Great love stories can blossom from the most unlikely beginnings. For embryo adoption parents Steve and Kari Bagby, love started with a cold shoulder.
“My sister and brother in law were friends with Steve from their church, and they invited him to our family Christmas Eve dinner,” Kari remembers. “I ignored Steve because I knew my sister was watching intently to see if we would hit it off, and I was very embarrassed by that, and rather shy.”
Needless to say, this left Steve feeling more than a little confused. “Are you sure I should pursue a relationship with her?” he asked Kari’s brother in law. “She acts like she does not want anything to do with me.” But that’s all it was: an act. Once other eyes were off of them, Steve and Kari did indeed hit it off. They got married in May 2005, less than a year and a half after that fateful Christmas Eve.
Steve already had two children, Samantha and Steven, from a previous marriage. Klaira, a biological child of Kari and Steve, soon came along to form a family of five. That would expand to six when Josiah, adopted from Ethiopia, joined the Bagbys at five months old in 2008. At that point, Kari and Steve thought they were finished having children.
Turns out they were just getting started. “In 2014, we began fasting and praying together about growing our family by two more,” Kari recalls. That eventually led to the domestic adoption of Melody, who joined the family at three days old. A few weeks after bringing her home, Steve and Kari tried to conceive and found they could not. They grieved that loss for a few days, then began what they thought would be another domestic adoption. But a surprise was in store.
“Six months after beginning that adoption process, we saw a post from the National Embryo Donation Center on Facebook. We were pleasantly surprised to learn we could possibly walk another pregnancy journey and adopt all at the same time through embryo adoption,” Kari says. “Giving one or more embryos a chance at life was a fantastic miracle that we had not heard about prior to 2016.”
For this family, who already had children through natural conception, international adoption and domestic adoption, it was embryo adoption that led to the birth of their sixth child. Ahana was born in fall 2018 as a result of Steve and Kari’s frozen embryo transfer at the NEDC. “She was a frozen embryo for six years, and is healthy and beautiful,” Steve and Kari say. “It’s surreal that she is here with us after all the prayers and waiting. Jesus truly is in the business of miracles, and we are grateful to have walked this embryo adoption journey. Our lives would be incomplete without these kiddos.”
Believe it or not, it looks like the Bagby family will be growing some more. Steve and Kari are in the process of adopting Melody’s year-old half-sister. This family and its capacity to love just keeps expanding. Steve’s glad he kept pursuing Kari, even in the face of a cold shoulder. We at the NEDC are honored to be one of the many paths to parenthood the Bagbys have taken in their amazing story. “We are blessed to have had the experience of working with the NEDC,” Steve and Kari say. “They will forever be a part of our life journey.” It’s a journey that’s been beautiful, wild and unpredictable. With elements like that, no wonder this love story has turned out so incredibly well.