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Vincent Spitaletto

Drug addiction affects more than just the user. 

Children’s Specialized Hospital sees this first hand with newborns that are born to drug-addicted mothers. These precious babies enter into a life where they are inconsolable from experiencing drug withdrawals and yearn to be comforted. For Vinny and Grace Spitaletto, they wanted to give one of these babies a chance at a better life and decided to adopt a baby from less fortunate circumstances. “We always wanted a family,” said Vinny, “and were willing to do anything to have a child.”

The Spitaletto’s didn’t just want any child; they wanted to provide unconditional love and care to a child in need. Ultimately, they willingly adopted a baby boy who was exposed prenatally to drugs in utero. As the birth mother had no prenatal care and used narcotics during pregnancy, their son was born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS.)

Despite the extenuating circumstances, the biological mother had surrendered all her rights and wanted to do the right thing by the child. “Her heart was completely with the child,” says Grace. “When we arrived at the hospital, she asked us to please go swaddle him. As his parents, she wanted us to be the first ones to do that, she gave us that gift. She cared about the child, about us.”

Born on September 4, 2016, Vincent (named after his dad,) spent 33 days in an acute care hospital. During that stay, he unfortunately wasn’t receiving the proper care, treatment, and monitoring that was needed for him to recover, grow, and thrive.

Advocating for their baby boy, Vinny and Grace took it upon themselves to make the right phone calls to get their son the care he desperately needed. “We were speechless and infuriated,” recalls Grace. From knowing the New Jersey area and having a friend that volunteers at Children’s Specialized Hospital, Vinny and Grace took action. “We knew one way or another, we had to get him to Children’s Specialized Hospital,” says Grace. 

Once Vincent, also nicknamed Vinny, was transferred to PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital, his parents were confident their precious newborn was in good hands. “Within seven minutes of being at Children's Specialized Hospital, we were welcomed by so many staff, nurses, and therapists,” says Grace. “Dr. (Sharon) Burke walked in, sat with us,  and we heard every single thing we wanted for our child, fought for, had panic attacks for, and cried over for 33 days. I cried happy tears because our prayers were answered.”

Looking longingly at their son in his hospital crib, Vinny and Grace couldn’t be more pleased. “After one week at Children’s Specialized Hospital, our child had made more strides than he made in one month,” smiles Grace.

Thanks to a highly-trained team of experts in the NAS program, Vinny gained weight, began thriving, and was safely weaned off of opioids and medications. “Each intervention is customized to specifically meet the needs of little Vincent,” said Dr. Sharon A. Burke, former Director of the Infant Toddler Program. “Because it is a multi-disciplinary team approach with experts in each of the areas he was and is being treated, we saw a remarkable recovery and progress that Vinny had not been able to achieve in all his weeks in acute care. It defends what his mom was seeing as a parent.”

The NAS program includes a well-rounded holistic approach to transpose a baby’s condition. This condition is treatable through a sophisticated process that includes medication management, diet and nutritional monitoring, calming techniques, comprehensive clinical services, therapeutic assessments, and an overall nurturing environment. According to Dr. Burke, Vinny was detoxing from the drugs he was exposed to, receiving the necessary therapies, and being introduced to self-calming strategies.

Within his first week as an inpatient, Vinny had already achieved weight gain by putting on two pounds from when he was admitted. “With a nutritionist, we increased Vinny’s caloric diet to meet his metabolic needs in order to sustain weight and obtain maximum growth,” explained Dr. Burke.

Through successful therapies and care, "Vinny received the best care possible,” smiles Grace. “We want him to grow up successful and develop correctly, and have all the advantages of life that he possibly can.”

The Spitaletto’s officially decided to become Mr. and Mrs. and married before they brought their son home. “When we saw him, we had that feeling, we knew he was our son,” recounts Grace. And to celebrate the occasion, with the help of physical therapists, Vinny made his very own wedding card for his mom and dad.

Now at home,  Vinny is enjoying life in Freehold, NJ with his parents and four dog siblings, Cannoli, Pignoli, Madison, and Abby. It's safe to say that little Vinny is getting stronger by the day. Surrounded by a large, loving family, he is sure to grow up a New York Rangers fan like his mom and dad, receive a great education, and achieve his parent’s wishes of being “healthy, happy, and successful.” 

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