When Samantha boarded the flight from Arkansas to North Carolina and took her seat next to a friendly woman, she could never have predicted the outcome of this hour-long-flight friendship.
A Complicated Pregnancy
In 2016, Samantha Snipes was in a bad way. After finding the courage to leave her then-abusive boyfriend, she discovered she was pregnant with his child. This was not what she had planned for her life.
As soon as she discovered the news of her pregnancy, she began to worry about what would be for her and the baby's future. She knew she wasn't in the right head space to try and raise a child, as she could barely look after herself at this point. She had no idea what life events were to come her way...
Knowing her daughter was struggling with the pregnancy and the life decisions she had in front of her, Samantha's mom suggested she come and stay with her in Arkansas for the first few months of her pregnancy. She was mentally drained from the difficult decision she had to make.
With the scars still prominent from her complicated relationship with her ex-husband, Samantha worried that the child would be a constant reminder of that difficult period of her life. Noticing her daughter's pain, Samantha's mom suggested she take care of the child after it was born.
As generous as this offer was, Samantha did not think having her child in the care of her grandmother was the best idea. That said, she had no other promising options and she was losing hope. She did not know what she was going to do when the baby arrived.
Countless sleepless nights, Samantha lay awake going back and forth about her plans. She understood that within a few months she would be a mom and time was not on her hands. Little did she know a solution to all her problems was around the corner, in the form of an unexpected meeting.
An Unexpected Meeting
Fast forward a few months and Samantha would find herself on a flight to North Carolina sitting next to a woman named Temple. Incredible consequences and unforeseen challenges would lead them both to board this flight they had not planned on being on.
Instantly hitting it off, they would come to connect in an unexpected way, sharing their lives with each other. Whether luck or fate, there's no doubt this story had the most unpredictable outcome. So, how did Samantha end up aboard this particular flight?
Telling Her Story
Understanding her life story was worth telling and could serve as an inspiration to many, Samantha retold her remarkable tale on the website, Love What Matters. Taking it back to the very beginning, Samantha recalled the beginning stages of this whirlwind life period.
She discussed the emotional challenges she went through over the course of the journey, honestly sharing her perspective from the start. “Let us roll back time to 2016 when I was 24 years old. I found myself pregnant by a man who I had already been planning to leave...” she wrote to the readers.
One Last Shot
Before finding out about the pregnancy, Samantha had been struggling in her relationship, unhappy with the way she was being treated. While she had planned on leaving him as a result, this unexpected pregnancy changed things. She was excited about her potential future family.
So, as many women do, she decided to give her boyfriend one last chance and attempt to make the relationship work for the sake of their prospective family. She decided to give the baby's father an ultimatum, demanding he change his ways so they could stay together.
Unfortunately, the ultimatum did not work as planned, and Samantha's boyfriend continued with his negative ways. In fact, Samantha reckoned that his behavior had become even more troublesome and she knew for sure it was not going to work out in the long run.
With that, she made a decision to leave him and venture out on her own. She knew it wouldn't be easy to be single after all this time, but she was determined to make a better life for herself and her unborn child. Finally, she left and went to live with her mother in Arkansas.
As happy as Samantha was to be away from her aggressive ex-boyfriend, her mental health was not in a good place. She blamed herself for the way she had been treated by him and was disappointed in herself for letting herself get into this position. She began to turn against herself.
“I was now living with my mother and her girlfriend in Arkansas. I felt completely disconnected and lost,” she explained. “I didn’t feel worthy of bringing a child into this world or trying to care for him or her when I was still trying to learn how to love myself again.”
Acknowledging her weak mental state, Samantha was fully aware she was in no place to look after a child. "I knew I loved this life inside of me, but I didn’t love myself or the place I was in at that time. I loved [my son] so much and that’s why I knew he deserved better," she told PEOPLE. But what could she do?
Her mom had offered to take the baby in after it was born, but she did not believe her mother had her life together in a way to adequately look after a child. The upside of this plan was that she would be able to come to see the child when she wanted, but still, her gut knew it wasn't the right fit.
As the weeks passed, Samantha was understandably incredibly depressed. This wasn't where she thought she would be at this point in her life and she was incredibly upset about her limited options. Every avenue she went down, she was met by another dead end.
Samantha felt that whatever she ended up doing wouldn't be the right decision and the feeling of entrapment led her down a spiral of negative thoughts. Unbelievably, what she would do to escape these feelings of dread would come to save her from the situation...
League Of Legends
After detailing her negative state of mind, Samantha then began to discuss the moment everything started to change for the better. While it had not been an intentional attempt to get her life back on track, without her knowing it would do just that.
