When Officers came to a rental home in Plant City, Fl after receiving a report of a possibly neglected child. They were shocked by what they found.
Upon entering the dimly lit house, Detective Mark Holste and his partner saw a little girl huddled in a filthy room infested with insects and piled high with dirty diapers. She was naked, starving, and afraid.
An investigator from the Florida Department of Children and Families was so overwhelmed by Danielle’s condition that she broke in tears. Still, the officers were not prepared for what they would discover next.
Danielle was diagnosed with “environmental autism,” – there are no physical or genetic reasons for her to be non-responsive or developmentally behind her age. By all accounts, she should have been a happy, laughing girl making jokes and maybe having her first crush. Instead, she writhed and thrashed, sucked on her fists, and had to be fed with a bottle.
Doctors had no idea whether she could eventually learn to eat on her own or communicate with others.
That’s when Bernie and Diane Lierow came into her life. Already parents of a 9-year-old boy, they were looking to adopt a girl. They had a few conditions. They wanted someone younger than William, their son, but already potty trained and able to feed herself. They didn’t want anyone violent or severely disabled.
Although she did not meet any of their markers for a potential adoptive daughter, they fell in love. “She just looked like she needed us,” they said.
They adopted Danielle, not knowing if she would ever speak or have a positive interaction with them. Now, after 9 years of love and support, the strides Danielle has made is truly astounding as the video below shows:
Every part of Danielle’s story makes me want to cry. First out of horror and anger, then out of joy. It’s incredible what can be done through love and patience. It’s so heartwarming to see her so happy now.