Thursday, June 30, 2005

Marty's Big Journey featured in In Touch Weeky

Marty's Big Journey is featured in In Touch Weekly

For those of you following the story of me finding and meeting my family, the latest media coverage comes from In Touch Weekly Magazine. They didn't really interview me or anyone in my family for this story although they did call and ask me to clarify some of the facts. I haven't seen the article yet but I know most of their story is from prior coverage in GQ Magazine, ABC's Good Morning America, and the Associated Press stories that are already out there.

I am glad they called me though- I got the opportunity to make some corrections that the AP and GMA stories had wrong. (GMA fixed some of those on their site.)

I'll have more on this later once I get a chance to read it.

One funny, ironic thing- I had to laugh when I saw Jennifer Anniston on the cover. Remember who was on the cover of GQ?

First Brad. Now Jennifer.

UPDATE: 07/01/2005: I just read the In Touch Weekly article and it is pretty much what I expected. I think that they made it sound a little too much like I went from rags to riches, which is not the case- we live a comfortable life here in Eagan, MN- nothing extravagant by any means, but not in the dumps either.

They also give the impression that I am moving and planning on "building a new life in Nigeria." let me just say that I plan on continuing to establish and strengthen my ties to my family and Nigeria- hopefully making regular trips there when I can afford it. As far as ever moving there, I can never say never, but it is not likely anytime in the immediate future. But I would certainly like to go there as often as I can.

I'll post the article as written this weekend. I'll probably throw in a little commentary here and there too.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I'll get to writing again soon but...

There has just been a flurry of activity lately that I will get to. But, since I've still got to finish the New York trip stuff (I'm about 2/3 through with what I am going to write about it) I gotta thank some people before this gets WAY too long.

Aunty Christy, my Uncle Chief Okorie, and my cousins Chinwe, Tochi and Madyke- It was absolutely the highlight of my trip coming and meeting you and having that wonderful dinner in your home. Thank you so much- the food was wonderful, the friends that came to greet us were delightful, and it couldn't have been more perfect. I am just sad that we were on such a short schedule while were in New York.

Uncle Chris- it was great to see you and I am so happy you at least got to meet Laura and the kids. next time we're in New York, we'll have to set aside a whole day to go through the museum.

My sisters Frances and Mei-Lee- thanks for coming out to New York and supporting our mother and your big brother. It was great hanging out with you in NYC! (I'm glad you got to see the Black Eyed Peas in Rockerfeller Center.)

Jennifer at Mark Seliger's studio- thanks for the tour and for letting us see some of those new pics of the Rolling Stones Mark took. Very cool!

All the cast and crew of Good Morning America- it was really comfortable being on your show and everyone treated us so well. Thanks for the photos and the tapes of the segment. (I got the tapes yesterday.)

And last but definitely not least- Jason, you wrote this great story that really caught what it was like for me to be where I was, when I was. It has been a catalyst for many of the great things that are going to continue to happen in my life and my family's. Thanks for that and for being a fabulous host while we were in New York. I'm sure it was hard to get any work done while we were around, and I can't thank you enough for being our guide.

Friday, June 24, 2005

If You're looking for Lindsay...

Read this post first. Then hit the back button and click here.

If you're here to see me and read my "family stories" and not here for Lindsay, but are wondering why I posted this, click here.

Thankfully, I now have many of you who fit in the latter catagory and I truly appreciate your interest.

P.S. More New York, coming up!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


I'm glad you're here and thanks for taking note of my story. I'm in the middle of writing about my recent trip to New York and appearance on Good Morning America, and it's taking me a lot longer than I had planned. But I do have lots more to tell about my family's story.

Thanks for stopping by and let me know you were here!

It's Up to you New York, New York...

One of the many sights we squeezed in during our too short trip

The chronicle of our trip to New York City and Good Morning America is just taking me too much time, so I am going to attempt to finish it in the next couple of posts so I can move on to other things.


After lunch, we went back to Millineum Hotel where our room was finally ready. And it was worth the wait!

Our room was on the 50th floor- a two room suite with two flat screen TVs and high speed internet access (a must since I had some work to do), and a beautiful view of the east river and the New York Public Library/Bryant Park.

A Room With a View

Quite a view!

