Nurses Find Love at Nebraska Hospital, Then Adopt Baby They Cared for in the NICU: 'We Are So Lucky'

“It's crazy how everything kind of comes together full circle,” mom Taylor Deras tells PEOPLE

<p>The Deras Family</p> From Left, Taylor, Ella, Drew.

The Deras Family

From Left, Taylor, Ella, Drew.

Two nurses found love and became a family thanks to one Nebraska hospital.

Taylor and Drew Deras’ story began when they met working the overnight shift at Methodist Women’s Hospital in 2017.

“You have a lot of time, especially at night, to just kind of take care of your patients, but also get to know your coworkers and help them out when they need it,” Drew, 35, tells PEOPLE. "We started talking more, and then that turned into us taking more of our lunch breaks together."

"It kind of blossomed from there," he adds. "I just really enjoyed being around her."

The couple wound up getting married in August 2020, but it was the arrival of little Ella at the hospital's NICU that allowed them to become parents.

<p>The Deras Family</p> From Left, Taylor, Ella.

The Deras Family

From Left, Taylor, Ella.

Related: NICU Nurse Who Dreamt of Motherhood Adopts Patient Facing Medical Challenges: 'I’m So Lucky' (Exclusive)

Ella weighed just over 1 lb. when she was born at 23 weeks in May 2021. A day later, Taylor, 31, tells PEOPLE that she signed up to be her consistent caregiver in the NICU.

Although Ella faced a "lot of risk factors" by being born so early, Taylor tells PEOPLE she "enjoyed taking care of her that day."

One of the biggest problems, which Ella still deals with, is her lungs. She was born with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a form of chronic lung disease that affects newborns, per the American Lung Association.

“She required so much support — blood transfusions, all these things," Taylor recalls. "I remember the neonatologist being like, ‘I don't know if she's going to make it today. I don't know what else we can do for her at this point.' "

<p>The Deras Family</p> From Left, Ella, Drew.

The Deras Family

From Left, Ella, Drew.

Related: Nurse Provides Life-Saving Transplant to 5-Year-Old Girl: Her Daughter: 'I Did What Any Mother Would Do'

Drew, who also stepped in to take care of Ella on certain shifts, quickly formed a bond with her throughout the baby's 8-month stay at Methodist.

“I would say the first four or five months was really critical with her, and I had her a lot of those days, so I just got to know her, and I got to know her biological mom, too, and she grew to trust me, and I grew to trust her and her choices that she was making,” Drew says.

As time went on though, her biological mom stopped showing up, and Ella became a ward of the state in December 2021. That's when the couple stepped in.

“Actually, her biological mom found out that we wanted to foster her, and she said, ‘Yes, I want the Derases to take her home,’ " Taylor says.

<p>The Deras Family</p> Ella.

The Deras Family


Becoming a foster parent was “so different,” but so fulfilling, too, according to Taylor.

“You just felt so much closer of a bond," she explains.

As her health continued to improve, little Ella was finally ready to come home just in time for her first birthday in April 2022. And the happy celebrations continued on Nov. 18, National Adoption Day, when Ella was formally adopted by the couple.

While she still has a tracheostomy, which allows her to breathe more easily, Drew shares that it's "amazing" to see Ella, now 2, thriving.

“Even though all these other things are going on, it's like she's like, ‘I'm just going to become a kid, and let me be a kid,’ ” he adds.

Related: 'Miracle' Mom Wakes from 5-Year Coma Thanks to Joke — Now She’s Making Up for Lost Time with Sons (Exclusive)

Drew and Taylor are still baffled by their hospital's impact on both of their lives.

“I don't know how it happened," Taylor says. "I feel like it's a total God thing, that he's kind of like, ‘This is your path with nursing, this is your place, and here's your husband, and then here's your daughter that you've been praying for.' "

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The family even paid an emotional return this month to the Methodist NICU this month.

“Everyone knows her and loves her,” Taylor says, “especially since she's our child now and people know her whole journey.”

She adds, "It's crazy how everything kind of comes together full circle."

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