The Tennessee Justice Center is honored to recognize Linda Morgan as a 2021 Mother of the Year for her dedication to her family and steadfast advocacy for her son, Kelton’s, medical care.
In 2015, Linda and her husband, Andrew, were empty nesters, their four adult children all having moved out. Linda is a nurse supervisor for children with special needs and her and Andrew decided to become foster parents to provide a loving home for children like her patients. “We never thought we would adopt but we very quickly fell in love with our placements and adopted them,” said Linda. Both of her adopted children, Laycee and Kelton, as well as her most recent foster placement, require a high level of specialized nursing care. In particular, Kelton has Cornelia de Lange, a congenital condition that renders him largely non-verbal and immobile. “Kelton is developmentally a newborn. He can smile but he cannot talk. Because he has a trach, he has no voice. He can’t be left alone, and he is prone to aspirating and getting pneumonia.”
Linda knew that raising Kelton would have its challenges, but she chose to adopt him for exactly that reason. “We adopted Kelton very much to protect him. We’ve learned his signs and cues that help us keep him out of the ICU. We didn’t want to risk his life and we love him, so of course we adopted him.” They were assured that as an adopted child, Kelton would receive all the healthcare assistance from TennCare that he would need.
However, in September 2020, Linda was notified by TennCare that Kelton’s nursing hours were being cut. “When I first got the notification, I was furious. This is a little boy that needs all of the hours. I was worried that something bad would happen.” Linda called TennCare multiple times over the next few months, running into a maze of issues around adoption paperwork, never getting a concrete answer on what was happening to Kelton’s care. Eventually, Kelton’s hours were reduced, even while her appeal was pending, leaving Kelton with less support than he needed.
So, Linda called TJC. “Obviously TennCare was not listening to what we needed, to what Kelton needed. A friend told me that it’s too hard to fight on your own, you need help. Give TJC a call. So, I did, and I’m glad I did.” TJC and Linda, along with some pro bono help, are still in the process of fighting for Kelton’s hours. Along with this, Linda has signed on to be a plaintiff in TJC’s litigation around the block grant, helping advocate for all children with complex medical needs.
Linda’s life centers on her family. “Right now, were working on building a pavilion and wildflower garden in our backyard, so we can maneuver the wheelchairs out there and the kids can enjoy the sunshine.” In her spare time, she makes baby blankets and quilts for her kids and other families. She plans to continue to advocate for Kelton. “I’m not sure how much longer we’re going to have to fight this. Or if we are going to have to do it again next year. But I’m more than happy to.” When talking to Linda, her perseverance, joy, and commitment to her family shine through. For these qualities, TJC is honored to recognize Linda as a 2021 Mother of the Year.
Photo Credit: Lisa Link of KPL Photography