The Miracles of Leila Jane
This is the story of our daughter Leila Jane. It tells how she came into our lives, how many miracles surrounded her adoption story, and what I learned from the experience. It is an actual father to daughter letter I wrote on the way home on the airplane from picking her up in Alabama. Normally I don’t share things like this but it is such an amazing story and the fact that so many others were involved in bits and pieces of the story that I wanted them to see the whole picture. *Many [Names] have been changed to protect the identity and privacy of others.
This is the magical story of how you came into our lives. I hope you will remember how many miracles it took for you to come into our family and how many lives you touched in the process of coming to Earth. This story begins before you were even born. It starts when your mother was pregnant with your oldest brother Eli. At the time we really wanted a girl. Your Grandpa M. had a dream before Eli was born that he saw a little girl with black hair waiting to cross a busy street and he knew it was our child. He said she was bubbly and talkative. We thought that Eli would be a girl for sure because of this but we were surprised when he came out as a boy!
Fast forward almost four years later. Your mother was standing in the living room of our new home. She looked up at a family photo hanging up on the wall. For just a glimpse, the photo changed. Your mother saw a little black boy and girl appear in the photo. Subsequently, this would lead to our family to consider adoption as an option to grow our family of three. Chase was adopted less than a year later.
Now, 6 years later from then, your mother and I were trying to decide if we wanted to have one more child. Your brothers were 5, 6, and 10 years old. Having a baby would mean we would have to start all over with diapers and bottles which I was not excited to do. At the time I was happy with our three boys and not having any more children. Deep inside I knew there was at least one more child meant to come to our family but I didn’t want to admit it. We did realize that time was short though, if we were going to add another child to our family we would have to do it now or the opportunity would pass. Your mother and I prayed about it. I knew I was too dense to feel the spirit so I prayed one night that if we were to have another child that the Holy Ghost would let Mindy know if he couldn’t get through to me. The very next morning Mindy started crying while we were discussing daily matters. She interrupted our conversation abruptly and changed the subject. She said she felt very strong that we were supposed to have another child and started crying because the feeling was so strong. I was speechless; this was not to be! However I knew inside it was an answer to my prayer and we decided that we would try for 6 months to become pregnant. If we did within that time we would take it as a sign that it was meant to be. We did not consider adoption as an option at all.
Shortly after this we both noticed a very strong increase in opposition to our spiritual lives. Satan was trying very hard to get us down on ourselves and we didn’t realize at the time why he was doing this. Looking back it was very clear though. We felt like horrible parents, your brothers fought with each other a lot and we didn’t know if we could bring another child into our and raise a new child the way we would want to. I felt like a horrible parent and husband. I didn’t want to have any other children because I felt I was not good enough and nothing could help this feeling go away at the time. At the same time other thoughts came into my mind. Our kids were older now. Eli could watch Lucas and Chase for a few hours for your mother and I to go on short dates. They could eat by themselves, dress themselves, entertain themselves, they were all in school, no diapers, no bottles, and life was great! We went through 11 years of always having a baby and finally we felt free. Starting with a new baby felt like a burden. Then some small miracles started happening. At this point we had not spoken to your brothers about having a new baby in the family but the Spirit was preparing them. First your brother Lucas was talking to your mother one day. He looked up with his cute smile and in a very serious yet sincere voice said, “Mommy, if I am really really good can I have a baby sister?” Later he also told his pre-school carpool mom who was giving him a ride, “I’m going to have a new baby sister in a few weeks!”. The carpool mom thought we had told Lucas we were pregnant. This took us both by surprise as we had no idea why he would say such things. A few days later your brother Chase asked, “Mommy, can I have brown brother or sister like me so I am not the only brown kid in the family?”. Again, we had not spoken to him about our plans but the spirit had. Lastly your brother Eli had a dream that he had a baby sister the day before we found out about you.
On a Thursday we had a meeting for Stake Trek. We were called as Mas and Pas for the Trek and were very excited to go. Generally in May your brothers were off school so we would travel out of state or out of the country for the whole month. In May 2015 we wanted to leave but the only reason we stayed was because of Trek, we needed to be home to prepare for it and attend trainings.
The day after the Trek training I had the impression to pray for a miracle in my life the following day. I remember distinctly because the day after was when we first heard about you, it was a Saturday. Your Grandma K. called your mother and told us that the birthmother of your cousin [Grant] was 8 months pregnant and she wanted to have her baby adopted by the same family so they could be together. [Katie] was not in a position to adopt another baby as she had two little ones at home already so your Grandma asked us. We immediately said ‘no’ and that we were not interested. We dismissed it and went on with our lives, even though I totally forgot that I had prayed for a miracle the day before and didn’t connect the dots until later.
