From the moment they met, Mandi and Tyler Palmer knew that one day they would want to raise children together. However, fate had different plans for them.
Mandi was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when she was 15 years old, and had to undergo dozens of surgical procedures to manage her condition. Even at 32, she still battles malnutrition and has to occasionally go under knife.
While Tyler, a veteran, struggled with PTSD after completing two tours in Afghanistan so he has been attending therapy for a few years to help him cope.
The pair fell in love a few years ago, and supported each other through some of the most difficult times of their lives. They eventually got married and moved to Ohio, where they decided to start a family.
Unfortunately, Mandi's illness made the process of getting pregnant impossible.
"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 told Love What Matters. "We were heartbroken and quickly found ourselves seeking other ways to grow our family and become parents."
She explained that after everything she and Tyler had been through in the past, they were never ones to give up easily, and this time was no different.
"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," she said.
The couple decided to become foster parents to determine if adoption was right for them, and in the process the met the miracle they had been waiting for all along.
Little Hunter was just eight days old when Mandi and Tyler first met him, and it was love at first sight.
"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 8 days old and absolutely perfect. We fell in love with him instantly."
She added, "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."
It took another couple of months before Mandi and Tyler were able to finally sign Hunter's adoption papers, and if they had any doubts, it all vanished during their court appearance after Hunter yelled out something the new parents won't soon forget.
Back in December, Mandi, Tyler and Hunter had to attend a court date so the judge can make the adoption legal, and as soon as he announced the 16-month-old's new last name, Hunter clapped and joyfully shouted, "Dad!"
The entire room was taken by surprise, but in that moment, nobody was more happier and emotional than Mandi and Tyler. That's when they officially became a family of three, and the timing of Hunter's exclamation couldn't be more perfect.
"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."
"We have learned that family isn't about DNA. It's about love!" she added.
What a beautiful story about the power of love!