In an interesting turn of events, a single woman from Ohio adopted a 4-year-old girl with no limbs from India who allegedly never smiled. Things took a different turn when the woman flew with her adopted child back to her hometown.
What's your worst memory as a child? People's childhood experiences shape the way they look at the world. Those memories stay with them forever and affect their personality development. If a child had a fun-filled childhood, they are more likely to radiate positive energy through their acts after growing up.
On the other hand, if a child goes through traumatic incidents like their parent's death, the painful memories remain with them forever. The woman in today's story went through the same, but she didn't let her suffering bring her down. She turned it into an opportunity to help kids around her who had a difficult childhood.
THE CHILDHOOD TRAUMA
When Jacqui McNeill was 12, her mother passed away due to heart failure, leaving McNeill alone with her ten siblings. The kids weren't prepared for their mother's sudden demise. They missed the warmth of their mom's love, but McNeill tried her best to be there for her seven younger siblings.
McNeill became a motherly figure in their lives, showering them with love and care, not knowing how it would affect her in the long run. Since she didn't have anyone to care for her, her heart eventually filled with anger.
Luckily, she found comfort by joining a religious community to become a nun after graduating high school. Little did she know that choosing this path meant abandoning her wish to become a mother.
A DIFFERENT LIFE
While McNeill was on her journey to become a nun, she realized she had to live a "life of poverty," which meant she couldn't have children. She recalled:
"People would come over and visit, and I would hold the babies the whole time or play with the kids. I would just cry when they left because it hurt so much to know that I was saying, 'I'm willing to not have kids in my life."
Soon, McNeill flew to India to spend a few months looking after children with disabilities in a foster home. Inspired by Mother Teresa, she felt people needed to love those children because they deserved the best. The young woman wanted to adopt all the beautiful children she met there, but that was impossible.
ADOPTION WAS AN OPTION
Since childhood, McNeill wanted to become a mother and flying to India made her believe she could adopt a baby from the foster home she was working at.
There were times when McNeill thought adopting Emilia was out of the question.
Once she turned 25, she submitted the adoption paperwork in India and waited for her turn to adopt a baby. Little did she know that her dream wouldn't come true so quickly.
A DAUNTING PROCESS
After applying for adoption in 2018, McNeill had to wait two years before she was matched with a baby. She also faced difficulty raising money to adopt a baby during the process.
Most organizations didn't provide her grants because she was a single woman. After struggling day and night, McNeill stumbled upon helpusadopt.org, which helped her collect $45,000. She said:
"They gave me a huge grant and helped make this possible."
A MATCH FOR HER
McNeill was matched with a baby named Emilia, who had a rare condition called Tetra-amelia syndrome, in which babies are born without all four limbs. When McNeill read about Emilia, she didn't hesitate to adopt the little girl. She recalled:
"The first time I saw a picture of her face, I just wept."
Although McNeill had no idea how to raise a girl with special needs, she knew she would do everything possible to make her adopted daughter feel comfortable. However, the adoption process hadn't ended yet. There were times when McNeill thought adopting Emilia was out of the question.
"A GRUMPY CHILD"
When it seemed like her life-long dream would come true, COVID-19 travel restrictions worsened things for McNeill. She had to wait another year before she could bring Emilia to Ohio.
Finally, in April 2021, McNeill flew to India to bring Emilia back with her. When she went to the foster home to pick up her adopted daughter, the caretakers said:
"Good luck. She's a grumpy child. She never smiles."
A DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE
When McNeill brought Emilia home, she found her to be a completely different child. The single mother said her daughter was a "joyful and happy" child. McNeill revealed:
"She doesn't do anything but smile, and she's had a lot to overcome."
Little Emilia needed to go for therapy three times a week to live a healthy life. She even got hospitalized at least ten times when she caught a common cold. However, McNeill never hesitated to take her baby to the hospital during this time.
NOT GIVING UP
Soon, Emilia started preschool despite having difficulty doing simple tasks like climbing stairs and eating food. The little girl managed to scoot herself up the stairs and eat her food while making a huge mess. McNeill's motivation made Emilia believe she could do anything she wanted. The mother confessed:
"I tell her all the time that 'can't' is not in our vocabulary."
McNeill loves cuddling with little Emilia and preparing rice and curry dishes for her that she loved eating back in India. The single mother also set up a GoFundMe page to buy a wheelchair van for her "Little Love."
A HAPPY SINGLE MOM
The mother-daughter duo loves celebrating Indian festivals with similar families in their community who adopted Indian children. McNeill wants her daughter to enjoy her life to the fullest. She even dreams Emilia will go to college and have a successful career.
After everything she experienced, McNeill was thankful to God for everything in life, including the suffering. She felt going through the worst taught her precious life lessons. She said:
"That loss, that pain, that suffering in a sense, was a blessing for me. With this whole adoption journey, I've had the compassion in my heart and the knowledge of what ache is like for a mom."
McNeill and Emilia's story teaches us that every child is worthy of love, no matter if they have a disability. After McNeill adopted Emilia, she never felt her daughter's rare condition stopped her from enjoying life. Instead, she motivated her little one to do whatever she wanted.
Share this story with your friends and family if you think McNeill did a great deed by putting an adorable smile on "grumpy" Emilia's face.
Click here to read another story about a girl born with a striking white patch of hair on the front of her head. Her mother and grandmother also had the same patch on their heads.
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