RALEIGH, NC – In September 2016, Samantha Snipes missed a flight that would inevitably end up changing her life.
The 24-year-old, who was eight months pregnant, booked a Delta flight from Atlanta to Raleigh after deciding to leave the unhealthy relationship she had with her baby’s father.
She got the last seat on standby and sat down next to Temple Phipps, who lives in Clayton.
"I’m still in disbelief when I tell the story, or when I think about it," Phipps said.
Snipes told her she planned to give her baby to a family member or possibly put it up for adoption because she didn’t have a plan.
"Through the course of discussion, she shared that she was concerned about she was going to do," Phipps said of Snipes.
Phipps, who is in her 40s, had never had children but had always dreamed of being a mom. She offered her cell phone number to the mom-to-be in case she needed anything while she was in Raleigh.
Three days later and three weeks early, Snipes delivered a healthy baby boy.
"I ended up calling (Phipps) nervous and scared," Snipes said.
"She said, ‘It’s Samantha from the plane,’" Phipps said. "I said, ‘Is everything OK?’ and she said, ‘I’m still in Raleigh. I had the baby. Do you want to come see us?’"
Phipps said she called her mom and told her the story, but once she saw the baby, she knew she would become his mother.
"I think you should be his mother," Snipes said.
Phipps said she started shaking uncontrollably.
"I had been married, but have been single for quite a while now and always wanted children…but my parents are divorced, and I was very cautious about how I wanted to have a family and with whom," she said. "For a variety of reasons, it just never happened for me."
But then things fell into place. A week later, Phipps was a mom.
Snipes said the decision was tough, but she knew it was the right thing to do.
"He looks so happy. She looks so happy. What do I want to do?" she said. "It’s really scary, but it’s the best thing I could have done in my life."
Phipps officially adopted Vaughn Preston Phipps in August 2017, and Snipes moved to North Carolina to be a part of the family.
"We’re chosen family for sure," she said.
"People thought, she’s coming to his birthday parties, and we have pictures of all of us together at the birthday party, and that’s the way it will be," Phipps said.
Phipps and Snipes are considering writing a book on the missed connection that changed their life. Snipes has started a photography business part of her new life in Raleigh, and practices taking photos of 18 month old Vaughn and his mom.