Michoel: A Special Needs Adoption Program Story


Michoel was born in 2014 with and was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Pfeifer Syndrome resulting in craniofacial abnormalities, a fused skull, and fingers. He would require many surgeries throughout his life as well as many interventions and therapies.

Michoel’s birth parents knew that his needs would be more than they would be able to handle, both financially and emotionally, and they wanted to ensure that he was placed with a family that could care for his ongoing needs. Spence-Chapin worked with the family to make an adoption plan and provided them with counseling and support.


Spence-Chapin conducted a nationwide search and was able to identify an incredible family for Michoel.  After a very successful match meeting with the birth parents, Spence-Chapin staff worked together with a local pediatric center where Michoel was receiving care and treatment to facilitate a transition plan for him. The pre-adoptive parents visited Michoel regularly at the health center. Additionally, to help with the transition, Spence-Chapin facilitated two home visits with the pre-adoptive parents where Michoel and one of his therapists visited with his adoptive family for several hours. In December of 2016, Michoel was discharged from the pediatric health center to his forever family.

Today, Michoel is a happy six-year-old who is receiving not only the care and treatments that he needs, but also overwhelming and unconditional love from his family. His mom reached out to us recently with this incredible update:

“When Michoel first arrived we weren’t sure how he would develop. We knew we would love him no matter what and we would help him as much as we could, but navigating Pfeiffer Syndrome with all its complications was a big unknown. Fast forward a few years…Michoel is attending kindergarten at our local community school. He is learning to read and write and comes home every day with lots of stories of playing cops and robbers at recess. He is super curious about everything in the world and asks hundreds of questions. He has filled our home and our hearts with love, joy, song, and dance. He takes his syndrome and its various challenges such as surgery, looking different, hearing aids and eye patches in stride. We often talk about how we first met him at Elizabeth Seton Children’s Center when he couldn’t talk and how he cried when we left and how we were so sad to leave him and how happy we were when he finally came home! As it says in Michoel’s birth book, we thank G-d every day for our Michoel!  We will be forever grateful to Spence Chapin for bringing our little boy into our lives.”

Micoel 2020 Update Photo

This story is part of our Special Needs Adoption Program Story series, commemorating 25 years of our Special Needs Adoption Program. We are celebrating these stories and more throughout the month of November for National Adoption Month.  If you would like to support programs for children and families like our Special Needs Adoption Program, please visit www.spence-chapin.org/donate or contact our Development Office at 212-360-0263. Thank you!

To find out more contact us at

212-400-8150 or email us at info@spence-chapin.org.