The most recent guest to sit down with GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Maurice Benard (Sonny) on his weekly State of Mind YouTube series was one who is very special to the actor: his daughter, Heather. Back in 2008, the GH star and his wife, Paula, adopted Heather (who was then 15) after her and Paula’s mother unexpectedly passed away. During the candid father/daughter chat, Heather opened up about her life before she came to be part of the Benard family — and her dad tearfully recalled the “most beautiful” moment of their adoption journey.
As a young child, before she was adopted by them, Heather spent most of her school breaks visiting with the Benards and hanging out with their other children, Cailey, Cassidy, and eventually youngest child Joshua. But her own home life was much different than the stable family environment that she got to experience for short periods of time at her sister’s house. Not only was Heather “born on drugs,” she said during the interview, but her mother was a prostitute. “Well, I guess I didn’t know that until I was way older,” she admitted.
When Benard praised Heather for not going down the path of drugs and alcohol herself, she said she had Paula to thank for that. “Because I had Mom, I had a good example,” she explained, adding that she instinctively knew even as a young child to question the choices that some of her peers were making. “I remember a lot of, ‘Really, you’re doing that?’ I remember thinking, I’m a kid and I know better.”
Heather added that likely due to the “trauma” she experienced and gaps in her memory, she thankfully didn’t recall being surrounded by drugs as a young girl but did remember being left alone by her biological mother quite a bit. “For a lot of kids, that would be bad. But for me, I’m sensitive and was a sensitive kid and the alone time helped,” Heather said. “I just played by myself. I think if I was around the adults, they would pick on me [about being so sensitive]. Being alone kept me from that, and if I was around that, I would be a totally different person.”
Later in their chat, Benard teared up as he remembered a particularly poignant moment in their new family dynamic that came after the adoption papers were signed and Heather was legally his and Paula’s daughter. “Heather looked at Paula and said, ‘Can I call you Mom?’” the GH legend recalled. “You didn’t see me; I just turned my head, and I couldn’t talk. You guys hugged… It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen.”
Heather added that being adopted by her sister and brother-in-law not only gave her a support system in them becoming her parents, but it provided her with the siblings that she longed for as well. “What’s funny is that Cailey and I used to talk all the time about me being adopted. ‘One day, we’ll be sisters,’” Heather informed her dad. “So it was like, ‘Now we’re going to be sisters.’”
Before ending their conversation, Benard told Heather that “it’s beautiful” having her as his daughter. Especially since Heather has made him a grandfather! “Now Cailey has a baby and you have a baby, and it’s a beautiful thing to have grandkids. I’m so glad that you’re here.”
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