Melanie and I grew up together in Omaha, Nebraska. Melanie is the youngest daughter in a family of five children. Her mother, Leslie, a child’s advocate and foster mother, remains one of my biggest heroes. I spent many hours with the Bartlett family; slumber parties, youth activities, swimming, dancing. I pierced my ear in their basement; you know, the usual.
Melanie is the girl with a big heart, an infectious laugh, and indomitable spirit.
Growing up, the Bartlett family always seemed to have a baby in the house. There were five naturally-born children, but they fostered newborns, becoming the bridge between birth mom and adoptive family. It was this example that paved the way for Melanie’s story and her path to motherhood.
Since I was little, the only thing I ever wanted to be was a mom. Most of my youth leaders were young, married moms. So I thought that’s what would happen to me. I’d go to college, get married, be a stay-at-home mom. Anything else is un-Mormon, right? So when I graduated college and years went by, I thought there was something wrong with me. I referred back to my patriarchal blessing (a patriarchal blessing is a special and individualized blessing given within the LDS/Mormon faith) and pondered on how strangely worded the family part was. The Lord would provide a way for me to have a family. Like it wasn’t going to be the ‘typical’ way. And then we got the call for Nevaeh.
From the beginning of this journey, I’ve always had the end goal of adoption. But in Nebraska, the goal is always reunification with birth family. So this is a tough road to become a parent.
Who is Nevaeh?
Nevaeh had pulled her trach out, and the nurses hadn’t gotten to her in time.We rushed to Children’s hospital, but Neveah died early the next morning, just 17 days after her first birthday. It was awful. Devastating. And we were numb for a week as we planned and carried out her funeral, all the while working with her birth family.
|Antonio gets a sister|