Tuesday, July 21, 2009
A Bit About Sydney Harrison:
“It was September 17th, 1974. I came into the world weighing 2 pounds 1 ounce, clinging to life with every breath. I was two months premature. My intestines were being devoured by gangrene. My blood was tainted too and required a transfusion. Add to that a nervous system that was severely damaged and I was a newborn baby, orphaned at birth and barely hanging on. Doctors gave me a ten percent chance of survival.
During the first six months of my life, I was operated on several times, and practically lived in the hospital.
To me, “Mommy” was some nice lady in a white nurses outfit – several different ladies, in fact.
That is, until I was taken in on December 17th 1974.
That is when the Harrison family in Maryland, became my foster family. A decision that would change my life and give me a second chance. For the next four years, The Harrisons would fight to adopt me. It was tough for them because they are white and I am bi-racial. The adoption agency believed my forever family should be a couple of color. But, The Harrisons did not give up. They believe that love has no color and in the end they were right.
At the age of four, the adoption went through and I became Sydney Harrison. A child with a family – with security – and now, with newly found hope. Soon, my mother and nana would introduce me to the game of soccer. They would go outside and kick the ball with me.
Life was great, until entered preschool and it became clear that I would suffer from some academic issues. I was diagnosed with dyslexia, and had other developmental delays. My motor skills were also behind. I had to take classes at Prince George’s County Hospital that helped me grip objects and helped improve my nervous system.
Unfortunately, some teachers were ignorant about my condition and labeled my retarded. But my parents weren’t willing to accept that and once again – fought for me.
They enrolled me in Montessori school, where my Nana was a teacher and my siblings were also in attendance.
My Grandmother worked hard teaching me how to read. It was difficult, but not as much of a challenge as what was beginning trouble me on the inside.
By middle school I started asking some tough questions why did my birth mother abandon me? Why were other kids always calling me stupid and retarded? What was wrong with me? Children teased me about being an orphan. It was a lot for a 13-year-old boy to take.
Thank goodness for – soccer! It was the one thing I was really good at and I had a relentless drive on the field.
I became the 10th best player in the State of Maryland for my age. Soccer became my safe haven. For the first time, people could believe in me, and that felt great.
It still had anger issues, because as other children were getting into private schools and excelling, I was still wrestling with identity issues. I started to rebel. I got lazy and started getting into fights. I was lashing out at a world that had hurt me.
Somehow through it all, I managed to graduate from high school. By the age of 21, I had become a father. The woman I was with had given birth to a baby boy, and I was a daddy. Whether I was prepared for it or not, I suddenly found myself responsible for another life. When my son was three, I started to coach soccer him in soccer. I coached his team; the South Bowie Sharks, for seven seasons when I became the head coach. It was great, because I was able to use my life experience to teach the boys not only about the game, but also about overcoming life’s challenges. I taught them about how I learned to trust, to persevere, and to be resilient. I count this coaching experience to be among my first adult successes. When it comes to the game itself - we had 57 wins in seven seasons, and 8 losses. We won three county championships and going to five.
We learned how to win together. It also taught me about a little selflessness can make a real difference in a child’s life.
Later, at the age of 32, I went through a very emotional period. That is time when I became to understand search for answer about my birth mother and my conception. It was a time I would be called upon to grow and forgive for than I ever expected. When I found my birth mother, I learn that I was born of rape. It was hard for me to accept. I fought for two years after that to find forgiveness for what had happen to me.
I was among the walking wounded -- scared to love, to trust, and to feel too deeply.
I turned to my adoptive family to see me through and with tremendous support and resiliency; here I am now –a once broken man who has learned to overcome.
Which brings me to the place where I find myself today, in following in my parent’s footsteps in real estates and now volunteering for Veronica’s Story Foundation.
It’s my way to give back in the name of the unconditional love what was shown to me.
It is from my family that I learned that we are one big family, and we are here to support and love each other. “ Sydney Harrison