DALLAS - A little girl with Down syndrome who was abandoned as a newborn has found happiness in McKinney.
Brooke and Tyler Richardson shared their story of their incredible journey to adopt their 3-year-old daughter, Willow, with Good Day FOX 4.
The couple has three children of their own but decided they wanted to adopt. They also decided they wanted to open their home to a child with Down syndrome from China.
Apparently, adoption agencies are seeing an alarming number of babies in Asia with Down syndrome and often they are labeled “unadoptable” simply because there aren’t many people willing to adopt a child with special needs.
In fact, there are an estimated 5,000 orphaned children with Down syndrome and there may be even more because often the country doesn’t even fill out adoption paperwork for them to be adopted.
Tyler said it took him a little while to come around to the idea.
“We wanted a lot. I wanted to be in control of finances and all that kind of stuff. Then finally I just realized this is a wonderful life and our life is short. It was a calling. I said yes and once I said yes I knew the weight was lifted,” he said.
The Richardsons learned about Willow last year and it took them about eight months go through the adoption process. She was found abandoned outside a Chinese welfare institute when she was about 2 months old.
Brooke said it really was love at first sight with Willow.
“I actually found Willow on Facebook. I was scrolling through one day and I was a part of a Down syndrome adoption Facebook group because I was just wanting to learn more and ask questions. One of the moms shared a picture of her and literally as soon as I saw her picture I knew. I knew it was her,” she said. “Whether she had Down syndrome or not I knew that that was our daughter.”
The family shared a photo taken of her just moments before they met her for the first time.
“I was so nervous and excited but just so ready to get my hands around her. I had been seeing so many pictures of her and we had been doing video chats with her so we felt like hopefully she would recognize us. And as soon as we saw her she walked right into our arms. It was so sweet,” Brooke said.
The family said their three other children have been adjusting well to their new sister. Their 2-year-old daughter has had the hardest time just because for the longest time she was the only princess in the house.
“They have some very sweet moments and then just some very sisterly moments when they both want the same thing,” Brooke said.
When it comes to adopting, there is a lot of fear that often prohibits people from moving forward. The family encouraged people who are considering it to know it doesn’t take a super special person to adopt a child with Down syndrome.
‘Down syndrome is such a gift and I wish that people would look it as a gift and not a disability. Because she’s really just like any other kid and she brings us so much joy,” Brooke said.
To read more and follow the family’s story, visit embraceandgrace.blogspot.com.