‘I drove home crying, feeling forgotten. That same night, I received a call. ‘We have a 4-day-old baby in the NICU who needs a family. We think it should be you.’: Mom shares journey with infertility, adoption, and foster care

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“As far back as I can remember, maybe 10 years old, I remember starting to intentionally pray about the husband that would come into my life. I didn’t pray about dolls or gifts, just a good husband. I went through a lot of rough patches until April 2011 when I met my husband while country dancing in Austin, Texas. We fell hard and fast in love. After about 6 weeks we started talking about marriage and what we wanted that to look like. Everything was on the same page and it felt so refreshing. Exactly 10 weeks after that talk, we stood in a courtroom in downtown Austin, Texas, and eloped. We had never been so giddy or so sure in our lives. We stayed in an overpriced fancy hotel room downtown Austin for our ‘wedding night’ and I remember getting on the elevator and two women asked why we were so dressed up. With the fullest heart imaginable, for the first time ever I got to say, ‘We just got married!’ They screamed, I screamed. It was perfection.

Boyfriend and girlfriend stand smiling in Texas bar
Courtesy of Casey Zaruba

Soon after my husband would be accepted into the Texas Game Warden Academy where he would live full time for several months. We only got to see each other on the weekends. It was tough, but we made it work. I continued to country dance, it was such a passion of mine and so fun! I was chatting with a friend one night, and she happened to mention she had just donated her eggs. It was foreign to me, why people donated and who they were donating too. I was curious, so I dug a little deeper. One thing I forgot to mention earlier was along with praying for my husband, I prayed to be a mama. A wife and a mom, that’s what I wanted in life. So hearing my friend’s story stuck with me. I later found out there are women whose eggs were not viable any longer, and they weren’t able to have a baby with their husband. I truly could not wrap my mind around not being able to get pregnant and birth my child. It’s one of the single most important things I wanted in life. I set up an appointment and became an egg donor. The egg donor goes through extensive testing, ultrasounds, counseling, DNA testing, and more. All to be sure their eggs are healthy for another one to use as her own.

You actually have a ‘profile’ with pictures of you as a young child and have to be ‘chosen’ by a couple. I remember getting the call that a family had chosen me and being asked if I would like to move forward. OF COURSE! Let me help them have a baby. So for the next 4-6 months, I went through daily hormone injections, weekly ultrasounds, medication, and more to help this couple (whom I didn’t know) have a baby. In the end, I went under anesthesia and had what’s called an ‘egg retrieval’ where I was able to donate 19 perfect eggs to them. I went on with my life and hopefully, they have beautiful children now. Our case was completely anonymous and confidential, so I know nothing past being able to give them those eggs, and I’m okay with that.

Woman who struggles with fertility smiles in selfie
Courtesy of Casey Zaruba

The Game Warden Academy was well on its way to being done, and we would be starting out life together. We were both 24 years old and started talking about starting our own family! This was so EXCITING! We decided that, although terrified, we would start trying. My husband was only able to be home on the weekends so when we went months without seeing a positive pregnancy test we were discouraged, but still had hope. Once the Game Warden was completed and we got our first ‘transfer,’ we finally lived together and were excited to one day hear the good news that we were pregnant. Month after month we started to grow weary. I became more discouraged and sad. After two years of trying, we were sitting in our living room one night watching a documentary called ‘Invisible Children’ about the LRA in Africa recruiting kids to do horrible things. It was so hard to watch. For the first time in my life, I felt so clearly God speak to me. AFRICA. Go to Africa…

We were still newly married, new jobs, living paycheck to paycheck, and trying to get pregnant. You could say the timing wasn’t right.  I had never been out of the country or ever even considered mission work. But God repeated ‘AFRICA’ to me over and over and over again. So I told my husband who thought I had lost my mind. But I persisted, and he got on board. But remember the ‘broke’ part? Getting to Africa isn’t cheap. We fundraised around the clock. We had a garage sale. I would work at the hospital all day then come home and DIY old furniture to sell. I taught myself to sew and started a side headband company. I opened a little shop where I sold all fair trade items. We did everything we could. And then, one day, we had the money to buy flights.

We decided to go with a volunteering group and to work in an orphanage in Kampala, Uganda. September 2013 we boarded a flight to Africa, about 9 months after sitting on our couch watching that documentary. It was quite foreign to us, but I loved every second I was there. When we started working at the orphanage, I almost immediately connected to a little boy named, Kamoga. He was dirty, head covered in fungus, malnourished, but we connected immediately. I think he needed me as much as I needed him. Tyler fell hard for him also.

Husband and wife with face paint on stand holding orphan in Uganda
Courtesy of Casey Zaruba

He was probably about 4 years old at the time. We were in Uganda for a month, and about a week in, I knew I wanted to try to adopt him when we got home. I cried the entire way home, but then we got to work. We talked to Kamoga almost weekly for the entire year. We knew adopting him would take years because of his story and other details we can’t share, so we decided to start a concurrent adoption internationally in the Czech Republic. We started fundraising, saving, and working again. We fundraised for an entire year. Friends announced they were pregnant, I would cry and put a smile on and remember God had a different plan for us. All this time, still trying to conceive, but it never happened.

Husband and wife stand smiling while husband holds Ugandan orphan they are attached to
Courtesy of Casey Zaruba

In this same time period, I was offered a job as an adoption consultant and jumped at the opportunity! A year after being home from Africa, I remember being at work and finding out another friend was pregnant. I drove home that afternoon crying my eyes out the whole way home telling God I felt forgotten. I just did after all these years. I pulled it together and got home like every other night. That same night at 6 p.m., I received a call from an agency I had worked with through my job. On the other end of the line I heard, ‘Casey, we have a 4-day-old baby boy in the NICU who needs a family. His mom asked us to choose a family, and we think it should be you.’ (insert my heart stopping). We immediately said ‘YES!’ The only problem was even after a year of fundraising, we were still short a lot of money. We called a bank first thing the next morning about a personal loan. By the grace of God, we were approved for a loan WAY over what anyone should have ever approved us for. We packed our car and got on the road to Florida to meet our son. On the way there, we got our first picture of him, and I bet I looked at that picture 300 times along the way.

