Parenthood is a completely beautiful experience, but some couples aren’t able to have a baby naturally. There are other options for them such as surrogacy, but the primary option many pursue is adoption. But with adoption, much like with the other options, there isn’t a promise that things will always work. Tyler and Mandi Palmer’s road to adoption wasn’t the smoothest. On their court date, their toddler Hunter wanted to speak up, and after that, there was no question about his future…
A Heavy Day For The Palmers
Throughout life, some days hang heavier than others. Some will be blessings and others will be huge debacles. Thankfully, these trying times only come every so often, but for the Palmer family, one of their days had arrived.
It was when they were sitting patiently and calmly in the courtroom. Awaiting a decision that would impact their lives for the better or leave them with a void. The Palmers couldn’t have been more nervous…
Getting Through The Tough Times
Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. The moment Mandi and Tyler Palmer spent waiting on the decision in the courtroom was massive. The couple had spent a year trying to prove they were worthy enough to be parents so they could keep their family together.
It felt like ages before the judge spoke up and revealed his final decision. Then, out of the blue, an interruption happened. A toddler yelled something that no one expected to hear…
He Served His Country
Rewind the story a little to 2010. Tyler Palmer had just joined the United States Army and was in the 101st Airborne Division. Unfortunately, he didn’t have much time to process the vast changes. In only three weeks’ time, he was already shipped off to Afghanistan.
This was after basic training so you can imagine that everyone, not just Tyler, would have a tough time handling such a big change so quickly.
Thankfully for Tyler Palmer, he endured the deployment to Afghanistan. He came back home to America in fine physical shape but not without having a mental toll taken out of him after experiencing his deployment.
Anyone who goes through that type of experience would be affected. The good thing is, luck was about to be on Palmer’s side sooner rather than later. It would prove to be the most appropriate type of bounce-back he needed at that point.
Luck Smiles Down
When 2013 came around, Cupid’s arrow decided to shoot Tyler right in the heart. Mandi entered his life, and Tyler knew right away they had something special by the way they connected almost immediately. The bad news was that Tyler was about to get sent back to the Middle East.
Even though Tyler was about to be gone for quite some time again, he felt very optimistic about his new relationship with Mandi. Mandi had some health issues herself, but the pair knew they would be just fine.
Making It Official
The couple would have to endure nearly a year without being with each other thanks to Tyler’s deployment, and it was a bit of a tough task to handle. But the difficult experience was a blessing in some ways because it put a new perspective on Tyler’s life.
“He was deployed for nine months, and one month after he got home, he proposed, and we got married a few weeks later,” Mandi later said. The deployment really showed Tyler what was important in life. He decided to quit the army and start a life with his wife.
The Palmers Decided To Start A Family
Since he returned from his deployment, things between the couple were heating up in a hurry. They knew right away that they wanted to start a family together. “We both knew we wanted our own family so greatly but didn’t know what God had planned for us,” Mandi said.
Remember how we mentioned Mandi having health issues? Well, her history of heart conditions was a big factor that made it very difficult for the pair to conceive a child…
An Uphill Battle
As you can imagine, the couple was upset with the setbacks they faced when trying to start their family. As weeks and months passed, the couple did not conceive. That kind of stress is enough to drive some marriages apart, but these two stuck through it together.
“We tried for years to get pregnant but soon came to realize that it wasn’t going to happen, nor would it be safe for my body to sustain the miracle of pregnancy due to my illness,” said Mandi. They weren’t going to give up so easily…
Adoption Enters The Picture
The Palmers were still very determined to bring a child into their so that they could begin their family. That’s when they started looking at other options that could possibly help.
In the end, they figured that adoption might be the best route for them. It may have been the best choice for their particular needs, but anyone who’s adopted before knows that it’s not always a walk in the park. Ending up with a stranger’s child that you didn’t create can come with its fair shares of ups and downs…
Becoming Foster Parents
Mandi and Tyler were all for adopting at this point and becoming foster parents. They noticed that there had been stories about the need for qualified adoptive parents where they lived. It was more than a sign.
