Theirs is a journey that began 12 years ago, and culminated with the arrival of the greatest Christmas gift either could ever receive - a baby. Shasta and Marty Leggett’s story is one of heartache and triumph.
The young couple - she a Broken Bow High School grad, he an Anselmo-Merna grad - were married in September 2000. Though they had not made a conscious decision to start a family right away they weren’t opposed to the idea, and in December 2001 Shasta found out she was pregnant. However, their joy soon turned to sorrow when just eight weeks later she experienced a miscarriage.
Her doctor encouraged her to wait a few months before trying again, which they did. The one thing losing the baby accomplished was making the couple realize how much they wanted to be parents. So after a few months they began trying again, but had no success.
After several visits with doctors and exhausting lots of avenues, Marty and Shasta made the trip to Omaha and met with a fertility doctor. That led to a series of visits and treatments, costing literally thousands of dollars.
The couple would make trips to Omaha as often as three times a week. They eventually attempted a procedure known as IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), and after three failed attempts between 2007 and 2008, the couple decided to give up and pursue adoption.
Unsure where to even begin, they contacted Donna Lawson - someone they knew had been involved for years in the foster care system who they thought could point them in the right direction. But it was during a conversation with friend Wendy Glendy that Shasta heard about the Nebraska Children’s Home.
She contacted NCH and shortly after the couple attended an informational meeting. They liked what they heard and began the process, which included mountains of paperwork, background checks, family histories and meetings. About six weeks after applying with NCH, the couple received an approval letter and were set up with a case worker in North Platte.
They began attending support group meetings in North Platte with other couples waiting to adopt. They also devoted themselves to attending seminars and workshops, reading books, and anything else they could do to educate themselves and prepare for the process of becoming adoptive parents.
The emotional roller coaster begins
All of Shasta and Marty’s family and friends knew of the couples desire to have a child. One of Shasta’s aunts was working as a nurse in Grand Island, and through a co-worker was made aware of a lady who was pregnant and looking for a couple to adopt the baby.
After a number of conversations, the mother made the decision to select Marty and Shasta as her baby’s adoptive parents. Since they had met and began discussions privately, the couple encouraged the woman to contact the NCH office in Norfolk so they could help her, and she did.
“She told them she didn’t need to see any profiles or talk to anybody else - she wanted us to have the baby,” says Marty.
All was going well, and the Leggetts were busy preparing for the arrival of their child - a boy. They bought the car seat, diapers, bottles, sleepers.
On Halloween night, 2009, the couple received a call from the birth mother saying she was in labor. However, she had experienced false labor a couple of times already so she told them not to head to Norfolk just yet. She would call if it looked like the baby was going to come this time.
The next day, Nov. 1, 2009, Marty and Shasta got a phone call from their case worker. The mother had gone to the doctor - there was no heart beat. The Leggetts immediately packed a bag and headed to Norfolk. But instead of bringing home a baby, they helped the birth mother plan a funeral. Marty and Shasta spent three days with the woman, as they consoled each other.
“Our case worker told us this had only happened like one other time she knew of. They were all crying too,” Marty says.
“I had no idea what an effect losing that baby would have on my whole family,” says Shasta. “My sister and brother were heartbroken.”
But the couple did not give up. The knew they had to try again, so they got back into the adoption pool right away.
Four months after the heartbreaking loss of the baby boy they considered theirs, Marty and Shasta were notified by NCH that a birth mom wanted to meet them. Careful to not get their hopes too high, they met with the mom and her parents for what they anticipated would be a short get-acquainted meeting.
The meeting lasted five hours. Shasta says she knew within a short time of meeting this mom that this was going to be a positive experience - everything about it just felt right. The mom felt the same way, and during that visit told the case worker she wanted the Leggetts to be the parents of her baby - also a boy.
But there was a catch. As we all know, babies have more than one parent - and in order for a child to be adopted both birth parents have to consent and relinquish their parental rights. No one had heard from the father of this baby, and it wasn’t expected to be an issue. Unfortunately, they were wrong.
Legally, the biological father has five business days to file a claim for rights to the baby, and on day four - just 24 hours before Marty and Shasta were set to bring their baby home - daddy filed a claim. Rather than take the case through a long, drawn-out court proceeding, Marty and Shasta withdrew. It was a devastating blow.
“This one just kicked the wind right out of me,” says Marty.
The decision to get back in the pool right away was much more difficult for Marty this time.
“Shasta has always, always wanted a baby - it has always been her dream,” he says.
So, he agreed to try again.
Could third time
be a charm?
More than a year had passed since the Leggetts second failed attempt at adoption, and they had not gotten so much as a phone call. Their next home study was coming up in July, 2012, and the couple was talking seriously about making it their last.
In early July, Shasta was contacted by another one of her aunts about a couple looking for possible adoptive parents for their baby. Shasta and Marty agreed to meet with the young couple, this time even more cautious than in previous meetings. The initial meeting went well, and the two couples met three or four more times over the next few months.
However, Marty and Shasta were totally unaware that another birth mom had selected them for her child. She knew all about their story, and prior heartache, and asked the case worker to not say anything to the couple until she was sure everything was good to go.
“She didn’t want to be in any way responsible for causing us any more hurt,” Marty explains.
The couple recalls the evening vividly. It was 8 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 11, when the phone rang. It was NCH.
“We just thought the young couple we had been talking to had contacted them and made a decision,” says Shasta.
But that was not the case. The voice at the other end of the line was relaying a flurry of information, and Shasta was frantically writing it all on post-it notes.
“I just had a line of sticky notes down the kitchen table,” says Shasta.
“And I was trying to read them over her shoulder,” adds Marty.
By the time the phone call ended they were sure of only one thing - they were to be in Omaha Thursday morning to pick up their baby boy!
“Most people get nine months to prepare for a child - we got two days!” exclaims Marty.
With all of the heartache from the past, the couple had decided they were not going to tell people about the adoption ahead of time. Shasta let her parents in on the secret, and had them arrange for the whole family to be at the Clark home Friday evening.
It turns out the Clark family Christmas was already scheduled for that weekend.
“I told my dad he was going to have to keep Nate (Shasta’s brother) busy Friday, cause I didn’t want him coming over to my house and blowing the whole thing out of the water!”, says Shasta.
“We had always said that our dream was to bring our baby home and be able to spend one whole day with him - just us. And that’s what we got,” says an exuberant Marty.
At 5 p.m., Friday, Dec. 14, Marty and Shasta introduced Griffin Robert Leggett to the Clark family.
“I walked in with him in my arms and said ‘Merry Christmas’, and everyone started crying,” Shasta recalls. “We just ordered some pizza and had an impromptu party!”
Both Marty and Shasta say everything they have gone through was worth what they now have.
“I have always heard that when you have a baby you forget all about the pain of labor and child birth as soon as you hold the baby in your arms. This is a lot the same thing,” says Shasta, her eyes beaming as she gazes on her baby boy.
“If people had to go through what we have, they would sure appreciate their children more,” adds Marty.
The Leggetts entered into an open adoption, and say they believe that is best for the baby. They say they have a good relationship with the birth mom an along with sending lots of pictures look forward to getting together with her periodically. The couple has to wait a minimum of 18 months before attempting to adopt again. They remain undecided at this point whether they will do that.
For now, Shasta is enjoying 12 weeks of maternity leave from her employer, Broken Bow Clinic, and Marty rushes home from work to the bundle of joy that awaits. Loads of laundry, dirty diapers, sleepless nights - are pure magic to this couple who has waited 12 years to experience the joy of becoming parents. Welcome home baby Griffin.