I was expecting a pre-interview call from someone at Good Morning America and also hoped to get a nap in. It was still only a little after 1:30 in the afternoon, so I made a few phone calls and sent some emails for work, plus I called my cousin Chinwe to let her know that we were finally at the hotel and invited her to stop by when she got off work. She agreed and would drop by around 5:00. The kids quickly found some cartoons on the TV and we waited for the call from GMA so Laura could go take a nap (she still hadn't been to sleep from the night before.)

Getting some work done? Sort of.

Thankfully, the pre-interviewer from GMA called soon after we got to our room, so I let Laura talk to her first so she could get a snooze in. I continued to get some work done until it was my turn to talk to her. When I finally talked to her, she pretty much asked me some questions I expected. "How do you pronounce Chinenye Ogike" (chi-nay'-nyeh o-gee'-kay) "How did it feel to meet your father?" "Do you plan on moving to Nigeria?" plus several others. She also linformed me we needed to be at the studio at 7:00 A.M- thankfully it only a half block down and across the street.

After I hung up the phone I realized that I too was tired and we had a couple hours before my cousin was to stop by so I took some time just to chill out for a while and watch TV. As tired as Laura was, she couldn't sleep, so she and Aly decided to wander around Times Square for a while to take some pictures and do a little souvenir shopping. GT didn't want to go so he and I attempted a nap too, to no avail, and waited for them to get back.

The girls came back and just before 5:00 and a few minutes later, we heard a knock on the door- it was my beautiful cousin Chinwe. I was extremely happy to finally see her in person. When I first discoverd my Nigerian family, Chinwe was the second member of the family I actually talked to after my Aunty Christy. We had also corresponded by email sent emails to each other for almost three years. It was wonderful to be able to have her standing right in front of me.

Finally we get to meet Chinwe in person!

We had a very nice visit where I learned about her job at the International Girl Scouts, and seeing pictures of her husband and their traditional wedding. He lives in Boston right now but they will be getting a place of their own in the city (hopefully soon.) We also decided that since Jason was taking my family out to dinner that night, we would come to Aunty Christy's house for dinner the next night. There we would meet more of the family.

After she left, we got ourselves ready to go out to dinner- the car was picking us up at 7:30 and would be taking us to the restaurant. Jason asked me early in the week if I like BBQ joints, which I definitely do. I was however a little wary about what BBQ in New York City would be like. You see, I'm somewhat of a connisseur of barbecue having been to some of the best rib joints in the country- Gates' and Sons in Kansas City, Bandana's just outside of Saint Louis, Corky's in Memphis, Big Daddy's in Des Moines, or even the Famous Dave's in the Linden Hills area of Minneapolis. Everyone of those places have some Killer Q'.

We were going to Blue Smoke on east 17th Street in Manhattan, meeting Jason and Jordan (our friendly fact checker0 for dinner at 8:00 and my mother, Kathleen, and two sisters, Mei-Lee and Francis, would meet us there when their plane got in.


Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day

Me, my nephew Zach, and Dad, 1981

My dad always had ways of letting me know that he was looking out for me and that he was proud to have me as a son. That was most evident when he was introducing me to his friends and aquaintences. He would alway have this beaming smile on his face when he would list some of my accomplishments. Or after I left home for college, whenever I would go home for a visit, we would always have at least one day where we would go and play a round of golf, or go out for breakfast- just me and him. Or sometimes he would call me outside to show me something new he had done to the yard and get my opinion on how it looked.

Dad and Me, 1988

Then there were the times when he would go outside of his realm just to be supportive of me- like year he coached my baseball team.

I was always a pretty good baseball player when I was a kid, but the summer after sixth grade I had one really standout year. In 21 games I hit 15 home runs, made very few fielding errors playing third base and left field, and even pitched four games going 3-1. We didn't keep ERA stats in little league but I was a big kid with one good pitch. My not-so-well-controlled, high velosity fastball scared most kids into whiffing. They never knew exactly where it was going to go, but they knew it would be coming fast. (For that matter- I didn't really know where it was going to go either. I just threw it as hard as I could.) Thus I had a lot of strikeouts and not a lot of runs scored against me.

At the end of each season our league would choose an all-star team that would go and play against the best of all the other different leagues around the Omaha metro area. And although I had some of the better stats of any of the kids in the league, I wasn't chosen for the All-Star team that year. However, several of the other coaches' sons did make the team even though some of their stats weren't even close to matching up with mine.

