It was love at first sight for American couple Adrianne and Jason Stewart when they saw the photo of a little girl with a cheerful smile from an orphanage in the Philippines about two years ago.
The couple was then browsing through a list of children who were up for adoption when they found 6-month-old Maria, a Filipino girl who was born without arms or legs. After getting approval, the Stewarts soon flew to the Philippines and adopted Maria from an orphanage in Cavite, Philippines in October.
Today, Maria has grown to be an energetic and bubbly three-year-old girl who always wears a smile, Coconuts Manila reports.
Since Maria came into their lives, the Stewart family their lifestyle to accommodate Maria’s special needs.
“We really don’t even see her as having a disability anymore,” Mrs. Stewart was quoted as saying. “She is just our daughter and even though she may have to learn to do things a little different than everyone else, she is still doing the same things as all the other kids.”
Like any normal three-year-old girl, Maria has developed a certain fondness towards music and often finds herself dancing along to catchy tunes. An early art lover, the toddler has learned to use a specially designed mouthpiece that holds markers so she can color. She also loves playing with her animal stuffed toys.
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Maria has two sisters, her parents biological daughters aged 13 and 11, and a 6-year-old brother who was also adopted from the Philippines. Each member of the family has been very caring to Maria.
“Her brother loves to play with her and I help him come up with ideas on how to better include her in whatever he is playing with,” noted the proud mom. “Her sisters are wonderful with her and love teaching her how to do things.”
Maria is still learning how to eat by herself so everyone takes turns in helping her out during feeding time. As for her day-to-day living skills, her mom has been teaching her how to climb up and down the stairs, put on her clothes, and brush her own teeth.
“She loves to do things on her own and gets a huge smile on her face and is so excited when she finally is able to do something completely on her own. It is so inspiring to see and brings me a lot of joy also,” Adrianne sad.
Maria is now a student and goes to preschool a couple of days per week. She also receives speech therapy and occupational therapy once a month at Shriners Hospitals for Children.
The family plans to adopt another special needs child from the Philippines next year, this time a 9-year-old girl.
“There are so many orphans all over the world and all of them deserve love and a family,” Adrianne explained. “It doesn’t matter if they have special needs or are healthy or if they are older children or younger children. They all need a family.”
The loving parents of four kids indeed still have enough love for more.
“Being able to love is really what matters most when considering adoption,” she added.