Kelley Porter has always opened her heart — and her home — to children who needed love, guidance and a place to stay. Kelley was a single and independent 19-year-old when she met Kim* at church and opened her home to this homeless teen for more than two years. It would not be the last time Kelley stepped in to help the girl, but the thought never crossed her mind that 15 years later the tables would turn. Houston’s First members Kelley and her husband Kevin Porter would be on the receiving end of a precious gift from Kim — the thing they wanted most in life, but couldn’t have.
When Kelley married Kevin Porter in 2004, the couple looked forward to the day they would have children of their own. But after more than a decade of unexplained infertility, they decided to leave the building of a family in God’s hands. After years of little contact, Kim called Kelley in August last year to ask if she and Kevin would agree to take her son, a twin who was born at 21 weeks and weighed in at only 1.3 pounds.
"Yes, I’ll take him!" she told Kim. "We jumped in the car to go see the baby. He was not
supposed to survive, but this baby was meant to be."
Kim had arrived at the hospital and told the staff she was in labor, but they sent her home. And it’s a good thing they did. The baby was born in Kim’s toilet and sustained a brain injury when his tiny head made contact with the porcelain. EMS was called to the scene and they began taking lifesaving measures. That call made all the difference. Because the baby’s gestational age was only 21 weeks, the hospital likely would only have offered comfort care, not life-sustaining treatment. The baby was stabilized, admitted and taken to the Neonatal ICU for treatment.
Jesse, the other twin, a girl, didn’t make her appearance for 47 more days. A couple had agreed to adopt the twins, but no one expected the early arrival. The adoptive parents did not sign the paperwork to take custody of the baby boy, who had extensive medical problems and an uncertain future. They were prepared to take him off life support, but Kim would not allow it. That’s when she contacted the Porters.
The baby’s medical problems did not faze the Porters one bit. "I looked at that little boy and saw a miracle," said Kelley. "God has a journey for everybody; whatever He has for this baby, we want to be a part of it."
And the Porters were there for all of it, the treatment that included the insertion of a tracheostomy tube (for breathing), a gastrostomy tube (for feeding) and a seven month hospital stay. Kelley alternated her stays each week; one week she went every day, all day to see how each shift nurse cared for him. The next week she spent all night, again so she could carefully watch the nurses to learn the best methods of care. "I learned nursing skills from all kinds of NICU nurses," said Kelley. "Before long, I was doing all the trach care so I could be completely confident when we brought him home."
"God has a journey for everybody; whatever He has for this baby, we want to be a part of it."
During the long stay in NICU, Kelley began reading a baby Bible storybook to him each day and singing to him as he lay in the incubator. On the day of the last Bible story, one of the NICU nurses said, "Is that your last story? Well, today is the day you’re going home!"
The Porters were able to bring home their son in late February this year. The day they left, the doctors and nurses threw a big party. One of the doctors bought the baby a pair of cowboy boots like the ones his mama often wore to the NICU. The baby went home with the trach and the G-Tube, and was provided around-the-clock nursing care until August. But the nurses really weren’t needed. Kelley continued giving care as she had done during the hospital stay at the NICU and the nurses had little to do.
Little Kevin Tyrone Porter II attended his adoption hearing on April 23 this year by ambulance. Because he was still on life support, little Kevin arrived on a stretcher in the courtroom so the judge could pronounce him a Porter.
Milk from 266 nursing moms at Houston’s First was donated to strengthen and nourish Kevin II during and after his hospital stay — and it worked. "The church has been 100 percent supportive," said Kelley. The church family also covered them in prayer. The baby was able to have the trach tube removed in late September. The couple brought their new son to church for the first time on October 11. He now weighs 24 pounds, and the feeding tube will be removed when he becomes more confident in swallowing food.
Kelley and Kevin are amazed, but not surprised, at Kevin II’s recovery. The brain bleed was resolved and there is no resulting brain damage, and he had a heart murmur that has completely healed. "Every obstacle is gone!" said Kelley. "The doctors told us that Kevin would never walk or talk, but he can stand and already has said a few words. He even said 'I love you.'"
Kevin II was premature by four months and has a four-month developmental delay, but he is quickly catching up as his daddy reads to him each day (he is on his third Bible). They sing to him and work with him to close the small gap. "Kevin is an amazing husband, but what a blessing to see how he is as a father," said Kelley. "They are so close. When Kevin walks in the door after work and the baby hears his daddy’s voice, I don’t exist."
Kevin II and Jesse, his twin, celebrate different birthdays, but they celebrated together this year on little Kevin’s July 8 birthday. The Porters have become friends with Jesse’s adoptive parents, who live in East Texas. They plan to stay in touch so the siblings can be part of one another’s lives.
The Porters see God’s faithfulness through this process, and they are in awe of the doors He opened during the seven-month hospital stay. "God gave us opportunities for ministry like praying with parents of NICU babies; witnessing to doctors and nurses; and becoming part of the Thru the Roof Special Needs Ministry at Houston’s First," said Kelley. "As God led us through each challenge, we have been able to pray for others and share what we’ve learned along the way."
* Name has been changed to protect privacy
Children and adults with special needs find a loving and nurturing environment at Houston’s First thanks to our Thru the Roof team at The Loop Campus. Thru the Roof provides classes on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, and special events during the year. Visit the Thru the Roof page to see how they can minister to your family or any family who has a loved one with special needs.
Legacy685, a ministry of Houston’s First, equips families as they journey to find deep connection in the relationships God provides through the miracle of adoption and foster care. Through classes, social gatherings, resources, and other channels, they offer education and encouragement for those involved with or considering adoption or foster care.