By U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt,
Ohio’s Second Congressional District
Six-year-old Jesi Ingle can’t walk or talk, but she can smile.
“She smiles all the time,” said her adoptive mother, Heather Ingle of Montgomery. “She’s like the centerpiece of our family. She’s touched more lives than I ever will just by smiling.”
Jesi is one of 12 children adopted by Heather and her husband, Rick Ingle. They also have three biological children, for a total of 15 kids. The children range in age from 9 months to 20 years old. Jesi, whose ailments include cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and brain damage, has been cared for by the Ingles for about 5½ years – ever since she arrived from the Caribbean island of Haiti when she was under 6 months old.
Nearly all of the children adopted by the Hamilton County couple have serious medical issues – including Down syndrome, autism, bipolar disorder, and severe mental illness. Some of the children were born to women who were addicted to alcohol or drugs. In addition to Jesi, two other children from Haiti require wheelchairs and feeding tubes, can’t walk or talk, and have seizures.
“We’re at the hospital three to four times a week because I have so many kids with special needs,” Heather said. “Neurosurgery, neurology, psychology, psychiatry, pulmonary, ophthalmology, and others – we’re at so many different clinics” at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati.
As a mother and grandmother myself, I realize the time and responsibility involved in caring for a child. But Heather and Rick Ingle’s commitment to family is extraordinary. Why would Heather and Rick take on such an enormous responsibility? Because every life is precious.