Eighteen years ago, the "Avondale Quads" were born to a couple living in a small one-bedroom apartment in Avondale, Arizona. Thanks to news articles about the impending birth of the quadruplets, donations of money and baby necessities poured in for Elizabeth Whittle and Anthony Perez. Despite the donations and the fact that she said the babies were a gift from God, "my birth mom could not handle four babies at once," Hannah Nelson, born Megan Perez, says now. At just four months old, Hannah and her three brothers were hospitalized with dozens of broken bones, skull fractures, and other injuries; eventually, Elizabeth Whittle was sent to prison for child abuse and her husband was also jailed for failing to protect his babies. Now that the four are adults and embarking on a new chapter in their lives, the Arizona Republic takes a long look at their story.
Hannah was adopted by one family; brothers Michael and Matthew were adopted by another; and brother Brandon was adopted by a third. The siblings kept in touch throughout their childhoods, always gathering to celebrate their birthday together, and the realization of the full tragedy of their early days dawned on them slowly, at different times. All four have defied the odds—even the most severely injured, Brandon, is a "miracle," says his dad, considering doctors didn't think he'd live past 10 years old. He can't talk or walk and will always need full-time care. His three siblings also had to overcome their fair share of difficulties related to their past abuse, both physical and emotional. Today, Hannah is a freshman at Grand Canyon University aiming to be a nurse in a neonatal intensive-care unit; Matthew is at a yearlong Christian discipleship program in California aiming to become a pastor; and Michael is living in an apartment in Mesa, Arizona. Their full story is worth a read. (Read more Longform stories.)