The former Biggest Loser trainer says that she can already see her daughter Lukensia and son Phoenix‘s different little personalities shining through.
“He is the calm one. Patient. She is a firebrand,” Jillian reveals. “Actually, she’s incredibly shy. This was a very good orphanage, but my daughter had a hard time in that environment. It was overwhelming for her. But when she started to visit with me she would come alive and laugh and play. She’s clever and adventurous, but it’s kind of heartbreaking, because you have to understand she had been there since she was 9 or 10 months old. She’s now 2 and the only time she had left the orphanage [prior to the adoption] was when I would take her to the Haitian guesthouse where I stayed nearby. So this was a kid who had never seen the ocean, a swimming pool or a dog. She had never been to a park or a zoo or on a swing set. So she was just running around the yard of this guesthouse, picking up pebbles from gravel on the road. She had never seen gravel before. Pebbles were like gems to her.”
Though the adoption process was a long one, Jillian says that the connection she felt to her new daughter was immediate: “I’ve been to Haiti on and off since I was 27. I met her a year ago on a trip visiting orphanages for All Blessings International, an organization I work with. I was visiting this one orphanage and the next thing I knew she jumped into my arms. She just grabbed me and clung to me and I immediately felt something. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is my daughter.'”
Even after that powerful first meeting, things weren’t easy. It turns out Lukensia was supposed to be adopted by another family in Germany, but it ended up falling through.
“I do think there’s a certain amount of fate involved,” says Jillian, whose partner Heidi Roades welcomed their son the very same week that Lukensia arrived home. “Life has a way of working out the way it’s meant to.”