At Adoption Hearing, Toddler Yells One Word That Tells Judge All He Needs To Know
After years of personal tumult, young Ohio couple Tyler and Mandi Palmer had one major mission in life: to build the family of their dreams. Their path to building the family they wanted was riddled with hurdles and heartbreak. Against the odds, however, they eventually found themselves the foster parents of a newborn baby boy. More than a year later, though, they found themselves in court awaiting a ruling that would determine their future. The path leading up to that moment had been an emotional roller-coast, but they couldn’t have foreseen that their toddler would unexpectedly break the silence in the court room with one heart-wrenching word that would cement their fates once and for all.
1. Serving His Country
Long before Tyler and Mandi Palmer married and found themselves at an emotional adoption hearing, he enlisted in the US Army in 2010 to serve his country in one of the most honorable ways possible. And after completing a grueling basic training he was quickly shipped off to one of the most dangerous war zones at the time.
Tyler was shipped off to Afghanistan for his first tour, just three short weeks after completing basic training. The US invaded Afghanistan in October of 2001 and has become one of the longest and deadliest wars in US history. To date, the war is still ongoing, but the experience that Tyler was left with would forever impact his life. Despite the difficulties of war, his path would eventually lead him to another one of the most poignant moments in his life – an adoption hearing.
2. An Eventual Meeting
Tyler was lucky to survive his tour in Afghanistan unscathed, physically at least. He happily returned home to the country that he served and loved. Yet, the recent memories of the war he left behind plagued him. His close friends and family were the strength that he needed to overcome the traumas that he had so recently been through.
Even though Tyler found returning to civilian life somewhat difficult, it didn’t stop him from going out and socializing, which eventually led to Tyler meeting Mandi, a person who would change the course of his life. Shortly after their meeting in 2013, the nature of their relationship became quite clear.
3. Love At First Sight
Tyler and Mandi hit it off from the beginning, it was love at first sight. The two enjoyed each other’s company and the romance between them grew and grew. Everything was going well for the young couple until Tyler received news that changed everything.
The thing that they feared most was about to come true. Tyler received notice that he would be sent back to Afghanistan for a second tour. The development would not only put a great strain on their relationship, but it would also have a very big affect on Tyler’s overall well-being that would come into play later in his life at a most critical time.
4. A Second Tour
During Tyler’s second tour in Afghanistan, he was rarely in contact with his girlfriend back home, something that was very difficult for their relationship in general. But also the trials and tribulations of the war in Afghanistan started to have an impact on Tyler and his mental health.
Yet still, the two felt optimistic about their future together once Tyler returned from the war. He was very anxious to leave and return to Mandi, who herself was also having a difficult time. For she was dealing with a lifelong illness, one that she had been diagnosed with when she was only 15-years-old.
5. Mandi’s Struggles
When Mandi was in high school she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, something that would affect her entire life. Physically, she endure great pain, but outwardly she was always a beacon of joy. Mandi underwent multiple surgeries in an attempt to save her life. Surgeries that would leave her in a very difficult position later in life.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition for which there is no cure. And Mandi was forced to undergo multiple surgeries, removing large sections of her intestinal tract and stomach. So much so that she had issues just staying nourished. But despite all the hardships Mandi endured, things were about to start looking up for her.
6. Tyler Returns Home
Things instantly improved when Tyler finally returned home from Afghanistan and their relationship picked back up from where it left off. Before either of them knew it, they had uprooted their lives to live together in Ohio. From there, things started moving increasingly fast.
One month after Tyler returned home from the war he proposed to Mandi. “He was deployed for nine months, and one month after he got home, he proposed and we got married a few weeks later,” Mandi said. The two started their new life together in Ohio and Tyler finally left the military to enjoy his time with his new wife.
7. Big Future Plans
Not long after their 2014 wedding, the couple immediately started thinking of their future plans together, without a moment of hesitation. They knew that they wanted to expand their budding family, but also knew that the path wouldn’t be easy for them.
With no time to waste between them, they started looking into their options. Tyler had survived the war and Mandi was overcoming her illness and they both wanted a family together to celebrate those facts. But for them, unfortunately, the road to creating a family would be long and hard, full of ups and downs. But they knew that together, they would eventually get there.
8. Dreams Of A Family
“We both knew we wanted our own family so greatly but didn’t know what God had planned for us,” Mandi said. At the time they didn’t know whether they would be able to conceive a child naturally or not. But either way, they were certainly going to try.