Newborn baby lying in NICU who needs home
Courtesy of Casey Zaruba

On a Friday afternoon, we walked into a NICU and met our son, Foster. We had a long NICU stay and some stressful times, but God provided every last thing we needed and we came home a family of three.

Husband and wife smiles as they hold newborn son they are adopting
Courtesy of Casey Zaruba

About 9 months later, God laid adoption on our heart again! This time was different because just about 3 weeks after deciding to adopt again and waiting for our home study update, we heard about a little boy who would be born 7 weeks later. We talked to mom on the phone, and we all cried and decided to move forward in this together. Just 7 weeks later, I stood in a delivery room and held her hand while she delivered the most beautiful baby boy who would make me a mom for the second time. Just like that, Murphy was here, and we came home a family of four from Florida this time.

Mother stands holding adopted baby beside biological mother who had c-section
Courtesy of Casey Zaruba

Life was so sweet with these two perfect boys  – we cherished every moment with them. Always hoping and praying for a pregnancy one day, but I knew it probably wouldn’t ever come. At the end of 2016, God started stirring a pregnancy in my heart strong. In all of these now almost 5 years of trying to get pregnant, we decided not to use any fertility medications or medical intervention period. Not because we are against it, but I strongly felt God kept putting on my heart to wait for Him, and I had a STRONG desire for Him to show me He could do this for us. So I waited, as hard as it was. 5 years later in December 2016, I told my husband I wanted to try fertility meds. I was ready. At church one morning that December, I was worshipping and listening to a biblical story of infertility. I told God right there that if He gave me a baby, I would spend the rest of my life giving them back to Him. Bold much, Casey?

A week later, I was in my OB’s office getting a prescription for Clomid to increase our chances of conceiving. I felt hope for the first time in a long time because we were doing a new thing. Something different to try to get pregnant. Just 3 weeks later, I took a test on a whim because I was anxious to start the medicine. I was so used to a negative test, I took it and went right back to the kitchen to put groceries away, not even waiting to see it. Hours later, I walked back in and nearly fell on the floor when I saw two lines.

After 5 years, with an unopened bottled of Clomid, I was pregnant. There are literally no words I could use to describe that moment for me. Tyler didn’t believe me even with the tests (I still give him a hard time about that), and I stayed up the entire night till the sun came up in disbelief. But it was real. My doctor couldn’t believe it either. 9 months later, after 36 hours of labor, we met our 3rd son, Harvey. God is so so good. He knew I needed this to be Him and he honored my heart’s desire.

Woman who struggled with fertility lays on bench outside pregnant with crochet blanker hanging behind her
Kaitlin Brantner Photography

Just 4 months later, my husband and I were at an annual couples retreat we go to every year, and out of nowhere my husband said he thought we should look into foster care, which nearly made me fall out of my seat. Wait, WHAT? We have a 3-year-old, 2-year-old, and a 4-month old. But I don’t question these things and we don’t think about them long, so 3 weeks later we were in our first foster care class.

Husband stands holding two adopted sons beside wife who holds their biological son
FOLK HOUSE by Lauren Folk

3 months later, I was standing in the kitchen when we got a call for two sisters, ages 7 and 2, who needed a home. We said yes in 2 seconds. After them being with us for about 2 months, I was in Utah for our company’s convention. I didn’t feel well most of the trip, so when I got home I (again on a whim) took a test and it was POSITIVE. Let me remind you, we NOW have a 3-year-old, a 2-year-old, a 9-month-old, and two foster daughters ages 2 and 7 years old. Okay, God, now you are just messing with us, right?  But He wasn’t. I indeed was pregnant!

Husband and wife's three sons stand beside two foster girls in front of garage door
Courtesy of Casey Zaruba

Those sweet girls left a month later and we decided to take another placement since I was literally 5 weeks pregnant. We soon received another placement who we only had for 3 days; she was so sweet though. Shortly after that, we got a really shocking call for an 18-day-old baby girl. I immediately felt a strong connection to her, and that sweet 18-day old baby girl just turned 3 months old. And we found out that the baby in my belly is also a baby girl and will be making her arrival in 4 short months. I often look at pictures of my family of soon to be 7 and think back to that day driving home crying my eyes out telling God I felt like He had forgotten me. Somehow looked over us. Just 5 years ago, I never knew if I would be a mom, and today, I have 4 babies sleeping soundly in my home with another kicking in my belly. If you are somewhere clinging to a promise you feel God has spoken over you, I want to encourage you to cling tightly friend. He doesn’t forget and He doesn’t overlook. He is working all the details for good, even when we can’t see it.

Pregnant mother sits on ground beside leaves while foster baby sleeps on her lap
Courtesy of Casey Zaruba
Pregnant wife stands outside of home holding foster baby beside husband and their three sons
Courtesy of Casey Zaruba

Oh! Remember Kamoga in Uganda? Well, we were never able to adopt him, but we committed to love him forever, so we stayed in close contact and have been putting him through an amazing boarding school for the last 3 years so he can have the best chance in his home country.”

Orphan in Ugana wearing cap and gown who husband and wife in the states keep in contact with
Courtesy of Casey Zaruba

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Casey Zaruba of Texas. You can follow their family’s journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d love to hear your journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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