Devoted Husband, Father, and Firefighter
Marc Hadden derived much joy from dedicating his life to saving other lives as a firefighter in Myrtle Beach, North Carolina. Every day on the job brought with it another challenge, but there was nothing that would stand in Hadden’s way to fulfill his duty.
When Hadden wasn’t saving lives, he was fulfilling his other duty as a devoted husband to his wife Beth and a loving father to his sons Will and Parker. However, nothing could have prepared him for the emergency call he’d receive on November 14, 2011.
Just Another Day
November 14, 2011 was just like any other day – slow and ordinary without much action. Hadden and the other firefighters thought it’d be an uneventful day, until they received an emergency call just as they were sitting down to eat.
Very Quickly Realized Disaster Struck
“It was just a somewhat normal call,” Hadden told WMBF News, or so he thought at the time. “Very quickly we realized that it was going to be a life changer for us,” he went on to say. However, Hadden had no idea that this particular call was going to be especially life-changing for him and his family.
Call of Duty
When the emergency call came in, the woman on the line complained of severe pain in her abdomen. With no time to waste, Hadden bolted to the emergency scene to see what he could do for the woman.’
No Time to Waste
When Hadden arrived on the scene he immediately noticed why the woman was experiencing severe abdominal pain. The pain she was feeling in the abdomen was actually labor pain and contractions as she was about to give birth.
Time Slipping Away Fast
Time was slipping away fast, and Hadden and his fellow firefighters calculated that the woman was just minutes away from giving birth. They knew they had to act fast! The ideal solution was to rush her to the nearest hospital, but the question was whether they’d make it in time.
“It was a pretty serious call for us,” Hadden told People. He related the stressful scene exclaiming, “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.’”
The Moment of Truth
Hadden had to act very fast to save the woman and her baby. They had to cut her clothes off and deliver the baby before any complications ensued. A normal day at the “office” turned into an extraordinary struggle to save two lives.
He might have saved many lives, but Hadden didn’t have any experience delivering a baby. However, when thrown into the situation unexpectedly, he proved to be in the right place at the right time. He didn’t know it yet, but this was going to turn into one of the most pivotal moments of his life; one that would change his life forever.
It’s a Girl
Hadden went from caring for one patient to two when the baby girl was born and immediately handed to him, and this was when it all hit him. “She struggled from the minute she was put in my hands,” Hadden told People.
Just hours after delivering the baby girl, the mother and her child were at the hospital being cared for. The woman was already a single mother struggling to raise her teenage son alone, so she expressed her concern to the doctors.
Not Ready For Her
In fact, the mother made it quite clear that she wasn’t capable of raising her newborn baby, and would have to put her up for adoption through the system. When Hadden heard the doctors talking about this new development, something told him to call his wife.
Already a father of two, it broke Hadden’s heart to even imagine this child having to go through the adoption system which might not find her a loving home. He jokingly told the doctors that he would be her father.
A Lightbulb Went Off
Hadden knew deep down that he wasn’t actually bluffing and decided to call Beth. As crazy as it sounded, the Haddens really wanted another child so badly, and this innocent baby girl seemed like the answer to their prayers.
“Can We Keep Her?”
Beth clearly remembers the moment when her husband called her to share that he had just delivered a baby. “He called me and he was ecstatic. I mean, he delivered a baby and who in the world gets to deliver a baby in their lifetime that’s not a doctor,” she told ABC News. After Beth heard the news she jokingly replied, “Can we keep her?” That’s when Hadden told his wife that the sweet baby girl was going up for adoption because the mother couldn’t raise her daughter. When Beth heard these words she felt compelled to visit the woman at the hospital the next day.
After Beth heard the news, she knew she had to jump at the opportunity. The Haddens dreamed of adopting a little girl for years. “Ever since we had the boys, we knew that we wanted more children, but I was preterm with them so we knew that it wasn’t possible to have any more babies,” Beth lamented to People.
