Joey and Lena (Guerrero ’02) Rodriguez took a winding path toward parenthood with their share of heartbreak along the way.
“We knew if we remained strong and faithful, God would restore our broken hearts,” Lena writes. Now they are the parents of three children – two adopted – and grateful for the life they lead.
We continue our series about Abilene Christian University alumni who have followed their hearts to adopt, with the Rodriguezes’ story of faith and hope. Joey is the varsity men’s soccer coach at Sam Houston High School in Arlington, Texas. Lena is a painting and drawing instructor at The Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy. They live in Grand Prairie.
Our Babies in a Basket
I met my husband Joey, a student and soccer player at Hardin Simmons University, the summer before my freshman year at ACU. He was working in Sikes Hall painting and caulking windows during the time I lived there for a summer program.
Little chats here and there turned serious, and after seven years, we decided to get married. A couple of years into our marriage we felt it was time to start a family. We thought it would happen quickly. We were both in great places, career wise. Joey was coaching a successful soccer program at Arlington Sam Houston High School, and I was teaching art in Grand Prairie. But after months, and then years of waiting, we began to accept the fact it might never happen.
We found out it would be difficult for me to conceive physically. Fertility treatments weren’t feasible on teachers’ salaries, and although I always loved the idea of adoption, many of those options were also not financially possible.
Once we began to table the idea of children, we were pregnant. It was late summer in 2010, and we wasted no time sharing the great news and singing God’s praises for this miracle. Unfortunately, not long after, we went for our second sonogram to find out our baby no longer had a heartbeat. We were devastated. So many of our friends and family our ages were already on baby number two or three, and we were back at square one.
We knew if we remained strong and faithful, God would restore our broken hearts. We continued to invest in the lives of our students, who were also big supporters for us during this time. If we couldn’t be parents to our own children, we would help guide the lives of those in our classrooms, or in Joey’s case, on the soccer field. To this day I still consider many of those kids “my kids” and stay in touch with them often.
November came, and the Tuesday before Thanksgiving we received a call that gave us unexpected hope. There was a young mother in Abilene who delivered twin girls that she couldn’t provide for but wanted to find good parents for them. We were connected through mutual friends and pastors in Abilene who knew of our desire to be parents, and the ball began to quickly roll.
After just a couple of weeks of praying and extensive paperwork, we picked up our daughters at just a little over a month old. We named them Mila and Lola. The adoption was final on Nov. 17, 2011, on National Adoption Day. Just when we couldn’t believe our happy ending included TWO beautiful babies, we found ourselves expecting three years later.
There was definite hesitation about this pregnancy but less pressure because we were already blessed to be parents. God is good and does “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20), and for months that scripture stayed on our hearts and minds.
We were officially on-the-record excited when we found out our baby was a boy. Our sweet Ezra Antonio was born a month early on Sept. 30, 2014. He was tiny, but healthy and strong.
So here we are, parents of three beautiful children. We often tell the story of baby Moses to our twins, and they know that Ezra was our baby in the belly, but they were our babies in the basket. They love their little brother, and life is good.
In the weeks to come, we will introduce you to other alumni who help make a real difference in the world – and enrich their own families – by adopting and fostering children. If you have an adoption story or photos you would like to share with us, please email Robin Saylor, firstname.lastname@example.org, by Dec. 24.
You can follow new stories in this series on the ACU Facebook page.
See previous posts in this series: