Orthopedic oncologist Dr. James C. Wittig tells People “I wanted a child. I must have been sending these messages out to God and in prayer and everything.". He’d joked that he would prefer to start fatherhood with a teen, so when he came across a Facebook post from a former patient looking for a home for a teenage boy whose parents had passed away, it was like it was meant to be.
Wittig reached out to the former patient, telling them, "I really want a child in my life," and a meeting was arranged between the doctor and the child, a 13-year-old boy named Ronnie. Wittig says the boy was “an adorable, kind, caring, energetic kid” and after a few interactions, Ronnie decided he wanted to live with Wittig. In March of 2015, Wittig became Ronnie’s legal guardian.
Months after Ronnie moved in with Wittig, the doctor discovered that the two had a connection from before Ronnie was born. The patient whose Facebook post had led to the two of them meeting was one of two patients that Wittig had been using to teach about limb-saving surgery for most of his career. The other patient was Ronnie’s mother. Even though Ronnie, now 20, isn’t legally Wittig’s son, Ronnie thinks of him as his father. And Wittig, who says having a child to care for and love has been “so fulfilling,” feels the same way, saying, “Whether they're adopted or blood, they're still your children."