"It all began when I started talking to a guy via the internet, over a game called League of Legends. I had been playing video games since I was 15 years old. It was my escape, my escape from a life I felt I didn’t belong [in] and definitely didn’t like," she revealed.
Samantha enjoyed playing the game and distracting herself from her problems. But more than that, she found a friendly online community. “Playing online, I was exposed to various types of people. I felt accepted, my home away from home,” Samantha continued to explain.
“The ‘light’ at the end of the tunnel wasn’t apparent to me, but unknowingly, I set in motion a chain of events that would eventually secure the future of my child, and still allow me to see him grow up," she teased to her readers on the Love What Matters website.
An Online Connection
Samantha made full use of the League of Legends interaction feature, chatting for hours with the various players online playing the game at the same time as her. Within weeks, she had formed a strong connection with one user in a particular, a man from North Carolina.
Despite their one-hour flight distance, the pair continued to chat daily, sharing their lives with each other. Before either of them knew it, many months had passed and they were still in constant contact. She was cautious to let herself get excited as she was very aware of her impending due date.
Establishing A Relationship
Through their lengthy discussions, Samantha had grown serious feelings for the mystery online man. Of course, there was a limit to what she could know about him from a distance, but she had a good feeling. Recalling her story, she explained what it was that clued her in.
“There was something about this guy because even though I was eight months pregnant, he wanted to meet me,” she rationalized. “He wanted to see if there was any fiber to our friendship that we could build a relationship on.” Would they be able to make it happen?
Taking A Leap
Samantha was not naive. As desperate as she was to meet her online companion, she was well aware of the potential complications. He persistently begged her to make the trip but she was hesitant to take the risk. If it was just her life at stake, she would be more inclined, but she had the unborn baby to think of.
Now eight months pregnant, it wasn't as easy as just jumping on a plane and flying one and a half hours to North Carolina. Traveling at this stage could be dangerous and there was a range of things she would need to organize in advance. After much hesitation, she decided to take a leap of faith and go.
Although Samantha had mentally and physically prepared for things to go wrong along the way, she had no idea just how bad it would all go. From the minute she landed at the airport, nothing went to plan. Heavily pregnant, she struggled to navigate her way through the terminal.
As a result of her difficulties, she missed her flight and was left stranded in the airport with no clue what to do. After all the tough times she had been through up until this point, she was devasted to see her bad luck continuing. Soon, however, she would come to realize it was the best thing to ever happen to her.
Making Some Calls
“This is where the light starts to radiate,” Samantha teased on the site. After sobbing about her misfortunes, Samantha picked herself back up and called her 'boyfriend' for help. Desperate to see her, he immediately made a few calls to see what he could arrange for her.
Within minutes, he called Samantha back to inform her she had the next available spot on standby. "After a little time passing, a seat opened up for me. An employee came with a wheelchair to get me to the boarding gate. Now, I was on my way,” she recalled.
An Instant Bond
As she made her way to her seat, Samantha anxiously looked ahead at who was sitting next to her. As soon as she reached her row, she breathed a sigh of relief. The woman seemed to be positive and friendly, and she looked forward to talking to her for the duration of the flight.
Before the captain had even turned off the seatbelt sign, the woman had already established a friendship. Chatting immediately after taking their seats, they began to get to know each other. As Temple Phipps introduced herself, Samantha felt all her pre-flight jitters melt away.
With the small talk over with, the women began to dig deeper into their lives, sharing things with each other they had not told anyone before. “We only had an hour together but I felt as if we had been friends for years,” Samantha reflected on their connection.
Soon they were addressing the elephant in the room as they began to discuss Samantha's apparent pregnancy. “Throughout the conversation, she learned I was looking to find a suitable parent for my child and that it would probably end up being my mother, even though I had some reservations against it.”
Learning About Temple
But it wasn't just Samantha that did all the talking. She learned a lot about Temple's life too. Temple told her seatmate that she had always wanted children, but as hard as she had tried it had unfortunately never worked out in her favor. The pair continued to chat even after the plane had landed.
Once they made their way into the North Carolina Airport terminal, Temple excitedly helped Samantha to do her makeup. She had filled her in about her online boyfriend and Temple was happy and hopeful for her new friend. Like so many best friends, she hyped her up for the big first date.
Samantha had nothing but wonderful things to say about Temple. Describing her as "bubbly and sweet," she said that Temple waited with her to make sure she was safe and knew where to go from the airport. "She was exactly the person I needed to meet at that moment when I was terrified and scared and alone," she told PEOPLE.
