A Labor Of Love

Emerson Mackenzie Taylor with her parents Connie Leonard and Kent Taylor.

Emerson Mackenzie Taylor with her parents Connie Leonard and Kent Taylor.

By ANGIE FENTON
Managing Editor
The Voice-Tribune

Connie Leonard and Kent Taylor tell stories for a living.

But the tale of how the WAVE 3 news anchor/reporter and sports director, respectively, became parents to Emerson Mackenzie Taylor is almost too much even for the veteran broadcasters to believe.

The couple, who married Aug. 7, 1999, quietly decided to start a family a decade ago. “We were pregnant a couple of times and it didn’t work out, and that was really hard,” Connie said. “That’s why we didn’t tell anybody.”

Eventually, Connie and Kent decided to try in vitro fertilization (IUVF). “There were weeks when …we drove to Cincinnati three times a week – this is after working (at the news station) until midnight, go to the appointment, drive back and go to work.

When IVF didn’t work, the two took some time off and reconsidered their options.

“That’s when we thought why not try adoption?” said Connie.

At first, they pursued international adoption, but that didn’t pan out. On the advice of a friend, they began to look closer to home for a child who needed a family.

The months drifted by as Kent and Connie waited for the call, which finally came in February 2012. Excited about becoming parents to a baby boy, the duo anxiously awaited his arrival. But at the last minute, the biological mother decided to keep the child, a bittersweet decision “that was pretty crushing,” Connie said. “I cannot tell you how many (news) stories I was on of people beating their children and killing their kids. And here we were. We love kids and can’t have one? Every time I was doing one of those stories, I was getting really depressed.”

After bouncing back from the disappointment, we “spread the web” even further, said Kent, and wound up working with a Cincinnati-based lawyer who specialized in private adoption.

Soon, Kent and Connie received word about a birth mother and birth father who felt ill-equipped to raise their yet-unborn baby and felt adoption would give the child a chance.

“They really put the baby ahead of themselves,” Connie said.

“It just felt right,” Kent added.

“It was like, Now it all makes sense that we had to go through all of this for the past 10 years,” Connie said. “We had to wait for her.”

The due date was Sept. 8, but on Aug. 16, Kent received a text that the baby had been born in a small town in Pennsylvania. Two days later, they were on the road.

“When we left, we had no nursery, we’d had flooding inside our home and the windows had just been put in so the furniture was all over the place,” Kent said.

But they left anyway, driving through the night, taking turns at the wheel. When exhaustion set in, they exited the highway. Every hotel was booked. They drove 20 minutes further. All of the hotels were booked because of a “murder mystery thing,” Connie laughed. At the next exit there was a goat convention. So they drove on. Finally they found a hotel, and rested for awhile before heading to a restaurant where they were to meet with the lawyer and the birth parents. Thirty minutes after the agreed upon meeting time, the couple text the attorney, “We’re nervous.” Connie and Kent held their breath.

Finally, another text, from the birth parents. “We’re on our way.” It was Aug. 19, 2012. A Sunday. And, at last, the day the couple would finally meet their baby.

At least they hoped the tiny girl was theirs.

First the birth parents had to sign over their rights, though Kent and Connie also agreed to keep them up to date on Emerson’s progress. Then, on Aug. 22, Kent and Connie were allowed to take baby Emerson to their hotel, but they weren’t allowed to leave the state until they were given the proper clearance, a process that could take days, weeks, even – in extreme cases – months.

“At this point, we’d maxed out our credit cards and didn’t have much left in the bank,” said Kent. Flooding in the home, car repairs and repeated in vitro fertilization attempts had taken a toll.

“My boss, (WAVE 3 News Director) Kathy Hostetter was awesome,” Connie said. “Not only did she say go do what you need to do, she was sending us Starbucks cards and her husband was from Pennsylvania, so they were helping us navigate.”

Emerson with Cole Abrams, Kylie Abrams, Lily Jane Masters, Sara Wise and her cousin Elizabeth Wilson in Anchorage for Halloween.

Emerson with Cole Abrams, Kylie Abrams, Lily Jane Masters, Sara Wise and her cousin Elizabeth Wilson in Anchorage for Halloween.

At this point, Connie and Kent decided to let the secret out. As they sat in their hotel room with their newborn, they began receiving congratulatory emails from their colleagues. “That’s when Emerson really felt like ours. We felt like parents,” Connie recalled. “Kent was reading all of the emails … and we both just began to cry. We’d kept everything in.”

While the couple awaited approval to proceed to Ohio and then Kentucky, their WAVE 3 colleagues held a diaper drive. “We have not had to buy a diaper yet,” Kent laughed.

Close friends Joey Brown and Kevin Harned surprised the new parents by depositing a “large sum of money in my bank account,” Connie said. “I just started crying. Again.”

On Aug. 30, Kent, Connie and Emerson arrived in Louisville to find their family had cleaned the house and put the furniture back in its place. Their dogs, Maddie and Hank, were well taken care of and anxious to sniff the tiny bundle.

Now, months later, Kent and Connie have eased into a routine that allows them to work together on the night broadcasts, thanks to family and friends who assist with Emerson.

“It’s crazy, all the moving parts of it,” said Kent, “but she is so loved. We make it work. You just figure it out.”

“Someone wanted us to have her,” added Connie. “I just feel like we found her and she found us. We just had to wait for it. Now we look at her every night and say, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s ours.’”

  • Ray

    Great story. You both truly diserve this child and know you will always love like your own. Congratulation!!!!!!!!

