Thursday, March 3, 2011


If you are a family member, friend, or a long time reader, I am sure you know how much I LOVE Oprah! I am sure you have also heard me speak of a person named Christine McFadden over the years. She is a guest I saw on Oprah, and is forever etched into my memory.

If you are not familiar with Christine's story, she is the mother who went out for an early morning walk, and returned to find her four beautiful children murdered.  Her ex-husband had killed them all, and then turned the gun on himself.

I have watched Oprah for years, and I will never forget Christine. At the time I saw her in 2004, I have used her story to help me through all of my difficult times. I felt a little guilty 'using' her to aid me through infertility, the adoption process, and bonding issues with Aviana. I knew that her struggles far surpassed mine.  After Aviana's accident, I was drawing strength from her daily. She is the main reason I asked all of you to 'Use Me' at one point. I knew how much Christine had helped me, and I wanted to help as many people as I could too.

Christine has always weighed heavily on my mind, so last September, I wrote a letter to Oprah....

Dear Oprah~ 

One guest in particular forever stood out in my mind. Her name was Christine McFadden. I was truly captivated by her story, and I have carried her with me in my own life. It was not until I experienced the worst day of my own life, that I completely felt her presence within me. 

My parents were crossing the street with my then 2-year-old daughter. My stepfather had my daughter in his arms, and my mom was following a few steps behind. My mom witnessed both of them get struck by a car. My stepfather rolled over the hood, while my daughter flew out of his arms and landed on her head. 

We were forced to make life and death decisions for our daughter. Our sweet baby survived eight surgeries, including three of which she had most of her skull removed. Sadly though, our dear Aviana was left severely brain-injured, and unable to walk, talk, or eat by mouth. 

Throughout our darkest hours, I kept Christine close in thought. She is an inspiration to me, and I have always wanted to thank her for sharing her story. In following her story, so many things she had said came to fruition in my very own life. Most importantly, she spoke of moving on, rather than staying stuck in a place of trauma. 

I think Christine has touched so many lives. Although all of our stories stretch far and wide across a spectrum, the one constant is the feeling of grief and loss. Our child did not pass away, but I continuously grieve for the little girl from before. With the strength I have gathered from Christine, I make a daily choice to carry on. 

My heart soared when I saw she had re-married, and had twins. To me, this was just another glowing example of her resilience. She is a constant reminder to not let tragedy take over, and define your entire life. She is one of the strongest, most inspirational, people I have ever laid eyes upon. For that, I can honestly say she has forever changed my life! 

Thank you, 

Jennifer Hodder 

Last Tuesday, I sat down to check my e-mail, and there was one from Harpo Studios, titled The Oprah Winfrey Show. I could not believe my eyes. I was so excited. They said they received my letter, and needed more information to be further considered for the show. I immediately began a more detailed letter, including everything they had asked for. I told them of myself, our story, and much more about how Christine has had an impact on my life. I sent it off this past Thursday.

I wasn't sure if I should share the news on here, but I am so excited, and no matter what happens, I thought you might want to know :o) 

I would love the opportunity to thank Christine, and to let her know just how much she has helped me.  She has been unknowingly 'there' for me when I have needed her most.

And of course, I would love to meet Oprah too ;o) ;o) ;o)


  1. Good luck, Jen! That would be an amazing opportunity.

  2. Oh, I remember that episode, too. Haunting.

  3. Oh, I remember her story. So, so sad. I remember most how she didn't want to move out of her home, that although that was the place her children were so brutally murdered, it was also they home where they grew up, where they lived and laughed, and they made wonderful memories there... and she wanted all those memories to surround her instead of living somewhere else where her children had never been. I can understand that. I believe even now, she and her new husband and the twins still live in that home. Such an astounding story. A true lesson on how to carry on after tragedy.

    So exciting that the Oprah show wrote back to you! Wow! Thanks for sharing that with us!

  4. I SO remember that story. A truly amazing woman. Super exciting..can't wait to see what happens!!


    (sorry that is SO SO shallow but...SERIOUSLY!!!)

    On a more mature note....I find it almost an act of the Divine how certain people or words stick within one's be drawn upon when needed.

    God loves us so dang much He is always preparing us to ..... GO FORWARD!

    AND...back to 'immature' ... there was a big ol' spread about "Oprah" in "US" magazine this week.