There were also commercials and other announcements that now caught their notice. They slowly realized that there were tons of children and babies that needed a home out there. They needed only to take action so they could get closer to having a family…
A Sign From Above
All of the stories, ads, and announcements were huge signs to Tyler and Mandi. Adoption was precisely the route they were going to try at this point as they thought it was God’s plan.
Finally, they decided to enroll in the licensing program so they could begin the process of adoption. They had enough of finding the signs and not taking action on it. Becoming parents and starting a family was their primary goal now.
A Tiny Baby Boy
Many people who have been through this process might have seen this coming, but the licensing program was anything but quick and easy. Mandi and Tyler spent weeks upon weeks finishing paperwork and jumping through tons of hoops.
Soon enough, they became licensed. The same week of the licensing was also when Mandi and Tyler got a call that their baby boy was available! The child’s name was Hunter, and they couldn’t have been more excited.
Hunter Needed Parents
As we mentioned earlier, Tyler would be in for some great surprises and this one might have been the biggest. After he and Mandi received the call that Hunter needed them, they were beyond ecstatic and overwhelmed with joy.
At the time, Hunter was barely a week old. He needed a family that would love and support him in some of the most essential points of his young life. The couple was more than thrilled to be his parents, but sadly there were more obstacles in the way…
So Much To Prepare
Up next for the couple was a what they later described as a “whirlwind of emotions.” For starters, the two of them went to Target and got all the baby items that would be enough in the first stages. Pampers, wipes, formula, and everything else you can think of. Then the big moment came.
“We arrived at children’s services and there was Hunter, all bundled up in a receiving blanket, and he was being held by our caseworker,” said Mandi. “He was eight days old and absolutely perfect. We fell in love with him instantly.”
Coping With The Stress
Being an adoptive family always comes with its fair share of stress. There is still an off chance that the biological parents, or perhaps other adoptive families, could appear out of nowhere and threaten the time and love you’ve put in.
And sure enough, that’s what happened to Mandi and Tyler. They ended up finding out that their family wasn’t ready to be whole yet so they had to overcome another obstacle. This was not quite what they expected at the start of this process.
They Were Not Just Going To Give Up
After Tyler and Mandi saw Hunter in person, they had made up their minds that they wanted the baby boy. Nothing was going to stop them. The course ahead wasn’t going to be the smoothest of paths, but that didn’t deter the couple.
As time passed, their passion for securing baby Hunter as their own grew more and more. Tyler and Mandi pretty much said that they were going to do whatever it took to make sure their new family included Hunter.
A Day In Court
The following 16 months for Mandi and Tyler were not the best. They had to go through an emotional journey during that time span. There were some ups, of course, but the downs weighed heavily on the young couple.
They had to attend many hearings while they were getting their paperwork finalized, just to appear in front of a judge. The judge hearing happened on December 18, 2017, one week before Christmas. What happened next was interesting…
There’s No Stopping Them
When it was time for the court date to happen, the family of three had been together for 17 months. That’s a year and five months, and even though it doesn’t seem that long, for a parent, it is an eternity.
Add in the fact that Mandi and Tyler had the idea of losing the child they’d cared about for over a year. Needless to say, this was a stressful upcoming court hearing. They focused on trying to be prepared for what was to come.
Hunter Was The Reason To Live
Hunter became Tyler and Mandi’s reason to go on. Mandi said he was “both of our reasons to fight the health battles that we have been given.” Tyler began to struggle with PTSD symptoms he developed while out in Afghanistan.
Mandi already had the heart issues. Having Hunter become their “lighthouse,” so to speak, is a fantastic thing. Now, you have a better understanding as to why they weren’t going to let him without a fight…
And… The Big Day Arrives
The big day was finally upon Tyler and Mandi. They were naturally nervous but also excited at the same time. They made sure to look their best and put on Hunter’s nicest outfit, as he was going to be the center of attention.
Both the parents were overjoyed to finally put everything behind them and start their new lives as official mom and dad to Hunter. Only time would tell if their dreams would come to fruition…
Their Loved Ones Were There For Support
On any big day in your life, having your loved ones around is always a great feeling. Knowing they are there giving you their time and support can go a long way. This was the case for Mandi and Tyler during their court hearing.
