An Iowa family made headlines by adopting a set of triplets.
But these triplets aren’t typical—though triplets can rarely be called “typical,” in any case—and they faced some incredible difficulties early in life.
Today, they’re doing extremely well. Now 10 years old, Macey, Madeline, and Mackenzie often have big smiles on their faces. They love spending time with their large family, and they’re hard workers at
But at birth, their prospects weren’t so optimistic. First, the most obvious issue: Macey and Mackenzie were born conjoined. At birth, they weighed a mere 2.2 pounds each, and their intestines were entwined, which made separation highly dangerous. In 2003, surgeons successfully separated the girls, and they could begin living their own lives.
All three girls faced another challenge: Their biological parents, sadly, couldn’t care for them. They were put up for adoption, even as newspapers and tabloids marveled about Macey and MacKenzie’s unique biology.
Fortunately, they found a loving family right away.
Darla and Jeff Garrison already had three biological children, and they’d welcomed a number of foster children into their home. As their kids—all boys—began to leave the home, they decided to adopt.
And when they heard about Macey, Madeline, and Mackenzie, they quickly stepped up to help.
To be clear, this wasn’t an easy process. Macey and Mackenzie had to work hard to overcome learning disabilities, and all three girls needed a strong support system in order to thrive. That’s exactly what Darla and Jeff provided.
Now, the triplets are doing well in school. Macey and Mackenzie are on par with their other schoolmates, and they help out with chores despite their physical handicaps.
Mackenzie and Macey each have prosthetic legs; as they’ve grown, they’ve had to swap out prostheses regularly, which has made balancing difficult.
“You have to train and train,” Darla told People, “and that’s what we’re doing with them at school.”
They regularly use crutches, and they have other medical challenges. Still, they’re able to participate in many age-appropriate activities—although, like any 10-year-olds, they’re growing quickly.
“I see them actually maturing,” Darla told People. Now that I’m in school, I’m not as available, and they’ve really stepped up. They’re pretty proud of that. They do a lot for 10-year-olds, really.”
These days, the girls are obsessed with the music of One Direction and Hunter Hayes. In many ways, they’re completely typical 10-year-olds, despite the fact that they’ve overcome quite a bit to get where they are.
As Darla and Jeff note, their entire family has pitched in with raising the girls. They’ve benefited from help from their biological children, 20-year-old Tyler, 17-year-old Matt, and 16-year-old Luke.
But ultimately, it’s the spirit of these three girls that has led them to a happy life.
“When they encounter something they can’t do,” Darla said, “They don’t dwell on it too long.”
“The girls have succeeded through hard work and the commitment by their family,” said James Stein, the pediatric surgeon who performed their separation, in a statement to People. “Their progression is wonderful and inspiring.”