BOILING SPRINGS — Darrell and Michaelle Weathers had been married for eight years when they decided to adopt a child in 2001. They went through a private agency in South Carolina and spent $18,000 by the time the process was complete. Though it made a hole in their budget, they never begrudged a cent.
“I’m still in shock. I never thought we’d end up with Seth,” Mrs. Weathers said. “It was a financial strain but my faith has grown a whole lot stronger since then. I’m on another level now.”
Fortified by a new family dynamic and a new spiritual life, the Weathers moved happily through the years to one wintry Sunday in 2005 after Mass at Jesus, Our Risen Savior Church in Spartanburg. Their adopted child Seth was four by this time, healthy after a few surgical procedures early on. The couple was unaware that their life together was about to take on another dimension.
“A mutual friend left a message on our voice mail, telling us about a woman who was trying to find Catholic parents for her soon-to-be-born daughter,” Mr. Weathers said. “We had talked about adopting another baby at some stage, but were not actively looking. Now we had to make a decision.”
The couple had precious little time for that decision; the baby was due in three weeks. Mrs. Weathers was working as a dental assistant, the job she still holds, and Mr. Weathers, a trained horticulturist, worked a regular job as a parks supervisor for the county and had built up a landscaping business on the side. He worked obscene hours, but the extra money made the opportunity to adopt Rebecca, now 3, possible.
“It cost us between $10,000 and $11,000. There was no adoption agency involved this time, but legal fees, home study requirements and all that have to be paid for up front,” Mrs. Weathers said.
Rebecca’s biological grandmother explained that her daughter, a single parent, already had a child and could not raise two.
Paul Drutonis Jr., Mrs. Weathers’ father, had predicted another child in the family and had been a great advocate for the first adoption, according to her husband.
“He always said that he was glad Seth could come to someone like us,” Mr. Weathers said.
Drutonis was suffering from complications of his diabetes and was undergoing dialysis. His condition would worsen at the next juncture of the Weathers’ lives.
In the meantime, they were gratified by the attitude of the birth mother.
“She was giving her child life by offering her up for adoption; a selfless act,” Mrs. Weathers said.
She was not the only selfless person involved in the adoption, according to Father Michael J. Polewczak, the Weathers’ pastor. He said the couple demonstrates true family values.
“The example of Michaelle and Darrell is a testimony to how far-reaching a strong and healthy bond of marital love expresses itself,” Father Polewczak said.
In January 2009, Rebecca’s birth mother became pregnant again, but things had changed for the Weathers family. Mr. Weathers had moved to another municipal job for better pay. After only six months in his new position, he was caught up in a large downsizing and suddenly had nothing but his own business for income. Drutonis worsened and died after a long battle with his disease. Mrs. Weathers had used up all her leave, spending it at the hospital with her father, and was emotionally depleted.
“The birth mother hoped that her unborn child could be raised with her sister, Rebecca,” Mrs. Weathers said. “If she wasn’t a blood relative, a sister, to our Rebecca, we would probably not have considered another adoption at that time.”
But they did. Mrs. Weathers’ sister, Tina Andress, recounted the difficulties the couple faced.
“They are doing this on faith because they do not have the money to do it and Michaelle has no more paid vacation time to take for maternity leave,” she said. “Last time, she took eight weeks. This time she won’t be getting paid for the time off.”
Still, Andress encouraged her sister to adopt this third child.
“If you are open to life, God will take care of you,” she said.
The Weathers agreed, but worried about the financial strain to their decimated budget nevertheless. They could find no adoption grants to help them, so Andress set up a Web site, www.weathersadoptionfund.org, in the hopes other pro-life people would assist them.
“We need donations and we need prayers,” Mrs. Weathers said.
And the Weathers need them both soon; their new baby is expected to be born at the end of April.