In Mommy’s Heart: How adoption blessed the lives of one Picayune family

Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Rester family, from front left Emma and Lennon. From back left are Bill and Brooke.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

The Rester family, from front left Emma and Lennon. From back left are Bill and Brooke.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

If someone asks 3-year-old Emma Jane Rester where she grew, she will answer “I grew in Mommy’s heart.”
Emma is the adopted daughter of William and Brooke Rester of Picayune. From the second the couple laid eyes on her as a newborn, they “knew she belonged in their family.”
The Resters met about 12 years ago while attending the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.
Brooke was working at a local restaurant when Bill brought in his job application during her shift.
“I brought it back to my boss and told him that he needed to hire him because I thought he was cute,” Brooke said. “And the rest is history.”
Bill also thought Brooke was “really cute” and said it didn’t take much convincing for them to start dating.
They dated for three years, were engaged for one and married in October 2008.
As most married couples often do, Brooke and Bill discussed having children. They both agreed, that whether or not they have their own children, they would still consider adoption.
But God had different plans for the Resters.
In the summer of 2010 Brooke became pregnant, but miscarried one week after they discovered the news. She was five weeks pregnant at the time. Other complications soon followed, which required emergency surgery.
For another year, the couple struggled to conceive.
Brooke also visited a doctor to explore fertility treatments. Sadly, they didn’t have much luck with that route either.
“It was discouraging and made us not want to try anymore,” Brooke said.
Then, in the summer of 2012, the couple remembered their desire to adopt.
They signed up for classes offered through the Department of Human Resources, which are basically Parenting 101, Bill said. That’s the protocol for couples wishing to obtain their license to foster, Brooke said.
However, they never completed the classes.
“We knew we couldn’t bear to see kids come into our home and leave,” Bill said. “The state really prefers the fostering route. They want to fix families. It’s about reunification.”
Brooke agreed and said she knew they weren’t emotionally equipped to be foster parents.
However, a Saturday morning phone call in 2013 would change the Rester’s life forever.
The call came from an adoption agency in Gulfport, one the Resters found through a friend.
Brooke called back expecting to leave a voicemail, but, to her surprise, a woman answered and delivered promising news, they had a birth mother seeking a family to adopt her baby.
“She told me she had a meeting with the birth mom in three days and she hadn’t chosen a family yet,” Brooke said. “She said we needed to prepare a scrapbook.”
The scrapbook consisted of photographs of the Resters and told the story of their lives including their careers, interests and a general idea of the type of family the birth mother’s child would potentially become a part of, Bill said.
The representative also asked if the couple had a preference regarding gender or race, to which they answered, “no.”
Once Brooke hung up the phone, she and Bill raced to the nearest craft store and worked on their scrapbook the entire weekend.
The following Tuesday, the representative from the adoption agency stopped by Brooke’s office at 10 a.m., just prior to her meeting with the birth mother. She told Brooke it would be a long decision-making process.
“She called me at 10:55 a.m. and told me Emma’s birth mom looked at our book first and said she had found a family for her baby,” Brooke said.
The Resters met the birth mother, and both agreed to a closed adoption, meaning the birth mother would have no contact with Emma.
Emma wasn’t due for another six weeks, which meant the Resters needed to act fast.
“We were mentally prepared for it and then people starting throwing us showers,” Bill said. “It was a really fast experience.”
It went by even faster because Emma Jane made her appearance three weeks earlier than expected. She was born on July 3.
The Resters, along with their entire families, gathered at the hospital for the event. However, Bill said it was stressful in a sense.
“You’re not the parents and it’s the hospital’s job to accommodate the birth parents,” he said. “It was a lot of waiting.”
However, once the nurses brought the baby to the nursery, they placed Emma in the window, where Brooke stayed for the next three to four hours staring at her newborn daughter.
“From the second I laid eyes on her, I knew she belonged in our family,” Brooke said.
For Bill, the moment was bittersweet because a mere three months prior to Emma’s birth, Bill’s mother suddenly passed away. It was a dark time for him, but he said Emma’s birth was well timed and took his mind off things.
“Here was this wonderful thing and my mom wasn’t going to be able to see it,” he said.
Two days later, the Resters brought their baby girl home.
However, before that, Brooke said the hardest part for her was “watching her birth mother and father tell her goodbye.”
“Before she was discharged, the birth mother and father saw Emma one last time, hugged and kissed her and told her ‘she was so sorry but knew she would have a better life,’’’ Brooke said. “It’s bittersweet because you’re so excited to become a family and you see the heartache for someone else.”
Both Brooke and Bill said they believe their adoption happened so quickly because they “were open to a child of any race or gender.” Emma is bi-racial.
The Resters described Emma, who is now 3, as sweet, incredibly polite, super smart and “loves hard.”
In 2014, the Resters were in for yet another sweet surprise.
Brooke fell ill right before she and Emma were due to fly to Chicago, while Bill was away at a conference. She went to a clinic, where the doctor asked her if she might be pregnant.
“I kind of laughed at him, explained my history, and said ‘no I’m not,’’’ Brooke said. “But something told me not to get the steroid shot.”
About three days later, Brooke felt sick again and this time, discovered she was pregnant, which scared her at first.
“But something kept ringing in my head that gave me reassurance,” she said. “I kept hearing, ‘it’s going to be ok.’’’ Doctors induced Brooke about two weeks prior to her due date. She was in labor for about 30 hours and finally opted for a C-section.
“It was the hardest, but best thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she said. “It’s the most rewarding.”
Lennon Bexley Anne Rester was born on July 21, 2015.
The feisty 1-year-old enjoys snuggling, being affectionate and is a daredevil, her parents said.
Both girls are named after Bill and Brooke’s mothers and Brooke’s grandmother.
The Resters learned about adoption mainly through word of mouth.
“I tell people not to be indecisive about adoption and to give it a shot, you never know,” he said. “
Brooke said they never thought they would be able to afford a private adoption, but they found a Christian care credit union, which provided them the ability to finance the adoption.
“Don’t let the money stop you,” she said. “You drop that kind of money on a new car that you might trade in later. But you’re looking to build your family and that will last a lifetime.”
Brooke created the Facebook group, The Adoptive Mommies Club, for local mothers who have adopted. It is open to anyone that wants to share resources.
“Keep your heart open, don’t close yourself off to the possibilities,” she said. “Our family portrait doesn’t look like what we once imagined, but we couldn’t imagine it any other way.”

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