Back in April, Jay Pages received a very special birthday gift from his daughter, Celissa, a student at Arizona State University, and her mom, Lisa.
Now, the video has gone viral.
That’s because Celissa surprised Jay — the man who has raised her since she was two years old — with his greatest wish: adoption papers. And his reaction? Well, let’s just say you’re going to need some tissues.
After sobbing into my morning coffee, I got in touch with Jay and Lisa, who were on vacation in New York City with Celissa. Lisa tells me that she and Jay first got together when Celissa was about two years old, after his aunt had tipped him off to the “cute girl” who was working in his uncle’s orthopedic’s office.
“We went on our first lunch date to McDonalds and the rest is history,” says Lisa.
A young couple at the time — both Jay and Lisa were only 21 — Lisa admits that Jay was “definitely scared” at first to take on the challenge of becoming a father figure to Celissa. But he did, and over the years he has forged an amazing bond with his daughter. “They are two peas in a pod,” she laughs. “He has been a strong presence in her life and we are lucky to have found him.”
The couple found out about five years ago that Jay actually cannot have any children himself, so Lisa says that his relationship with Celissa has been a great blessing.
Calling Jay a “sucker” for his daughter, Lisa says he has been there through everything and even taught Celissa how to swim, fight jiu-jitsu, and drive. And when homecoming came — like any dad — he made sure to give her date a hard time. “I felt sorry for him going through Jay’s rules and questions,” Lisa laughs. “No guy will ever be good enough for her according to Jay.”
When Jay’s birthday rolled around, Celissa decided to do something extra special for the man she has always known as “dad.”
Jay had talked for years about legally adopting his Celissa, but when he and Lisa met with an adoption lawyer, they knew they couldn’t afford the steep price of the process. It wasn’t until Celissa got some help from a legal secretary at Lisa’s gym — who walked her through the adoption process — that they realized they could do the work themselves.
So, Lisa and Celissa filled out all of the paperwork — all they needed was Jay’s signature.
“We wanted to wait until Father’s Day but it was too far to wait,” says Lisa. “We couldn’t wait. We knew he would cry, it was great!
And cry he did.
According to Jay, the tears he shed in the video were tears of overwhelming joy. He explains that he has wanted to adopt Celissa since she was a baby, but did not have the money or the means to do so. And once she turned 18, he thought it was a lost cause. “I thought to myself, ‘Well, it is what it is.’ That’s life and just move on to the next step,” he says.
Jay had accepted that his daughter would never have his name and although he was proud to have played the role of father for the majority of her life, he admits that he still felt like something was missing. So when he opened his present and saw the adoption papers, he was hit with a wave of emotion that his biggest dream was coming true.
“It was the happiest moment in my life,” Jay says. “She’s finally and completely my baby girl. For me, it doesn’t get better than that.”
Though some may be surprised by his tears, Jay says that he sees nothing unusual in them. In fact, what he can’t understand is how so many fathers turn their backs on their children.
“Being that emotional about the love of your daughter shouldn’t be a surprising thing,” he notes. “I love my daughter and this present was a beautiful sign of her love for me as her father. It’s not being a real dad. It’s being a dad! Nothing difficult or special. Unfortunately there are too many kids out here in the world with deadbeat dads and it’s also unfortunate that my reaction surprises people. It shouldn’t! It saddens me that dads just can’t be dads. It saddens me that so many men in this world could so easily reject the children.”
For her part, Celissa says her dad’s reaction was even better than she expected. “It was just amazing and I knew for sure he was just as excited about it as I was,” she says.
The adoption was finalized on July 13, 2016 and Celissa says that she is now proud to be a Pages. “My dad is literally one of the best people around and I’m so happy that it is now official and I’m really his now.”