Read personal stories from our founder and Jennifer's mommy, Libby, along with other Warrior Moms and news from our Unravel team.

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is versus was

August 10, 2015

Early on when I started this blog I had a lot of people wanting to know about the story of Jennifer coming to make us a family. I never really answered because it was the most insignificant part of our story..

I missed out on an additional 9 months with my Jennifer. I have always missed that time.. . But also known how much it just doesn’t matter. Biology doesn’t make a family.

Tony is my family. My rock. My husband. The first of the 6 true loves of my life. And we are most certainly not related by blood.

My 6 true loves.. Tony, Jonathan, Nicholas, Charlotte, Jennifer and the baby in my tummy.

My 6 true loves.. Tony, Jonathan, Nicholas, Charlotte, Jennifer and the baby in my tummy.

I do not love Jonathan or Nicholas or Charlotte because I was lucky enough to be pregnant with them.. or because we are tied by genetics.. It’s our love that binds us… because when they draw on the wall with sharpie its not a genetic thing that saves them.. its the love.

Jennifer is not my biological child. But from the very beginning she knew she isn’t ‘adopted’.. she knew she ‘was adopted’. Just like any of our children joining our family.. its a one time thing. Not a everlasting one. ..Quite simply. She WAS adopted. And after that she simply just IS Jennifer Lynn Kranz. My perfectly imperfect little girl.

The day her adoption was finalized.

The day the adoption was finalized.

A certificate we got at the courthouse.. We hung it up in her room because the verbiage always made us laugh.

A certificate we got at the courthouse.. We hung it up in her room because the verbiage always made us laugh.

I got told a lot how lucky she was.. how we saved her. But I always corrected people… because she saved me. She would tell you.. October 28th we went from being Tony and Libby to Daddy and Mommy.. She gave us that. Our hearts biggest desire. And she was mine from that moment.

5 IVFs and 5 miscarriages.. a long broken road to get to her..

One I would take again in a heartbeat.. even knowing the devastation that loving her would also bring just 6 yrs 3 months later. I would have her and lose her a million times over again.. because having her was so worth this pain.

I am finally choosing to write this because today a woman who had heard about a little girl in our moms group had died awhile ago.. She referred to her “the adopted one” she heard about that died. As if that part mattered at all.

I tried to brush past it hoping that once she grasped that girl was MY girl she would let it go. I gave her a Unravel brochure and again she mentioned, looking at Jennifer’s picture, that she was adopted.

If my boy hadn’t been there happy for his mommy son date I would have spent the time telling her the brilliant explosion of love my husband felt the moment he laid his eyes on her.. And the excruciatingly pure joy I felt holding her the moment she was born..

He just adored Jennifer.. completely and utterly in love.

He just adored Jennifer.. completely and utterly in love.

If I am being honest not talking about Jennifer having been adopted was a calculated choice, because I worried people would think it was somehow a lesser loss after some of the comments we have gotten especially after having biological children. People I guess just don’t know.. So tonight I felt such a need to share through this small platform I have.

I would have told her about the times I completely forgot she was adopted. Genuinely and truly just forgot and answered questions about her genetics incorrectly. Or the times Jennifer would look my friends, like her own godmother aka Fairy, in the eye and tell them she grew in my tummy just to mess with them and get that bewildered “I don’t know what to say look” from them… and then smirk and walk away.

When she said well at least you have the others I would have looked at her 2 presious girls and asked which one could replace the other.

I would have asked her if she had ever in her life been truly thirsty. With a mouth that felt like it was full of sand. A thirst where there is nothing else you can seem to think about other then just getting a sip of water. Because that’s what waiting, what fighting for motherhood felt like to me.

And my Jennifer was the most refreshing drink I have ever had..

Mine were the first arms she felt… and also the last.. The latter being a bigger honor if I had to decide.


I would kill for my daughters. I would die for my sons. There is no separation in any of that .. and I am 100% certain that for me there never would have been if I had been lucky enough to have her outlive me.