A Special Visit
“I will never forget that day. It was a day when a lot of things came full circle,” Hadden told CNN. Everything seemed like it was meant to be, but would the couple actually be able to adopt this baby girl? The next day Beth, who works at an elementary school as an instructional coach, went to visit the woman and her newborn baby at the hospital with a prayer book in hand. “My heart just went out to this woman,” she told People.
A Heart to Heart
Just as the doctor told the woman her daughter could be given up for adoption, something switched in the woman’s face. It seemed as if she had finally realized what this all meant for her and the future of her child.
Love at First Sight
“I want you to adopt my baby. I can’t give my baby to someone I’ve never met,” the woman exclaimed. Then she asked the nurse to bring in the baby for Beth to meet. As soon as Beth laid her eyes on the baby girl, she called her husband and proclaimed, “I think we just had a baby!” She knew that the opportunity they had been praying for years was finally within arm’s reach.
Rebecca Grace Hadden
Soon after Beth visited the hospital, the Haddens signed temporary custody papers and brought their new baby girl home. They named her Rebecca Grace, but she goes by her middle name and the nickname Gracie for short.
A True Blessing
At the time when Marc Hadden delivered this precious baby into the world, he had no idea that just 48 hours later she’d be in his arms as his adopted daughter, and better yet, that a year later Beth and him would have full legal custody of Gracie.
Paying It Forward
“It felt like winning the lottery.” Hadden told CNN what it was like when they brought Gracie home saying, “To see my wife’s face light up when we brought Gracie home. I can’t even begin to tell you.” Well, it turns out Gracie also lit up of the faces of people in the community with this beautiful story.
The Butterfly Effect
The family’s heartfelt story touched the hearts the community, with the entire neighborhood paying it forward to help the Haddens with their beautiful new addition. Hadden’s contractor even paid to add an extension to their home for the new baby. They added a fourth bedroom to the house by building a partition to separate the dining room from the family room.
Father of the Year
Following Gracie’s birth, the Myrtle Beach Fire Department also awarded Hadden a Firefighter of the Year accolade for his courage at the scene of the emergency, and for giving Gracie another chance at life by adopting her.
Broaching the Subject
Gracie might be a Hadden through and through, but Beth and Marc have never hid the truth about her adoption from their daughter. “We told her pretty much from day one. I’ve taken her to the back of the ambulance where she was born, so she knows – no doubt about it,” Mac told ABC News. Marc said that it breaks his heart that he will still have to explain it in depth when she’s much older as she still doesn’t understand everything completely, but he said he’ll be there for her when the day arrives.
Gracie’s Take on Things
At just six years old, Gracie actually knows the whole story about her unusual birth and entrance into the world. If anyone asks her how she was born she says, “My daddy delivered me in the back of an ambulance and helped me take my first breath.”
A Daddy’s Girl
Gracie and her father have a very strong and special father-daughter bond. Admittedly, she’s definitely daddy’s girl. “She is my best friend. We share an amazing bond.” He even made a tough decision.
A Full Time Dad
Hadden retired from firefighting and decided to work on a volunteer basis, but his days are even fuller now that Gracie is in his life. “Every day I look forward to waking her up, getting her ready for school, then picking her up later on,” Hadden told CNN while beaming with pride.
Will and Parker fell in love with Gracie from day one. Will, now 15 and Parker, 13, naturally took on the role as Gracie’s protective older brothers, which will definitely come in handy when she gets even older.
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Beth might not be Gracie’s biological mother, but she adores her just the same and loves doing girly things together. Whether it’s watching Gracie practice gymnastics or painting their nails together, she feels blessed to be her mother.
A Message to the World
Adoption isn’t always easy for families, but the Haddens knew they made the right decision. Beth and Marc are always amazed at what a special person Gracie is and believe that she knows just how special she really is.
Coming Full Circle
When people talk about the adoption with the Haddens, they often tell them what an incredible couple they are for saving Gracie’s life. The Haddens always respond to these compliments saying, “We didn’t save her, she saved us!” That’s the way they see it.