On Sunday, families all over will celebrate a holiday that honors those whose hearts serve as the first homes many of us ever know. There are many ways to get to the place called motherhood, but they all lead to love stories that continue throughout lifetimes of ups and downs.

Kendal Whisnant will be celebrating her first Mother’s Day this weekend with her new bundle of joy.

“When I married my husband, he already had four kids so I became an instant mom,” said Kendal Whisnant from her home in Royce City.

Kendal and her husband, Jimothy, tried to a have a baby together for three years, but it just wasn’t happening.

“We were going to have to try IVF or something,” she said.

But, then they decided to consider fostering or adoption. Earlier this spring, they were told about a baby about to be born in Sherman to a mother whose other children had all been taken away by the state. They decided adoption would be a way to add to the family of six that already included children who ranged in age from 15 to 21.

“They told us we wouldn’t be allowed to be there,” she said about the rules that were in place when the baby boy they named Emerson Luke was set to be born. They were told they might be able to get some updates from nurses, but they wouldn’t be able to see him or hold him until he was released from the hospital.

On April 23 when the birth mother went into labor, an employee at Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center stepped in.

“Chantal Zalewski changed all of that. God definitely sent her to us to be an angel," Kendall Whisnant said. "We got a room when we weren't supposed to have a room. We cared for him the entire time he was in the hospital which we weren't supposed to get to do."

She said they were even able to have all of their meals delivered to them while they were in the hospital.

"I had every experience that a real mom has with a baby," Kendall Whisnant said through tears as she recalled the stay at WNJ.

But, those were just the smallest of the happy twists in the story of little Emerson’s entry into the world.

Kendall Whisnant said because the baby’s biological parents were both addicts and the child’s prognosis at birth was less than cheerful. They assumed he might have to be taken to a Metroplex hospital where he would face the hurdles normally associated with babies born with drug addiction.

“When we found that out, we called all of our friends and family just said pray for our little boy. We want to see him. We want him to be well and and God answered those prayers completely,” she explained.

Emerson escaped that fate.

“He is perfect baby boy,” she said of the baby that weighed seven pounds and 10 ounces and was 19 and a half inches long when he arrived.

This week, they held a Zoom hearing where the parental rights of Emerson’s biological parents were terminated.

“We cried, but we cry because of the joy,” she said.

And though Kendal Whisnant had been a step mom before they put Emerson in her arms, she said the feeling of being the mother to that tiny little baby was something altogether different.

This Mother’s Day when their other children are with their mother, Kendall and Jimothy Whisnant will be celebrating the day with Emerson — a baby boy whose overcame the horrors of possible drug addiction and a pandemic to join the Whisnant family.