PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Depner family laughed together as they decorated their tree this Christmas. They have many old and new memories and sharing new traditions with daughters Marissa and Braelyn.
This family Christmas story begins in 2016 when Marissa was featured as a Wednesday’s Child. That night, Dawn and Mark Depner saw the story. There was something about Marissa that touched their hearts and they adopted her.
In 2018, we met with them to celebrate the adoption and Marissa shared her feelings about finally having a home and a family. It was a happy ending to the story.
But what no one knew then was that Marissa would soon reach out to another child who needed to find a forever home.
In the autumn of 2020 — as the pandemic really took hold — a 10-year-old named Braelyn was a Wednesday’s Child. She was shy. She had faced a lot of disappointment in her life and she wanted to find a family. She wanted to be loved.
But things didn’t seem to be working out– until an angel named Marissa stepped in.
“There was just something about her and her story,” Marissa said. “There was just, I had this feeling and this pull, like, I wasn’t going to let another little girl go through what I went through, with all the moving into these homes. It just wasn’t fair.”
Dawn and Mark had already adopted Marissa. But what about another child?
This year Braelyn became the newest member of the Depner family. Mark and Dawn remembered the moment Marissa told them she wanted them to adopt Braelyn.
She was asked to write a letter of encouragement. She had gone through some of the same feelings while in foster care. But Marissa never wrote the letter. When she saw Braelyn as a Wednesday Child, she told Mark and Dawn, “We’re adopting her.”
“Marissa was really, really wanting us to adopt Braelyn because she really wanted a little sister. I was really scared because she is 10 and I am 50, so I was, like, wow, this is going to be hard,” Dawn said. “So I just agreed to keep praying about it and if it was meant to be, that God would open the doors and every door was open for Braelyn to come into our house and our home and our hearts.”
Mark said he instantly knew Braelyn would be part of their family. “This is what we are doing and we got our stuff done and, boom, there she was.”
The Depners older children — Nick, Janell, Joe and Mary — were thrilled to have another sister join the family. But perhaps no one was happier than Tatertot, the family dog who adopted the girls as his own after joining the family as a little puppy.
Braelyn is still shy when the camera is on. But watch her eyes and smile. She sits with her new family, looks up to her older sister, laughs at her stories and jokes — and Marissa is a great storyteller.
As it was getting time for us to go, the girls had a Christmas present for us — a photo that is one of the most treasured gifts I’ve ever received.