International Adoption: Loving Terminally Ill Children
International adoptions have been one way many have grown their families. However, it is very rare for someone to leave their life in America to support, foster, and adoption terminally ill children. Time is finite and our friend Addisyn Lopez shares with us her first-hand experience in partaking in the international adoption process to ensure all children experience love.
Meet Addisyn Lopez
Addisyn grew up in a home were her parents fostered. Eventually, she gained 7 siblings through foster care adoption and loved being a big sister. She enjoyed helping care for them and was inspired at age 16 to pack up and help other children in Guatemala.
Her family moved to Guatemala and founded a family style children’s home called Village of Hope. It is a foster village consisting of 6 homes with families caring for terminally ill children, many with HIV and special needs. The village also supports adolescent mothers and children who have been sex-trafficked.
One can say that Addisyn has not had a very average life. After finding her place in the ministry she received the call.
“There’s a 10-day old baby girl,” they told us, “she has a disease.”
Without hesitation, Allisyn agreed to take her in. Within a few hours, a social worker came to the door holding a bundled baby wrapped in an orange blanket. The social worker explained that the baby had been abandoned due to her diagnosis. The baby had nothing, not even a name, and was not expected to live long.
The baby girl had Hydranencephaly, an illness leaving the baby with only 3% of her brain. After endless doctor appointments, Allisyn decided to ask a judge for an international adoption of the baby to name her.
“Her own family didn’t even want her,” the judge told her, “She’s probably not going to live, and even if she does, she’ll never have a normal life. So why would you even bother? Why do you care so much?”
Allisyn replied, “I cared because her life matters, and the value of our life isn’t decided by the number of our days.”
She was granted custody and named her daughter Emma Leigh. Emma means whole and complete and Leigh after Allisyn’s mother’s middle name. She gave her the name she wanted to pass on her first daughter.
To Love and be Loved
On April 16th, 2015 Emma Leigh passed away in Allisyn’s harms. “She was born into a completely hopeless situation, but she died being loved.”
While taking care of Emma Leigh, Allisyn learned that most children like Emma Leigh are left to die alone.
“I wasn’t okay with that, and I could no longer pretend kids like Emma Leigh didn’t exist. And so I started fostering children who were diagnosed as terminally ill.”
Just a few years later Allisyn found herself in court once again. This time she was fighting for one of the children from Village of Hope. After the hearing, she spoke to the judge and mention her work with children terminally ill children. The judge stopped in his tracks and shouted out a name to his assistant.
“There’s this little girl,” he explained, “for over a year we’ve called places, but no one has been willing to take her. Would you?”
That was the day she met her daughter Zailee Grace.
Zailee Grace is a little fighter. Though Zailee Grace’s prognosis is not quite clear, her love for life is evident.
Just 3 months after Zailee Grace joined the family Allisyn awoke to blue and red flashing lights and the sound of police sirens. At the front gate stood a police officer with a truck full of prisoners. He was transporting the prisoners from one jail to the next, and in his arms, he held a small baby wrapped tightly in blankets.
The newborn baby boy born with a cleft lip and palate had been abandoned and they’d heard of her work with children like him.
On June 3rd, 2020, Ezra and Zailee officially became Lopez’s and the family couldn’t be happier!
Allisyn and her family continue to foster and currently have a 6-year-old foster with Leukemia.
“It’s not always easy and it’s not always pretty, because of course there’s trauma involved in foster care and adoption, but I’d walk through fire for these kids. And I think when a kid realizes they have that- someone who is crazy in love with them and always on their side, the healing begins.”
In conclusion, we want to thank Allisyn and her family for sharing their international adoption stories with us. Whether international adoption or domestic adoption is the path you take for your family, it is important to remember that all children deserve love.
Check out the costs of international adoptions HERE.