“Kids, meet your new baby brother,” I tell our brood as I step in the house. Resting on my chest and sleeping peacefully is August “Gus” Taylor, the newest addition to our family.

I met Clover, August’s mom, last year. She was a single teenage mother, pregnant with her first child. I could tell she was alone and scared.

I took her under my wing. I wanted to befriend her and comfort her. One day, she was over at our cabin. She was watching Jake build a treehouse with the kids, and she turned to me.

She told me she wanted her baby to grow up in my family and asked if we’d consider adopting her son. She knew Jake and I adopted our twin boys when they were just babies.

Jake didn’t even hesitate when I brought it up to him later that night. He loves his kids fiercely, and he was onboard with the adoption idea right away. I think he’d adopt every lonely, needy child in the world if we had a large enough cabin.

I shift Gus in my arms so the kids can get a good look as they hurry toward us.

“He’s wrinkly!” Aaron, our four-year-old, announces in a loud voice.

Gus doesn’t stir, which is a good thing. Our twins only have two settings—loud and louder.

“He’s supposed to be,” Gia says softly. She’s ten now, and she’s been reading books all about babies since she learned we were going to adopt her baby brother. She was excited to learn she was getting another brother.

She clucks over the twins like a mini mama. I suspect that secretly she’s looking forward to having another brother to boss around. Jake jokes that she’s going to take over the world, and her brothers will be her henchmen.

“No sitting,” Adrian, the younger twin, signs. All of our kids are fluent in sign and often slip between spoken language and sign, depending on the situation.

Last week, Jake was trying to explain to Adrian that they’ll have to be gentle with their baby brother. He gave him an egg to look after. Adrian proudly carried the egg around in his pocket. Everything was fine until he forgot about it and sat on the egg. He was nearly inconsolable.

It took me a long time to convince him that he wouldn’t accidentally crush his baby brother.

I pass Gus to Jake who gazes down at our new son with so much love on his face. It amazes me how big his heart is. All of our kids are ours in his eyes. There’s no difference in the way he treats Gia or the boys. He just loves them with his whole soul. It’s how he does everything.

With Gus in Jake’s embrace, I drop to my knees. I put my hand on Adrian’s shoulder. “You’re going to do fine. You’ll be a great big brother.”

Luke finally comes into the room. He and Austin have been babysitting the kids for the past two days. But he hung back to give our little family this moment.

Now though he peers down at the sleeping bundle in Jake’s arms. He claps him lightly on the back. “You did good, dad.”

Jake’s chest puffs out. He beams at his brother, looking just as proud of Gus as he is our three. This man lives for his kids. So does his brother. It’s amazing to me just how doting all the Taylor men are on their children and wives.

Luke jerks his thumb toward the left, where his house is nearby. “I’m headed out to check on my own brood. Y’all be good for your parents.”

Austin and Luke helped out so much when we brought the twins home. They have twins of their own. They look out for our kids, and we look out for theirs. Living on the Taylor Ranch means we have a built-in support system of other parents who are dealing with the same challenges. We meet together a few times a month to celebrate the highs and lows of parenthood.

Jake can’t sign since his hands are full, but he jerks his head in an appreciative nod to his brother.

Luke gives me a small, tired smile. No doubt the kids ran him ragged over the past two days. “We got your back. If you two need anything, call me.”

As soon as he’s gone, I settle on the couch with Gus. He has the new baby smell that always sends my hormones into overdrive.

When we first applied to be foster parents before Aaron and Adrian came to us, I thought it might feel strange to raise kids that hadn’t grown in my body. But the moment I laid eyes on both of them, I knew they were meant to be ours. I loved them instantly with the intense love that can only come from being a parent.

I fight a yawn as I pull a blanket over my lap. Jake and I spent yesterday at the hospital with Clover. We stayed with her through every step of the labor and delivery. We took her back to her apartment and made sure she was settled before we left with Gus. She has a support network around her, and she knows the door is always open if she wants to see Gus. We’d never keep her from him.

Today, we made the long drive home to Courage County. It took twice as long since Jake was going below the speed limit and taking backroads with less traffic. He’s always so protective of our little family.

Gus stirs and the kids crowd around the two of us.

I look to Gia first. “Do you want to hold him?”

She nods and takes a seat next to me on the couch. She listens as I coach her on how to hold her new baby brother.

I turn to Adrian and point to the spot beside me, signing, “Sit here with me.”

He looks relieved that I trust him enough to sit near his brother.

“I want pictures,” Jake signs, pulling out his phone. He takes a lot of photos of me and the kids. Not a week goes by that he’s not changing his phone’s background to a different photo of us.

He and his brothers have a group chat. They used to debate which sports team would win the games and place bets on them. Now it’s filled with pictures of the little Taylors and brag-fests about their latest accomplishments.

Aaron ignores his dad’s picture-taking, asking loudly, “Can Gus play rangers with us?”

“Not yet,” I answer as Gus cracks open his eyes. He squints at the world around him. “Say hi to your baby brother, kids.”

“Hi, Gus,” Adrian answers. “Can you eat ice queam? Mommy, can we have ice queam for dinner?”

I chuckle and ruffle his hair. “Right now, he’s on a special diet of just formula. But when he’s big enough, I’ll let you introduce him to ice cream, OK?”

Jake is still snapping photos as they talk. He’ll get his favorite ones printed and put them on the fridge later.

I look up at him, grinning at the love of my life. “Get over here. We need a family picture.”

He grins back at me and the six of us squish together on the couch so we can get a family selfie. In it, Gia is proudly holding her baby brother. Jake has his arm around my shoulders, and he’s looking at me with so much affection.

Aaron is a blur as he raises his toy sword to make sure it’s in the picture. Adrian is looking at me, showing off his gap-tooth smile. The picture perfectly captures our beautiful, chaotic family.

Sometimes, I still can’t believe I met Jake eleven years ago. Every day together is an amazing adventure. I’ve built a beautiful family with this wicked cowboy. He’s a selfless father to our kids, my best friend, and an amazing husband. He’s my happily ever after, and we’ll spend the rest of our lives blissfully together.


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Big Bossy Cowboy by Mia Brody