Loved beyond measure: Seymour mom adopts baby born addicted to opioids


Nikki Hercamp of Seymour already was the mother of two grown children and was about to become a grandmother when she first learned about Alisa Rose.

The Department of Child Services called her Dec. 11 while she was at work.

“They told me a family friend had a baby, and they needed someone to take her for a short time and asked if I would be interested,” Hercamp said.

The baby girl was born four weeks early Dec. 10, 2015, weighing in at just 4 pounds, 9 ounces. She was born addicted to opioids, and her mother wasn’t able to care for her.

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At first, it sounded like more than Hercamp wanted to handle.

“Initially, I asked if I could have some time to think about it,” she said.

She called her daughter, Shannah, who was eight months pregnant at the time, and told her about the situation.

“She was like, ‘Mom, you have to do it,'” Hercamp said.

So Hercamp called DCS back and told them she would help by temporarily taking custody of Alisa Rose. Because of the baby’s opioid withdrawal symptoms, she had to be hospitalized for a few weeks.

“I was only able to visit Alisa a handful of times in the hospital,” Hercamp said. “The process to get cleared to see her was very hard. Even though I was approved to be her guardian at the time by DCS, the nurses still questioned when I went to visit her.”

When Hercamp finally got to see Alisa, the baby was highly agitated from withdrawal symptoms. Her heart rate was elevated, going up to 200 beats per minute and then resting at 150.

“This was happening about every two minutes, and this was about three weeks after she was born,” Hercamp said. “Her face would get beat red, and she would tense up her body.”

Another symptom was loose bowel movements that caused blisters and irritation on the baby’s bottom.

Hercamp and her daughter spent two nights at the hospital learning how to take care of Alisa.

“The withdrawal for her was intense and hard and is something that no child should ever have to go through,” Hercamp said.

On Jan. 11, 2016, Alisa was finally released from the hospital and allowed to go home with Hercamp.

It was never Hercamp’s plans to adopt Alisa and become a mom again at the age of 42.

“I was going to keep her until her biological parents got their life together,” Hercamp said. “Then one month quickly turned to six months. Then a year had passed. After a year, I could not imagine my life without her. I was the only mom she had known since she left the hospital.”

It didn’t take long for Hercamp to realize it was God’s plan for her to become Alisa’s mother, she said.

“People always say God has a plan for your life,” she said. “I honestly believe having Alisa enter my life was God’s plan, and I am enjoying every minute of it.”

Hercamp knew that adopting Alisa wouldn’t be easy and would take a lot of time, but she also knew it was worth the wait. Both of Alisa’s biological parents had voluntarily terminated their parental rights, but it took another seven months for the adoption to be approved.

Alisa Rose was officially adopted by Hercamp on Jan. 23, 2018. In total, she had been in the foster care system for 774 days.

Even though she had a rough start in life, Alisa will never have to question whether she is loved, Hercamp said.

“She is loved beyond measure, and I will be her biggest advocate,” Hercamp said. “She deserves the world, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to give it to her.”

Today, Alisa is a happy toddler who likes playing at the park or just being outside. She loves to swing and go down the slides and loves it when Mommy gets on the floor with her to build stuff out of blocks.

She likes playing with toys in the bath and watching movies and YouTube videos, and she wants to be held when she is going to sleep, Hercamp said.

“She is always smiling. She is strong and determined, and she is spunky,” Hercamp said. “She is a sweet, sweet girl, and I will instill in Alisa that she can be anything she wants to be, but she needs to work hard and go after whatever it is she wants.”

It’s not just Alisa’s life that has been changed for the better, as Hercamp said she also has been impacted in a positive way.

“(Alisa) is a bright light for me,” Hercamp said. “I cannot wait to get home from work each day and see her. She is giving me a Round 2 at being a mom, which is wonderful. I think I am much more patient now, and I know how quickly time goes by, so I will not take any of it for granted.”

Hercamp said her entire family, including her parents Terry and Burnetta Trotter and her children, Shannah Dalton and Steven Hercamp, has been receptive and supportive of her adopting Alisa.

“My parents watch her during the day when I am at work,” she said. “They look forward to her getting to their house each morning, and my kids have always been supportive from Day 1.”

Because Shannah gave birth to her daughter, Kali, not long after her mother got custody of Alisa, the two little girls are growing up together and are best friends, Hercamp said.

To celebrate Mother’s Day this year, Hercamp said she, her son, and Alisa will probably cook out with Hercamp’s parents and her siblings. Shannah won’t be there because she lives in San Diego.

“Mother’s Day is just about being with family,” Hercamp said.

Although it will be special for Hercamp, as it’s the first of many Mother’s Days she will have as Alisa’s official and legal mother, she also realizes it won’t be easy for Alisa’s biological mother.

“It’s bittersweet because I know how incredibly blessed I am to have gotten the opportunity to adopt Alisa, but I also know that no matter what happened to cause this situation, Alisa’s biological mother is a human being and has feelings,” she said. “Those feelings are not lost on me. I hurt for her and all that she has lost.”

Hercamp said she always has been thankful for her children on Mother’s Day, and this year, she is thankful Alisa Rose is finally legally her daughter.

“Having children is such a privilege,” she said. “For those of us who can have kids, I say this: Take care of them. Love them. Provide stability and provide a peaceful environment.”

And to mothers everywhere, “Alisa and I say, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ to all,” Hercamp said.

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