How nursing led Jessica Lunsford to loving life with four adopted sons
Jessica Lunsford was still in nursing school when she met the young boy who would become her eldest son. Working weekends as a nurse tech at Bethany Children’s Health Center, Jessica fell in love with a chubby baby named Logan in her assigned unit. She told her supervising nurse that if that baby was ever up for adoption, she would bring him home. But years passed and Jessica continued to provide nursing care for Logan in the hospital, and even helped prepare him to discharge home. Logan’s planned discharge didn’t work out, and when Jessica learned that he was in need of a home, she jumped at the chance to begin the adoption process.
A year later, she felt the call to motherhood with another patient. “I fell in love with Nikolas,” she admits. “He was a goofy little baby that had the best laugh ever. With both boys, I felt led to make them part of my family. It almost felt like they were already family!”
Being a nurse and caring for all of her patients at Bethany Children’s played a huge role in Jessica’s adoptions. “Nursing is what brought me together with Nikolas and Logan. It gave me the confidence to know I could care for them at home and continue helping them thrive despite their medical complexities,” she says.
As a single mom, Jessica’s heart was still open to helping other children. She offered to foster another child. She said the number of children that needed placement was heartbreaking, but many were placed geographically closer to family members or in other situations that worked better for their particular cases.
“I remember getting a call about Jakob, who had just been born at Deaconess Hospital,” she recalls. “He was in the NICU, but a week later he was home with our family. I wasn’t sure if adoption would be an option for Jakob, but in the end it all worked out and I was able to adopt him.”
As Jessica finalized Jakob’s adoption, she received a call from her caseworker telling her that Jakob’s birth mother had just delivered another baby at 31 weeks. He would be in the NICU for several weeks after he was born. “I immediately started going up there to see him and knew right away that he was already part of our family. Preston came home six weeks later, and our family was complete!”
The boys are now twelve, nine, five and four and looking back, Jessica says the adoption process was often a waiting game, which was at times scary and frustrating. “I learned a lot about patience through each new adoption,” she says. “Fortunately, I had amazing caseworkers who were very helpful.”
Her advice to others considering adopting a child with special needs is to go for it. “Don’t be afraid. Don’t overthink it. Pray about it. You CAN do it. There will be hard times and scary times, but that’s a part of creating a family and being a mom. It is so worth it in the end.”
Both Logan and Nikolas have progressed through many doctor and therapy visits, and have overcome their challenges. Logan’s feeding issues were a huge obstacle, but he persevered and now eats all of his foods by mouth, after years of relying on a feeding tube and pureed foods. “All four boys are so smart and love going to school,” Jessica shares. “They are starting to get into sports and extra-curricular activities, which is a lot of fun. It’s very loud and chaotic at our house most of the time, but I miss that when it’s quiet!”
While Jessica says motherhood is the hardest thing she’s ever done, she wouldn’t change it for anything. She is grateful for the unconditional love and support from her own mom, and the co-workers and friends that are always ready to lend a hand. “Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me how the boys are doing or to see a picture of them. Everyone here is still their family, too, and I love that they check up on them!”
For Jessica, the most special thing about being a mom is watching her children grow and learn. “I’m amazed every day to see how much taller they have gotten and what new things they are learning in school and in life,” she shares. “Sometimes they teach me new things, too! It all seems to go by in the blink of an eye, so you have to soak it all in while you can.”