Alec Van Beveren was born a normal baby 14 years ago. His mother, Amy Laird, was trying to achieve some stability in her life. Having broken off her relationship with Alec's father, Amy said she lived with her sister before getting her own apartment and a weekend job in Findlay. Soon, she met a man from Fostoria who had a steady job, a car and a home.
"He had two kids of his own. ... he seemed like a good guy," she said.
Shortly after Christmas, Amy went to work, leaving Alec in the care of her new partner. Before her shift was over, she got a call that something was wrong with Alec. He was unresponsive and lethargic.
PHOTO BY MARYANN KROMER
Now a teenager, Alec can only function on the level of an infant.
She said she rushed home to find her boyfriend calmly going about his business. The baby was lying in his crib in a darkened room.
"When I looked at Alec, he looked lifeless. He was breathing but he wasn't responding to anything," Amy said.
The couple dropped off the other children with a relative and took Alec to the emergency room at Fostoria Community Hospital. The doctors there said Alec was having a stroke. In retrospect, she realizes they recognized the likely cause of his condition and knew they had to report the possibility of abuse.
"Everybody's a suspect. So I was left in the dark at the time, which made me mad," Amy said.
Now she understands the medical personnel had a protocol to follow. Law enforcement and detectives were contacted to gather evidence. Alec was taken by Life Flight to a hospital in Toledo, where a blood clot in his brain was located and removed.
The doctors placed Alec in an induced coma for a week to reduce the swelling of his brain.
"He had all the common signs of being shaken - the blood clot, retinal hemorrhaging, bruises on his chest ... like a thumb print, and his nose was raw," Amy said. "They gave him a 50/50 chance of living. They told me he would probably need to live in some kind of home for the rest of his life but that wasn't happening," Amy said.
After about a month in Toledo, Alec was released to the custody of Amy's father and stepmother. Amy stayed with them and cared for Alec. The baby had numerous doctors' visits, including a neurologist to treat seizures Alec was having about every hour.
Medication was able to help reduce the seizures' severity.
Amy was able to regain full custody of Alec after about a year. He was 3 years old before his case went to trial. Amy said Libra Martin from Victim's Assistance was with her every day in court.
The offender never admitted guilt in Alec's injuries, but a jury found him guilty. The judge sentenced him to the maximum sentence of eight years in prison. An appeal gave him another 18 months of freedom before the appellate court made its decision.
Each time the offender asked for early release, Martin notified Amy. Having served his full sentence, the offender now is out of prison.
In the meantime, Amy has applied for waivers to get more assistance with Alec's care, but her applications were turned down. When she applied for Social Security for Alec, she was told she and her husband "make too much money."
Human Services handles the applications but does not make the decisions. She was advised to re-apply.