3-year-old Maria’s journey to finding a happy home began when she was only 9 months old. Not much is known about her past aside from the fact that her first home was a special needs orphanage in Cavite, Philippines.
According to a CNN feature, Utah-based couple Adrianne and Jason Stewart, fell in love with her bright smile, and after a long process, involving a lot of paperwork, they flew to the Philippines to meet their daughter in 2014.
Their story first started touching hearts through the blog, Love What Matters, where it was first shared through a video the couple made documenting their journey. The clip has garnered nearly 900,000 views, as of this writing.
The Stewarts were not new to the process of adoption. Aside from their two biological daughters, they adopted a son from the Philippines.
Before seeing Maria’s photo, the couple hadn’t even considered the option to adopt a child with special needs.
“When we found our daughter, we did not think that we were qualified or prepared enough to parent a child like her, a child born without arms and legs, but we knew that we could love her and that loving her was what mattered most,” wrote Adrianne in her heartfelt post.
She fell in love with her daughter when she first saw her photo, but there first meeting deepened Adrianne’s understanding about just how much Maria needed someone to care for her.
“I had hoped that she would be further along than she was. She was two years old and she couldn’t even hold her head up,” she continued, adding that they didn’t even know if Maria would eventually learn muscle control.
While she receives continuous speech and occupational therapy, Maria attends preschool two days a week. Aside from enjoying interacting with classmates, she loves to color and play with stuffed animals. Recently, the adorable toddler became a fan of 80’s music.
photo: Adrianne Stewart facebook
It comes as no surprise that the orphanage had difficulty finding a family willing to adopt the little girl. Though the first few years were rough, becoming Maria’s parents taught Adrianne and Jason to appreciate life’s blessings and to believe in their capacity to love.
“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…”
“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. The most important thing she has taught us is that we are all so much more capable than we think we are.” wrote Adrianne.
photo: Adrianne Stewart facebook
Though many commended their selfless act of love, Adrianne believes Maria has given them “far more than (they) will ever give her”.
“She is so full of joy and light, and is an inspiration to all who meet her,” marveled the mom of four. “We put limits on her abilities and then we see her doing exactly what we thought she was not capable of. We are so blessed to have her in our family.”
READ: 5-Year-old gets Disney princess surprise at her adoption hearing
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