“We love it. I think this is what we’re meant to do, it’s a little hard to watch the kids come and then they get ready and they go. You get attached,” smiles Lloyd Ferris.
It’s a family affair for the Ferris Family.
Dawn Ferris has worked at the St. Francis Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for about 25 years. Now, her son does, too.
“I never have said I’ve got to take care of this baby every minute I’m in the unit or said this is my baby, you know a lot of people do that,” explains Dawn Ferris.
But that all changed when Baby Jonah came into the NICU.
“He was just meant to be my baby and now he is,” says Dawn. “I came back from vacation and they assigned me to Jonah and I just instantly fell in love with him.”
Lloyd and Dawn Ferris already have two grown sons. But, when Dawn asked her husband how he felt about fostering little Jonah when he was able to come home, he didn’t hesitate.
“He was born outside of the hospital in not a good environment,” says Dawn. “There was no running water or electricity in the house he was born and he had the cord around wrapped around his neck. […] They also found that he had a large heart defect and he went into heart failure.”
Dawn says Jonah stayed on a cooling blanket for three days to avoid brain damage. Now, he’s a normal little boy with the energy to match. He still gets checkups on his heart today, but they say he’s looking much better.
It wasn’t long until another sibling came along, Della.
“She was a surprise, they called me and said, ‘we have a newborn baby at Conway can you take her?’ and I said let me call my husband.”
They were both on board and the rest is history.
“She was born on the 11th and they brought her on the 15th,” says Dawn. “And she was a drug-addicted newborn as well, and Jonah was too.”
Lloyd and Dawn Ferris eventually adopted Della and Jonah, now they’re part of their family forever.
“If they beat the odds at birth they’re bound to be something special,” says Dawn.
They truly have a heart for kids, they also foster older children who need a home.
“In the long run, it is worth everything because if you show them love it takes them a little while, and then they will feed that love right back to you,” explains Lloyd.
We hope your family never needs a NICU, but it’s good to know what’s available—just in case. Across our health system we offer access to the highest quality family-centered care:
Greater Baton Rouge and Northshore: Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital’s Newton & Betsy Thomas Family Center for Newborn & Infant Intensive Care
Acadiana: Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital’s Level III Surgical NICU
Northeast Louisiana: the region’s only Level III NICU at St. Francis Medical Center
This post was written by Jessica Torricelli and was first published by KNOE in September 2022.