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Foster child's history was a mystery - and so were her terrifying symptoms

Maria and Todd Jameson with Devin, Cora and Clayton. Cora has been treated at Children's.
Maria and Todd Jameson with Devin, Cora and Clayton. Cora has been treated at Children's. (Courtesy of the Jameson family)

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 24, 2010; 12:02 AM

Maria and Todd Jameson fought the urge to get their hopes up. They had seen too many children plucked away before they'd even had a chance to meet them.

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The Waldorf couple had taken their adoption classes. They'd said they were willing to adopt siblings. They'd decided they were up for the challenge of special-needs children. They'd been shown photos of kids from Missouri to Louisiana to the Carolinas.

But they'd lost out every time.

"And then along came these three," Maria said.

In 2007, a social services caseworker laid three photos down on the table in front of them. "This is the group," she said. There was a 6-year-old boy, Devin, his 3-year-old brother, Clayton, and 4-year-old sister, Cora.

Todd asked how many other hopeful parents-to-be were also interested in the children.

"You're it," she said.

Said Maria: "I think we made our minds up just looking at the pictures."

They met for the first time in a park a month later. The children's demeanor was a little cool. If they were slow to warm to Todd and Maria, that was understandable. The children had been in a series of foster homes.

"Technically, I was Mom Number 5 for Devin," Maria said.

As the children played with the couple - just the latest adults to come into their lives - Todd and Maria made a decision: They would start the foster-to-adopt process, meaning that after a trial period together, Devin, Cora and Clayton would become Jamesons.

The children came to Todd and Maria with little more than the bags holding their modest possessions. When you are a foster parent - as the Jamesons were considered at first - you're not entitled to a complete medical history, so about the only thing the Jamesons knew about the trio's past was that they had been vaccinated.

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