Image: Molly Schultz via Love What Matters

Molly Schultz didn’t see much of her half-brother, Easton, until she had a life-changing decision to make about his well-being. The mom-of-four then did all she could to ensure that her brother would become her son.

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Twenty-seven-year-old Schutlz’s life revolves around motherhood. Not only does she share four daughters with her husband, Tim, but she blogs about their parenting trials and tribulations on her website, Tried & True Mama.

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According to Schultz’s website, her two older daughters, Sawyer and Presley, “are brunettes with dark eyes and olive skin.” Her youngest two girls, twins Halen and Lennon, have “fair skin, blonde hair and crystal-clear blue eyes.”

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Together, Schultz and her husband raise their brood in the good, old-fashioned way, she shared on Tried & True Mama. “We live with the intention of a simplistic childhood, not focusing too much on materialistic things, but rather experiences and memories,” Schultz wrote.

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“We believe in eating meals together around the table as a family and learning as much as we can from one another,” Schultz went on. She hoped that her family’s traditions might inspire others “to create memorable childhoods with [their] own children,” she wrote.

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There is one very telling note on Schultz’s website. And it’s one which foreshadows how she came to welcome a fifth child into her family. “My journey of motherhood has been one filled with many plot twists and surprises, along with more love and joy than I ever knew possible,” she wrote.

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In 2013, Schultz and her husband were busy raising their gaggle of girls in Washington state. Thousands of miles away, in Michigan, her father and his wife welcomed a son named Easton on November 13 of that year.

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“Easton was born nine pounds, nine ounces, and has been a little chunky monkey since,” Schultz wrote on her website. But she admitted that she didn’t initially see her dad’s new baby, who was also her half-brother, very much. She was raising her four young daughters, after all.

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Six months before Easton turned three, Schultz’s father celebrated his 50th birthday in early March 2016. But the celebration was undoubtedly a somber one – the half-centurion was in the midst of a terminal health crisis.

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“He was four months into a death sentence diagnosis of stage four pancreatic cancer. The man who hung the moon in my eyes, my best friend, was dying,” Schultz wrote on Love What Matters. And, little did she know, her family’s situation was about to get even worse.

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Image: Molly Schultz via Love What Matters

On March 3 – just one day after Schultz’s father’s birthday – his wife died unexpectedly of an overdose. “It came as a shock to all of us,” the mom-of-four described. But the 27-year-old sprang into action, hopping on a plane with her twins to be with her family in Michigan.

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Not only had Schultz lost her stepmother, but her father had very little time left. As such, the family put their heads together to figure out where Easton would go once the worst had happened. “We considered different options, talked about the pros and cons of different scenarios,” she recalled.

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Ultimately, though, the family agreed that Easton should go to Washington with his older sister – and Schultz and her husband were thrilled. “[We] had four very young daughters and we always wanted a son,” she wrote.

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But Schultz would have to jump through several hoops in order to make that vision a reality. First, her father had to hand over custody of Easton to his daughter, a process that required a lawyer’s oversight. The mom-of-four said that the experience was an emotional one.

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Schultz wrote, “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. But he sat there with his mind as sharp as ever, signing away his rights as a father.”

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“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 [my father] was only able to be their grandpa for a few years. It all seemed so unfair that people I love so much would never know each other,” Schultz wrote.

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Schultz’s father signed over his rights on March 11, 2016, which was a Friday. With the court closed over the weekend, it took until the next week for a judge to approve their proposal and grant Schultz guardianship of her half-brother. Three days later, they got “great news,” Schultz wrote.

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Schultz received full legal guardianship of Easton, and this delighted her father. “Oh Molly, that makes me so happy. I love you so much,” she recalled her father saying. The day after their plan had fallen into place, the 27-year-old’s father passed away.

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To Schultz, this was more than a coincidence. She wrote, “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 first time I actually believed in it.”

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That was because Schultz’s father “waited for Easton to be legally safe before letting go himself,” she believed. Just a few days later, the family laid their patriarch to rest just 12 days after his wife’s funeral. Two-year-old Easton had become an orphan in less than two weeks.

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“Nobody saw this coming. I think we all kept going through the motions, unable to process exactly what was happening,” Schultz admitted. The whirlwind continued when, just days after laying her father to rest, she was flying back to Washington with her half-brother in tow.

