Living with her parents in Livonia, Siobhan (pronounced Sha-vaíun) Kava was 25 when she learned she was pregnant. Though unexpected, Siobhan recognized the wonderful gift God had provided as she cared for the growing child in her womb.
Thirty miles away, in Saline, Devon Renock and Bevin Kovalik had been unable to conceive, so they reached out to the adoption services provided by Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County.
“We can’t explain it, but we weren’t able to get pregnant and we were getting older. We always said we would adopt later, but it became obvious that we were meant to adopt earlier than planned,” says Devon.
Going through the waiting and the not knowing if we’d become parents, I’ve never had to have so much faith in my life,” says Bevin. “I had to believe in it, and believe God was looking out for us and wanted this for us, and would make it happen.”
“My grandmother had recently passed away and we looked to her as a guardian angel also, and we believed good things would happen for us.”
In December 2009, with Max due in March, Siobhan prepared to tell her parents, Mark and Maureen, and her brother, John, fearing the worst. Instead, the family rallied around Siobhan and her son.
“I was so scared to tell my dad especially, but he was so understanding, and my entire family was just so great,” Siobhan says. “I wanted to keep him, but, as a family, we asked, ‘What do we want for him?’ and I really wanted him to have a mom and a dad like I did, and I was not in a place to do that.
“When we went to Catholic Social Services, they didn’t push me, but they asked me questions like, ‘If you keep him, how often will you have to work? How much time will you be able to spend with him?’
“They put it into perspective for me that I wasn’t in a place where I could provide for him financially and also provide for him as a mother. It’s almost like I could do one or the other, but not both.”
Though she still harbored some questions, Siobhan began the adoptive process, and with her mother and father, carefully sifted through 30 cover letters in narrowing her choice to a handful of applicants. Devon and Bevin, with the uniqueness of their names, caught her eye. And as she delved more into their personal history, she felt a strong connection to them.
“She’s Irish and my grandma’s Irish, and he’s Polish, and my dad’s side is Polish, and his aunt and uncle from Pennsylvania have a pierogi shop and I make homemade pierogis, and not that any of that really matters, but my heritage was big for me growing up, and it was for them too,” Siobhan says.
“Everything just fit into place. I could tell they were really great people. Before I met them, I didn’t think anyone could be his mother better than me, but God must have put them there because we just totally clicked. I told Bevin, ‘He was meant to be yours from the beginning,’” Siobhan added.
There was no time to waste. Kava selected the Renocks in early March, and Max Emmet Renock (named Emmet by Siobhan while she carried him) was due later that month.
“It was amazing. Sheer happiness. Excitement. Intense emotion,” Bevin says.
“I would imagine it’s like finding out you’re pregnant,” added Devon.
Siobhan had asked for, and the Renocks agreed to, a birth plan that included personal time with Max. When she went into labor, difficulties arose. Max was stuck under Siobhan’s ribcage, with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, arm and torso. He was in distress, and the doctors performed an emergency C-section.
“I remember just saying, ‘If you’re going to take somebody, take me. Let him be OK,’” Siobhan says.
Max’s Apgar score – a method to assess the health of a newborn on a scale of zero to 10 – was under a one at first, but quickly improved.
Due to the nature of the birth, Siobhan and Max were hospitalized for three days, giving mother and son, and grandparents and uncle, the opportunity to bond before Devon and Bevin took Max home.
Siobhan was again having second thoughts, but, in conversation with Mark, Maureen and John, they all agreed Max’s brightest future was with his adoptive parents.
“I couldn’t imagine him not coming home with me, but nothing had changed; I was still not in the best position to take care of him,” says Siobhan.
“And here was this couple that was married, that had a house, that wanted so badly to have a child and was so ready to love him with every part of who they were.”
Max went home with Devon and Bevin on March 26, 2010, four days after he was born.
That was not the end for Max and Siobhan, though. Participating in an open adoption, the Renocks and Kavas have melded three families into one, providing Max with the ultimate support system, while giving Siobhan the opportunity to remain a part of his life.
“It’s pretty unique to have the relationship with Siobhan and her family,” said Bevin, who shows Max pictures of Siobhan and the Kavas when she reads him his bedtime stories.
“We’re doing this for him so that he knows where he comes from,” Devon says. “Everything from medical history to ancestry. We want him growing up knowing his story, knowing how he came into our lives and how much he’s loved by Bevin and me, and our families, and by Siobhan and her family.”
Not a day goes by that Devon, Bevin and Siobhan don’t think about how great God’s intentions are – that Siobhan brought a healthy Max into the world, and that Devon and Bevin were there to give Max the life she wanted for him.
“Bevin gave me a shamrock necklace, which has three leaves, and she said, ‘Max has three parents. He’s always going to know you. He will always be a part of your life.’
“I gave birth to him, and I love him more than anything, but I believe he was always meant to be with them.”
In addition to adoption services, Catholic Charities agencies provide numerous services to assist families in nurturing life. For more stories about their important work, visit dioceseoflansing.org/catholic_charities as well as: For more stories about how Catholic Charities help families, visit:
By Michael Spath | Photography by Jim Luning