When Jess Hamm began her shift as a nurse at a Florida hospital in March 2017, she couldn’t have expected it was a day that would change her life forever.
The 30-year-old had been working in the pediatric intensive care unit at Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville for years and has come across many children she joked that she wanted to take home, but it became a reality when 14-month-old Delilah was admitted.
“She had a skull fracture with a brain bleed from her head trauma,” Hamm told InisdeEdition.com. “She had a broken femur, multiple fractures in all of her extremities. She was very malnourished. She was 14 months and about 11 pounds, so she was just skin and bones.”
But Hamm, 30, connected with the toddler, who’d been abused, immediately. As they were stabilizing Delilah, Hamm said she was heartbroken for Delilah and grabbed a hold of her hand.
“I just said, 'Oh my gosh, I want to take you home. I already love you,'" Hamm said.
Just a few hours later, Hamm learned Delilah had a twin sister, Caroline. Caroline was also malnourished and had healed fractures throughout her body, but Hamm hadn’t met her. As she left work that night she couldn’t get the girls out of her mind. The next morning she phoned their case worker at the Florida Department of Children and Families.
“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. “The following Monday I was approved and I brought Caroline home. That was actually the day I got to meet [her]."
As soon as the staff at the hospital realized Hamm had made the decision to take the girls in, they banded together to donate clothes, toys, and other necessities.
Hamm quickly went out to buy two cribs and two car seats.
Hamm, a full-time nurse, said she was still worried about Delilah, however. She had to have an operation to have a drain placed in her brain and she wasn’t sure whether she would 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.”
Delilah made a miraculous recovery, however, and went to live with Hamm just a month after her twin sister. Both girls couldn’t even sit up on their own when they initially met Hamm and now they are meeting many of the milestones that a 2-year-old should.
“She’s walking now. She’s talking. She’s a great eater," Hamm said. "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."
On Halloween, Hamm officially adopted the twins. Later this month, they are going to Disney World to celebrate the year that the girls have been with her.
“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.”
And Hamm said that although she is a single mother, she never feels alone. Not only does she have her own family, but also a work family at the hospital.
“They really are like part of our family, the whole hospital. I can’t go to the hospital with them without going to visit all the different floors that love them,” Hamm said. “I never really knew love until I became a mom.”