grad gets one-of-a-kind surprise
ANNE, MD. – (May 30, 2014) – Michael J. Taylor got a
graduation gift this past spring few could match for its emotional impact.
Michael’s mother secretly tracked down three of her
adopted son’s long-lost brothers and invited them to a
post-graduation party she threw at a Salisbury hotel.
“I don’t know how to put in words how I felt,” Michael
said several days after word spread across the UMES campus about the reunion.
Michael only has memories of his oldest brother,
Christian. They last saw one another in 1997 when Michael was five.
“I never forgot Michael. I kept him in my heart all
this time,” said Christian, 29. “I cried tears of joy. It takes a lot for me to
Michael, now 22, was so overwhelmed by the surprise
guests that he never touched his plate of food.
“I couldn’t even tell you what was on the menu,” Michael
Joining Christian at the surprise party were Elijah,
18, and Antonio, 17, who were infants when Michael and a fifth brother, Saleen,
21, moved with Norma Taylor Palmer from the Philadelphia area to nearby Eden
just north of UMES.
Norma Palmer contacted a social worker this past
spring seeking help finding three of Michael’s brothers she believed were
living in Philadelphia. The social worker passed along the inquiry to
the family with whom Elijah lived, and Elijah then shared the message with
Antonio and Christian.
Christian occasionally did Internet searches looking
for Michael, but always came up empty. “I was starting to give up hope,” he
said, until Elijah’s phone call came on April 30.
“I’ve always believed in God and this just proves
you should never give up hope,” Christian said
Michael, a Washington High School alumnus, earned a
sociology degree from UMES May 16, graduating with honors. He was a member of
the Richard A. Henson Honors Program and participated in the prestigious (2013)
Summer Humanities Institute held at the Ralph J. Bunche Center on the campus of
the University of California at Los Angeles.
It was the first time Michael had ventured that far
Michael is the first in Norma Palmer’s immediate
family and in his own biological family to earn a college degree.
Peers and professors characterize Michael as
grounded, focused and mature beyond his years. He is admired for his
attentiveness toward his mother, who has battled health problems.
“I’m so proud
of Michael – what he has been able to accomplish,” Norma Palmer said. “I’ve
been truly blessed to have him in my life.”
Her surprise party not only has enabled Michael to
reconnect with three of his brothers, but a younger sister as well that he had
never met until traveling to Philadelphia to give Christian a ride back home.
“All the boys are together now, at least in their
hearts,” Norma Palmer said. “Family has always been important to us, and I
wanted Michael and Saleen to know a little something about theirs.’
“Unbelievable,” Michael said. “Unbelievable.”
Added Aundra Roberts, assistant director of the
Henson Honors Program, said, “it couldn’t happen to a nicer, more deserving
director, Office of Public Relations, (410)