    She sips champagne during meetings sometimes! ha


  6. what an awesome opportunity that would be pease keep us posted!!!!

  7. OMG!!! OMG!!! OMG!!!! I so hope you are on the Oprah Show! OMG!!! OMG!!! OMG!!!!! Miss ya!!

  8. So excited for you:) I will def. have to catch that episode (if you go).
    I have not heard of that story but it sounds so tragic. Glad that you could use her story through your difficult times to help you.
    Hopefully you will hear soon about going on the show:)

  9. When I read this last night I was so excited and happy and almost a little emotional for you. You will ROCK the Oprah show!

    And I must get your autograph after even for just getting a letter from HARPO productions!

  10. That would be amazing. How neat that you would be able to connect to the person that you ahve been able to draw some strength form or at least helped you deal with all you were goign through. You are an inspiration to so many people just here in blogland, i can't imagine how many more people you could inspire. I still always "use you", but an sorry and hoping that Miss Avi has a huge breakthrough, althougth I am always so amazed with how far she has come.

  11. Hi Jen! I wanted to let you know that you have greatly impacted my life and I know many other lives through your story. I hope you are able to share your story to millions of Oprah viewers!!!

    Long story short, I found your blog last year when I was pregnant with my son, Jack. We found out at our 12 week US that he had an extremely large bladder and after we did all we could he passed away. You helped me realize that no matter the outcome, we would get through any obstacle, so I thank you for that.

    Can't wait to hear if you get on Oprah!!!!

  12. ohmygosh! I'm speechless although I always knew that you belonged on the Oprah stage! I love you and know that YOU will become Christine McFadden for countless people.

  13. Oh, YAY for you!! This is so so exciting! How could they not pick your story? Both of you are such an inspiration in the midst of tragedy. It would be so amazing for you to meet her. I hope, hope, hope that you get to!!

    BTW, I only live an hour from Chicago~we should do lunch :)

  14. How wonderful, Jen! I was over my sisters the other day and we were talking about Christine and the other family who lost all 3 of their kids in a car accident. So incredibly tragic. It certainly makes me hold my treasures closer and my sister closer to my heart. No on understand how you or my sister feel but all we can do is love and support an BE there. XO.

  15. Woohoo - that is great news!! I have never heard of Christine's story but I do know that I agree with the comments here that you ARE Christine for some of your readers. I also know how much you love Oprah and being on her show, to meet Christine and share your story, share what she means to you, would be amazing. I am keeping my fingers, toes and eyes crossed along with sending out the good mojo for you :^)

    Love you ♥

  16. OMG! SO exciting! Def keep us posted!

  17. To even be considered is amazing!!! That's awesome and I hope and pray that she takes you so that you can share your love of Aviana far and wide! :)

  18. Chills!!!! Wow, so amazing! Can't wait to see what happens!

  19. I hope Oprah and Christina get to meet you! The way you live your life makes me proud to "know" you. I read several blogs about families who have had tragic events in their lives, but none that touch me as much as yours.

    And, can I just say, I am going to miss Oprah sooooo, sooooo much!


  20. Jen, I think that is so awesome. I so hope you get the opportunity to go on Oprah. Congrats for even being considered.

  21. I just went on the website and sent them an email about how inspirational YOU are to so many of us. Seriously. And thank you.

    Samantha Leigh (I'll email you back has been insane...)

  22. How exciting to get an email from O! I think it would be wonderful for you to be able to meet her in person. I too was touched by her story as well as Maddie's mom. I have been inspired by her and how she has coped with losing all of her children. No one should have to suffer so deeply.
    Jen, thanks for your kind words on my blog. As sad as it is for both of us, I'm thankful that we can support each other. I wish I lived near you so I could snuggle Aviana and give you a big hug.

  23. Jen! It's people like you, Dave, and Avi that give people like us such inspiration and when I read your blog I'm blown away! I hope you sent a link to your blog so they get a chance to read. You are incredible at putting everything in writing. You have a way with words and the emotion I feel when I read - I feel like I'm right there with ya! It would be a gift to you to be on Oprah but no doubt it would be a greater gift to sooo many other people to know your story.
    Big Hugs to you all! GROUP HUG!!!


  24. Christine's story was both heartbreaking and inspiring. I hope you get the opportunity to meet both Christine and Oprah!