Mandi and Tyler Palmer have overcome many battles, but their greatest victory is getting the opportunity to adopt their son Hunter. In a recent Love What Matters blog post, Mandi shared the incredible story of how she and her husband came to be parents of their baby boy.
Before meeting Hunter, the couple had been trying to conceive for nearly two years. Due to Mandi's health struggles with Crohn's disease — an inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract — her body was unable to allow for a safe and successful pregnancy. Even more disheartening, Tyler had been struggling with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving years in the U.S. Army.
"We were heartbroken and quickly found ourselves seeking other ways to grow our family and become parents," Mandi wrote in the post. "Because of the health battles we've been given, we weren't the type of people to just 'throw in the towel' and let our dreams of becoming parents get shattered."
After learning about the massive need for foster parents in their local Ohio counties, Mandi and Tyler decided to pursue adoption. A few months, some paperwork, training, and home inspections later, the couple became licensed foster-to-adopt parents. Within that same week, they received the life-changing phone call to pick-up their then 8-day-old baby, Hunter. It was love at first sight.
“It became obvious that Hunter was more than just our first baby. He was our ‘medicine’ and both of our reasons to fight the health battles that we have been given. He truly became our ‘why’ in life.”
Over the next year, the new family went through "the crazy roller coaster ride of fostering" and fought for adoption. "Our biggest challenge throughout our adoption journey is the 'not knowing' part," Mandi told A Plus. "We always promised to love every baby that comes into our home as if I had given birth to them myself. So you obviously get attached very easily. In the back of your head, you always have to remind yourself 'this isn't permanent yet, he could leave us.' As days and months go by, the attachment gets stronger and stronger. I remember that I prayed harder than I ever had before daily, and several times a day that our Lord would keep Hunter where he needed to be, where he would be cared for properly and loved."
Thankfully, their prayers were answered as Hunter officially became a palmer on December 18, 2017.
When the judge declared Hunter’s new legal last name, the little boy looked at his father and cheerfully yelled “Dad!”
Of course, the entire courtroom was flooded with happy tears.
"Oh goodness-it's so hard to describe that moment that Hunter yelled 'Dad!'," Mandi told A Plus. " It was the most emotional moment of our lives. Tyler was crying from the moment we walked into the courtroom, until the moment we left. He told me that morning 'I just can't believe it's finally here and that he is officially our son forever. [...] It was definitely God's working as it was perfect timing. It was finally over and a ton of bricks were lifted from our chest."
The Palmers are more than excited to begin this new journey. "It feels great to officially be a family because like I've said in other interviews, I can now look into Hunters eyes and know that he isn't ever leaving us," Mandi said in our interview. "He's safe and will always be loved now, and that is the greatest gift."
"We've learned that there's a rainbow at the end of every storm and we're so thankful we kept the fight," the new mom wrote in her blog post. "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."
Cover image via Ann-Maire Finn of Finn Photography