Baseball, 1977

Let's just say that my dad wasn't too happy about that. So the next year, he signed up to coach baseball. While he was a fan of watching me play baseball, he had never coached it before. His experience was pretty much going to all of my practices for six years and seeing what all the other coaches did. But he did his best, used the experience of his assistants well, and our team came in third place in the final league standings. I still didn't make the All-Star team- with the fence and the pitchers mound moved back in that next higher level, I had a much more average season and other kids deserved their spots more than I did. (Plus- the other kids figured out how to hit my only pitch.) But I really appreciated my dad trying something that wasn't really his "thing" just to help out his kid.

Zach and Dad, 2003

Being retired for over 10 years has mellowed my dad quite a bit. He still spends time working around the yard, making improvements, and he still always asks my opinion when I'm home. I don't get there as often, but when I do, he still always gets me away for a round of golf or takes me out for breakfast or a beer and to show me off to a couple of his friends around town.

I also find myself trying to do things for my kids that he did for me. For example, I try to coach my kids in every sport they participate in- because I remember how much I appreciate him trying it for me that time. I also always try to praise my kids to others- everybody knows how proud of my kids I am.

I don't get to Omaha as much as I'd like to anymore, but I never forget how much I love and appreciate my dad for the things he has done for me in my life.

Thanks Dad and Happy Father's Day!

When I went to Nigeria last year and met my birth-father, Udeh-Ekeh, it was one of those surreal moments in my life where I was speechless. How do you express the feelings you have of meeting someone who is a major part of you but that you have never known? And yet I also felt an immediate, natural pull on my heart in seeing someone whom I looked like, whose blood I shared, and whose history was also mine. While it never diminishes my feelings and bond to the family that I grew up with, this natural pull that I have with my natural family is also unmistakable.

Joyful first meeting with Udeh-Ekeh

From the very first contact by mail, Udeh-Ekeh has welcomed me into the Ogike family as though I had been a part of the family my whole life. Everyone in the village of Aboh-Orlu treated me as their son, someone with all the rights, responsibilities, and privileges of being the first son of their chief. I was family. I was Aboh.

I realize I have much to learn about being my father's son, but there are a few things I already know. My father has been very gracious to me and I wish I could afford to go to Nigeria more often to see him and my family there. I know there are good things coming that may make it easier for me.

I also know that my father has a love for his family and for his home that suprasses every other important thing in his life. He wants the best for his children (including me) and prays often for our well being.

I'd like to think that until last year, there was always a sense in my father, when he looked at his family, something was missing. The picture wasn't complete.

The Ogikes, 1982

But now, I know he can say that it is complete.

The Ogikes, 2004

Happy Father's Day, Udeh-Ekeh!

When you get married you not only gain a soulmate for life, you also gain a whole new set of realtives. I knew after our second date that I would marry Laura. I knew after my first meeting with her father, Tom, that gaining a father-in-law was going to be a really good thing. That initial instinct has never failed me.

I couldn't have been luckier in the father-in-law department had I gone out and searched for the father-in-law first before choosing a mate.

Tom and me

Happy Father's Day Tom! I am so glad to have you in my life!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

What's This?

If you are new here, you are probably wondering what this Big Journey thing is about. Here are a few things you should read first.

What's This Blog About?

The GQ Article

The In Touch Weekly Article

The Saint Paul Pioneer Press Article

Welcome and enjoy the journey with me! Please let me know you dropped by and how you got here or leave comments and questions using the link below this post.

Still Day One in New York... (Continued)


The Big "GQ"

We checked in at security at the Conde' Nast building and rode the elevator up to the ninth floor GQ offices where Jason met us at the door and proceeded to take us on a tour. It's funny how you expect offices of something famous to look so different from anything else you've ever seen, but except for the exceptional photography hanging on the walls of many famous people- it was an office- lot of cubes, offices and computers. However it was the people we were impressed with.

Jason at the office

First Jason took us to meet Jordan- the guy who 'fact checked' the story. It was nice to put a face with the name and voice- I spent a great deal of time with Jordan on the phone making sure that all the factual information in the story was correct. (He has this great, deep radio voice on the phone...) Jason was treating us to dinner that night, and Jordan would be joining us. Great!

