Photography by InJoy Photography
Meet Tina. She is Beauty Revived.
When Tina Leavell went on her very first date with her now-husband, Parry, she talked about her desire to someday adopt a child. Unbeknowst to her at the time, this would indeed turn out to be the avenue in which she would one day become a mother. Twelve years later, after experiencing two devastating miscarriages and a year-long unrelated illness, it was discovered that she suffered from a blood clotting disorder that made pregnancy too risky of a prospect. At this point, Parry and Tina knew it was time to take the step to pursue adoption, though they did not yet know that God was already preparing a son for them. A few states away a teen girl was feeling uncertain of her ability to successfully care for the baby she was expecting, but for her, adoption was the only other option, and she knew just what kind of family would be right for her baby. At this same time, Tina was feeling an unexpected urgency to complete the adoption homestudy, even though it seemed as if the wait would be somewhat lengthy before their file would arrive at the top of the list of prospective adoptive parents to be considered. But Tina’s urgency turned out to be God-given, and within weeks, rather than months or years, their file was being considered by that expectant teen mom from Missouri. She instantly knew that they were the right family for her son, and the Leavells knew with just as much certainty that God had brought this young woman and her baby into their lives. But it didn’t end with the birth of Luca and his adoption. Tina came alongside Kelsey to love, support, and mentor her. And there has not been one moment since their connection that Tina has not unconditionally loved both Kelsey and Luca; in essence, she became a mother to both. Tina and Kelsey continue to communicate weekly, and occasionally Kelsey will visit the family that is so very dear to her. I asked Kelsey what Tina means to her, and she replied, “Words will never be able to put in place how much this woman means to me; she is my role model and over the years has become one of my best friends. She inspires me every day to be a better me as a person, wife and mother.” Tina’s support and loved has indeed made a tremendous positive difference in Kelsey’s life, who went on to complete her associates degree and buy her first house at age 22 while also working two jobs. She is now married and mothering a toddler. When Tina is asked how she can possibly “share” her son, she replies, “He is not just my son, nor his birthmom’s son. He is God’s son and I am just the vessel chosen, humbly chosen, to help get him to God. I share him because to fully and completely love him, I have to fully and completely love his birth mom. If I didn’t truly love his birthmom, then I could not completely love him. She is a beautiful part of who he is and will always be, and I am honored she chose me to raise her amazing son.” But Tina’s story does not end here. Her heart to mentor young moms in crisis pregnancies and her work in the medical field gave birth to a vision to reach even more mothers in her area. Even when others did not see the need, Tina raised funds and pushed for the opening of a not-for-profit crisis pregnancy center in her city, a dream that was realized in July of 2016. The Women’s Care Center, where Tina is the co-medical director, provides free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, and education. Since their opening, they have saved 13 babies from abortion and as of this writing are awaiting the birth of 122 more babies. Tina strives to provide the same unconditional love and support to the moms who arrive at her center as she has shown to Kelsey. While she may not be formally adopting any more children herself, she selflessly and sacrificially pours her life into these mothers and babies in desperate need of support. Despite, and indeed, because of, the crosses she has had to bear, Tina shows us the way to live broken, given, and truly beautiful.