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Tragedy turns couple into happy family

10:56 AM, Dec 31, 2007   |    comments
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Josiah looks the way you would expect a 2-year-old boy would.

"He's got very big, chunky feet," said Carie Fay, Josiah's adoptive mom.

Josiah is active. He runs around and talks constantly. Those aspects may come from his mother, Sarah.

"When he smiles, his nose crinkles up, just like hers," said Michael Fay, Sarah's brother.

Every day, Josiah is learning new things.

"He knows the puppy's name," said Carie.

There is one story Carie and Michael haven't told him yet. That is the story of Sarah Marie Fay.

"She lived in paradise, out there in Hawaii," said Michael.

Sarah moved there 12 years ago. She lived on mountain tops and grew her own food.

"A free spirit. I see her swimming in the ocean with the dolphins," said Michael. "Every time I went there, I was blown away with what she was doing."

That ended on Thanksgiving Day 2005.

"Shock, that's the only way I can describe it," said Michael.

Thirty-four-year-old Sarah was found beaten nearly to death. Police arrested her ex-boyfriend and Sarah lay in the hospital.

"The call from the doctor was basically: She's brain dead," said Michael.

Doctors kept Sarah on life support for two weeks because she was nearly eight months pregnant.

"They put a monitor around her stomach and you could hear his heartbeat," said Michael. "It was like, 'My sister's still there.'"

Josiah was born on December 12, 2005.

"He came out and the doctor held him up to Sarah's face and he reached out and put his hand to Sarah's face," said Michael.

Sarah died shortly thereafter and 3-pound, 5-ounce Josiah met the man who would become his adoptive father.

"His whole hand wrapped around my finger and it just went right to my heart," said Michael.

It was a big change for Michael and Carie.

"I really had to think about it. Think about things. I'm an engineer. I'm always trying to rationalize," said Michael.

Michael and Carie were newlyweds. They had only been married for two months.

"We didn't have nine months to get ready. We had more like nine days," said Michael.

However, they knew Josiah needed them, and they needed him. So they started the adoption process and brought Josiah to their home in Denver.

Two years later, Carie and Michael are pros at parenting. They have raised Josiah as their own, but haven't forgotten about his mother.

Carie now devotes much of her time to raising awareness about domestic violence.

"Being a victim, it's very shameful and embarrassing. And you always think it's your fault. And it's not," said Carie.

The Fays have created a Web site to tell Sarah's story and raise awareness. You can visit it at  

For this family, getting through the pain has made moments like this possible. It has also inspired more lessons for Josiah to learn.

"My sister taught me how to follow my heart. So he's going to have to learn that," said Michael.

"That totally just came from his heart, what you said about Sarah. That's beautiful," said Carie in response.

So every year as Josiah celebrates his birthday, Michael and Carie mark an anniversary that is proof of how something so tragic could turn into something so beautiful.

"I didn't realize how much I wanted to be a dad," said Michael.

"We call Sarah his 'angel mommy,'" said Carie.

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