We also met Jim Nelson- the Editor in Chief. Jim is the one who supported getting our story in the magazine and was always nice to deal with (the couple of times I talked to him.) I was surprised at how young he looked, being the editor and chief of a major magazine. (But then again, I'm getting older myself- I tend to see a lot more people as young.) He was quitet nice and thanked me for sharing my story with the magazine and the world. I have to say that I thank GQ for taking an interest in the first place.

We then walked around the offices meeting a few people here and there- layout designers, writers, editors. Everyone seemed curious as to who this family walking around their office was although I could tell that a few figured it out and kind of had that sudden "Oh... cool, it's that guyl" look on their faces. Everyone at the magazine was quite nice.

We made a call to the hotel and found that it would be another hour until our room was ready, so, Jason offered to take us to lunch at the Conde'Nast cafeteria down on the fourth floor. We were hungry, so we gratefully said "sure."

Now usually when someone tells you that you're going to eat at the cafeteria, you expect a kind of sterile, white table, lunch line with a choice of meatloaf or chicken and mashed potatoes served out of steaming shallow pans under hot lights by aging ladies in hair nets. Not at Conde'nast.

Aly and GT enjoy lunch at the Conde'nast Cafe

They had this beautifully designed space with several food stations where you could get made-to-order stir fry, freshly made gourmet sandwiches, burgers/ grilled chicken and fries, or made-to-order pasta. Plus they had this beautiful salad bar that rivaled any I had seen at some really great restaruants. (OK, OK- I was really hungry so any food would have looked good, but it was really very nice- especially for a corporate cafeteria.) The dining room was this cool art deco looking area with multi-levels and round pink booths (that of course my kids loved- they chose a table by a window and of course ate hamburgers and fries.)

At lunch, we made our plans for the rest of our couple of days. I had an appointment to talk to one of the producers from Good Morning America on the phone that afternoon who would let me know what to expect on the show and ask me aa few final questions. Plus, my cousin Chinwe, who I had talked to on the phone and exchanged emails with but hadn't met in person yet was going to come by and visit us when she got off work in the city. Jason also told us that he had arranged for a car to pick us up a the hotel to take us out to the restaurant where he would be treating us to dinner- a BBQ joint (in New York City?), and my mother and two sisters would meet us there at the restaurant after their plane got in.

Was I getting nervous yet? No. Not yet. I just wanted to get checked into the hotel and take a short nap. My few hours of sleep was starting to show.

To be continued....

Monday, June 13, 2005

Inspiration From My "Little Brother"

Me and my "little brother."

A couple days ago I got an email from my youngest brother Nnadozie that got me thinking about what I should do about the sudden notoriety that I am receiving from the GQ article and the appearance on Good Morning America. (Most of what follows is from a letter I wrote to my father in Nigeria.)

I really didn't know what to expect to happen from the article about our story, but I knew that I had some things that I considered important and that I wanted it to accomplish. Now that I have lived one of my dreams- going to Nigeria to meet the family I have there- there are some things that I need to make happen.

First, I hoped that this would somehow make it easier for me to bring my family to Nigeria to see where some of their ancestry is from. I think that is so important for my children. We all want to learn more about our family and ancestors and the history of the village, and neighboring villages and all the other surrounding areas. Perhaps "the story" could even help me do more business here at home so that I could afford to make that happen sooner.

Second, I would like to somehow make an impact on the children of Aboh village and the surrounding areas who attend the school founded by our family. I would like to find a way to bring supplies, textbooks, and other items that the school needs. (Perhaps even computers, a generator- or even internet access.) In the big dream category, I would ultimately find a way to put together a scholarship program that would award top students with opportunities to go to college either in Nigeria or perhaps even in the United States.

The common bond between my family I grew up with and the rest of family that I have now is the importance of education. I grew up in a family that was also filled with educators. My great-grandmother was a teacher. Her Daughter, my grandmother, was an award winning teacher in the Omaha Public Schools and was also taught in universities in both the United States and in Liberia. My mom and dad were also career educators in the Omaha Public Schools. Education was also very important in the O'Connor family. And my grandfather, Francis Ogike was the founder of the school in Aboh Village, which my father and his brother ran until the Nigerian government took it over some years ago.

If I accomplish the scholarship idea, I would name it the JHOO Memorial Scholarship. (J-Johnson after my grandfather Frank Johnson who worked very hard to be sure that his four children had the opportunity to go to college, H- Hanger after my grandmother Ione Williams Hanger, the teacher and University Professor, O- O'Connor after my grandfather Thomas O'Connor, and O-Ogike after my grandfather, Francis Ogike who founded the school in the village.)

