Adopted baby boy brings healing to couple who lost their 2 daughters in 2 years

Whenever Tracy Umezu imagines what her family life would look like, she always pictures a big family and a house filled with children. Sadly, however, this dream of hers didn’t come to fruition.

Tracy and her husband, Junji Umezu, lost their second daughter, Charlotte, in 2016 due to a rare genetic disease. Two years later, their third child Maggie also died because of a severe pregnancy complication.

Tracy Umezu, Junji Umezu, and their adopted son Jacob Benjamin
Courtesy of Tracy Umezu

This left them with only one living child – their firstborn, Sophie, who is already nine years old.

But recently, the couple welcomed a new bundle of joy in their family: a baby named Jacob Benjamin.

Born on February 6, 2021, the adorable cherub is now Tracy and Junji’s son.

Charlotte and Maggie

Charlotte was born in 2014 with SCN2A, a rare form of epilepsy. Doctors told them the baby didn’t have too long to live, so the family and their friends created a “joy list” for her.

This list included activities that they wanted Charlotte to experience during her limited time here on earth.

“We wanted to fill her life with as much joy as possible while she was here,” Tracy told TODAY.

Charlotte Umezu with her bib number for the Twin Cities Marathon
Charlotte Umezu | Courtesy of Tracy Umezu

They made sure Charlotte got to experience as many adventures as possible. Tracy pushed her during the Twin Cities marathon. They went to the zoo and had picnics. They also took her on a trip to Hawaii.

In November 2016, Charlotte started seizing uncontrollably. Tracy and Junji saw that she was “suffering more than she was enjoying life.” Also, no medications were working, so they made the difficult decision to take her off life support.

The couple struggled with infertility when they were trying to conceive Charlotte, so they started on fertility treatments a few months after her death, hoping they could have another child.

Sophie Umezu and her sister Maggie
Courtesy of Tracy Umezu

A year later, the Umezus learned they were having twins.

However, the second baby’s heartbeat stopped after 10 weeks. Tracy was able to carry the other one—Maggie—with no complications until she lost consciousness and passed out at 34 weeks.

Tracy almost died then. It was later found that she experienced a complete placental abruption, which means Maggie probably died as soon as it happened.

A Change of Heart

Her doctor said it would be best for her not to get pregnant again, so Junji brought up adoption. However, Tracy felt that she wasn’t ready for it.

“I had to come to a place where I didn’t define my worth by the number of living children I had and knew I was still a good mom whether I had one living child or five,” she said.

Tracy knew this wasn’t the life she had dreamed of, but having only Sophie meant that there was more they could give to her. So she became okay with that.

But everything changed when she visited Israel.

Sophie Umezu and Jacob Benjamin
Courtesy of Tracy Umezu

In 2019, she went there with her church parish and the priest who counseled her. During the trip, she remembered Junji’s adoption idea.

Charlotte’s nurse also happened to be on the trip, and their group met a doctor who assisted families with the adoption process. This series of coincidences had Tracy feeling at peace with the idea of adopting.

Tracy came home knowing that she wanted to adopt.

The Adoption Process

The Umezus moved through the process and received the final approvals they needed in November 2020. Coincidentally, it happened during the week of Charlotte’s death anniversary.

In February 2021, they got a call about a 2-day old baby boy in a Florida NICU who needed adoptive parents.

Tracy talked to the newborn’s birth mother on the phone that night. She asked if they would keep the name she had given him, and Tracy said yes. This was her way of honoring the baby’s biological mom.

Jacob Benjamin
Courtesy of Tracy Umezu

“She said it’s ‘Jacob Benjamin,’ and Jacob is the name we have always had in mind for a boy,” Tracy said. “It was a pretty telling piece that this was meant to be for both her and for us.”

The couple then flew him back home.

Life with Jacob

Now, all that Tracy and Junji want is to give Jacob the best life he could possibly have.

Although they are overjoyed by his arrival, Tracy sometimes feels a pang of loneliness. She couldn’t help but remember her two babies in heaven.

Still, she said that bringing Jacob home has brought healing to their family. They’ve gone through so much, which makes them appreciate this gift even more.

“Knowing that life can come out typical and normal and healthy is so awe-striking to us after all we’ve been through,” she said. “To look at him and know he has a brain that isn’t seizing and lungs that are breathing and a heart that is beating is such a miracle to us. It’s an overwhelming joy.”

