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Heart to heart


WORLD Radio - Heart to heart

Alabama family celebrates God’s faithfulness in their journey with conjoined twins

Photo by Castle Family

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, March 15th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Conjoined twins.

They’re a rare occurrence—about 1 in 50,000 births. But for an Alabama pastor and his wife, the rare became reality last year.

It’s been a bumpy road, yet they’ve made it through a challenging time with the support of their church. Here’s WORLD Senior Correspondent Kim Henderson with their story.

KIM HENDERSON, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: It’s a sweet scene inside the Castle Family’s rented house in New Jersey.

DWIGHT: Judah, are you so excited that you finally get to see and hold your sister? [Judah: Yeah.] You've been waiting for a long, long, long time. [Judah: Yeah, but how many days until Elizabeth’s coming home?] Buddy, that is a great question.

And that’s what everybody’s wondering. When will baby Elizabeth get to come home? And when can they return to Alabama? Dad Dwight doesn’t make predictions.

DWIGHT: It will be a new normal. [Emmet: And I miss Birmingham.] Oh, you miss Birmingham?

It was November 2020 when Stephanie Castle found out she was expecting conjoined twins. The babies were facing each other and joined in their midsection.

STEPHANIE: We felt like we were just constantly waiting. You know, we would think that the next appointment would tell us whether or not their hearts were joined. And then we'd get to that appointment and they're like, “Well, we think that they're not, but we're still not sure.”

Stephanie delivered the girls in April at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a facility known for premier care of conjoined twins.

STEPHANIE: So we actually have a picture somewhere, and you can see Susannah’s leg with a little red string around it.

That meant she was the first of the twins to be born. That was nearly a year ago. The babies couldn’t leave the hospital, so the whole Castle Clan has been living up North ever since.

DWIGHT: It was very clear to us, we wanted our family together, that we had to be together . . .

Together, they’ve faced five moves between temporary dwellings. A new school. Setbacks and surgeries for the twins. Lots of time apart.

Dwight says he and Stephanie have to divide their time between their two sets of children.

DWIGHT: We're seeing the effects either kind of developmentally with the girls and they're not attaching to us and knowing who their parents are, or the kids that we've drug around that we just aren't spending time with. And they ask why we have to go to the hospital every day.

But the outpouring of support has been great. An October video of the beautiful and happy Castle twins posted on Facebook got more than 5 million views.

Doctors determined the girls were good candidates for separation surgery and set the date for December 10. Dwight says emotions were running high.

DWIGHT: They just so happened to be joined, you know, but they were really, like, thriving babies who had their own personalities. Susannah could say ‘dada” right before that.

The surgery was successful, and the long term prognosis is good, but both girls still have hurdles in front of them. Susannah came home in February. But this morning, they’re back in Philadelphia at the hospital.

DWIGHT: Yeah, this is Susannah. She is about nine and a half months old now. Smiley this morning . . .

They come every day to the hospital to spend time with Elizabeth. But they had some problems last night at home with Susannah.

STEPHANIE: We had a rough night. Yeah, she was spitting up, throwing up—I don't know what you want to call it—all night. So yeah, we'll see how she's doing, I guess.

The Castles say they’re managing by the grace of God. And by the support of others. From Grandmas who have tag teamed care of the kids for months to a loaned van to Redeemer Community Church back in Birmingham. They’ve allowed Dwight great flexibility in his role as missions pastor.

DWIGHT: What's been cool is to see people use their particular giftings or skill sets or resources. Someone who had a private plane flying us up here, a baker sending us some baked goods. graphic designers designing thank you cards for us. There's someone right now preparing the nursery for the girls . . .

STEPHANIE: Doing our laundry for the two months when we were here and the kids were there.

DWIGHT: We'd literally put our laundry on the front porch and someone would come and pick it up and do our laundry and bring it back.

People have sent cards, texts, and checks. They raked their yard, cut their hair, offered photo sessions. A Christian school extended fall registration. Dwight’s sister kept their freezer filled with home cooked meals.

The Philadelphia Eagles even treated 8-year-old Mac to a game.

MAC: I liked it. It was fun, even though we lost.

One of their biggest blessings was their last house. It became available just an hour before they were to reluctantly sign a year’s lease on a more expensive one.

It’s good they didn’t sign that year's lease. Since our interview, the Castles packed up for Alabama. They’re home.

DWIGHT: I want to testify to the Lord's faithfulness in the normal hard things of life that give people hope when they experience the really normal hard things of life, too. Life is hard a lot, but God has always been with us.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kim Henderson in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

EICHER: To learn more about the Castle twins, you can find Kim’s story in the current issue of WORLD Magazine.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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