Reece’s Rainbow Report #50: Jones Family

Whitney Jones had everything a modern young woman is supposed to have. 

The North Carolinian was an attractive schoolteacher in her 30s working with children on the autism spectrum. She was well-traveled, having lived in Dominican Republic for six years. She owned her own home and loved her dogs. 

But something was missing. 

One day, Jones texted a friend who had adopted from China. “No country would ever let me as a single mom adopt a child, right? That would be insane.” 

As it turns out, the friend assured her, plenty of single parents adopt children — and she thought Jones would be fantastic at it. 

So Jones powered up her computer and typed “special needs adoption” into the search bar. Reece’s Rainbow popped up, leading Jones to click through listings of waiting children. Her eyes landed on Johnny,” a five-year-old Colombian boy with Down syndrome. In a video, he sat on a bed while a lady off-camera gave him simple directions in Spanish. 

Everything she just said to him, I can say to him, too, thought Jones, who was bilingual from her years in Dominican Republic. His profile said he liked pull toys. She could get him pull toys. 

I could be his mom. The thought wouldn’t leave her alone, even after looking at other kids’ profiles. Jones had initially thought she would adopt a girl. But after her friend told her “Families wait for girls, and boys wait for families,” she changed her mind. 

“Johnny” was going to become a Jones. Eighteen months later, that’s exactly what happened. Jones brought Nico home in September of 2022. 

“It was just the two of us, and we were figuring each other out,” Jones remembers. “I actually found myself trying to insert myself into his play, like, ‘I’m your mom now; love me, pay attention to me!’”

She was onto something. Nico was soon diagnosed with autism and intakes all his nutrition through a G-tube (although he will happily lick barbecue-flavored Fritos). Jones struggled to learn the overcomplicated medical system for kids with major disabilities. Should she keep her new son on this medication? How would she get this other medicine when the wait list to be seen for the prescription was three months long? 

During challenging moments, Jones remembered the way Nico’s adoption fees had been paid. A real estate company raised $27,000 in one month, while his Reece’s Rainbow grant paid for the rest. 

“If I can be honest, it was all the Lord,” she says. “It was ordained. I didn’t make it happen.” 

Unlike the funds, which had appeared suddenly and miraculously, Jones and Nico figured out their new partnership little by little, including working at and attending the same school. And the rookie mother discovered something else: her new son had quite the personality. 

“He’s funny, strong-willed and determined,” she says. “He is loving in his own way and time, but he’s very loving and brings joy wherever he goes.”

In his first year home, Nico has gained several inches and 16 pounds, going from size 18-24 month clothing to 4T or 5. He has grown more comfortable exploring his surroundings, expresses preference for people he knows over strangers and uses communication buttons to make his needs and wants known. He can walk independently for 20 steps and uses a gait trainer or adaptive stroller the rest of the time. His fine motor skills have improved, too — although he likes to pretend they haven’t. 

Most importantly, he has grown to trust his adoptive mother. 

“Nico sees me as his person now rather than a person,” Jones says. “And he is allowing me to comfort him. When I first got him, he either wouldn’t let me touch him or would straighten his body when I went to pick him up, but now he curls into me or puts his arms around me.” 

It’s an obvious mother-son relationship that many people openly question in public. The first thing they want to know once they find out Nico is adopted is, “Are you married? Or at least a boyfriend?” Jones has a ready reply: “No, and we’re fine.”

The next query is often, “Well, don’t you ever want kids of your own?” It irritates Jones to no end. Nico is a kid of her own; he’s just not biological. 

“If someone comes along who can add to the happiness and joy and the life we have here, then that’s great,” says Jones, who is now employed as a Children with Complex Needs Workforce Development Plan Training Coordinator at a healthcare company. “But most of the time as I’m swiping through profiles, I’m like, ‘I’d rather hang out at home with Nico!’” 

Their days are now filled with giggles, trips to the Dominican barber for Nico’s haircuts and Spanish banter, going to the beach, sensory play, attending doctors’ appointments and therapies, bike rides, hanging out with Jones’ parents and far-too-early wake-up calls. 

“Nico is the best thing that has ever happened to me,” Jones says. “I try to remember that when he wakes me up at 3 a.m.” 

There are struggles, of course. But Jones says that Nico is far more than his challenges. He is also smart and resilient and determined to do whatever he sets his mind to.

“You can’t help but love him,” she says. “I’ve formed lots of new relationships this past year with people who have fallen in love with Nico.” 

Perhaps one of those relationships will someday blossom into something more; perhaps not. Either way, Jones is perfectly content — because now she truly does have everything she is meant to have at this stage of her life. 

And his name is Nico. 

Crystal Kupper
Crystal Kupper is a freelance writer specializing in magazines and special projects. Since earning her journalism degree, she has written for clients such as Zondervan, Focus on the Family and the Salvation Army, among many others.
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