The other thing that I would like our story to accomplish is to continue to show Nigeria in a positive light. It is unfortunate that so much of the news we get in our world focusses on the negative, so when we get news about Nigeria in the United States, it is rarely anything positive. Most people here think only of Nigeria from the Nigerian 419 email scam letters they see on their computers.

And yet when I traveled to Nigeria I found it a wonderful place to be. I realize that I may have seen it from a perspective that most people will never have, and yet even when we just went around to talk to people- whether in Orlu, or Lagos, or Port Harcourt, I saw great people living their lives the best they could. I saw commerce. I saw progress. I saw creativity. I saw hope for the future of the country. There were so many wonderful people, living their lives in a place where they are free to make the most of their opportunities. I pray that Nigeria continues to be free and that the government can remain and become more stable and democratic.

There was one thing about Nnadozie's email that got me to thinking again about something that has already been in my mind but didn't really have a theme until I was invited to go on Good Morning America.

When the GMA people told me that they wanted me to come on their show, and told me that I would be appearing with my wife and my mother, Kathleen- I was glad that I wouldn't be up there alone. It would have been cool if they would have also called my father and my parents that I grew up with too. It all happened so fast that I really didn't think to mention it. Plus in hindsight, I realize that the segment was only eight minutes- long for GMA- so in a way I understand. You can only fit so many people on the set at a time.

I have always referred to this story as "our story" and while everybody is focussing on me and the "prince" angle of it, I do always have this in the back of my head. The prince part, while it may make it more interesting to people in the United States, is not the reason that this is important to me or our family.

To me, the reunion of family, the gratitude I have for the parents that raised me, and the future opportunities that may come to me and the rest of my family (all three sections) are all much more important to me. I don't really understand the "prince" part so much yet, so it is difficult for me to even think about that. Though it may be sigificant to my Nigerian family and to the people of Aboh-Orlu, it is also the one aspect that, if it were missing, wouldn't change the way I feel about this reunion. I am most happy to have found my family that stretches around the world and I want to focus on that.

Nnadozie has also pointed to the fact that so far our story has been told mostly from my perspective. I can understand that- I am the one who sought out and found this final piece to the puzzle that is me. Plus, GQ is an American magazine and GMA is an American program, and they will focus on the American in the story who made this great journey and found something wonderful.

But I also realize that there are other voices that will be very important in telling the whole story. For example, my parents that raised me have played such an important role in my life and still do- I see them as heroes. If there are other opportunities to show our story, from different perspectives- for example including my parents, or my father in Nigeria, or any of my nine brothers and sisters- it will definitely add a lot to the complete picture.

I especially hope that this can provide opportunities for my realitives in Nigeria. I'd really like to be able to help my "little" brother in his desire to come to the United States for a visit. I truly think the GQ article will play a positive role in making that happen. I am taking it to my congressman (John Kline-R, whose office has been very helpful already) and both Senators (Coleman-R and Dayton-D) to hopefully get letters of recommendation for his visa to be approved.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Start Spreading the News...

I'm Back!

Like I said before, while I had every good intention of "live blogging" about the trip to New York City for Good Morning America, I quickly came to the realization that there is just way to much to do in New York to fit into three days- two of which were traveling days. So here I sit on the flight with a little too much turbulence, heading back to Saint Paul trying to collect my thoughts.
What an incredible three days!

Aly movin' fast

We arrived in the city just before 11:00 on Wednesday, very excited about everything we were about to do. My daughter was particularly animated, walking at a pace a little quicker than we were accustomed to and had a giddy, radiating smile on her face. And we hadn't even reached baggage claim yet. She was going to meet Diane Sawyer!

"Car for Marty Johnson"

Good Morning America had arranged for a car to take us from the airport to our hotel and we found our driver Daniel waiting for us at the bottom of the escalator. As we waited for our luggage to come on the conveyor, we thought about the things we wanted to squeeze in on this very impromptu (for us at least) trip. I mean Good Morning America was cool and all, but we also had things we wanted and needed to do.

