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‘We wouldn’t have it any other way’

By Nancy Rosebush Schertzing | Photography by Rey Del Rio | January 2021

‘We Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way’

Through fostering and adoption, God answers Shana and Bobby’s prayers

But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. (1 Cor 12:31)

Shana Ramsey knows this passage. After five years teaching at St. Michael’s Middle School [Grand Ledge], she could practically recite it from memory. Still, she never understood how significant it would be in her life.

Heading out after Easter Vigil Mass in 2009, she saw Mrs. Bauer – mother of Bobby, her high school freshman boyfriend. Mrs. Bauer joked that, instead of coming to Mass, her son was on his way to a Final Four basketball game.

That Easter evening, Shana texted Bobby teasing him about his choice. Their good-natured banter led to a date shortly thereafter.

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and angels … understand all mysteries … have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Cor 13:1-2)

“That Easter Vigil Mass started it,” Bobby says simply. “After we reconnected, we pretty much knew. Because we dated in high school our parents became good friends, so we knew what was happening in each other’s lives.”

Shana agrees. “We stayed friends even after I broke up with him. We talked in the halls and kept in touch even in college. Then after Easter Vigil that year, things just became clear. We married in 2011 and included that First Corinthians reading in our wedding Mass.

“My mom ran a daycare out of our home when I was growing up, so I was around 12 other kids on a daily basis. I usually helped, so I knew I wanted to be a mom. Bobby and I each have three siblings, so we decided early on that we would have four kids.”

“We decided to wait a couple years to start our family so Shana could finish her master’s [in Middle School Education],” Bobby explains. “Then when we were ready, the pregnancy never happened.”

Love is patient … It does not insist on its own way … but rejoices in the truth. (1 Cor 13:4-6)

Shana recounts. “When we weren’t succeeding, my doctor ran some tests and told us we would have to take special medical measures to conceive a child of our own. We prayed throughout this process and decided against that. We wanted to follow Church teaching and took Natural Family Planning courses to get pregnant. However, that was providing its own set of challenges.”

“In the meantime, we went to St. Vincent Catholic Charities to learn about adopting. They suggested we apply to become foster parents through our county because they had more infants and young children in their system.”

“We started the foster parenting process in October 2014. The classes make it very clear that we are caring for these little ones until their birth parents are ready to welcome them back. You have to decide you’re OK with that when you sign up,” Bobby says.

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor 13:7)

“We were waiting for our license to be approved when, on July 23, 2015, DHHS [Michigan Department of Health and Human Services] called, asking if we would care for Emma.” Shana smiles. “She was a perfect 8-month-old angel – the answer to our prayers. As we were just settling into family life, another mother asked us to adopt her unborn son. We accepted joyfully and began the process to welcome him.

“Then, just three weeks later, she changed her mind. Similarly, Emma’s mother was making progress on her recovery, so Emma’s status changed from ‘terminating parental rights’ to ‘reunification’ with her birth mom.

“Though we knew fostering meant we always had a possibility of losing a child we loved, we were devastated. I went through a real grieving process. Still, we always prayed God would grant what was best for the child. So we gathered ourselves together and decided we would love each child and care for them as long as we could.

“Just after Christmas, Mariah joined our family. She blessed us even as we were working to support Emma’s reunification with her birth mother. It was an emotional roller coaster, but through it all, we kept praying.  Eight months later, Adysen added to our joy.

“The next year Liam came to us – our first baby boy! And Aidan, our second son, joined our family a year later. Both boys experienced mild to severe trauma from their birth parents, but they are developing and growing just beautifully.”

Love never ends. (1 Cor 13:8)

“After 12 months away, Emma was returned to our family under guardianship status. Emma and her brothers and sisters were excited when we got the latest DHHS call asking if we would welcome Ryleigh into our family. We always ask our kids before we accept another little one. Ryleigh came directly from the hospital, and now it’s like she has five moms, with each of our kids wanting to hold her or feed her.”

Bobby smiles, “They get kind of excited because they know they all had similar experiences.”

“They like to talk about who their birth parents are.” Shana laughs, “Like when Emma reminds us her birth mom let her drink Mountain Dew.”

Now I know only in part: then I will know fully even as I have been fully known. (1 Cor 13:12)

“As humans we have our plan. But it turns out that God’s plan for our family was so much greater! We put our faith in God when times were rough. Every prayer was answered – not in the way we thought he would, but in the way God thought he should.”

Bobby nods. “This is our life. God answered our prayers for a family in a way we never expected. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

And now, faith, hope and love abide, these three: and the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:13)