In my previous blog, I mentioned that I had a child BEFORE my husband and I started our journey together. I got pregnant my junior year of high school and had my son a month into my senior year. I ended up finishing my classes early in night school so I could focus on working to make money to pay for things like diapers, formula, food, and gas. I discovered really quickly that babies are EXPENSIVE.

Gabriel’s biological father wasn’t a bad father. He was just absent. I had a lot of anger towards him at that time in my life because of my own Daddy issues. I can’t tell you how many times I cried myself to sleep at night just thinking about how Gabriel would feel about an absent father. For that reason, I made a few mistakes myself and I certainly didn’t make it easy on him. However, my intention NEVER strayed from trying to give my son the best life possible, given the situation.

I quickly fell in love with my little boy. If I wasn’t at work, he was attached to me. I should probably make the distinction that I was attached to him because sometimes, I think I needed him more than he needed me. He was and still is the light of my life.

Gabriel never really called anyone Daddy before my husband. His eyes lit up the first time he met my husband and that didn’t change. A few short weeks later he was calling him Daddy and it wasn’t something that we encouraged him to say. It just happened. It’s funny how those instinctual little truths have a way of presenting themselves. Jarod fell in love with Gabriel. It’s still one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my entire life.

Jarod decided he wanted to adopt Gabriel. That discussion came up before he was even legally eligible to adopt him. Gabriel was two when he met Jarod for the first time. Jarod adopted Gabriel within a year and 3 months of our marriage, just a few months after he was legally able to. Gabriel was 3. Before he could count to 100, he was more sure about belonging to Jarod than most 3 year olds are sure about anything.

While that day was a joyous day in our history, it was also a sad day for me. At the time, it meant closing the door to Gabriel’s biological father. That was sad for me because I knew that one day, Gabriel would want to know the story. I didn’t want to think about how kids process that kind of news. It meant he wasn’t wanted enough by his biological father. I didn’t want him attribute that fact to some detriment of his own. Gabriel was and still is amazing. Life is just heavy sometimes.

Gotcha day was more hectic than most days in our life. (which is really saying something). Jarod worked nights at the time. The morning of the court hearing, he came home from work in the morning unable to open his eye. I told him to just get a few hours of sleep and see if it improved. It didn’t and we ended up in the emergency room the morning of the adoption. He showed up court ready so we could head straight there after we were done. They flushed his eye out. The ENTIRE bag of saline they used was soaked up by his dress clothing. We didn’t have the time to grab a spare change of clothing. He headed to court SOAKED. It didn’t matter to us at the time and the look on our judge’s face was priceless. We arrived about ten minutes late because of the whole ordeal. Once the hearing was underway, the judge kept pausing to tell my husband NOT to rub his eye. It was rather annoying at the time because he was still in pain, but it’s hilarious to us both now. The adoption proceeded without anymore commotion. Gabriel even drew a picture during  the hearing of all of us together, holding hands (in a weird 3-year-old sort of way). It was so exciting to me that this moment marked the end of a chapter in my life I didn’t want to have in the first place. Jarod cared for and provided for Gabriel (and still does) just as any natural, decent father would for his child. The fact that it was official was thrilling to all of us. Gabriel Cristoval Swartz became Gabriel Christopher Toomey that day.

I can’t really say our lives were forever changed because at the end of the day, it’s just a paper in a file folder. Jarod didn’t adjust his behavior any after adoption. He still beamed after court the way he did BEFORE court when people told him Gabriel looked just like him. He was a proud papa before anyone ever told him it was legal. I love that part of the story.

I’m a big believer that pictures tell you what words can’t sometimes. The best way to describe the bond that Jarod has with Gabriel is with pictures. These series of pictures were taken before Jarod was able to adopt Gabriel. So here goes:


This is  Gabriel’s face after seeing Jarod for the first time in a month. He was away in Haiti helping with a relief mission. Clearly, we were both excited. ❤


daddy 2

Long awaited hugs. Seriously-the best.

daddy 3

That look they were giving each other melts my heart.

daddy 4

I was pregnant with our daughter at the time. Don’t let that distract you from those sneak attack kisses Gabriel showered Jarod with that day. Can’t believe we caught that on camera! ❤


And one more, just for good measures.

walk a little slower

This was about 3 years ago, but it’s still one of my favorites. Gabriel LOVES going to work with his Daddy. 😀

-Part of a REAL family! 🙂

**My featured image was taken by the company Adiasjourney. She’s a friend of mine and an AMAZING photographer.