More than a decade ago, Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons and his wife Justine welcomed a baby daughter, only to lose her a couple of hours later.
In their new book, Old School Love: And Why It Works, the Run-DMC rapper and his longtime love share how they healed from their grief and, within a year, were able to adopt their daughter Miley Justine, now 12.
“I had carried Victoria Anne full-term; she was in me, a part of me. I could feel her every single day in me,” writes Justine, 54, while reflecting on the days following her daughter’s death. “Joey found comfort in God and being with me. I found comfort going under the covers. For the most part, on most days, I was trying to heal my body, heal my sadness, heal my sorrow, and heal my heart … I was lonely for my child.”
Rev Run and Justine were already parents to five children when they conceived Victoria Anne. (They have two sons Daniel (Diggy) and Russell II (Russy) together and Rev Run has three older children, Vanessa, Angela and Joseph Jr., from a previous relationship.) Midway through the pregnancy, the couple learned that their daughter had serious complications, but they decided to move ahead with the pregnancy anyway.
On Sept. 26, 2006, Victoria Anne was born and died shortly after because she had omphalocele, a birth defect that caused her organs to grow outside her body, PEOPLE later reported.
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“On September 26, 2006, Victoria Anne Simmons for some unknown reason chose to come early and unfortunately did not survive,” Rev Run, 55, said in a statement that was issued on his behalf by MTV, following the baby’s death. “We must accept whatever is there and once you accept unconditionally, then everything is beautiful. Every pain has a purifying effect.”
In Old School Love — which gives insight into the couple’s nearly 30-year marriage and the values that have seen them through — Rev Run and Justine explain that they got through the pregnancy by praying for a “miracle.” After they learned that their baby had serious problems, Rev Run woke up every morning and prayed for his baby, he explains in the book.
“My faith was so deep that I believed it was going to happen; our baby would be healed,” writes Rev Run, who became an ordained minister in 1994.
After the baby’s death, the whole family was devastated. They were filming their family TV show, MTV’s Run’s House, at the time of the birth and Rev Run decided they should film the ordeal because their fans were part of the Simmons family, the reality star explains. Even with the support of their fans, Rev Run and Justine were heartbroken.
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In the book, Justine explains that she felt a great deal of “pain” and “sorrow” over the loss of her baby. “I recommend that you not push those feelings away or push them down,” she writes. “The enormity of losing a child after carrying it full-term will have a profound effect on you.”
Despite the pain, both Justine and Rev Run never questioned God’s plan for them. “We know Victoria is with God in a wonderful place looking down on us, and that’s probably why we have a lot of blessings going on now,” Justine told PEOPLE in March 2007.
After Justine had healed, Rev Run asked his wife if she’d like to adopt a baby — an idea she’d floated by him before they conceived Victoria Anne, according to the book.
“When he said those words, all my pain melted. That was what I really wanted to do,” Justine writes. “That was God’s plan from the beginning; I knew it, I felt it, deep in my soul and in my heart.”
A year after Victoria Anne’s death, the Simmons adopted baby Miley. While it was not an easy process, they write in their book that they couldn’t have been happier about the decision to adopt.
“There are still times that I forget that I didn’t actually carry her, birth her. Miley is as much from my body as Victoria was,” writes Justine. “I want all women to know that if they can’t conceive a baby or carry a baby, adoption is truly a miracle.”
She continues, “To be able to give a baby love, to be able to give a baby a home, to be able to give a baby a good life — that’s the miracle.”
Old School Love is on sale now on amazon.com.