Around dinnertime on November 14, 2011, the fire station in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, received a call from a woman experiencing severe abdominal pain. But when firefighter Marc Hadden and his crew arrived on the scene, it was clear that simple abdominal pain wasn’t the issue — the woman was in labor.
“It was a pretty serious call for us,” Hadden, 47, told TODAY. “We got her on some oxygen, started some IVs, and literally as we were getting ready to leave the parking lot in the ambulance, my partner said, ‘We’re about to deliver a baby right here.'”
And that’s exactly what Hadden’s crew did. The delivery happened quickly, and Hadden was handed the baby girl as soon as she was born. The call was serious and the situation undoubtedly memorable, but even as he was holding the newborn, Hadden had no way of knowing she would change his life forever.
At the hospital a few hours later, Hadden learned that the mother — who he thinks might have been homeless — was planning on putting the newborn up for adoption. For Hadden and his wife, Beth, this was like some sort of sign; the couple was already hoping for a third child (and they were considering adoption, Beth told local news station WMBF News), so they jumped at the opportunity to make the beautiful baby girl the newest addition to their family.
The Haddens took the baby home two days later, and by March 2012, she was officially theirs. Now 5 years old, Rebecca Grace Hadden (she goes by Gracie) will start kindergarten at the school where Beth teaches later this year. She’s learning gymnastics and has a great relationship with her older brothers, 12-year-old Parker and 14-year-old Will, according to Hadden. She also already knows exactly how she was born.
“We have never hidden it from her,” Hadden said. “If you ask her where she was born, she says, ‘My daddy delivered me in the back of an ambulance.’ She knows the whole story. I wanted her to know as soon as she was old enough to understand.”
He knows he’ll have to explain her adoption story at greater length once Gracie’s older, but for now, Hadden says he’s glad it will never be some sort of big surprise. Besides — Gracie’s right where she needs to be.
“She is part of our family and that is absolutely the way it is,” he said. “We love her.”