A Baby Had No Home After A Stay In The NICU. Her Nurses Adopted Her.


                                                              By Sydney Page

Nurses Taylor and Drew Deras doted on tiny and fragile baby Ella, one of their premature NICU patients who was born at 23 weeks, weighing just over a pound.

The couple, who met during an overnight shift and got married a few years later, both treated Ella when she was at her weakest. There were points they thought she wouldn’t make it.

“She was very, very little and very, very sick,” said Taylor Deras, 31, who, along with her husband, is a NICU nurse at Methodist Women’s Hospital in Omaha. “Every time I worked, I would take care of her.”

Ella, who was born in May 2021, needed intensive medical care, including several blood transfusions. Whenever Taylor Deras had downtime during her shift, she would snuggle Ella and read to her.

Her husband, who also had a soft spot for the baby girl, did the same.

Ella’s biological mother was in her early 20s, the Derases said, and she struggled to keep a job and a home. Ella’s father was not in the picture.

Initially, Ella’s mother would visit regularly, Taylor Deras said, explaining that they developed a close relationship. Over time, as Ella’s health stabilized, she came less frequently. In December 2021, Ella was deemed a ward of the state, at which point her health declined and she was transferred to Children’s Nebraska.

When she was finally strong enough to go home in April 2022, Ella faced another setback.

“Ella did not have a stable home to go to,” Taylor Deras said.

The Derases — who had been married since 2020 and trying for a baby for about a year — called Ella’s social worker and offered to be her foster parents. Since she was still medically fragile, they knew they would be well-equipped to care for her, and they worried about her health if she entered the foster care system.

“Maybe this is our pathway to becoming parents,” Drew Deras recalled thinking. “This is our chance.”

The couple also found out that Ella’s biological mother wanted her daughter to stay with the nurses who had lovingly cared for her for close to a year.

“She told the CPS worker ‘I want her to go to them; they know her best,’” said Taylor Deras.

After completing foster parent training, the Derases took Ella home when she was 11 months old. One of her first words was “dada.”

While the Derases were thrilled to have Ella living with them, they knew there was a looming possibility her mother might want her back.

“We tried not to get too attached to Ella, but we were also super excited that we got to take care of her,” said Drew Deras.

“We were just so thankful that Ella was in our home, and we were keeping her safe,” said Taylor Deras.

Ella’s birth mother continued to visit her daughter. During one visit, she told the Derases: “You guys are her parents.”

“That gave us a lot of peace,” said Drew Deras.

In July 2023, Ella’s biological mother relinquished her parental rights, clearing the way for the Derases to adopt her. On Nov. 18 — which was National Adoption Day — they made it official.

“There was so much excitement going on at the courthouse,” said Taylor Deras, adding that many of their colleagues came to the proceeding. “It was just everything we prayed for and worked for and advocated for.”

“We had just been wanting this for so long. It’s hard to put into words,” said her husband, explaining that they continue to have a good relationship with Ella’s biological mother and give her updates from time to time.

Ella, who is nearly 3, has a tracheostomy — a surgically created hole in her windpipe that provides an air passage for breathing — as well as a gastrostomy button (G-button) for feeding. The Derases said both are likely to be removed within the year.

“Every week she gets better and better,” said Taylor Deras. “She’s walking and talking, and we didn’t know if she was going to be able to do those things.”

The Derases’ story has been covered in both local and national news, and they hope it inspires others struggling to grow their family to consider fostering or adopting.

“You never know who is out there who needs you,” said Drew Deras.

The Derases said they’re open to taking in more children.

“There are children out there that have special needs and need fostering and adopting,” said Taylor Deras.

“They deserve love,” Drew Deras said.


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