A little girl without a family, who no one wanted to adopt today because of her serious health problems, fills her parents with joy, who even want a second child with special needs.
“She’s perfect for us! “It was meant for us, that’s for sure,” breathes Johanne Côté proudly and looks at her six-year-old daughter Lilou*.
“We’re told she looks like us!”
Ms. Côté is a nurse by profession and has always wanted children, but is infertile. In her 40s, unable to grieve the loss of motherhood, she and her partner decided to adopt.
After learning about the Emmanuel Association, they took steps to adopt a child with special needs in Quebec. The call for Lilou quickly came and the couple from Sainte-Monique-de-Honfleur in Lac-Saint-Jean decided to dive.
Six months in intensive care
“At some point we follow our feelings,” admits the 52-year-old.
“We found it less serious than expected. They didn't hide anything, they took everything to the extreme, she remembers. We felt really supported.”
Lilou was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia and had poorly developed lungs. She was resuscitated twice at birth and spent the first six months of her life in intensive care.
Abandoned by her parents, she was entrusted to Mrs. Côté and her partner when she was only 10 months old. The list of his health problems was long at the time:
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Force feeding
- Oxygen at home
- Psychomotor delay
- Many crises
“At first I felt like a nurse,” admits her mother. The child has a past. “You have to understand this story, even if large parts of it are missing,” she admits.
Lilou is now six years old and no longer needs oxygen at home and is no longer force-fed. Her lung health is good, but she will remain vulnerable throughout her life.
Ms Côté admits she had to work hard to develop an emotional bond with her daughter, but she succeeded.
“Today I don’t feel like anything other than my mother.”
Johanne Côté adopted a severely disabled little girl (whose identity is protected) in 2017. Thanks to good treatment, she is doing much better today. Photo taken in Saguenay on Saturday December 9, 2023. ROGER GAGNON / AGENCE QMI Roger Gagnon / Agence QMI
A second child?
Lilou is a very energetic child who loves to help and follows the regular curriculum, but is sometimes a little slower in certain areas of learning. In total, the adoption took around 18 months.
Her parents are even happily considering adopting a second child with special needs.
“There are no perfect children for adoption. There are still surprises, emphasizes Ms. Côté. There are fewer people willing to adopt these children. We think we can simply help with our experience. Why don’t you give this to another child?”
One thing is certain: there is no question of putting Lilou under pressure by comparing her to other children, her mother swears.
“The most important thing is to bring them to their end,” she philosophizes.
*Fictitious name to protect the little girl