When Adrianne and Jason Stewart decided to adopt baby Maria who was born without limbs, they thought that they could help change her life for the better. Little did they know that it was Maria who changed their lives forever.
The couple from West Jordan, Utah was looking at a list of children who were waiting to be adopted in October 2014 when they came across a picture of baby Maria.
Maria looked just like any other six-month-olds, she was a sweet and beautiful little girl except that she was born without arms and legs.
However, that did not stop from Adrianne and Jason to fall in love with baby Maria at first sight.
“She had one of the most beautiful smiles and at the time we weren’t really planning on adopting a special needs child but we just fell in love with her,” Adrianne said. “We just knew we needed her to be part of our family.”
It was not an easy decision for the couple to adopt Maria at first as they already had two girls, aged 11 and 13 and 6-year-old Joshua, a boy from the Philippines they adopted. Needless to say, the couple then decided to go ahead with their decision.
“We knew that we could love her and that loving her was what mattered most!” Adrianne said.
In October 2015, the Stewarts finally got to bring home baby Maria from Chosen Children Village orphanage in Silang, Philippines.
At first, they were a bit concerned about adopting a child with special needs but their worries melted away as soon as they laid their eyes on her. “Even meeting her for the first time, you think she’d be scared and nervous to meet strangers, I mean, she’d seen a picture of us.”
“But she did so well and she was so happy and smiling for us and it was really amazing,” Adrianne said.
Even though Maria needed some time to adjust to her new home, she quickly got along well with her siblings as time passed by.
In spite of her disability, Maria was not different than any other children her age. She had to undergo regular physical speech and occupational therapy sessions once a month but Maria could do anything other normal children could do, if not better.
“She’s doing all the same things as our other kids, just in a little bit different way,” Adrianne said.
Now, she can feed herself using a self-feeder, color with a customized mouthpiece designed by a dentist and even goes horseback riding with her dad!
“We put limits on her abilities and then we see her doing exactly what we thought she was not capable of,” Adrianne added.
Maria’s willingness to overcome her disability was what taught Adrianne and Jason to be thankful and content even in the smallest blessings in life.
“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,” Adrianne said.
Most importantly, Maria taught the couple to never put limits on their capabilities.
“The most important thing she has taught us is that we are all so much more capable than we think we are.”
However, the family later received a piece of devastating news in April 2017; Joshua was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. He only had a 65 percent chance of survival.
“And just like that our perfect world was shattered. Our entire world was turned upside down,” Adrianne told PEOPLE.
Nevertheless, they remained calm and positive throughout the ordeal, thanks to what Maria has taught them.
“We do not know what is to come in the future, we hold high hopes of what he will become. While we are aware of the possibilities, we choose to focus on the positive. This has been beaten before and will be beaten again,” Jason wrote on his Facebook account.
Finally, after more than a year later in June 2018, Joshua was declared as cancer-free by the doctors.
“My wife took Josh to his regular checkup today, and we are so comforted that his results came back as still being cancer free. We are past the six-month mark, and getting close to the one year mark and looking forward to it greatly,” Jason wrote.
Both Adrianne and Jason knew that it is not going to be easy to put extra care and attention to their growing family but they knew that they could go through just about everything in the future thanks to their children.
Credit: The Epoch Times