The Levine Family Story

As told by Pam and Jesse Levine


To have Jill’s House available when before you had nothing, and then to have people who are so empathetic and gentle with your child. . . you can’t ask for anything more!

We always knew that we would adopt a child. Even when we were young and dating, we talked about adoption. We brought our first daughter home from China and quickly pursued adopting another girl so that the girls would each have a sister. Then after a couple of years, we adopted Jax!

We adopted Jax when he was three years old. We knew it would take some time for him to become acclimated to our family and to America. He had been in a Chinese orphanage for the first three years of his life. We noticed some developmental delays, but over time, we realized that there was more going on than just difficulty in adjusting to life with us. Originally, he was diagnosed with ADHD. Then after displaying further signs of delay, he received an intellectual disability diagnosis when he was about five years old.

As a family, we say, “Everything is figure-out-able.” We have moved a lot; we have faced frequent health concerns. We have received unexpected diagnoses, but we have always been able to figure it all out. We knew that no matter what we were facing with Jax, that we would be able to figure it out together!

Over the years we have had attendants to help with Jax after school, or for a few hours on a weekend, but we never had a full weekend of help or respite. As Jax grew older and we experienced new challenges, we also began to grow weary of finding relationships and activities for him to gain independence and help develop his social skills. One day, my husband did a Google search and discovered Jill’s House! We’ve never lived near family, and we always felt nervous about leaving the kids with anyone. But Jax would hear other kids talk about overnight sleepovers at a friend’s house, and he would ask if he could have those same experiences.

We decided to complete the paperwork for Jill’s House. Before Jax had his first overnight there, we were invited to the Jill’s House Family Christmas Party. We were able to see other families, and I was able to meet other Jill’s House moms. I enjoyed chatting with them and felt comfortable asking my burning question, which was, “Is it really safe there?” I wasn’t sure if Jax could verbalize if things weren’t right, and I was nervous. The moms understood my concerns without judgement and plainly said, “We’ve been here for 12 years, and it’s the safest place for our kids!” These moms explained that there are so many eyes on the kids while they are at Jill’s House, between the nurses and the program staff, and that it is just as safe as my own home!

Jax finally had his first weekend at Jill’s House in January. We were so nervous! We let him take his phone so he could text us at any time. The first night, he sent us a text saying, “Good night. I love Jill’s House!” We were so excited. The next day, he ignored us! We sent him a text in the morning, and again in the afternoon, but we never heard back from him. We decided to call later that afternoon just to see if he was okay and ask if his phone had been taken away. The supervisor shared that Jax was having a great time. He was busy, engaged in fun activities and was doing great! We were relieved, and we were finally able to fully relax! Now, when we drop him off, he barely says goodbye before jumping out of the car.

We attended the Family Retreat and had such a great time! Seeing the other Jill’s House families and knowing that, even though our families are all different, we all face some of the same things, was awesome! We were able to connect with other parents and get to know the staff even better. Jax also had such a great time with the staff. He really loves them!

Jax is going to high school next year and is very excited. He is part of a teen boy’s group with Boys and Girls Club of America, but he says his favorite activity is going to Jill’s House, where he feels so loved and welcomed! To have Jill’s House available when before you had nothing, and then to have people who are so empathetic and gentle with your child. . . you can’t ask for anything more.