A fateful encounter

While the story of Dave and Jane Daulton has a happy ending, it certainly began in tragedy. In 1984 they were the proud parents of five kids and were expecting a sixth, Tommy.

But then they learned that their unborn son had Down syndrome. Dave and Jane knew they would have to roll with whatever came their way. Even though they knew life wouldn't always be easy with a special needs child, they couldn't wait to meet their son and knew they would love him the same as their other five children.

You can find out more about this very special family in this video...

Then they got another shock: their four-year-old son Brian needed a simple operation, but he had a serious allergic reaction to the anesthesia and fell into a coma. He died three days later in the hospital. The entire family was completely devastated, but the parents knew they had to be there for their other kids.

A few years passed and the family's wounds slowly started to heal. All five of their remaining children grew up and started heading away from home. Then came a transformational experience in 1990: Jane had the same dream three nights in a row. She dreamed that a baby with Down syndrome desperately needed her help. She took it as a sign — the next day she and her husband called a local adoption agency.

They learned that a family had recently dropped out of the agency's upcoming adoption preparation course and that meant a space was free for that same evening. That is how the Daultons met Ben, a beautiful boy with Down syndrome and a heart defect. They immediately fell in love and set the adoption process in motion.

Things were tense when Ben had to undergo an operation for his heart defect; Brian's memory was with the whole family. Ben's operation went well, however, and today he is a happy 28-year-old man.

Jane and Dave had found their calling. They decided to continue adopting children with Down syndrome. In 1995, little Emily became part of the family and another daughter, Lani, joined the bunch shortly thereafter. Today, Lani is 15 years old.

The family continued to grow as did the Daulton's awareness of special needs children from around the world. They learned that special needs orphans in Ukraine rarely find permanent homes and so they became the first American couple to offer a home to a Ukrainian orphan with Down syndrome — little Anya became a Daulton.