' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Attempt to Reunite with Son Brings Frustration

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Attempt to Reunite with Son Brings Frustration

Looking for man born near or on November 25, 1975, in New Jersey, adopted. Your father is searching for you....

So...switched at birth? Switched at adoption? Just f@#!ed by the sealed records system?


But a great argument for opening up sealed records for adopted people--and their natural/biological parents.

Just as you're planning to do some sit-ups in front of the tube during Good Morning America--up comes the Adoption Story of the Day. A (birth/real/actual/biological, you pick) father, Ron Ryba, can not forget the son he had at sixteen with his high school sweetheart, Kathy Butler, when they were juniors at the Shawnee (N.J.) High School in 1975. The boy was placed for adoption through Catholic Charities of Trenton but Ron, his father can not forget him. He married, and has other children, but still feels the heart tugs for the son who got away. After many years of bugging Catholic Charities, Ryba received a file about his son, detailing his development through the years, even noting his first words. His name was Philip.

"When you have your own children, you bonds, your thoughts...and I go back..and you know there's a piece missing," Ryba told ABC News.

After repeated requests to meet his son, Ryba and the person thought to be his son exchanged letters through Catholic Charities, and a year later the young man was finally ready. They met at a baseball game and talked all the way through it. "The journey I took was a lot of pain," Ryba said. "A lot that I went through, shame as a 16-year-old...so I thought that meeting and seeing this guy who had a great life and loving parents and was a [good thing on] balance. My pain was his joy."

So far, so good, right? Not so fast.

In time the two men grew close, so close that Ryba wanted to add him to his will. At his lawyer's urging, he took a DNA test, apparently along with the first mother.

You know the result right? Otherwise, what's the story? No match with either parent. A complete case of mixed-up files. Both men are broken-hearted. "I thought of Phil," continues Ryba, "and I didn't know what to say to him because he is a great guy and I didn't know what to say to him."

He adds: "Where is my son?"

Ryba claims he went back to Catholic Charities but the Executive Director Francis Dolan told him they can do nothing to help him. "At that moment, Ryba says, "the moral value of what I did was gone." Yes...that is a feeling I can relate to. The moral value of what I did. Despite all the reasons for my relinquishing, I have never been able to let go of the nagging feeling there was no moral value to what I did. It happened. Zero moral gain on my part; much confusion on daughter's part. But that's not the story today.

Director Dolan says he has no idea what happened, that the switch could have happened in the hospital or very early on, that there were at least six boys in the care of Catholic Charities at the time--but because the records are sealed up tight, he cannot do anything for Ryba or Phil (who asked that his last name not be disclosed). Once again, the moral value of the sealed records is less than zero, a negative injustice.

None of those other boys have approached the agency, and without their consent, Dolan said he cannot look in those files (you wanna bet he hasn't?), but added they are ready if anyone calls and says they might be one of those boys and will do what they can to facilitate the right reunion.

As I watched, I kept waiting for the reporter, Yunji De Nies, or someone to give the salient facts--such as: Where exactly did this happen? And what is Phil's birthday, so if a relative or friend of the right man is watching, or the person himself...but nada. I watched the story twice and the only way you know that this is happening at the Trenton Catholic Charities is by reading the word "Trenton" carved in the building as Dolan walks out. Nor did the reporter or GMA host Diane Sawyer give the birth date, which fortunately are in the written story. Made me crazy.

So the birth date of the boy, now grown man, we are looking for:  November 25, 1975. Hospital unknown, but almost certainly in the somewhere in New Jersey. Placed with Catholic Charities. Maybe the mother of another of those boys will read this and find her way to the Catholic Charities...and contact at least that son, and either be reunited or find Ryba's missing son. We will stay tuned.

But not all was lost with the airing of the story. Publicity about the injustice and stupidity and  heartbreak of sealed records is always a good thing. The story did end with a short discussion between Sawyer and De Nies that touched upon the injustice (no, they did not use that word, but it was implied, so they get points for that) of sealed records, but that thought sure was left in the minds of all viewers except say, those legislators in New Jersey and New York who will not support opening up the sealed records. Makes me nuts, yes it does.

So...if you happen to know a 34-year-old adopted man born near or on November 25, 1975, tell him that someone might be looking for him and to contact the Trenton Catholic Charities. A father is waiting. Here's the link to the video clip: Attempt to Reunite with Son Given Up for Adoption Brings Frustration. 

Well, you ask, where was the mother in this story? Her name was given--Kathy Butler--so supposedly she allowed that, but there was no mention of her searching or not, or what kind of reunion she had with her son, or did not have. She did agree to the DNA test however, so she is not completely MIA. This was a complete turnabout from the usual birth mother-searching-father-doesn't-care-much story that is more common, and while it was refreshing to see a father who wanted to find his offspring, I did feel that the missing mother was somehow like the ones I read about on FaceBook, where so often someone posts about having a rejecting mother, or a found natural family  that does not treat him or her well. However, she did allow her name to be used, so at least she's not in the closet. Maybe she just didn't want her 15 minutes of fame.

If you live in a sealed records state--there are 42 of them--write your state legislators today and demand that in the name of justice, the records be opened. How long do we have to wait? Depends on how many of us--adoptees and birth/first parents--act up.--lorraine


  1. Oh my goodness.
    It seems to be hard enough when everything works as it should.
    But a "mix up" such as the story outlines is just heart break on top of regret with a dash of pathos added for the audience's benefit.
    I think it borders on criminal.

  2. Interesting and sad! I think that the lies, the stealing of lives and love, well, it is going to explode into these child thieves worlds like an atomic bomb. I honestly can not believe that anyone still buys into that horse crap of "doing the right thing" - unless the mother truly does choose it, without any input from anyone, totally ready to realize that the feelings and pain and numbness will never leave.

