SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - He was born severely disabled and was not expected to walk or talk. But Ricky proved everyone wrong and gives his mom all the credit for what he's accomplished in life.
“I love my mom,” said Ricky.
She's technically his paternal grandmother, but Maria legally adopted Ricky as her son two decades ago, when he was a three year old with severe disabilities.
“All that I am right now is because of my mom. You know, she chose not to give up when everyone else around her said that ‘he was never going to be able to do anything,’” continued Ricky.
Ricky's prognosis was bleak at the age of three. Born five months premature, he had all odds stacked against him.
“I was supposed to be born in September, but I was born in May instead,” explained Ricky. “So as a result I had several diagnoses, ADHD, cerebral palsy, mild mental retardation, poor vision, motor skills. And again at the time, I couldn't think, I couldn't walk I couldn't speak I couldn't do anything, even at three years old!”
Ricky was placed in the foster care system and Maria knew she had to get him out.
“I took him in for love of my grandson. I couldn't believe when his family was not able to take care of him,” said Maria. “I knew I had to step up and raise him and love him unconditionally.”
“No one wanted to adopt me, so now it's my turn to take care of her,” said Ricky.
Ricky, who's now 24, still suffers from poor vision and episodes of temporary blindness, but he is a successful young man who works in information technology, traveling three hours a day by bus and trolley to get to and from his job and taught by his mom to be independent.
“My mom was the one who would say don't believe what everyone else is saying, you can do almost everything that anyone else can,” said Ricky.
“You may not be able to drive a car, but you can get around on the bus or the train. So she always gave me that mindset to not let anything stop me,” said Ricky.
Just the fact that he's working is something no one, but Maria, thought he'd ever be able to do.
“Honesty, it wasn't my work, it was the work of my mom here. She's the one who put in all the hard work,” added Ricky.
Now, Ricky wants to make a difference for others as part of California Youth Connection, which is a non-profit that advocates for foster kids.
“Our members are primarily foster youth between the ages of 14-24 years old. Our goal is to help create legislation that helps benefit foster youth in care,” said Ricky.
“I'm just extremely proud of my grandson and everything he's become. There's really no measurement of how proud I truly am of everything he's accomplished,” said Maria.
If you are interested in adopting or becoming a foster family, please call 1-877-I-ADOPT-U.