Couple struggling financially while raising their five nieces

Holly Viers • Dec 16, 2017 at 8:43 PM

KINGSPORT — Mark and Angela Navalta have faced no shortage of challenges the last few years.

In 2015, the couple adopted four children from Mark’s sister, and this year they gained custody of another. With five children, two of whom have special needs, times have been tough for the couple, both emotionally and financially.

“The baby (Alexa), she’s 7 months old,” Angela explained. “Then there’s a 5-year-old (Brooklyn); a 6-year-old (Alice); a 7-year-old (Makenzziee); and an 8-year-old (Patricia). The 5-year-old, she has spina bifida and clubfoot. Then the 7-year-old has a disability; it’s chromosome deletion.”

Spina bifida, which means “split spine,” occurs when a baby is in the womb and the spinal column doesn’t close all the way, according to the Spina Bifida Association. The condition, according to the March of Dimes, might make it more likely for a baby to have clubfoot.

Angela said Brooklyn is no stranger to hospital stays.

“(We go) back and forth to Knoxville,” Angela said. “It’s like every so many months she has to stay in the hospital for two to three weeks at a time, because her foot gets infected.”

While Angela takes care of the children, her husband, Mark, works the night shift to provide for the family. Makenzziee, the 7-year-old with chromosome deletion and seizures, receives a disability check every month, but those are the only two sources of income, Angela said.

To make matters more difficult, Angela has recently been facing health problems of her own.

“I have cellulitis in my leg, and it went to the bloodstream,” Angela said. “I’ve been in the hospital four times since August, staying about two weeks at a time getting IV antibiotics.”

On their own, Angela said there was no way she and her husband could afford Christmas presents for their five children. That’s why they, like many other families in the region, are relying on outside support to make the holidays a little brighter.

You can support families like the Navaltas this Christmas season by donating to the Times News Rescue Fund. This year’s fundraising goal is $60,000, the same as last year.

Tax deductible donations may be sent to Times News Rescue Fund, 701 Lynn Garden Drive, Kingsport, Tenn., 37660.

Kingsport Times News Videos