I love meeting new FOFs because each of us has a fascinating story to tell about our lives. No matter what directions we take, we generally take them with passion and purpose, whether or not we ultimately get where we want to go.
I recently met Priscilla O’Reilly, the Vice President of Public Relations for a wonderful travel company, called Grand Circle, which specializes in international trips for FOFs. I had received a press release from the company and wanted to find out more about it since FOFs are its target market.
While learning about Grand Circle, I also learned FOF Priscilla lives near Boston with her two young daughters, nine-year-old Lee and four-year-old Annie. She adopted both Vietnamese girls when they were babies, traveling to their homeland a number of times to make arrangements. Suffering from pneumonia, baby Lee had to be hospitalized in Hong Kong before coming to her new home in the United States. Priscilla was grateful to her employers at Grand Circle for their generosity and assistance throughout the adoption process. “It’s a family-run business,” she says.
Priscilla tells her daughters about Vietnam and about how she adopted them “and they adopted me.” They love hearing their personal stories, she told me. “We will go to Vietnam in a few years—once Annie can handle a long plane ride and is old enough to remember the experience.”
Choosing not to marry, Priscilla says she always wanted to adopt but never made a plan. “I was working really hard and enjoying my family and friends.” 911 spurred her to start the adoption process. “It was so tragic, and I felt such despair. I’m from New York City and I remember watching coverage of the towers coming down, and all of a sudden, I realized that it was time to adopt. I wanted to do something life affirming,” she explained.
“I felt, and still feel, sad—and guilty—that poverty or the stigma of being unmarried forces so many young women to give up their children for adoption,” Priscilla says. “I think about these mothers a lot and I wish my daughters’ own birthmothers could know how happy and well-cared for their daughters are—and that their daughters think and talk about them. Even though we don’t know these women, they are not forgotten.” Priscilla chose to adopt babies from Vietnam because she had worked and traveled a bit in Asia and loves the people and cultures. “Vietnam is also a country that allows single women to adopt,” she notes.
The hardest part of being a single mom, Priscilla says, “is not having any down time and worrying about finances.” She now realizes that the girls will be in college as she’s thinking about retirement. “In some ways, I’m glad I didn’t realize this before. I’ll be working more years that I had thought, but that’s okay.”
Priscilla is devoted to her daughters and joyous when she is with them. “I just got an iPad and after dinner, we’ve started to watch performances from the Broadway show Wicked. We sing our heads off. The three of us sit on the couch and just howl away. None of us can sing, and we’re really lucky we have such nice neighbors.”
When Priscilla was just four, her mother died suddenly of an aneurism. Grandma would be proud to see how her daughter turned out.