IOWA CITY — When Amy DeLine reached out to University of Iowa Police Sgt. Dave Bloem about having officers at the department put together a birthday card for her son, Bloem thought, “I can do a lot more than that.”
DeLine’s son, Shea, who suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, celebrated his 15th birthday on Wednesday with a visit to the University of Iowa Department of Public Safety, where he was presented with a card signed by the officers, as well as a patch, police memorabilia and a challenge coin, which Bloem said is given to UI police officers to represent camaraderie and brotherhood.
Shea also got a tour of the department and a Cookie Monster doughnut from Hurts Donut Co. with a birthday candle in it.
DeLine said her son has had a fascination with police officers and those in uniform since he was a child.
Wednesday’s visit was the culmination of a relationship that started with a conversation between DeLine and Bloem about the specifics of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a condition that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
DeLine, who has adopted three children with the diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, told Bloem that it made her sad to throw a birthday party for Shea — who has the intellectual capabilities of a 6-year-old — because he doesn’t have friends to invite.
With that, the idea for Wednesday’s visit was sparked.
“She had asked if we would send him a birthday card, I told her we can go one further,” Bloem said.
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Bloem initially met with DeLine and Shea on Mother’s Day. Bloem sent flowers to DeLine with Shea’s name on it and treated them both to breakfast.
“He was wearing a badge he made ... and had a lanyard around his neck,” said Bloem. “He thought he was dressing like a detective. I’m pretty good buddies with him.”
DeLine said her son has a “bubbly personality and smiles a lot.”
“He loves to play basketball,” she said. “It’s one of his favorite things to do. He’s a happy kid, unfortunately he struggles a lot.”
Shea was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome at age 4, two years after DeLine decided to adopt him. She began fostering Shea when he was five days old.
DeLine, 51, of Cedar Rapids, said people with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome often exhibit explosive symptoms, something many who are not familiar with the condition don’t understand. This can sometimes be frustrating for her as Shea is often negatively perceived.
However, through Wednesday’s visit, DeLine said she is happy to be able to raise awareness about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and see Shea excited by his interactions with the officers.
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