Standing in front of a hospital nursery window on Monday, state Sen. Whitney Westerfield watched his relatives "going cuckoo bananas" over the darling baby girl behind the glass.
For Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, and his wife, Amanda, the scene was not exactly as they had imagined it when they began trying to conceive three years ago.
While their families were over the moon, they said part of them still felt a little guarded about the tiny bundle. There were still so many questions, and chief among them was this: What if the baby's mother changed her mind?
As the couple admired the 6-pound, 3-ounce newborn, the birth mother was wheeled past.
The nurses held up the baby, and Whitney Westerfield said the birth mother smiled and said, "She's beautiful." Then she turned to the Westerfields, and there was a moment they will never forget. "Congratulations," the young woman said.
The Westerfields, who married in October 2009, began blogging about their struggle with infertility and their plans to adopt just over two months ago. Amanda, 26, said she developed the idea after being inspired by other women who had blogged about their experiences with infertility.
"If it was so encouraging to me (to read about) a complete stranger," she said, "maybe it would help somebody else."
Whitney, 33, a former assistant commonwealth's attorney who was elected in 2012 to represent Christian, Todd and Logan counties, said the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
"We just wanted a place to share," he said. "More people have dealt with it than I ever thought."
While the couple included a section on the blog where people can donate money to help with their adoption, Whitney said they have not needed any monetary help so far.
"If the only thing we ever got is prayer, it's what we need," he said.
The Westerfields only recently went public with their story, but the tale has been several years in the making.
"We checked everything out from here to Tuesday," Whitney said. "It eventually starts to wear on you, and we both want to be parents really bad."
Early on, Amanda said, the couple felt as if they were the only ones struggling with the longing for a child. But the more they talked to others, and the more they read the stories of other couples, the more comfort they found in knowing that others had walked the same path. They also found hope in the Bible.
"We aren't sure where this path will lead, or if it'll even end the way we hope," the couple wrote in the introduction to the blog. "We continue to repeat this reminder in Scripture: 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'"
By June, the Westerfields had decided to pursue a domestic adoption.
Although they have nothing against international adoption, "there are children here in Kentucky and the U.S. that need homes," Whitney said.
They chose a Louisville agency and were getting ready to print up a photo book about their family for prospective birth mothers.
They posted a smiling photo of Amanda after their FBI background checks came back fine, and Whitney opined about the double standard of having to answer mountains of questions as an adoptive parent, while biological parents must prove only that they have a car seat.
Amanda, an elementary school Spanish teacher, wrote poignantly of the process of grieving as she came to terms with the idea that she might never have a biological child:
"I read something about a year ago, and I wish I could remember where, that said dealing with infertility is like going to sit down in a chair and then all of a sudden it's not there. It's the best analogy that I can think of. It's like something is jerked out from under you that you never saw coming. You always expected it to be there.
"But instead of the chair ... Maybe we have a big fluffy sofa to fill up with lots of children who need parents."
Last month, she wrote about how hard it was to wait, not knowing whether their time to become parents might be years away or weeks away.
"We learned a lot about waiting on God and His timing," Amanda said.
But suddenly, after all those months of trying to get pregnant, then researching and preparing for adoption, the process sped up at a pace that left them reeling.
"It came out of nowhere," Whitney said.
They put out feelers to friends and contacts, letting them know that they wanted to adopt, and in July they got a call from an obstetrician and gynecologist's office that had a prospective birth mother who wanted to meet them.
The process they thought might take years and the help of an adoption agency suddenly was replaced with an independent opportunity that gave them four weeks to prepare.
"Wait, it's too fast," Amanda recalled, laughing.
On July 26, the couple announced that they were preparing to adopt a baby girl.
Whitney said he was attending a ribbon-cutting with the governor when Amanda sent him a text containing an audio file of the baby's heartbeat.
The couple came home from the hospital Tuesday with Hadley Lane. The petition for adoption has not yet been filed, but the couple has temporary custody. As of Saturday, they had not yet posted on the blog about the birth, and they were keeping pictures under wraps.
Amanda said they are excited about sharing online, but they want to wait until the mother signs some of the paperwork needed for the adoption to proceed. There is a chance something could prevent the adoption from being completed. Even afterward, the baby's father could come forward.
"That would tear us apart," Whitney said.
But for now, they have decided to look at it this way: "If we have her for one day, for 10 days, for 70 years, we're going to love her 120 percent," Amanda said. "God's going to take care of us, no matter what."
So the couple are experiencing all the joys and worries of being new parents, and Whitney is juggling being a new dad with his work as an attorney and state senator.
On Thursday, he drove to Lexington, chaired a meeting of the judiciary committee, picked up the Legislator of the Year award from the Kentucky County Attorneys Association, and then rushed back to Hopkinsville. He was feeding his baby on Friday night.
"This is our happy ending," Amanda said. "The fun's just starting."