Adoptee from Bluffton, 38, is united with fam­ily he never knew he had

The Beaufort Gazette - - Front Page - BY DAVID LAUD­ERDALE dlaud­[email protected]­land­packet.com

Steve Stans­field was an only child, un­til last Thurs­day.

On that day, life as he knew it blew up in a way that not even the Hall­mark movie peo­ple would be­lieve.

At 38, his life has set­tled down — no longer play­ing in bands, like the night he backed up Earl Wil­liams at The Jazz Cor­ner.

Now he lives in the Pine For­est neigh­bor­hood of Bluffton, works at Giuseppi’s Pizza on Hil­ton Head, is a hus­band to Erin Han­son, fa­ther of two, and faith­ful son to Jerry and Kathy Stans­field of Sun City Hil­ton Head.

Jerry and Kathy al­ways told him he was adopted. They got him through Catholic So­cial Ser­vices near home in Philadel­phia when he was two-and-ahalf months old. As a child, Steve al­ways begged to hear the story again about the night he came into their lives, and how he threw up on them, and how he came with a stuffed an­i­mal his birth mother had left with him, a lit­tle dog named Sher­lock.

“It was the great­est thing,” Jerry said about hav­ing a son, their only child. He was a whiz at hockey and played gui­tar.

“We told him that he was given up for love, and that we loved him and his birth mother loved him,” Jerry said Fri­day af­ter­noon, stand­ing out­side his son’s home, with all the hus­tle and bus­tle in­side.

But Jerry and Kathy al­ways hoped Steve could meet his birth mother. They worked for years try­ing to find her.

Mean­while, Steve al­ways kept Sher­lock on the top closet shelf.

On Thurs­day of last week, Steve checked the mail af­ter work and there was some­thing from the state of Penn­syl­va­nia.

It was his birth cer­tifi­cate, which had been tracked down by his wife, Erin. And there in the kitchen, with lights to be hung in the Christ­mas tree, Steve saw the names of his bi­o­log­i­cal mother and fa­ther.

They were both 16 when their Wil­liam Alexan­der was born.

Jerry typed the fa­ther’s name into BeenVer­i­fied.com.

“Whoosh, ev­ery­thing came up,” he said.

“I told Steve, your mother and fa­ther got mar­ried and you have three full-blooded sib­lings.”

On Fri­day af­ter­noon, they were all to­gether for the first time at Steve and Erin’s home.

His birth fa­ther, Bill Fo­ran, an elec­tri­cian from sub­ur­ban Philadel­phia, stood by his birth mother, CarolAnn Fo­ran, and said, “There was such a hole in her heart.”

Steve, hold­ing Sher­lock, hugged her and said, “Never again.”

GOOGLE

The lo­gis­tics are mind-bog­gling.

And that doesn’t in­clude the overnight car trips from Penn­syl­va­nia to the Low­coun­try on pure adrenalin, or all the Skyp­ing and tex­ting and Face­book-

ing that helped bring to­gether four sib­lings, two 12-year-old girls and a pair of 7-year-old boys who found sud­den cousins. Or the lit­tle grand­son, named Wil­liam, that Bill and CarolAnn never knew they had.

The lo­gis­tics of find­ing each other was a deeper maze, seem­ingly de­signed to dis­ap­point, they all said.

“I found out by Googling my name,” said Steve’s sis­ter, Kristi Fo­ran, 32. That’s when she found out that her grand­mother was pok­ing around on­line try­ing to find a baby ap­par­ently born to her mother. She even­tu­ally told her sib­lings, Ni­cole Fo­ran, 28, and Matt Fo­ran, 25.

Then Ni­cole pieced to­gether why her mother was cry­ing, be­cause it was March and she knew a baby given up for adop­tion was born March 14.

“I told her it was OK,” Ni­cole said. “I told her I knew about him, that we all knew. I told her be­cause she was hurt­ing by her­self.”

CarolAnn said she wanted to marry Bill be­cause with­out him, she would lose her last con­tact with the baby that in her heart she called Billy.

She said that for a long time, all she thought about was Billy. It was es­pe­cially hard on his birthday. But at some point you have to push it in­side.

She didn’t want to talk to her hus­band about it be­cause it brought up a lot of hurt. “When I talked, it was to my mother,” she said.

