- Richard Kyle Ripley, 32, shared his story with Humans of New York
- His birth parents were addicts, and by age two his body was covered with scars
- He spent three years in terrible foster homes, while his brother Kevin was taken in by the Ripleys — who soon took him in, too
- After Mr. Ripley died of cancer, Ms. Ripley officially adopted Richard and Kevin
- She gave words of affirmation and encouragement and helped ‘heal’ him
- Richard said he should be ‘broken’ but isn’t because his adoptive mom poured love into him
A Mississippi man has shared the emotional story of how he was adopted in a touching tribute to his adoptive mother and how she changed his life.
Richard Kyle Ripley, 32, opened up to Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton, who posted the heartwarming account on social media on Monday.
Richard detailed how he was abused and had terrible experiences in foster care for years until the Ripleys took him in, and how the patient and loving Ms. Ripley encouraged him, comforted him, and healed him so he could grow into the adult he is today.
‘My brother [Kevin] and I were both placed into foster homes at a young age,’ Richard, whose birth parents were addicts, began. ‘He was lucky — he went to a family called the Ripleys. I went through four different homes in three years, and each one was worse than the next.’
At his foster homes, he’d be locked into his bedroom, with locks on the outside of the door. He was molested, and one foster family even made him change his name to one that started with the letter H.
‘I’d get to see my brother every few months. Ms. Ripley would take us for lunch at McDonalds, and that’s when she first noticed the scars all over my body. She immediately made arrangements for me to join their family.’
‘Back then the word «family» didn’t mean much to me. But the Ripleys made me feel welcome in their home. Whenever I did something wrong, Ms. Ripley would sit me down and explain why it wasn’t OK.
‘But then she’d say: «You’re not going anywhere. Because you belong to us now.»‘
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long after Richard joined the Ripley family that Mr. Ripley was diagnosed with cancer, and died soon after.
‘Ms. Ripley’s entire world fell apart,’ he recalled. ‘They’d been high school sweethearts. And now she was alone with two foster kids.
‘Nobody would have blamed her for taking us back. But instead she took us to court and made it permanent.’
Ms. Ripley and the two boys moved into a single wide trailer in Mississippi, and she worked ‘whatever odd jobs’ to support them.
‘We never had much, but we went to movies. We had family game nights. She kept us busy with little league and Boy Scouts,’ he said.
‘She must have been super stressed, but that’s not at all what I remember. I just remember the affirmation that she gave me. It was always: «You’re smart.» And «You’re handsome.» And «You survived all that stuff because you’re strong.»‘
He said that when he joined the Marines, his adoptive mother cried. But it was how he was able to get a college education, and he went on to graduate from law school.
Now, Richard has a daughter of his own — which put him into ‘an emotional tailspin.’
‘I realized how every little choice I make is going to affect her future, ‘ he said.
‘And then I started thinking about how different my life could have been. Because my early development had been the opposite of what a child’s should be.
‘I should be broken, but I’m not. Because thirty years ago my Mom decided to keep me. And somehow, despite all her sadness and heartbreak, she poured enough love into me so that I could heal.’
Richard’s story has quickly touched the hearts of over 1.2 million people, who have liked Humans of New York’s posts across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.