Shane found his soul mate and purpose in life when he married Danielle. “Family just meant much more to me than to be drunk every single day,” said Shane DeWeese, father of eight. Together, Shane and Danielle raise a colorful family of three adopted children with special needs, four of Danielle’s biological children from a previous marriage and one biological child of Shane.
"I only found out that I could get biological children after I adopted Nikki, Charlie and Robert" says Danielle.
“Nikki is living on borrowed time,” said Danielle, as she and her husband Shane administer medicine to Nikki in her bedroom. They give her medicine every morning following her daily dialysis. Nikki has had multiple kidney transplants in her life and last December, it began failing again. The couple married last year.
In their front yard, Shane and Landon toss a football around while Nikki, Robert and Hunter watch. Landon plays on the Jackson Indians.
"I don't like to call her staff because she is really like family" says Danielle about Alexis Simon who in addition to her working time with the family, also spends most of her days off together with them. "It's a special bunch" Alexis says while administering medicine to Robert in the evening.
It is not uncommon for Robert or Nikki to be hospitalized for long periods. “We learned the value of the moment that we live in, the time of being all home together,” said Danielle, who cherishes family dinner hour.
Shane get up early every morning to look after the children.
Shane prepares a single morning treatment for Robert.
In order to take better care of his family, Shane completed training to be a Medical Personal Assistant. While Robert is connected to feeding tubes, Shane injects his medication for the morning. Shane takes care of his children’s medical needs while Danielle is away at work.
Robert, Danielle and Shane relax on the porch at home on Wednesday morning. Danielle is the Director of New Life Mission, a non-profit that deals with recovery and support services for adults in Perryville. “Working is my therapy,” said Danielle.
Robert, who is deaf, sits by the kitchen window enjoying the feeling of the light on his face. “Handicapped children keep their innocence longer,” said Danielle.
"Everyone loves Charlie" Says Danielle. But "Charlie doesn’t understand dangerous situations, in case of fire or a stranger knocking on the door." Charlie has autism and graduated last year. He is in a life skills group and a participant in Challenger Baseball. He has a passion for songs on the radio and can "sing along with all of them' according to Brooklynne.
Charlie is writing down the ingredients for tonights dinner from his cooking book.
"Do you want to sit with Mom?" Shane asks to Nikki while Danielle is watching TV with Brooklynne on Thursday evening.
Shane is teasing Nikki into laughter.
“I like to sit outside and relax at the end of the day and plan what needs to be done the next day,” says Shane, while sitting on the porch smoking a cigarette. Shane has overcome his struggles from the past and focused on the future with the family.
“In 2012 Robert started to have seizures and pneumonia. He was on life support 5 times in the last 2 years and had surgeries“ according to Danielle.
Danielle got Robert when he was 9 years old. Initially as a foster mother, she later adopted him. "He is deaf and doesn’t speak. He is developmentally and physically disabled. He can not eat or drink anymore, he’s hooked up to a machine and sometimes gets oxygen according to Danielle. He gets fed 4 times a day which takes 2 hours each time.
Brooklynne is preparing her hare before going to school while her sister Savanna is telling her to hurry up for the school bus.
Nikki does not enjoy Danielle spraying moisturizer in her hair on Thursday morning.
Shane and Danielle share an intimate moment while taking Nikki to the hospital on Thursday.
"The doctor told us that Nikki has twice the amount of white blood cells than she should have" says Danielle as they return from Nikki's doctor appointment. It may be the nasal infection or perhaps her failing kidney.
Robert is backing off while Nikki is teasing him on Thursday morning.
Danielle and Shane are waiting for Brooklynne and Hunter who come back from school, while Landon is at the football training.
It's important for the family to support each other while they are all together to see Landon play football on Thursday afternoon.
Brooklynne proudly wears a button of her brother Landon while watching a football match in Jackson.
Brooklynne is choosing her favorite Pizza after the football match. Robert can only be fed through tubes which lead directly into his stomach.
Nikki smiles at the word 'Amen' after Alexis prays with her for her recovery.
The Altenburg home prepares to begin another day as the sun rises.
Exploring the different neighborhoods of magical Naples creates the feeling that the people on the streets have been living there for centuries without aging. They adjusted externally to the changing new world but are essentially the same souls who have lived in the city throughout the ages. The openness of the Neapolitans seems almost unique for such a large town. I don't think that I could ever get enough of wandering the streets of Naples, wondering what beautiful surprise will await me around the next corner.
An intriguing fact of Naples is that it is the birthplace of the Camorra, who's presence can be felt everywhere in town but it can only be seen by a trained eye, except for a few places. Since the Camorra is benefitting indirectly from Naples visitors and guests, their safety is well looked after. This element was like the smell of the salt in the air of the Tyssenian sea, it added a taste of mysteriousness to this magical city.