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 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.
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.
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.
About the Authors
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 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.