“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. Yet still Tyler and Mandi knew that all hope wasn’t lost and they weren’t about to give up on their dream.
9. Other Options
So, with their option of having a child naturally dwindling, they started to look into other options for expanding their family. Not wanting to put Mandi’s body in jeopardy, they eventually came to the conclusion that adoption would be their best bet at having the family that they dreamed of.
But as everyone knows, the road to adoption can be very long and difficult. They were ready for the challenge and weren’t about to let any obstacles stand in the way of their happiness. Yet, after a few long months of attempting to adopt, they started to look into other options.
10. Foster Care
Early on in their adoption search efforts, Tyler and Mandi noticed that there was a huge need for foster parents in their area, an option that the happy couple had not yet ruled out. They considered fostering a child a great step towards forwarding their small family.
So, without hesitation, they registered themselves in a foster care licensing program. Knowing that they had already wasted precious time over the years attempting to have a child naturally, they weren’t about to let more time go by while there were children in need of a loving family just waiting to be fostered.
11. Long And Painstaking Process
The process of becoming a licensed foster parent isn’t as easy as you might think. The process can be long and painstaking, taking years sometimes to match a child with a family. For Mandi and Tyler, they would have to jump through bureaucratic hurdles to prove that they were fit parents to foster a child. Nonetheless, they couldn’t be deterred.
But pretty soon the young couple would face an unexpected developed in their cause. The same week that Tyler and Mandi became licensed foster parents they got a call that would change their lives forever. They were both shocked when they heard the news.
12. A Miracle
Their persistence to create the family that they had always dreamed of was apparently about to become a reality. On the other end of the line, a social services representative told them incredible news: there was an eight-day-old baby in need of a home.
Mandi and Tyler were over the moon with elation over the fact that they had been chosen to foster a little boy. In their excitement, they rushed off to Target to get all the supplies that they would need to responsibly take care of the eight-day-old boy. Despite their joy at the prospect, there was one underlying mater that concerned them.
13. Bigger Dreams For The Future
The happy couple felt like it was a miracle that the newborn baby boy, named Hunter, needed a home the exact same week that they received their license. However, it wasn’t just their ambition to temporarily foster the boy, Tyler and Mandi were already dreaming of keeping Hunter and eventually adopting him into their family. But only time would tell if their ultimate dream would come true or be dashed.
Tyler and Mandi had already passed a very difficult hurdle to show that they were fit to foster a child. Little did they know, though, that their challenges were only just beginning in their path to becoming a full-fledged family.
14. Absolutely Perfect
“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,” Mandi recalled. But those feelings of love would soon turn into something else completely unexpected.
Those feelings of love would soon turn into utter fear. The fear that most foster parents looking to adopt their child would normally feel in most cases, because there was no amount of certainty that Tyler and Mandi would be able to legally keep Hunter as their child in the long run.
15. The Difficulties
One of the most difficult aspects of fostering a child is the chance that the child may be taken away from you. Should any of Hunter’s biological family petition to get him back, he could very easily be taken away from Tyler and Mandi.
States keep in place laws to protect the child and to reintroduce them back into their biological family, should that be an option. After all, in many cases, foster care is only a temporary solution for children. With this in mind, Tyler and Mandi had to live with the fear that Hunter might disappear from their lives at any moment.
16. Trying To Hold On
So, Tyler and Mandi started the legal process to adopt Hunter as soon as possible to prevent the state from taking him away from them. But what they didn’t know at the time, was just how hard and long of a process it would be for them. It would be 18 long months of initial proceedings involving multiple judicial hearings and meetings with officials until they would get to the final step.
After the long process of cutting through red tape, Mandi and Tyler’s final adoption hearing for Hunter was eventually scheduled for December 18, 2017. Tyler and Mandi just hoped in their hearts that things would work out in their favor. But they never could have anticipated just how the proceeding would unfold.
17. That One Moment
From the moment that Tyler and Mandi laid eyes on Hunter, they knew that he was their baby. They took him in as their own when he was only eight days old and from that moment on they considered him part of the family. But still, they had to be prepared for every possible outcome from the courts.
By the time that the final hearing came around Mandi and Tyler had been with Hunter for about a year and a half, and he was their son, at least in their eyes. At the hearing everyone was a bundle of nerves, not knowing just what would happen to their family, but they weren’t about to let go of Hunter without a fight.
