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Faith led me through Facebook shock

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Earlene Crumpler (right) was a strong pillar of love and kindness for Chris Crumpler growing up. Tomorrow he’ll celebrate her and his biological mother, Melanie Bray, as part of Mother’s Day

Chris Crumpler knew he was adopted.

It still came as a surprise when his biological mother reached out to him on Facebook five years ago; he relied on his faith to see him through.

“I prayed through each step of the way,” said Mr Crumpler, a motivational speaker and basketball coach. “I prayed when I got that first Facebook message from a woman saying she could be my mom. My faith was the foundation behind it all.”

The 32-year-old always recognised he was different from the family that raised him in Ocklawaha, Florida.

“Obviously being raised by a tall, black Southern family and you are a light-skinned, curly-haired boy — the only one in the family — raises some questions. My parents were also in their 60s and I was around eight years-old, so people noticed something was off.

“Kids would say, ‘Those aren’t your real parents’. Then one day my mom [Earlene Crumpler] brought me in the house and told me I was adopted. I didn’t know what it meant, but it came up.

“For years I never accepted the idea that my parents were not my parents so I kind of put aside the whole adoption piece because I was proud to be a Crumpler.”

He didn’t want to deal with his complicated past and chose to ignore it.

Then his world was turned topsy-turvy when his biological mom found him through social media.

“One day my phone buzzed telling me I had a Facebook notification and it was a friend request from a lady saying ‘I know you don’t know me, but I am looking for my son’. ‘You have the same birthday. Were you adopted?’

“It wasn’t just a message for me. Something immediately came over me and I almost had an anxiety attack and then I called my parents and asked for their advice. I just sent a simple message back to the woman saying ‘Yes, I’m adopted’ and accepted her friend request.”

Mr Crumpler was curious, but didn’t want to get his hopes up.

For his two children’s sake he was interested in learning more about his biological parents and any medical issues from their family history.

“I was nervous so I only gave her one or two word comments and didn’t even want to talk on the phone until we confirmed what this actually was.

“We did a DNA test and it confirmed that my father was a man in Mississippi and that this woman [Melanie Bray] was my mom.”

Months later he met his parents for the first time in a restaurant in Orlando for lunch.

Neither he, nor his biological mother, were sure how things would go.

“Melanie is a researcher and kind of Googled about people who find their parents 20-plus years later and none of the stories really went well. The kids suffered from a lot of trauma so she prepared herself for the worst.

“She expected me to hate her for what she did to me, but I am meeting her and meeting my half-brother and sister for the first time and my biological father. I hugged them all and told them I loved them and gave my mom a kiss and we ended up having a two-and-a-half-hour lunch conversation which spilled over to my sister’s house and to where they got to meet my kids and my wife [Nicole].

“It ended up being a whole day and the next day they drove down to my hometown — the same place I was born and raised — and met my whole family.

“They got to see all the pictures and hear the stories of me growing up. For me it was closure and meant no more hiding and faking about this part of my life.”

Mr Crumpler said he had to come to grips with the fact he was biracial and learn more about the other side of his culture.

His children have adjusted well to the fact they have both white and black relatives.

It has worked out so well he’s confident it was all orchestrated by God.

“Without my faith none of this would have been possible,” he said. “It’s the only reason all this is happening. It’s the only reason I was able to do what I did and love my biological parents in spite of whatever I was feeling.

“Being in my late 20s also helped because by this time I had made many mistakes myself and experienced the challenges of being married and having children and trying to start a family and start a career. I understand how you can make mistakes in your early 20s and do things you probably never wanted to do. If they would have come to me at 17 it would have been an entirely different reaction.”

The experience strengthened his faith and reminded him that God is always in control.

“I realised how it was all for my good,” he said. “It was probably the best scenario to be in, all things considered. And it taught me that God is always God even when it looks as if He is not paying attention or listening. He was there the whole time.

“It’s such an assurance that comes over you when you think, ‘Who could have put this type of story together and make it work like this?’ Even the best script writer couldn’t write a script like this.

“Even my parents accepting me who never adopted a kid before is a miracle in itself.”

Mother’s Day has obviously taken on a new meaning for Mr Crumpler in the past few years.

“It went from being just my mom to having to celebrate two or three moms and my wife, but it’s a good problem to have. We kind of joke about it, but I have a whole bunch of mommas.”

He credits Mrs Crumpler with being the epitome of love for him growing up.

She was someone who would allow him to talk about his dreams and aspirations for hours and supported him throughout his journey.

He’s learnt he also has a lot of similarities to his biological mother.

“It’s just so amazing how much we share the same spirit and energy and passions,” he said.

“And I believe God is calling us to share in the same missions, to talk about race, adoption and forgiveness.”

Ms Bray is also helping him with his first book project to be released later this year.

Visit www.chriscrumpler.com

Chris Crumpler's biological mother Melanie Bray contacted him on Facebook five years ago. She's pictured on a recent trip to Bermuda to see Mr Crumpler and his family.
Chris Crumpler pictured here on the left, along with his biological mother, Melanie Bray, and his half siblings