For her.. I don’t know.. We assumed she might struggle with it at some point.. So I put in the effort to have a open relationship with her biological grandma. And when she started to have questions it was then we found the right family to place our embryos with (what’s embryo adoption?? click here to read that part of our story). To show her how much for us biology doesn’t matter..

As we walked away from the conversation I told Jonathan as he looked up at me that sometimes people just say really stupid things.. We talked about sissy being adopted.. and Sammy the seed baby. We talked about what makes you love somebody..

We did have a super great date day together.

We did have a super great date day together.

He loves me. So completely and he has no understanding our biological connection.

None of the reasons why he loves me or wants me in his life have to do with our blood or where he grew for 9 months. I hope those things are never ever on his list of whys.. because I hope to always be a better mother to him than that.

He loves his big sister, so completely and has no understanding about their lack of biological connection.

He loves her because she took care of him. She would help him get dressed and taught him the ABC song. She made him feel safe and would usually be the first to hug him when he was upset. Because she loved pink and he does now too.

He loves her because she is his big sister.. And everything that comes along with that title.

i love you

because you are my daughter.

my first born.

thank you for making me

your mommy.

Gilroy Family Photographer | JLK Glitter Shoot-100

..until there is a cure..


  1. Kimberly R. (CO) says:

    I remember your path. And genetics, biology, where she grew… don’t matter or make her any less connected to you, no less loved, no less protected. More than – if anything – because adoption doesn’t just happen easily on your wedding night, by accident at a party, or any other way. It is a decision, a long and in-depth expensive process, a struggle, and a hard-won joy to have a pregnancy and baby through adoption. It’s really, really difficult – to ask to be chosen, to be chosen, to be discarded and chosen again. And you did it. Over and over until Jennifer came to you. You did all the hard things to get the one thing that mattered. And she mattered. She still does matter. Jennifer!!!!

  2. Kimberly R. (CO) says:

    Our babies come from the universe, from God, from magic, from or through us or from or through another, but to us, and then… beyond us. Either outliving us or going first, they travel beyond us. We just do our best to get them started, no matter what or how long or short or where to their journey will be.

  3. Doris says:

    Yeah sometimes there are comments. Not meant to be hurtful. More about just not really thinking it through (I hope anyway). It is hard to believe someone would keep saying that as if it the depth of your love Would be any less for her. Your restraint was amazing !

  4. Crystal says:

    Hi Libby,
    Still here and reading. I’ll tell you my own conclusion was Jennifer was a special girl and needed a strong mother. How she came to you never matters. You and Tony were the parents for her after all your struggles to have kids only one conclusion came: She was always your child she just arrived differently. Biology doesn’t equal love

  5. Emily says:

    Your small platform is not so small these days!

    I truly feel that your broken path to Jennifer was all part of God’s plan to give her the perfect mommy and daddy for her life, knowing how through you two and Unravel, she would continue to be loved by so many! Jennifer’s story is one of inspiration, and she continues to make a difference in the fight against DIPG.

    You are the bravest of mamma bears….thank you for sharing your babies with us. ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

  6. Johnni Herrera says:

    This is my favorite picture … Jennifer in glitter!

  7. DrL says:

    So well said. JLK being adopted was such a small (important, but small) part of her life. She was also smart, and funny, and maternal, and sassy, and all those other things. We always use was vs is, because as you said, it was a single moment in a life full of so many others. Our daughter was adopted, but she IS smart, and funny, and sassy, and a whirl of energy that came from so many sources. There is no need to add the “adopted” adjective to everything she is and does.

    Many hugs to you.

  8. Laurie says:

    Jennifer may not have ” grown in your tummy…but she grew in your heart…

  9. Jenny says:

    Being adopted, and the “first born”, I can’t tell you how much I loved this post. I love the “was vs is”! I’ve always had a hard time explaining this to people who just don’t get it!

