There was not a day that went by that Terra State Community College student Deborah (Deb) Wyss didn’t think about her son she gave up for adoption. Thankfully, after taking the Adoption Series class offered through Terra State’s Lifelong Learning program, she was able to be reunited with him.
When Deb found out about her unplanned pregnancy while living in Virginia, she didn’t know what she was going to do. She wasn’t married, she wasn’t making much money and her parents didn’t support her.
In her second trimester, she became very sick and was hospitalized. The hospital found out about Deb’s situation and sent nuns and social workers to her hospital room to talk to her. It was there that the option of putting her child up for adoption came up.
After a lot of thinking, attempting to look for financial help, talking to social workers and weighing out all of her options, Deb decided she didn’t have the finances or the means to give her baby the life she wanted for him. So, she began the adoption process.
When the moment came for the 21-year-old new mother to give up her baby, she had a hard time letting go. “I did not allow the nurses to take him from my room,” Deb said. “I decided that, if this was the only time I was going to get to be his mother, I’m taking all the time I can get.”
Deb will never forget that day. “When they came in and took him from my room, it was the most emotional day in my entire life. I cried my soul out that day,” she lamented.
Ever since that day, Deb was interested in eventually reuniting with her son. “He’s always been in the back of my mind,” she said. “I had so many questions. How is he doing? What does he look like? Has he had a great life? Does he even want to meet me?”
However, because it was a closed adoption, she had no access to any of his information and faced many challenges. She tried writing letters to him and they were included in his file, but the adoption agency could never include any identifying information.
Deb told Holly Hoffman, Terra State’s coordinator of community education, about her son and how much she wanted to talk to him. So, Holly informed Deb about Lisa Hasselbach’s Lifelong Learning Adoption Series classes. Deb thought these classes may help her find her son, so, in summer 2019, she enrolled.
Lisa commiserated with Deb. “I was adopted and I’ve always had a love and fascination by the adoption process,” she said.
Deb followed all the steps she learned in Lisa’s class and submitted her information as a birth mother looking for her adoptee to the state of Virginia adoption registry.
In September, Deb received an email from the administration saying there was a possible match and got the confirmation to send Deb’s information to the adoptee. Later, Deb looked at the adoption registry and found a name and an address for her son—Joe Noyes.
While Deb was working, her daughter, Rachel, looked on Facebook and found Joe. They messaged each other on Facebook and came to the conclusion they were family. “There was no question in my mind that he was my son. He looks just like me,” Deb gushed.
Joe, Deb and Rachel decided to meet at The Westin Cleveland Downtown hotel. When they arrived and finally saw each other, “we had a long embrace and we were both bawling,” Deb exclaimed.
While they were chatting, Deb found out her son went into foster care for the required amount of time before he was adopted into a loving family. “I am so grateful he was able to have a life I couldn’t give him,” she quivered as tears streamed down her face.
They talked and talked and, when Joe needed to leave, they agreed to stay in contact and reunite again in the future. “I’m so grateful,” Deb sobbed. “I know sometimes when parents look for their children they give up for adoption there’s rejection. That was a fear of mine. Joe is so open to having a continuous relationship and it’s amazing.”
Without the Adoption Series class, Deb doesn’t think she would have found Joe. “That’s why I’m so grateful for Holly and Lisa. Sure, you can look around on the internet, but when you can spend time with someone who’s actually gone through the same process, that being Lisa, it helps so much,” she said.
Lisa is thrilled her class was able to help Deb. “I’m still on cloud nine,” she giggled. “I have such a desire and love to help people find their birth families.”
Deb is studying Executive Office Administration at Terra State and is expected to graduate in May 2020. She hopes this degree will help her get a full-time job. She plans to visit her son again in the future.
If anyone is going through something similar, Deb wants them to know “things happen in life and we make mistakes, but they don’t have to be life-ending. We can grow from them. It’s extremely beneficial to just find out what information is out there and what you can do. I know not everybody is ready to do that, but it’s beneficial to have the information at your disposal so that when you are ready, you have it.”
For anyone interested in taking the Adoption Series classes, there will be more available starting in March. More details can be found in the Spring 2020 Lifelong Learning catalog available at terra.edu/lifelonglearning.