Teen's essay on mother gets national media attention


May 05, 1999|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AN ELOQUENT ESSAY written by Jessica Swiecicki about her mother's successful quest to reunite with her birth mother has brought local and national media attention to her extended Manchester family.

Last fall, Jessica chose to write a true story for an assignment by language arts teacher Deborah Calhoun at North Carroll Middle School, and began by interviewing members of her family.

Jessica wrote about how her mother, Claudia Swiecicki, spent 10 years searching for the mother who had allowed her to be adopted at birth. The successful search led to a family reunion nine years ago. Today, birth and adoptive families gather as an extended family to share holidays and trips to Ocean City.

Jessica, 11, has grown up with many family members around, but the family-tree project last year led her mother to reveal details of her early childhood. Jessica wrote about the confusion she felt at that time, learning she had another set of grandparents and other relatives. She also learned that many family friends were relatives.

She thought she was losing the adoptive grandparents she loved, but later realized everyone was part of her unique family.

She wrote: "My heart hurt and I couldn't understand. It took some time but I have accepted this situation. I love everyone for the place they have in my life. There is plenty of room and lots of love to share."

Teachers at school shared the essay.

"Mrs. Calhoun called me at the office, because she said the whole teachers lounge is in tears, this is such a wonderful story," said Claudia Swiecicki.

After Jessica's aunt, Michelle Gugliotta, showed the essay to Sun columnist Dan Rodricks, he invited family members to appear on his Sunday television show, "Breakfast With Rodricks."

Ten days ago, producers from the national television program, "Regis and Kathy Lee," were on the phone. From 3,000 letters celebrating motherhood, Jessica's essay was one of five semifinalists for a Mother's Day show.

"I thought our story was a rare story," Jessica said. "My mom went really far to figure this out. Not many people find out."

Claudia Swiecicki's birth mother, Ruth Nichols, married Claudia's father after the adoption, and had three more daughters, Karen, Michelle and Gail. Swiecicki's adoptive parents, Claude and Gloria Huesman, had two children, Debbie and David, born after her adoption. "It's amazing how connected I feel toward Michelle," Claudia said.

After a search of public records and finding a friendly judge, Claudia and Michelle exchanged a half-dozen letters through a social worker before both families met at a restaurant.

"We walked in, and could immediately see the resemblance," Claudia said.

They realized Debbie had been to a wedding with Michelle. Michelle and Claudia each had named a daughter Meghan, with the same spelling, through the influence of "The Thornbirds," a television miniseries when they were pregnant. Gail's son and Claudia's brother David went to the same school.

"It's such a small world," Claudia said. "It goes on and on, we know so many of the same people. It's really quite unique."

On Monday, they found out that a child living in depressed circumstances had been selected to appear on "Regis and Kathy Lee." "We joke about how we don't have that tragic element," Claudia said. "This little taste of fame has been nice for Jessica."

"To have been chosen from 3,000 letters and essays, to me, Jessica is already a winner," Calhoun said.

Bingo, raffles and door prizes

Tickets are available for a basket bingo to benefit Cub Scout Pack 790 on May 14 at the North Carroll Middle School cafeteria, 2401 Hanover Pike.

Collectible Longaberger baskets, pottery and accessories will be featured.

Many door prizes and raffles will be offered.

Items were donated by area businesses that include Carroll Computer Connection, Greenmount Bowling, Carroll County Farm Museum, J & P Pizza, Cascade Lake, Playthings, Hampstead Florist, Carroll County True Value Inc., Farmers and Merchants Bank, Weis Markets, McDonald's, Hampstead Auto Parts, Family Pharmacy, Four Seasons Sports Complex, Greenmount Station Restaurant, Hampstead Country Crown and many more.

Admission is $10 in advance, or $12 at the door. Doors will open at 5 p.m. with food available at an additional cost. Games will begin at 7 p.m.

The pack is sponsored by Spring Garden Elementary School.

The fund-raiser is sponsored by the Friends of Cub Pack 790. For tickets, contact a Scout or Sandy DeJesus at 410-239-2247.

Pat Brodowski's North neighborhood column appears each Wednesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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