'I adopted my husband's ex-wife's baby – I didn't want him in foster care'
When Christie Werts, 48, met her husband Wesley, 45, five years ago, little did they know their family was about to get even bigger.
At first, their blended families included Christie’s children – Megan, 21 and Vance, 15 – as well as Wesley’s kids: Austin, 14, and Dakota, 10.
But then Wesley’s ex-wife, and mother of Austin and Dakota, passed away suddenly after struggling with addiction issues – leaving behind a newborn baby called Levi.
Not wanting Levi to end up in foster care, like 48-year-old Christie did as a child, and wanting Austin and Dakota to have their brother in their lives, the couple made the huge decision to adopt him.
‘When I heard about Levi, without hesitation I said we should take him,’ said Christie, who works in IT and lives in Ohio, US.
‘I myself was a foster kid and, although for the most part, I had a great experience, I did not want him going to foster care.
‘My husband did not really speak to the biological mum’s family often, but she had Levi on a Monday and passed away that Friday.
‘We lived in another state at the time, so we sold our home in Ohio and rented a house in Texas because we had to officially foster to adopt him.
‘So we did – the process took 16 months.’
She added: ‘Although, my experience was overall as good as it can be in foster care, I just knew I loved my step-kids enough to make sure they got to be with their half-brother.
‘I did not want Levi to end up in the foster care system.
‘If I said I did not [have concerns beforehand], that would not be honest.
‘I love kids and bonded with my step-kids real quick. I also was in love with my bio kids at first sight.
‘This was different – I was going to walk into a child I never met and was worried the circumstances would hinder this “instant love”.
‘But he stole my heart. I also felt this intense need to protect him.’
Now little Levi, who’s almost two, is an official member of the family as the adoption papers went through in January 2023.
Christie said: ‘We already felt he was our son. But on paper, he was a child with no first name, no birth certificate, and was a ward of the state.
‘Just to know he would have a birth certificate [and] a legal first name was very emotional. I had dreams about him before we even knew about him.
‘We prayed for him, so here was the moment we feel god had planned.’
Christie said Levi loves his home, calling him ‘king of the house’.
‘We are all very close,’ she added.
‘He won’t understand the journey right now, but someday I will let him know we fought for him. The kids are living a normal life again. No caseworkers, no inspections – just sports and friends.
‘I am currently working on a book about my life as a foster kid, including our adoption story – which is a tragic and beautiful story.’
When it comes to others who might be considering adoption and blending a family, she advised: ‘First, make sure your relationship is super solid before you introduce the kids.
‘I think my husband and I both made the mistake of introducing people [former partners] to our kids, just for that person to not be around anymore.
‘They may have other parents but treat those kids as if they were yours – that’s important for both you and your partner.
‘The process to adopt from foster care is not for the faint of heart. I read a comment once that someone said people adopt out of selfishness for themselves, not the child.
‘You must have that desire for a child [but] a desire to want, love, and care for a child at any age has to be just as important as helping a child.
‘Take each day at a time because the system is not perfect.’
Christie has also shared some snippets of their journey on TikTok, (@cjthemom5), and with one video showing Levi as a baby in an incubator after his premature birth.
‘I wasn’t sure if I would be able to bond adopting my husband’s ex-wife’s baby,’ the caption read, while the rest of the clip shows pictures and moments of them together as he grows.
Comments under the post, which has garnered 900,000 views and 30,000 likes, are full of support.
One person wrote: ‘My heart melted. What an amazing story. Your little guy is absolutely beautiful.’
‘Congrats on your bundle of joy. Some babies are born from the belly and some from the heart,’ said another.
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