Several years ago, Ann McKinney wrote a passionate blog post on her thoughts about what being against abortion really means. “We have to step up and be a family for these babies who are unwanted by their mommas,” she wrote. “And I don’t mean just the healthy white babies. I am talking about the brown babies, the bi-racial babies, the Latino babies, the babies whose mommas used drugs and alcohol. The babies who do not look perfect, or who have a disability of some sort. The babies who need extra love and care, and YES, even the babies who will need to be parented forever.”
Ann and her husband, Dale, have lived out this message for over 20 years. After hearing a Focus on the Family program on the orphan crisis — and after much prayer — they felt that God was leading them to adopt. They have two (now adult) biological children and have adopted 12 children (both domestically and internationally), nine of whom have special needs. The McKinney home is full of children… and full of joy.
One of these special joys is aptly named Daley Faith, who came to them at the age of four months following a disrupted adoption.
Ann told Live Action News that when Daley was born, “she had normal APGARs, and outside of being fussy, appeared ‘normal’ at birth. Her adoptive family took her home and started life as new parents.” Then, at around six weeks, Daley started having health problems. “Her head began to swell and she became very agitated. A trip to the ER and a subsequent MRI showed that she was missing about 70% of her brain” — a fact that was missed before this point because Daley’s birthmother “was young and had received no prenatal care, so no disabilities had been detected.”
Daley’s diagnosis at the time, Ann says, was “very dismal. Her head was swelling because spinal fluid was filling the space where brain should have been. She had surgery to have a VP shunt placed in her brain to drain the excess fluid.”
It was at this point that Daley’s first adoptive family chose to disrupt the adoption, feeling they were ill-equipped to parent a child in Daley’s condition. Christian Homes and Special Kids (CHASK), the adoption agency, labeled Daley as a “hospice adoption.” Two neurologists said she wouldn’t likely live to be a year old. Daley has multiple diagnoses, including hydrocephaly, substantial brain deficiencies, spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, epilepsy, cortical visual impairment, and scoliosis.
But that didn’t stop the McKinneys, who set out to adopt her immediately, feeling that they “just wanted to love her for the time the Lord allowed her to be with us,” says Ann.
And that amount of time has been far longer than what anyone in the medical community predicted. Daley is now eight years old.
Ann told Live Action News that Daley “has joy and she brings joy.” While Daley may be different from some children in that she “cannot walk, talk, sit up, or even hold her own head up,” she is like many others in that she “loves Frozen like other little girls, loves cool whip and cotton candy, loves her daddy’s snuggles, loves to swing, and loves panda bears.” People are naturally drawn to Daley. “I truly believe she shares the love of the Lord” with her “beautiful smile,” Ann says.
Many parents of children with special needs express their joy at how their children have taught them incredibly valuable life lessons, and the McKinneys are no different. “Daley has taught us to be grateful. To love unconditionally. To see value in all of God’s creation. To never take anything for granted. Daley has taught us that we are capable of so much more than we thought we were. Daley has taught us a deeper love — a love that we feel is very similar to the way the Lord loves us,” Ann says.
Ann recalled to Live Action News a time when Daley showed just how powerful that love really is. When Ann and her husband were going through a very difficult time with another adopted child in their home, Daley brought comfort in a very unexpected way. Ann began having chest pains when dealing with all of the stress:
I thought I was having a heart attack. I began to pray for the Lord to take it from me, when Daley began crying in the next room. I remember saying, ‘Lord, I cannot take care of Daley right now, I cannot even take care of myself!’ She continued to cry and my chest pains got worse and worse.
I managed to get up, and picked her up and brought her to bed with me. She isn’t able to move much, but she literally snuggled right into me, nuzzling her little head into my chest and comforted me. Immediately my chest pains were gone.
I believe the Lord touched me through Daley this night, and I will never forget the beautiful feeling that came over me as that little girl, who cannot even feed herself, ministered to me.
Daley is also the reason why the McKinneys are in the process of adopting another little boy from China, who has nearly all the same diagnoses as Daley. “We would have never considered adopting Teddy, had it not been for the joy and confidence Daley has given us!” says Ann. “Every single child is a gift from our Lord. There are no mistake children. We believe that each of our children were hand-picked by God for our family, and we love the way He has built our family.”
Ann has words of encouragement for parents who receive poor prenatal diagnoses. “It’s okay and normal to be sad and disappointed, but don’t dwell on those feelings! Research and learn all you can. There are so many amazing support groups… and such good medical information available to us, like never before. Work on developing family and friend support, and make preparations for anything you may need for you or your children once they are born. Learn to be an advocate for yourself and your children…. Your life may be different than you expected, but you will be blessed beyond measure.”
As for Daley, Ann can’t say enough about how grateful she is for her life as part of their family. “I thank the Lord every day that He brought her into my life, and that I didn’t ‘miss out’ because it was too hard, too scary, or because I didn’t want to give up so much of my life. I feel so close to the Lord when I am with her.”