Short life, big impact

— Maggie Whelan has two heroes — her daughter Shannon and adopted grandson Sean Robert — so it’s no surprise that her short story included in the recently published “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Answered Prayers” was all about them.

“It’s a story about what we learned from him and his short life and just what a gift he was to our family,” said Whelan, a Slingerlands resident, who will be reading and signing copies of the book at East Line Books in Clifton Park on Thursday, Nov. 10.

Sean Robert died when he was only 4 but that was plenty of time for him to touch the lives of many.

“At his wake and funeral there were so many people there,” said Whelan. “I kept looking around at all these people and thinking to myself, ‘He was abandoned and look how much he’s given everybody.’”

Sean Robert was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and abandoned at the hospital by his birth parents, destined for a life unknown. Then, Whelan’s daughter fell in love with him at the daycare she worked at and made him her own.

“She always wanted to be a mom but she wasn’t able to physically,” said Whelan. “He was available for adoption so she looked into it and was able to bring him home.”

It wasn’t your run-of-the-mill adoption, though.

“He had a lot of medical concerns. He had one leg, a lot of problems with eating and had to be fed by a tube,” said Whelan. “She had to learn a lot before she could care for him but she opened her heart to him and that was his mommy.”

Shannon had taken in a special boy but her entire family was devoted to giving him the life he might have never had.

“She was a single mother but she was able to provide him with a last name, a grandmother and grandfather, aunts and unless, cousins,” said Whelan. “He was able to go to the circus, have a birthday party, see Santa — all those things he never would have had if she hadn’t been open to taking him in.”

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