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And life would be very different for Easton once he arrived in Washington. “He walked into a world of four sisters, meals around the table and structure,” Schultz wrote. The family and the then-two-year-old struggled to “find some common ground,” she added.

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But once the family got into the groove, Schultz said they were all the better for it. “Once we finally did [it], it was like Easton had always been there. How did we ever live without him?” she wrote. Still, the little boy hadn’t been officially adopted, which left the Schultzes open to a custody battle.

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Therefore, Schultz and Easton had to travel back and forth to Michigan multiple times to attend court, although no challenges to her custody ever came to fruition. After a year, a judge transferred Easton’s case to Washington state.

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It was there that Schultz would be able to officially adopt Easton, making her half-brother her son on June 16, 2017. On the day, the mom-of-five said she felt as though her father was present, although it had been over a year since he passed.

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Schultz said that the weather didn’t seem to be cooperating, at least, at first. “The morning of the adoption was your stereotypical rainy Pacific Northwest morning. None of us were dressed appropriately while wearing tank tops, shorts and t-shirts,” she wrote.

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But as the sky opened up, Schultz thought of her father. “The rain fell onto our skin and I stood there imagining them as my father’s tears from heaven. I imagined he was crying tears of happiness for Easton finally solidifying his family, yet crying tears of sadness for never being able to raise him the way he raised me,” she wrote.

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Schultz, though, couldn’t calm her nerves before the hearing, even with the feeling that her father was with them. She described feeling “guarded in [her] hopes” as the hearing began, although she knew deep down that the adoption’s outcome was “so blatantly obvious.”

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“Easton’s parents were no longer here and he needed a family. Why would I wholeheartedly fear the judge would deny that?” Schultz questioned. But it wouldn’t take long for her to get her answer, as “the hearing was quick,” she wrote.

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As they sat before the judge, Schultz noticed that her half-brother seemed more timid than ever. “It’s almost as if he subconsciously feared the same as I did. For the most part he kept his head down on the table, almost fearful of looking up at the woman who held his fate in her hands,” she described.

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Image: Molly Schultz via Love What Matters

Fortunately, the judge could tell that Easton had found a loving, stable family in the year following his mother and father’s deaths. Her ruling made the adoption official, and, outside, the sun started to shine, Schultz wrote.

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“The sun was starting to poke through the clouds, and we could all feel the warmth it brought along with it. It was the perfect way to start our new, blessed life, while leaving behind the pain and cold of the past,” Schultz wrote.

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In total, Easton and his new family waited 458 days for his adoption to be official, and they went through a lot in the interim. “We fought to keep him, nursed him through trying illnesses, and kissed him goodnight,” Schultz wrote.

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With the judge’s decision, Easton not only became Schultz’s son, but also the brother to her four daughters – to whom he is also a biological uncle. “If we want to get really technical, he’s also the brother-in-law of my husband, his now-dad!” Schultz wrote.

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Of course, an event as monumental as an adoption would lead anyone to reflect. And, as Schultz looked back, she realized that “there were a lot of foreshadowing moments for this ending,” she wrote.

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“On the day Easton was born, my father and his wife called me to ask which name I preferred out of the three or four they liked. I chose Easton and they agreed that name fit best,” Schultz recalled. But she had another memory that was even more telling.

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Schultz wrote, “Easton also never called me Molly, he always called me Mama. At the time, I thought it was because my kids called me Mama, so he just assumed that was my name. It’s almost as if he knew what would happen before any of us did.”

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And, more than a year after Easton’s adoption, Schultz could only laud her son’s continued positive effect on her and her family. “He has made me grow more in the last [couple of] years than I could even begin to explain,” she wrote on Instagram.

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“[Easton has] changed my outlook on parenting and has loved so hard from day one,” Schultz concluded. A few days after that post came the little boy’s fifth birthday, which inspired even more reflection from his adoptive mother – and half-sister.

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“It’s hard to imagine a time before Easton was with us, it feels like he’s always been ours,” Schultz wrote on her blog. And, as she gushed about her son, it became clear that her goal in adoptive parenting had already come true. She wrote on Love What Matters, “I hope that he will always know how much all four of his parents love him.”

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