"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my arms, welcomes me."
Rick with Isaac, Olivia and Savanna
Rick with the first five kids.
I met my husband and soul mate Rick on New Years Eve 2001. We were engaged eight months later and married October 19, 2002. We had only been dating for three months when my sister had Isaac. Rick was right by my side waiting for him to be born. He was my first nephew and we were so excited. Olivia came along ten months and two days later. Things were rough for the kids and we became their legal guardians in February 2004. We had only been married for a year and a half, we were trying for our own children and Rick agreed to take the children as our own.
We had Isaac and Olivia for 2 1/2 years until they were able to go back to my sister Katie. During the time in between was a time of terrible turmoil. We were in the midst of going through infertility treatments and tons of drama with my sister. We were both working full time and juggling taking the kids to day care while I was on call 24 hours a day as Director of Nursing. It was a very stressful time and many men would have said "No, I quit- the kids need to go back to their mom" but Rick was too concerned about the kids to let them go back yet. The children went back with their mom in June of 2006 after she had made a lot of changes and we were home with only Justin.
In the fall of 2006 Rick was working a lot in Canada and was starting to feel run-down and tired all the time. We always chocked it up to traveling, eating out on the road etc. He finally got to the point where he felt short of breathe so I took him into Zeeland Hospital. They did an EKG and sent us directly to the ER for an echo. After transferring him upstairs, a cardiologist came to see him and told us that he was in complete heart failure and that he had a large blood clot in his heart. A few years earlier he had a reaction to an antibiotic that caused some scar tissue in his heart. He had just turned 30 a few weeks earlier. I was almost six months pregnant with Logan and I remember Rick just holding on to my stomach and saying he hoped he would get to see his second son born. We were so scared. They transferred him to Spectrum's Heart Center and he stayed for another week until they released him on a Friday to go home.
It was October 23, 2006, the Monday after Rick was released from the hospital when we got the call that Katie had died. We went to get the kids not knowing what was going to happen. CPS gave us all three kids. Some friends and family said to us "Maybe you should think about what you are doing since Rick is still recovering from heart failure"? Rick simply replied "Where else would they go but home?"
It took us until December 2008 to finally adopt all three children. It was another long hard road because we had to fight with each dad in court after they suddenly appeared to collect Social Security from Katie's death benefits. It was one court date after another until we finally made them our children forever.
The final thing that makes Rick such a wonderful dad to my children is not only the sacrifices he has made to have all of our children with us, but also the countless days he has spent directly by Olivia's side as she lay sick in the hospital. A lot times it has worked out better for Rick to take her in and he never leaves her side. It has been very stressful on us to have Olivia so sick and the daily demands of taking care of her, but he does it anyway when some men would have given up. I'm so grateful to have him! I know there are some wonderful dads out there but only a few can say they went through as much as we have.