Today, nearly HALF of all adults have at least one stepparent in their life— but being a stepparent is a challenging task. When a spouse becomes part of an older family unit, they often feel like they don’t belong. It’s hard to feel inclusive when you’re worried about overstepping boundaries. For many stepparents out there, discipline becomes a challenge.
Joe Iosco from Plainfield, Illinois, has been a stepfather for almost 20 years— and, according to his stepdaughter Lauren, he is one of the best.
“Joe has always been there for me and never been mean,” she said.
“He took me to pumpkin patches and even my little cheerleader games.”
“When your kids are born,” Sally, her mother, added, “you automatically love them. He chose to do for her what he does for his biological daughters.”
Lauren said she’s never had a great relationship with her biological father: “I tried to be a part of his life, but it just never worked out. The last time I went to his house was about five or six years ago.”
Because Joe had started dating Sally when Lauren was only one year old, Joe was pretty much the only father Lauren had ever known.
“He’s been there for everything for me,” she explained.
“I’ve wanted nothing more than to be her dad from Day One,” Joe revealed. Over the years, Joe had tried to adopt Lauren numerous times. However, each time he was blocked by her biological father.
“As the years went by, I not only fell in love with Sally, but I fell in love with Lauren as well,” Joe told ABC News.
Wanting to make the relationship official, Lauren inquired whether Joe could adopt her if she was 18. Upon learning the answer, she began planning a surprise.
Lauren would shortly be graduating from high school and she figured her graduation party would be the perfect place to give Joe his surprise. Family and friends would be attending, and she wanted them to be there for the event.
At one point during her graduation party, Lauren approaches Joe and hands him a gift.
Joe’s a bit confused since Lauren should be the one opening presents, but he slowly begins to open the box.
Wrapped in a towel is a framed poem. Joe immediately grows quiet and teary while reading it:
“Some people would say you’re not my real dad,
but I know this isn’t true
You’ve been a real dad to me
in all the things we’ve been through.
We’ve had our ups and downs;
sometimes it’s hard to bend.
But you’ve always been there when I needed you,
and that’s what matters in the end.
You’ve been patient, kind and firm
over the years as I’ve grown
and I’m internally grateful for you
because you’ve treated me as your own.
For though we’re not tied by bloodlines,
The love and trust you’ve given me
Is a precious gift day after day—
That’s what counts as a real dad to me.
Joe is already emotional, but when he lifts the poem to reveal legal papers to adopt Lauren, he completely loses his composure.
“I’m asking him to adopt me,” Lauren tells the crowd through her tears. An emotional Joe then nods his head and says yes.
“I never doubted he was my Dad,” Lauren told CBS News.
“The fact that it’s going to be official makes me happy.”
Joe said Lauren’s gift was “one of the best things I’ve ever received in my life.”
See the heartwarming moment below.
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