    What kind of person adopts a child, then lies to them "for their own good" then expects the child to be honest!

    GRRRRR! This is making me nuts - I am so done with all the crap!

  3. No one really cares do they? (ok - I know we do) Otherwise these kinds of situations would not happen.

  4. what kind of parent lies to a child and expects it to be honest?
    I cam tell you-the kind of person who is so egocentric that he has no respect for the adopted child's dna, natural parents or even the child's feelings when he finally gets answers. And these same egocentric people never realize how their children feel inside because it doesn't matter to them. It is an abusive way to raise any child.

  5. This story is one of the most disturbing I have heard in a long time, and calls into question all agency-facilitated reunions. How many more of these have there been? Without DNA testing, how would anyone know?

    Just before this story broke, I heard of a just-found adoptee going to DNA tests before he met his mother. I thought he was over-cautious. Now, I do not think so. Just one more strike against NJ Catholic Charities and their endless coverups. Oh yeah, and the NJ Council of Bishops are a major opponent of open records legislation here.

  6. Just an addendum:

    After I found Jane her father suddenly started questioning whether she was "really" his daughter.

    Duh? was my reaction.

    DNA testing was quite new at the time 1981-2-3 when I was trying to convince him to meet Jane and I suggested it but we never went ahead. I sometimes thought about it, but Jane shared so many characteristics with me, and her father, that after a while it seemed absurd. Some of you will remember I've written about the similarities here before. http://www.firstmotherforum.com/2009/05/shared-similaritites-family-traits-not.html

  7. For any that are interested, there should be a note in here:

    psychologists/psychiatrists/geneticists have been studying (since the completion of the first phase of the human genome project) the nature/nurture issue.

    The one thing that all agree on is that children do not just inherit their bodily characteristics. Often, a child that is raised completely away from a biological parent (as in the case of some surrogate mother cases where the mother won custody "yes, it does happen") and found that not only do the children have the physical characteristics, but they have the same type of brain activity, personal habits, family oriented talents (art, writing, sculpting) and also their speech and behavior patterns. It is not just a surface, but a deep physical sameness in thought, feelings and almost everything that makes a person human.

    The only thing that a person raised by a non-relative individual can and does share with that individual are learned behaviors, such as stealing.

    This is something anyone can find in the research publications of almost all of the named professions that are involved in studying human behavior/brain function. Columbia University along with a huge number of other Universities publish these findings.

    The only thing that an adopted person has in common with the adoptive parent - the need to survive any way they can and if it means pretending and becoming a shallow person that has a very small undertanding of emotional bonding, that is the way it is.

    I will be publishing this statement on my blog also - so, if you don't like it. Don't slam me here - come straight to me and be nasty!

  8. Lori:

    Absolutely! My daughter and I were so closely allied on so many issues (other than working on adoption reform) it felt as if I had raised her. Political leaning, humor sensibility, taste buds, clothe-style preference--even the way we stood!

  9. Lorraine, RIGHT ON! My daughter and I have the same voice characteristics, we hold our heads the same way, are both so right handed it is sad, we tell the same jokes (even before we actually me). Heck we walk the same. I have a picture of us sitting side by side and you know that is my daughter!

    She even get's ticked off by the same stuff! Like when someone is fakey and full of it, or when our men leave the kitchen sink full of dishes - and you know she did not learn that from them....and in her case that is the most derogatory term I dare use because I can get seriously nasty about them.

    Our children are not NOT blank slates. Babies are born who they will be, in the basics. They learn, grow and expand their repetoire, but they are still part of us.

    I wish my daughter was not so afraid to share her part of our growing.....you would get an astounding picture of what really goes on when there are no other influences from the adoptive parents.

    She is, in many ways, what she was designed to be. My daughter, her father's daughter and my family - it is scaremarvelous!

  10. My eldest son and I are like twins in a lot of ways. We often are thinking the same thing at the same time, and will sometimes say the same thing at once -- we laugh and blame it on our "ubermind." It IS much more than physical appearance ... taste in books, foods, TV shows, movies, mannerisms. Downright scary at times.

    A funny story to tell you: the day we first reunited in-person, it was in a bookstore. I was in the store already and watching the door from about 40' away. As i watched, a tall young man entered the store with a long-strided "loping" gait -- the ONLY other person I have ever seen walk like that was his natural father whom he had never met! It was uncanny.

  11. This story freaked me out since I am adopted from the same Trenton catholic charities. I was January of 1980 though but it still freaked me out!


  12. The hospital was Our Lady of Lourdes in Camden NJ. The birthmother did want contact with her son. The "son" was not ready to meet her.

  13. I don't think any of us disagree that a whole lot of things are hereditary, but there are other issues in this story of an awful "mistake" by NJ Catholic Charities.
    Here is a further update on the original topic of this post, Catholic Charities reuniting the wrong people, and now they say they can't do anything about it because of "adoption laws". Lying assholes!! Trying to weasel their way out of a mess they created, just like the pedophile coverups.

    I hope they get sued into bankruptcy, as that is the only language they understand

    Read the full text here:

    Agency says hands are tied in adoption mix-up
    By Matt Fair
    October 30, 2009, 12:57PM

    TRENTON -- The files that may contain the true identity of Phil Bloete's birth parents are stored at the Catholic Charities building on West State Street.

    When it comes to opening them, however, the organization says its hands are tied by state adoption law.

    It's information that Bloete and Roy Ryba, the man who'd been told by Catholic Charities for more than 30 years that he was the boy's father, would desperately like to see unearthed.

    "We have them in our physical custody," Francis Dolan, director of the Diocese of Trenton's Catholic Charities, said. "We're the custodians, but we don't own them. We're legally not allowed to share any information."



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