New group aims to pro­vide sup­port for adult adoptees

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By SARA NEW­MAN snew­man@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @in­dy_­com­mu­nity

Keith Scia­r­illo, 37, had sus­pi­cions that he was a lit­tle dif­fer­ent from the rest of his fam­ily while grow­ing up in New York City. He had a dif­fer­ent look, to be­gin with, and re­mem­bers hear­ing some­thing in pass­ing about adop­tion when he was younger — but fur­ther con­ver­sa­tions about the sub­ject ul­ti­mately led nowhere.

Through his own ini­tia­tive and re­search that be­gan four years ago, the Wal­dorf res­i­dent dis­cov­ered his par­ents be­gan fos­ter­ing him a month af­ter he was born in 1979. He was of­fi­cially adopted March 24, 1983.

“I’m not com­ing from a venge­ful or an­gry place,” Scia­r­illo said of his dis­cov­ery that hap­pened well into adult­hood. Once he be­gan his quest of piec­ing to­gether the be­gin­nings of his life’s story, Scia­r­illo said he be­came mo­ti­vated to keep going and find out as much as he could about where he came from.

“[Mo­ti­va­tion is] the thing that comes to mind. I was so mo­ti­vated to seek out other peo­ple in my fam­ily and sup­port from the [on­line adop­tion] com­mu­nity,” Scia­r­illo said. “It’s def­i­nitely brought me closer to my own fam­ily and I feel I’m a bet­ter father be­cause of this… I went through some phases that were pretty dif­fi­cult for me, but I have a vi­sion that I want to build on from this.”

The hus­band and father of two is hop­ing to build upon that sup­port he found in the on­line adop­tion com­mu­nity lo­cally by start­ing an adult adoptee sup­port group that will meet monthly at the Wal­dorf West Li­brary. The first meet­ing will be Satur­day at 3 p.m.

Af­ter at­tend­ing a sim­i­lar group in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., for the past five months, Scia­r­illo de­cided a sim­i­lar, closer group could ben­e­fit those in South­ern Mary­land.

“I’ve seen so much value in it, that in-per­son con­nec­tion with other peo­ple. We don’t all have the same ex­act ex­pe­ri­ences but we have sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences and share sim­i­lar feel­ings,” Scia­r­illo said. “It’s like we all come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds but it’s just amaz­ing the con­nec­tions you make.”

Through his re­search, Scia­r­illo dis­cov­ered his bi­o­log­i­cal mother was 29 years old when she gave birth to him and was of Puerto Ri­can de­scent. She also had a psy­chi­atric and sub­stance abuse his­tory and was at­tend­ing a methadone clinic when Scia­r­illo was born.

His bi­o­log­i­cal father was 22 at the time of Scia­r­illo’s birth, of Jewish faith and not mar­ried to the bi­o­log­i­cal mother. Records show he ac­knowl­edged pa­ter­nity of Scia­r­illo and was also at­tend­ing a methadone clinic for sub­stance abuse.

Ac­cord­ing to his adop­tion records, Scia­r­illo was born with with­drawal symp­toms and im­me­di­ately placed with an agency, Catholic Guardian So­ci­ety. He re­mained in the hospi­tal for a month be­fore he was placed in fos­ter care with his adop­tive par­ents on July 3, 1979.

“My story scares a lot of peo­ple but I’ve al­ways been pos­i­tive about the whole thing,” Scia­r­illo said. “I’ve tried to use it to mo­ti­vate and en­cour­age others.”

Though his bi­o­log­i­cal mother died a few years be­fore he was able to contact her, Scia­r­illo has been able to con­nect to sev­eral fam­ily mem­bers on both sides of his fam­ily. He dis­cov­ered his ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther was a World War II vet­eran. He said he en­joys a pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship with his birth father, who lives in North Carolina, and was able to fly out to Cal­i­for­nia to meet his pa­ter­nal grand­mother who sur­vived the Holo­caust.

Though he be­lieves he should have al­ways known the truth about his adop­tion, Scia­r­illo ap­pre­ci­ates how his life has turned out. He works in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., as an ac­coun­tant for a law firm and has a choco­late busi­ness on the side, JasiJay Fine Choco­lates, LLC, which is named for his chil­dren. He has con­tin­ued to main­tain pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships with the fam­ily he has al­ways known. He says he not only sur­vived his tur­bu­lent be­gin­ning, but thrived.

“I’m a rel­a­tively nor­mal guy and then I find out my ac­tual be­gin­nings were not what I ex­pected. But you know what, I made the best of the sit­u­a­tion and have found a lot of pos­i­tive things out of it,” Scia­r­illo said. “I was born into these cir­cum­stances that I had no idea about, but those cir­cum­stances didn’t af­fect me neg­a­tively… I am one of the lucky cases you could say through the way ev­ery­thing worked out.”

Now, Scia­r­illo said he is set­ting his sights on help­ing others get to a place of con­tent­ment — which is what he has achieved now. He said he hopes his group can even­tu­ally open up to any­one who has been af­fected by adop­tion.

“I’ve been seek­ing knowl­edge all this time and I feel that part of my life has set­tled down some, so I feel like I’m ready to fa­cil­i­tate a group like this,” Scia­r­illo said. “I re­ally want peo­ple to know that sup­port is out there.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about the adult adoptee sup­port group and its meet­ings, email Scia­r­illo at jasipops@ ya­hoo.com.

STAFF PHOTO BY SARA NEW­MAN

Keith Scia­r­illo, 37, looks over doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing birth cer­tifi­cates, he has ob­tained over his four-year dis­cov­ery of his adop­tion when he was a baby. Scia­r­illo is start­ing a sup­port group for adult adoptees to con­nect and share their ex­pe­ri­ences.

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

Keith Scia­r­illo and his birth father, Peter Spiegel, now en­joy a pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship af­ter Scia­r­illo dis­cov­ered he was adopted four years ago.

While vis­it­ing his wife’s fam­ily in the Philip­pines, Keith Scia­r­illo talked to a group of chil­dren at an or­phan­age about adop­tion and tried to en­cour­age them about the process and their fu­ture. Scia­r­illo, 37, of Wal­dorf dis­cov­ered he was adopted four years ago.

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