Foster Child Says One Word, Judge Closes Case

It Was Quiet

It was finally time for their court appearance. The Palmers were about to learn the outcome of their family's future after putting in a full year of effort to establish themselves as deserving parents. Mandi and Tyler experienced a moment that was emotionally charged; the tension only subsided when the judge delivered his decision.

The courtroom became silent as a toddler blurted an unexpected phrase before anyone could grasp what had just transpired.

Doing His Job

Tyler Palmer enlisted in the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army in 2010. After enrolling, he didn't have much time to settle in since twenty days after completing basic training, he was dispatched on his first deployment to Afghanistan.

Even though he was fortunate to return home unharmed, the stress of the war had a negative impact on his mental and emotional health. For his benefit, love was going to ring his doorbell.

True Love

In 2013, just prior to his second deployment to the Middle East, Tyler met Mandi. Mandi had her own health difficulties, so they were like-minded people. They yet persisted in their pursuit of happiness in spite of that.

“We knew it would be hard, but we also knew it would strengthen our relationship in ways most people could never understand,” Mandi shared with Love What Matters. And sure enough, they appeared to be headed for a happy ending. However, the challenges kept coming.

A Fresh Beginning

“He was deployed for nine months, and one month after he got home, he proposed and we got married a few weeks later,” Mandi recalled. At that point, Tyler made the decision to leave the army and establish a new life with his wife, one that they both agreed would include having children.

“We both knew we wanted our own family so greatly but didn’t know what God had planned for us,” Mandi shared. But because of her health difficulties, trying to get pregnant turned into a frustrating and disappointing activity.

Not Giving Up

“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 shared. Despite their sadness, they had no intention of giving up.

After considering their options, the couple decided adoption was the best course of action. But first, they had to demonstrate that they were capable of providing long-term care for a child. This would not be simple given their health struggles.

It Was A Sign

Mandi and Tyler became aware that their local government was looking for foster parents around that time. As a result of the constant need for suitable families, they kept hearing the commercials urging individuals to complete the training and obtain a license as foster parents.

The young couple interpreted it as proof of God's plan for their life. They immediately applied for the program, not realizing how difficult it would be to qualify as good parents.

A New Challenge

To obtain a license as foster-to-adopt parents, extensive training and paperwork were required for months. “The same week that we were licensed, we also received our first phone call to pick up our baby boy, Hunter,” Mandi shared. Hunter needed a loving home at the moment because he had only been alive for a little over a week.

Naturally, Mandi and Tyler were thrilled to welcome the baby into their home. But whether they would be able to hold him permanently remained to be determined.


“Talk about a whirlwind of emotions!” Mandi recalled. “We quickly ran to Target and purchased the necessities (car seat, clothes, baby blankets, diapers, food, etc.) we needed to bring our baby home. 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.”

But they couldn't expect the system to make it simple for them.


Fostering does come with some risk, though, as the child can ultimately end up with another family, which would be devastating for everyone concerned. They were unfortunately faced with the possibility of losing Hunter to another adoptive family a few months later. But as we all know, Mandi and Tyler are prepared to fight for the things they cherish, and this instance was no different.

They started a lengthy fight to formally adopt Hunter.

Fighting For Their Family

“Over the next 16 months we went through the crazy roller coaster ride of fostering,” Mandi shared, “Our prayers were finally being answered! Our adoption worker worked so hard to get paperwork finalized so that Christmas of 2017 would be our best yet.”

The day they would be able to complete Hunter's adoption was December 18, 2017, the date of their court appearance. They were giddy with excitement.

Their Medicine

For both Mandi and Tyler, this was more than just becoming parents in the traditional sense. This little boy — although only 17 months old at the time — had given them even more reason to continue to fight the good fight.

“He was our ‘medicine’ and both of our reasons to fight the health battles that we have been given,” Mandi said. “He truly became our ‘why’ in life.” So you can only imagine how emotional it was that day in court…


The family put on their best clothes and headed to the courthouse to make it official. Even though they already felt like a family, having the paperwork and legal grounds to stand on was what they had all been waiting for.

“It was very emotional, in a good way. We had all of our family and friends there,” Mandi said. “At the end of the court process, the judge announced Hunter’s new legal name.” And that’s when Hunter himself chimed in.

One Simple Word

“And they read the adoption decree and that’s when Hunter looked at my husband and he said, ‘Dad!’ and clapped,” Mandi said. “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.”

If that judge ever had any doubt as to whether or not this was a family fit to take that little boy home, I think that answered all of his questions.

A True Light

Hunter is more than just a little boy to them, he is a miracle in so many ways. “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.”

True Love — And Happiness

She added that on adoption day, it was almost like a ton of bricks just came off their chest knowing that he’s never leaving them. “He’ll always be safe and loved with us. So that in itself is rewarding,” she said.

“Our hearts are forever changed because we now know a true and genuine love. 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!” And they have shared their story in order to shed a light on other children in need of a family.

A Happy Ending

Mandi and Tyler have become fierce advocates of adoption and fostering. “Being a foster parent isn’t easy by any means, but it’s SOOOO worth it when you see the joy in the children’s eyes when they actually feel safety, validations, comfort, and love,” Mandi wrote on Facebook in commemoration of Foster Care Awareness Month.

“These children are worth not giving up on. They are innocent and deserve all of us to help put their broken pieces back together.”

To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.