The very next day on a Sunday your Grandma called us again saying that the baby was born a month early and it was a baby girl. She asked us again if we were interested but we again said “no”. We felt like bad parents, were unprepared, it was too fast, and we had too much going on to consider it. Your mother went to Relief Society a couple hours later. The lesson was on The Book of Mormon. The Spirit began to touch your mother’s heart. All the worries and thoughts that had been troubling your mother, the past two-months, were replaced with feelings of peace. Your mother heard a whisper say, “You need to let go and have faith.” This was the exact same lesson your mother had learned right before we were presented with your brother Chase’s birth mother profile. Your mother would later understand that letting go of doubts and allowing faith to fill in the gaps of her heart would allow the perfect environment to cultivate the possibility that you were ours.
We went to dinner that night to your Grandma M’s house. Your mother told your grandma about the situation and she asked your mother why she did not feel like you were our baby. Your mother had a few concerns and worries. One of those was not being skilled enough to properly do a little black girl’s hair. Your mom felt like African-Americans were so beautiful and did not want any child to suffer because of her inabilities. Your grandma thought that was silly and told your mother. Your mother chuckled and thought to herself, “Yeah, that is silly. I could do it.” Right then, your mother heard another whisper say, “You can do it.” It was the first time your mother felt like you could possibly be ours. I walked over to your mothers and grandma and joined in on the conversation. Your grandma asked us if we had prayed about it. Your mother and I looked at each other and didn’t say a word because we both knew we had not. Your mother immediately went downstairs and prayed about it. She had me come down too and do the same. We prayed that if it was right that we would know however we didn’t feel anything special that night. Your Grandma K. called and said this was our last chance, if we were not interested she would need to start looking for other families since you were born and alone in the hospital already. We told her to let us sleep on it.
The next day (Monday) your mother asked me if anything had changed on my part. I told your mother that I was willing to go ahead and adopt you if she really felt like you were ours. Your mother went upstairs and called your Grandma (her mom). She asked your grandma more questions about you and expressed her concerns. Your mother felt prompted to include the boys. Your mother and I woke your brothers up. We prayed and asked God if it was right that she would feel happy and excited about the possibility of adopting you instead of being fearful and afraid as she was then. Your mother called her best friend and, for the first time, voiced out loud that she thought you were ours. They both started screaming. Immediately she felt a wave of excitement and the fear left her. She knew it was right. Your mother began to sob. I came into the room to see what was taking your mom so long to get ready. Your mom still had no pants on and her hair was not fixed. She was sobbing. She ran into my arms and told me that she knew, without a doubt, that you were ours. Your mother also understood now why things were so trying the past couple months. She felt the adversary was trying to do everything to make you not come into our family. Unfortunately I still did not and resisted, although deep inside I thought it could be right but I didn’t want it to be. However I took a leap of faith and told your mother that if she felt it was right I would support her, although grudgingly. We called your Grandma K. and told her ‘yes’ and started doing all the paperwork so we could go pick you up. I told Mindy I had only one condition, which was that I get to name you. I loved my Grandma M. (Leila) so much and wanted to name you after her. Mindy added in your middle name of ‘Jane’ who was her Grandmother who was also an amazing woman. That day your Grandma M. felt impressed to email me about how she first resisted adopting your Aunt’s [Inneka] from Ukraine. She said she was against it but in the end she was so glad she did and couldn’t imagine her life without them. Your Grandpa M. also let me know he thought the girl that he saw in the dream 10 years ago was you. That you were all alone crossing a road which represented the world and needed us as your parents to guide you across. He distinctly remember the girl having a bubbly and cheerful countenance, we will see if that comes to pass as you get older too.
Among other arrangements to go get you we called the Stake Trek leaders to tell them we probably would not be able to go on Trek. They told us it was actually a blessing and said they had accidentally called one extra couple than they had asked the Stake Presidency for and they never knew why; to us it made sense now though. If we had not agreed to go on Trek we would have been out on vacation when we heard about you and it would have been impossible to adopt you or even consider adoption if we were on a month-long vacation somewhere away from home.
One other thing we had to do is get your brother’s to have a medical exam saying they were healthy and had their immunizations done. We called their normal doctor and he was busy for up to 2 weeks. I randomly called the University of Utah health clinic in daybreak and asked if any doctors were available that day to see your brothers as we were getting on an airplane that night to go see you. There was only one, a Dr. [Best], so I made an appointment and off we went. I was very impressed with him and decided I would switch our boys to have him as their regular doctor from that point forward. You will see how this was no coincidence later on in the story.
We have amazing friends and family in our lives. Once the word was out we had so many people pulling together to help us get ready for you to come to our home. One person donated sky miles to pay for our flights to see you, the homestudy social worker discounted his services in half for us, many of your mother’s friends went shopping and collected baby items and clothes for you and dropped it off at our house, one friend washed all the clean clothes for you and packed your our suitcase, other helped watch your brothers and help bring them to and from school, some helped clean our house for the home study, others dropped off presents randomly. There were so many people who were excited for you to come into our family. Usually we were the ones helping others and it was very humbling to receive so many blessings from others in our neighborhood and I was amazed at how many people were willing to help us. You will grow up surrounded by amazing people.
