‘If you’re willing to adopt a child like THAT, you’ll move to the top of the list.’: Single woman adopts girl with Down Syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome

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“There’s this idea that when you graduate from college, you not only leave school with a degree but with a ring on your finger. You go to college, meet the love of your life, graduate, get engaged, married….

But what if that’s not your story? What if you never meet the right guy and get married? Am I less than anyone else?

At times, I felt as if I was less. What’s wrong with me? When I would pray, I would ask ‘Why Lord?’ After 20 years of asking this question, one day I heard, ‘I have something better.’

And boy, did He! Even though I wasn’t married, the desire to be a mother never went away.

So, in 2017, I began looking into adoption. I started on one path that led me to a conversation I will never forget.

I called one agency and told them my story. The lady on the other end of the phone said, ‘Ms. Adams, if you’re wanting to adopt a healthy, white, baby girl, you’ll be waiting for years.’

To which I replied, ‘I don’t think you understand. I’m standing in line for the child everyone else is scared to adopt, the child whose needs are too great. Send me that child.’ And she said something I will never forget. She said, ‘Well, Ms. Adams, if you are willing to adopt a child like that, you’ll move to the top of the list.’

A child like that.

That conversation was a pivotal moment in my adoption journey. At that moment, I realized there must be thousands of kids who are left in orphanages because their needs are so great…and so, I began looking all over the world for my child.

2 years later, I received an email about a little girl who was recently added to an agency’s list. ‘A two-year-old waiting for her forever family is now available for adoption. Diagnosed with Down Syndrome, seizures, possible hearing and vision loss.’ Every emotion was running through my head: I was excited, scared, overwhelmed, and I wanted to bring her home immediately. I inquired about her and then reached out to Lifeline.

An adoptive mother holds her daughter with Down Syndrome
Courtesy of Julie Adams

That was in April of 2019. In December 2019, my mom and I flew to Bulgaria to meet my precious daughter, Lola-Ruth. The whole plane ride, I was NERVOUS!! Would she like me? Would she warm up to me? Would she be able to understand what was going on? When I was finally able to meet her, I was in TEARS. It was a relief to see her in person since this was something I wanted my whole life. She was perfect!

An adoptive mom holds her special needs daughter for the first time
Courtesy of Julie Adams

I noticed she wasn’t quite as alert as shown in the videos. I saw she was quiet and very lovable. I painfully realized my daughter didn’t know how to be held. The first thing I did was hold her for about 20 minutes (or at least tried to… she didn’t know how to be held), then I let my mom hold her. We then took a walk around her small village of Hisarya. Everything I ever wanted was wrapped up in the sweetest little face looking back at me.

In February 2020, we passed court, then COVID struck! Finally, in June of 2020, Bulgaria gave my mom and me permission once again to board a plane to bring my daughter home! She’s been home 10 months.

An adopted girl sitting on a stool wearing a dress
Courtesy of Julie Adams

Lola-Ruth is a very complicated case. It’s not just Down Syndrome or seizures. She also was diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (she has every type of seizure). She was also malnourished and had to have a g-tube placed one month after being home. Lola-Ruth does have vision and hearing impairments. Lola-Ruth also has very low muscle tone.

Her seizures were scary before we got them under control. I didn’t know you could have every type of seizure, so I wasn’t quite prepared for those. Watching her struggle to do typical things like sit up, hold toys has been heartbreaking. Most children her age can walk, talk, sit up, speak, and interact, but she cannot. While she is improving on these things, it is a very slow process.

A girl with Down Syndrome wearing glasses sticks her tongue out
Courtesy of Julie Adams

Every month, since being home, we see specialist after specialist, as doctor’s visits are just part of caring for my sweet girl, but nothing prepared me for what she went through for 16 days in March of this year.

As I’ve walked down this road as a special needs/medically complex momma, I have found until you know the deepest pain, you can never really know the deepest joy.

And oh, how I’ve felt the deepest of pains. Lola-Ruth went in for a T&A (tonsils and adenoids), a routine procedure, but after the surgery, Lola-Ruth began to decline rapidly. When she came out of surgery, she couldn’t hold her oxygen saturation well. We were taken to the Special Care unit. As one doctor put it ‘the perfect storm was brewing.’ With Lola-Ruth having surgery, anesthesia, the common cold (which no one knew about), and what we’d find out later to be ‘floppy lungs,’ it created a storm within her body.

I remember the doctor coming in, looking at Lola-Ruth and saying, ‘This child is sick. She needs to be on a ventilator.’ The heartache and peace I felt in my decision to grant them permission to put my sweet girl on a machine that would breathe for her. I remember the pain as I said goodbye to her and walked out of her room, tears streaming down my face. I remember pacing back and forth in the 7th-floor waiting room wondering if I made the right decision. And lastly, I remember walking back into her room and seeing her still small body, not moving, with a machine doing all the work for her—the pain I felt.

A special needs girl hooked up to machines in a hospital
Courtesy of Julie Adams
A girl with Down Syndrome lays with a tube in her mouth
Courtesy of Julie Adams

For five long days, I cried silently as I watched her body, which at times, had failed her, gain strength back. Lola-Ruth is a fighter, and I had to be one too.

For 5 days, I couldn’t hold my sweet girl, but the day I held her in my arms again was one I will never forget. It’s scary holding your child with what feels like a thousand wires. I was worried about pulling things out and setting off her alarms. But there we were, eye to eye, face to face—a mixture of emotions.

An adoptive mom holding her daughter in the hospital
Courtesy of Julie Adams
A girl with special needs smiles while wearing oxygen in the hospital
Courtesy of Julie Adams

I hope I always remember that moment. I pray I always remember how kind God has been to us. I pray I remember how the Body of Christ came together to support and pray for Lola-Ruth. As crazy as it sounds, I want to remember every moment of those 16 days spent in ICU and the Special Care Unit.

A girl with special needs wearing an oxygen tube
Courtesy of Julie Adams

Those moments remind me God is GOD and I am not. It reminds me of how faithful He has been—from the moment I began the adoption process to that moment in the ICU.

Lola-Ruth is getting stronger every day. She attends school 3 days a week and receives therapy at school (physical, occupational, speech). She loves light-up toys and music (now that she has hearing aids and glasses). When she babbles and tries to communicate, it is absolutely heartwarming. But her medical appointments/tests set her back. They bring up a lot of emotions, and she doesn’t know how to process how she feels.

A girl with Down Syndrome wearing yellow glasses
Courtesy of Julie Adams
A girl with Down Syndrome looks surprised
Courtesy of Julie Adams

Every hardship I went through to bring her home led me here to this moment. And I wouldn’t change it for anything. I often tell people God writes the best stories and this… This is ours.”

A girl with Down Syndrome wearing a blue dress
Courtesy of Julie Adams
An adoptive mother and her daughter with Down Syndrome
Courtesy of Julie Adams

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Julie Adams from Alabaster, Alabama. You can follow their journey on Instagram and Facebook. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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