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Tot With Down Syndrome Goes From Orphanage to Modeling For Target


Kayella Aschoff is the new face of up & up Training Pants, on shelves in Target stores.

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Courtesy Jodi Aschoff

The 4-year-old, who lives in Minnesota with her parents, Ted and Jodi Aschoff, has Down syndrome and was adopted from Colombia in 2011.

Kayella Cali
Courtesy Jodi Aschoff

The Aschoffs didn’t originally plan to adopt a child with special needs, according to Children’s Home Society of Minnesota. They were open to the idea but were at first unsure how to parent a child with extra needs. Then they were notified that a family of a child with Down syndrome had chosen them, and they said yes. However, this first attempt at adoption fell through after the child’s birth parents decided to parent him at the last minute.

After this experience, and all the preparation they had put into welcoming a child with Down syndrome into their home, the Aschoffs knew they wanted to adopt a child with special needs. Later, they were able to adopt Kayella from an orphanage when she was just 9 months old. Since then, the Aschoffs have also adopted another child with Down syndrome — their son, Leo who is from China.

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Courtesy Jodi Aschoff

In 2014 the Aschoffs responded to a Target casting call for child models. Kayella wasn’t chosen at the time, but when Jodi Aschoff followed up with the company months later, they asked her to bring Kayella again, according to ParkerMyles.com, a blog about Down syndrome. Kayella was chosen to be in the final group and brought in for a shoot in February. Then, in the end of September the family was told that Kayella’s photo would be used.

Fam pic
Courtesy Jodi Aschoff

“Kayella loves being in front of the camera,” Jodi Aschoff told The Mighty in an email. “She’s quite the ham. When you take a photo though, she has to check it and then says ‘cute picture’ or she’ll tell you to take another one!”

Nicole LaCoste Photography-4
Courtesy Jodi Aschoff
Nicole LaCoste Photography-2
Courtesy Jodi Aschoff

The Aschoffs also hope Kayella’s modeling can help raise awareness.

“We wanted to show Kayella and others with differing abilities that they can do what any other child can do,” Jodi Aschoff told The Mighty. “Every child can be like other kids and have the same opportunities. We are all about inclusion and will not let our children’s disabilities define them.”

Kayella’s parents have not been given an exact release date for her photo to appear on the up & up Training Pants packaging in Target stores, but were told the packaging will be out as soon as the old stock is sold out.

Check out the Aschoff family blog to keep up with Kayella and the whole family.

h/t Parker Myles