A Father’s Hope
The birth of a child may be one of the most treasured moments in a parent’s life. Many dream of what the future will hold for their children while working to provide for their needs and give them the best opportunities available. Oklahoma families with sick children face a new definition of needs and opportunities. Financial demands combined with dropped insurance policies left one family looking toward new legislation and the church for their answers.
Eric and Marci Littleton are two of many Oklahomans whose lives have been altered by the diagnosis of a sick child. Solomon Littleton was born as normal and healthy as his twin brother, Isaac. But in October 2008, everything began to change. “We noticed when he played soccer he would keep running until he ran into the fence. He just thought he was trying to make a goal,” said Littleton. This was the first indication to the Littletons that something was seriously wrong.
The next nine months were a “nightmare” as they watched their son become “trapped inside his own body.” “The only time this catatonic trance would break is when Solomon would have a panic attack,” said Littleton. Solomon was no longer able to feed or dress himself and eventually lost all his fine and gross motor skills. In June 2009, Solomon spoke his last words. “It was, by far, our deepest, darkest place,” shared Littleton.
Searching for a diagnosis, the Littletons traveled across the U.S. until Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, gave them the answer. A rare neurological disease called Landau-Kleffner syndrome was named the most likely culprit for Solomon’s illness. Identifying the disease gave the Littletons ammunition to begin treatment with a hope for Solomon’s recovery. However, when their insurance company refused payment on traditional procedures like MRIs and EEGs, the Littletons faced a whole new battle.
“The insurance company refused to pay for Solomon’s bills, dropped my wife’s coverage and wouldn’t pay for Isaac’s services after 25 years of paid premiums,” said Littleton. Treatment recommended by doctors included extensive therapy which insurance companies considered “an educational benefit, not a medicinal benefit.” The decision to either pay the mortgage or pay for neurological therapy, which can be as high as $7,000 per month, is one the Littletons have had to face. “We’ve blasted through our retirement, borrowed against everything we own. Our story is the happiest though because we were blessed financially,” said Littleton. “I’ve encountered hundreds of families who are in this situation. Our family is still together while many others have ended in bankruptcy and divorce. This is a humanitarian crisis the people of Oklahoma need to
In seeking a solution for the unexpected drop of insurance coverage, the Littletons realized other Oklahomans also are hoping that new legislation will help. “A bill has been submitted to create a high risk insurance pool for families like ours. We have advocates at the Capitol that are sympathetic towards this situation.” An insurance pool would help with schooling for children with neurological illnesses. “We’re currently working with a group of lawmakers and businessmen to bring a school here based on the Erin-is-Hope Foundation in Kansas. It won’t benefit families if they can’t pay or their insurance company drops them,” said Littleton.
Although the Littletons have only sought political change for insurance companies since 2010, the battle has been raging for more than three years. As of yet, no bills have been enacted, with some “dying before coming to a vote.” “Ultimately, this means my family may be next in line to foreclose or file bankruptcy unless a miracle occurs,” said Littleton.
Even through the frustration, the Littletons remain hopeful and don’t perceive new legislation as their only solution. “In November of 2010, we took Solomon to a healing crusade. We didn’t believe in healing but the next morning we did when Solomon ‘woke up.’ There was an awareness that hadn’t been there before. He’s still nonverbal but we’ve seen continued improvement through therapy. My wife, Marci, home-educates our children and takes Solomon twice a week for therapy in Kansas. While staying at the Ronald McDonald House, we’ve heard amazing stories that have touched our children, Isaac and Grace, in a way they would have never
The Littletons hope to raise public awareness concerning uninsured Oklahoma children. Their desire is for churches to become a part of protecting the rights of children. “I want to stand in front of as many people as I can and tell the story. I’m just a dad whose kid got sick, whose insurance company and political system have abandoned him. Let me tell the story and let God move.”