Updated 10 October 2016

A stepmother's story

I always wanted a perfect little white picket fence family . . . I've got two stepchildren.


I always wanted a perfect little white picket fence family . . . I've got two stepchildren.

I always wanted a husband without too much body hair . . . mine has to comb his chest.

I always wanted a little perfect life . . . this is what I got:
I met Arnold Geerdts, a Super Sport presenter, in 2001 when he was in the throes of a failed marriage. We fell heavily for each other.

But little did I know that the next six years would be as tough as any I'd experienced. His eventual ex made our lives a glowing hell. But when I met their son Kinah who was only 15 months old at the time, I fell in love again.

"Glazed donut" look
As we got to see him very little, I made sure to have loads of fun with him when we did have time together. He had very bad eczema and he permanently had the "glazed donut" look.

In August 2005 Kinah was assessed for school readiness by Louzanne Knoesen, an occupational therapist. He was neurologically very underdeveloped and he had major problems with his tactile and motor skills.

Kinah's mom, Petro, was diagnosed with a terminal illness, motor neuron disease, in September of 2005. She was facing her own challenges. That left two newlyweds with a young boy of almost six to look after. It was a testing time.

In January 2006 Kinah started Grade 0 at Pecanwood College. He still lived with his mom. The Family Advocate in Pretoria opened a custody case as Petro's physical ability was deteriorating at a rapid rate.

In May 2006 Dr Izelle Smuts from the Paediatric Neurology Clinic tested Kinah again as his mom was concerned about his short attention span as well as his hyperactivity.

It was found that he had hypermobile joints. It was recommended he go for speech therapy. He also fulfilled the DSM IV criteria for ADHD and they wanted to put him on a trial of Ritalin.

On the 22nd of June the decision was made by the Family Advocate to move Kinah to my husband's custody. Kinah was taken to Crawford Fourways to be evaluated by Amy Goodlace to see if he could be accepted into the school.

We were informed that Kinah had serious emotional problems and showed signs of ADHD. In fact Crawford told us to prepare ourselves: he would not be ready for promotion to Grade 1 in six months time.

Arnold and I both like the term "can't" – it fires us up and gets us scrambling against the odds. Kinah also got fired up and after doing some research, we set to work.

I found out about the quality products on the market to enhance and develop his learning skills and concentration and sourced the purest foods that we could feed him, to wrap up this fine package we inherited.

Kinah was taken for play therapy to deal with the stress of being moved away from his mom and the possibility of his mom dying. With some information I gathered I changed his diet from fast food and Coke to mostly organic, fresh and preservative-free foods, keeping treats for the weekend.

I also got information on Omega products and looked for a high concentrate product. Win International has an 88% concentration Omega 3 product with the correct 3:1 ratio of EPA versus DHA. I put Kinah on two capsules a day for the first three months and then took it down to one a day.

Another product in the WIN range called Food for Thought was taken every morning before school to assist with concentration.

Routine is everything
A strict routine with exercise, regular sleeping patterns and loads of hugs, play and reassurance was given to Kinah, as the next two months presented serious challenges to us all!

On the 9th of August we underwent a four hour armed robbery in our home. But Kinah also had to go through the trauma of his mother's imminent death in September. You try that in your spare time sometime! Kinah was facing huge emotional roller coasters in his life for a boy of only 6.

The Win Omega oils made an almost immediate impact. His eczema disappeared and his concentration improved drastically. We immediately started planting a vegetable and herb garden.

At the end of November, to the great amazement of the school, Kinah was given the go-ahead to start Grade one in 2007!

A big breakthrough.

Kinah is now in Grade one and he is in the top five of his class with reading, writing, maths and sport performance. His play therapist was also stunned with the dramatic emotional growth he has made in one year - which should have taken him three!

I am currently also adopting him and the valuable lesson of "Never Give Up" is definitely a true testimony to Kinah's life.

I thank you for your time.

(Lily Geerdts, November 2007)


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Exercise benefits for seniors »

Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running

Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them.