Ed and Robin Tietje of Campbell, N.Y., had four children over the span of 11 years. Each of Robin’s pregnancies were difficult and while they wanted to continue having children, her doctor advised her against it. The Tietje’s had a continuing desire to have a larger family, so they turned to adoption to continue to grow their family. In November 2000, Ed and Robin received a call to adopt twin boys that had been born in August. The Tietje family was ecstatic about this opportunity and quickly adjusted to a larger family with their new sons, Joshua and Jacob.
In January 2001, Joshua became very ill and was admitted to a hospital in Elmira, N.Y., for a respiratory virus. In February, Joshua’s heart was beating at a high rate and his doctors realized that his condition was serious. On Feb. 12, Joshua was transferred to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse where he was admitted into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
Ed and Robin were not permitted to stay with Joshua at the hospital the first night, so they stayed in a hotel because their home was more than two hours away. Robin recalls how sad and lonely that night in the hotel was. “We felt like our world was crashing down around us,” she said.
The next day at the hospital, Robin and Ed learned about the Central New York Ronald McDonald House and the services they offer to families who live more than 25 miles from Syracuse and have a sick child in a nearby hospital.
The Tietjes visited the CNY Ronald McDonald House and felt such relief knowing they could stay at the House and focus on the needs of Joshua in the hospital.
Robin and Ed quickly realized that Joshua’s hospital stay was going to be a long one. The Tietjes were concerned about their other six children at home and how they would balance being with Joshua and taking care of the others who were more than two hours away.
The staff at the Ronald McDonald House knew Ed and Robin were torn at the thought of their children being so far away while Joshua needed so much attention in Syracuse. They also knew how important it was for Joshua to be near his twin Jacob. Until Joshua came to Syracuse, the two boys had not slept in separate beds since birth and had a bond only identical twins can relate to. The Ronald McDonald House wanted to help the Tietje’s in every way possible, so they offered a large room on the third floor of the House to the entire Tietje family. Robin and Ed were ecstatic and quickly made arrangements to bring the children to Syracuse for an extended stay.
Seven family members stayed in a room together at the Ronald McDonald House and took turns visiting Joshua at the hospital. When Jacob entered the hospital room to see Joshua for the first time, Joshua’s heart rate soared because he could sense his brother was in the room.
After 18 days at Upstate University Hospital, Joshua was discharged and he and his family were able to go home. The Tietjes returned to Syracuse and the CNY Ronald McDonald House numerous times over the next nine years. Joshua was monitored at the hospital periodically and underwent various procedures.
In 2007, Joshua had surgery on his heart and the Tietje family again stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, this time for only four days. Joshua held a photo of his brother and himself until he had to go in the operating room. After surgery, Jacob was waiting at the Ronald McDonald House to hear the surgery was a success.
The CNY Ronald McDonald House has been a huge part of the Tietje family’s lives for many years. It gave twin boys the opportunity to be together during such a trying time, something that proved to be extremely therapeutic for Joshua.
Robin, Ed and the entire Tietje family are extremely grateful for the CNY Ronald McDonald House and feel that they could never give back to the charity to the extent that they gave to their family.