A Sudden Change
At Queensland's University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, Tommy Connolly was a typical college student.
School, a part-time job, sports, and friends made up the bulk of his 23-year-old existence. But one fateful day in 2015, his life would flip upside down as a result of a Facebook message. He had no idea that in a matter of days, he would become a grandfather as well as a parent.
A Rising Sports Star
Tommy was a decorated athlete, and not just at college level. While he was on the Track and Field team at his university, he also participated in competitions outside of school.
He was a talented runner, and dreamed of one day racing in national and perhaps even international championships. Little did he know that he’d soon have to put his athletic career on hold.
Aside from school and sports, Tommy was overall a very adventurous person. Living in Australia, it’s not hard to fall in love with nature, and Tommy certainly took advantage of all that the outdoors had to offer.
He’d often go hiking, climbing, rafting… anything that gave him that adrenaline rush. But the biggest adventure of his life was yet to begin.
As a business and economics student, Tommy’s plans were to one day start his own company - something that could allow him to continue his athletic career and go on various adventures.
Before long, though, he found himself applying his economics knowledge to something far more pressing: a family to support.
Aside from his numerous adventures all over Australia, Tommy had the chance to go on vacation to the US with his friends.
This experience made him realize how much he loved to travel - and he hoped to do some more of it before finding a job or settling down. That decision was made for him, though, when he suddenly had a baby to look after.
Love of His Life
Tommy’s girlfriend, Olivia Tauro, is also an accomplished athlete. They had been best friends for 8 years before they started dating.
Though she is neither the mother nor grandmother of Tommy’s grandson, he can’t envision a life without her. But dating a father and grandfather was not what Olivia signed up for.
Tommy had a 17-year-old cousin named Kiarna. Though they were close when they were little, they lost touch and hadn’t spoken in over 10 years.
Since Kiarna lived in Southport, Tommy didn’t know much about her life. But one day she decided to get in touch, and Tommy was shocked by what he learned.
A Tough Life
Kiarna had been living on the streets for quite a while. Her parents could not take care of her, so she turned to petty crime and drugs.
She was expelled from school in 2011 and was almost illiterate. She had a boyfriend, but he’d been recently sent to prison. “She could write the book on traumatic experiences,” said Tommy after he heard her story. In short, she had no one to turn to. But that was about to change.
Determined To Help Her
Though Kiarna didn’t ask Tommy for anything, he was determined not to leave her in that situation. He felt guilty for not knowing what she had been through since she’d been his favorite cousin as kids.
He wanted to make sure she could have a real chance in life. He then made a decision that would transform both their lives forever.
A Cry For Help
“Life dealt Kiarna a poor hand, and she’s had to play it best she could,” Connolly explained. Although Tommy was living a full life, he was determined to help his younger cousin.
He knew that he would have to put his life on hold, but he couldn’t leave her in her situation. He planned to bring her into his home, but he never predicted what the consequences would be.
A Big Responsibility
Tommy decided to legally adopt Kiarna. This meant he would be her legal guardian, with all the responsibilities such a thing entailed.
Soon his efforts were paying off: her reading and writing had improved and she was looking forward to going back to school. He even bought her a kitten. Her life was now free of “drugs, violence, and drama.” But life had one more curveball to throw Tommy.
Baby on the Way
Kiarna revealed to Tommy that she was pregnant, with a baby whose father was in jail. She had feared that being on the streets meant her child would be taken away from her.
But now that she was with Tommy, she thought she might finally have a chance to do things right. As for Tommy, he’d now become an adoptive grandfather, at only 23 years old. Would this be too big of a load?
Once baby Kaydan was born, just seven days after Kiarna’s adoption went through, all of Tommy’s worries suddenly didn’t seem so big.
He filmed the whole birth and cut the umbilical cord - he was officially a grandfather, even before having any biological children. His life was about to change drastically, and sacrifices would have to be made.
Making It Work
Tommy found a second job selling farmers’ produce, while still going to school and continuing to train.
Even so, his schedule permitted him to stay home most days to help Kiarna with the baby. But, true to his character, he doesn’t like to take the credit: “My cousin does 90 percent of the work.” But what did his girlfriend Olivia have to say about all this?
A Supportive Partner
Olivia has always known Tommy as a kind-hearted, honorable person, so she supports him fully. She also helps take care of baby Kaydan, and they still plan on making a future together.
They’ll just have to put up with a few confused faces when they explain their family situation to strangers. But people may be more understanding than they think, as was made evident when Tommy and Kiarna hit a rough patch.
Messages of Love
To help with the load, Tommy’s brother decided to set up a GoFundMe page to contribute to their expenses. Since then, they’ve not only received tons of donations but also many words of support.
“We’ve had all these messages which has made us realize there are so many other people in this situation, I don’t want people to think it’s a unique thing,” said Tommy. So how does he process this whole whirlwind experience?
