After battling for more than a year, Mandi and Tyler Palmer were delighted to officially adopt their son. However, they had no idea how their little boy felt about the process. Then he uttered one word in court that broke them.
Mandi and her husband, Tyler, had both faced hardships in life. Indeed, Mandi had suffered with Crohn’s disease since she was a teen. And doctors had diagnosed U.S. Army veteran Tyler with severe post-traumatic stress disorder after he completed two tours of Afghanistan.
In each other, though, Mandi and Tyler found strength. They had first met before Tyler was sent to Afghanistan for the second time, when he was away for nine months. And while many relationships may have struggled in such circumstances, Mandi and Tyler grew ever closer.
Consequently, one month after Tyler had returned home from war, he asked Mandi if she would marry him. She agreed, and the couple tied the knot shortly afterwards. It was then that Tyler decided to quit the army and begin a new life with his wife in Perrysburg, Ohio.
Once they had a place to call home, then, the couple were keen to start a family. After years of disappointment, however, Mandi gave up on attempting to conceive. Even if it did happen, she reasoned, she wasn’t sure if her body would cope with the strain of both Crohn’s disease and pregnancy.
And that realization devastated the young couple. But given that the Palmers were both fighters, they weren’t going to give up on their dream of starting a family. So they decided to look at other options instead.
Writing for Love What Matters, Mandi subsequently revealed, “We were heartbroken and quickly found ourselves seeking other ways to grow our family and become parents. 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.”
It was then that Mandi and Tyler noticed that their local authority was calling out for foster parents. Instantly, they felt that it was a sign. “We were scared, but we knew God was pulling at our heartstrings and telling us that this is what we needed to do,” Mandi explained.
As a result, the couple spent the following months filling in forms, completing training and undergoing inspections to become foster-to-adopt parents. And it was worth the effort. Because, just days after they received their license, Mandi and Tyler received a call about a baby boy called Hunter.
At the time, Hunter was a little over a week old and in need of a loving home. Mandi and Tyler naturally agreed to take the infant in. So before they knew it, they’d become a household of three and foster parents to a darling little baby.
Given how quickly everything had happened, the couple barely had any time to acclimatize to the idea of being foster parents. “Talk about a whirlwind of emotions,” Mandi told People. “We quickly ran to Target and purchased the necessities (car seat, clothes, baby blankets, diapers, food, etc.) we needed to bring our baby home.”
After setting eyes on the baby, though, it didn’t take long for Mandi and Tyler to fall into their new mom and dad roles. “He was eight days old and absolutely perfect,” Mandi wrote on Love What Matters. “We fell in love with him instantly.”
With that in mind, it’s easy to imagine just how panicked the couple were when, just a few months down the line, they faced the prospect of losing Hunter to another adoptive family. Once again, though, Mandi and Tyler were willing to fight for what they loved.
In fact, they embarked on a lengthy battle to officially adopt Hunter. And according to Mandi, the child was “more than just [their] 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.”
Thankfully, after 16 months of uncertainty, Mandi and Tyler discovered that they would indeed be able to adopt Hunter. The process was completed in December 2017 in an Ohio courthouse. And while Hunter was only 17 months old at the time, it seemed that the importance of the occasion wasn’t lost on him.
Although the official papers were important to Mandi and Tyler, just one little word from Hunter proved to them that they had always been his parents in his eyes. It may have been a small word, but it meant everything to the people who loved him.
“At the end of the court process, the judge announced [Hunter’s] new legal name,” Mandi told People. “And they read the adoption decree, and that’s when Hunter looked at my husband, and he said, ‘Dad!’”
The proud mom added, “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.”
It was a special moment that Mandi, Tyler and their loved ones will never forget. With the adoption now official, the family could get on with creating special memories together without the fear of being separated.
They knew that there was a special bond that nothing could break. “Our hearts are forever changed because we now know a true and genuine love,” Mandi wrote on Love What Matters. “We have learned that family isn’t about DNA. It’s about love!”