18. Personal Obstacles
Along with the tedious struggle to foster and hopefully adopt son Hunter, both Mandi and Tyler had major personal obstacles to overcome at the same time. Mandi struggled in her battle against Crohn’s disease, multiple surgeries, and unstable health, while Tyler struggled with severe PTSD from his two tours in Afghanistan.
But to Tyler and Mandi, Hunter was their reason to fight and overcome all of their personal struggles. “He was our ‘medicine’ and our reason to fight the health battles that we face. He truly became our ‘why’ in life,” Mandi stated. And then the final hearing finally arrived.
19. The Day Arrives
When the final court date arrived, everyone was dressed in their finest anxiously awaiting the judge’s ruling on whether Tyler and Mandi would be able to officially adopt Hunter. All of their personal friends and family showed up to demonstrate their support. They knew that the emotional roller coaster ride had finally reach a pinnacle.
Everyone was prepared for a very emotional and stressful day in court for the final adoption hearing. They were about to find out if they would be able to keep Hunter in their family forever, or if he would tragically be ripped out of their arms forever.
20. Go Down In History
Both Tyler and Mandi Palmer tried their very best not to let the fear of Hunter being taken away from them get the best of them. But that day would go down in their family history as either being one of the best or worst days of all three of their lives.
Because it was on that day that the judge made his final decision on whether or not Hunter would be legally adopted by Tyler and Mandi Palmer. Yet, the moment wouldn’t be complete until Hunter himself threw in his two cents after everything was said and done that would tug at everyone’s heartstrings.
21. One Word
The moment that the final announcement came, the judge officially announced Hunter’s full legal name, Hunter Russel Palmer. Everyone was teary-eyed and the room was full of applause and excitement, and that’s when Hunter turned to Tyler and only had one word to say that would convince the judge of what needed to be done.
At that moment, just after the announcement of his name, Hunter turned to Tyler and exclaimed one heartwarming word, “Dad.” Everyone was moved to tears by the toddler’s exclamation, especially the judge, knowing that he had made the right decision to give Tyler and Mandi legal custody of Hunter. And with smiles on their faces, they left the court room. But not before the judge gave Hunter a gift.
22. Moving On
With the adoption proceedings officially over and finalized the judge gave Hunter a small judge’s gavel of his own. Everyone was thrilled that they would finally be able to move on with their lives and never have to worry that Hunter would ever be taken from Mandi and Tyler again. He was theirs permanently.
“It’s definitely rewarding. It’s nice to look in his eyes now and not have to worry that he’s ever going to have to leave us again,” Mandi said, thankful that the months of fighting to keep Hunter in the family were finally over. Tyler and Mandi could now finally revel in the permanency of their family that others take for granted. And what they had to say about the whole ordeal will bring tears to your eyes.
23. True Love
“Our hearts are forever changed because we now know a true and genuine love,” Mandi gushed after the final hearing announcing the name of their new son. They had always felt that he was part of their family, but there was something special about it becoming official and legal.
“We know that he will forever be safe with us and most importantly will always know what love is. We have learned that family isn’t about DNA. It’s about love!” Mandi passionately stated. The new family certainly had a very special Christmas in 2017 as an official family of three. In light of everything that they went through, Mandi and Tyler have advice for others who find themselves in similar situations.
After officially adopting Hunter, Mandi and Tyler Palmer have become very vocal advocates of fostering and adopting children. To them, it’s something so near and dear to their hearts that they can’t help but spread the word to everyone they know who is even thinking of starting a family.
The experience of adopting Hunter has changed Tyler and Mandi’s lives completely. Mandi has even taken to blogging about her experience of adopting Hunter and advocating for others to pursue the same avenue. “They are innocent and deserve all of us to help put their broken pieces back together,” she said of children in such situations.
25. A Happy Family
“On adoption day, it’s almost like a ton of bricks just came off our chest. We now know that he’s never leaving us. He’ll always be safe and loved with us. So that in itself is rewarding,” Mandi told reporters as their account made headlines.
Despite the hardships and the emotional rollercoaster that she and Tyler went through, both of them still advocate for fostering and adopting a child, even if the couple is able to conceive a child naturally. They say that there is nothing more rewarding than giving a child who is in need of a home, a home. Congratulations to the new family!
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