ORANGE TEAM: THE KOEHLES
Our Story, as told by Anna:
We consider ourselves lucky to have found each another in a world where there does not seem to be enough love to go around. It all started with a casual dinner at a Mexican restaurant in October 2013 and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Just three months after the first date, Todd proposed with a ring for me and a rhinestone doggie engagement collar for Belle. We were married on May 30, 2015 and we knew early on that we wanted a family.
Todd was previously married and always desired children which became a challenge in the marriage. As attempt to save the marriage, Todd selflessly agreed to have a vasectomy to honor the wishes of his previous wife who did not want children. Todd did not know that a few years later, life would lead him down a different path and give him a second chance at marriage and fatherhood. With this in mind, we knew we had some challenges to overcome to get to parenthood but we never doubted that we would be able to find a quick, easy solution.
We saw a fertility specialist in 2015 who informed us that a vasectomy reversal would not be possible and with me approaching mid-30’s, it was suggested that we abandon dreams of having biological children. We were shocked and devastated to say the least but in true Anna/Todd fashion we came up with plan B…adoption, because love makes a family not biology! I have worked for 13 years in foster care and adoption protecting abused and neglected children and placing them in families never knowing that one day I would need someone like me, to help put our family together. But without hesitation, in 2016, we began our journey to adoption. We breezed through our home study process and were excited by the possibility of having our child in a few months!
In spring of 2016, we pursued the adoption of a 6 year old girl whose mother could no longer care for her. We tried to remain cautious but the Social Worker felt that we were a perfect match. She was excited to move forward with us as so we became excited too! As the weeks rolled on, the communication with the Social Worker decreased significantly. We remained hopeful until we got a brief email letting us know that she decided on another family but encouraging us to keep trying. We were disappointed but still hopeful.
A few months later, our Social Worker informed us of a medically fragile infant in a neighboring state in need of an adoptive home. This precious little girl was not expected to live long past birth so her mother did not give her a name. She was known only as “Baby Girl” but we came to call her Faith. This sweet girl had already faced so many challenges in her few short weeks of life but had overcome the odds. That’s what we came to love about her…she was a fighter! We were informed that she would likely develop cerebral palsy and were reminded that we could back out at any time but we trusted God’s plan for her life and continued on. We had pediatricians and specialists review her medical records with us in preparation for her arrival. We were ready to give her the best life possible! Everything was moving along well until one day we got a call from Baby Girl’s worker with some bad news. Baby Girl’s condition was declining and she was so fragile that she would not survive the trip from her state to ours for the adoption. We knew it was best for her to remain in her state so with broken hearts, we let her go.
In the weeks following this loss we began to question if children would be a part of our future…maybe we were just meant to be dog parents! But just when hopelessness was setting in, an opportunity fell into our laps in summer 2017. A 5 year old girl needed an adoptive home! We read her case file we felt strongly that she was our daughter! We submitted the necessary paperwork, paid the fees and moved forward swiftly with the adoption. We were informed by the Social Worker that we were selected to be her forever family…our little girl was coming home! We were so excited that she would arrive just in time to start kindergarten in the fall. We started planning her room (mint green with a mermaid theme) and her “Gotcha Day” party to welcome her into our family. As the weeks progressed, her needs increased and in the end the Social Worker decided to place her in a long-term care treatment facility rather than move forward with our adoption. When fall came we saw the parents at the bus stop with their kindergartners and our hearts broke. We had fully expected to be standing there with our daughter too. Though we had peace about it, it hurt all the same so after this loss we decided to take a break from our adoption journey.
We went through each of these painful losses leaning only on each other because we chose not to share the magnitude of our story with friends and family. It was heavy burden to carry and we thought we had to carry it alone. We felt a combination of guilt, shame and embarrassment about this journey; about our inability to start a family. The last thing we wanted was anyone’s pity. Things changed after I attended a friend’s baby shower and cried for several days afterwards out of exhaustion and hopelessness. We could no longer suffer in silence so we put pride aside and slowly began sharing our story and getting support. As we started to get connected in the infertility community, we saw that we were not the only couple facing these challenges…we were one of many! We also found another fertility specialist and to our surprise, he was not shocked or discouraged about our situation at all! Unfortunately, he confirmed that a vasectomy reversal was not possible but he let us know that biological children was still a possibility for us…we had options! It would involve a few more steps and procedures than planned but Todd and I are no strangers to life handing us the greatest challenges. So with renewed hope, we made the decision to move forward with pursuing IVF.
We are so grateful that we were selected as a featured couple for the 2018 Race to Parenthood. With the funds we receive from Race to Parenthood, we are hoping to do an IVF cycle. We also hope to use this platform to raise awareness about infertility and to reach those couples, who like us, feel that they have to face this journey alone. We know that there is a blessing in midst of this journey and a way for God to use us to help others. Go team Orange!
Learn more about IVF as a path to parenthood – click here.
Learn more about adoption and foster care as a path to parenthood – click here.