If you were to walk into the big nursery right now, one little girl in particular might stand out to you. She is by far the chubbiest little girl at GLA. Her smiles are so big that her fat cheeks almost completely obscure her eyes. And you could definitely describe her stride as a waddle. To look at her today, you would never believe that she came to us a limp, thin, malnourished child. To hear her throaty giggle, you would never guess that she was sullen and withdrawn when she was first brought within these walls.

Djounneissa (Neissa) was the last of the children to came to GLA from Sister Donna's. She came last because after being removed from the orphanage, she had to be hospitalized. It was a few weeks until she was well enough to leave the hospital and come to GLA. The first few days, she rejected human interaction. She was more comfortable being left alone in her crib than being cradled in a strangers arms. My first memory of her was an attempt to hold her, as she fussed and rolled in my arms, until I set her back in her infant seat and she instantly quieted and avoided my gaze. She simply had not known a stable figure whom she could rely on to feed and love her consistently.

Miraculously, it wasn't long before Neissa came around. As she started getting routine meals, she discovered she liked her food, a lot! She also found the will I was afraid had been lost. She would get very angry at the end of every bottle, and would holler until the nannies filled her a second one! She very quickly began to gain weight, to the point that Dixie had to insist the nannies scale back on her food intake. She started to find joy in interaction with her nannies and volunteers, and she started laughing. The best deep belly laugh I've ever heard. 

Today, Neissa is a happy, well adjusted toddler with a contagious smile. I often visit the nursery to get a Neissa hug. I tell her "I love you!". She echo's back "I wub ou!". God granted Neissa a remarkable spirit. It carried her through an unimaginable time. Now it brings joy to those all around her. She has a very special place in my heart. I will carry her with me the rest of my life. And I know I'm not the only one!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

3 comments (Add your own)

1. Dawn Duimstra wrote:
What a wonderful story. I was so touched. I would love to be a part of her life. Those who are anpart of her life are so blessed. God is good.

Thu, January 23, 2014 @ 1:57 PM

2. Jennifer McGee wrote:
Neissa's story caught my heart from the first time I visited GLA. Throughout my adoption process & in bringing my son home I have checked in to see how she is doing. So thank you so much for this update & pictures!!

Thu, January 23, 2014 @ 2:03 PM

3. Carla Vasilakes wrote:
The young girl that my husband and I brought to GLA with us last year was 'assigned' Neissa as one of her charges for the week. What a JOY she was. Yes, her deep belly laugh is totally contagious! I will be continuing to pray for 'forever families' for these very special kids at GLA!

Wed, October 1, 2014 @ 4:12 PM

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