HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Sunday is Father's Day. It means something different to everyone, but for one Horry County family, it's about celebrating a relationship that started exactly ten years ago when a dad saw his son for the first time from thousands of miles away.
Adam Ashe is a retired marine. Ten years ago, he was deployed, sitting in a small room in Iraq, watching his wife's eight-month ultrasound for their son Bryson.
"Look baby, look at his little hand," said then-mother-to-be Shannon Ashe to her husband Adam during the emotional video conference.
"I'm hoping that I've just seen a hand moving up and down kind of like this," Adam Ashe said, waving back to the ultrasound image of his son. Ten years later, Adam said, "I actually did see him wave at me through the screen!"
"It made it feel like he was still part of the process, even though he was thousands of miles away," Shannon Ashe said.
A non-profit called Womb's Window made that video conference happen.
"He didn't even get home until four days after the birth," Ashe said. "It was really special to have him see his son."
Now Adam, Shannon and Bryson are all together in the same room. As well as this story turned out, the Ashe family went through a lot to get to this point. Shannon calls Bryson her miracle baby; he was born after she had three miscarriages. She went through this pregnancy knowing Adam was in a dangerous place.
"It was a lot of worry and concern that he may not every get to meet his dad - he may not ever get to see who his dad was but through pictures," Ashe said. "And it was like, well did we take enough pictures, did we do enough, is there enough memories to build? Being in that kind of situation, you just never know what's going to come out of it. Is he going to have a dad when he's born - kind of thing. We were very blessed and fortunate and they have a great relationship now."
While the video conference was the first time he saw Bryson, Adam said holding his four-day-old son when he finally came home was a very different feeling.
"There aren't words to describe it," Adam Ashe said. "I mean, I've had homecomings before, but having your own child placed in your arms for the first time, there's nothing that can really beat that.
He continued: "To be completely honest, every day feels like Father's Day because I get to spend it with my wife, my son and just live life."
"There's a lot of best parts about my dad," Bryson Ashe said. "He's funny, he's awesome, he's cool, he's amazing to have as a dad."
Ten years can go by like the blink of an eye. In that time, a father has gotten to be with his son, see him grow up into a little boy who loves dinosaurs, and see his family turn into what it is today. This part of their life together really started the day he got to see his son wave at him on a small video screen. He'll never forget that day, sitting in Iraq, meeting his son for the very first time.
"As far as a Father's Day gift, it's probably the best one that I'll ever have, for the simple fact that more than four thousand miles away, and I'm able to see my unborn child in a TV monitor" Adam Ashe said a decade ago.