Turning 18 is usually a time when kids can’t wait to get away from their parents and get a taste of sweet, sweet freedom as they embark on adulthood. But for recent high school graduate and soon-to-be college student Lauren Hernandez, instead of running for the hills, far, far away from her mom and mom’s longtime boyfriend, she did the opposite and got closer to her family.
During her graduation party, the 18-year-old surprised Joe Iosco — her mom’s boyfriend since she was 1 — with a gift of her own: adoption papers.
“I was only with my biological father every other weekend, but I was with Joe almost every day,” Hernandez told ABC News of her relationship with Iosco. “He did things for me and he took me places.”
Iosco said of his relationship with his now-daughter: “As the years went by, I not only fell in love with Sally, but I fell in love with Lauren as well.”
In the video that has since gone viral, wrapped in a towel inside a Macy’s box was a framed photo of a poem. You can see Lauren and Sally nervously watching, trying not to lose it as Iosco quietly reads the poem. But when he discovers an envelope with adoption papers, neither Joe nor Lauren nor Sally can keep it together. Watching Joe fall to his knees sobbing tears of joy as Lauren crouches beside him and hugs him will get you right in the feels.
The happy news prompted guests to begin cheering (and, presumably, wipe their eyes and blow their noses).
“In the end, she chose me,” Iosco added. “And there’s no better gift than that.” Proof that it’s about who raised you, not who made you.