Our Adoption Story: Larson Ames

Our Adoption Story | A Couple Cooks

One month ago, we brought home a beautiful baby boy, the ending to a long journey of wondering how our family would start. Alex and I want to thank every one of you who have offered kind words of encouragement and prayers over years, and for your rejoicing over our announcement of Larson. Today, we’re sharing a bit about Larson’s birth story. We are utterly grateful to his birth mother Mariah: first of all for the gift of Larson, and second for being open to sharing his and her story. (If you’re new to our story,  see these posts on cancer, miscarriage, adoption, and uncertainty.) Another big thank you to our dear and talented friend Kelley Jordan Photography for capturing all shots of us and Larson (except the hospital shots taken by Alex).

What is Larson’s birth story?

It’s a Sunday in February, the day exactly between my birthday and Alex’s. We’re drinking coffee. I casually glance down at my phone.

It’s our birth mama, Mariah, our fourth birth mom after three adoptions that fell through in the past year. We’ve been matched for five months, after Mariah choose our story in a book made by our adoption agency. Twice, we’d met for lunch to chat about our stories and dreams for the future. Both times, her due date in late February seemed so far away.

“I’m in the hospital dilated to a 4. They think I’m in labor.”

We scramble, trying to pack a bag. Or, Alex packs while I pace in circles. We drive two hours to the hospital, and join the baby’s grandma and great grandma at her bedside. We hug, once strangers, now family. Great grandma tells us that she adopted Mariah’s mother, so she knows what it’s like. She’s excited for us to be parents. We hug again, in gratitude.

Mariah announces she’d like me in the room for the birth. I’m astounded. What an incredible gift. Alex waits outside. The doctor breaks her water. Twenty minutes later at 2:19 on 2/19, a perfect little boy comes into the room. I can’t believe my eyes.

Alex rushes in. I feed him his first bottle. Congratulations, say the baby’s grandmother and great grandmother. Alex and I are in shock.

Our son: Larson.

Our Adoption Story | A Couple Cooks

Our Adoption Story | A Couple Cooks

Our most precious photos: Larson and me with his birth mama and sister in the hospital

What was the hospital like?

Alex and I stayed in a room in the hospital two doors down from our birth mama. The two days were full of photos and visits from Mariah’s sweet family. Larson met his sister, one year old Lylah, who gave him big open-mouthed kisses. He was held by his great grandparents and grandma. Mariah and I took a photo with Larson, me holding his head, her holding his feet. Every waking moment we spent with Mariah and Larson, every sleeping moment tending to the baby. Mariah loves him dearly and to this day is deeply grieving. But she’s told us that right now, she doesn’t have the resources to give him the life she wants him to have.

On the day he was discharged, Alex and I sat in our hospital room alone, watching the second hand tick the minutes by. The social worker knocked on our door. “I’m here with the lawyer. We have some papers for you to sign.” We looked at each other.

“That’s right. You’re parents!”

After all the waiting and the praying and the crying and the uncertainty, Mariah had given us the greatest gift. This was the baby we were meant to have.

Our Adoption Story | A Couple Cooks

Our Adoption Story | A Couple Cooks

Our Adoption Story | A Couple Cooks

Our Adoption Story | A Couple Cooks

What is your relationship with your birth mother like now?

In Mariah we’ve gained a whole new family. We have an open adoption, which means Mariah will be part of Larson’s life and he’ll always know how much his birth mama loves him. We text photos and updates regularly, and we’ll have a few visits per year so that she can see him grow.

What is the meaning behind his name?

We wanted something very unique. Larson is very unusual as a first name, is our nephew’s middle name, and has a nod to my Scandinavian heritage. The letter L also goes well with his birth sister’s name, Lylah. When we suggested it to Mariah, she loved it. 

For the middle name we collaborated with Mariah: we wanted something to honor his Mexican heritage or her family names, but couldn’t find the right fit. Ames was another first name we’d suggested to Mariah (James without the J), and she liked it as a middle name.

Our Adoption Story | A Couple Cooks

Our Adoption Story | A Couple Cooks

Our Adoption Story | A Couple Cooks

How does it feel to be parents?

Amazing. We are loving every second of it. Larson is an incredible baby. He’s generally very happy, and he’s very tolerant of all the photos I take of him.

We are incredibly blessed by Mariah and her decision to chose us as Larson’s parents. Not a day goes by that we don’t thank God for Mariah and Larson, and the amazing sacrifice she made in choosing us to parent her son.

In Larson’s digital birth announcement, we mentioned that he was the answer to thousands of prayers. This is not an exaggeration. For the past 8 years, we and others around us (including many of you) have been praying for how our family would start. We’ve heard from so many of you who have been through similar struggles–miscarriage, infertility, sickness–which you’ve so generously shared with us.

