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Girl, 8, gets new family at hospital

A judge makes a special visit for a N.Y. girl's adoption ceremony.

March 14, 2007|Jennifer Barrios | Newsday

STONY BROOK, N.Y. — An 8-year-old girl whose birth parents failed to treat her advancing cancer and kept her in a filthy home was too sick to go to court Tuesday for her adoption ceremony.

So Judge David Freundlich brought the court to her.

In the pediatric unit at Stony Brook University Medical Center, Krista Ann Loscalzo officially joined her foster family.

Uniformed court guards stood at the door as Freundlich, wearing his customary black robes, conducted the 10-minute ceremony.

"The child wanted to be adopted right away," said Freundlich, who said he hadn't held court in a hospital before.

Dozens of lawyers, court officials, nurses and members of her new family watched as Krista formally became the daughter of her new parents, who want to remain anonymous.

Krista wore a pink sleeveless frock, a sparkly tiara balanced atop her light-brown hair. She clutched a yellow-haired doll. Plastic tubes poked out from her thin arms.

Later, Krista limped to the hospital's playroom, where she surveyed food set out for the celebration like a true hostess.

"Pretzels -- check. Vanilla cake and chocolate cake -- check," she said, pointing as she walked by the treats.

Krista was diagnosed in 2003 with a malignant teratoma, a type of cancerous tumor. She underwent surgery, but her birth parents, Ursula and Frank Loscalzo, refused to allow Krista to receive chemotherapy and did not follow up on her care, according to a Family Court decision. Ursula Loscalzo contended that she had wanted to seek a second opinion.

When Ursula Loscalzo called an ambulance for Krista in August 2004, the child's belly had swollen to the size of a basketball and she was near death, according to court papers. An emergency medical technician who went to the Loscalzo home said that it was filthy. Krista had dirt in her skin folds and a milk bottle encrusted with green fungus, the papers said.

The tumor, which was left untreated, had spread to Krista's lungs, liver and abdomen.

Her new family wouldn't talk about her current condition.

Ursula Loscalzo was sentenced last year to three years' probation for endangering the welfare of a child. Her other five children were placed with a different foster family.

Her attorney, Mark Kirshner, disputed the accounts and described Ursula Loscalzo as a loving mother who bathed Krista regularly, and took an "intense interest" in Krista's medical care.

"She's absolutely devastated over losing those children," Kirshner said.

The Loscalzos had appealed the court's decision to take their children, but a higher court upheld the opinion March 6, clearing the way for the adoption.

After the hospital ceremony, Freundlich walked Krista through the hospital, her tiny hand in his.

"This is as good as it gets," Freundlich said.

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