Terminally ill teen’s dad now needs surgery; faces tough decision

Posted at 6:17 PM, Apr 18, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-18 18:30:22-04

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR) - A Chesterfield father caring for his terminally ill son is now facing some health issues of his own and a tough decision.

Tim Roberts, whose son Christopher suffers from a rare disease, said he needs surgery after a recent stroke. [READ MORE: Chesterfield teenager fights for life–and treatment]

And while he is recovering, Roberts said he will not be able to care for Christopher.

With his permission, a rep from his surgeon’s office confirmed that Roberts will need 6 to 8 weeks to fully recover from his upcoming surgery. Additionally, the rep said Roberts will be in no condition to look after his 14-year-old-son.

“The doctors asked me recently would I be willing to give temporary custody to the state and I said 'no,'" said Roberts. "I would rather try to get some family here. I’ve never been away from him.”

Roberts said he has no immediate family in this area. His only option is to try and get his elderly mother from Georgia to Virginia to look after Christopher while he recovers.

"I have to find a way to raise some money to get my mom and step dad here...  If I could get them up here for at least 2 of the 6 months while he’s recovering then I know that would help,” added Roberts.

Additionally, Roberts said shortly after his procedure, Christopher will face his own critical surgery to repair his broken skull and to rebuild his face.

“His surgery recovery time will be at least six months. It is really critical. Doctors are telling me there’s a chance he may not wake up off of the operating table," said Roberts.

Roberts said he does not want to turn his son over to the state’s custody.

CBS 6 News' Shelby Brown contacted the Department of Social Services (DSS) to find out what options parents may have in situations like this.

DSS Deputy Commissioner for Programs Paul McWhinney said local DSS offices can do a temporary entrustment for ninety days without court involvement.

However, once things progress beyond the 90 day mark, they must get the courts involved.

During the time that a child is in custody, he or she would receive all of the services needed to help them through the ordeal.

This month alone, there are 5318 children in foster care in Virginia. Of that, 689 are enrolled in foster care because of a caretaker’s inability to cope and take care of the child.

Roberts is hoping his son doesn't fall into that last category. He says he’ll lean on his faith in God to help him through this. He says

Now, Roberts said he is counting his blessings that he has a place to stay since a Chesterfield hotel is allowing he and Christopher to stay there until they check into the hospital for their surgeries.

A Bank of America fund account has been set up in Christopher Roberts name for anyone who would like to donate to the family. That number is 334026011031.


Count on CBS 6 News and for updates on this developing story.