Human Interest

After suffering the heartbreaking loss of three babies, they followed God’s call to adopt

Justine Bunger Photography

Tiffani Rickey’s biggest dream was to be a mother, but her journey to motherhood would take her down a path of unanticipated loss, crushing heartache… and finally, peace and joy.

Rickey told Live Action News that, as a young, pro-life, single woman, she felt a call from God towards adoption. She overheard a young coworker talking about how much he wanted to be a father and realized she had never heard a man talk so eagerly about prospective fatherhood. He even said that if he never got married he would still want to adopt children.

It seemed the two were on the same page and shared the same values, and they began dating.

The joy of pregnancy and heartache of loss

Shortly after marrying that co-worker, David, Rickey found out she was pregnant — and they were both thrilled. The pregnancy progressed without issue until week 30, when doctors noticed concerning markers on their baby girl. Still, nothing indicated that Rickey and her husband were about to lose their daughter.

When baby Kensie was born at 36 weeks via C-section, the couple faced a “gut-wrenching, shocking” tragedy. Kensie survived for just 24 hours after birth, leaving them confused and heartbroken. Doctors weren’t sure what had caused Kensie’s health issues and death, and they told Rickey that it was highly unlikely that another child would have the same concerns.

The couple became pregnant again right away, but at one of their first ultrasounds with their second daughter, doctors saw the same markers they had seen on Kensie.

Photo courtesy of Tiffani Rickey. Do not reprint. Justine Bunger Photography

“We had a wonderful doctor,” Rickey told Live Action News. “She was a pro-life Catholic woman and abortion never came to her lips.”

Baby Emery was born at 34 weeks via C-section, and sadly, only lived outside the womb for six hours after her birth. Doctors still did not fully understand the cause of her death or Kensie’s.

The Rickeys were now concerned about getting pregnant for a third time, but were soon faced with a surprise pregnancy. Baby Audrey was born at 31 weeks after doctors noticed the same indicators that they had seen on ultrasounds of her older sisters. They assumed that, like her sisters, Audrey would not live long after birth — but they were wrong.

Each of Rickey’s daughters had been born with underdeveloped lungs, but Audrey’s chest x-ray showed her lungs were healthier than her sisters’ had been. Instead of providing her with comfort care, doctors took measures to continue her life and give her a chance.

Audrey lived outside the womb for more than five months. After her death, her medical team from the hospital attended her funeral.

“They were so supportive and valued her life. If you had Audrey [in the NICU], you were probably working the hardest that shift,” said Rickey. “She was the wonder of the hospital. We got to bring her home for about two months. She was on a ventilator and we had to learn all of that to take care of her, and even though it was traumatic and hard and 24/7 care, I was delighted that I finally got to bring home one of our babies. Her life was in the balance the whole time she was alive. It was so joyful but hard.”

Heartbroken after losing all three of their children, the couple still strongly felt called to be parents.

“Each pregnancy was gut-wrenching,” said Rickey. “Each day, you’re carrying a life that you know is probably going to be lost. I felt like I couldn’t do that again. But I have no regrets; I’m so glad we had our three babies.”

Open to adoption

Already open to adoption, it was an easy and fast decision to move forward with the process, taking the steps necessary to be put on the waiting list of couples hoping to adopt. Doctors had offered the option of IVF, which would involve testing each embryo for a genetic condition, but they believed adoption was how God was going to give them children — eventually.

“We heard it takes a couple of years,” she said. “We thought, maybe in a year or two we’ll be ready and we’ll have time to let our hearts heal. But six weeks later, we were matched with our first birth mom.”

Just months after losing Audrey, Rickey and her husband were making preparations for a new baby. They were also undergoing genetic testing on themselves and Audrey.

Photo courtesy of Tiffani Rickey. Do not reprint. Justine Bunger Photography

“My husband and I both had one mutated gene, and our baby had that same gene mutated twice. There is a 25% chance every time we get pregnant that the baby would get a mutated gene from each of us…. It felt like a good confirmation that it was out of our hands. It wasn’t anything we had done. I think personally, there was shame that I had done something unknowingly. We felt like the Lord brought us together, and He knew all of this. He’s brought so much restoration and fulfilled promises through adoption.”

Their first adopted child was born in August, seven months after losing Audrey. “I was grieving and I was just expecting the bio mom to change her mind,” she said. “I would say she was what you want every bio mom to be like. She’s a believer and we have the same values. We still talk today. She is a pro-life, single mom of two who knew she couldn’t care for another baby.”

Photo courtesy of Tiffani Rickey. Do not reprint. Justine Bunger Photography

After that adoption was complete, the couple was put back on the list for a second adoption. They were quickly matched with a mom who was having a little boy, but at the last minute, she had a change of heart and decided to raise her son. Two weeks later, they received a call that a baby girl was at the hospital and needed a family. Rickey convinced her husband to go to the hospital and meet that little girl.

“We went to the hospital; we learned she was going to be placed for adoption, but mom changed her mind, then changed her mind back three days later,” said Rickey. “She saw our profile and chose us. The rights had been severed; she was in the hospital waiting for us to pick her up.”

Healing from Loss

Rickey told Live Action News that people or couples often ask them how they are so “healthy and whole” after losing three babies in a row, and she tells them it’s because they got to hold Kensie, Emry, and Audrey, and name them, and do everything possible to take care of them. She believes women who abort their babies after receiving a prenatal diagnosis are being sold a lie by doctors who convince them that their babies are guaranteed to suffer and die, and that they will be better emotionally if they abort their babies.

However, women who undergo abortions due to a poor prenatal diagnosis are at greater risk of emotional distress compared to those who carry their babies to term. According to Perinatal Hospice and Palliative Care, which provides resources for parents who are facing such a diagnosis, significant research shows that women who have an abortion following a prenatal diagnosis suffer “physical and emotional pain, with psychosocial and reproductive consequences.”

A different study revealed that women who have an abortion due to a prenatal diagnosis for their children “ultimately felt as if they were betraying themselves and their children.”

On the contrary, women who carried their babies to term after a prenatal diagnosis, like Rickey, expressed that they felt closure and peace. The Journal of Clinical Ethics reported that 97.5% of parents who chose to carry to term rather than abort did not regret the decision. “Parents valued the baby as a part of their family and had opportunities to love, hold, meet, and cherish their child,” it explained.

Now parents to children ages six, four, two, and one, Rickey and her husband feel they have carried out their calling to be parents. Rickey finds it “unbelievable” that abortion is offered and even expected for babies who receive a prenatal diagnosis.

“Women are vulnerable, grieving, scared, and shocked” at that diagnosis moment, she said. “If they have doctors who are pushing abortion — we trust our doctors. This is their profession. They know best. So I think, I would guess women are probably swayed [into abortion] by that.”

But she urges parents not to abort their babies, telling them they will have “regret and brokenness” if they end the lives of their children instead of being open to love and hope.

The DOJ put a pro-life grandmother in jail for protesting the killing of preborn children. Please take 30-seconds to TELL CONGRESS: STOP THE DOJ FROM TARGETING PRO-LIFE AMERICANS.

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