When Steve and Rebecca Karas sat down to write the names of the children they hoped to have, they included the names Elijah, Serena and Sienna.
They were dreaming of what might happen when they embarked on IVF treatment, having discovered not long after marrying in 2013 that Bec’s chances of conceiving and carrying a child were extremely low. Little did they know of just how creatively God would bring their dreams of family to reality.
“God brought us into his home, therefore let’s bring others into our home …” – Steve Karas
“I found I had all these weird abnormalities in my uterus; I haven’t got a kidney and all these weird things going on that happened when God made me,” Bec tells Eternity while sitting on her couch at home in Sydney’s west.
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One of those abnormalities was a septum – a wall of muscle – dividing her uterus. She also had endometriosis and blocked fallopian tubes. So after some surgeries, they embarked on four rounds of IVF treatment – with a heartbreaking lack of success.
“First round I didn’t respond to at all – didn’t get any eggs, didn’t produce anything,” she recalls.
“From there we did another one – we got maybe 10 eggs but only one had fertilised and made it to the point where you can implant the embryo; and then we did that – and it didn’t work.”
After a big overseas holiday to rest and recover from the crushing disappointment, Bec underwent two more IVF procedures with a different doctor.
“We did two rounds with him, so four altogether. One [round], we got two embryos and froze the second one. We did one – didn’t work; did another one – didn’t work.
“It was so expensive, but that experience was 10 times better than the other one. It was a positive experience and it was a nice way to end it.”
As the door of IVF started to close for the couple, their interest in fostering began to grow more and more intense.
“I think the reality of IVF failing four times in a row and … just the reality that God has adopted us as his kid – our sonship and daughter-ship of the most-high God – the outflow of that was, ‘well, God brought us into his home, therefore let’s bring others into our home just as we’ve been brought into his,’” says Steve.
“When we got them and they were still temporary, it was terrifying knowing that they could go.” – Bec Karas
After a long assessment process with Wesley Mission, Bec and Steve were approved as foster carers in August 2018. But they were advised that because they wanted young children, they would have to wait for at least a year.
However, just two weeks later, they got a call asking if they would like to take two siblings called … Serena and Elijah* (names changed to protect privacy), aged 2 and 1! Their prediction was being fulfilled in an amazing way.
“When we got them and they were still temporary, it was terrifying knowing that they could go,” recalls Bec. “But then we need to settle them like they’re staying, because that’s what they needed. Within the same day that they came, they started calling us ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad.'”
“It was hard at the start but with help from friends, family, and the agency, it got a lot better.”
In April last year, with Serena making good progress, Bec was moved to pray an amazing prayer: “God, please close my womb to open up my arms to those who do not have a home.”
The very next day, the foster agency rang and said the children’s mother had had another baby and would they consider taking her?
“So don’t pray for things that you’re not really ready for!” laughs Bec.
That was when the new baby – named, you guessed it, Sienna!* – joined the Karas family.
With three children now, it was time for Bec to start preparing to go back to work. She was in a good place and gave thanks to God for “answering our prayer in a way that we could never have thought or imagined that he would.”
“Especially when the baby came in April, I was like ‘this is what we were meant to do,’ and we were very content.
“I didn’t pray that [God would] give us three foster children in a year, but he knew better.”
“He’s real, he’s there, he’s looking after us and he wouldn’t give us it if we couldn’t do it.” – Bec Karas
It was because she was so happy that Bec didn’t even think about pregnancy when she took Sienna for a chest X-ray and was asked if she could be pregnant.
“I said ‘no.’ Then I thought ‘maybe I could be’, but then I thought, ‘no, I don’t want to put myself through that again.’ But then I thought, ‘you know what, I’m going to check.’”
It was a Friday night when Bec took a pregnancy test and, for the first time in her life, the positive line came up really quickly.
“She told me, and it was like ‘you’re kidding!’ and I started laughing,” remembers Steve. “I thought it was the funniest thing ever.”
This was the biggest surprise of the couple’s life – and it happened one year to the day after the agency told them they had permanent care of their three children.
But Bec was still cautious. She knew that natural pregnancies are a common phenomenon among adoptive parents, but she also knew her own anatomy and that her chances of carrying a baby were really low. “So, I was like, ‘Let’s not get too hasty.’”
They told family and close friends so they could pray for them and then, because she had started bleeding, booked an ultrasound. That scan showed not only a healthy heartbeat, it showed two!
“I got off the phone and I was speechless. I said, ‘I can’t tell Steve – can you tell him?’” says Bec.
Steve adds: “And the lady told me ‘you’re pregnant with twins!’ You can’t go ‘that’s coincidence.’ That’s an important detail of God’s kind hand.”
“It’s a miracle,” says Bec. “It’s actually a miracle and it’s only God that’s done this, but he’s real, he’s there, he’s looking after us and he wouldn’t give us it if we couldn’t do it.”
Over subsequent months, Bec experienced complications in her pregnancy and spent many anxious weeks in hospital.
At last, this week, twins Eli and Will were delivered at 31 weeks and – just like that! – this couple has five children under five! They are over the moon in disbelief and wonder.
God being the master of irony, Bec had really started to love her job just before she took leave to take on the first two children. “A week before we got them, I took a year’s leave which finished in October. [Then] I went back to work one day a week – so I went back to work 12 weeks’ pregnant.
“I had hated my job for years. I just wanted to be a mum – ‘I hate my work, and why won’t God give us children? Because I know I’m going to be a better mum than I am a nurse – come on!’ And then I started to love it and we got a call saying, ‘Do you want two children?’ But it’s good because it means that I wanted to go back.”
“Yes, he’s there, yes, we pray to him, yes, we read about him,’ but we miss seeing him work tangibly in our everyday reality.” – Steve Karas
Asked what she has learned about God through this whole rollercoaster adventure, Bec says: “Just trust him fully – not just a little bit, but all of the time.”
For Steve, who finished theological studies in 2017 but currently works as a truck driver, the biggest takeaway has been seeing God’s hand at work behind the scenes.
“So often we put God in the box of, ‘yes, he’s there, yes, we pray to him, yes, we read about him,’ but we miss seeing him work tangibly in our everyday reality.”
“There’s different reasons why we miss it, but I think this whole experience shows that God is present in the day to day – and if you don’t see his hand, you can trust his heart, regardless of what he’s doing.
“If you talk to a missionary in Southeast Asia, you see all the works that God does there. But if you talk to someone in the West, it might be purely intellectual assent for them, but God’s Spirit is at work.
“He does change the course of people’s lives from behind the scenes – and sometimes at the front of the stage … sometimes, it’s really obvious when he’s doing something – like with our kids!”
Bec and Steve both shake their heads wondering where their three kids would have ended up if Bec hadn’t struggled with infertility.
“Fostering was in the back of our heads and I think a lot of people do that – ‘it’s a good thing to do, maybe I’ll get to it eventually,’” says Steve.
Bec adds: “So now I’m a massive advocate for ‘if you’ve got a spare room, go for it, just do it. It’s really awesome.’”
“But it’s hard!” admits Steve. “But nothing worth it was ever easy. It’s the hardest things that are the most rewarding and fulfilling.”
Because the Karas family are in need of extra income – notably a vehicle that will carry five children – a GoFundMe page has been set up to help them. You can access it here.