“It was very emotional, in a good way,” Mandi would later say. “We had all of our family and friends there. At the end of the court process, the judge announced Hunter’s new legal name.” This wasn’t the best part of the hearing, however…
What Did Hunter Say?
It was like a scene straight out of a movie. Once the adoption decree was read, and everything was official once, and for all, Hunter let out a yell. He took one look at Tyler and yelled, Dad!”
Not only that, but Hunter started clapping. Once he did that, everyone there in the courtroom began to weep. Mandi recalled that it was such an emotional scene to be a part of. This was a dream moment that happened for them, but there was still more to come.
That moment in the courtroom was beyond special. It cemented the permanent parenthood for Mandi and Tyler so they could focus on becoming the best parents for little Hunter. They also didn’t have to worry about other coming to take Hunter from them anymore.
Knowing all they these two had gone through, it was a victory for everyone involved, not just Mandi and Tyler. A huge burden lifted off their backs when the adoption was final.
Without a doubt, parenting for the first time is an experience that can’t be duplicated. When it’s all said and done, it’s more than rewarding as it teaches you things you wouldn’t learn elsewhere.
Mandi was asked how she felt at the time. “It’s definitely rewarding,” she said. “It’s nice to look in his eyes now and not have to worry that he’s ever gonna have to leave us again.” When it was set in stone, the judge knew he had made the right decision…
A Match Made In Heaven
This was just like a match made in heaven. Not only did Hunter need parents to be there for him and raise him up, Tyler and Mandi also needed little Hunter just as much. He is somewhat of a miracle to them.
“There’s a rainbow at the end of every story,” Mandi said. She also added that she was beyond thankful for insisting that they keep Hunter by their side. The results were more than they could have asked for.
Such Proud Parents
“He is our world and our reason to keep fighting these battles,” said Mandi. “My husband said that there is no medication to help his PTSD quite like having his son take our last name.”
That alone is all the motivation Tyler and Mandi need. The happy family has created a perfect circle of love. What Mandi and Tyler get from Hunter, Hunter receives right back in the form of love and care. There’s nothing quite like it.
Their Own Family
Adoption day is always a day filled with high emotions. It is a time for both child and parent(s) to feel the security and love that come from being an official family.
“He’ll always be safe and loved with us,” Mandi said. From the start, these two already had the mindset of parents that have been here before. They were apparently ready for this new journey in their lives. Dec. 18, 2017, became the day that changed their lives forever…
Family Over Everything
“Our hearts are forever changed because we now know a true and genuine love,” said Mandi about the adoption. The love will only continue to grow for the new parents as time goes on, and we’re sure that Mandi and Tyler are aware of this.
“We know that he will forever be safe with us and most importantly will always know what love is,” she said. “We have learned that family isn’t about DNA. It’s about love!”
A Beautiful Payoff
Whenever people go through such an uplifting, life-changing experience, they sometimes become advocates for what they’ve been through. For example, when a person is saved by the church, they will talk it up and encourage others to join the church.
For Mandi and Tyler, they started to support adoption in a big way. They bring it up whenever they get the chance. Even though being a foster parent isn’t always easy, they know that it’s worth every moment — good and bad.
An Inspiration To Others
You can bet that Mandi made a lot of noise about adoption during Foster Care Awareness Month. She posted all over her Facebook profile that month talking about the amazing feeling adoption can give you.
“Safety, validation, comfort, and love,” were a few of the words she used to describe the experience. “They are innocent and deserve all of us to help put their broken pieces back together,” Mandi said. Truer words were never spoken.
When Caleb was nearing his first birthday, he was sent to foster care. For three years, the young man stayed in the system. One day, a lucky couple came in and whisked the boy away as a new part of their family.
“The overwhelming relief of knowing he will be safe and loved and taken care of for the rest of his life still brings me to tears,” said one of the workers. With a new family, Caleb has been celebrating brand new accomplishments with those around him. The workers hope to run into him when he’s much older.
Bring Them All
Jana was unaware about fostering until one of her friends mentioned it to her. Intrigued by the concept, she decided to do a plethora of research before discovering this was her calling. Along with her husband, she decided to adopt two healthy boys. Before leaving with her new family, Jana made a surprising discovery.
