Adoption reunions are sensitive affairs that usually take place behind closed doors.
But tonight, Shari Ulrich and Mike Magee, the son she placed for adoption, will be re-connecting on stage.
And they won’t be comparing notes. They’ll be performing them.
Shari and Mike will be playing together at a concert in Eugene, Oregon.
It’s not the first time they’ve done it. Shari, a singer and songwriter, and Mike, an architect, have been performing together for five years.
Shari knows that their relationship is far from conventional. But it works.
“It’s been my world for so long that sometimes I forget that it is all quite remarkable,” she says. “I just take it for granted, but it’s pretty special.”
Pregnant and unmarried at 15, Shari placed Mike for adoption in San Francisco in 1968 in a home for unwed mothers. She then returned home and continued to live her life as if nothing had happened.
Then, in 2007, curious to find out what had happened to her baby boy, she posted her story on an adoption reunion website.
Within a few hours, thanks to a “search angel,” Shari had all the information she needed to reach out to Mike.
By the next day, they were talking on the phone.
Shari says she was never one for hiding things. “I am a believer that secrets are not a healthy thing,”
Since reconnecting with Mike in 2007, she has shared her adoption story in interviews and and, most movingly, in a song called By the Grace of Goodbye:
“…Forty years went by
Then on a warm day in July
Something told her she should find him
It was time, it was time
Those three words “yes it’s me”
Ended years of mystery
Opened hearts and families
It was time, it was time…”
It’s a song that has special meaning for Mike.
“Whenever she does it I feel a little squirmy as I sit there and listen to it, because it’s powerful,” he says. “I tear up every time I hear it just listening to it in the car.”
Shari and Mike won’t be the only family members on stage tonight. Joining them will be Shari’s daughter, Julia Graff, a recording engineer who has been playing with her since she was 12.
“It was never anything but easy,” Shari says of her reunion — a bond that has been only deepened over time through the power of love and music.
Read the full story here.
Photo credit: Shari Ulrich
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