ABC Studios, Times Square

We were fortunate as we rode on the freeways that we were missing rush hour and got into the city pretty quickly. Through the tunnel under the East River past all the all the billboards lining the way into uptown, past the New York Public library and into Times Square. Left at the ABC News studio with the rolling news ticker signs, up a half a block, and we were there.

The good news- we were staying at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in the heart of Manhattan, one half block from the ABC studio in Times Square. Bad News- our room wasn't ready and wouldn't be for another couple of hours. We called our new friend Jason over at GQ and he invited us over to his office for a tour and some lunch in the Conde' Nast cafeteria. (Conde'Nast is the parent company of GQ, as well as Vanity Fair, Glamour, Vogue, and several other publications.)

Not quite ready...

The bell captain stored our luggage until we could check in and we ventured out into the heart of Manhattan. Conde' Nast was one half block down, take a left, two blocks, take another left, and five buildings up. On the way we marveled at where we were. We passed the ABC Studios where we needed to be in the morning. Across the street- MTV. To the right- Broadway. To the left- 42nd Street. subways, dozens of Jumbotrons, street vendors, cabbies, restaurants, stores, lights, and thousands and thousands of people everywhere. And it was surprisingly clean. MUCH different than when I was there in 1986.

In the Heart of the City

Our kids were in total awe as we walked the few short blocks to Jason's office. It was easy to tell we were tourists because we were constantly looking up at the sea of skyscrapers.

UPDATE: To be continued... (Thanks Jackie!)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Welcome Metafilter, Livejournal, Nigerian Entertainment, Nigerian Nation, and Fark Users

Look around, read a few posts, ask questions- or better yet, read the GQ story first. (That will answer most of the ones I've read in your comments sections.)

PS. Drop a comment so I know you were here and where you came from.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Good Morning America

Laura and I chat with Diane Sawyer

I had every good intention of blogging about the experience of going on Good Morning America with my wife, Laura and my mother, Kathleen, but we spent so much of our time making the most of our trip to New York City with our children, that sitting at the computer writing about it all just had to wait.

Now that we are back home, I will tell you about it when I have some more time. Right now I'll tell you that the crew, producer, make-up and hair people, and everyone at ABC were wonderful to us and Diane Sawyer was gracious, kind, and put us at ease from the moment we walked onto the set. It was a great experience.

If you saw the piece, let me know. I am interested in hearing what you thought. I'll tell you more once we get some rest!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

New York in Two and a Half Hours

We're on our way. New York City. The city that doesn't sleep. And Good Morning America!

We didn't sleep much in our city last night either. In fact, I don't think Laura slept at all. We did our usual "packing 'til midnight" routine that we always do before traveling. It didn't matter that we had to get up at four in the morning.

Anyone with kids knows that it is practically impossible to get any packing done until before the kids are in bed the night before you leave. Oh, you can have all the clothes picked out and folded, and have the snacks for the plane ready, and the portable DVD player charged up, and the extra batteries for the cameras ready, and toothbrushes and toothpaste set out to pack last.

None of it matters. Not a single stitch of clothing goes in the suitcase until the kids are in bed. Of course, last night the girl had a softball game and the boy had baseball practice so we got an even later start than normal. (Aly's team won 21-14 and she went 4-4.) Plus we had to take "Buck the Dog" over to our dear friend Sara's house. Good thing we packaged his food ahead of time- seven zip lock bags, one serving each. Water dish. Check. Feeding dish. Check. Toiletries. Check. List of phone numbers for work. Yep. The usual stuff you need on a last minute trip to appear on national TV (as if that happens every day.)

You know- as I sit here and think about all that is happening in my life now, it amazes me all the blessings I have. I am wondering how I can use this temporary attention to impact others in a positive way.

Looking back at my life, I realize the impact of giving a child the advantage of having a family. I can't imagine what my life would have been like if my parents (the ones who adopted me) had decided that they would only have wanted an infant instead of giving a home to a four year old child. Who knows? I might have turned out alright.

But then again, I may have been bounced from home to home. Never going to camp. Never playing little league baseball. Never learning to play saxophone. Never taking the vacation to California. Never participating in the schools' summer enrichment programs. Never spending a Saturday morning with my dad chasing a small white ball around several thousand yards of perfectly good land hoping it drops in the hole. Never being pushed to do my very best in school.

It is hard to say how my life would have been shaped without the love and guidance of the parents who raised me. I owe so much to my mom and dad. They took a chance and adopted a four year old kid.