But as a fam­ily, af­ter the sib­lings fi­nally told their dad what they knew, it was some­thing they didn’t have to hide any­more.

“We could talk about it,” Ni­cole said.

PENN­SYL­VA­NIA LAW

A change in Penn­syl­va­nia law opened the key to a door the fam­i­lies never dreamed would be so beau­ti­ful.

Last year, state law changed to en­able adoptees over age 18 to ap­ply for their birth records.

That gave the South Carolina searchers new names. And it led Steve’s wife, Erin Han­son, to Face­book.

Last Thurs­day night, she plugged in Ni­cole’s name. She sent her a mes­sage, say­ing she did not want to in­trude, but maybe she was her hus­band’s sis­ter. Ten min­utes later came a re­sponse:

“Oh, my God, we have been look­ing for­ever.”

Ni­cole spent days mak­ing sure ev­ery­thing checked out. And then she had to fig­ure out how to tell ev­ery­one in the right way.

She told her par­ents to come to her house last Sun­day night. They were hes­i­tant. CarolAnn didn’t feel well. Bill needed a hair­cut. Just come over, Ni­cole said, and I’ll cut your hair.

Then she had to get her sis­ter and brother there, bad­ger­ing them in text mes­sages.

“I told them no­body had died, and not to worry, but they bet­ter be there,” Ni­cole said.

Matt said, “I was tex­ting Kristi and said Ni­cole bet­ter be preg­nant. Some- thing had to be up.”

Steve’s adopted fa­ther, Jerry, had been tex­ting pho­to­graphs to Ni­cole show­ing her un­known brother grow­ing up. She had them on the phone, ready to show her par­ents.

Her mother glanced at one or two and then said: “Don’t EVEN! Don’t EVEN!”

Ni­cole knew her mother be­lieved it when “she grabbed onto my leg.”

“I said, ‘Mama, we found each other.’ “

ADOP­TION

Sun­day night turned into a Skype-fest that went on af­ter mid­night.

By Wed­nes­day, Bill and CarolAnn had flown to the Low­coun­try. Erin filmed their tear­ful, joy­ful meet­ing on Face­book.

By Fri­day, all the sib­lings were to­gether, in per­son, for the first time. Laugh­ter and pizza and stunned dis­be­lief filled the room. “We’re go­ing trough the mo­tions, but we’re still in shock,” one said.

“I wish I could bot­tle ev­ery­thing up,” CarolAnn said.

They dis­cov­ered that Matt played in a band with a guy who was Steve’s best friend grow­ing up. Kathy Stans­field made that dis­cov­ery.. He is Martin Cof­fee, a drum­mer. They called him Styx Latte. “No way,” Kathy said when she saw Styx as Matt’s friend on Face­book. “No way.”

Jerry and Kathy Stans­field said the most stun­ning thing to them is that Bill and CarolAnn got mar­ried, and that their Steve had three sib­lings.

“It’s not sup­posed to be like this,” Jerry said.

Jerry and Kathy are about 15 years older than Steve’s birth par­ents, and Kathy said it was im­por­tant to her that he find his fam­ily so he would never have to be alone.

The two sets of par­ents have now com­pared notes and see places where they were not treated right in their search, and they don’t want other fam­i­lies to go through their strug­gle.

CarolAnn and Bill can’t quit thank­ing their “an­gels,” Steve’s adop­tive par­ents..

“This is all about love,” Jerry said. “This is all about Steve and this fam­ily that he now has. It’s not about us.”

And in the hubub, Bill pipes up, “And I still haven’t got­ten my hair­cut.”

DAVID LAUD­ERDALE dlaud­[email protected]­land­packet.com

Steve Stans­field, cen­ter, with, from left, bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther Bill Fo­ran, adop­tive par­ents Kathy Stans­field and Jerry Stans­field, and bi­o­log­i­cal mother CarolAnn Fo­ran.

PHO­TOS BY DAVID LAUD­ERDALE dlaud­[email protected]­land­packet.com

Steve Stans­field of Bluffton meets his birth mother Fri­day in Bluffton, with Sher­lock, the stuffed an­i­mal she left with him when he was put up for adop­tion 38 years ago.

Steve Stans­field speaks with sib­lings via com­puter be­fore they met face-to-face Fri­day in Bluffton.

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