Compassion In Action, Inc. (CIA) is an outreach ministry and educational program for women who are incarcerated. Their families are also welcomed to the programs and services offered by CIA. One of their many services is to interact with the children of the participants during their incarceration to build the foundation for the reconciliation of the family when the client is able to come home. CIA recruits and train families for this special service; one of their volunteer families was Mark and Linda Staley.
A CIA participant gave birth to her child while incarcerated at Douglas County Corrections Center. In order to keep the infant from being lost in the system, the Staley’s volunteered to care for her until her mother was released. Once Machaela came into the Staley’s home, they noticed several abnormalities that needed medical attention. Machaela was shortly diagnosed with severe Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Because of this, she had to undergo several surgeries for her respiratory and digestive system. The Staley’s home was turned into a hospice care unit for little Machaela. She needed constant room temperature controls, a dust free environment, around-the-clock monitoring and constant care. The Staley children welcomed Machaela and thought of various ways they could help their parents that were suited to their own personal abilities.
The family did not take on Machaela as a “project”, but they loved her, as she was their own child. She was showered with constant love an attention daily. The Staley’s knew how important the developmental years are in infants so they worked hard to give her the special attention she deserved. Machaela was surrounded in an environment of love.
Special skills were needed for Machaela’s care. The Staley’s learned how to change the Trachea tube in her neck that was necessary for her to breath. They also helped her play and develop her mobile skills to the best of her ability. Initially, The Staley’s were childcare providers through CIA, but they had to do more to be able to give her the care she needed. So the Staley’s got legal custody of Machaela. Machaela’s mother agreed the care for her daughter was far beyond her ability, and she felt blessed that a loving family was willing to love her so unconditionally. Machaela continued to be an integral part of the family as well as the Staley’s church home.
On Tuesday, January 5, 1999, Machaela passed in her sleep. The Staleys and their children experienced much sorrow. There was a deep void in their home with all Machaela’s medical equipment and toys. Their hearts were broken, but they had to remember Machaela was a blessing to them. Though she had challenges, she was a strong and determined little lady. Though she did not make it so see her second birthday on January 23rd, she showed strength of character and lived against the monumental odds when was born with. There was a joy for the life and love she experienced because of the Staley’s in what many may have looked at as an “unfortunate situation”. Machaela was fortunate to have a loving life, though it was short, because the Staleys dared to care.