  • Lindy Albertson

    I’m so happy for all three of you. Good things come to those who wait! AND….. Good things come in small packages! That’s a proven fact! God Bless you all!

  • Tamela Freeman

    What a wonderful story! I am so happy for you, Connie and Kent!

  • stacy

    Miracles do happen!

  • Emily Essex

    I have had the privilege of working with Kevin harned for my job and also knowing Mike Olmstead personally. Your friends speak highly of you and thats made even more clear by your amazing story. i am also adopted. I applaud your dedication and decision to adopt. As the adoptee I can tell you that I feel especially blessed and thankful every day. Congratulations to your wonderful family and I hope your strength and love continue to guide your decisions. You have a beautiful journey ahead of you!

  • Donna Haven

    What a Lovely story GOD is good.

  • Nash

    Going through this with daughter and her husband! Feels like God telling us adoption is what he wants for them! God bless your sweet baby girl! Cannot wait to hold my grandson or granddaughter!

  • Jacquelin Irwin

    A beautiful article, and a beautiful couple. This little girl is gorgeous and so lucky. Blessings for a happy life.

  • Liz Everman Eckman

    Two of my favorite people!! I am so touched by their story! It’s very close to how we became parents of our sweet Caitlin Mackenzie, almost 25 years ago. Such a wonderful, topsy turvy adventure ahead!! Thanks for sharing.

  • Phyllis Blackwood

    What a beautiful story of two wonderful people who have their hearts in the right place! There is nothing like a baby to change your world, and God knew that. His son changed our world and continues to change everyone who trusts in Him.

    My love and best wishes to Connie and Kent as they raise little Emerson. I look forward to watching her grow up. Thanks for sharing with us. May God bless!

  • Katherine Bricking Woods

    May God Bless you both and make your journey as parents a very rewarding one. She is absolutely gorgeous. Connie she looks like you!!!! God Bless, Katherine Bricking Woods,

  • Jo Ann A. Jones

    What a wonderful article about Kent and Connie’s journey for a sweet baby!! It was very touching. All the best to them in the world!

  • Anthony Skaggs

    Congrats Connie and Kent!!!!! What a beautiful story!!!!!! God can perform miracles if we would only believe!!!! I wish the three of you a lifetime of happiness and God’s blessing!!!!!!! :-)

  • Linda Shumate

    Connie, I know that your Mother is so proud, as she should be. Beautiful family and I am so glad that God has blessed you.

  • Sharon

    What a blessing for Kent and Connie. Congratulations on becoming parents. We feel like we know you from years of watching you two on television and this couldn’t happen to a sweeter pair. Congratulations, Emerson for picking them.
    Thank you Lord
    There’s a roof above me
    I have a good place to sleep
    There’s food on my table
    And shoes on my feet.
    You gave me your love Lord
    And a fine family
    I thank you Lord
    For all the blessings on me.

  • Tracy Collett-Hougland

    Wonderful story so happy for you. Your daughter is beautiful. Enjoy this time with her cause before you know it she will be in college and you’ll be saying where did my baby go!

  • Tammy Cantrell-Williams

    This story is sooo inspiring. During this time Connie was covering a story about my son being killed in a dui wreck. I never could tell one time of her anticipation for her little bundle of joy!! Getting to know her has and will touch my life forever! Emerson is so blessed and very well deserves it!

  • http://Alaboroflove kim

    Connie and Kent so glad that you finally got the child that you had but wanting. Congratulations on your new daughter and Best wishes!!!

  • Jane Cockrum

    I AM so happy for you and your family. I AM an adoptee and promise that chosen children are such blessings! I wish you all happiness and I know you will continue to value you family. Love to you all. God is with you!

  • Brooke

    Congrats. What a beautiful story. My husband and I are also pursuing adoption after infertility. We are trying to adopt through the state foster/adoption, sadly we are about to lose our first foster daughter who we thought might be our forever baby. BUT- this gives me hope that our journey is just starting and our baby will make his/her way to our home! Blessings to you both!

  • Brenda Edwards-Howland

    Congratulations on the arrival of your precious bundle of joy, Emerson! She is beautiful. May you three have a lifetime of happiness and God’s blessings. Keep us updated as she grows, please. :)

  • http://TheVoice-Tribune David and Kat

    My wife and I have shared tears of joy reading this article. What a blessing….
    We never knew you all were married but we love all of the Wave 3 team.
    Enjoy every moment,
    David and Kat

  • Glenda

    My daughter placed a child for adoption many years ago. While very very hard for all, there is also a very warm reward that is never ending.

  • linda hale

    I would like to send my blessings to Connie and Kent. I watch wave3 everyday and feel like ive come to know them. Im so very happy for you both. Congratulations on your new family.

  • Donna

    Congratulations and Blessings to you, Connie, Kent, and Emerson, and to all of your family and friends. You have been honored with the greatest blessing in life. How wonderful and touching that Emerson’s birth parents were so selfless in their decision and gift. Reading your story and how your family and friends have responded speaks volumes of the family you are, and how very fortunate and blessed you are to have found each other. Not only as parents and daughter, but as husband and wife. Your beautiful story has made my day and reminded me of the honor my husband and I have been bestowed with our 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren. You not only have a beautiful, fulfilling life ahead of you as parents and daughter, but you will also look forward to your greatest reward: Grandchildren!

  • Kevin

    I think that it is so great for you and will keep you and little Emerson in my daily prayers, congrats