The Sault’s Keri McNaught has been adopted.
By her adoring stepchildren, that is.
The adoption papers, which came as a complete surprise to Keri, and which she was delighted to accept, were presented to her as a gift from Travis and Ava McNaught at Keri’s 45th birthday party held Dec. 16.
A home video capturing the heartwarming event has made it to Inside Edition, a syndicated U.S. newsmagazine show.
The video is also scheduled to run on Right This Minute, another U.S. show.
Keri, her husband Rob and family have been approached for interviews from numerous other media sources.
“It’s so surreal,” Keri giggled while speaking to SooToday, referring to the attention and publicity the story has attracted.
“I had no idea. I kind of knew Rob was going to throw a party for me but I didn’t know when, and I had no idea about the adoption.”
Keri, a Sault Ste. Marie airport employee, recalls arriving home from work and being greeted by family members eager for her to open her birthday gifts.
“I started opening presents and then Travis handed me a gift and he said ‘I hope it fits.’”
Thinking the gift was probably a sweater or other item of clothing, Keri opened the box and found the adoption papers.
“I saw the adoption caption at the top of the papers and I just started bawling, because these kids are everything to me,” Keri said, her voice quivering with emotion.
Before he met Keri, Rob McNaught, 49, an Essar Steel Algoma employee, raised his son Travis as a single parent since the boy was nine months old.
Travis is now 16.
Rob’s daughter Ava, a younger child from another relationship, is now nine years old.
Ava’s mother passed away last year.
“Keri’s pretty much been the mother to these kids since she and I have been together,” Rob said.
The couple has been together for seven years, and married two years ago.
Rob and Keri have two other children of their own, son Tanner and daughter Megan.
“The atmosphere was very quiet when she was opening the gift up, and my family and her family are very close…my Mom and my sister, they were already crying before it was open because they knew how it was going to turn out,” Rob said.
“Keri was surprised beyond belief.”
“The party and adoption papers were a surprise and when I mentioned it to the kids (Travis and Ava), they were more than excited to present her with the papers.”
“I asked the kids about it (the adoption) a few weeks before hand, and they agreed, they said ‘oh, yeah!’”
Rob planned the surprise party with his family and Keri’s family.
“She had no clue about it…and it was quite the tear jerker for sure.”
Rob filed for and obtained the adoption paperwork from court weeks before the party.
Three videos of the extra special occasion were recorded by family members, Rob submitting his to YouTube.
A show business agent spotted the video, contacted Rob, signed a contract with him, and from there it made its way to Inside Edition.
The video going viral has surprised and delighted the McNaught clan.
“The thing that makes this unique is it’s usually the guy (a stepfather) gets adoption papers, not the lady (a stepmother) getting adopted by kids, because usually it’s the guy that’s gone,” Rob said.
“I think that’s why this has attracted so much attention.”
“Pretty much everybody knew (about the surprise party and adoption papers) except for Keri, and it was very hard not to let it out by mistake, but it worked, it was a surprise,” Rob said.
Rob joked that one of Keri’s feelings may include disbelief over the amount of planning he put into the adoption arrangements and surprise party.
“Really, guys aren’t that quick and smart, right? I managed to pull it all off and I was actually kind of proud of myself,” Rob laughed.
“For them (Travis and Ava) to want me to be their Mom, it meant the world to me,” Keri said.
“It was amazing.”
The celebration, which took place only days before Christmas, made this past year’s holiday one to remember.
Keri said the story shows one of the greatest birthday and Christmas gifts one can have is a loving family.
“I feel honoured and humbled.”
And loved very much.
To view the video, click here.