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Single NICU Nurse Adopts Her Patient

Brittney Byrd
Weighing in at a tiny 3 pounds, 10 ounces, baby Jackson unknowingly met his mother-to-be in the hospital, although it was not the woman who birthed him.
Class of 2012, Claire Mills,  a registered nurse at the Woman’s Hospital of Texas, was given the opportunity to work at Houston Methodist in the medical center as needed. Since she had just purchased a new home near her parents, she decided it would be a good idea to pick up some extra shifts.

“It was my second week on the job there, and I was called to this emergency C-section in which Jackson was born,” Mills said. “The moment he came out, I felt a bond with him. His soul seemed so familiar to me. The NICU team and I got him settled, and I still wasn’t able to shake the feeling. I had so much love for this baby.”

Later that night, Mills discovered that the mother and father had put the baby up for adoption because they did not have the means to care for him.

“I looked into all of the logistics and found out all that would need to be done in order to adopt him,” she said. “So many little pieces came together in order to make all of this happen. I’ve been taught from a young age that the Lord can move mountains, especially for His will to be done, but wow. I had no idea this was His plan for me all along.”

Although she is single, Claire is not alone, and she appreciates all the support she has in the care of Jackson.

“I’ve always heard, ‘it takes a village,’ and I never fully understood what all that entailed until recently,” she said. “My mom and dad watch him while I go to work, and my friends help me out as well. It has been a total group effort.”

Mills is still in search of adoption support groups so she can get advice.

“The first week I had Jackson was full of an overwhelming amount of mixed emotions. From doubt to reassurance. I cried every day! One minute it was because I was questioning whether or not I could do this and the next I was crying because of the overwhelming amount of love and support we were getting. So many people from different walks of my life were reaching out and sending us things to help with this transition and that was so reassuring. I can’t even express the gratitude we have to everyone who has helped us.”

Another challenge she foresees is navigating the relationships with Jackson’s biological family.

“I would love to have an open relationship between all of us and have them and his siblings play a significant role in his life, but with the right boundaries so that he isn’t disappointed or confused. That’s something I pray about often. Who am I to stop someone from giving my son more love,” she said.

Adoption can often be a difficult and bureaucratic process, but Mills wanted a permanent solution for Jackson.

“From the moment I knew I wanted him, I prayed, ‘Lord, if this is your will and I can provide the best home for this baby, this process will be easy and if not, I won’t force it.’ I called about being interested on a Saturday morning, and he was mine by Monday afternoon. That was a sure sign to me that I was doing what the Lord intended for us,” Claire said.

Being a nurse and now a mother comes with many challenges, but Mills attributes her strength to having been raised in a Christian environment.

“My faith education helped me to become a compassionate and understanding nurse,” Mills said. “Dealing with death is not easy, especially during a time that’s supposed to be joyous—welcoming a new baby into the world. I could not imagine what parents who have lost a baby or have to leave their baby in the NICU are going through. They are trusting us to care and love on their loved ones while they cannot. That is truly an honor. That’s something that my faith has taught me that I can pass down to Jackson. Have compassion for people, be understanding of everyone’s walk because everyone’s walk will look different, and have integrity." 

Mentors from her private Christian high school, Fort Bend Christian Academy, have continued to support Claire even years after her graduation. FBCA teacher, Linda Wright, said Claire has always been a person on the side of justice, and she is fighting for justice for Jackson.

“Claire has a hard road ahead of her as a single mom, but she is determined to raise Jackson to know that he is loved and chosen, not just by her but also by God,” Wright said. “She is determined to give him the chance to overcome his difficult beginnings. I know that she must be afraid sometimes, but she is such an encourager and such believer that God ordained this, that her comments are positive and optimistic.”

Now, four months after Jackson’s birth, he is a healthy 11 pounds, 12 ounces. He loves people and just started laughing.

“God knew what He was doing when He picked Claire to be Jackson’s mommy,” Wright said.
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