Those two boys had two sisters that were also in foster care. Jana made the big leap by adopting all four of them. “I would say if you think it might be for you, do not hesitate. There are so many kids that need good homes,” she said about her experience.
Don’t Give Up
Brian and Lee were looking to take care of two new children, but they weren’t foster to adopt. The two decided to change that by getting their license, which took them a couple of months to obtain. When the time was right, they decided on half siblings Sofia and Kolten.
Their world changed instantly when the kids arrive at their abode. Brian and Lee are looking to adopt another kid in the future. When it comes to the process, Lee stated, “My advice to future parents is don’t give up! The journey is long and hard for everyone involved but it is so rewarding.”
A Busy Home
Jeremiah is one of the brightest boys you’ll ever meet. There was once a good chance he wouldn’t be here today, though. When he was only five days old, he suffered from breathing problems. He was also exposed to various drugs, which could’ve been fatal. Jaqueline felt the need to bring him around familiar faces when she adopted him.
Before his arrival, she adopted his brother Jacob, and she’ll also have his younger sister Ava Rose joining them. “Our home is a busy one with five young children, and that’s the way we like it,” Jaqueline said.
Adopting After Challenges
When it comes to having children, the Alverio family have had their ups and downs. Their first son Ethan was born with the help of doctors due to pregnancy complications. They tried to go for child number two, but further complications made it impossible. They turned to adoption to help expand their family.
They chose an energetic kid named Ben, and they’ve been there through some of his worst times. “We supported him through a lot of intensive challenges, therapy, confusing emotions and behavioral issues. It was a big challenge at times,” they stated. The couple are looking to foster another child.
One Huge Happy Family
On Josh and Jessaka Clark’s very first date, he told her that he wanted a large family someday. The couple certainly received their wish, in the form of a family of seven siblings who needed a home. They received a phone call shortly after beginning the adoption process in 2016.
“When he got off the phone, he said to me, ‘What do you think about seven?,” Jessaka told Southern Living. “I said, ‘A 7-year-old?’ He said, ‘Well, there is a 7-year-old, but no… seven children!’” The Clarks said yes, and they now have the big family they always dreamed of.
A Long Process
At four months old, Dylan found himself in a brand new home with Ann. Unfortunately, the wait to have him legally adopted was a bit long for them. After three years, Ann was proud to officially call Dylan her son. She didn’t want to let him continue his new life without his older sister, though.
Ann was able to bring her into the family the following year. To folks wanting to adopt kids, she gives a little piece of advice. “Our advice to other foster parents is to live in the moment and try not to let the unknown consume you.”
Can’t Imagine Life Without Him
Mother’s Day weekend is the celebration of what our mothers have done for us. For Sarah, this weekend will forever hold a special place in her heart. She went into foster care to pick up her new son Sebastian. It didn’t take long for him to instantly bond with Sarah and her husband.
“We can’t imagine our family without him. It’s like he has always been with us,” stated Sarah. After two and a half years, Sebastian became an official part of the family. “While it was one of the hardest things we have ever done, he is so worth it!”
Everything Changed After Meeting Fields
April & Joe Field weren’t big into the idea of adoption. As the parents of five children, bringing another child into their world through the process was confusing. Before meeting the Fields, Addix spent his time in multiple homes.
Having special needs put a major strain on folks wanting to adopt him. April & Joe completely understood the feeling. “My hesitation had more to do with fear and selfishness,” stated April. When they finally adopted Addix, their entire outlook changed for the better. “I can’t imagine our lives without Addix. He brings so much joy and love into our home.”
Together We Rise
One of the most prominent foster care and adoption advocacy groups in the United States is Together We Rise. The group uses social media to share photos of children who are adopted into their forever homes.
Together We Rise’s executive director, Gianna Dahlia, says that “[w]ith so many negative stereotypes and news stories surrounding foster care, we are focused only on the positive. One of the most powerful and positive things that can happen for children in foster care is getting adopted into a forever family. That’s why we started sharing the pictures our supporters were sending us.”