Adoption Story was featured in the Chicago Tribune

I was adopted, and I’m going to tell you my story. Just like all stories, the details are altered by the storyteller. I realize I’m wrong on some facts, but this is my version …  I can’t figure out why people don’t realize that when reading the bible.

For the sake of the story, My birth mom is Maria. My parents are Pieter and Susan Witteveen. I have a brother and sister named Jon and Kelly. And I have a brother by birth named Mark.

Back in 1974, Pieter and Susan already had two children, Jon and Kelly, before I came along, and due to health complications, the doctor advised that Susan not have more children. Susan was torn; she wanted more kids.

My parents were (are) very religious and they were active in the community and church. They fostered a little boy before they met me, and they prayed for the chance to possibly adopt a child in the future.

One day, Pieter was driving to town, and he saw a cute, young girl hitchhiking. She had big curly black hair, and she stood maybe 5 feet tall. Pieter pulled over to pick the girl up. She was visibly pregnant. They talked a little. Her name was Maria, she was 16 and she was going to a friend’s house. Pieter dropped her off where she needed to go, and gave her Susan’s phone number and explained that the next time Maria needed a ride, please call Susan and she’d take her wherever, no questions asked. “Please don’t hitchhike again, it’s dangerous,” Pieter told Maria.

Pieter and Susan did not hear from Maria for some time.

They did, however, hear of a young girl in the community who was pregnant and needed some help. It appeared her home life had become very difficult. It happened to be the same girl that Pieter picked up hitchhiking. Through a church-affiliated organization, Maria and the Witteveens hooked up and were in contact.

A couple months after I was born, the Witteveens got a phone call from Maria. She told Pieter that she was at a trailer and the people there were putting my health at risk, so she asked if they would come pick me up. As I know the story, she wanted to stay and party and leave me with the Witteveens.

During the next couple years, Maria stayed with the Witteveens, and they acted as a sort of foster guardians for me. They had a social worker on the case.

Part of the deal of being my guardians was that the Witteveens had to sign a contract that said they would not eligible to adopt me. My dad had been reading a religious book about keeping promises and being contractually obligated was a godly virtue.

So despite the fact that Maria was thinking about putting me up for adoption, the couple who were already giving me the most love and affection weren’t going to be considered as possible parents.

In the meantime, Maria was a free spirit. She would disappear from time to time. She would hitchhike to Michigan, to California, all over the place. The social worker would stop by the house, and tell my parents, “If Maria isn’t here by the end of the week, we’re going to have to take Jeremy out of your foster care.”

As my parents tell the story, “Miraculously, Maria would call to check in, and we’d wire her money or a plane ticket to come home,” just in time for me to avoid being taken and thrown into the system.

Susan says things like, “Maria and I would sit out on the front porch, crying, talking about the painful decision whether to give up Jeremy for adoption or not.”

Through the help of a little prayerful mediation with the state, the hand of god swooped down and changed everyone’s mind and let me be adopted by the Witteveens.

Open adoption wasn’t allowed back in the 70s. But Maria lived close to the Witteveens, and she explained that she would run by the house hoping to catch me playing in the yard.

My parents never hid that I was adopted from me. I knew from an early age. They explained that I was chosen, and that made me special. They told me I was Puerto Rican, but that meant that it was why I didn’t look like the rest of the Witteveens, with their light complexions and fair hair. I was always singled out in public with my family, but it was okay.

When I was 18, my parents sat me down and told me parts of the story that they had left out. They told me it was my decision as an adult, if I wanted to start communicating with Maria. I did. We started a letter correspondence.

When I was 20, I drove to Florida to meet her and her son Mark. It was amazing. When you don’t know who you got your genes from, and then you finally find out, it’s like the best Christmas present you’ve ever opened. I met Maria and my grandmother and my step grandfather during that trip. My grandmother was incredible. She made me my first Puerto Rican meal and coddled me like I was 2, and she just changed my diaper and needed a nice hug.

After I met Maria, her son Mark, my grandmother and step grandfather, I was introduced to other family. I have four (I think) uncles and one aunt by birth. Maria’s youngest brother is Anthony, and he invited me to his wedding back in 1996 or 1997. There I met Bob and Dwight (I think) and Teresa. Uncle Mark and I met on Facebook recently.

I’ve also met cousins that I never knew about. It’s a long tangled story.

My parents think it was a miracle that they got me. Not to devalue their views, but I don’t think it’s any more a miracle than Glenn Beck getting awarded a $50 Million contract from FOX news to be a complete douchebag on television. People get lucky. I got really lucky. I may not win the State Lottery, but I won a life lottery when I was adopted by the Witteveens.