Kimberly and Marc Risinger had been trying to have children for a year but struggled with fertility issues. After three failed attempts using artificial insemination, their doctor told them they had a better chance at winning the lottery and suggested they consider other options for starting a family.
Marc mentioned adoption as an alternative, but Kimberly had concerns about whether they could build an emotional connection with a child who wasn’t theirs biologically. “I wanted to be able to say: ‘you have your Mom’s nose and your Dad’s eyes. I was very set on this traditional view of the family. And then I talked to some other friends who adopted a son from the Congo, and when I expressed these feelings to the mother, she said ‘I felt the same way but as Regan [their son] got older, I can look at him and say you act just like your Dad.’”
Shortly after their conversation, the couple connected with St. Joe’s and registered for a medically fragile class located at Rough River. During the drive, Kimberly recalls an incident she believes was an indication of their future family. “On our way there, we got lost and turned around in a church parking lot. We saw a sign in the parking lot that said: ‘storms will come, but so will rainbows.’ Four days later, we received an email about Rush,” she says. The 6-month-old had already endured physical and emotional trauma, but the Risingers knew they could give him the love and affection he needed.
They took Rush home the following day on May 4, 2016 and designated the date as “Rush Day,” – a celebration of him entering the family. The Risingers resigned themselves to the belief that they wouldn’t have biological children and were happy with the new family they created. Then two years later, their lives changed again when Kimberly began having bouts of nausea. Family members jokingly said she was pregnant, but Kimberly wasn’t convinced. “Everybody would say ‘now that you’re adopting you’re going to get pregnant’ and we would say: ‘not us.’”
After seven weeks of sickness – even though they were confident the results would be negative – Marc insisted she take a pregnancy test. “I took the test, then placed it on the counter and when I turned around, it wasn’t even faint. It was the brightest blue plus sign ever. I freaked out. I called Marc and said ‘I’m pregnant and he kept saying ‘shut up.’ He was so excited.”
Following the phone call, Marc bought a shirt for Rush with the message “Awesome Big Brother” on it and had him wear the shirt when they visited Kimberly’s parents the same night. The couple finalized his adoption on September 12, 2018 and nine days later, Rory was born. Kimberly says Rush, 7 and Rory, 4 have their own distinctive personalities, and she enjoys watching how they interact with each other. “Rory is extremely independent and opinionated. Rush is low-key funny. He loves to play jokes and be silly. He does everything with happiness and enthusiasm.” “Rush really does – in this sweet and innocent way – look up to Rory…they are always digging up worms and bringing them into the house.”
The Risingers strive to foster a bond between the children that transcends a biological connection. “I don’t want adoption to be Rush’s identity,” she says. “It is a part of his story, and I love sharing it but I don’t want it to be: ‘this is the son we adopted and this is the daughter we had.’ “God gave Rory a unique story just like Rush has a unique story so neither of my kids [would] feel left out. They both know they are special and have something that nobody has.”
Thanks for sharing your story Kimberly!
P.S. Ready to change a child’s life? Consider becoming a foster parent or respite provider. Also, this story of family reunification will warm your heart.
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