  10. Esther McKee says:

    Very well said Libby! xoxo

  11. Melissa says:

    I love this blog post. I remember in the weeks that I first started following the love4JLK Facebook page, I read that Jennifer was adopted. It honestly went in one ear and right out the other because how she came to be your daughter made no difference…she was and always will be your daughter. Genetics can be good if you are trying to piece together possible medical problems that are genetically predominant in your biological family…but that is truly the only reason genetics should be considered “important”. Love is what makes a family, not what blood is in your veins. Yes, she is truly blessed to have been added to your family…but equally, you and Tony are blessed as well. When it comes down to it, we are all related…we are all God’s children. All children are a miracle that comes from him. A flower is just as beautiful no matter if you personally grew it from a seed, or plucked it and placed it in your garden. Jennifer…the most beautiful flower.

  12. Corrie says:

    Thanks for clearing that up. I truly know what you mean. Love is love is love. I miss seeing Jennifer. Thanks for keeping her memory alive and all the great pictures of her. Did you notice the orb in the first one you posted here? It may be a thumb smudge, but I choose to believe it’s Jennifer smiling down on her family. Thinking of you always.

  13. Marisa says:

    What in the world? The nerve of some people. Seriously, that was a shitty conversation all the way around from that other mom. Because of you, Tony, and Jennifer, I was given hope that I could one day be a mom, too. When I wanted to give up, it was seeing your happy family that kept me trudging through the crazy adoption journey. We fought HARD for our families, and for anyone to even insinuate it’s less than, well I hope they reflect for a bit and feel some shame because that’s the most asinine thing I have ever heard!

  14. Kat says:

    For us, we say that adoption is just one cool part of your story, but its not the center of your identity. How you arrived in this family is just one cool fact among many about you, that’s our mantra. 1 is from my belly and 2 & 3 from Russia, and I tell them all it doesn’t matter how you got here, go clean your room :)! I try to remember that people who make comments like this are ignorant rather than sinister, but these constant “education opportunities” do get frustrating. Love is love, just as you say.

  15. Kristen Tredrea says:

    I was adopted too. These words make my heart swell

  16. Bridget says:

    Wow I have such admiration for how you faced ignorance and used it as an opportunity to reach out and educate. I am not surprised mind you but still impressed!! It sucks to be put in a position where you have to defend your love for and bond with Jennifer- when of course you don’t! But you did more than that. You let us into your mother daughter relationship a little more and let us see yet another way you love her and you are her mom. Thank you.

  17. Linda Blundo says:

    People can be so ignorant. But no matter Jennifer IS YOUR DAUGHTER. She was meant to be yours and YOU were meant to be her mother, her momma from the beginning. That will NEVER change. And you are absolutely about how biology doesn’t make you a family..Love does. Thankyou, thankyou Libby. You my dear are a one of a kind women. And Jennifer was a one a kind beautiful and amazing little girl. Thankyou for sharing her story and continuing to. We love you all! We love you Jennifer! ♡♡♡♡♡♡

  18. Tami says:

    I completely understand Libby. My oldest daughter was adopted. I always flinch when people say “how lucky she is/was” to be placed with us. Those words are simply so far from any truth, or the reality of adoption.

  19. Erika M says:

    I love what the commenter above said, that adoption if anything proves MORE of a commitment to parenting, because you chose to have a child and worked for her and struggled for her… not to mention, bureaucratic paperwork.

    I’m sorry you had an unpleasant run-in with someone with such a dim understanding of how familial love works (scary she is in the moms group…and thus a mom passing along these crappy ideas to her own kid presumably…) You took the high road for Jonathan’s sake, again proving what a good soul you have.

  20. Lynn Cordia says:

    God Bless You for having a Heart so BIG❣️

  21. Witnessing your kid’s achievement certificates is one of the best feelings in the world. Hope you guys are all good during these times. Thank you for sharing your experience! Love to read your blogs.

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