In 2015, a baby girl was abandoned by her mother because she was diagnosed with a rare and fatal disease. She was left without a name, or anything to help her survive. One woman, Addisyn López, took the child in, adopted her, and gave her the name she lacked. She was determined to give this baby a chance to live at peace – even if it were just for a short while. Addisyn wrote about her experience and shared it with LoveWhatMatters, and we just had to share it.
Addisyn Lopes Moved to Guatemala with Her Parents
At 16 years old her family packed up their life in the states and moved to Guatemala. This was a huge transition for her as she thought she had imagined a very different life for herself. Her parents had other ideas that threw her dreams of driving lessons and prom out of the window. Her weekends were now filled with far more adventurous things like volcanos and childbirth. The latter might have been the least expected for most, but not for Addisyn. In her story, she wrote:
“I was 16 years old when my family moved to Guatemala. Up until that point, I had basically been living the American dream, but that move caused a radical 180 in me when I began to really see the world from a new perspective.
“My life looked a lot different than most American teenagers. I was no longer learning how to drive, playing on the high school volleyball team, going to prom, or hanging out with friends. Instead, I was roasting marshmallows on active volcanoes, watching surgeries in the local hospitals, holding the hands of 11-year-old girls as they gave birth, translating paperwork, standing up against abusers in court, and bringing home abandoned babies.”
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Her Missionary parents Founded a Children’s Shelter
Her parents were missionaries. They had devoted their lives to improving the circumstances of abandoned children with needs after having realized the effect that institutional living has on the children. They moved to Guatemala to start a shelter for children with special needs that had nowhere to go. It was called, The Village of Hope. It provided a safe space for both the abandoned child with special needs and the occasional teenage mother.
“Before moving to Guatemala, my parents adopted 5 children.” Addisyn wrote. “We saw the damage institutional living could do, and how they thrived in a family. And so, my family founded the Village of Hope in Guatemala. A family-style children’s home for children with special needs as well as adolescent mothers. We currently care for 55 children of various ages in our orphan care village, and we hired 54 Guatemalan staff members, providing jobs and in doing so, preventing more children from becoming orphans.
As a missionary kid, it was sometimes hard to find my place. I didn’t fit in as a Guatemalan, but I no longer fit in as an American either. I was stuck in the in-between. That is until I found my calling.”
Addisyn wrote how she had found her purpose in life, and that was continuing the work of her parents and giving abandoned children and young mothers a chance at happiness.
“I’ll Take Her.”
One day Addisyn got a call from social services. They had a baby girl who had nowhere to go. Her mother had abandoned her because she had some rare disease. Addisyn knew exactly what she wanted to do. She wrote: “‘There’s a 10-day old baby girl,’ he told us, ‘she has a disease.’”
“‘I’ll take her,’ I told him without hesitation, and a few hours later the social worker was at our door holding a bundle wrapped in an orange blanket. She explained that the baby girl had been abandoned due to her diagnosis. She had been left with nothing, not even a name. And she wasn’t expected to live very long.
“I soon learned that this baby girl had a diagnosis called Hydranencephaly. In other words, she only had about 3% of her brain. Days passed filled with MRI’s and hospital visits, until one day I stood before the judge in the courthouse, asking if I could adopt her and give her a name.”
Addisyn Gave Her a Name
The name that Addisyn chose is a reflection of the devotion she felt toward the little girl.
“I named her Emma Leigh,” Addisyn said. “Emma means whole and complete, which is what we were praying for her brain, and Leigh is mine and my mom’s middle name and the name I had always wanted to pass on to my first daughter.”
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“‘Into His Arms’ was born.”
Addisyn cared for Emma Leigh for as long as she could until her little body could not fight any longer and she passed on. “On April 16th, 2015 Emma Leigh passed from my arms into the arms of Jesus.” wrote Addisyn. “She was born into a completely hopeless situation, but she died being loved.”
This was not the end of Addisyn’s adoptions, and she wrote about how Emma Leigh had inspired her to open up the foundation, Into His Arms. The apple clearly doesn’t fall far from the tree, when it comes to Addisyn.
She described her experience: “During my time taking care of Emma Leigh, I learned that’s not the case for every child. Most children like Emma Leigh are left to die all alone. And I wasn’t okay with that, and I could no longer pretend kids like Emma Leigh didn’t exist. And so, Into His Arms was born. A place for kids who are diagnosed as terminally ill to be loved until the very end.”
She found Love in a Crazy world
Addisyn had not expected to find a love match, at least not so soon. She doubted the existence of a man who was willing to deal with a woman who comes with terminally ill children. Her good friend Ronald, however, had driven her to Emma’s doctor appointments, and he had always been there for her. One day, she finally saw him in a different light.
“Through it all, there was Ronald,” wrote Addisyn. “He drove me to most of her medical appointments, and he was the one standing by my side at her funeral. But I had never thought of him as more than a friend. After all, I thought, what man wants to marry the girl who takes care of babies who are terminally ill?
“But Ronald knew from the very first day we met, as I interviewed him for a position at our ministry, I was the one he would one day marry. It took me a little while longer. I saw that he cared for these kids as much as I did. I let my guard down, and fell in love.”
They ended up tying the Knott! The wedding was a beautiful affair with many people having a role in the glorious union. “We were married on April 22, 2017, in the ruins of Antigua, Guatemala,” explained Addisyn. “We had 18 ring bearers and 37 flower girls in our wedding because every child at Village of Hope wanted to be a part of the ceremony.”
They Adopted More Children
Over the next few years, Addisyn and her husband were approached by people and presented with a child that had nowhere to go, just like little Emma. They ended up adopting two little children, Ezra Justice, and Zailee Grace.
Addisyn described her adopted children as if they were her own, “Ezra Justice is two years old now and still has multiple surgeries ahead of him, but he’s a warrior. He’s strong, and caring, and makes us laugh all day long. Zailee Grace is a princess. Her list of diagnoses is still long, and her life expectancy is short, but she lives each day with joy and spunk.”
Along the way, they had their own child the natural way, and Atlas Jude was born. Addisyn writes about how he loves his two older siblings, and how they adore him just as much.
What has Addisyn Learned from This
Addisyn has not lived a very sheltered life, and since her foundation, Into His Arms, was developed, she has seen a lot of sadness in this world. She talks about it in her story: “The journey that brought us here wasn’t always easy. Along the way I’ve had guns held to my head, I’ve held babies in my arms as they took their last breath, and I’ve sat in doctor’s offices holding one-year-olds after they’ve been raped.”
Regardless of all the negativity, she has been exposed to, Addisyn sees the positive side of things too. She wrote; “I’ve seen the depths of the darkness, but I’ve also seen so much light. And, I’ve seen families come together to feed villages of 2,000. I’ve seen doctors travel across the world to provide life-saving surgeries. I’ve seen orphans become sons and daughters. Also, I’ve seen people rally around the widow, the orphan, and the family struggling to get by, because they care. Because they see their value. There’s a lot of bad in the world, but I believe there’s even more good, and it’s up to us to be it.”
Some of us might learn from her ability to see the good in this world.
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1. ‘She was abandoned with nothing, not even a name. ‘There’s a 10-day old baby girl,’ he told us. ‘She has a disease.’: Adoptive mom now family of 5, ‘We’re the lucky ones who get to love them’. Love What Matters. Sophia San Filippo.