She knew he belonged with her from the first minute

A week from today, we will celebrate National Adoption Month with adoption ceremonies for 13 children being welcomed into nine families. It’s one of our most special days.

We’ll be introducing you to some of the families that will be adopting that day. Their stories will warm your heart.


Leah and Nathan Nickell always planned to be foster parents. They thought they would start once they became empty nesters.

But when they were unable to conceive again after their first son was born, they decided to reorganize that life plan.

“I kind of just prayed on it,” Leah said, “and foster care came to the front of my mind again.”

So they took their classes through Focus on Youth and became licensed to foster in October 2016. They had their first placement the very next month. That little girl went home to her mom. A second girl did also.

The little girl’s face is covered with a heart because she’s still in foster care.

Then they got Kyle.

The blonde, blue-eyed boy arrived at their home in Lebanon in July 2017 when he was 16 months old. He officially will become their son on Nov. 2, the day Hamilton County celebrates National Adoption Day.

But his mom will tell you he has been hers since the very first minute she saw him.

The Nickells had been told the baby boy coming to their home had spina bifida, a birth defect that happens when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly. At the time, Kyle used a walker, but could not walk independently.

The couple assumed his health issues likely would be too much for them to handle. Kyle already was in the permanent custody of Hamilton County, so he was available for adoption. But because of the health issues, the Nickells agreed to be his foster parents only.

“I wanted to be that bridge to make sure he was safe,” Leah said. “But when he got here, I got him out of the car and he put his head into my chest. I know it sounds weird, but you know how kids have that smell on the top of their heads? I smelled him and I just thought, ‘This kid has to be mine.’ “

The Nickells got Kyle into physical therapy right away – and he started walking on his own at 18 months. They were pleased to donate his walker back to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center so another child can use it.

The medical issues that once sounded so intimidating no longer pose an issue. The effects from the spina bifida might be life-long, but he’ll be able to take care of them himself as he gets older. He recently started preschool.

“He’s going to play sports and do sleepovers,” his mom said. “So he’s our miracle baby.”

On Adoption Day, Kyle will become a Nickell, joining the Nickells’ first son, Bentley, 4. The family is also fostering a 1-year-old baby girl. And soon, they might also take in a newborn – their foster baby’s mother is due in November.