Though we may wish it could be, no one's life can be perfectly planned out. It's actually rather rare that things go exactly as we thought they would, with challenges and trials being thrown into the mix to test our resolve and make us truly earn whatever it is we're working for. This is why we must always be prepared for even the most unexpected results.
When one couple was faced with just that, the last thing they ever could have seen coming after making a joint decision, they took it in stride and continue to make the most out of it every day.
The Modern Family
People today seem far more accepting of unique or uncommon family dynamics compared to even a decade ago. Once upon a time, the ideal family was the nuclear family, and anything that strayed from that path even slightly was looked down upon.
Today, people seem far more accepting of the many strange, unusual, and unexpected ways that families can form outside of that traditional structure. Even then, though, there are some families that leave onlookers a little stunned as they wonder how in the world this came to be.
A Little Young
That's the case for 23-year-old mother Tasia Taylor of Arkansas.
Taylor and her husband Drew, 25, are both teachers and have made quite the wave on social media after revealing they're also parents to two teenage daughters, one 13-year-old and one 15-year-old.
The two insist that, despite the flack they get from those who have no idea about their history or their dynamic, building this family is "the best thing they've ever done," they told UNILAD.
How Did This Happen?
Their journey began in 2022 when they began working with the Department of Children and Family Services. They wanted to open their home to foster children, as they've always been passionate about "working with families and helping people get back on their feet."
They originally said they would be willing to take on children as old as six, but in the middle of their process, they were asked if they would take on a then 12-year-old Rory.
"She moved in with us on April 1st and we had less than 24-hours," Tasia said.
This sudden request and quick move-in would eventually lead to Rory's adoption, which explains the relative closeness in age between the Taylors and their children.
Though adoption wasn't originally on the table when they took Rory in, as they were all so caught up on getting her situated. "When Rory first moved in, we didn't know that we would be able to adopt her, or if she would even want to be adopted, but we knew that we would be a safe place for her."
The Best Possible Ending
And a safe place it was, as just over eight months later, Tasia and Drew officially adopted Rory.
"Rory was adopted on December 19th, of 2022, the biggest deciding factor in her adoption was her consent," Tasia explained. "She was of age to agree to be adopted and she actually requested that we do so!"
"We did not push this idea upon her, and she worked with a legal advocate, through the CASA program (Court Appointed Special Advocates) to decide if this was the best thing for her!"
Of course, it wasn't just Rory having a wonderful time at home with the Taylors; they loved her just as much in return. "She fit into our family so well and we loved having her in our home."
Their second child, Tamiray, is actually Tasia's cousin. She joined the family soon after, with Tasia and Drew now having full custody of her.
The two are unbelievably grateful for the family they've created and cherish every moment of love they get to share with Rory and Tamiray.
"There is no love quite like a parent's love and there have been so many good moments," Tasia said.
"One special moment was the first time Rory was away from us since moving in. She had gone to church camp and she messaged me and said, 'I love you as much as possible'. She hadn't been with us very long and I knew that she meant this."
The Taylors are happy they're able to give these kids some well-deserved rest and comfort after leading such tumultuous lives. "I knew that although she was dealing with hard things that no child should ever have to go through, she did love me with everything that she could and I also knew that would grow."
How Others See Them
As mentioned, the two have been getting a fair amount of criticism from strangers online who take issue with their family setup. People who find it strange that their children are so old or think it's inappropriate to be that close in age to their kids leave comments on both Tasia's TikTok and Instagram accounts.
She takes it in stride though, completely unbothered by others' cruelty.
"We honestly look younger than we are, although we do not feel the odd age difference in our family dynamic," she explained. "People consistently have something to say about the matter and our requests as parents are not always taken seriously."
Their Own Challenges
The two also acknowledge that it hasn't been a total walk in the park. Children who are up for adoption, who have been through foster care, have a high likelihood of having faced trauma that continues to affect them.
The Taylors are going all they can to help their two girls through it. "Additionally, even with our extensive training on trauma in adolescents, and our own experiences as educators, it can be difficult to navigate the girls' triggers and we are working hard every day to be the best support system we can be for them!"
A Loving Family
They also see some benefits for themselves with their current setup. "Becoming an empty nester at 28 sounds pretty good."
Tasia and Drew have proven themselves to be selfless, loving parents who took in two girls that needed it most. Though it's not what they expected when they began their fostering journey, they took the curveballs life threw at them and made the most of it.
They proved that before blood, before time spent raising a child, it's love that truly bonds a family together.