Adrianne and Jason Stewart initially were not sure if they were qualified or capable enough to adopt a child with special needs.
But when the Utah family saw a photo of baby Maria, they knew that she was meant to be part of their family. Maria, born in the Philippines, does not have arms or legs, but today she is thriving with her new family in West Jordan, Utah, according to the Daily Mail.
The Stewarts recently shared their adoption journey to encourage more families to adopt children who have special needs. Their inspiring story is a beautiful reminder that every child is valuable and wanted by someone.
“There are so many kids out there without families and homes,” Adrianne Stewart told CBS News. “It’s not as hard and difficult as people think it could be.”
Nearly three years ago, the Stewarts decided to pursue adoption again. At the time, they had three children, including one adopted from the Philippines, the report states.
In October 2014, while reviewing children’s profiles, they came across Maria’s photo. She was 6 months old at the time and smiling in her chair in the orphanage.
They said they immediately knew she was the one they wanted to adopt.
“When we found our daughter, we did not think that we were qualified or prepared enough to parent a child like her, a child born without arms and legs, but we knew that we could love her and that loving her was what mattered most,” Adrianne Stewart wrote on Facebook.
It took the Stewarts a year to adopt Maria, but in October 2015, they were able to bring her home.
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Now, she is thriving. Maria is learning to use a wheelchair on her own, and her family and doctors are exploring the possibility of prosthetic arms, according to the report. The Stewarts said prosthetic legs will not be possible because Maria does not have any bones below her pelvis.
The family said people around them have been very helpful in finding new and innovative ways to help Maria overcome the challenges of having no limbs.
Here’s more from the report:
When Maria made it clear she wanted to feed herself, the couple went to Home Depot looking for tools to make her some kind of self-feeder, but they were at a loss what to buy and how to make it.
Soon, an employee stepped up and not only told them how to make a self-feeder, but offered, with other employees, to make it for Maria.
‘Just out of the kindness of [the employee’s] heart, not seeking anything in return, she wanted to do this for our sweet girl. How amazing is that?’ Stewart wrote.
A dentist also created a custom-designed mouthpiece for Maria. Various implements for writing or using a computer or other tasks can then be inserted at the end of the mouthpiece.
Now that they are settled with Maria, the Stewarts said they hope to adopt another child with special needs in the near future. And they hope their story will inspire others to do the same.
“We were scared to begin with, not knowing what to expect, but everything has fallen into place,” Adrianne told CBS News. “It seems like a big thing when you start out, but everything just works out.”
“She has made each of us better. She has taught us to find joy in small things, to not be sad or disappointed by what we don’t have, and to not take for granted the things we do have. The most important thing she has taught us is that we are all so much more capable than we think we are,” Adrianne added online.