“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,” Mandi said. But she never gave up on her dream.
The couple decided to adopt an adorable toddler named Hunter. But what the boy said during the adoption hearing wasn’t what they expected…He put Mandi and her husband in a very uncomfortable situation.
It took several months for the couple to become licensed as foster-to-adopt parents.
“The same week that we were licensed, we also received our first phone call to pick up our baby boy, Hunter,” Mandi recalls. Little did she know what she was in for…
Hunter was just one week old at the time. Mandi and her husband Tyler were over the moon when they received the news.
They were looking forward to bringing the baby home. However, they still didn’t know whether they would be allowed to keep him for good.
“Talk about a whirlwind of emotions!” Mandi said. ”We quickly ran to Target and purchased the necessities (car seat, clothes, baby blankets, diapers, food, etc.) we needed to bring our baby home.”
“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. He was eight days old and absolutely perfect. We fell in love with him instantly.” But would Hunter feel the same about them?
Mandi and Tyler were aware of the fact that Hunter could eventually go to another foster family, which would break their heart.
Sadly, that’s exactly what happened a few months later. They faced the possibility of losing their baby boy to another adoptive family.”Over the next 16 months, we went through the crazy roller coaster ride of fostering,” Mandi recalls.
“Our prayers were finally being answered! Our adoption worker worked so hard to get paperwork finalized so that Christmas of 2017 would be our best yet.”
The couple’s court date was set for December 18, 2017, just a few days before Christmas. But Mandi and Tyler had no idea what waited ahead of them.
Hunter was 17 months old at the time, and he had gotten used to living with Mandi and Tyler. The couple vowed to fight for him until the very end.
“He was our ‘medicine’ and both of our reasons to fight the health battles that we have been given,” Mandi recalls. “He truly became our ‘why’ in life.”
On the day of the adoption hearing, the couple put on their best clothes to make a good impression on the judge. They couldn’t wait to make it official.
“It was very emotional, in a good way. We had all of our family and friends there,” Mandi said. ”At the end of the court process, the judge announced Hunter’s new legal name.” And that’s when Hunter decided to speak up.
“And they read the adoption decree, and that’s when Hunter looked at my husband, and he said, ‘Dad!’ and clapped,” Mandi said.
“He just started clapping, and everybody just started crying. It was so emotional. It’s definitely rewarding.”
“It’s nice to look in his eyes now and not have to worry that he’s ever gonna have to leave us again,” she continued.
If the judge had any doubts about whether Tyler and Mandi were the right fit for Hunter, that simple word answered all of his questions.
Hunter is a miracle for Mandi and her husband in so many ways! “We’ve learned that there’s a rainbow at the end of every storm, and we’re so thankful we kept the fight,” Mandi said.
“He is our world and our reason to keep fighting these battles.”
“My husband said that there is no medication to help his PTSD quite like having his son take our last name,” she continued.
For Mandi and Tyler, it was like a ton of bricks just came off their chest, knowing that Hunter would stay with them forever.
“He’ll always be safe and loved with us. So that in itself is rewarding,” Mandi said.
“Our hearts are forever changed because we now know a true and genuine love.”
“We know that he will forever be safe with us and, most importantly, will always know what love is,” she continued.
“We have learned that family isn’t about DNA. It’s about love!” Mandi and her husband are now advocates of adoption and fostering.
“Being a foster parent isn’t easy by any means, but it’s SOOOO worth it when you see the joy in the children’s eyes when they actually feel safety, validations, comfort, and love,” Mandi wrote on Facebook in commemoration of Foster Care Awareness Month.
“These children are worth not giving up on. They are innocent and deserve all of us to help put their broken pieces back together.”