1,117 days to the perfect family
By LeAnna Stephenson
Michael and Catie Hawkins of DeKalb, Texas recently officially became a family of three with the finalization of the adoption of their daughter, MaKayla Grace. While the couple is all smiles and reveling in their blessings now, there were points when things appeared bleak to say the least.
The road to becoming parents has been a tough one for the couple, Catie especially.
As a teenager, Catie lost one of her ovaries to a benign tumor. Later on, after marrying Michael and beginning to plan for a family, a cyst burst in Catie’s remaining ovary causing the tissue to become necrotic, or dead.
“We had literally just got a box of all kinds of stuff in, like ovulation kits and pregnancy tests, we ordered off the internet, because I had just met with this doctor [toward pregnancy],” Catie said.
Catie’s necrotic ovary tissue caused her to become septic and extremely ill; that left Michael with a devastating decision to make on both of their behalves.
“The doctor said the ovary needed to be removed, but he wanted us to understand what that meant. We would never have kids in the natural sense. It hit me so hard, I just started bawling. I was never going to be a dad, but the next day it was like the Lord was telling me I have better things in store for you. Trust me,” Michael said. “I knew I had to be positive and there for her when I broke the news to Catie.”
“As a woman and a wife, I couldn’t provide a child for my husband. That was probably the hardest part for me. Our whole family, everyone was just devastated, but I remember praying that night with Michael and we vowed to God that we were not going to be angry. We were not going to be mad at Him. We knew that there was a plan for all this. We didn’t know why, but we knew that there was a reason for what had happened,” said Catie.
Adoption was something the couple had always known would be a part of their lives, but in addition to their biological children. The loss of the chance to have those biological children was hard on them, but a strong foundation of faith in Jesus Christ, along with amazing support from their church family at Maranatha Christian Center and their families helped them make peace with the loss.
“From the moment she came home sick, they [Maranatha] have been praying over us. Steve and Michelle McMichael [pastors], 3 or 4 months before we got the call, they told us they felt like they had a word from God that it was coming. The day we brought MaKayla home everyone brought food. We were as excited to tell our church family or maybe more so, than our families. We announced it to them on Mother’s Day that we were adopting a little girl. It was amazing. We had so much support,” Michael said.
Michael understands now that even though he was in favor of adoption, he never would have actually gone through with the process if he and Catie had biological children. He feels like the process would have been too much for him if it hadn’t been his only choice.
The process and the cost of adoption can be prohibitive to some families, but Michael and Catie had faith and embarked on the process with Buckner Christian Homes. They filled out the massive amount of paperwork and took the training classes required and made the non-refundable initial payment of $4,000 to the agency. And after all that was done, the waiting for their baby began.
On the recommendation of the agency, Catie and Michael began pur
chasing things like a crib and car seat so that they could be ready for the call that could come at any time.
In December of 2015,
the couple received their first adoption phone call. It ended up being a failed match. The birth mother chose a family that already had children.
“It is honestly a horrific process,” Michael said. “It was like you are always on edge because they can call at any time.”
A couple months later, a good friend of Catie’s had a life-changing discussion with her. The friend’s niece, a young, married mother of three, was accidentally pregnant with a fourth. The couple could not afford to raise another child. The mother had learned about Michael and Catie’s adoption plans through Facebook and asked her aunt to approach them. Reluctantly, because of what the couple had already been through, she did.
“I remember that night I was coming home from a Bible study. We [Michael and I] stopped in the mid
dle of a street in DeKalb and spoke about this could be the one,” Catie said.
“We didn’t tell any family because we didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up or our hopes up. We prayed before the meeting with the birth parents. She had sonogram pictures in her hand, but she didn’t hand them to me yet. After we started talking, she began crying. We knew at that time it was literally a match made in heaven. She handed me MaKayla’s 20-week sonogram pictures and I carried them everywhere with me in my purse. No one knew they were there. I couldn’t wait for us to be able to celebrate and tell everyone.”
“We were both raised in Christian homes. We know how powerful prayer is,” said Catie. “I can’t imagine us going through this and not having our faith in God.”
“We could never have imagined our adoption as going to happen this way. It went from thousands of dollars to almost nothing. From the financial aspect to MaKayla. She is perfect. She is healthy,” said Michael.
The night MaKayla made her entrance into the world, Michael had decided to take a Benadryl and melatonin to get some much-needed rest.
“Then we got a call from the birth mom that she was giving birth. We had no gas in the car. It was ridiculous,” he said.
Even though Michael is a naturally anxious person, he says he had a peace about the adoption.
“With adoption, it’s a very stressful process, because at any time the birth mom can change her mind. But our birth mom requested we stay with her in the hospital. Catie went to all the doctor appointments with her. From the get-go, she asked what we wanted to name our baby and directed all questions to Catie. She gave us ownership when she still carried the baby,” Michael said.
It’s a gift the Hawkins don’t take lightly.
They understand the rarity of their situation and have empathy for the couples who aren’t blessed with such easy circumstances.
They give all the glory to God and plan on being open and honest with MaKayla about how she came to be their daughter.
“We will tell her what love her parents had for her, that they placed her with us,” Michael said.
“They did this for her,” Catie added. “We have a healthy relationship with the birth parents, which is so important.”
Michael and Catie want to share what a gift they have been given in MaKayla, both by God and her birth parents.
Everything about their process was planned by God.
Even the money they spent on the agency, which was non-refundable, was given back to them.
All the classes they had to take for the agency, proved useful in their care of MaKayla from the moment they took her home from the hospital.
The same hospital Catie had been twice before when she lost her ovaries.
“I sat in the wheelchair with MaKayla in my lap. And as they were rolling me out of that hospital room it just hit me, tears sprang to my eyes. Because it was the same hospital, same room as I was 16 and lost my left ovary. Everything just come back to my mind, and that’s also where three years ago, I lost my right ovary, but this time I was going down that hallway with a baby in my lap,” Catie said.
“That’s God’s promise right there.” Michael adds. “That third time she is being pushed out of that hospital, not because she had to be, but with a baby. Seven months later we went to court. We got a beautiful baby. She is a smart baby. I mean just everything about her is perfect,” Michael said.
“When it first started, I asked God Why me? But now I feel like Why not me? From the very beginning, what the devil meant for defeat, God has just shown how victorious He can make it. It took 1,117 days to unfold, but His plan is perfect,” Catie said.
“Don’t ever give up; no matter how bad it gets or looks. Get on your knees and pray and find out what God has in store for you,” Michael said.
In the photo, the Hawkins family with Judge Stephen Young