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Dynamics beyond the sidelines

More Than a Game
Sunday, June 22, 2003
By Ron Cherubini
Staff Feature Writer


Pirate family finds pair of miracles

Stalwart linebacker's life challenge bigger than any encountered on the field


As a player, Ken Burnette was the model for persistence. He battled through a devastating injury to become the Ying to Robert Jones’ Yang, forming an East Carolina linebacker tandem still talked about to this day. But his accomplishments on the field, 1992 Peach Bowl included, pale in significance to a challenge he encountered in life after football.

Ken Burnette, shown in action during his days as an
East Carolina LB, has been tackling a daunting life
 challenge with his wife Kimberly in recent years. The
couple, through faith and perseverance, are
achieving triumphant results. (Photo: ECU)

“Our quest to get pregnant began in late 1999,” Burnette said. “We had been married about five months and decided to we wanted children. I was naïve enough to think it would just happen when I decided it should.”

But it didn’t. The Burnettes, Ken and Kimberly, found themselves in a position that an increasing number of young couples find themselves in – struggling with making a family.

As a player, Burnette was open about his faith in God and drew on it to get him through moments when he thought he could no longer fight rehab on his knee alone. It was a belief in the Devine Power he would share with his wife, an unshakeable faith that helped carry the couple as they struggled with a life problem that made that miracle in Atlanta look pale in the grander scheme of things.

But miracles are very unpredictable events and through a series of miracles, the Burnettes now find themselves far away from the episodes of anxiety and despair that marked a near four-year process to bring a new Pirate into the world.

“We had a few miscarriages and then came the doctor intervention,” he explained. “First, with the obstetrician and later with an infertility specialist. I never really gave up that it would happen; for the most part I felt that it wasn’t yet God’s time for us to have a child. I didn’t know the ‘whys’ of that, though.”

When a couple is emotionally prepared to have a family and then is faced with that prospect becoming unattainable, the emotions take a beating. The up and down cycle of hope and disappointment and hope again is paced by the medical regimen of needles and cycles of fertility drugs and HCG shots. It is an emotional roller coaster that leaves many couples wondering what they will do with their lives if family is not an option.

But the Burnettes held on to hope and the notion of family.

Two years ago,'s
Ron Cherubini
took a nostalgic
trip in the Pirate
Time Machine
with Ken Burnette...
Read that memorable feature...

“We decided – I was reluctant at first – that we would pursue adoption in the fall of 2002,” Burnette recalled. “I still had not given up on the possibility of having a biological child. I had seen it happen once first hand and heard about it happening numerous times. I knew that if it was God’s will for us to have a biological child, then we would.”

Counting on their faith to see them through, the couple took a different route to adoption. Rather than going with an adoption agency or international placement group, they chose to turn to an organization called The Link. The Link is an organization that works with crises pregnancy centers around the country, working to bring birth moms together with prospective adoptive parents.

“The adoption process was much more of an emotional roller coaster than I had anticipated,” Burnette said. “We went with a Christian 'facilitator' located in Concord. (They) provide the birth moms an alternative. The way The Link (works) is that they will come across a situation and will let all their prospective parents know about it.

"If it is a situation – boy, girl, Caucasian, etc) that you are interested in, you let them know and they then present the birth mom with a profile. This profile is a 10-15 page ‘marketing brochure’ – that’s what I tagged it – that has photos of us and our families. It outlines our interests and hobbies and has a completed questionnaire that covers health, job, church activities, recreational activities, family history, etc. In our case the birth mom picked us solely from our profile.”

The story could have ended there, but before the The Link was able to notify the Burnettes of the match, something happened on the way to the baby checkout.

“It was divine intervention the way it worked out,” Burnette tells the story. “There had not been a lot of activity as far as new situations (through The Link) and with the holidays behind us and both (of us) busy with work, we really didn’t give it much thought.

“Then one morning Kimberly comes in the bathroom as I’m getting ready for work and lays down a home pregnancy test and asks me to read it. It was positive. I was stunned – very happy – but I really didn’t know what to say.”

The silence was the outcome of all of the emotional, financial, and medical effort the two had put in – two failed in-vitro fertilizations, multiple drugs, procedures and tests.

The two were cautiously optimistic and when the pregnancy was confirmed, both knew from experience the budding miracle could disappear on them – so they held their collective breath and waited it out. On the first day that physicians had estimated a heartbeat would be detectable, the Burnettes went in with hope and fear.

“We went to the doctor that day and sure enough, there was a little heartbeat,” he said. “We were ecstatic, all the numbers and everything were ‘normal’ and the pregnancy was off to a good start.”

Again, the story could have ended there for the Burnettes with a child on the way. But there would be more.

“I have class on Tuesday nights and was parking my car when the phone rang,” Burnette said. “It was the lady from The Link. She said ‘you’ve been matched.’ It caught me off guard. We had not told her there was a situation we were interested in – ‘how could we be matched?’

“She said it was a situation that came out of the blue. A birth mom had decided in the 8th month to give up her son. The Link had sent several profiles to the birth mom and she picked us. There was one caveat – we had indicated that we wanted a girl, and she was having a boy. She wanted to know if we would be willing to take a boy.”

Kimberly and Ken Burnette and adopted three-month
Kace are happily expecting the September birth of
another son into their suddenly burgeoning family.

After talking it over, they agreed that little boy was already a Burnette.

“I told (The Link) that we were pregnant and that was part of the hold-up,” Burnette said. “We were OK with it being a boy. The Link said that they would let the birth mom know we were expecting and see if that changed her decision to choose us. We agreed to that. The next day we found out that all was a go. Kace Charles Burnette would be born in Idaho on March 16, 2003. It was a blessing to meet the birth mom and her parents. They were great people.”

So for the Burnettes, 1999 seems like such a long time ago. In September, the Burnettes will present their new soon Kace with a little brother. And the growing family that might not have been, is now thriving.

“This has truly been an emotional roller coaster,” Burnette said. “With all the highs and lows. We are extremely excited now to have a second boy on the way and to know that Kace and #2 will only be 6 months apart. Kace has been so awesome. He is a great baby with a great disposition. We are just blessed to have him.

“The way I see it, ECU has it’s two inside linebackers for the 2021 recruiting year!”

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02/23/2007 02:05:43 PM

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