After years of infertility, infant loss and a very complicated pregnancy, Amanda Liddle gave birth to her daughter Faith—a blessing to Amanda and her husband Ian. Now 4 years old, Faith is a very active and happy child who loves to climb on anything you can imagine and loves to watch “Signing Time”—a show that teaches American Sign Language to young children. “Faith is minimally verbal,” said Amanda, adding that they have high hopes that one day Faith will be able to communicate through speech.
Amanda shares that although the prenatal tests did not reveal any abnormalities, Faith had developmental conditions from birth. “First it showed up as eating difficulties, then a motor delay, then at 2 ½ she was diagnosed autistic and has a global developmental delay. She has several other medical conditions that complicate her development,” said Amanda.
It was ironic, said Amanda, as she knew being pregnant at the age of 40 meant an increased chance of having a baby with Down syndrome, something she reconciled herself to. “Little did I know at that time that I was just having some intuition about things to come; things that would emerge gradually and unpredictably as Faith grew and revealed herself to us,” said Amanda.
Given the fact that Amanda had a medical condition which lessened her ability to conceive a child, Faith is nothing short of a miracle.
“When Ian and I first began to talk about having a family before we were married, we agreed that adoption was part and parcel of our family growth plan,” said Amanda.
The couple was undergoing the training in Seattle, where they lived at the time, to become certified as foster parents when they learned Amanda was pregnant. Then, when Faith was 4 months old, they moved to Sandpoint due to a job change for Ian. But they were surprised to learn that Idaho's laws regarding foster parenting and fostering to adopt are different than in Washington state. “We were told that foster to adopt is much less common and more difficult in Idaho,” said Amanda.
That, and the fact that Faith had special needs of her own, changed their plan. They realized Faith was just too vulnerable to risk bringing traumatized children into their home through the foster care program.
“Because our situation led us away from public adoptions (through foster care), we were left with the option of private adoption, which is far more expensive,” said Amanda. They knew they wanted to adopt a Down syndrome child and knew it would cost them a lot of money.
“When Ian and I considered who would fit best in our family, another special needs child just made sense to us. We're already familiar with ‘the system’; we already see the specialists that a child with Down syndrome would likely need to see. We're already doing it. The hard part of finding these resources is already done. The rhythm of life of living with a child with special needs is familiar to us.”
Needing to be there for her daughter, Amanda thought of ways she could contribute to earning money for their adoption. It was then that Huckleberry Gate was born last August. Huckleberry Gate is an online store where people can purchase Amanda’s beautiful clothing she creates for children.
Amanda received her first sewing machine when she was only 6 years old. She took sewing classes, was involved in 4-H competitions and, over time, honed her skills. She also discovered a passion for children’s fashion and is now turning that passion into making their dream of adoption come true.
“It enables me to make some money, as well as keeps me occupied creatively, so I can have positive things to focus on during the rather grueling process of adoption and waiting for adoption. My sewing room really is my happy place these days,” she said.
She says that Faith is the inspiration behind Huckleberry Gate, as she never considered adopting a child with a developmental disability before they were blessed with her.
Not being able to imagine her life any different, Amanda says she sees her role in part as her daughter’s advocate.
“I work hard to educate the world around her, to create a more understanding world for her to live in,” said Amanda. “I have had to learn to navigate a bureaucratic medical and educational system that nearly drives people mad so that we can get the goods and services she needs to have a high quality of life.
“I don't think of what I do as extraordinary. All kids need to be safe, happy and healthy, and special needs kids are just the same,” she said. “I think any good parent does what they need to do to get their kids' needs met.”
Sandpoint Church of the Nazarene has set up a fund for the Liddle family. People can donate directly by going to SandpointNaz.org/donate and select "Liddle family adoption fund." Follow Huckleberry Gate on Facebook or Instagram, and you can also view Amanda’s creations at HuckleberryGate.com and at Now and Then Boutique in Ponderay. She takes special orders for both children and adult clothing.