“Being young, you think you know it all and have everything figured out. Life has a funny way of changing your path at moment’s notice. At 19 years old, I became the last thing I wanted to become: a single mother. Growing up in Las Vegas, you get used to the flashing lights and fast-paced lifestyle, but when you become a young mother, the fast life you have been living comes to a screeching halt and your priorities change to something you never dreamed for yourself. My 5-pound, 4-ounce life-changer made me look at life in a way I never thought I could.
My daughter, Aubree, changed every aspect of my life and made me reevaluate everything and everyone who was around. Her biological father wanted nothing to do with her from the time we brought her home from the hospital. It didn’t take long for me to realize this was not the environment I wanted my daughter to grow up in. After separating from her biological father, I tried to keep in contact with him to no avail, so I moved on. I finally got used to being a young single mom. It was hard but I made it work. Almost 2 years had passed and in those 2 years, I worked two jobs and exhausted myself to ensure we would have the life I so badly wanted. I had a routine down. At this point, we were living our life together and I was okay with it being just the two of us.
Social media has been a huge part of my life like anyone my age, but I never thought it would lead me to where I am today. Honestly, it all started with a mutual friend and an Instagram post. After my best friend posted a picture of the two of us, I naturally had to see who was liking her post. I scrolled through a couple of profiles until I came across one that kind of caught my eye. I found myself asking about that cute guy who had liked the photo. I’ll never forget the stories she told about them in the military together and how great of a guy he was. I quickly learned he had children, two children, and was going through a divorce. At that point, I had already decided we would be friends and that was it. It was four months of Snapchat pictures and little conversation but one day, our conversation got real. It was clear we had the same goals and wants in life. The fact he had two children was something that truly scared me. I never wanted to be a stepmom.
After I met his two young children and he met mine, we knew we wanted to be together. The next thing I knew, Aubree and I are on the road headed to Virginia from Las Vegas. It took us two days traveling and we got to our destination around midnight. Everyone met for the first time. Aubree met Madison and Lucas, and just like that, our family was formed. We had everything planned, but the funny thing is nothing went as we planned.
Life for us went from a family of two and three to a family of five. It wasn’t easy at first. I always told their biological mother I would never step on her toes or try to make me their mother. We had the custody papers written up and that very next week, it was time for Lucas to go back with his bio mom. Nothing about that felt right. This little boy, who I had quickly formed a bond with, had to leave us and the custody agreement would begin. It was very clear to me I was not her favorite person and the resistance from her only got worse. Those 2 weeks without Lucas were horrible.
Before we knew it, the next exchange had come and excuses started to happen. We did not see this for our future. After the excuses started, we knew things would only get harder. Lucas mainly stayed with his biological mom for the first few months, and Madison had stayed with us. I will never forget the day when we got the call she could not care for him anymore. That same day, we ended up packing our bags and gave her gas money so she could meet us. That was the last time we would see her for a while. Getting Lucas back was the best feeling because we were finally back to our new little family.
As months went on, the phone calls to Lucas and Madi got shorter and shorter and eventually, they stopped. I became their mother without even realizing it. At 2 years old, Lucas decided to call me Mommy, and right behind him was Madi doing the same thing. Aubree, Madison, and Lucas became inseparable. After a while of no phone calls or exchanges, we had decided to ask something that would change our lives forever. We gave their biological mother options and she ultimately decided signing over her rights was the best thing for her lifestyle. We paid a lawyer for all legal documents and made our way to South Carolina for the final paper signing. It was one of the scariest things I have done. I knew I was their mother, but this made it a reality. At that very same time, my husband asked to adopt Aubree and the plans were in motion. Soon enough, our family would be recognized as one family instead of two merged families. We were the perfect blend.
After the adoptions were final and a year later, we found ourselves expecting a new baby. The three kids could not wait to be the bigger siblings. We brought our fourth child into this world and she really pulled our family together. Little features of Aubree, some features of Madi, and other features of Lucas. That’s when they became the fab four. I think the best feeling in the world is when a stranger comes up to me and compliments me on how all the kids look just like me. No one ever doubted I was their ‘real’ mother.
I was always scared for my kids to know they were adopted. Time moved so fast and as they grew older, more memories were made. We picked up and moved back to Las Vegas after my husband got out of the Navy. Most of the time, we forgot three of our adorable kids were adopted. When they started to go to school, I think they really started to question if I was their real mother or not. We had made excuses on why Aubree and Lucas didn’t have the same birthdays. They were all months apart from each other. They would ask me about their pregnancies and pictures of them in their younger years. We shrugged our shoulders and moved on.
We made one last move as a family to Oregon from Las Vegas. After 7 years of being a family, we decided this new move and a new start would call for the truth. We did countless therapy appointments on how to tell them, but everything just seemed wrong. I personally was not ready for them to know the truth. So many thoughts ran through my head every time I thought about it and it physically made me sick. It came down to the last therapy appointment before it really stuck with me, it the time to tell them. They are now 8 and 9 years old and Melina, their little sister, is 5. I questioned if they would understand or not, but it was really me fighting me. I put so many thoughts into my head that when the day came, I felt like I was about to jump into an ice bath.
It was a Saturday morning and they had just gotten back from a sleepover. We all sat on the couch and before I could say anything, I burst into tears and my husband started to explain to them they were adopted. When those words came out of his mouth, my world stopped and I quickly investigated each of their faces. At first, they looked a bit confused. We have always made adoption a positive thing, knowing one day we would be in the position to explain why adoption really is a beautiful thing. Especially for our family. After they realized what was being said, all of them, including Melina, started to cry. It wasn’t that sad tone or cry I was expecting to hear. It was more of a happy cry.
They all four melted into our arms and the only thing they were sad about is they wanted me to be their real mommy and daddy be their real daddy. In that beautiful moment, we got to explain we are their real parents. Just because I didn’t get to carry them or daddy wasn’t there for all their births doesn’t mean we aren’t the same amazing family we were before. One thing that helped us was letting them be open and honest about their feelings, reassuring them we will never leave their sides no matter what. They made a couple of funny jokes and we left the stage up to them. We talked about their feelings and they agreed, no matter what, our family was still our family. We have always been special, and our journey has been amazing. We are just so grateful they get to see why our life and our bonds are so special.
All along, I thought the dynamic of our family would change. Honestly, it did change. It made our family stronger. I love we can open up our family journey with them. I would have done everything over and over again. I thought I was the one changing their life, but it wasn’t long before I noticed it was them changing mine. I went from a young 19-year-old single mom to now a 28-year-old proud mom of four. I thought I wanted to wait. I thought they wouldn’t understand. I underestimated their ability to love, only to find the sweetest, strongest love. A love between a mother and her children. The best decision we ever made was to tell them about their adoption. They are proud of their story. They know it is unique in the most beautiful way possible. We will always be open and honest and no matter how hard the questions will get, we will be there to answer them.
Adoption is a beautiful thing and from here on, we want everyone to know how life-changing and beautiful it can be, no matter what circumstance you are coming from. Being honest wasn’t the easiest thing to and if I would have known the outcome sooner instead of making a thousand bad scenarios in my head, I would have done it the first time we started to talk about it. They are adopted in the most beautiful way possible and I am here to tell you it’s okay. All the fears in your head aren’t real. Blood doesn’t mean anything. Love is what matters at the end of the day.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tiffany Mariah Middleton from Beaverton, Oregon. You can follow their journey on Instagram and Facebook. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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