By: Amy Wendt
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
Over the past five years, the Werts family’s narrative has been one of transformations, culminating in January of 2023 when they welcomed a new family member into their home.
Their amazing story of adoption leaves Christie and Wesley Werts with a belief that God had a hand in orchestrating their family’s remarkable journey.
It all began with Christie, a single mother raising two children in California. Following her daughter’s high school graduation, she and her small family moved across the United States to Archbold, Ohio.
Meanwhile, Wesley, a father of two living in Texas, also made a trip across the country and returned to the familiar area of Dayton, Ohio where he grew up.
When Christie and Wesley finally connected, they hit it off right away. They found they had much in common and had similar backgrounds.
Both were children of parents who were addicts. In Christie’s case, she eventually found herself in the foster system as a teen.
In their early adulthood, both Christie and Wesley witnessed firsthand the toll that substance abuse can take on a family and both were resolute in avoiding that path, focusing on creating better lives for themselves and their children.
They were further stunned to find that over the years they lived close in proximity to one another yet never crossed paths.
Both served in the military in the same city of California; Christie in the Army, and Wesley in the Navy. What’s more, after they were discharged from military duty, both lived in Texas during the same time period.
Christie and Wesley also each had two children from previous relationships; each had one boy and one girl.
Upon realizing they had so much in common, the two fell in love and eventually married. Wesley and his two children, Austin and Dakota, moved to Archbold to be with Christie and her children Megan and Vance.
While the Werts were certainly busy with their blended family’s activities, it wasn’t long before Christie and Wesley started to consider having a child between the two of them.
Because both were in their 40s they found it difficult to conceive on their own and explored the idea of Invitro Fertilization.
After speaking to a fertility specialist, Christie found that because of her age and the complexity of the procedure, there were no guarantees, and the expenses would be significant.
Christie recalls, “I decided you know; I’m just going to pray about it and if it’s God’s will, it will happen.”
“I believe in God strongly,” Christie explained.
Despite the uncertainty in her home life as a teen, she began to attend church at the age of 14 without her parents. Since that time, she has had a deep trust that her faith would guide her through any challenge.
Christie continued to “pray without ceasing.” Before long, she began having vivid dreams of a blond-haired, blue-eyed baby, and the dreams continued for two or three months. “We thought maybe it was a sign that I was going to get pregnant,” noted Christie.
Little did the Werts know that God was about to answer their prayers in a way no one could have ever expected.
Earlier in their marriage, Wesley had obtained full custody of his children from his ex-wife because she had severe substance abuse issues.
The children’s biological mother was last known to live in Texas and Wesley and his children had not heard from her in over a year.
On August 25, 2021, a relative of Wesley’s ex-wife reached out to him with tragic news. Austin and Dakota’s biological mother, who had been struggling with drug addiction for some time, was admitted to the hospital, severely ill with COVID.
The relative further revealed that upon her hospital admission, she was found to be pregnant with her current partner’s child.
As a result of her underlying health issues, she gave birth prematurely and succumbed to critical complications of COVID two days later.
The baby, while pre-term, was relatively healthy considering the circumstances. Despite never having gone by Wesley’s last name when they were married, before her passing, the mother had given her new baby the surname of Werts…the same surname as his biological siblings, Austin and Dakota.
His ex-wife’s relative explained to Wesley that it was unknown who would be able to take care of the little one because his biological father had significant legal and substance abuse issues as well.
When Wesley told Christie about the situation, she immediately said that they should help. The couple also agreed that it was important to do what they could to connect the infant with his biological siblings, Austin and Dakota.
When the Werts were notified that the baby would be released from the hospital, Christie packed up and headed to Texas while Wesley stayed back in Ohio with the kids.
Upon meeting the blond-haired, blue-eyed baby known at the hospital as “Infant Werts,” Christie immediately fell in love.
Even though Christie and the baby shared absolutely no DNA, she couldn’t help but notice how much his features resembled her baby photos.
