This is the story of my half-brother Easton, who became an orphan at 2 years old, and was finally adopted after 458 days, by me — his sister.
On March 2, 2016, my father turned 50. He was 4-months-in to a death sentence diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The man who hung the moon in my eyes, my best friend, was dying. The day after his birthday, I received a phone call that his wife had passed away [from] an overdose. It came as a shock to all of us. So I boarded a plane that afternoon with my 7-month-old twins and I flew alone with them from Washington to Michigan.
When I arrived, a lot of decisions needed to be made within our family. My father had a 2-year-old son, my little half-brother named Easton. Easton’s future needed to be figured out and it needed to be done quickly. We considered different options, talked about the pros and cons of different scenarios, but collectively as a family decided that I would raise him. My husband and I had four very young daughters and we always wanted a son. It was sort of like the perfect missing puzzle piece.
Things moved very quickly after my father decided to sign over custody to me. We met with a lawyer to discuss the process, signing multiple pieces of paper during the meeting. While sitting in that office, I tried so hard to imagine the pain and sacrifice my father must have felt in those moments. He knew he wasn’t going to live much longer. His eyes were starting to turn yellow, meaning his liver was starting to fail. But he sat there with his mind as sharp as ever, signing away his rights as a father. The heartbreak, yet fulfillment of that moment had my heart in a thousand pieces on the floor. I also thought about my daughters and how he was only able to be their grandpa for a few years. It all seemed so impossible and unfair that people I love so much would never know each other.
We left the lawyer’s office on Friday night, March 11, 2016, and had to wait until Monday for the judge to sign the documents, which she ended up doing. These documents gave me full legal guardianship of Easton. I told my dad the great news and he said to me, ‘Oh Molly, that makes me so happy. I love you so much.’ They would be his last words as he passed away the very next day. I had heard stories of people hanging on to say goodbye to family members or hanging on to watch their grandkids graduate. But this was the very first time I actually believed in it, knowing my father waited for Easton to be legally safe before letting go himself.