LAYTON, Utah (ABC4) — A Layton teenager, Dayana Upchurch, who has never met her biological parents, got to spend Christmas with them for the very first time this year. They’re calling it a Christmas miracle.
Last Thursday was filled with happy tears, hugs and smiles for the Upchurch and Laws families.
“It was better than any gift I could get,” said Bryant Laws, Dayana’s biological father. “Finally seeing her and being able to hold her and touch her was a feeling that only a parent could understand.”
Although both families said they were a little nervous to meet, they said once they did, it all felt natural — and it helped they were all huggers.
“It was just like ‘okay family, we are all here,’” said John Upchurch, her adoptive father.
Bryant and his wife, Dayna Laws of Philadelphia, said the last time they saw Dayana was when she was just two days old.
“It was nothing but tears. It was just sadness, emptiness,” Dayna said as she recalled that day.
The Laws shared that it wasn’t easy to put their little girl up for adoption, but that it was what they felt they needed to do because of circumstances in their life at the time. An adoption agency presented three families to them, and they said they knew the Upchurches were the right choice.
“They showed us pictures of them with their other kids. They were hugging. They were on vacation. You could see the love through the picture. It wasn’t fake love. It was real love. The other kids — you could see the look in their eyes and the smile. You could see a lot of the body language. That’s what we wanted for Dayana,” Bryant said. “We wanted her to feel loved. The other families didn’t have other kids, and we didn’t want her to have to be alone. They already had two other adopted girls. Just seeing the love they were sharing through the pictures and looking at their eyes and smiles, you could tell they were genuine.”
The Upchurches recounted when they first got to meet and hold Dayana, saying it was a wonderful moment.
“Nothing like looking at your baby for the first time,” said Jinny Upchurch.
This August, Dayana got in contact with Bryant for the very first time on Facebook messenger.
“I started reading it and instant tears came into my wife and we were just looking at each other like the day’s here,” Bryant said.
From there, Dayana began chatting and Facetiming her biological parents and their three other children — two sisters and one brother — who she was excited to get in contact with.
“I always wanted a brother growing up, so being able to know I had one and to talk to — that was even cooler,” she said. “To be able to see the similarities was cool. To be able to look at people that look like me was kind of wild. To be able to see and talk to them was a whole lot different than just knowing about them.”
Dayna shared that Bryant and Dayana talked for hours, sharing their love for Marvel and DC and catching up on the last 17 years.
Jinny and John chose an open adoption and sent pictures and videos of Dayana to the Laws as she grew up — sharing with them moments like her dance recitals, vacations and first steps.
“We always have been supportive. We knew there would be a day we would reconnect. We just didn’t know in what form that would be,” Jinny said.
When she found her biological parents on Facebook, Dayana said she was a bit scared to message them, but she was glad she did.
“I was kind of nervous. It was a really big moment, but once you get over that mental block, it’s so worth it.”
Now, months later, they were all able to meet in person and spend the holidays together. They said it felt like they were all just one big family.
“This Christmas, having both families in a room together, playing games altogether, was so awesome and cool,” Dayana said.
“Best Christmas ever,” Bryant said. “No words can express that feeling. The feeling of that first hug, the first embrace, the feeling of being complete.”
The Laws went home on a plane on Monday, Dec. 26. They said this isn’t goodbye but a ‘see you later’, and they are excited for this new chapter in their lives.
They said they look forward to visiting Dayana again soon.