The Werts decided that they wanted to adopt the baby and the biological mother’s family was in support. The biological father eventually disappeared and had his parental rights revoked.
Yet, the Werts quickly discovered that adoption was not going to be an easy process. Since the child was already in the custody of Child Protective Services, the family would be required to relocate to Texas to apply to foster the baby before they could permanently bring him into their family through adoption.
Despite the obstacles, within three weeks of finding out Wesley’s children had a new baby sibling, the couple sold their home and moved to Texas to set the wheels of adoption in motion.
“Everything kind of worked out to get us there,” shared Christie. “For me, it’s going back to the whole ‘it’s God’s plan.’”
Because Wesley once lived in Texas, he had connections to find employment in short order. A friend who was a real estate agent found the family a house to rent.
“The hard part was telling our kids they had to say goodbye to their friends,” Christie admitted.
Christie’s son Vance, the oldest child in the household, played sports and was concerned about changing schools in the middle of football season.
Wesley’s kids, Austin, and Dakota were excited to meet their new baby brother. Christie’s oldest daughter, Megan, who was attending USC, kept in touch with the latest happenings via Facetime.
“When we moved, my husband was pretty much gone the whole time working out of state, so it was me in Texas with the kids by ourselves,” Christie noted.
Nonetheless, the Werts kids quickly acclimated to the new school and Christie proceeded to work on getting the adoption finalized.
“We thought it was going to be an easy process but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart,” admitted Christie.
She went on to share that if she and Wesley would have known how complicated the process was beforehand, they might have talked themselves out of it. But, now that they are on the other side, they are so thankful that they persevered.
Christie became the foster mother for the baby when he was only 15 days old. The family named him Levi though it wouldn’t be official until the adoption papers were finalized.
Upon seeing him on Facetime and noticing the Levi’s uncanny resemblance to Christie, the eldest daughter Meghan exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, he’s even got our (button) nose!”
Aside from being born premature, Levi had an additional challenge to overcome as he had been exposed to drugs in utero. While a few small complications were initially noticed, they quickly resolved.
The Werts remained in Texas for a little over a year.
They had considered staying in the Lone Star State long-term since the rest of the kids were established in their new surroundings and school.
However, it wasn’t long before the couple realized they missed the small-town charm that Northwest Ohio had to offer.
“I felt like for me, once I moved to this area of Ohio – the Archbold-Stryker area just turned into like my home,” noted Christie.
“We didn’t want our kids raised in a city environment. We’d rather them be in a smaller area to have better connections with friends.”
In December 2022, the Werts moved back to Ohio and now live on a small farm in rural Stryker. In January 2023 little Levi’s adoption became official.
Christie says Levi will be two years old in August and is thriving and “living his best life.” She also noted that he can count and can almost recite the entire alphabet. “It helps to have older siblings around.”
The siblings have each assumed their own “role” when it comes to Levi: Dakota becomes “mini mom” since he always comes to her for snacks; when it’s time for fun, Austin is Levi’s go-to because he’s always up for anything; and when it’s time to play ball, Vance is the big brother who shows Levi what to do.
While the oldest sister, Megan, is still away at college in California, she takes every opportunity to spoil her new baby brother when she is home.
Christie and Wesley are adjusting to having a new little one in the house as well. As she and her husband are “older” parents, Christie notes that chasing a toddler in her 40s is a lot different than doing so when she was younger.
“I feel like we will be grandparents age going to his graduation,” Christie laughed. Yet, being older parents, the Werts also have gained the wisdom to appreciate every little moment.
“There’s something more exciting with him (Levi) because we’re a little bit older and we know how quickly it goes with children.”
“So, to us, he’s like our last child and we’re trying to just embrace every bit of it.” Reflecting on the Werts family’s incredible journey over the last two years, Christie explained, “I think that it’s important to realize that family will just do anything for each other…we took something tragic and made it into a love story.”
Amy can be reached at email@example.com