As a healing domestic abuse survivor, the Illinois mom fell in love, and now, her husband is a loving stepfather who adopted her three children.

By Maressa Brown
Tiffany Durlak

A mom of three from Illinois who survived five years of domestic abuse is sharing the heartwarming story of finding happiness, love, and family. In a moving, first-person post on Love What Matters, Tiffany Durlak explained that she was physically abused by a man with whom she had three children—a 4-year-old son named Noah and 2-year-old twins Sydney and Kaelyn. After everything she had been through, she was hesitant to share her story on a first date with a coworker named Brian. She says she "for sure didn't think anyone would accept" her and her children. But Tiffany was in for a surprise.

“When I met Brian, I had no idea what it would turn into," she wrote. "I was a healing domestic abuser survivor with three little babies from my abuser. Brian and I worked together, and I flirted, tried to start conversations and made jokes but got nothing from him."

Shifts at work conspired to bring the two together, and Tiffany asked Brian out. "We met a restaurant by work and when he walked in, I instantly got butterflies," she explained. "My friend warned me I shouldn’t tell him everything I been through, because I might scare him off, but as I watched him walk to the table, I knew I had to."

Tiffany told Brian that her children's father had stabbed her and that she had needed five surgeries to get her "hand back to normal." She wrote that she told her date that "because of all this abuse when I had the twins, I decided to get my tubes tied. I explained that I never thought I would get the courage to leave, and I for sure didn’t think anyone would accept me and the kids. I thought that would be a dealbreaker being that Brian had no kids of his own." Despite her concerns, Brian texted her soon after the date and said he had really enjoyed their time together and that they should do it more often.

Tiffany shares, "Brian and I started hanging out every day after I put the kids to bed. I explained that it was very important for me to not have the kids around him until I knew it was serious. He respected that and didn’t push me until I thought the time was right."

Still concerned that Brian might want a biological child, the couple discussed that point again, and Brian reassured Tiffany that he understood what it meant that her tubes were tied. "Brian met the kids shortly after that conversation," she wrote. "I will never forget the first time Brian came over and Kaelyn looked at him and said, 'Daddy!' I was mortified."

It seems the little girl was actually a bit psychic, because the couple only grew closer. "Brian potty trained the twins and was amazing with Noah," Tiffany noted. "Brian asked me to marry him on December 24, 2016. We decided to marry March 24, 2018. Our wedding was beautiful, Brian said vows to the kids, and it was a fairytale."

Tiffany Durlak

One of the main marriage goals the couple set during their honeymoon: Brian wanted to legally adopt the kids as his own. Less than a year later, on January 10, 2019, the kids' adoption was finalized in front of the judge, the proud mom explained.

The experience has lead the survivor to believe that "love really is a beautiful thing." She noted, "I never thought this love Brian and I share ever existed, but it does and it’s a beautiful thing. Acceptance is a beautiful thing also; not only did the kids find love, but the kids gained a whole family. Brian’s family accepted the kids as their own with no hesitation and showed the kids and myself unconditionally love."

This loving family's story goes to show that fairytales don't just happen in storybooks. They can happen in real life, too.

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