New group aims to provide support for adult adoptees
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.
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.
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.