Science and Love Create a Living Memory for a War Widow

ByABC News
February 19, 2007, 8:44 PM

Feb. 19, 2007 — -- Nearly two years after Lt. Brian Smith died in Iraq, his widow, Kathleen "K.C." Caroll-Smith, gave birth to their son Benton.

Benton Drew Smith was born on July 14, 2006, and was conceived using the sperm left behind in a sperm bank by Lt. Smith before his passing. Benton, a blue-eyed baby with brown hair and lots of energy, lives in Austin, Texas, with his mother, who doesn't regret her decision to conceive and raise him without his father.

"It was the right thing to do," said Caroll-Smith, who hopes Benton will have curly hair like his dad. "And it's been very good for the whole family. The family line continues. We wanted kids and we had been trying for so long."

The couple's hopes for a child nearly came to an end in July 2004, when Lt. Smith was killed by a sniper in Habaniyah, Iraq, while inspecting his Abrams tank. The bullet struck Lt. Smith's liver, causing internal bleeding.

"It devastated me for a long time," said Caroll-Smith, who credits her strength to the birth of her son. "I'll miss Brian the rest of my life. When you lose the love of your life, you miss them always. But Benton helps me because he's part of Brian. He's with me every day and I can see Brian in him a little. The chin and the smile are the same."

Caroll-Smith, who has endured other reproductive challenges, said she made the decision in part because of her age and her strong desire to be a mother. "I'm 41 this year," she said, "and I realized that with my age, it wasn't like I was going to be able to find someone and be able to have a baby. I've wanted children for a very long time."

Her decision, however, did not come without objections from members of her family.

Initially Linda Smith, Lt. Smith's mother, voiced her concerns about her daughter-in-law raising a child without a husband. Her chief objection was that her grandchild would be without a father figure.

"I wouldn't trade him now for anything in the world," said Smith. "But in the beginning it was like, 'no.' I just didn't want her to. He wasn't going to be here to raise him so I thought 'no,' and then the little stubborn girl that she is, she went ahead."