For the past 10 years, Hailey Quinones has felt in her heart that Juan Gamez was the father she'd always wanted. But now she wants to make it official.
Twelve-year-old Hailey stood before some 150 people at her school’s talent show and sang a song she wrote just for Gamez.
"I would be so pleased if you would adopt me," she crooned while fighting back tears.
Gamez was left stunned, covering his mouth with his hand.
And his answer was most definitely yes.
“He was in shock,” Alishea Conroy said of her husband. “He’d have never thought that she would do that.”
Her daughter, Conroy said, is very shy and very reluctant to show any emotion when it comes to feeling sad or sentimental.
But in this important case, she was able to muster the bravery to bare her heart.
“I love you Juany and there’s no more I can say, I smile every time I see your face,” she sang to her stepfather.
She had to stop and restart several times because she was crying.
"She didn’t know if she was going to be able to get it out,” her mother said.
But she did just fine.
In her left hand, she clutched the legal forms necessary to start the lengthy adoption process. She carried them from the stage and walked straight into her stepdad's arms after finishing the song.
That was another unusual display of emotion, her mom said.
“She is one of a kind," her mother explained. "She’s always funny, goofy and making jokes. If she’s sad, she covers it up."
As part of the adoption process, Hailey will need consent from her biological father, who isn’t a part of her life, Conroy said.
The last time she heard from him was two years ago, her mother said.
“There’s not an inch in my body that thinks he will oppose it,” Conroy said.