The call came in at about 3 a.m.
“We are heading to the hospital.”
Kendra and Lucas Bear quickly packed up and left their ranch in Merriman for Scottsbluff.
“It is not that long of a drive,” Lucas said, “but that night it was a long drive.”
“We were afraid we would get there too late,” Kendra said, for the arrival of a blessing the Bears had been waiting for since they married in April 2006.
The young couple tried many different avenues to have children, but “we never had any success,” Lucas said.
Beginning the process
“We wanted to have a family,” Kendra said. “We did a lot of praying, and talking to each other. We decided to try adoption.”
They both had family members who had adopted in the past; some had members who had been adopted through the Nebraska Children’s Home 40-50 years ago.
“Lucas and I decided we would like to have the experience of a newborn,” Kendra said.
So the couple began working with the Nebraska Children’s Home in 2011.
They went through parenting classes, had background checks done and a home study.
The Nebraska Children’s Home allows the birth families to pick the potential adoptive parents so the Bears also had to put together a profile on themselves. They also had to share their views of an open adoption.
Kendra included a personal letter to the potential birth mother. She shared her hopes and dreams.
The process took about nine months from their first contact to their profile being available to birth families to view and hopefully be chosen.
For some the waiting is short, for others it is years, and some are never selected.
The days became weeks, weeks became months then years.
“You kind of wonder, ‘Is it ever going to happen?’” Kendra said.
On Valentine’s Day 2014, the phone rang.
“I answered the phone,” Kendra said.
The person from the Nebraska Children’s Home said a birthmother had looked at our profile and would like to meet with the couple.
“I started crying,” she said. “I can’t express the love and emotion that went over us at that moment. I dropped to my knees and thanked God for this amazing young woman who wanted to meet us.”
Taylor Kelsch was a 16-year-old from Kimball. She was about 16 weeks into her pregnancy.
“I believe adoption was the best choice for everyone,” Taylor said.
She began working with a case worker from the Nebraska Children’s Home.
Taylor was asked to make a list of what she wanted in parents for the baby. The NCH then narrowed the choices down to 13 possible families. Those profiles were given to Taylor.
After she read the Bears’ profile, “they felt like the right ones,” she said.
A meeting was set up with Taylor a week after the Bears had received the call.
The Bears traveled to Scottsbluff for the first meeting.
“We were really nervous,” Kendra said. “What are they going to be like? What are they going to think of us? Will they like us?”
They walked into the room and shortly afterward, Taylor and her mom came into the room.
“I was really nervous,” Taylor said. “They (Lucas and Kendra) made me feel welcome. I really liked them right off the bat.”
They spent about two hours sharing life stories, lots of questions and “we laughed a lot and shared some tears,” Kendra said.
Taylor wanted to get to know the Bears better and continue moving forward with their adoption journey.
Later, the Bears also met the birth father and his family and made a strong connection with them.
From meeting to birth
There were tons of phone calls, texts and lots of face-to-face meetings after their first meeting.
“Taylor is such an amazing person,” Kendra said. “She would text me through the process sharing her experience, when the baby moved … She was so open.”
One day, Lucas said, Kendra got a call from Taylor, “How would you like to go to the ultrasound?”
“I just thought it would be really good for Kendra to be there,” Taylor said.
At the ultrasound, Taylor asked Kendra, “should we find out if it is a boy or a girl?”
“She thought about us throughout the whole process,” Kendra said. “It is incredible.”
Taylor and Kendra text messaged baby names back and forth.
“We both really liked Aliyah,” Taylor said.
The families grew closer. The birth families visited the Bears’ ranch and the Bears were able to meet grandparents and other extended family members.
Then on Aug. 1, 2014, came the 3 a.m. call from Taylor.
Aliyah was about to arrive and the Bears left their ranch wanting to be at the hospital for her arrival.
When they got to the hospital, Taylor was still in labor.
When the time came and everyone was leaving the room, Taylor said to Kendra, “We want you to stay.”
Kendra and Taylor’s mom stayed in the room and helped support Taylor.
Aliyah arrived at 9:46 a.m.
Kendra was allowed to cut the umbilical cord and be the first to hold the new arrival.
“I was right there,” Kendra said. “It is nice to know Aliyah had both her mothers there at her birth.”
“I was overwhelmed with joy,” Lucas said. “All these years hoping you would have a child of your own and then finally you get the chance. You pinch yourself and ask, ‘Is this real?’”
The hospital had a room for Lucas and Kendra to stay in until Aliyah was ready to go to her new home two days later.
“We said our goodbyes and brought Aliyah home with us,” Kendra said.
“It was really difficult (to say goodbye),” Taylor said. “I was happy, but also heartbroken.”
Even though the Bears took Aliyah home with them, the adoption was still not final.
The birth parents have two weeks to decide and sign the final paperwork. Then there was another six months that included three home studies before they could pursue adoption.
For Taylor, the first couple weeks after Aliyah left were difficult.
“I would have loved to have raised her, but I know this was the best,” Taylor said.
Finally, on April 7, 2015, Aliyah officially became a Bear.
“That is when we became an official family,” Lucas said.
The new family
But the new family was much more than Lucas, Kendra and little Aliyah.
“We came out with a newborn baby, who is beautiful, but we also adopted them (the birth family),” Kendra said.
When the Bears started the adoption journey, they were a little intimidated by the thought of an open adoption, but not anymore.
“It is a blessing to have this openness,” Kendra said. “We spend a lot of time together.”
Taylor will call and want to come out to see Aliyah. If the Bears drive through anywhere Taylor might be, they stop by.
“We have even had Taylor’s grandparents come (to the ranch) for a weekend,” she said. “It’s all very comfortable.”
“I know it (adoption) was the right decision, especially when I see them (Lucas, Kendra and Aliyah) together,” Taylor said.
Aliyah may not understand who she is at this point in her life, Taylor said, but “she loves me a lot.”
Now 3 years old, Aliyah, will have her first dance recital in April.
“We have already invited the birth family,” Kendra said.
“I will be there,” Taylor said. “I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”
They all came to Aliyah’s baptism, to her birthday party, and they exchange Christmas gifts every year.
“As Aliyah grows up she will be surrounded by so many people who love her,” Kendra said.
“Adoption is amazing,” she added.
It is not an end, it is a beginning, both Kendra and Taylor said.
“When I see how blessed Aliyah is every day, all I can say is, ‘God is good,’” Kendra said.