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CENTRAL IOWA — Two little boys and two dogs make Marcus and Betsy Hemesath’s home busy and loud and fun. A few years ago it was anything but. “I was just very, very emotional,” Betsy explains, “I felt broken every time, every month.”

Infertility was consuming their lives and breaking their hearts. “That first year, nobody else knew about it,” says Marcus, “nobody else knew that we were struggling.”

Marcus was in residency at a Saint Louis hospital, and Betsy was home alone a lot. “He was going to work and delivering babies every single day and dealing with pregnant women every day and then coming home to me sobbing.”

After two years of trying, they decided to make a change. It wasn’t easy. “You have this baby in mind and that baby never comes,” Marcus shakes his head, “you can’t just replace that with something else.” Betsy says they both had to process that loss before moving on. “A lot of people will say adoption is not a band-aid for infertility.”

They started pursuing adoption early in 2016. By October, an expectant mother picked them. “We had everything packed and ready to go but were told, don’t travel yet,” Marcus remembers. She decided to keep her baby. “It was that pain again,” Betsy says, “we thought we were close and we weren’t. It was taken away.”

They went right back on the waitlist, and two weeks later the phone rang. Another mother had chosen them. They talked on the phone and talked about baby boy names. It felt like it was meant to be. When she let them know she was in labor, they dropped everything and started driving. “About halfway there she had sent a picture of him,” Betsy says with a smile, “he was born at one in the morning.” When they got to the hospital the enormity of the situation hit them hard. “Man, I was nervous. I mean we’d talked to her a few times but it’s still this stranger that’s letting you into this intimate space and meeting her baby,” Betsy remembers, “you’re so excited, but you also know that there’s so much pain for her. It’s hard.”

Betsy and Marcus realize it’s hard for everyone involved. “He didn’t have a choice about how his story started. People don’t understand that separation from your first family is a trauma. So he experienced trauma from birth and we want to help him heal from that.”

Doing research is part of the healing process for Betsy. “I just wasn’t finding that I was looking for, so I started piecing together resources. I feel like there are a lot of resources for adoptive families but not for adoptees or birth families which is ridiculous because they go through more trauma.”

She built a website to help others. It’s called “Visto Adoption”. Visto means “seen” in Spanish and Betsy says her goal is to build a community where everyone is seen.

You can find more information about the organization on its website