A story of blessings big and small
“In my heart, I knew that we were going to be parents. I always kept my faith.”
Marian O’Donald, Gracie’s mom
By Sonia Duggan
The adoption story of twins Wesley and Gracie is not only unique, it is a story of faith, family and the connections that bind.
Sisters Jennifer Bradley and Marian O’Donald grew up in Murphy, graduated from Plano East High School and married. They never moved far from each other, eventually moving to Wylie. Marian with her husband Matt, and Jennifer, newly divorced.
They shared many things, but most of all they shared the dream of becoming parents one day.
“Matt and I had tried for several years to have a child of our own. We then decided to think about adopting,” Marian said. Then through mutual friends they were introduced to a young woman that was pregnant and was registered with an agency. She had not chosen a family for her baby said Marian.
After meeting them, the young woman decided that they were the family for her baby. After the delivery, the birth mother changed her mind. “This was a very challenging day for us,” she said.
“In my heart, I knew that we were going to be parents. I always kept my faith. After two years, I decided to turn becoming parents over to God. I attended a seminar and wrote on a rock “children” and never prayed for a baby again,” Marian said. “I knew that when God was ready, we would become parents. I always said, when God is ready for me to be a mom, he will put one on my porch.”
Meanwhile Jennifer was just two years out of her 16-year marriage. She said her ex-husband did not want kids. “After finding out I could not have children and hearing the stories of many of my co-workers who had adopted, I knew that would be a way to go,” she said.
Fate would intervene for these childless sisters.
Newborns Wesley and Gracie were living with their birth mother in a women’s shelter in Dallas. The birth mother was related to their older sister thru marriage. She already had two small children and she knew that she couldn’t keep the twins.
“She finally found our older sister and made the call for help,” Jennifer said. “Our sister came from Tennessee and removed the birth mom and kids from the shelter.”
The birth mom immediately told the older sister that she needed to find an adoptive family for the twins.
Fate intervened while on a family vacation. Marian and Jennifer received a call from their older sister about the babies and things started happening really fast they said. Both sisters wanted a child. Both sisters could not conceive.
Jennifer said they often get the question… “Why didn’t you take both of them?” She said, “Our response is “God knew where they needed to be. He orchestrated the whole plan. These precious blessings are where they belong.”
Another tough question might have been “Who gets the baby girl and who gets the baby boy?” But not for the sisters. Jennifer said she always wanted a boy and Marian always wanted a girl.
“Our mother was laid off from her job the Friday before they (twins) came to her house; and she has been involved with them ever since,” Jennifer said. “Our mother graciously opened her home to the birth mother and her other children for a month until we could get our first court date set.”
The babies arrived in their respective adoptive homes when they were five and a half months old. The adoption was finalized when they were 11 months. The twins were each given birth names though the sisters chose new ones.
Wesley is named after his grandmother’s grandfathers said Jennifer. Gracie’s full name is Matalyn Grace. “Her middle name was a decision I made long ago. I always said that if I ever had a little girl, her name would be Grace, as it would be by the Grace of God,” Marian said.
Jennifer said she feels that they were very lucky with the adoptions as it was private. There were not any obstacles.
“It was very easy for all involved, because it was all done at the same time (home study, court date, guardian ad litem),” the sisters said.
Jennifer lives next door to her mother, Sue Bradley who takes care of Wesley and Gracie when they are at work. She said without the help of her mother over these past six years, she doesn’t know how she could of done it.
“Being a single mom and working full time, Grandma has filled the role of babysitter, doctor, driver, cook, etc.”
The children attend Akin Elementary and are in different classes. All of their classmates know they are twins as well as the administrators. They go to the same church, and even have the same pediatrician and ENT. The only doctor they don’t have the same is the dentist they said.
Marian said all of Gracie’s grandparents live in Wylie and are very involved in her life. “They each play an important role in developing this amazing little girl,” Marian said.
Her advice? “Remember… never give up on faith.”
“The biggest reward is for Matt and I getting to call Gracie our daughter. She brings us so much joy, and we enjoy every minute of every day,” Marian said. “A lot of people say how lucky that she is…. I think the opposite… how lucky Matt and I are.”
“My biggest blessing (reward) is the fact that God gave me a child, that I had always prayed for,” Jennifer said. “So when God filled it with this funny, caring, big hearted, hugely imaginative little boy, it closed the hole I had in my heart. Just hearing “Mommy, I love you” is the biggest reward a mother could ever ask for.”
The sisters have never hidden the fact that Wesley and Gracie are adopted, telling them “they were born in their hearts” from the time they could understand.
“They know that they are twins and they call each other bubby and sissy. They turned 6 years old in March. We get a lot of looks when we are out and we just explain our situation. People get so excited to hear they get to grow up together.”