia enthuses “RMHC is magical, its mission is above and beyond anything my family could ever imagine.” After spending time at RMHC, Shelia’s daughters came to Florida to see their new baby brother. The girls; 12-year-old Lainey and 9-year-old Bella brought gifts and made a meal at Ronald McDonald House with their family forever imprinting this experience in their memories. Charlie is now 6 months old and receives occupational & physical therapy because he has brain damage. None of this fazes Shelia, who says that “Charlie is absolutely perfect, and seems to be getting better by the day!”
Shelia’s father is in awe of Charlie, since he now has brain damage as well. The family sees Charlie as their little miracle, an answer to their prayers. He is a happy, joyful baby who managed to beat the odds, bringing joy wherever he goes. During their time in Tampa Bay, the Coopers kept meeting people who randomly wanted to pray for their baby. Although Shelia was alone for some of her time at RMHC, it never bothered her because she felt she was in a family atmosphere saying “RMHC is family for life a family away from family!”
The Cooper family stayed at RMHC for 24 days before flying home with baby Charlie. The Coppers returned for Christmas visit, Shelia feels like St. Petersburg is now her home as well. The family wanted to pay it forward by cooking meals and supporting at the house. They now realize the impact RMHC has on families, and they are doing their best to help others in their time of need. No matter which way the Cooper family go they will support RMHC.