Parents of separated twins focus on gratitude this Thanksgiving – fox8.com
NEW YORK — The package was delivered to the 10th-floor hospital room and addressed to Jadon and Anias McDonald, the twins born conjoined at the head whose separation surgery has inspired millions around the world.
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The return address was the Otisville Correctional Facility in upstate New York. Inside were hand-drawn pictures, homemade poems and an assortment of get-well notes and prayers for the boys.
“It’s the best gift I’ve ever gotten,” says the twins’ mom, Nicole McDonald.
Nicole and her husband, Christian, wish the rest of the country could experience what they’ve seen and felt over the past month.
Generosity and gratitude. They’re what Thanksgiving Day is all about, but they sometimes seem in short supply after an election that frayed nerves and divided families. And each news cycle brings another array of headlines that test people’s resolve.
Nicole and Christian have seen a much different America, one filled with kind, loving and selfless people. From hugs and stuffed animals to donations and messages of support, the parents have been left in awe. Donations to their GoFundMe page to cover the boys’ medical expenses have skyrocketed from about $50,000 before the surgery to nearly $300,000.
The parents don’t quite understand the outpouring. They wonder: Why us? Why our boys?
But a nice note from a single stranger can turn an excruciating day — one filled with tears — into a more optimistic one. The messages come almost daily via Facebook or in the mail. Most carry similar themes: I think about your boys and pray for them every day.
“When you’re just about running out of gas, it’s the constant fuel that not only feels good because people care so much, it rejuvenates me in a way that I can’t explain,” Nicole says.
Christian says he appreciates people’s prayers more than anything. “I know God hears prayers,” he says. “I think our prayers did influence God to help out.”
And that is their message this Thanksgiving: Use the positivity shown to their boys and roll that energy into doing something good for others. In their case, the parents have asked that donations be made to a friend whose child is in need of a kidney transplant.
So much has been given to their family, they want to pay it forward.
“Instead of seeing the ugly hearts of people, I get to see the best hearts of people all the time,” Nicole says. “And it shows me continually that most people are good. We get this perception that most people aren’t, but what I’m seeing is so amazing to me.”
In no way has their journey been easy. Nicole, 31, and Christian, 37, moved with the twins and their 3-year-old son, Aza, from their Illinois town of 5,000 to the Bronx to be near the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center.
They quit their jobs and gave all their attention to their children. Seemingly every second of every day has been spent thinking about the twins, first before the surgery and then after.
“When we do something, we’re going to do it fully and with our whole heart and to the best of our ability,” Nicole says. “And if that means sacrificing self for as long as we need to give our children the chance they need to thrive in life, then it’s the best thing I’ve ever given up myself for.”
Adds Christian, “We’ve really served our boys a lot and basically put our lives on hold for our boys and put them first.”