Making a family investment

Adoption: The fund-raising efforts of hundreds of Carroll residents help a Pennsylvania couple bring their new son from Thailand.

October 03, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Gene and Melodie Taylor travel to Thailand tomorrow to adopt Ty, a 2-year-old boy who has no idea that hundreds of people in and around Carroll County had a hand in bringing him to his new home in America.

Ty Christopher Taylor will come home in two weeks to a room filled with plush animals, books and toys - all presents from the couple's family and friends, including a poster board signed by well-wishers.

On the walls of his new room, the toddler will find characters from the Finding Nemo movie swimming in a sea of blue, part of a mural painted by his new mother, Melodie Taylor, 33, an art teacher at Northwest Middle School in Taneytown.

He has his new father to thank for the fishy imagery. Gene Taylor, 48, is a safety risk manager at the National Aquarium in downtown Baltimore.

What will not be readily apparent to Ty is that basket bingo and an online silent auction played a part in financing the trip to bring the Taylors to him.

"I'm going to get a bumper sticker that says, `I love basket bingo,'" said Gene Taylor, taking a breather last week from last-minute preparations for the 30-hour airplane trip.

The Taylors were committed to the adoption, even without the help of family and friends, but the thousands of dollars raised through several fund-raisers will go a long way toward paying all the fees associated with bringing Ty to his new home.

On the eve of their trip, the couple was still poring over their itinerary and Thailand guide books, struggling with pronouncing key Thai phrases and packing gourmet chocolates for their son's foster family.

At their house in a quiet, wooded neighborhood in Pennsylvania, 10 minutes from Taneytown, they're a world away from the bustling city of Bangkok, where they'll meet the boy. They'll bring him home Oct. 15.

"It's been an emotional roller coaster," said Gene Taylor. "One thing that's humbled us is the love and support from our co-workers."

Added his wife, "It makes you appreciate life."

Melodie Taylor acknowledges she's nervous about meeting her son.

"That's where the anxiety is - the moment of meeting him ... it's what keeps going through my mind. On the one hand, I want to keep busy, but on the other hand, I just want to go. I can't remember the last time I was this anxious," she said.

The Taylors started the adoption process only after years of disappointment in trying to conceive a child.

In January, they saw a magazine featuring Thai children who were on waiting lists to be adopted. It was love at first sight when they first saw a crawling toddler, who was called William, they said. Now Ty, his picture sits alongside the Taylors' numerous nieces and nephews.

Their extended families helped Melodie Taylor, a Westminster native, draw support from all over Carroll County in the couple's quest for a family.

Gene Taylor's family from Delaware has also been active, as have long-lost friends from high school and college who donated football tickets and beach house vacations to an online silent auction.

Friends and family sponsored a basket bingo event in June that drew more than 200 people to a Sykesville fire hall, some traveling from Baltimore, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Local businesses donated items for the baskets. The event raised more than $5,000.

"There is nothing more precious than a life, and there's no greater investment another human can make," said Neil Taylor, Gene's younger brother from Wilmington, Del. He is accompanying the couple on their trip to Thailand. "I think it's been almost overwhelming for them to see this support.

"The real cool thing about the fund raising is that people at Gene's work and Melodie's work have rallied around them," he continued. "They have been there for other people. It makes it easy for people to reciprocate. They're the kind of people you'd do anything for."

Calling the faculty at Northwest Middle School a tight-knit group, school secretary Peggy Tregoning said it was easy to persuade friends and family to attend the basket bingo event and sponsor baskets.

"We know adoption is very expensive and any way we could help out, we would. We had fun doing it, and it was for a great cause," said Tregoning, wife of Carroll County Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning. "We can't wait for Ty to get here."

When they made the decision to adopt, the Taylors took a monthlong class in April last year at Adoption Horizon in Carlisle, Pa., an agency that acts as the local contact for adopting children abroad. That agency prepared them for the biggest transition of their lives and connected them to other families going through the same process.

"We talked about the aspect of the loss and how adopting a child will help you fill that void," said Melodie Taylor. "But there's always going to be a certain amount of sadness."

Gene Taylor looked at his wife and added, "What could have been."

But seeing Ty, who suffers from asthma, in pictures and on a video convinced the couple they were on the right track.

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