After an 18-year-old girl handed an envelope to her mom’s boyfriend at a party, he dropped to the ground in tears. In that moment, he realized that they were about to celebrate something much bigger than a high school graduation.
Lauren Hernandez is an 18 year old from Plainfield, Illinois. She grew up with her mom, Sally, and her mom’s boyfriend, Joe Iosco. The three of them became a family unit when Hernandez was just a year old.
Unfortunately for Hernandez, she didn’t have the best of relationships with her biological father. At the age of 18, she hadn’t visited him in some five years, although he lives in the same state.
“I tried to be a part of his life, but it just never worked out,” she explained to the Daily Mail. Instead, Iosco had been a father figure for Hernandez.
In fact, he was always at her high school sports games, and, over the years, the two developed a strong relationship. Iosco had his own experiences of coping with parents who had split up, so he was able to coach her through hard times.
And, when she graduated from high school at the age of 18, Iosco was naturally there to celebrate with her. She marked the occasion by hosting a party with all her family and friends.
However, the 18 year old – who dreams of studying at college to become an ultrasound technician – had another idea up her sleeve. This party wasn’t going to just be about her.
What followed was so heartwarming that a video of it went viral on the internet. With over 1.5 million views on YouTube, it was clearly a very special scene.
At the party, Hernandez handed over a gift-wrapped box to Iosco. At first it wasn’t obvious why he was receiving a gift when it was Hernandez’s party. However, soon it all became clear.
The assembled friends and family watched on as the scene unfolded. Iosco opened the box and found a framed poem inside. Reading it, he was reduced to tears. It was about how grateful Hernandez was to have a guy like him in her life.
“You’ve always been there when I needed you, and that’s what matters in the end,” the poem read. Having finished the poem, Iosco was emotional. Nothing could prepare him for the second gift that was still in the box, though.
He pulled out an envelope and inside he found some official looking pieces of paper. When he realized exactly what they were, he dropped to the ground in tears. What had Hernandez given him?
She had, in fact, handed him adoption papers. It was Hernandez’s official adoption “proposal.” This was clearly stunning news for Iosco. In reply, he shouted, “Yes!” causing the crowd to cheer.
“It was an amazing gift. It was something that I never thought would happen,” Iosco told TODAY. “It means everything to me,” he added. After 17 years in each other’s lives, he would officially become Hernandez’s father in just a matter of weeks.
What makes their story even more poignant is that they never thought it would be possible. In fact, Iosco had tried to adopt Hernandez before but, to his frustration, was unable to do so.
Her biological father was always against the idea, so nothing came of it. But once a child turns 18, the rules change. Legally there was nothing stopping them anymore. The question was only how best to propose it.
Hernandez pulled it off in a very special way by making sure that all their friends and family were there to witness the occasion. And Iosco’s tears demonstrated quite how much it meant to him.
“I’ve wanted nothing more than to be her dad from day one,” he told the Daily Mail. Finally, it was going to happen for them. He even said in an ABC interview that there was “no better gift” than what Hernandez had given him.
And Hernandez was delighted. “He’s the best dad I could ever ask for,” she told TODAY. “I always considered Joe as a father,” she added. It just goes to show that family is family, no matter what anyone might say.
As Hernandez wrote in her poem, “Though we’re not tied by bloodlines, 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.”