By Lauren Hollon Sturdy
In Amherst, Texas, nearly 50 miles northwest of Lubbock, the summer is scorching hot. There hasn’t been any rain for weeks, and the dry, sunbaked landscape shows it. But way out in this dusty desert is a little oasis in the home of the Baker family.
This year marks Crystal and Dexter Baker’s 18th year of marriage. They were high school sweethearts, married in his grandparents’ sunroom in their Sunday clothes. She carried a bouquet of flowers pulled from the garden.
“When we were first married, we lived in his parents’ basement,” she said. “We didn’t have a penny to our name. It’s not what I’d do today, and it’s not what I’d recommend, but we were so in love.”
Three years into their marriage, they got pregnant with their first child, Dex. They wanted to have another when he turned 3, but unexplained infertility made it impossible.
“We went to all the doctors, went through fertility treatments and did in vitro fertilization,” Crystal said. “Nothing worked. I was a basket case when I was going through infertility. People would say, ‘It’ll happen in God’s timing.’ But I thought, ‘I’ll pray enough and I’ll make it happen.’”
She recalled going to a revival at their church. People gathered around, laid hands on her and prayed that her womb would be opened.
“Dexter came to me that night and said, ‘It’s just not going to happen. When I was at the front praying, God told me you would never be pregnant again. He said we will have a big family, but it will be through adoption, not conception.’”
They began pre-service training classes to adopt through foster care in 2003 and got a call for their first placement the next year. Mindy McDonald was their foster care caseworker with Buckner Children and Family Services in Lubbock.
“I remember the day when Mindy called and told me a little girl was about to be available from a foster home that was closing,” Crystal said. “She had to know that day if we were interested. Dexter was at the fire station that day, so I couldn’t get a hold of him easily. I didn’t know what else to do, so I got down on my hands and knees and prayed.
As soon as she talked with Dexter, he agreed. The child was theirs. She had 45 minutes to get to Lubbock with 8-year-old Dex in tow. They jumped in the car and the questions began.
“Dex, we’re going to get your little sister.”
“Mama, what’s her name?”
“I don’t know.”
“What does she look like, Mama?”
“Honey, I don’t know.”
They arrived at the CPS office to meet a barefoot, 18-month-old McKayla, wearing shorts and a T-shirt in February. She clutched her Dora doll.
“She was terrified and crying, and she wouldn’t go to anyone but me,” Crystal said.
McKayla came to the Baker family in 2004. Her adoption was finalized two and a half years later in August 2006. But their family wasn’t finished growing.
In March 2008, biological sisters Ally, 7, and Sam, 4, were placed in the Bakers’ home. Their adoptions were finalized in August 2010.
Then Journey, 4, came to the Bakers’ home as a baby in October 2007. Her biological brother, Jake, 2, was placed in August 2009. Both of their adoptions were finalized in November 2009.
“When we very first put in to foster to adopt, I wanted the perfect white child, because I didn’t have enough faith to trust God’s perfect plan,” Crystal said. “But it’s true what they say. It changes—now I really don’t see color or think about it. You really just see the heart.”
Dexter agreed. “When you look back on it and see how it was all working together, you can’t help but see God’s hand,” he said.
Thinking back on his own family and how it shaped him, Dexter talked about Christmas time with his aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins as a child. Crystal reminisced about her how her family would get together every Friday night to play cards when she was growing up.
“It’s like the saying, ‘We may not have it all together, but together we have it all,’” Dexter said.
Dexter and Crystal are instilling that same sense of togetherness in their kids today. The family spends every evening together outside when the weather is nice watching the sun set, jumping on the trampoline, playing games in the yard and sitting around to chat. Anyone who spends time with them can see that the Bakers truly enjoy each other.
“God birthed all these beautiful children, and they couldn’t be more perfect for us,” Crystal said.
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