In life, there are fewer things more disappointing than plans not working out. Failure for a plan to develop leads to annoyance, which can lead to despair. How many phrases are dedicated to help allay the feelings of disappointment? “You have to roll with the punches,” “it’s always darkest before dawn,” “when God closes a door, he opens a window.”
You know how sometimes when you repeat a word in your head over and over again, the word begins to lose its meaning? I feel like it’s the same way with some of these phrases.
Over the past three years, my husband, Ian, and I have been on a journey filled with consistent optimism, but staggered by heartbreak. Long days of hard work and faith followed often by tears and doubt.
We had amazing support from family and great friends; we were also lied to and cruelly manipulated. Through these three years, Ian and I have walked through fire together.
We lost nearly all semblances of personal space and privacy; we worked through hundreds of pages of paperwork and legal pulp; we drove thousands of miles, spent thousands of dollars, all for the chance at turning the hope people kept telling us to keep into a reality.
It was in the middle of nowhere, on a hot June night, where we finally found our seven pound miracle. I am writing this story not for pity or to commiserate, but to expound on and rejoice in the one thing that kept us going throughout all our setbacks: hope
Ian and I had been living in our cute home in Cedar City for about six months. We were hoping to fill it will children. It seemed like so many people I knew were able to get pregnant the instant they decided to have children.
Surprise pregnancies also seemed frequent. So when a few months passed by, and I still wasn’t pregnant, I started to worry.
I went to see a gynecologist who had me tested for endometriosis. Results were inconclusive, but he still thought that was the problem.
I had really terrible cramps during my period, which seemed more severe than other women. I was tested for everything under the sun, often enduring embarrassing and painful exams. I figured it was worth it if I could be able to have children.
Since I showed no signs of infertility, our doctor suggested that Ian be tested. His testing was consisted of one test, which made me jealous. Ian didn’t have to be poked and prodded. From the test, we learned that there was no problems with Ian’s sperm count, and the sperm’s mobility was also fine. The problem was in the morphology of the sperm. In other words, the sperm were shaped in such a way that it was difficult for them to move correctly, which made it difficult to reach my eggs.
Our doctor assured us that although conditions were not perfect for conception, there was still a good chance that we could still have a baby. With the new information, our doctor recommended that we try a few rounds of IUI (intrauterine insemination).
We tried this procedure three times.
At this point, Ian and I learned valuable lessons in how to react to difficult news.
By all accounts, the IUIs should have worked, as there was nothing too misaligned to prevent us from having children biologically.
Yet here we still were, childless, and running out of options. This was a very difficult time, especially for Ian. We both struggled with feeling inadequate, but it was hard for Ian not to blame himself.
We learned to rely upon each other’s strengths, and we took turns with one feeling down, and the other being the motivator.
At a funeral for Ian’s cousin’s miscarried baby, I had the prompting that adoption was what we were meant to do. I told Ian of my prompting, but assured him that if he wanted to try IVF first that I would support him. Ian took a few months to ponder. Ian has always been more analytical and less spontaneous than I am. I guess that’s why we fit together so well.
Later that year, we attended a sealing for another cousin to his wife and son in the St. George Temple. Again, I got a strong feeling that we should adopt. If I wasn’t meant to feel my child growing inside, me then I wanted to experience personally what this darling family was experiencing.
Again, I told Ian of my prompting.
He surprised me when he quickly said, “Let’s do it.” I’m not exaggerating when I say we started researching how to adopt the next day. I’m the kind of person that when something gets on my mind, I want to get it all taken care of as quickly as possible.
I read all the content I could from any website and testimonial I could, and I hassled Ian to do the same.
The first step in any adoption is to complete a home study.
Most adoption agencies won’t even begin to work with you unless your home study is complete and valid. In order to complete a home study, you have to work with a licensed social worker.
We were lucky enough to have an extremely nice and capable social worker named Jill Valentine very near to us. Ian called to set up an appointment to get things started. That first meeting with our social worker was emotional.
I wasn’t prepared for it. She asked very personal questions to get to know and assess us. We must have said something right, because it was obvious that she made us a priority. She helped us finish our home study by February of 2016 and by March we had an adoption profile with adoption.com.
I also started working with a wonderful woman with Heart and Soul Adoption Agency. She would let me know when there were birth mothers looking for families to place their children.
Over the next few months, I did everything I could to stay in the adoption network. Whenever I found out a birth mother was searching for a couple, Ian and I would discuss about whether or not we should pursue. We were active in sending our home study and information to multiple mothers, hoping that we would be the ones they trusted with their baby. Unfortunately, we did not have much success. Several times, we would hear that the mother chose another family, or that they were not interested in us. This was difficult to understand at first, but sometimes you just have to accept a problem without an explanation. This was a very big decision for the birth mothers, so everything had to be perfect for them.
