COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Lori Gray was just 14 years old when she held her newborn son in her arms, for 20 minutes. Then she gave him away forever.
“I thought I would never see him again,” Gray says. “It’s hard. It’s probably one of the worst things I ever had to do, but I think it was the best.”
Little did she know, 40 years later, she would be back in the hospital being treated for cancer, when she would hold her son again.
“I still have the picture that Junior took over my shoulder of me meeting Lori for the first time. And she was a little upset and I said ‘You know mom, we just have to stop planning on meeting like this…every 40 years or so,'” says Brad Watts, describing the reunion with his mom.
Watts, who was adopted by a family who moved to St. Louis, has a daughter of his own now. With the support of his adoptive mother and his wife, Watts was one of the first to take advantage of an Ohio law that opened access to birth certificates for adopted children.
“I was actually at work and I will never forget; my wife called me and she was crying, so I thought something was wrong. And I’m like what’s wrong and she said your birth certificate came today. And I go ‘Well, open it!’ And she said I already did,” Watts says.
That moment opened the door to a large family full of siblings. Gray had gone on to marry the boy who had fathered Watts, and they went on to have four more boys and a girl. One of his brothers is a spitting image of Watts.
Watts brought his adopted family to Ohio to connect with the family of his birth, and he says there’s room in his heart for all of them. “My adopted family are my family. I always knew I was adopted. Yeah, they provided for me. They made me who I am today, but I will tell you, I act more like all the Grays.”