“Never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill
On a bitterly cold day in December of 1996, a miracle child was born. As evening approached, Brett Fein, the third of four children born to me, Joseph Fein, and my wife, Bonnie, came into the world. He arrived early. Very early.
Brett was born approximately four months prematurely, at 22 weeks, and the prognosis was grim. He weighed just 1 pound, 9 ounces at birth and was no bigger than my hand. The doctors at North Shore University Hospital on Long Island didn’t give us much hope. Children born before the 23rd week of gestation do not have much of a chance, they said. Even if Brett were to beat the odds and survive, there was no way of predicting what his quality of life would be.
But Brett did survive. The tiny child, one of the smallest babies ever to receive care at North Shore’s neonatal unit, surprised everyone and began making progress. After four long months in the hospital, our miracle baby finally came home. A long road of therapy and developmental challenges were ahead, but we were determined to help Brett live as normal and joyful a life as possible.
In 2008, Brett was 12 years old. He was a healthy, fun-loving child, with eyes as blue as a bright spring sky, and enjoyed bouncing happily on a trampoline in our backyard. The super-preemie, who wasn’t supposed to see his first birthday, was making it. The road had been long and not a day had gone by since leaving the hospital that Brett did not receive some type of therapy, from physical therapy to speech therapy to sensory integration and special education class instruction. Brett had many more mountains to climb and, with the help of family and friends and a team of specialists, he has been able to continue that climb.
Fast-forward to 2020: Brett is now 23 years old and still living with us. He is fun-loving and eager to engage or be engaged with family and friends. He loves to watch YouTube videos on the computer and feel his toes on the sandy beach. After a long day running through the waves, he enjoys taking a nap and listening to his music. The small things in life make him very happy.
My wife, Bonnie, continues to be at the forefront of his therapy and daily planning. Brett’s development has also been helped by the love and understanding of his brother and sisters, and their friends, who have gone out of their way to make him a part of their activities.
We remain determined to help Brett live a happy, fulfilling life, which is why we continue to push forward with appropriate therapies. Brett attends a program for adults with special needs, and he loves getting on the bus each morning to see his friends. His milestones may be different from those of a typical adult, but they are important accomplishments for him.
As his father, the experience of Brett’s birth and development, and the success he has achieved despite the longest odds, inspired me to devote 100 percent of my law practice to educational law, helping families receive the special care, services and education their children require. It is important for parents of special needs children to know that while the road they now travel may not be the one they expected to be on, they do not have to travel it alone. I will help you navigate it so that your child receives the appropriate services he or she needs to achieve the greatest success possible. By law, your child is entitled to an appropriate education and services. It is my privilege and my passion to help you get them so that you can concentrate on your most important priority – your family.