Despite being born with no arms or legs, a Filipina girl is thriving with a new family a year and a half after she was brought to the United States.
Maria Stewart's life was featured on news site CBS, who approached her parents after her mother Adrienne posted a video commemorating their first year and a half together as a family on Youtube.
While the YouTube video only has over 5,000 views, its reposting on the Facebook page Love What Matters has gained over 805,000 views.
Maria's journey began at the Chosen Children Village in Cavite, where she was first spotted by the Stewarts as a six-month-old in pictures sent to them by an adoption agency.
Chosen Children Village is a charity organization founded in 1989 to give mentally and/or physically challenged youths a caring environment.
Its facility in Silang includes 11 cottages, chapel, school, administration, clinic and physical therapy centers maintained by donations made through child sponsorships and pre-vocational assistance.
The Stewarts picked Maria up a year later on October 2015.
Mrs. Stewart said they knew they "had to adopt her" when they first saw her photo even if it felt like they took a "leap of faith" with Maria.
“We were scared to begin with, not knowing what to expect, but everything has fallen into place,” Mrs. Stewart said. “It seems like a big thing when you start out, but everything just works out.”
A year and a half later, the family has worked out a routine for their latest addition: Maria now attends preschool twice a week and works with physical therapy, speech, and occupational therapy trainers once a month.
When not in school, Maria enjoys playing with toys, listening to 80's music, and in one public photo, playing with a tablet by using a stylus attached to a mouthpiece.
Mrs. Stewart was "really unsure about sharing" their life "with the world" but agreed to an interview with CBS hoping to inspire others to adopt a child in need.
“There are so many kids out there without families and homes,” Mrs. Stewart told CBS News. “It’s not as hard and difficult as people think it could be.”
Because the experience has been so fulfilling and positive, they hope to adopt a nine-year-old girl with special needs from the Philippines next year.
Maria is the fourth child of the Stewarts and the second child the family has adopted from the Philippines.
Her mother keeps track of her life on her Facebook page and has made a few photos of Maria public.
Love for Filipino culture
Mrs. Stewart said in a report on Unang Balita on Thursday that her husband Jacob lived in Philippines as a missionary for years and, as evidenced in a video she posted, could speak conversational Filipino.
"We love the Filipino culture, we have a lot of Filipino friends. My husband actually lived in the Philippines for two years as a missionary," she shared.
Though Maria has special needs and may need them for her entire life, Mrs. Stewart said they loved their daughter as much as their other children.
"We don't see any difference in any of our children. We love them all the same and with every fiber of our being. They're all amazing, and special, and it is as possible to love them just as much," Mrs. Stewart said. —Rie Takumi/KG, GMA News