Couple Adopt 2 Girls with Down Syndrome despite Friends Telling Them It Would Ruin Their Family

A couple from Coastal, Virginia, who welcomed two baby girls with Down Syndrome, launched ECHO Family Care Partners two years ago. The non-profit organization was built on the belief that every child deserves a safe and stable family.

Opening your heart and home to someone isn’t an easy task. When it comes to adoption, couples often prefer to adopt younger siblings or children with no medical issues. 

Surprisingly, a couple broke stereotypes by adding two special needs children to their family. Randall and Kelley Nichols were parents to three kids of their own, but something was missing in their family puzzle. 

Randall and Kelley Nichols pictured with their kids. | Photo:


The Virginia couple decided they’d adopt after 35 because of the risk of having complicated pregnancy increased by that age. In short, the probability of having kids with special needs like Down Syndrome was significantly higher in the mid-30s. 

They met a young homeless woman and her baby one day and later discovered that the child was placed in foster care. Randall and Kelley watched the entire process of the young mom reuniting with her baby and were deeply moved. 

Soon, their yearning to adopt grew strong, and they met an adoption attorney. When the attorney asked them their preferences, they said yes to welcoming any child who needed a permanent home. 

Randall and Kelley were driving home from a trip when they saw an advocacy post. A Down Syndrome girl with a heart defect and neurological issues needed a family to take her. Ironically, she was in China, and international adoption was costly.

Nonetheless, the parents of five children believe they’ve done nothing special and have had their community rallying behind them along the way.

However, they were determined to travel across the world and bring their daughter home. While they could only afford domestic adoption, they made yard sales, sold t-shirts and bracelets to raise funds. 

Soon, they turned to GoFundMe. Their adoption campaign picked up pace gradually, and some people contributed more than once. Everyone, including friends, family, and strangers, pitched in to generate over $40,000. Randall shared:

“We had to trust God for every dollar. We knew that we couldn’t do it alone.”

After 18 months, Randall and Kelley made it to little Ayla’s orphanage in China. The moment Randall saw her, he said: “Baba” (the Chinese word for dad). Ayla called him “Baba” and then hugged Kelley warmly.

Randall and Kelley stayed in China until Ayla recovered from Rubella. After two years, they felt the urge to adopt again. They discovered a baby with Down Syndrome and complex medical needs in the NICU of a Seattle hospital. Kelley also added:

“I walked into the NICU and saw this sweet baby girl for the first time. She was perfection swaddled in pink. And she looked just like her beautiful first momma.”

The baby’s birth mom was in the U.S. on a travel visa that expired soon, and she felt she didn’t have the proper support for her daughter. Without second thoughts, the couple said yes and couldn’t wait to welcome another angel. 

During her time in the NICU, the baby’s biological mother stayed with her, changed her diapers, and fed her milk. Many attorneys tried their best to ensure the baby stayed with her birth mom, but nothing worked.

After that, she decided to proceed with the adoption plan. After being discharged from the NICU, the couple drove away with the little princess. Randall and Kelley plan to visit the faraway country someday, where their baby girl has a farm named for her. 

They have stayed in touch with her birth mother, and the family loves connecting through Face-time. After adopting two girls with special needs, things haven’t been easy for the Nichols family, but they couldn’t be happier.

They often find themselves going back and forth between therapies, appointments and working diligently to support their kids. There are times when they don’t visit family and get overwhelmed by increasing responsibility.

Nonetheless, the parents of five children believe they’ve done nothing special and have had their community rallying behind them along the way. Two years ago, they launched a non-profit organization, ECHO Family Care Partners. 

The organization was built on the foundation that every kid deserves a safe and stable family, and every family needs a supportive community.

Over time, they’ve inspired several couples, encouraging them to open their hearts to kids of every age and need. Undoubtedly, as long as the world has people like Randall and Kelley, there’s still hope for all of us. 

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