"It was meant to be," says the proud dad.
It was a slow day for the busy fire station in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when the call came in on November 11, 2011. Fireflghter Marc Hadden, who worked with the medical unit, was eating dinner in the middle of his 24-hour shift when he had to hop in the ambulance and head out to the emergency. He and his partner found a woman in labor, and as soon as they got her in the ambulance she was ready to give birth. Hadden took charge — his first time ever being in charge of a delivery in 20 years of his work, according to a story on CBS News.
Little did the firefighter know at that moment that he was helping his own daughter take her first breath.
The team called for backup and rushed to the hospital. While Hadden filled out routine paperwork, he overheard a nurse say the new mother had requested an immediate adoption for her child. Hadden and his wife Rebecca had been hoping to adopt. Unable to have more children after their second son, they had looked into adoption and prayed about it but find it too expensive. Half-jokingly, Hadden said to the nurse: ‘Throw my name in the hat if this baby’s being put up for adoption.”
The nurses told him to go talk to the mom.
With a little hesitation, Hadden introduced himself, told her about his family, their circumstances, and their desire to adopt. The next day, Rebecca came in to meet with the mom. “With both of our boys, we had families, support and a ton of stuff,” Hadden said. “This mom didn’t. She had nothing. No family that was there.”
Just 48 hours later, the Haddens had custody of their new daughter, whom they named Rebecca Grace — “Gracie” — and in March 2012, the adoption was finalized.
“It was meant to be,” Hadden said. “Everything that happened that day changed: my station, assignment, the location. So many things happened that made us 100 percent sure.”
Hadden told CBS that the name Grace has become extremely fitting over the years. “She’s an awesome kid,” he says. Now five years-old, Gracie “loves playing with her brothers and dressing up with her mom, but she especially loves hearing the story of how her ‘daddy’ delivered her in the back of an ambulance.”
“Our bond is extremely tight. She’s a part of the family, and we love her more than life,” Hadden said. “We wouldn’t change anything. We would do it all again if we could.”