Last week the Earl family received life-changing news on the TODAY show. The Earls learned that their daughter, Magnolia, just days away from her first birthday, had been named the Gerber baby. Each year since 1928, Gerber has selected a “spokesbaby” to represent the brand. The iconic face of the original Gerber baby, drawn more than 90 years ago, still accompanies every Gerber product, but for the past decade Gerber has held an online photo search to find a new face to represent the company on social media and in national campaigns. This year was a special first for the contest, because Magnolia is the first Gerber baby who came to her family through adoption.
Magnolia appeared on the TODAY show from her California home with her parents Courtney and Russell Earl, along with big sisters Whitney, 12, and Charlotte, 8. While the family talked with the anchors, Magnolia brought smiles to everyone’s face with coos and squeals.
Her mother, Courtney, said, “We celebrate adoption every day. The real heroes in this story are Magnolia’s birth parents. They chose her Life, and they sent her on this incredible journey.” Courtney told TODAY that they are in regular contact with Magnolia’s birth parents and shared the news about Magnolia’s spot as a finalist in the Gerber contest.
Before appearing on TODAY, Courtney called Magnolia’s birth parents. Fighting back tears, Courtney told the hosts, “If you could hear the joy in their voice and how proud they are of this little girl.” While on the show, Magnolia’s birth parents were watching. The Earls emphasized that her birth parents continue to be part of their daughter’s life and an important part of who she is. Her mother said, “Together with them [her birth parents]and our community and our families, we all just love this baby girl so much.”
Magnolia’s dad described her personality, saying, “She brings so much joy and happiness every day. And she’s always happy.” Despite waking up hours earlier than usual on the day of the show, the family said Magnolia was still in good spirits and her usual joyful self.
Magnolia is not the only Gerber baby to make headlines in recent years. In 2018, baby Lucas became the first Gerber baby with Down syndrome. The Gerber tagline is that “every baby is a Gerber baby.” Because the national photo search has included more diverse babies with disabilities and unique backgrounds, the slogan has never been more true. Like Magnolia, what came through in Lucas’s entry photo was his incredible personality. His mother said, “I’ve never met anyone to come in contact with Lucas and not smile.”
There is no doubt that Lucas and now Magnolia are changing the lives of countless people around them with their joyful presence and life-affirming stories. Sadly, both of these unique and incredible babies are targeted for death by the abortion industry. Parents of babies diagnosed before birth with Down syndrome are pressured to end their babies’ lives in abortion. Parents facing a crisis pregnancy are pressured to seek abortion instead of making the heroic sacrifice of placing their child with an adoptive family.
The Earls emphasized that their story is not unique and Magnolia’s impact goes far beyond their family unit. Courtney said of winning the contest, “This is incredible. It means that when people see our family or a family that doesn’t necessarily match, you don’t have to question the belonging of anybody in that family.” Russell shared that his wife often tells their children, “A family is built on love.”
That love continues to include Magnolia’s birth parents and the community that has supported the Earls. Courtney said that after Magnolia’s birth, she and Earl told Magnolia’s birth parents, “We should not be asking to whom this child belongs but who belongs to this child.” To the birth parents, Courtney said, “I know you’re watching, we love them so much.” Without their choice for Life and their sacrifice, Magnolia would not be sharing her beautiful smile with the world.