HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – Life is simple for Nehemiah Allen, and it should be for a boy who is about to turn four.
Nehemiah’s world is all about toys and sports. His favorites are football and baseball. However, a special trip with dad can bring a huge smile to his face.
“Me and daddy go to the park and we get McDonald`s,” says Nehemiah. “Then, we go home and eat.”
Nehemiah Allen is also a survivor.
Terrence and Bridget Allen are Nehemiah’s parents. He is their world and their blessing.
The couple struggled for years to have a child of their own. Now, the little boy who came into their home and their hearts has changed everything.
“He loves to do everything. ‘Mommy let`s do this.’ No sooner you start one thing, then he wants to start something else,” says Bridget.
Nehemiah’s father, Terrence, says his son is all boy.
“He just runs around and enjoys life,” Terrence says.
How Nehemiah entered this life doesn’t even compare to his world now. In August 2009, a baby boy was found abandoned, naked and left in the grass in someone’s front yard in the East End of Henrico.
The newborn had been there for close to six hours before a woman walking by found him. An extensive search for the birth mother began, but she never came forward and police were never able to track her down.
“We don`t really think about her anymore. We don`t wish any ill will towards her,” says Terrence. “As a matter of fact, we kind of thank her because without her without doing what she did, we wouldn`t have the blessing that we have.”
“I just pray she`s okay wherever she may be,” says Bridget. “God took care of him. God allowed the girl walking down the street to hear him. She didn`t have to stop.”
At the time, the couple had been licensed foster parents. But in July of 2010, they became adoptive parents after a ceremony in a Henrico County courtroom. The couple named their new baby boy, Nehemiah, after a book in the Bible about a man who knocked down walls and rebuilt them.
“Nehemiah broke down walls basically since day one. Nehemiah has been doing that. He`s living what the Bible says,” says Bridget.
Nehemiah’s journey has brought him to Fredericksburg, where the Allen family moved last year. Nehemiah has adjusted to a new home and a new school. He attends Head Start in Stafford. It’s a place where he shines.
He’s now learning what most preschoolers are learning. He has a lot of friends at school. His teacher calls Nehemiah helpful and compassionate. She says he’s the first one to help a classmate. That teacher, Christine Ruffino, says Nehemiah’s story has moved her.
“Once you have kids, you look at it from a mother`s perspective. My heart went out to him, but also the blessing the parents received,” Ruffino says.
Bridget and Terrence have never been to the Henrico neighborhood where Nehemiah was abandoned.
When they lived in the area, a trip there would have simply been too fraught with painful emotion. Now, there’s a physical distance. They say eventually they will go there and eventually they will tell Nehemiah how he came into the world.
“Definitely won`t be a situation… when he`s 18, 19, 20 years old and then we tell him. That`s not fair to him,” says Terrence.
Terrence and Bridget are the only parents Nehemiah knows. For the couple who dreamed of having a child, to hear the words ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ is the sweetest sound they could imagine.
“Even though he may be upset at something or annoyed at something, he says it in different ways. It still just melts my heart,” says Terrence.
The Allens’ story does have a happy ending, but in an effort to save the lives of more babies, it’s important to remember Virginia is a ‘Safe Haven’ state; signed into law in March, 2003. In the Commonwealth, a person can leave a baby up to 14 days old at any hospital, emergency room or EMS provider, such as a fire station, and they will have immunity from prosecution.
Since the law was passed, seven babies have been saved.