"She is part of our family and that is absolutely the way it is."
The day that changed Marc Hadden and his family’s lives began like any other.
"It was a normal slow day in November," Hadden, a firefighter in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, told Today. "We were sitting down to eat, hadn't had a call all day."
But then the call came in: a woman was complaining of severe abdominal pain. But when Hadden and the other firefighters arrived on scene, they learned the woman was actually in labor.
"It was a pretty serious call for us," he said. "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.' We had no time to prepare. Before we could do anything — we hadn't even cut her clothes — Gracie came right out. Immediately she was handed to me."
At the hospital later that day, Hadden learned the woman, who was likely homeless, was putting the infant up for adoption. Hadden and his wife, who say they had been hoping for a third child, jumped at the opportunity. Two days later, they took her home. In just a few months, they were granted custody of the infant. They named her Rebecca Grace, or simply "Grace."
That was five years ago now, and just like her two older brothers—Parker, 12, and Will, 14—Grace is a part of the family.
"She's amazing," Hadden tells Today. "She takes gymnastics, she's getting ready to start kindergarten next year at the school where my wife teaches. She's a pretty remarkable kid."
She’s a normal, happy kid, and Hadden says she’s familiar with her birth story.
"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. I didn't want it to be this huge surprise. It still breaks my heart to think of one day having to explain it to her more in depth . . . because she doesn't really 100% get it."
But when that day comes, her parents will be there to comfort her. "She is part of our family and that is absolutely the way it is," he added. "We love her."