As Dontez Williams, 33, was preparing to marry his fiancée, Myshella Burton, 26, last August he knew he was committing to more than just one woman. He was also committing to be a permanent presence in the lives of her two daughters, Abigail, 9, and Natalie, 8.
In the days before the wedding, he wondered how he could use the occasion to solidify the bonds with his two stepdaughters-to-be. He began wondering what he'd say if he wrote vows to them as well as his fiancée and became so overwhelmed by emotion that he knew he had to do it at the wedding.
"When I felt that emotion just thinking about it, I was like, 'I got to do this. This is the right decision. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it,'" he said according to Yahoo.
His soul-searching also led him to realize that he was "the only father-figure they had ever really had," so he should adopt the girls as well.
By adopting the two girls, Williams chose to become their parent in every way possible. A stepparent only has rights as long as they are married to the child's biological parent, but by adopting, Williams had full parental rights for their entire lives. The children can inherit from him and in the event of a divorce, he could seek full custody.
"Although they are not biologically mine, blood could not make us any closer. I wanted to make it official in becoming their dad as I wrote vows not only to my wife but to my daughters as well asking them if I could adopt them," Williams wrote on Instagram.
After exchanging vows with Burton at the altar, he moved his attention to Abigail and Natalie. An emotional video of the proposal went viral on Instagram.
"I never knew you really do become a man when you have children," Williams said. "Having someone to teach, protect, provide for them, discipline them, learn from them and support them. For all of these reasons, you've helped me become a better person."
"I know that I'm a father figure to you both," Williams said before dropping down on one knee. "But I'm going to make it official and ask can I adopt you?" he said with his voice choked up with tears. The auditorium erupted into big applause and the two girls dropped down and gave Williams huge hugs.
Williams' new wife was taken by the beautiful gesture.
"Myshella was really shocked, but she was happy and just thankful for me stepping up," Williams told Fox News. "She was really happy that I feel that way for them and said she's grateful to have me in their lives."
Williams' beautiful act shows what true commitment looks like. He didn't just marry a woman and vow to take care of her "til death do us part," he made the same pledge to their children by becoming more than just a stepdad, but their father for life.
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