A Labor Of Love

| February 7, 2013
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.’”

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Category: Cover Stories

About the Author (Author Profile)

Angie Fenton
Angie Fenton is Managing Editor of The Voice-Tribune, a Blue Equity company. She is also an entertainment correspondent for WHAS11′s new morning show, “Great Day Live!”, which debuted August 22 on Louisville’s ABC affiliate. Additionally, Angie is an entertainment correspondent for the Saturday Morning Show with Ron ‘n’ Mel Fisher on 84WHAS (840 AM) and has served in the same capacity for Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks; Breeders’ Cup; and Circuit of the Americas during the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in November 2012. Angie also serves as an emcee, host, voiceover professional and on-camera commercial talent.

Angie has a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Central Michigan University and began her career as an adjunct professor at her alma mater. She is the youngest of five — four of whom were adopted, including Angie, and none of whom are biologically related. She is also a Michigan native who moved to Kentucky in June 2002. Angie is owned by two dogs — Herbie and Yoda — and feels lucky to have loved and been loved by many more, including Pooch, Jessie, Onyx, Jack and Big Bud, who took his last breath on Christmas Day 2012.

Comments (26)

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  1. Ray says:

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

  2. Lindy Albertson says:

    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!

  3. Tamela Freeman says:

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

  4. stacy says:

    Miracles do happen!

  5. Emily Essex says:

    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!

  6. Donna Haven says:

    What a Lovely story GOD is good.

  7. Nash says:

    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!

  8. Jacquelin Irwin says:

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

  9. Liz Everman Eckman says:

    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.

  10. Phyllis Blackwood says:

    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!

  11. Katherine Bricking Woods says:

    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,

  12. Jo Ann A. Jones says:

    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!

  13. Anthony Skaggs says:

    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!!!!!!! :-)

  14. Linda Shumate says:

    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.

  15. Sharon says:

    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.

  16. Tracy Collett-Hougland says:

    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!

  17. Tammy Cantrell-Williams says:

    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!

  18. kim says:

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

  19. Jane Cockrum says:

    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!

  20. Brooke says:

    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!

  21. Brenda Edwards-Howland says:

    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. :)

  22. 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

  23. Glenda says:

    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.

  24. linda hale says:

    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.

  25. Donna says:

    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!

  26. Kevin says:

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