We share about Larson in this space to offer an encouragement to those of you in times of uncertainty. Whether it’s family, career, or personal relationships, it’s difficult to be in the liminal space. We were there for years, and some days it seemed like it wouldn’t end. In Larson, we found the answer to years of struggle and confusion of why every step forward seemed to result in a step back. To us, Larson is a promise of hope. If you’re considering adoption, fertility treatments, surrogacy, or fostering, we know it can be a confusing, scary, frustrating, exhilarating, and tearful place to be. Whatever you choose, surround yourself with affirming people who can walk with you in the journey. There are no rules, and every story is different. You may go through three fall-throughs as we did, or you may  find your family right away. Whatever your journey, know that God has this.

Thank you to Mariah for generously letting us share your story. You gave us the greatest gift and we are eternally grateful to you for sweet Larson.

For more of Larson, feel free to follow my personal Instagram feed, sonjaoverhiser.

Our Adoption Story | A Couple Cooks

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    March 21, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    This is such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing with us! And congratulations!

  • Reply
    Sarah | Well and Full
    March 21, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    Absolutely beautiful. I was tearing up a little bit reading this post… such an overwhelming outpouring of love, happiness, and joy. I’m SO happy for you and Alex, and I’m sending you all my love and best wishes in raising your precious baby boy. God bless!!

  • Reply
    March 21, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    Such an amazing story! I’m so thrilled for you, and hope that Mariah is able to find peace through her ongoing relationship with you all.

  • Reply
    March 21, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    What a beautiful boy! he will bring you so much joy. So happy for you.

  • Reply
    March 21, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    So, so happy for you all. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. Sending you lots of love. Larson is stunning!!

  • Reply
    March 22, 2017 at 12:41 am

    I am so excited for you! Larson is beautiful. You are so blessed to have such a lovely, newly extended family. It’s wonderful that Larson will grow up knowing his birth mom and sister!

  • Reply
    March 22, 2017 at 1:26 am

    I just read this and your other posts on your health, the miscarriage, and the adoption and it gave me goosebumps and some tears. But I’m so excited for what has been brought into your lives now. Congratulations and your baby Larson is absolutely gorgeous. Thank you so much for sharing our journey ❤️

  • Reply
    March 22, 2017 at 5:09 am

    God is so good! Congratulations you guys! I pray that God will give Mariah all she needs to come to peace with her incredible sacrifice!

  • Reply
    Kelsey @ Appeasing a Food Geek
    March 22, 2017 at 7:12 am

    I’m tearing up so much over here! I am so happy for you both–congratulations! Sending all of my virtual hugs to your beautiful family xoxo

  • Reply
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine
    March 22, 2017 at 9:49 am

    He is beautiful! What a blessing! Congratulations <3

  • Reply
    March 22, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Congratulations! My husband and I (both former Hoosiers living in Nashville) love your recipes and enjoy your podcast. This post gives us encouragement as we are just beginning our own adoption story. Sending our love and happiness to the Overhisers!

  • Reply
    March 22, 2017 at 10:49 am

    In tears over here. You guys! This is the best.

  • Reply
    March 22, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    He’s absolutely beautiful, Sonja and Alex. I’m so happy for you two and my little heart is melting at these photos of him – what a handsome little guy. Sending lots of love and good thoughts and if you ever need a dessert for the stressful days, you’ve got a friend here in Indy who’d be glad to ship over some!

  • Reply
    March 22, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing. Very touching and beautiful story. We wish you the best in this journey and happiness everywhere!

  • Reply
    March 22, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    I have tears in my eyes from reading your beautiful words. A big congrats from the bottom of my heart. Larson is a beautiful baby and a lucky person, who is blessed with wonderful parents.
    Sending you virtual hugs, all the best of luck and happiness in the world.
    More happy, healthy days to come.
    Cheers to your beautiful family! <3

  • Reply
    March 22, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Tears streaming down my face as I read this. Such a gift and a stunning story of hope, grace and love. I can not wait to watch Larson grow with you two always by his side.

  • Reply
    March 22, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    I am sure that your story is an inspiration to so many who are struggling and waiting in uncertainty. You both look like such joyful and natural parents. I love all of the photos, and the one of both you and Mariah with Larson is precious. Mariah sounds like such a kind, thoughtful, and generous birth mama. So much love in your story. xo

  • Reply
    March 23, 2017 at 3:33 am

    this is beautiful, congrats

  • Reply
    March 23, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    This brought a few tears to my eyes. What a beautiful and magical story. After all the heartbreak you deserve this happy ending. It seems like good things really do come to those who wait. So so truly happy for you! Mariah sounds like such an amazing person – what a sacrifice to make. Wishing you nothing but happiness with your beautiful baby boy! Xx

  • Reply
    March 23, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    Tears of joy for your family and for the beauty that is adoption. We don’t really know each other, but we are connected now in this beautiful journey of family through adoption, and that makes me very happy. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Love, laugh, cry, and start over again! You are a beautiful, blessed family.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2017 at 5:40 am

    Contratulations, I am so happy for you. Thank you for sharing your personal story, it is of great encouragement to us all. All the best

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    March 24, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Congratulations. This is such a beautiful story and I am so happy for you! I’ve been following your blog for a while and I rarely comment, but I wanted to say that I’m wishing you all the best and much happiness!

