A video going viral of a teenage girl asking her mother’s boyfriend to be her legal father is living, breathing proof that real parents aren’t the ones who made you, but the ones who raised you.
Lauren Hernandez, 18, of Plainfield, Illinois, used her graduation party as a way of surprising the man who had been her mother’s companion since she was just 1 year old with adoption papers, and the video of the encounter is quite the tearjerker.
At the gathering of Lauren’s closest friends and family, she presents Joe Iosco, her mother’s boyfriend of 17 years, with a Macy’s box. Joe unwraps the gift, clearly expecting an article of clothing of some sort, and appears surprised when he finds a framed poem instead.
Beneath the poem were adoption papers.
So moved is Joe, that after hugging Lauren and discovering the adoption papers, he falls to his knees and sobs tears of joy.
Lauren kneels over and gives him a loving hug.
For those of you watching along, are you crying yet? Because I am. And I have already watched the short video three times now.
The poem that Lauren, who has since changed her last name to Iosco on Facebook, gave her father reads:
“Some people would say you’re not my real dad
But I know this isn’t true
For you’ve been a real dad to me
In all the things we’ve been through
We’ve had our ups and downs
Sometimes it’s hard to bend
But you’ve always been there when I needed you
And that’s what matters in the end
You’ve been patient, kind and firm
Over the years as I’ve grown
And I’m internally grateful for you
Because you’ve treated me as your own
For though we’re not tied by bloodline
The Love and trust you’ve given me
Is a precious gift day after day
That’s what counts as a real dad to me”
Lauren tells Babble that she doesn’t have a relationship with her biological father, because after years of every-other-weekend visitation (many of which he didn’t show up to at all), she gave up on it because he made her feel like she didn’t mean that much to him.
“Joe is more like a dad to me than my biological father is because he’s never made me feel like I wasn’t loved,” she explains. “He paid for school supplies, clothes, food, Catholic schooling, cheer, and he put a roof over my head. Joe and my mom have two daughters together, but he always makes sure I don’t feel left out. He tells people that he has three daughters; he makes it known how much he loves me and how much he cares about me.”
Lauren reveals that she wasn’t really nervous about him to be her legal father, but more so about his reaction, as he “doesn’t like to show much emotion.”
“Being around all our friends and family, I was wondering if he was going to cry or try to play it off like a tough guy and cry later.”
For anyone who watched the video, Joe’s emotions clearly dominated the moving moment.
Like Lauren, my son’s real father is not his biological father. While I was several months pregnant with Jackson, whose biological father wanted zero to do with either of us, my college boyfriend Nick reappeared in my life and we fell madly in love. He was there from day one of Jackson’s life, not as his stepfather or my boyfriend, but as his father. After we got married two years later, we hired a lawyer and made everything legal.
While the actual adoption was a beautiful moment, standing in front of the judge with my beautiful family, nothing really changed in actuality because Nick was Jackson’s dad from day one. Despite not sharing a trace of DNA, he has only treated him like his own flesh and blood.
That is a real parent.
Not necessarily the one who donated the egg or the sperm, but the one who loves and nurtures a child with all of their heart.
For Lauren, the adoption is everything.
“The best part about making it official is knowing that I can now officially say that I have a dad who loves and cares for me,” she explains. “I can officially say I have a father on my birth certificate, considering my biological father did not sign my birth certificate.”
And it’s not only for her sake.
“I love the fact that Joe knows how much he means to me. He knew before I asked him to adopt me that I loved him, but I couldn’t come up with a better way to thank him for doing what he did to help my mom raise me and thank him for loving me like a father should.”
Let’s take a moment today and thank all of the moms and dads out there who are raising children as their own, not because they are bound by blood but with love.