Mary + Filip + Staci + Brian + the Birth Day of Anderson Walker. Kansas City Birth Photographer.

We all have experiences that solidify our beliefs. Some lovely, some painful, and some such a myriad of conflict of these two, it seems impossible to understand the reason for the journey to these moments.  It is these encounters that change our perspective, our understanding, and we can not live the rest of our life without being changed by them. What I had the chance to witness last night was this. From behind the lens, I caught glimpses of the purest definition of calling, destiny, hope, sacrifice, the very quintessence of love lived and extending the very definition of beauty.

Staci + Brian will be the first to agree that life doesn’t always go as planned. The past seven years have been defined by disappointment and devastation. “Trying” for a baby was an understatement, exhausting their possibilities, their hopes, and over and over again, these two sincere, tender, nurturing individuals longed to fulfill their hearts’ yearning for a family and still found themselves living daily in a place of empty pain. No one would fault them if they had chosen to seek comfort by settling into hardened bitterness. And yet, they chose love. Love as they cared for their nephew and eventually brought him into their own home. Love as Staci poured out her life for her students and smiled and celebrated the baby debuts around her. Love as they chose to cling to each other. And so, holding each other, pressing through this unwanted, confusing, angering, overwhelming reality of life, they slowly, tearfully and yet with steady, humble faith, found themselves in peace, this was the way it was supposed to be.

However, their story wasn’t over.

It’s easy to swirl in our own existence, allow ourselves no room to acknowledge others, to feel their grief, to understand their struggle as we plod through, head down through the routine, work, play, sleep, work, play, sleep, one foot in front of the other, the daily grind. However, there are some who, divinely, find the strength to pause and listen to their calling. To lift their head and acknowledge, feel, understand. And yet, Mary + Filip, with two young children of their own, didn’t just allow themselves to stop there. Mary heard her calling and embraced it. Filip, with eyes for only his wife, embraced her and, together, they knew. It was the way it was supposed to be. With tender humility and sincerest of resolve, Mary offered her dear friend the most beautiful gift she could, she offered to be a surrogate, to carry the baby Staci + Brian longed for, the child they loved before he even existed.

One can only imagine the shock, the tears, the doubts, the tempered hope in the conversations held over the next couple of years. More on their journey can be seen here but, last night, four became five who became one.

The strength in the room last night was unmatched. When I walked in, it was silent and yet the air itself was pregnant with anticipation, sacrifice, yearning, exemplified. Brian + Staci held each other. And prayed. Filip by his wife, holding her hand, eyes full of her, and Mary, without tears or doubt or wavering, she worked. And worked. And gave. All that she knew how to, all that she was created for, she gave.

And then, Anderson Walker, was welcomed. With open, aching arms and hearts who have waited forever, he was theirs. He was loved. He was supposed to be.

There aren’t words enough to articulate where Staci + Brian have been, what Filip + Mary have given, how much Anderson Walker will be loved. I know the words I’ve chosen, the sentences I’ve constructed cannot hold the weight what each of these amazing individuals have been through, what they’ve felt, what they believe and have lived, regardless, I also know it’s a story that deserves told.

And so, for those longing, may you read hope. For those in hurt, may you read healing. For those being called, may you read strength.

And for Mary + Filip, Staci + Brian + Anderson, may you read thank you. Thank you for choosing hope, choosing faith, choosing love. May blessings beyond comparison, beyond imagination be yours.

Welcome, Anderson Walker. You are loved.

See Anderson Walker's newborn pictures here.

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