More than 3 Decades of Curiosity
When Nancy placed her son Matt for adoption at the age of 18, it may have technically been a closed adoption through New Life Family Services, but Nancy said she was never closed-off to talking about Matt.
“He was never a secret. Everybody who knew me, knew of Matt. I’ve thought about him every day for 33 years,” said Nancy.
Nancy chose adoption, because she wanted to give her son the opportunities she knew she couldn’t provide for him. But Nancy was always curious about him.
“I hoped he’d reach out to me when he became of age. Several times I started to fill out the paperwork to contact him. But the fear of not knowing if he wanted to meet me prevented that,” said Nancy.
Opening a Closed Adoption
Matt always knew he was adopted. His adoptive parents, Herb and Jan Eberhardt told him his birth mother was 18 when she had him, and that he was placed for adoption out of love.
“My parents always told me I was loved by my birth parents. I never really questioned why I was placed for adoption, my birth mom wanted the best for me and through adoption that is how she felt she could give me the best,” said Matt.
“We shared that he had a mother who loved him, and that it took a lot of guts for her to place him for adoption,” said Jan Eberhardt.
Matt’s parents told him if he ever wanted to get in contact with his birth parents or their extended family, they would help him do that. But Matt chose not to take that step in opening the adoption, until he heard his birth mom wanted to make contact.
“I was always a little bit curious about my birth parents, but not to the point where I had burning questions. When I found out my birth mother was trying to get ahold of me, then the questions really started coming.” said Matt.
Starting a Relationship
“The adoption staff at New Life helped us navigate the process of reunion and suggested starting with letters as a way to break the ice. My birth mother reached out first with a letter to me,” said Matt.
“With great trepidation I wrote the letter, probably 10 times. Pouring over every single word, wondering how he might interpret it. The great unknown was painful,” said Nancy. “When I received his response back it was the most joyful, heartwarming thing I could hope for.”
“God’s timing was evident to me through the whole process. It was the right time for Nancy and the right time for me. I had gotten married two years prior to getting her letter and we had recently discovered we were expecting our first child. Having the opportunity to reconnect with my birth family as we were preparing to grow our own family felt right,” said Matt.
Matt and Nancy exchanged letters for a few weeks, then exchanged phone numbers, and within six weeks, they were scheduling a face-to-face meeting. Nancy lived in Alaska, but planned a trip to Minnesota for the holidays to see her extended family and to meet Matt for the first time.
“It was amazing how quickly it happened,” said Nancy.
“I was definitely nervous and I think she was too. I arrived first and knew it was her as soon as she came around the corner because we look very similar. We talked for about two hours that day and shared pictures with each other from our lives,” said Matt.
“It’s been a gift I didn’t think I was deserving of, it’s exceeded all of my expectations,” said Nancy. “My wildest dreams came true. He ended up with these fantastic parents. And he’s a happy, healthy, fantastic, smart and kind man, everything you could ever dream.”
Matt and his wife, Kelly were invited to meet Nancy’s parents (Matt’s birth grandparents) just days later. And soon Matt realized he was a part of an extended family he never knew before.
“When I visited (my birth grandparents’) home, I found a picture of me on their fridge taken when I was one-month-old. My birth grandmother told me it had been there since the day they took it, 31 years prior. It was impacting to me to be part of a family, but never having met them before,” said Matt.
A New Love for Logan
At the same time Matt’s adoptive family was growing, so was his immediate family. Matt and his wife, Kelly welcomed a baby boy, Logan Tyler into the world, with unexplainable red hair.
“I was able to figure out that my son’s red hair comes from my birth mother’s father,” said Matt.
“Tyler was the middle name I gave Matt when he was born. I was blown away when they told me they gave Logan that middle name,” said Nancy.
Being a part of Matt, Kelly and Logan’s life gave Nancy and her husband a joy unlike anything they knew before. So they made the life-changing decision to move from Alaska to Minnesota.
Moving to be Closer to Family
“We see each other as often as possible, probably once or twice a month. I could never have expected or hoped that things would turn out this perfectly. I am the happiest I’ve been in my life and this relationship is the main reason for it,” said Nancy.
“Nancy is adding to my life and my family’s life. The coolest thing is having her be a part of my son’s life and for him to have another grandparent,” said Matt.
Matt says his parents Herb and Jan have been so supportive and welcoming of Nancy, who doesn’t go by the name “Grandma,” but rather the nickname “Grancy.”
“I relish the role as Grancy, and I am having more fun than I should,” said Nancy.
Matt’s adoptive parents Jan and Herb Eberhardt have been welcoming to Nancy throughout the whole process.
“It’s been really neat. We got to meet her and see what her side of the story was. I always told her that I prayed for her on special dates like his birthday,” said Jan.
“Jan and Herb wound up being the perfect people to raise him. They’ve been wonderful to me and my family. They gave him so many opportunities that I could never have dreamed of,” said Nancy.
“Nancy has been incredibly respectful of my life and of my adoptive parents and not wanting to intrude. I haven’t seen it as intruding at all,” said Matt.
Advice for Birth Mothers
For birth mothers who worry about reaching out to their birth children, Nancy and Matt both agree, seeking a relationship was worth it.
“Even if things had gone the other way, the not knowing is the worst part. The best thing you can do is to reach out and to know you’ve tried to make contact. Knowing anything is better than knowing nothing,” said Nancy.
“If you have any burning questions, I would encourage you to pursue them, otherwise they will always be there,” Matt says allow the introduction to happen at a natural pace. “Reach out and be patient in the process. Don’t push too hard, too quickly. And on the other side, don’t worry if you don’t get a response right away,” said Matt.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” said Nancy.