  • Reply
    Lisa Knutson
    March 24, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. How beautiful. I have been listening to your podcast and have about 10 left to finish all of them. I love your approach to food, cooking and eating healthy. I live just over the boarder in Ohio near Cincinnati. I’m inspired by your approach to cooking and experimenting with new flavors. Our daughter married a nice young man from India and we are experimenting with lots of new flavors, spices and recipes. I’m an inspiring blogger but have not put the time into it as I have a pretty “big” day job. Some day maybe!

    Thank you so much for doing what you do. Warm regards,


  • Reply
    March 24, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    What a BEAUTIFUL post! So so sooooo very happy for you two! After all those years, you guys have such a great adoption story to share and I LOVE your son’s name! Congrats and welcome to the club ;)

  • Reply
    March 25, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    What a wonderful announcement and story! My husband and I are going through the adoption process ourselves (we’re in the middle of our home study at the moment) – being able to read your story has me so excited for our process to continue. Sending love your way for the new addition!!!! Congrats!

  • Reply
    March 27, 2017 at 3:27 am

    So happy for you!
    I am French and in France surrogate mothers are not allowed…you can only adopt once the child is on an adoption list, it takes forever of course and you are not supposed to know the mum…
    I still wonder why our country is so late, when I read your beautiful story! It is a great gift from the birth mother (maybe the greatest in life!)
    Enjoy every second!

  • Reply
    March 27, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Congratulations! I just recently came across your IG feed and now I feel like I know you;) Thanks for sharing your beautiful story.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    So so so happy for you all!

  • Reply
    March 30, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    Beautiful story! I am a birth mother…and I cried because I have an idea of how Larson’s birth mother might be grieving. I think it is beautiful that you included your son’s birth mother with the naming process and that you consider her to be a part of your family. Adoption was not a choice I would have made if I hadn’t felt it was necessary and naturally there are some power dynamics because of that fact. Language can be tricky because of this. In your story when you write “our birth mom” it can sound a little like ownership. She is your son’s birth mom, not your birth mom. I know it is not intentional at all, I just couldn’t help notice that.

    I know you are busy being a new mom, but if you ever have the chance I’d recommend the book: Making Room in our Hearts by Micky Duxbury (an adoptive mom). It talks a lot about open adoption experiences for all members of the adoption community.

    You are a beautiful family! Thank you for sharing this amazing story. I am a ball of tears right now.

  • Reply
    April 22, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you all so much for your beautiful comments and kind words! We’ll respond via email in personal notes. THANK YOU for celebrating with us! :)

  • Reply
    Alison Weiss
    April 26, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Hi Sonja,
    I loved all the beautiful pictures of you, your new baby, your husband, and your son’s birth family. I’m writing because I’m an adoptive mom with two adopted kids (22 and 19) in open adoptions. I want to encourage and support you regarding open adoption. We have always had open relationships with our children’s extended birth families, and it has been richly rewarding for everyone. It takes work and commitment, but I was guided by wise words from my attorney (also an adoptive parent) about any decision I made about how open I wanted to be, what I wanted to share. He said to never commit to something I wasn’t willing to follow through on (unless there were issues of safety or healthy boundaries) because I would one day have to answer to my child. So, from day one I promised to always send photos and letters–but I didn’t promise yearly visits (although we have ended up always having visits). When my daughter’s birth mother had issues and dropped out of our lives when my daughter was 6, I was able to tell my daughter, “We have the phone number we’ve always had. Your birth mother knows our number. We are not keeping you from her.” This reality was very important during my daughter’s teen years. After nearly 23 years, I can tell you that I’ve never regretted the decision to do open adoption. When my son got married last year, both his bio parents and their kids and spouses came to the ceremony and party afterwards. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Good luck to you and your beautiful family.

  • Reply
    October 14, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    My sister had a baby in high school and decided on open adoption. I am the birth aunt and visit each year at christmas. My sister has decided to no longer visit. I can hear the love in your story and am so excited for you! Know that there will be hard years ahead. And also after the hard years (sometimes the very hardest) there will be easy years. The only constant is change and change is good. What a beautiful journey you have opened yourself to! Blessings and happiness to you all!

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