Shealyn Brand wanted to find a way to say thanks for all the love her stepfather has given her for 29 years, so she surprised him with a moment the two will never forget.
Brand, 34, tearfully asked stepdad Paul Patane if he would adopt her in a heartwarming scene that was featured in a Budweiser commercial honoring stepdads for Father's Day in June.
Patane's adoption of Brand and her older brother, Curtis, became official on Thursday. The father and daughter then shared the sweet story behind their relationship on TODAY Friday.
"I was floored,'' Patane said about the moment in the commercial. "I never really thought about the adoption part. I just felt they're like my children anyway."
"Blood matters to an extent, but it's more if you're there for somebody and if you're in their life,'' Brand said. "That makes you family more than just your DNA."
Brand, whose biological father died when she was 18, got the idea for the adoption from her fiance, Nino Coniglio.
"Before you walk down the aisle, why don't you ask Paul to adopt you?" she said Coniglio told her. "And I'm like, 'What?' Because I've just always thought of him as my dad. And I didn't think I needed that title."
Brand answered an online post about adults who loved their step-parents and ended up becoming part of the Budweiser campaign celebrating them on Father's Day.
"With any step-parent, they have to make the actual choice to be there for somebody,'' she said. "They step in, come in and choose to deal with all your baloney that's happening at the time, and kind of pick up where someone else left off. It takes a more powerful person."
Patane and Brand's mother, Stefanie, first met on a blind date set up by their friend when Brand was 5 years old.
"I do remember just kind of being like, 'Who's this guy?" she said. "You know, this is my mom."
"I grew up around family with multiple kids, and so a single mother with two kids, I didn't even think about it or have any reservations about it,'' Patane said.
It started with Patane driving an hour each way to visit Stefanie every weekend.
"It takes a lot of guts to just walk into an already established family,'' Brand said. "But he took it slow, and he did the right thing. He never imposed. He knew that he was always gonna be put second because to mom, her kids are first."
"You got to take it small steps at a time,'' Patane said. "You can't let being not the number one center of attention bother you."
The two got married after 10 years together when Brand was a teenager. At the wedding, she gave a heartfelt speech thanking Patane for coming into their lives.
"After that speech, I remember he hugged me and kissed me on the cheek, and I just thought from then on this guy is my dad," Brand said. "Like, this guy actually loves me."
"To win their love, it just takes a lot of time,'' Patane said.
With the adoption now official, Brand and Patane have plenty to be thankful for during this holiday season.
"Thank you for dealing with all my wild antics, and always allowing me to be who I am,'' she tearfully told him. "Thank you for loving my mom, and loving us, too."
"Thank you for being part of my life, and making me a better person,'' Patane said as he dabbed tears. "Meeting your mom and you guys was the best thing that could've happened to me."