May 19th, 2016 began as a day just like any other. Ian was at work when I got a phone call from Rachel, our adoption rep. She told me that one of the mothers we had given our information to wanted to speak with us that night.
That evening, Ian and I sat together and waited for the phone to ring. After what seemed like hours, we finally got to speak with the mother, and after a few minutes of conversation, she informed us that she had chosen to place her baby with us!. That was such an emotional and exciting day. We had never gotten this far! The birth mother was due September 22nd with a baby boy.
Of course, that happiness was short lived. About a month later, we were having a hard time communicating with our birth mother.
After weeks of back and forth we came to the conclusion that she was lying to us, and our agency decided that if our birth mother would move closer to the agency in order to give birth to the baby, then we would still adopt her baby.
She made it more than half way. More bad communication. More lies. For the sake of moving on with the story, our birth mother did not make it to the desired destination.
Ian and I were heartbroken. I prayed, searched the scriptures, and cried my soul dry. Ian stayed strong, but I could tell he was empty.
We rarely talked, and mostly stayed home. I couldn’t understand why this was happening. How this was happening. We were so close, and all our hard work looked like it was paying off, just to be shattered right in front of us. It felt like we would never recover from this one.
It felt that way until Monday, June 20.
I received the text that would change our lives. It was Rachel, our adoption rep, and she told me that a baby girl was born the day before in a small town in Western Kansas, and that if we could get there by tomorrow, she could be ours.
My heart starting racing! This was it, I knew it immediately. Soon after, we received a call from Rachel, giving us more info on the baby and her birth family.
I knew right away that this was our future.
This was our baby, and we had to get home to pack.
Ian was more cautious. He says it was the shock of things happening so fast, but I know he wasn’t exactly sure whether or not this baby was meant for us. We decided to do what we had been taught to do whenever we faced a tough decision: pray. Ian led the prayer, asking if this was the baby meant for us.
I knew the answer as soon as Ian began crying.
After buying a car seat, we finally made it to Southwest Medical Center where our baby girl was waiting for us.
The nurse checked with the birth parents and we were then allowed to see our baby girl.
I thought for sure I’d cry. It seemed like I had been waiting for this forever. It’s still hard for me not to tear up when I think about it, but at that moment all I could do was stare in wonderment. She was beautiful. So much black hair! Perfectly content in her birth daddy’s arms. Birth mom was sitting on the hospital bed enjoying the quiet scene.
The following day was long. There were a lot of legal details to take care of.
There was a lot of paperwork needed for both us and the birth mother, and we ended up spending almost the entire day in the hospital.
Before we said goodbye, the nurse told us that she and the other nurses had a strong attachment to our little baby, and were so happy that we were able to take her. She started crying as she asked if she could say one more goodbye to the baby. It was then I knew that Isabel would be a special sweet spirit.
This journey has been so emotional, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We’ve been through such difficult trials, many of which I didn’t know we could overcome. We have met some amazing people along the way who have helped in indescribable ways. We continue to get so much support and love from friends, family, and neighbors.
These people have forever changed us. Through this experience, Ian and I have grown closer not only to each other, but to Heavenly Father as well.
The adversity we faced seems like nothing now that we have our miracle. We are so happy. Isabel Marie Leavitt is our greatest adventure.
About the Author: Kendra Leavitt
Kendra Leavitt was born on June 6, 1991 to her parents, Wayne and Isabel Lee. She was born and raised in Pleasant Grove, Utah. She has two younger brothers and two older half sisters. Following her high school graduation in May of 2009, Kendra moved to Cedar City, Utah to attend Southern Utah University. During her freshmen year, Kendra met Ian Leavitt and married him the following year in September 2010. They were married in the LDS Manti Temple. Kendra graduated from SUU with her Bachelors Degree in Music, where she graduated Summa cum Laude with honors. During her college years, Kendra taught piano lessons in a local music studio. After graduation, Kendra started her own music studio from home, where she continues to teach both piano and harp. Kendra is also the accompanist for a community children’s choir that her mother-in-law started. Kendra, Ian, and their adopted daughter, Isabel, live in Cedar City, Utah. They live with their two cats, Colette and Toulouse. Kendra loves Southern Utah with all its natural beauty, and is proud to call it home. In addition to her love of music, Kendra loves to travel and be outdoors. Kendra Leavitt loves her community, church, and most of all her family.