Allison and Josh Lewis were like any other love story. They met at Samford University when they took the same Bible class, married in 2000, and have moved around before finally settling back in Alabama.
As they planned out their future as a married couple, they did not think they would ever have more than “two, maybe three kids.” However, plans never seem to work out the way we intend.
They already had three children of their own — Abby, Jack, and Isabel — when they felt in their hearts a desire to adopt. In 2011, they adopted Micah from Ethiopia and shortly after gave birth to Julia.
The family of seven was very happy. But Allison and Josh kept feeling a tug on their hearts to adopt another baby into their family.
Allison and her husband believe by adopting children they can help those mother’s with an unplanned pregnancy who are faced with the terrible option of abortion. “We didn’t want to seem self-righteous, but wanted to be a part of showing women they have a choice and we wanted to be that choice,” she said.
“We prayed ‘Lord if you want us to adopt again, open that door and show us.’”
Then, on Oct. 30 — Allison’s birthday — the happy family’s phone rang: it was their adoption attorney saying there was an opportunity for a private adoption of an infant in North Carolina. The Lewis’s were overjoyed and accepted; “That was the answer to our prayer,” said Allison.
Within a month, on Nov. 24, they received a phone call saying the mother was in labor, so they hopped into the car to drive from Alabama to North Carolina to meet their newest addition. They had already decided on a name, either Sam if their baby was a boy or Ava (which means “filled with life”) if it was a girl.
During the car ride, they received two phone calls which rocked their world. The first call was the attorney reporting that they would be returning home with twins!
“She said, ‘Is Josh holding on tight to the steering wheel? It’s twins.’” Allison said. “We were shocked, overwhelmed and excited.”
However, the elation was short-lived. An hour later, the attorney called with much graver news.
“She said ‘They don’t think the surprise twin will survive,’” Allison said. “She’s incompatible with life.”
Sam was born healthy and strong. However, Ava was missing most of her brain.
Diagnosed with hydrocephalus, she was not expected to survive through birth. And when she did, she was not given more than a few days, weeks, or months to live.
Allison and Josh were told, “You know you don’t have to go through with this, right? We’d understand if you chose to walk away;” but that thought never crossed their minds. They were both determined to go through with the adoption process for both babies saying, “She’s our daughter.”
“The Lord created her life and the fact that she wasn’t born the way we would have chosen or what we would have wanted in an ideal world didn’t change that she needed a family,” said Allison. Unfortunately, Ava needed to stay in the hospital for several weeks and needed special transport if she was going to go home to Alabama with her family.
They were afraid their family was going to have to be separated. Until the president of Duke University Hospital, Kevin Sowers, heard about Ava’s story.
Moved by the dedication of the Lewis family to their adopted sister and daughter, he offered to have the transport costs covered by Duke. So, on December 14, Ava went to Alabama.
Released from the Children’s hospital of Alabama on January 6, Ava went home with her family. Perhaps nobody was happier to see her than her twin brother.
“He definitely missed his baby sister when they had to be apart,” Allison said. “Their favorite thing in the world is to be cuddled up together.”
Ava’s condition rendered her unable to control her body temperature, caused fluctuations in her heart rate and breathing, made her sleep for days at a time, and caused intense pain. It was the most difficult time Josh and Allison have ever needed to walk through, but they will be the first to say it was all worth it.
For almost six months, Ava brightened the lives of the Lewis family. Through it all, God taught the family countless lessons.
“God has shown us that we have a lot of life and love to pack into whatever time we have left with Ava,” Allison said. “[In death] her body will be made whole and her name will find its most perfect completion in a glorious picture of being truly filled with life eternal.”
Allison posted on Facebook to those following Ava’s story and praying for her, “Dear Friends – we’ll share as we’re able. In the meantime, please pray,” followed by the Bible verse, Job 1:21b ‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
When Ava passed away, family and friends gathered around for her funeral. She was buried in a casket built by Josh, mourned, and her short life was celebrated by all in attendance.
Later on in a blog post, Allison wrote about her hope that there is a much greater place beyond this world– one devoid of suffering and brokenness and a place where Ava has found comfort and peace:
“And while the grief may seek to destroy me and the darkness threatens to consume me, my hope lies somewhere else than what I’ve witnessed over these past few days. A peace finds its way into my heart as I rest in the assurance that Ava – that delight whom we loved on earth for 176 days – has new eyes that are open to see something far greater than my mind can even comprehend.”
Like us on Facebook – USA Liberty News