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Twenty-five years ago, a 15-year-old girl stood at a hospital nursery window and told her baby son goodbye, with hopes and dreams for his future that she would be unable to give him, and believing that their separation on this earth would be forever.
“The first time I saw you through a window, I said goodbye, and hoped you would understand, and hoped my dreams for your future would come true.”
The preceding words are an excerpt of “Through A Window,” a poetic letter written 25 years later, when she was reunited with that son through the efforts of the son and his unselfish adoptive mother, Orla Jo Merriman, of Brownstown.
Share in the heart-warming story of Adrian Corlry, and both of his loving and unselfish mothers, his birth mother, Janet Vititoe of Florida, and his adoptive mother, Orla Merriman.
Janet’s Story “Through A Window”
Janet expressed her feelings felt through the years on giving him up further in the letter to her son, of missing “tears wiped away, of kisses and hugs, and bedtime stories, of bugs caught and home runs hit, of camping and fishing, and snowball fights and swimming holes.”
Janet said, “When I was 15, I started dating a young man and quickly got in over my head. I was 15, a sophomore in high school and pregnant.”
Back then, schools weren’t so accommodating for young mothers, and the school wanted her to transfer to another school, which her mother refused to do.
Her parents supported her, but, “I couldn’t see how I would graduate from high school, and I knew that without an education, I had no means to provide for my child,” Janet said.
“My parents and I decided that adoption would be the answer. Abortion was never an option. I started to see my baby as a gift to another family. I felt that God was using me as a vessel for the miracle that this family needed.
“When I had Adrian, I never held him. I was advised that it would be better that way. I’ve always regretted that. I just gazed at that beautiful face and prayed that God would take care of him.”
Through an adoption agency, Janet was able to choose between two families. One lived in Central Illinois, already had two children, and liked camping and fishing. The other was a Chicago couple who enjoyed the arts.
“I chose the family most like my own,” Janet said. “I had so many dreams for that baby, but they were dreams I knew I could never be a part of. I wrote him a letter (at the time of adoption), letting him know I gave him up, not because I didn’t love him, but because I loved him enough to do what was best for him, and I wasn’t it…and I let him go.”
However, Adrian never received that letter, because of a house fire.
Orla’s story with Adrian also began 25 years ago.
“I was married to my first husband, and we had two beautiful children, 9-year-old Aaron Michael and 8-year-old, Alicia Michele.”
There were complications with both of their births, so, “We decided to adopt a child who needed a home if the time came when we wanted more children. That time came and we adopted a 3-week-old, brown-eyed, adorable baby. Everyone was overjoyed. He was perfect.”
“His sister, Alicia, worshipped him and pretended he was her baby. In her eyes, he could do no wrong, and would get mad at me if I scolded her baby brother,” Orla said. “His big brother, Aaron, loved teasing him and playing jokes on him. They grew close and in adulthood, have worked two or three jobs together. They now both work for the Illinois Department of Corrections and graduated from the academy on the same day.”
“We had always talked about Adrian being adopted, even when he was very young, so he wouldn’t feel shocked if he was told, perhaps accidentally, by someone,” Orla said.
“As he grew, we would explain what adoption meant, according to his ability to understand, so he grew up fully understanding.”
“In 1985, the adoption agency told us that when Adrian was 18, he would be able to get his file on his birth parents if he wanted to,” Orla said.
“When he turned 18, we told him, but he said he wasn’t ready yet. I told him to let me know if he ever changed his mind, and that happened about a month ago. I gave him the name and location of the adoption agency. He called and said, ‘Mom, I can’t find it on Internet or anywhere.’
The agency had closed years ago, and the adoption was a closed adoption.
The Search Begins
Seemingly at a dead end with no resources for Adrian to turn to, a small miracle happened,
“We weren’t even supposed to know the birth parents’ names,” Orla said. “But for some reason, the social worker had mentioned their names and the town they were from. I usually don’t remember names, and she told me just one time (25 years ago), yet I remembered that.
“I told Adrian that, and the year she would have graduated, and told him to find a yearbook at the library and it would give the correct spelling of her name.”
Adrian sent her senior picture by phone to Orla and asked, ‘Do you think it is her?’ His eyes were her eye! I said, ‘Yes. It has to be her.’”
Meanwhile, Janet Always
Remembered Her Son
Janet began dating her husband during her senior year. “We’ve been together ever since,” she said.
“After high school, I went to college, got married, had two beautiful daughters and became a teacher. My oldest daughter, Sarah, is 15 and is exactly 10 years and one week younger than Adrian. Rachel is 13.
“When the girls were old enough, I told them about their brother, and why I put him up for adoption. I told them that I’d love for them to someday meet, but I didn’t think it very likely, as this was a closed adoption,”
“I thought about your first day of school … and your last. I thought about your wedding day. The first time I saw you through a window, I said goodbye.”
She had no idea her son and his adoptive mother were trying to find her.
Number Please? Right Connection!
Having found the correct spelling of his birth mother’s name, Adrian went to the phone books and called the first person listed with the same last name. It was his birth mother’s uncle, his great-uncle Al.
Next week in Fayette Faces-Part II: Adrian, the joyous reunion and both families’ relationships (which, according to statistics, are rare); the second time “through a window”; and some strange, but true, and heart-warming sidelights.