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A Story of Profound Joy After Tragedy

Photo of baby Amari standing on her own, looking into the distance in a pink shirtEmily and Don Baxter had experienced the unimaginable loss of their infant daughter, Amaryis. She died at home when she was only five days old. 

Emily, a schoolteacher, and Don, a pediatric nurse, are parents of three boys, ages 20, 13 and 11 years. They mourned their loss deeply and learned so much about grief and healing. "Soon after we lost our baby, we adopted kittens and chickens, we wanted our boys to feel and see the beauty of new life. That's what the animals did for them, and for us," Emily stated. 

Emily and Don found a depth of love and personal healing through the selfless act of fostering. After the painful, one-year anniversary of Amaryis's death, they found themselves enrolled in a training course learning about foster care and adoption. A "Weekend for A Lifetime" family, Emily and Don participated in an intensive, weekend long training at the Omni Hotel in New Haven. 

"It was always our life goal to do this, to foster and adopt," explained Emily. "It wasn't necessarily to fill that hold of loss for us. The timing felt right." Three days after being licensed to foster, the couple began caring for an infant boy with other children being placed with them on a short-term basis. 

Photo of one of the Baxter sons holding Amari, both wrapped in a fluffy white blanketA year later, the Baxter's received a call to care for a baby girl named, Amari. "Her name was so close to our daughter's name," Emily explained. "It felt like she was meant for us."

Amari was just six days old and needed placement upon discharge from the hospital. The Baxter's, who are deeply rooted in their faith, talked to their sons about the baby girl. Emily recalls her son, Asher, saying, - emphatically, "We have to take her, then people will really know that God is good!"  

There was no doubt that the Baxter's saw this call to service as a blessing of divine intervention. Their foster son was visiting with his mom and preparing to transition home. The anticipation of this loss was heavy on Emily's heart, given all that her and her family had endured with the loss of their baby. Yet, Amari's need for permanency balanced that sadness. 
For the past 18 months, the Baxter boys have thoroughly savored being big brothers to both their foster brother and, to their foster sister, Amari. They spoke of how wonderful it feels to hear the babies learn how to say their names.  

Photo of the Baxter family, including baby Amari, in front of their house in winter gearRandy Brown, a DCF worker who spoke on behalf of the Baxters. "How awesome and excited Caleb and Asher are to be big brothers to Amari. It's a truly special family." 

On Tuesday, November 30th, Emily and Don, along with their children, adopted Amari. In a virtual courtroom setting, the Baxter's, all dressed in matching tee-shirts, shared the moment with extended family, joyfully celebrating this beautiful baby girl. 

Although their journey to healing is far from over, Amari came at a time when they needed her most.

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