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The Long Journey to Parenthood

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The Morrises share their harrowing journey of becoming the adoptive parents of two beautiful girls

Written by Crystal Rawls | Photography by Tanya Radoff

Sugar Land, TX News - You never forget the date,” says Sienna resident Allyson Morris. “June 15, 2004.” She was eight weeks pregnant with her son, Elijah, and had gone to the doctor for a routine blood test. But there was something wrong. Either her body was treating the baby as an infection, or she had developed chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).

“I started screaming at the doctor. I was hysterical,” says Morris. For two weeks, Allyson and her husband, Trevor, anxiously waited for the results. “June 29,” she says. It was the date doctors gave her five years to live – and only if she had an abortion.

INSET SLM_W_14_Ella and Eva Morris by Tanya Radoff_09_for web

After the Morrises lost their son Elijah, they were inspired to adopt their two daughters, Ella and Eva

Dreams Abandoned
At 27 years old, Morris believed she had plenty of time to give birth to her unborn son, see him off to school, and one day care for grandchildren. In a matter of minutes, her dreams shattered. “What do you do? I played out every scenario in my head,” she shares.

By that afternoon, word had gotten out. “All of our friends started calling, begging us to get a second opinion.” Through the urging of friends and family, Allyson reached out to Dr. Michael Keating at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He maintained that they had caught CML early enough that she would not be medically recommended to abort but would be able to postpone treatments until after the baby was born.

“‘This baby is a Godsend,’ Dr. Keating said to me. ‘Keep this baby,’” recalls Morris. “He saved my life.” Allyson and Trevor’s son, Elijah, whose name means “God’s messenger,” was stillborn on October 26, 2004. Mourning for their son, the couple then decided to spend some time away before beginning CML treatments using Gleevec, a targeted chemotherapy pill.

“I had crazy side effects for six months. I thought it was never ending, but I fought through the whole thing,” says Morris. “I lost some of my hair, but eventually it grew back. At one point, I was up to nine pills per day.”

SLM_W_14_Allyson Morris by Tanya Radoff_12_for web

Allyson Morris

A Hope that Endures
Within a few months, Allyson was in remission, and the couple returned again to thoughts of growing their family the next year, facing yet another obstacle. “I cannot get pregnant, [since] I take medication every day to keep me in remission,” says Morris. “We really wanted to be parents, and carrying our own child was not an option.” The couple decided to adopt. “We wanted to be a mom and a dad more than anything in the world.”

Once again, friends and family rallied around them, recommending Gladney Center for Adoption in Fort Worth. Allyson and Trevor made it just in time for orientation and to begin the adoption process. “[We] listened for the entire eight hours, and I just cried uncontrollably,” Morris says.

And then they waited. “Because [the organization] is so big, they have so many adoptive parents and only so many birth parents; the ratio does not lend itself to a very fast process,” explains Morris. But the organization counseled them through the entire journey.

“It’s a very trying time, an emotional roller coaster that you’re on. I was thinking, ‘OK. Is today going to be the day?’ Because I’m a planner, when I’m invested in something it’s 100%.” Morris says they tried to live their life as normal as possible while waiting. “The best advice is to live your life because if you sit by the phone, it’s never going to happen. You cannot remain stagnant, or you will go crazy.”

And then, after the long wait, it finally happened. While she was at work, Morris got a call from her case worker. “She said, ‘You have a baby.’” Boy or girl? Morris forgot to ask. “It did not matter to me at that point, because we had literally become parents in one second flat,” she remembers. They flew to Fort Worth to meet their daughter. Eva was finally coming home, and her parents fell in love with her instantly. “Eva is extremely brilliant. She is so smart; she loves to learn,” says Morris. “She’s extremely sensitive, caring, sweet, and kind – and has the most wonderful sense of humor. Her smile can light up a room.”

SLM_W_14_Allyson and Trevor Morris_Eva (older) and Ella by Tanya Radoff_02_for web

Allyson and Trevor Morris with their adopted daughters, Ella and Eva

Another Baby Girl
The Morris family waited another two years before they considered adopting again. “At first, we weren’t going to adopt another child. We felt very blessed to have our little girl. But the more we thought about it, if we weren’t adopting and were getting pregnant, we never planned on having only one child. Why weren’t we sticking to the plan?”

This time, the couple worked with Adoptions First in Los Angeles, CA, in February 2011 and were matched with birth parents that May.

“We spoke to [the birth parents] on the phone; I texted with them,” she says. They were in another waiting game. “You just have to trust it, which is very hard for me. These two processes were very hard for me to let other people basically control my destiny.” When the phone rang with their “yes,” they booked a same-day flight to Los Angeles to get Ella.

Time for Healing
Little Ella was born three years and one week after Eva. “And now we’re one big, happy family of four,” says Morris. “Ella is a typical 2-year-old. [She’s] happy and smiles a lot, loves on Eva, and loves on us. We feel really, really lucky that both girls bonded with each other seamlessly.”

The couple feel they are right where they are supposed to be as a family – with two beautiful daughters. “We really feel like we are complete,” says Morris.

The Morris family remembers the one who truly made the family complete – Elijah. “I could have never imagined that all of this was going to happen the day I got my diagnosis,” says Morris.

As a reminder of life’s fragility and beauty, Eva and Ella are both named for the son Allyson and Trevor lost. “When your life is dark, stormy, and basically a category five hurricane, just remember that at the end of every storm is a rainbow. Eva and Ella are our rainbows – reminding us every day that in your saddest hour, God will lead us to a brighter day.” SLM

Tips for Adoptive Parents from the Morris Family

  • Do your research on agencies. Find an agency that is the right fit for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell people you are going to adopt. Have a support system in place – it’s necessary.
  • Once you choose an agency, make sure to have an open line of communication with your social worker.

Crystal Rawls is a freelance writer and supplier diversity coordinator at Fluor.

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