Paddy Ramsay started volunteering at Texas CASA – an organization that pairs advocates with children in the state child protective services system – after she retired from her career in broadcasting 10 years ago. At CASA, Ramsay says she “fell in love” with a child with special needs named Naila, whom she adopted in January 2017. Ramsay says Naila, 18, is autistic, she doesn’t speak and she loves to run.
“This child is moving every single minute,” Ramsay says.
Ramsay says Naila acts out like any kid, but she forgets all that when Naila smiles.
“She’s got the most beautiful smile you can ever imagine,” Ramsay says.
Naila uses her tongue, primarily, to explore the world around her.
“She doesn’t lick; she uses the tongue to touch,” Ramsay says. “There probably isn’t anything in Austin that tongue hasn’t touched.”
Now that Naila is an adult – she turned 18 in April – Ramsay has had to adjust. Naila no longer receives Social Security or Medicaid benefits, and Ramsay says Naila’s care costs at least $5,000 per month. Now, she has to apply for adult Social Security and Medicaid benefits for Naila, and Ramsay says it’s been a frustrating process.
“Each person was wonderful, genuinely wanted to help me, but the frustration is the right hand does not know what the left hand’s doing,” Ramsay says of the government agencies.
She says more children with disabilities need to be adopted, but people looking to adopt them need to know what to expect, and the agencies need to do a better job of communicating that.