Terra State class helps student find son she gave up for adoption

Press Staff Writer

        Not a day went by that Terra State student Deborah (Deb) Wyss didn’t think about her son she gave up for adoption. Thankfully, after taking the Adoption Series class offered through Terra State’s Lifelong Learning program, she was able to be reunited with him.
        When Wyss found out about her unplanned pregnancy while living in Virginia, she didn’t know what she was going to do. She wasn’t married, she wasn’t making much money and her parents didn’t support her.
        In her second trimester, she became very sick and was hospitalized. The hospital found out about Wyss’ situation and sent nuns and social workers to her hospital room to talk to her. It was there that the option of putting her child up for adoption came up.
        After a lot of thinking, attempting to look for financial help, talking to social workers and weighing her options, Wyss decided she didn’t have the finances or the means to give her baby the life she wanted for him. So, she began the adoption process.
        When the moment came for the 21-year-old new mother to give up her baby, she had a hard time letting go, she recalled. “I did not allow the nurses to take him from my room,” Wyss said. “I decided that, if this was the only time I was going to get to be his mother, I’m taking all the time I can get.”
        Wyss said she will never forget that day. “When they came in and took him from my room, it was the most emotional day in my entire life. I cried my soul out that day,” she said.
        Ever since, Wyss was interested in eventually reuniting with her son. “He’s always been in the back of my mind,” she said. “I had so many questions. How is he doing? What does he look like? Has he had a great life? Does he even want to meet me?”
        However, because it was a closed adoption, she had no access to any of his information and faced many challenges. She tried writing letters to him and they were included in his file, but the adoption agency could never include any identifying information.
        Wyss told Holly Hoffman, Terra State’s coordinator of community education, about her son and how much she wanted to talk to him. Hoffman informed Wyss about Lisa Hasselbach’s Lifelong Learning Adoption Series classes. Wyss thought these classes may help her find her son, so, in summer 2019, she enrolled.
        Hasselbach commiserated with Wyss. “I was adopted and I’ve always had a love and fascination by the adoption process,” she said.
        Wyss followed all the steps she learned in Hasselbach’s class and submitted her information as a birth mother looking for her adoptee to the state of Virginia adoption registry.
        In September, Wyss received an email from the administration saying there was a possible match and got the confirmation to send Wyss’s information to the adoptee. Later, Wyss looked at the adoption registry and found a name and an address for her son – Joe Noyes.
        While Wyss was working, her daughter, Rachel, looked on Facebook and found Noyes. They messaged each other on Facebook and came to the conclusion they were family. “There was no question in my mind that he was my son. He looks just like me,” Wyss said.
        Wyss, her daughter, Rachel, and Noyes decided to meet at The Westin Cleveland Downtown hotel. When they arrived and finally saw each other, they shared a long embrace and many tears, Wyss said.
        While they were chatting, Wyss learned her son went into foster care for the required amount of time before he was adopted into a loving family. “I am so grateful he was able to have a life I couldn’t give him,” she said.
        At the end of the meeting, they agreed to stay in contact and get together again in the future.
        “I’m so grateful,” Wyss said. “I know sometimes when parents look for their children they gave up for adoption, there’s rejection. That was a fear of mine. Joe is so open to having a continuous relationship and it’s amazing.”
        Wyss said she doesn’t think she could have found her son without the Adoption Series class. “That’s why I’m so grateful for Holly and Lisa. Sure, you can look around on the internet, but when you can spend time with someone who’s actually gone through the same process, it helps so much,” she said.
        Wyss is studying Executive Office Administration at Terra State and is expected to graduate in May 2020. She hopes this degree will help her get a full-time job. She plans to visit her son again in the future.
        For anyone interested in taking the Adoption Series classes, there will be more available starting in March. More details can be found in the Spring 2020 Lifelong Learning catalog available at terra.edu/lifelonglearning.


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