Most nurses have chosen the career because they enjoy taking care of others and they have a natural willingness to help. When 30-year-old, Jess Hamm, started her shift as a nurse at a Florida hospital in 2017, she never realized that her life would change forever. Being assigned to the pediatric intensive care unit at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Hamm had met her fair share of children who she grew attached to and she even joked about taking some of them home.
Little did she know, her jokes would soon become a reality. It all started when 14-month-old Delilah was admitted. Weighing in at just 11 pounds, the baby was skin and bones.
“She had a skull fracture with a brain bleed from her head trauma,” Hamm said. “She had a broken femur, multiple fractures in all of her extremities.”
Hamm instantly connected with the malnourished child who had been abused, and she held her hand while she was being stabilized.
“I just said, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to take you home. I already love you,’” said Hamm, who later learned that Delilah had a twin sister named Caroline, also a victim of abuse. Caroline was also malnourished and had healed fractures throughout her entire body.
That night, when Hamm got off her shift, she was still thinking about the twin girls, even though she hadn’t yet met Caroline.
Compelled to find out more about the girls, Hamm called their caseworker the following morning.
“I gave him all my information and a few hours later he called me and that same day he came to my home. That was Friday,” Hamm said, of the caseworker from the Florida Department of Children and Families. “The following Monday I was approved and I brought Caroline home. That was actually the day I got to meet her.”
And just like that, Hamm’s life changed, but she wasn’t alone. All the staff members at the hospital joined together and donated clothes, toys, and other items that the girls would need. Hamm didn’t hesitate and bought two car seats and two cribs right away.
Meanwhile, Hamm still wasn’t sure if Delilah would make it as she had to have an operation to place a drain in her brain and she wasn’t sure if she was going to make it.
“To be honest I didn’t know what kind of state she was gonna come out in,” Hamm said. “If she was developmentally delayed, If she was even going to survive the injury. So that first month was very stressful. She wasn’t eating. She wasn’t really responsive. I mean she would smile a little bit. She would hold your hand but she was so weak.”
And just a month later, after Delilah made a full recovery, she went to live with Delilah and her sister. When Hamm first took them in, neither of the girls could sit up on their own and now, they are making the same milestones that most two-year-olds make.
“She’s walking now. She’s talking. She’s a great eater,” said Hamm, who officially adopted the twins on Halloween. “You wouldn’t even know that she has gone through the trauma that she’s been through. I might be biased, but I think they are doing amazingly. I’ve always wanted a family,” Hamm said. “I’ve always been open to adoption. I didn’t expect it to happen right now. It wasn’t part of my plan, but once I met them and I made the decision in my heart to open my home up and give them somewhere safe.”