Markus, Celeste + Levi
KIN Culture is built around family. We are privileged to share the story of our friends, Markus Celeste and Levi. Here goes:
The Markus and Celeste story
“Markus and Celeste, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Baby in a baby carriage.”
Or at least that’s what we thought when we got married more than 6 years ago. We started dating in 2006 after our roads crossed as leaders of our previous church’s youth leadership and bumping into each other on campus at the University of Stellenbosch. Markus was studying Accounting and I just started my studies in Educational Psychology (fresh out of high school and very in-love).
Both of us knew we wanted a big family, and we talked about it even when we were dating. Shortly after our first anniversary we decided that the time was right for our family to expand, but after many long months of anxiously anticipating two blue lines and only ever seeing one, we realised that this might be one of those (many) times in life where things do not quite go according to our “5 year plan”. Which is actually great. For it is when things do not quite go according to our plans that we only learn the truth there is in “His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts”, and that though “many are the plans in a man’s heart, the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Today we can truly testify that God’s purpose prevails – especially when our plans seem to fail.
Although we believe that nothing was or is impossible for our Heavenly Father, we never fully realised what He was starting to do in our hearts. It is only now, when we glance over our shoulder, that we see His hand shaping us in unexpected ways.
In 2012, at our church’s annual conference, Rick Rusaw was one of the speakers, and he shared about the change that came in their broader community when the faith community started to make adoption and foster care a priority. At one stage they reached a point of having more homes available than children needing homes. This struck a chord in both of our hearts. What if we could be part of seeing a similar change happen in South Africa?
A small seed was planted in our hearts and started taking root slowly but surely as we began to notice people around us embarking on the journey of adoption. Since then we have had the privilege to see and learn from friends, like Elke Dunaiski and Ben & Izelle, Viljoen who have opened up their hearts and homes to their new children.
We took the first step on the 14th of July 2015 when we walked into the offices of Abba Adoptions, starting our process. In the first week of October we officially completed our screening, having ticked all the boxes. In our case we requested for the matching to only start in January because of work-related issues. We thought the waiting would have passed quicker, as some days were tough and our patience grew thin.
On the 11th of May we got the call from our social worker, Blanché, to inform us that they found a possible match. Our hearts exploded! After 5 years of trusting and sometimes wondering, we were actually going to be entrusted with a baby. The 26th of May was one of our most memorable days – Levi Lunathi Coetsee came home!
How has Levi’s arrival impacted your life?
Levi’s homecoming was truly a fulfilment of many years’ prayers and supplications. He adapted easily (to add, he is a very easy-going chap, which made the practical adjustment easier on us). When we think about the fact that we cannot imagine our lives without him in it, we realise that he has changed our ideas of what it means to become a father and mother.
This has also become evident in our family’s response – the things we were worried about beforehand has not even featured in behaviour or words.
Some days reactions from society challenges one again and then we remind ourselves that God has grace with us, we should also give the gift of grace to those who do not understand or are just curious about our family’s story and make-up. Although we did not adopt in order to cross some unseen bridges, it has become a reality and we are thankful that with Levi as our son, we have opportunities every day to have meaningful conversations with those strangers and friends.
What have you learned from this process?
For Celeste – I have learnt to remain humble and teachable – he is not the ‘lucky’/’blessed/ one, WE are. During the last week of preparations for his homecoming I experienced a profound moment during worship at our church – God came to show me the first adoption in Scripture, Moses. I saw his mother putting him in the basket… it was never God’s plan A for Moses to grow up away from his mother, but in the midst of brokenness and hurt, God made a way for Moses to flourish despite circumstances.
For Markus – I have come to realise that adoption can be much more “natural” than many would think. So many “normal” parenting challenges are exactly the same with biological vs adopted children, and so are the benefits or blessings. You are as excited to see the child develop, and to discover who they will become, and yet you will also need to learn boundaries and how to discipline. How “natural” it seems is often more a state of the mind and heart than anything else.
We also realised that there is beauty within the waiting, even if it feels like forever. Our process lasted almost exactly the same time as a normal pregnancy and we saw how God prepared our hearts the same way as with any pregnancy. Adoption now feels like the most natural thing and even if there are times of fear and doubt, I guess it is the same with any new parent.
WHOOO HOOO!!! When God placed this seed in your heart, know that He will make a way for its fulfilment. Believe us, God is for you in this – we have seen it in natural and unimaginable ways.
What would you say to others considering adoption? Why do you think it is important?
First reaction: WHOOO HOOO!!! When God placed this seed in your heart, know that He will make a way for its fulfilment. Believe us, God is for you in this – we have seen it in natural and unimaginable ways.
Also, know that you are not alone on this journey. With an increasing awareness of adoption in general and community of adoptive families forming there is an immense amount of support, knowledge and wisdom to draw from and add to. Link to people who have walked the road before you and become part of their lives – we have experienced the difference it makes to have people who know the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of adoption and have dealt with the unique experiences like screening, the waiting, adapting in society, bonding and attachment, etc.
Finally, make use of one of the wonderful adoption agencies we have in South Africa. They are truly experts and every social worker I have met involved in this process has a heart of gold – they want the best for the child, which in the end is the best for the adoptive parents as well. The screening process can sometimes feel like a mountain of paperwork and admin, but the agencies create a space to grow as future parent and family, and in the end they play a big role in preparing you for the journey. Our social worker guided us all the way and we are very thankful for the (big) part she played in our story.
*and thanks Lizelle Lötter for the beautiful pics
Like this story? Why not head over to kincultureshop.org to view our unique range of #productwithacause. Your purchase is an investment in the life of a child.