Finally, on that Thursday night, just a few days knowing about you, your mother and I hopped on an airplane and headed to Alabama to see you now that we had all the paperwork done at home that needed to be completed. I even remember praying that if it was possible for me to pass on this opportunity to let it pass. I immediately thought of Jesus in Gethsemane praying if it was possible that he may not suffer for our sins. I immediately knew what I was praying for was wrong and that I needed to submit to our Heavenly Father’s will. That was a tender moment for me and also brought me to tears. Yet even with all the small miracles I was still in a grumpy mood the whole way to Alabama, luckily your mother put up with me.
We had an all night flight and arrived in the morning. We went straight to the airport to see you. The social worker, [Dana], met us and brought us back to see you. This was the moment that changed my attitude completely. Up until this point I was extremely disgruntled about having to add a baby to our family but when I first saw you I could not hold back the tears. I knew you were ours and that this was our Heavenly Father’s will to be done. I felt so much love for you instantly it was amazing. We spent several hours with you, just holding you and feeding you and looking at you. You were such a precious little child and we both knew it.
You were born a month early so you were in the NICU department of the hospital because of your health. The next few days went by very fast but not without more miracles surrounding your birth. The nurses were all so kind. Patricia, Mandy, Jamie, Summer, Kathy and others. We enjoyed talking to them and telling them the story of how we ended up there adopting you. We got to know Birmingham and had a very good sampling of Southern food and hospitality which we were so impressed by. We met your doctor for the first time and wanted to know when you could leave. His name was Dr. [Barclay]. He came in and started talking to us. He asked us for our phone number so he could call us if we needed to and noticed we had an ‘801’ phone number. He asked if were from Utah which we replied affirmative. Then he asked if we were LDS which we also said ‘yes’ to. He then said he was LDS too. Keep in mind your were born in St. Vincent’s hospital which is a Catholic hospital. We found this to be a blessing. Through further discussion we found out that the doctor I randomly chose back home for your brothers, Dr. [Best], was the son of the bishop who had married Dr. [Barclay] and his wife together almost 30 years previous. [Dana], the social worker, also made arrangements for us to stay at the on-site hotel at the hospital for three days so we could be within walking distance to you whenever we wanted to see you, and we didn’t have to pay for it. Blessing after blessing were raining down from the heavens.
I originally was planning on heading home on Monday because of work and to be with your brothers. On Monday morning we met with Dr. [Barclay] and he told us we would not be able to take you on an airplane until the next Monday, almost a whole other week. Our hearts dropped to the floor and I think he noticed. We wanted to take you home so bad and originally were thinking we would be home by Wed. for sure. Our plans were shattered. Because your mother and you would be gone for so long I decided to stay at least until Wed. Dr. [Barclay] noticed that this was disappointing news to us. He later came back and said he recalculated the dates and that we could leave on Saturday which was better but still not ideal. He then surprised us and offered for us to stay in his home until Thursday to save some money and have some company. Your mother and I talked about this and decided to do it. The [Barclays] are amazing people. They were so generous to us and took good care of us for those days we spent with them. They felt almost like family and I am sure we knew them in the pre-existence. They took us to dinner at their home teachers house the first night, Jill and Stephen with their 6 kids. They were an amazing family too. We had many conversations with the [Barclay] family including their son and their dog ChoCho who was very protective of you. Your mother ended up staying with them until Friday and only had to spend one night in a hotel on her own with you.
On Wed. we met your birthmother [Latosha]. We met at a fast food fish restaurant of all places and spent about 20 minutes with her. It was very emotional and spiritual. She is only 20 years old but so strong. We respect and admire her so much for the sacrifice she gave for you to have a better life. She didn’t want to hold you but touched your foot and cried when she saw you. We gave her a Pandora bracelet with two hearts signifying you and your cousin [Grant] (her other child) with a green bead in the middle representing her. She allowed us to take pictures with her. Your mother and I felt so much sadness and pity for her. We are truly blessed to have the gospel and opportunity in our lives and she did not have either; it was heartbreaking to see. She is an amazing woman though and we will always hold her dear in our hearts.
I boarded a plane on Wed. and am heading home now as I type this up for you. I am so grateful I decided to go with your mother to pick you up. The time with your mother and you with just the three of us was tender. Even now as I type this at 20,000 feet above the air on a plane ride home it literally fills me with joy and love. Even at your birth you have touched so many lives and brought so many blessings to others including your mother and I. Although I am very excited to see your three brothers this has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life which I will remember forever and I am already missing you and your mother dearly. The whole process of you coming to our family strengthened my testimony and love for our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It was a good learning experience for me to not block out the little miracles and whisperings of the spirit when there is something Heavenly Father is trying to tell us that we may not want to hear for the moment. If we bear through it the end result will be magnificent and worth it, in this case the reward was you!
You are a special girl Leila, I hope you remember always how special you are to me and your mother and brothers and so many others!