Reece’s Rainbow Report #53: Kegley Family

Like any new parents, Kegan and Rachel Kegley were really tired for the first few years.

Their new son Miles often had trouble sleeping — which meant that the Kentucky couple did, too. But there was an enormously shiny silver lining: it was simply so fun to watch Miles experience everyday life for the first time.


Except, unlike so many other new parents, Miles wasn’t an infant. He was nine years old, fresh out of a Bulgarian orphanage instead of his mother’s womb. 


“He was so curious to see and experience the world,” says Rachel, a special education teaching assistant. “We had so much fun introducing Miles to new things.”

It was a life path kickstarted by the couple’s infertility diagnosis. Kegan, the owner of a barbershop, and Rachel began researching options like IVF, foster care and domestic or international adoption. Then they learned about the way children in overseas orphanages are often treated, tugging at their heartstrings. 


But could they raise a child with special needs, like the ones they were hearing and learning about who were available for adoption? The Kegleys thought long and hard about it and realized they both had experience working with special needs populations in job and volunteer capacities.


“We talked and thought a lot about what we could handle,” Rachel remembers. “We were still researching our options when we came across Miles’ profile on Reece's Rainbow.”

The couple felt magnetically drawn to the boy with Down syndrome code-named “Percy” as soon as they saw his photo. They had to surmount a few minor obstacles first, including the fact that they had not planned to pursue an older child, nor did they have the space for any extra Kegley in their one-bedroom apartment.


“We felt an urgency to pursue him even though we weren't ‘ready’ to start an adoption,” she says. They found a bigger space, leading to “the best decision we ever made. I am so happy that we didn't wait until the time was ‘right.’”

Miles came home from Bulgaria to Kentucky in 2018. Though there were scads of lovely moments — discovering solid foods, learning how to play with toys, attending school for the first time — it soon became clear that they were now parenting a high-needs child. Perhaps he was meant to be their only? Kegan and Rachel weren’t sure they could handle another son or daughter, disability or not. 


But once more, like any new parents, they Kegleys eventually found a rhythm. They decided to become foster parents, completing every step of training except the final hurdle. 

And that’s when the Covid mayhem struck. Rachel and Kegan realized they didn’t want social workers and children coming in and out of their home to expose Miles to the virus, so they began searching on Reece’s Rainbow again. They fell in love with a Colombian girl who became unavailable to adopt.

“We kept looking and found an adorable little boy that looked like he would fit right into our family,” Rachel says. “We completed the whole adoption process while the world was shut down from Covid.” 


That adorable little boy was Erik, a Colombian code-named “Anton” on Reece’s Rainbow. Like Miles, Erik was nine years old upon his adoption and has Down syndrome. He became a Kegley in 2021. 


“We decided to adopt another child with Down syndrome because we hoped that Miles could have a life-long companion and friend in a sibling that is similar to him,” his mother explains. “We also have a lot of resources in our community for people with Down syndrome and other disabilities. It is so much easier being able to take the boys to the same types of activities instead of having two kids going in different directions all the time.” 


Still, life is full, and in the best way. Rachel, 37, gets to work across the hall from Miles and Erik, now ages 14 and 11. Kegan, 31, not only gives sensory-friendly haircuts to his sons at his barbershop but also to anyone else who may need them. Both boys are on the roster of their local Miracle League baseball team, where Erik regularly holds court in the outfield with the volunteers.

“Erik is our extrovert and loves to make new friends wherever he goes,” Rachel says. “He can organize a group to play a game or start a dance party. He loves to make people laugh with jokes and silly faces.” 


Miles, on the other hand, is very laidback. It doesn’t take much to convince him to go on a ride or swim at the beach. He loves tasting new foods, including some he makes himself during cooking classes. 


“He can entertain himself for a long time with his favorite music or a favorite toy,” says Rachel. 


Both boys have changed mightily since becoming Kegleys. Miles went from only eating purees to happily chowing down on pizza, while Erik has gained the confidence to frolic in the ocean, shoot down a slide and jump on a trampoline.

“We love our boys more than anything,” Rachel says. “I can't imagine life without them now. Seeing them happy and living life gives us so much joy every day.” 


Even so, there are quiet sacrifices and hard moments. The husband and wife anticipate both of their sons remaining at home permanently. 

There are undesirable behaviors and befuddling health issues. Their lives are not easy by any stretch of the First World imagination. 


But hard does not always equal unworthy. Quite the opposite, in fact, demonstrated by an encounter the Kegleys had in Colombia.


“We met a man at our hotel who said that he always lived his life for himself,” Rachel says. “After seeing our family, he wanted to return home and help other people.”

A more mature version of baby fever, you might say. Because alongside the sleepless nights and moments of exhaustion, Rachel and Kegan Kegley are indeed like any new parents: ready at the drop of a hat to say, “Look at my babies! Aren’t they something?”

Crystal Kupper
Crystal Kupper is a freelance writer specializing in magazines and special projects. Since earning her journalism degree, she has written for clients such as Zondervan, Focus on the Family and the Salvation Army, among many others.
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