Picking Up the Pieces in Ponce: A Journey to My Biological Mother

Picking Up the Pieces in Ponce: A Journey to My Biological Mother

Painted wall, woman with bush as hair, spray paint Ponce
Written by Rachel Shifaraw, Adult Adoptee, C.A.S.E. Creative Content Specialist
Published on: Apr 26, 2024
Category Birth Family

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It was a sunny Saturday afternoon when a text came through to my phone from Keith Sciarillo… “hey, you got time for a quick call sometime today”? A common correspondence between the two of us since we met within the adoption community nearly 8 years ago.

At the time of our very first meeting, Sciarillo had begun sorting through his adoption story after finding out he was adopted as an adult. I remember seeing him popping up in online adult adoptee support groups & thinking his story was unique, fascinating & heartbreaking as I had never met a late discovery adoptee before. For 33 years, Keith had no idea he was adopted & he had begun the process of picking up the pieces…putting together everything he was discovering to create a new identity. One that included new family members, new cultural traditions & new ethnic backgrounds…a whole host of “new” things that were foreign to all that he had ever known.

Keith didn’t mention his biological mother much. He would tell our community that she passed away before he found out he was adopted but he never went into very much detail about her. However, on this particular March day, I answered my phone when I saw Keith’s name flash across the screen to hear him say, “uhhh yeah…so…I’m going to Puerto Rico to visit my mothers grave. You know me, it’s time.”

Sciarillo has always been one to come to a decision on his own & then quickly execute his plan. I asked him how he knew it was time to make the trip to his mother’s grave…

“After a few years of wanting to visit my biological mother’s grave, it dawned on me…the years are going by so there’s no better time than the present.”

I was curious if Keith had any expectations about his trip… “Yes. I knew that it would bring me closer to my roots, being able to visit the place where my maternal side is from”, he said.

As Keith walked this avenue of his adoption adventure, our adoption community watched from the interwebs…anxiously awaiting pictures, updates, anything he had to offer. I was intrigued by the culture that was shining through in his photographs…making me curious to ask Sciarillo what his favorite part of his trip was…

“My favorite part of the trip was being able to visit my grandmother in the house that has been in their family for many decades”, he replied.

I’ve thought a lot about Keith’s most recent trip since his return…I’ve wondered what advice he may offer to someone preparing to embark on their own reunion adventure, when “reunion” isn’t a physical being but rather a grave, memories & stories.

“My best advice for those deciding to make a trip like this is to expect anything & embrace it. Be gentle on yourself for not knowing everything there is to know…some things can only be learned through experience”, Keith so insightfully stated.

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I curiously asked Sciarillo if his recent trip to meet his mother by her graveside allowed him to offer any insight to those grieving their mothers this mothers day…

“There’s no right way to grieve…all feelings are normal, considering all you’ve been through.”

…a simple, yet perfectly stated response.


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