Once an orphan with Down syndrome, Kayella is now a Target model

Ted and Jodi Aschoff didn’t start their adoption journey with the intention of adopting a child with special needs, but when the birth parents of a baby with Down syndrome chose them to be their child’s adoptive parents, they accepted. However, that adoption fell through when the birth parents chose to raise their child. The Aschoffs had spent so much time preparing to raise a child with special needs that they decided that it was still the right move for them.  They adopted Kayella from an orphanage in Colombia in 2011 when she was nine months old.

The couple then went on to adopt a son, Leo, from China. Leo also has Down syndrome.

“We wanted to be parents and knew what we were open to,” Jodi Aschoff told “Our agency approached us with her file and we were interested in adopting her. When we chose to adopt our son, we knew we wanted another child with Down syndrome. We knew mostly what to expect and had lots of specialists lined up. It’s not any harder than any other international adoption.”

In 2014, Target put out a casting call and the Aschoffs brought Kayella. She wasn’t initially chosen, but when her mother decided to follow up with Target, they invited Kayella for a different casting call. And after a final call, she was chosen as a model for Target’s training pants.

“Kayella loves being in front of the camera,” Jodi Aschoff told The Mighty. “She’s quite the ham. When you take a photo though, she has to check it and then says ‘cute picture’ or she’ll tell you to take another one!”

Target up & up training pants with Kayella.

Target up & up training pants with Kayella.

The Aschoffs hope that Kayella’s modeling will help raise awareness for Down syndrome and show the world that differences are not something that should divide us.

“We wanted to show Kayella and others with differing abilities that they can do what any other child can do,” Jodi Aschoff told The Mighty. “Every child can be like other kids and have the same opportunities. We are all about inclusion and will not let our children’s disabilities define them.”

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