On a Facebook post, Tommy reflected upon his situation. “All I wanted was to keep this boy safe and happy. I’d pick him every day of the week, 365 days of the year.”
He topped it off with a birthday message for Kaydan: “Happy birthday to the happiest boy in Queensland, the best looking boy in the family, the best anti-depressant that money couldn’t buy, and the future world champion in whatever he chooses to do. I love you kid,” he wrote. But this isn’t the only story about someone turning into an unexpected grandparent. Meet Kayla.
A Young Couple
29-year-old Kayla Jones had always wanted a big family, but she had known since she was just 17 that it was unlikely that she’d ever be a mom.
She and Cody married in 2012 and settled in Texarkana, Arkansas. They had two dogs and dreamed of having a baby to start growing their family, so they decided to try.
Facing The Facts
Kayla and Cody tried to fulfill their dreams of starting a family, but months went by without success. Something was wrong.
Kayla finally knew that it was time to face the facts and seek the help of a professional. But neither of them could ever have imagined how difficult things were about to get.
When Kayla visited her doctors and told them they wanted to start trying, she received the news she feared. The doctors confirmed what she already knew in her heart and shattered her dreams of becoming a parent.
When Kayla got the results from the tests back, she was devastated. Something that she had suffered through in her teenage years was the root of all their problems.
The Jones’ desperately wanted to have children of their own but had difficulties conceiving naturally.
Kayla was heartbroken and she felt terrible that she couldn’t give her husband the family he deserved. She eventually sucked up the courage to sit Cody down and start the difficult conversation that she had never wanted to have.
The Difficult Conversation
Up until this point, the couple had felt like their lives were going exactly as planned: they had met the person they wanted to spend their life with, got married... but now the final piece of the puzzle was painfully missing.
Sadly, at the age of 17, Kayla had undergone a procedure that would make it very difficult for her to bear children.
Make Or Break
Cody suggested that they consider adopting, but Kayla had always dreamed of having a child of her own.
Despondent and growing desperate, the unlucky couple started to look at their other options, but they hadn't given up hope yet. First, they decided to look into adoption. But after doing some research, they were faced with yet another obstacle between them and growing their family.
A Looming Shadow
The legal fees for adoption were just too high for Cody and Kayla to afford. With the idea of adopting abandoned, they were still determined not to let go of their dream.
They began thinking about IVF, but if adoption was already too expensive, would this route be unfeasible, too? And what about Kayla’s condition?
“At the age of 17, I had a partial hysterectomy. Doctors found a tumor that was believed to be cancerous taking over my uterus,” Kayla explained.
“My uterus was removed and the biopsy came back benign. My ovaries did not have to be removed so I am still able to have a child biologically mine, but I am unable to carry the child myself.” The couple began to think about their last remaining option… surrogacy.
Kayla was extremely grateful to still have viable ovaries. But after a few tries with a few different willing surrogates, nothing worked.
After a few more of the surrogate options failed, the couple was forced to look a little closer to home for someone to carry their baby. But Kayla’s mother-in-law, Patty Resecker, wouldn’t hear of it.
Cleared To Carry
Kayla’s 50-year-old mother-in-law had always joked that she would be their surrogate, but it was only after a few other failures that they decided to take her offer a little more seriously.
At first, the doctors were skeptical because of Patty’s age. It was only after a battery of tests that she was given the green light. "After much testing, my mother-in-law was cleared to carry our baby," Kayla said.
Kayla and Cody started the IVF process in October 2016 and had an embryo transferred to Patty’s womb in March 2017. Unfortunately, it didn't take.
In May 2017, after another round of IVF, Patty left a urine sample on her front porch before she left for work. Kayla picked it up so that she and Cody could test it at home. Would they finally have good news?
“I cannot describe the feeling of seeing two pink lines,” Kayla confessed. “I just knew it was going to work."
After Kayla and Cody learned that they were finally pregnant, they decided to surprise Patty at work with the good news. “We told her we had not tested yet and drove to her work. We laid that test down in front of her and the tears started flowing.”
Fast forward to Dec. 30, 2017, and Kross Allen Jones was delivered by C-section, happy and healthy.
“I am so amazed at this sweet miracle. Having him via surrogacy was not always easy, and definitely not easy for Patty, but having him here makes all the hard days worth it.” And how did Patty feel about carrying her son and daughter-in-law’s baby for nine months?
“I’ve recently had the privilege of doing one of the most rewarding things: to carry my own grandchild for my son and daughter-in-law,” Patty confessed.“
This is something that has blessed not only me and my family but also Kayla’s family. A child is a lifetime commitment and I knew there weren’t two more deserving people than them. To see them with Kross and see the parents they’re already becoming thrills my soul.”
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.