A teenage girl gave her stepfather a unique gift this Christmas: She wrapped up a stack of legal papers. What they signified was a touching appeal for a permanent bond that left her Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, stepfather in tears.
The moment was captured in a video (see below) which has been widely shared. Makayla Dabney, 18, asked her stepfather, Stephen Dabney, to adopt her – and she did it with holiday flair.
“I had a dream that I asked him to adopt me,” Dabney said. “My Christmas present to him was adoption papers.”
Makayla was raised by Stephen from the time she was five. Her unique Christmas present was selected after much deliberation about the perfect gift. She settled upon the adoption out of a desire to honor Stephen, she told Fox 8.
The special gift was wrapped in an envelope and placed at the bottom of a number of layers within a box so that finding it became a sort of game, as Stephen searched through layers of packaging, candy and pocket change.
“You’re sweet as the candy you can’t have,” Makayla teases in the video, referring to a note attached to the package, as Stephen searches through the contents. The teen meanwhile recalls paternal memories. She asks him who she sought when she was in need of comfort, to which he replies, “This guy,” and points at himself.
She also hints that the gift was “very expensive — but totally worth it!”
When he uncovers the envelope and Makayla describes what is inside, tears well up in Stephen’s eyes. On the papers, Makayla had changed her surname to her stepfather’s, and he was officially pronounced her father. When the impact of the gesture hit home, both father and daughter were crying.
Later, describing the gift to a news outlet later, Makayla said, “It was very memorable and exciting because I had something so big planned and only a few family members knew about it.”
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