SERVING CHILDREN WITH
SPECIAL NEEDS & THEIR FAMILIES
Since 1950
physician referral

Get to Know Nate

“It was not okay with me to just have Nate in daycare. I was determined that he be in a program that was play- and evidence-based. I wanted him surrounded by people who would enhance his development.” --Katie Kramer, Nate's mom

Katie Kramer and her husband Bernd Becker visited Chattanooga in preparation for Bernd’s job transfer to the area. They stayed at a downtown hotel, and during her morning run, Katie made a circuit that took her past Siskin Children’s Institute. “The accessible playground piqued my interest immediately,” Katie said. Little did she know then, the Institute would become an integral part of her family’s life. The connection would be a little boy she didn’t know yet; she was about to become his mom.

Nate Becker is a two-year-old who is taking in the world with wide eyes, a resilient spirit and feet that are always on the move. “The first time they put him in my arms, I was mesmerized by his wide open eyes,” Katie, who is now his adoptive mother, said. “His eyes struck me as a child who is learning all the time, soaking up everything around him.”

Katie and Bernd began their adoption journey in 2008 with plans to adopt internationally. They hit snags and dead ends and eventually decided on domestic adoption. Next came the daunting process of applications, essays, background checks, interviews and other adoption requirements.

On April 15, 2009, the couple finally got the call they were waiting for. A single mother in Texas gave birth to a little boy and was interested in the adoption path. She had chosen Katie and Bernd’s application from a stack of other potential adoptive parents because they put a high priority on education. Katie and Bernd reviewed the mother’s application and appreciated that she was in a skilled job and was working to better herself. It was a good match.

Within hours of the call from the adoption agency, Katie hopped a flight to Dallas. Two days and a ton of paperwork later, Katie left the hospital with Nate in her arms. “I looked down at this little guy and thought, wow, I’m his mom! I was excited and scared all at the same time.”

While Nate passed his newborn assessment with no signs of developmental problems, Katie and Bernd simply didn’t know what issues might arise as he got older. Katie, a special education professional with a doctorate in psychology, knew the importance of early childhood education. So, after an exhaustive look at preschools in Chattanooga, Katie and Bernd decided on Siskin Children’s Institute. “It was not okay with me to just have Nate in daycare,” Katie said. “I was determined that he be in a program that was play- and evidence-based. I wanted him surrounded by people who would enhance his development.”

Katie enrolled Nate at the Siskin Early Learning Center-East Brainerd first and then he moved to the Early Learning Center-Downtown when she joined the staff at that campus as an instructional intervention coach. “Nate’s teachers at the Institute? Wonderful!” Katie said. “Since I wasn’t sure what educational challenges he might have, I was very frank with them, telling them to come to me immediately if they saw any developmental issues.

“I also was pleased that Nate’s experience at the Institute included being a part of an inclusive learning environment with kids of all abilities,” Katie said. “Nate established a great friendship with Micah, a little boy who has profound special needs. One day I saw Nate rub Micah’s head in this sweet gesture of friendship. Things like that show me that the Institute is helping children get a firm foundation in what really matters in life. The Institute is an example of what can be.” 

In late January, Katie, Nate and Bernd moved back to Katie’s home state of Michigan after another job transfer. As Nate has matured, specialists have identified a speech delay. The family is working through those challenges, and Nate is starting to put words together. “We miss the exceptional dedication of the professionals at Siskin Children’s Institute, though.” Katie said. “I feel like we left the Harvard of preschools, and nothing else is going to compare.”

Katie was a strong proponent for ensuring children have opportunities to learn before her family’s adoption journey began, and her commitment to this idea has only grown since she became Nate’s mom. “Education gives you choices,” she says decidedly. Nate Becker is a living example of that.