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Written September 2015

Baby Anabelle was born August 2014 with a rare genetic condition called Aicardi syndrome. This disorder primarily affects newborn baby girls, causing brain abnormalities, developmental delays and seizures. The prognosis is uncertain.

Anabelle’s young birth mom was struggling with her own health issues and already parenting a toddler, so she knew adoption was the best choice for Anabelle. The baby came to our Nursery, where volunteer cuddlers and staff gave her all the love and snuggles every newborn needs, as well as the medical care her condition required.

Cradle counselors searched the country for an adoptive family able to provide Anabelle with the love, care and commitment she would need to face her challenging diagnosis. They found that family in Jenny and Mark, a young couple from Virginia who, amazingly, were already parenting a daughter with this exceedingly rare genetic condition. (Estimates are that there have been less than 1,000 cases of Aicardi diagnosed in the U.S. and less than 4,000 worldwide.)

“We heard through Facebook that The Cradle was looking for a family for a different special needs baby, and we applied to adopt him,” Jenny says. “But when we indicated we had a biological daughter with Aicardi, The Cradle called us about Anabelle. I immediately said ‘I want this child.’ I wasn’t sure how my husband would feel, but he said, ‘Yes, of course. We have to have her.’”

Jenny and Mark began the lengthy paperwork required to adopt a child from out of state.

Meanwhile, Anabelle had daily visits in the Nursery from members of her extended birth family. Georgene and Mike, whose great niece was Anabelle’s birth mom, visited nearly every day, supporting Anabelle’s therapy regiment and helping to give her extra one on one attention. “Our youngest child had a seizure disorder, and we believed it was possible to help the brain reroute itself when certain nerve areas are damaged,” Georgene explains. “We worked diligently with Anabelle to make sure she received the tactile input that would help her heal her own body.”

Jenny and Mark completed their paperwork, and they brought Anabelle home on Thanksgiving Day, 2014, just after her three-month birthday. “That day will always be special for us,” Jenny recalls. “It’s the day our family was completed.”

Ten months later, Anabelle is thriving in her new home. Jenny reports that she is healthy, with no signs of seizure activity which is a common complication of Aicardi. She adores her big sister and has started crawling. Her first word was “Mama.” Jenny and Georgene stay connected through Facebook.

As Cradle President Julie Tye explains, “We have had an increasing number of medically fragile and special needs infants referred to us in recent years. Other adoption providers that operate more like businesses are not willing to take on the care and find families for babies like Anabelle. We are fortunate to have donors who care most of all for the children, so we are able to accept any baby and find the best possible families.”

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