Saturday, July 02, 2005

The "In Touch Weekly" Magazine Story

The following is the article exactly as written in the July 11 issue of In Touch Weekly in a section called "People in the News- Who's Making Headlines This Week."

NOTE: This article was written mostly from information from other articles and has a few errors. For the most accurate version of this story, read the article from the June 2005 GQ Magazine.

Adopted man finds his royal roots!

One Day, Marty pictured here with his son GT) and his family was
living paycheck to paycheck. The next, they found out that they're
part of a Nigerian dynasty.

When Minnesota mortgage banker Marty Johnson touched down in Aboh, Nigeria, villagers craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the long-limbed American. Children in the village crowed in the streets, "Obiala!" or "He has come!" Upon his arrival, Marty's feet were ceremoniously washed and he was sprayed with champagne by the area's reigning elder.

"It was so emotional when I met
my birth father," explains Marty.
"It made the circle of my life

It was a reception fit for a prince, which, it turns out, Marty is- the long lost son of the village chief, John Ogike. Given up by his unwed mother at birth, Marty, now 41, never knew anything about his biological parents, nor did he think much about being adopted until he late in his teens. "My dad and mom are 5'7" and 5'3", says Marty. "I'm 6'4". Needless to say, the question that popped up whenever people would see my parents was:'How did you get so tall?'"

"Welcome to the Ogike Dynasty." -Marty's long lost father

The mystery began to unfold in 2001, when his birth mother tracked him down. Kathleen O'Connor Wang told Marty she met his father in 1963 while he was a graduate student at Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls. But when she became pregnant, her parents encouraged her to put the baby up for adoption. Since then, she hadn't had any contact with his dad and didn't even know if he was alive.

Thanks to a chance reading of an online posting on his father's old university's message board, Marty eventually heard from his father's realtives. Not only was his dad alive, a newfound sibling revealed thie news to him: "Because of our father's position, you're a prince."

Marty, a father of two in Eagan, Minn., struggling to make ends meet, soon began to embrace his birthright. He took to wearing traditional caftans his relatives sent over as gifts and dreamed of meeting his father and seeing his ancestral home- a wish that came true after his wife Laura, secretly rounded up donations from friends and family.

While Marty loves spending time with his new family, they have not
taken the place of his adoptive parents. "I had a great life growing
up," he says. "My parents are my heroes."

It was a life-altering trip. He and his father both wept upon seeing each other- and since his emotional visit, Marty's been dreaming even bigger. He wants to build a new life in Nigeria- where his father re-christened him Chinenye, or "God gives." He might even start his own import-export business. Marty tell's In Touch with a laugh, "[My wife] always said she wanted to retire someplace warm."

No comments: