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They say you can't choose your family but don't tell that to Samantha Snipes and Temple Phipps.
A chance encounter brought the two strangers together on a flight to North Carolina that would forever change their fate.
Last year, Snipes, then eight months pregnant, was heading to Raleigh to see her new boyfriend when she missed her connection in Atlanta. She ended up on another flight sitting next to Phipps, who was originally scheduled to take a later flight.
The two women started talking.
“She realized that I didn't have a plan for what I was going to do with the baby,” Snipes said. “And it was kind of a realization for me as well. I had no idea what I was going to do.”
Snipes tearfully explained her backstory and her concerns about becoming a mother, something Phipps had always wanted to be.
“So I thought here's my chance,” she said.
Phipps laid out her case to Snipes.
“’I have this amazing community and amazing group of friends that would support me in this if you think that I would be worthy of caring for your child,’’” she told her. “’I would love the opportunity to adopt him. Please think about it.’”
Phipps gave Snipes her phone number before they went their separate ways.
Three days later, Snipes went into labor and delivered a baby boy.
“I cried, I loved him, I held him, I fed him,” she said.
And then she picked up the phone and called Phipps.
“I said, ‘I'll be there in 20 minutes,’” she recalled.
Phipps immediately bonded with the newborn. The connection was exactly what Snipes needed to see. She asked Phipps to adopt her child.
“Watching them together. That’s it — I just saw everything that I was never going to be able to give him myself,” she said.
Phipps named the baby Vaughn.
“He's just a blessing. He's just beautiful,” she said. “I can't believe that I almost missed this."
A year after their chance encounter, Phipps and Snipes remain close. Snipes eventually moved to North Carolina, where she started her own photography business.
“I'm finally figuring out who I am. That’s the fun part,” she said.
And Phipps is raising her son, now 18-months old, "to only see love and light and positivity every single day of his life,” she said.
“And if that means it's just the two of us and our chosen family, then that's the way it's going to be.”