When a couple signed up to adopt, surprises good and bad awaited them

When Allison and Josh Lewis met each other in college, they knew right away: it was a relationship that was going to last. It was just a matter of time before the couple got married and started planning their future together. After graduating, they moved to Birmingham, Alabama.

They talked about starting a family and thought they wanted two, maybe three kids. Soon enough, it all happened a bit quicker than they had planned and Abby, Jack, and Isabel were born in short succession of one another. But they didn't stop there. They later decided to adopt little Micah and then Allison got pregnant once again with their daughter Julia. The Lewises thought they'd completed their smiling family.

But it would appear that fate had something else in store for them. Allison received a phone call from a friend who worked for an adoption agency. She told Allison about a baby whose biological mother wanted to give it up for adoption and wondered if the Lewis family had room for one more in their hearts?

Even though it wasn't part of their "plan," Josh and Allison quickly decided to adopt this baby. When they received the call that the mother was going into labor, Allison land Josh began the long drive to North Carolina, where the baby was to be born. They got an unexpected surprise on the way when their adoption lawyer called and gave them some news: two babies were born, a little boy and a little girl! The Lewises didn't waver for a second; both babies would have a home with them.

But that wasn't the end to the surprises and a second phone call came, this one hitting them hard. While the baby boy was healthy, the baby girl was very ill.

Josh and Allison were told that she only had a brain stem, but the rest of her brain was missing. No one knew how long she would survive. The doctors advised the Lewis family against adoption, but they disagreed, "She is our daughter!"

They named the new members of their family Sam and Ava. The next two weeks were difficult with many tears and lots of hope that Ava would eventually be allowed to come home to her new family. At last, they finally received the news they had been waiting for.

Their newly expanded family was finally at home, all together under one roof. Allison and Josh were honest with their children: they weren't sure how long Ava would be with them. But they wanted to make as many memories as possible in the meantime and give Sam plenty of chances to cuddle with his twin sister.

Like all twins, they had a very special bond and it was clear that they both felt better when the other was nearby.

And the big brothers and sisters were likewise happy about the chance to get to know their new siblings.

Their time together was precious, perhaps even more so because it was limited. They were grateful to spend a single Mother's Day with all seven children, but soon thereafter, on May 19, 2016, Ava passed away. The family took comfort from the support of friends and family during the difficult early days of grieving. Josh, their oldest son Jack, and two close friends built a custom-made casket and one of Allison's friends poured her love into creating the flower arrangement for it.

The Lewises look back on their time with Ava and treasure their memories. While her time on earth was short, each day was one filled with love and laughter. What a beautiful gift this family gave their little girl.


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