In 2016, Taneeka Ingram, a home health nurse in Texas, was charged with helping to care for a 12-month-old baby boy who had been born premature at 26 weeks and had significant health issues as a result. At the time, the infant, Jakobe, was living with his parents and siblings. Ingram says she felt a “connection” to Jakobe and enjoyed his cuddles — but had no inkling then that she would one day be his mother.
As of last Thursday, she is. As the Austin American-Statesman reports, Ingram and her husband, Terrence Roberson, were among the 23 families taking part in the annual Austin Adoption Day, which this year saw 39 children finding new homes.
“It’s like our baby found us,” Ingram tells Yahoo Lifestyle of adopting Jakobe, now 4 1/2 years old. “I would have never thought that when I took care of Jakobe that I was taking care of our future child.”
When Ingram first met Jakobe, who spent the first nine months of his life in the hospital and has special needs including autism, the boy required continuous oxygen via nasal cannula as well as a gastronomy button that fed him via the stomach; he was unable to take fluids or medication orally. She says she “fell in love with him” and would bond with him over cartoons.
But her time caring for him as a nurse was brief — just a few weeks. Ingram says she would make the drive to his home in Killeen, a city about 70 miles from Austin, only to be seemingly shut out by his birth parents.
“I would knock on the door and you could hear the TV on and the kids playing, but no one would answer the door,” she says. “This happened on a few occasions.”
Ingram eventually moved on to other patients and focused on a new goal: starting a family with Roberson, whom she married in 2018. That, however, proved to be more challenging than they’d expected.
“It has been a struggle for years for us to conceive,” she says, adding that the couple had recently sought help their fertility issues and were on the second round of fertility medication when they got the call that would change everything.
On Oct. 19, 2018, Ingram was contacted “out of the blue” by Anna Parris, an adoption recruiter for Wendy’s Wonderful Kids. Parris had come across the nurse’s name in the file for Jakobe, who had been moved out of his birth parents’ home and into foster care in the years since he’d been under Ingram’s care.
“She asked me if I remembered Jakobe and I said ‘Yes, I used to care for him,” she recalls. “She went on to tell me that she was looking for a forever home for Jakobe and would I be interested. It was a yes for me, but I told her I had to go home in talk to my husband about it.”
Roberson was also an immediate yes. The couple had already been discussing adoption given their fertility struggle, and the news about Jakobe resulted in them stopping their fertility treatments.
The process took time; Ingram and Roberson fostered Jakobe for eight months before last week’s adoption ceremony in an Austin courtroom last week made them his official parents. During that time, they’ve formed a close bond with the boy, who, according to his new mom, loves playing with talking and learning toys and watching nursery rhymes on YouTube.
“Jakobe loves to be outside to play and run around,” she says. “He's a water baby — he loves to try and float on his back in the swimming pool. He dislikes shallow water because he likes to float on his back ... As a family we like to cuddle on the couch watching cartoons.”
She tells Yahoo Lifestyle that while some may see raising a foster child, particularly one with special needs, as daunting, it’s been a “blessing” for her.
“People don't understand how blessed their life is until you are able to witness a parent with a child with special needs,” Ingram says. “It may seem like it's a lot, but just think of it as giving that little one just a little bit of extra love to care for them. It is truly a blessing to be able to care for a child with special needs, and witnessing the progress that Jakobe has made just warms my heart. They say that it takes a village to raise a child, but in our case, Jakobe is like a magnet that has everyone gravitating to him to shower him with love that he needs and deserves, and it's all genuine love that he has received.”
She and Roberson are also open to adding to their family — when the time is right.
“I would love to adopt and foster again,” she says. “My husband wants us to give Jakobe time to enjoy his home, his parents and all of his new family without sharing, because he deserves it.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: