In a time where bad news is overcoming good news, it’s really refreshing to see that there really is some good in the world.
One woman from Connecticut adopted six children with medical problems so she could offer them love and a home. Hope Feliciano, 53 already had three children of her own with her husband Cesar who she married in 1988 when she was 23, but the two still wanted to adopt.
In 2002, they began researching what it would take to foster children with special needs. They first fostered 16-year-old Antonio, and by 2005 they had adopted him.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Hope explained that she had wanted to adopt ever since she was little, even after she got married and had children of her own. She and her husband first wanted to foster and adopt through the foster care system, but then they heard the instructor talking about special needs children, and they took to the idea.
“That just piqued my interest, because our own children had some medical issues,” she said.
There aren’t many medically complex foster homes in Connecticut where these children can go. We actually received a call about our first child before we finished our classes.
The second child they adopted was Aubree, 13, in 2006 who had a diaphragmatic hernia, which is a condition where she was born with an abnormal opening in the diaphragm. Even though most children who are born with the condition do not survive it, Aubree did and even became a gymnast.
In 2009, they adopted their first child, Alana who unfortunately died shortly after from gastroschisis, a condition where the intestines and other organs are located outside the body. Her death really took a toll on the couple, and even led them not adopting for a year.
“It was so hard to foster children again after she passed away,” Hope said.
She was the most joyful little girl anyone has ever seen. There were people literally all over the world praying for us and crying for our loss. It was about a year before we continued to take in more children.
But they did continue, and they went on to adopt three more children. All five siblings are pictured below: Antonio, Aubree, Aeden, Alec, and Ava.
When they adopted Aedan, 8, in 2012 who has a condition called septo-optic dysplasia (SOD), and is missing half of his small intestine. His condition means he has underdevelopment of the optic nerve, pituitary gland dysfunction and is missing the midline part of the brain.
Next, they adopted Alec, 4, in 2016 who suffers from caudal regression syndrome, which is also known as sacral agenesis and is characterized with an abnormal development of the lower spine, which means he has to wear leg braces. He also has only one kidney and a not working urinary tract.
And they finally adopted two-year-old Ava last year, making her their sixth adopted child. Ava has Moebius syndrome, a condition which prevents her from being able to blink or smile.
Other than they adopted children, Hope and Cesar have three biological children as well: Ashlee, 26, Aaron, 28, and Austin, 30. All three of them also have different medical issues due to their premature births. Hope describes their family as very “close-knit” and added that all of their biological children were amazing in helping them through this time, especially their daughter Ashlee who contributed a lot to help the family through the adoption process and the loss of Alana, saying they “wouldn’t have survived this if it wasn’t for her.”
“We have a great support system,” Hope said.
I don’t know if we could have gotten through this without the support of our older children, people outside our home, and our church at the time. It was a big undertaking.
Hope goes on to explain that they have fostered other children too, even ones who weren’t ill. They even took kids in their home in the middle of the night sometimes after a social worker would call to let them know a child had been removed from their home and needed a place to stay.
She revealed that the children know they are adopted and that she and her husband would support them if they wanted to seek for their biological parents after they turn eighteen, even though the court has terminated their parental right. “‘We have always been open about their adoption, they have a right to know where they come from and why they ended up here,” she said.
“What we have done and continue to do has been beyond rewarding,” Hope says. “It is beyond a blessing, it’s what I feel like we were put on this Earth to do.”