The Story of Us – Part 1

Throwback Thursday – Life before LCA.

When I found myself as a young, single mother who was still in post secondary I didn’t think the world of dating would really be suited for me.  In the time since my last relationship dating had become a whole new thing, commitment was out and casual was in. But casual was never my thing, and especially with a two year old to consider. I still believed in something long lasting.

So in my attempt to hack the dating system when I went online looking for a potential partner I was REALLY specific in my search. First I filtered out anyone under the age of 25 (I was 22 at the time) because I figured that older equaled more willing to commit. Then I filtered out anyone who didn’t have kids, my theory being that someone with a kid couldn’t judge me for having one.  Probably not the greatest science ever done but hey I figured it was my best shot.

Photo of Hailey dressed as Mulan for Halloween standing outside smiling beside an inflatable ghost.
My little ‘Mulan’

I had been on these apps for awhile and probably went through every profile of the guys who made it through my filters; it wasn’t getting me very far. But after an eventful night of Trick or Treating with my little Mulan I remember opening my app to a message, “Hey, What types of things do you like to do when you don’t have your little one?”. Clicking the profile I immediately thought “nope”. I didn’t recognize the profile so I knew it wasn’t one that had came up in my filtered search, I mean this guy was 20 years old, lived in a different town, and definitely did not have kids (he was cute though haha). Even though I figured the conversation wouldn’t lead anywhere I was getting a little tired of talking to 38 year olds who lived in their ex wives basement (for real) so I decided why not reply.

Photo of James, Hailey, and I at the Zoo Christmas lights.
Zoo Lights!

Surprisingly the next day I found myself on the phone with this guy for over three hours. We talked about a lot; stories from growing up, our religious beliefs, our views, and our goals for the future. It was definitely not the type of conversation I was expecting to have with a 20 year old (because you know I was obviously much older and wiser at the age of 22). The one thing I remember the most about that phone call is that he asked me what I was looking for…friendship, something casual, a relationship, marriage? It was such an upfront question and it threw me off. I was thinking yikes it’s not like I’m going to marry you (I did haha) but I am looking for something committed and not casual.  

Out of all of the people that I had tried to weed out through my super (eye roll) scientific plan the only person I ended up agreeing to actually meet was this 20 year old guy… James, if you haven’t caught on yet haha.

For our first date he took me to this little Italian restaurant and we ended up being there for 4 hours talking and learning about each other (while my sister and best friend thought I had been kidnapped since I hadn’t answered their texts). After that we almost seamlessly progressed into a relationship. We talked on the phone for hours on the days we didn’t see each other, and he would take any chance he got to drive up to see me. I introduced him to Hailey and he never made me feel like including her in our time together was a bother or a burden to him. I very quickly learned that my scientific method might have been off. He wasn’t over 25 and he didn’t have a kid of his own but he had the same wants and goals for his future and wanted us to be a part of reaching them.

Photo from Melissa and James wedding. They are holding hands walking down the aisle.
Us.

Thank you for reading part one of our story. Stay tuned for part two!

Our Blended Family

Throwback Thursday – Life before LCA.

As a young single mother the idea of having to become a blended family was something that scared me.

Will anyone want to date someone who is a mom? Will they accept my child? What will it look like to create a family with someone who isn’t my daughter’s biological parent?

It’s not like being a blended family is something out of the norm these days, almost every person I know comes from a blended family. I even grew up in a blended family technically but since the word “step” was never used in our house it didn’t really feel like it.

I knew the type of relationship we had with my daughter’s biological father would also greatly determine the way our blended family worked. At first I was hoping to have a more modern family where we could all get along and support our daughter together. But unfortunately what I feared would happen, did, and my daughter’s biological father decided to not be a participant in her life very quickly after we were no longer together.

When James and I started dating, my daughter, Hailey, was always a big part of our discussions about our relationship and any of our plans for a future together. Unlike some people I had talked with, James never made me feel like Hailey was some unwanted baggage that came along with me. See he also grew up in a blended family and was raised by his mom and “step-dad” (just dad to him though) which gave him a unique understanding and care about how he handled a relationship with a single mom. He made me feel like getting to know Hailey was a benefit to dating me instead of a burden.

Photo of James holding Hailey on his shoulders they are both smiling at the camera.
James and Hailey.

I remember very clearly the day that Hailey started to call James, “dad”, it was after he attended the Father’s Day celebration at her daycare. He left work early to attend so that she didn’t have to be the only one without a dad to show up. When they got back home after, she kept saying “daddy” over and over again, and it has stuck ever since.

We were engaged and I was expecting our first child together when this took place. We had discussed it before because she would occasionally refer to him as “dad” or “daddy” but it was never consistent. Our biggest worry was that we did not want her to feel like she had to refer to him as that or that she couldn’t refer to him as that if she wanted to. We wanted it to be her choice.

Unfortunately this choice was met with some criticism from people at the time who questioned if it was a good idea for her to be getting too attached to another “dad” but we tried to not let them bother us.

One of the hardest parts of blending a family for me so far has honestly been the opinions from others. Everyone seems to have one and they always feel the need to share them. Why? I’m not sure. I think what works for one family to the next is always going to be individual and without being the people in the actual situation it is unfair to judge the decisions being made.

And so ignoring the noise from others our next big decision came into play a few months later when I experienced a scary event during my pregnancy. I ended up collapsing while I was out on my own and it seemed as if I was having a stroke (I will talk about this more in Charlotte’s pregnancy story). All I really remember from being in the ambulance was thinking about what happens to Hailey if I don’t make it.

Photo from behind of James helping Hailey paint her wall purple in our first place together.
James helping Hailey paint her room.

Well spoiler alert… I made it. But this moment opened my eyes to a fear so big that I couldn’t ignore it. It was unimaginable to me that if something were to ever happen to me, Hailey would be taken from the life she knows, to be forced into a life with someone who left her behind (and was also abusive but that’s a story for another time).

This is when we decided we wanted to make James being “dad” official and we began to pursue a step-parent adoption.

It was A LOT of paperwork. It took 3 months of work leading up to our wedding, and another 3 months of work after our wedding before we had it all submitted to the court. But it was all worth it on August 15 2018 when it became official and Hailey gained the same last name as her family.

A piece of paper saying that James is Hailey’s dad isn’t what we needed to feel like a complete family but it is what we needed to feel like Hailey was safe and protected in any circumstance.  

We know that we have only begun this journey and that there are many things that will come up and many obstacles to be worked through as Hailey gets older as being a blended family never ends but for now we are happy to be in the place we are as a family.

Photo of James and Hailey sitting together smiling taken on the day we got the official adoption letter.
First photo as father and daughter after the adoption was official!

Thank you for reading about our journey!