At 46 years old, Michele Small finds herself the adoptive parent of twin boys and a girl. Her circumstances were not entirely planned, but she’s happy with the way it has turned out.“At this age, I could be traveling the world, but I’m fine with it,” she jokes.
Small is an Upper Darby resident who works in the obstetric-gynecological doctor’s office at Delaware County Memorial Hospital. About 4 ½ years ago, when her niece was just 7 months old, she decided to take over her care because the child’s mother was a drug user who was often in trouble with the law.
When the child was 2 years old, she said she wanted a sister. Small couldn’t find her a sister, but agreed to become a foster mother for twin infant boys whose mother was murdered. “So now I have three little ones I have adopted, and I’m a single parent,” she says.
Small is receiving assistance from the Women, Infants and Children’s Program (WIC), a federally funded effort that provides critical nutritional advice and breastfeeding support to about 9,500 women in Delaware County. Infants and children up to age 5, including foster children, are eligible.
Through WIC, Small receives vouchers to purchase food, nutritional information, referrals to health and social service agencies, and other services helpful to mothers.
“I would rate it a 10,” she says about the program and the way it is administered in the county. “It’s excellent.”
Small is not a stranger to mothering — she has a biological son who is 28 years old. Nevertheless, she picks up useful information from the program, and she believes the children are better off nutritionally because of it.
When she goes to the supermarket with her WIC check, she also has at her fingertips nutritional information provided by the program. It tells her how much meat, grains and dairy her children should have in their diet, and what kinds of foods she is entitled to buy with her check. She also receives helpful tips about food preparation, such as how to handle frozen meats.
Small is so pleased with the program that she has become an unofficial ambassador for it. Through her job, she is always around pregnant women and young mothers. Small enthusiastically tells the women who can benefit from WIC how and where to apply for it.
For her, it is a godsend. “I never thought I would be raising kids again,” she says. “I can’t imagine my life without WIC.”