Tracy, Junji, and Sophie’s lives are complete now that they have Jacob in their midst.

Please share this story of healing and hope with your friends and family. And if you want to follow their journey please visit their website, Facebook and Instagram pages. 

10 Replies to “Adopted baby boy brings healing to couple who lost their 2 daughters in 2 years”

  1. I do believe they went this route because they lost 2 kids to medical issues and did not want to try again only to lose another child. They chose adoption and their little boy will likely have a wonderful life. I did not read it as a replacement.

  2. When will society learn that you cannot put another child in place of another one? So sad that they lost a child, but trying to get another one to fit the size of the hole that is left is not honouring that baby’s life at all. God bless himx

  3. Surely it would cause less pain all around if this couple received grief counseling for the loss of their babies, instead of putting that grief onto another mother and her child – now as lost to each other as this couple and their departed babies.

  4. I’m sorry for this couples huge losses in what they were planning as a family. this infant also has huge losses, an inability to verbalise these losses, & likely be denied/&/or/dismissed. the adopter already states that she feels lonely pangs for her two infants who died. the infant they’ve adopted won’t replace the lost ones. there’s no equality to the collateral damage for either party. retaining the childs original name is respectful, however supporting his own mother to keep him would’ve been key here. his little shoulders weigh heavily with the added responsibility of healing all the losses the adopters have endured. this is Not.His.To.Bear.

  5. I definitely agree with the comments above.
    Oh my, how awful.
    This little boy gets this load over him.
    He must make up for the pain of the loss.
    I feel deeply sorry for this little fellow.
    How is it possible that these people were allowed to adopt !!

  6. Sorry to say but this article is complete bullshit! No child should have the responsibility of healing anyone or anything because they can’t. True healing comes from the father and him alone! Also life did not give them this child his real mother did. Show a little more respect and compassion for that fact! Everyone always wants to treat adoption like this beautiful thing that’s all sunshine and unicorns but in all reality adoption is full of trauma and pain. No one ever wants to acknowledge the other side of adoption or the fact that there are more people involved than just the adoptive parents and the adoptee.

  7. No child should bear the burden of ‘healing’ adults. One couples childlessness is resolved by making another person childless? It’s not enough this child loses their name, culture, extended family and authentic identity, they must also be the cure?

  8. I was a replacement adopted child – no thought was ever given to me that my “Real” Birth Certificate would be canceled and replaced with a “Fake” Fabricated Birth Certificate that said I was born to adoptive parents or how that knowledge would make me feel – no thought was given to the fact that I would be legally severed from my biological families, my parents, my grandparents, my siblings, my aunts & uncles, my cousins, my family histories & cultures – I am not legally related to my mother & father, my 8 siblings. I was medically treated for 59 years based on my adopted parents medical history. Today I do not have the rights that non-adoptees take for granted – I have lost so much to adoption – When I confronted my adopted parents their words were “you saved our marriage” “we burnt the adoption papers when you were a teen” “you were always ours” – these words cut through me like a knife – I realised in that instant that I was a commodity – this was never about me and it never would be – I was used for a bandaid for someone else’s loss – I will never get an apology & it is far too late now – I suffer with identity loss – I was never to meet my father before his death and only met my mother in her later years, one of my brothers died just 3½ years after our meeting & reunion, nothing can replace those losses, absolutely nothing – I really feel sorry for this child or any other that has to give up their identity, their family history & cultures – I thought I was Irish / Anglo Saxon – I discovered my father was Italian, my mother of Scottish & Australian Aboriginal Heritage

  9. I definitely agree with the comments above. Adoption is NOT a solution to one’s pain of losing other children. This poor child will have to live a life of constantly fulfilling their dreams that could never be. Their lives might be complete now .. but his is full of loss which you glossed over as if he is a blank slate. Try portraying adoption a little more truthfully as it’s not all glossy as you try to create here. Listen to those who live it and speak and think of it critically – then you might get somewhere close to understanding the complexities of this experience and honour all perspectives .. not just the adopting parents.

  10. Their story is extremely sad but adopting a baby doesn’t replace the ones they have lost and I doubt that they have any inkling of how hard it is for the mother of their son. Generally mothers don’t feel they have any choice and even if they are comfortable at the time with their choice there will be times they regret it. Oh and I do know what I’m talking about.

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