Football, God, Family: DeHaven's Look to Start Family through Adoption
It's a Thursday afternoon. School is long over, and a soccer match is underway on the field behind The John Cooper School.
On this night, I'm not here for the soccer match as I walk behind the stadium to Erik DeHaven's office.
From the outside I hear a noise followed by laughter. When the door opens, standing there with a big smile is Erik holding a wiffle ball bat and his wife Alex, both laughing as they had been playing a little game inside to pass the time.
With smiles from ear to ear and the three of us still chuckling, we sat down.
Erik sits behind his desk and his wife Alex to my right. A photo of them from the day they got engaged a few years ago at a St. Pius X spring football game sits on the shelf to the left. We sat and talked.
We talked for nearly an hour.
The topics ranged from football, to the new Netflix show "Cheer", to offseason workouts, to the challenges of each of our jobs and plans at The John Cooper School with facilities.
But then we really talked. We talked about God, prayer and the biggest topic of the day – family.
The DeHavens, who have been married for two years, are looking to start their family as many married couples do at the right time of their life.
Erik -- The John Cooper School head football coach -- and Alex -- who teaches at Brabham Middle School in Willis ISD and is currently working to become a principal one day – have always had a love for children. Now, they want their own.
"As much as we are around other people's kids and love other people's kids, it just seems like something we are supposed to do," Alex said. "We've talked and we've prayed. We've talked about it for months now and came to a point where we're like 'what are we waiting for?'."
"It's the greatest profession in the world because I get to be a part of that process with young men," Erik said. "I really enjoy it, but I also believe a child represents the love between a couple."
But starting a family for everyone doesn't take the same path.
Alex has a fertility issue called PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), which affects her ovaries, making them not function properly. It is a family trait and she has known she has had it since her teenage years.
"It's not like you can't have children, it's just a complication," Alex said.
Because of the PCOS, their path has included trying fertility methods, which can become a financial burden.
"It's a lot of doctors' appointments and shots," Alex said. "It's a lot of conversations and talking it through. [Erik] was awesome whenever we were doing injections and stuff. He was very supportive of me."
Trying like this hasn't been working and a few months ago, the DeHaven's started talking about another option.
"I remember when we were dating and having the conversation about how we both dreamed that one day we would adopt," Alex said. "At that time, we were just dating, but I remember having those conversations. So, for us it wasn't a wake up one day and do it. It was more of the treatments and steps we are taking aren't necessarily working.
"We talked about it. We had always mentioned it and one day we met with an adoption consultant to get some information."
After that meeting, there were questions the consultant had that the DeHaven's hadn't even thought about when it came to adoption. The stipulations that were involved, the horror stories they've heard.
So, they went to dinner and talked.
"The more we talked about it and prayed about it, it's just a feeling that we know this is our next step," Alex said.
"It helps that we both know people that have adopted and hearing their stories," Erik added. "Then after us talking to our families – because it is a community thing – and the love and support they showed us and after prayer, this was something we wanted to do."
The questions will continue to come up, Erik admitting more come up every day, as the 9 to 12-month process continues to just get approved for adoption and to eventually be put in contact with a birth mother.
At first, the questions were mainly about the process, the length of it and the financial part of it. As those got answered, Alex said they have transitioned to asking about the stories that you hear around adoption.
"Those are the ones we're still sorting through," Alex said. "We know people who have adopted and been adopted. We've talked to them and it helps to ease the fear. It's not as often as the stories make it out to be."
Adoption has its own hurdles just like fertility methods, but the DeHaven's have decided to be open about their process.
A process that many keep in the confines of their family walls, but for them they needed help.
"Financially, we can't do it on our own," Alex said. "Not as educators. We talked about how we wanted to do it because I am not as open of a person. I don't like to ask for help for certain things. It was kind of hard for me to do it."
So, they started a fundraiser on the crowd-funding website Adopt Together with the goal to reach $35,000. That money would go to help pay for the application fees, a home study and eventually medical expenses of the mother they would be adopting from.
When they started the fundraiser, which has already raised more than $4,600 of the goal to date, Erik said the neatest thing was seeing former players, current and former bosses and family members donate.
"Former players saw that and started texting about it and kids in college started putting money in," he said. "It's an unbelievable sense of community."
Being open about something so personal can be hard. But what Alex hopes this also does is for families going through this same process that it is okay to ask for help and be open.
"The text messages and the messages people send you when they donate, it really just reassured us this is the path we are supposed to be taking," she said. "It made me feel better about being open about it because I know there are so many people out there going through this exact same thing.
"This is a daily reassurance that, this is nothing to be ashamed of. It's okay to ask for help when you need it. If this is what it takes for us to complete our family and our home, let's do it."
At the end of the conversation, there was one thing that Erik wanted the message to be. This story is not to focus just on them.
But more about God, prayer, community and family.
"This whole process has turned into something, I never thought it would," he said. "It is a private matter but at the same time the community, the family and the ones that you've touched help you in your time of need.
"There's a Godly thing happening. That's how I feel about it."