Toddler finalizes his own adoption in one word

Mandi and Tyler Palmer’s love story has been a series of beautifully crafted roller coasters.

Tyler had recently returned home from deployment in Afghanistan when he met Mandi. Not long after the two began dating, Tyler received a notice that he was being deployed back to the Middle East. The couple decided to stay together, despite the long distance and difficulties Mandi had with her Crohn’s disease.

After a difficult year of deployment, Tyler returned, and the two were engaged within a month. Three weeks later, they were married.

Tyler left his position in the military to be with his wife and start a family. However, the Palmers were unable to get pregnant after years of trying. Even if they were to get pregnant, Mandi’s illness would make it dangerous.

After seeing the growing need for foster parents, the couple began to look into adoption. Believing that this was God’s plan for them, they joined a licensing program to help them enter the fostering community. They made it through the grueling process and became certified foster parents. A week later, they met Hunter.

“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,” Mandi said. “He was eight days old and absolutely perfect. We fell in love with him instantly.”

Baby Hunter

Tyler and Mandi took care of Hunter for the next 17 months, anxiously awaiting adoption approval. In that time, the family of three bonded. Hunter became a sort of medicine for Tyler’s PTSD and Mandi’s Crohn’s disease.

“[Hunter was] both of our reasons to fight the health battles that we have been given,” Mandi said.

After much anticipation, Tyler and Mandi were granted legal guardianship of their son, Hunter Russel Palmer. That’s when the boy spoke up.

When the adoption decree was read, Hunter turned to Tyler and yelled, “Dad!”

The crowd started to cry during the emotional and unplanned moment. The new parents couldn’t be happier to be Hunter’s official mom and dad.

“We have learned that family isn’t about DNA,” Mandi says. “It’s about love. He’ll always be safe and loved with us.”