"She knew I didn’t know anyone else in the area and before we parted ways, she gave me her number." Samantha wrote. "She told me to call should I ever find myself in trouble, in need of anything, or if I wanted to talk more about adoption." Neither of them could have known then what this kind gesture would lead to.
The surprisingly enjoyable flight behind her, it was now finally time to do what she had come to North Carolina to do. At long last, the moment had arrived for her to meet her online man. Instantly, the couple realized their connection went beyond the web, and they thoroughly enjoyed spending time together.
Finally, it seemed Samantha's luck was turning around! She now had a new friend and boyfriend and she felt her life had never been better. However, just as she started to relax and enjoy herself, her body had other plans and she unexpectedly went into labor.
Samantha began to stress. This had not been her birth plan at all. Not only was she giving birth a month earlier than scheduled, but she was also giving birth in North Carolina, away from her home and her family. By the time she arrived at the hospital, she was in a state of panic.
After being admitted, she was put in the care of a helpful midwife who was able to calm her down and talk her through the process. “You can push easily for hours or you can push with all you have and get it over with," she told her. Samantha listened to her advice and quickly gave birth to a baby boy named Vaughn.
Through all the pains and stress of the birthing process, Samantha's mind had completely forgotten about her impending dilemma - what to do with the baby once it was born. As she looked into Vaughn's eyes, she felt a connection to her child, but her gut was still telling her she wasn't meant to be his mom.
Her boyfriend had been called to work and she lay in the hospital room with just the baby. Feeling lonely, she called her mother in an attempt to receive some comforting words of support. To her disappointment, her mother continued to insist she take the baby in, and Samantha remained confused.
A Promising Idea
Just when she felt herself spiraling into negative thoughts yet again, Samantha had a promising thought. She wasn't sure why exactly but Temple, the kind woman from the plane, had come to her mind. She had given her number and told her to call, so Samantha planned to do just that.
At the time of the call, Samantha wasn't exactly sure what she would ask of Temple but she decided to invite her to the hospital and see what happened. “I called Temple and asked if she could come see me. I told her I had the baby and needed someone to talk to. She agreed to come see me and keep me company," she told PEOPLE.
Just as Samantha expected, Temple began to offer the new mother her assistance. Accepting her generous offer, she asked her new friend if she would be willing to feed the baby while she took a short rest. Temple happily agreed and Samantha watched closely as she held the newborn baby in her arms.
As Temple trembled a little and nervously moved the baby around to feed him, Samantha worried she and the baby would not be able to connect. Soon, however, it was clear this was just beginner's nerves as she quickly grew more comfortable and confident with the baby. Samantha watched emotionally as they developed a bond.
The Big Question
As crazy as it sounded, Samantha recognized this as her sign and was confident in what she was to do next. Yes, Temple was nothing but a stranger just days before, but her chemistry with the baby was undeniable. She decided to ask Temple if she was willing to adopt the baby and raise him as her own child.
As the silence ran between them, she began to worry she has misread the situation. “I was in absolute shock and started crying and shaking,” Temple recalled to PEOPLE. “I was holding Vaughn at that time and could not believe the miracle that was taking place.” Temple agreed and they began to arrange the official paperwork.
Happy Endings For All
Neither of the women could have ever imagined this would be the outcome of boarding that flight from Arkansas to North Carolina. “Neither of us should have been on that plane!" Samantha exclaimed. As a result of her kindness and generosity to a stranger, Temple had it returned to her in the form of a baby.
On the flip side, Samantha had also come out of this arrangement better off. She slept well at night knowing her birth child was in Temple's caring hands and she was no longer faced with difficult life decisions. As a bonus, her relationship with her boyfriend continued to flourish.
This heartwarming story did not end with the signing of the adoption papers. The women remain close friends to this day after Samantha moved to North Carolina to be close to both Temple and Vaughn. “She was meant to meet me, she was meant to be his mother. It’s the most beautiful thing," Samantha rejoiced to PEOPLE.
As the years have passed, both Temple and Samantha have had some time to reflect on the journey and have decided to write a book together to share it with the world. As they both look back on the darker days of limited hope, they remain grateful for this chance encounter.
All Fell Into Place
“We not only are bonded by Vaughn but have a true friendship as well,” Temple told PEOPLE magazine. “Life as Vaughn’s mother is amazing. He was absolutely meant to be my son and he fills my heart and house with so much love and joy. I am grateful every day and never take this gift for granted."
She also took the time to recognize Samantha's persistence to ensure the best life for her son. "I am confident that when Vaughn learns of his journey to me he will understand the selfless and courageous choice that Samantha made to ensure he has a beautiful life.”