Volume 122, Number 49
Oberon native connects with son after 40 years
The following story, which was published in the December 18 issue of The Forum at Fargo concerns two Benson County natives, Oberon native (West Antelope Township) Judy Sylling Possen and Sheyenne native (Wood LakeTownship) Bob Possen.
BY BOB LIND
The Forum (Fargo, ND)
Judy Possen’s life is pockmarked with difficulties: breast cancer; back, heart and knee surgeries; divorce.
And, one of the most difficult things to do of all, giving up her newborn baby for adoption.
Judy was a day short of 19 when she gave birth to Jeffrey Allan, making her an unwed teen-age mother.
She held her baby, studied his features, then allowed him to go into foster care which led, three weeks later, to adoption.
She didn’t see him again until this fall when, after 40 years, they were reunited in a Nevada airport.
Judy and her second husband, Bob Possen, live in West Fargo. She has worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota for 17 years, 13 of them as a supervisor in the customer service department.
Bob had never been married before he married Judy 26 years ago. She had four children from her first marriage so, "He took on quite a load when he got us," she says. "But he is a wonderful Christian man who has been a real dad to the children and grandchildren."
Grandchildren. She thought she had 13. This year, she learned she has two more.
Forty years ago, Judy was a teenager in Oberon. When she learned she was pregnant, she chose to live with her grandparents in Whittier, Calif. They helped her throughout her pregnancy and set up an adoption of the child through the Evangelical Welfare Agency, of which Judy’s uncle was director.
Some time after the baby was born and given up, Judy married and had those other children. They are Christie Dickens of Fargo; Scott Noyes of Ulen, Minn.; Tricia Voulgarakis of Lino Lakes, Minn.; and Rob Noyes of Moorhead.
Of course, she loved those kids. But she never stopped thinking about Jeffrey Allan; where he was and how he was. Yet she didn’t search for him until he was 18 so as not to interfere with his childhood.
Finally, this year, through a series of events and through the help of several people and an organization called "A Loving Journey," an adoption search and reunion service based in Federal Way, Wash., she received the long-awaited word.
She learned her baby had been adopted by a pastor and his wife, Doug and Sydney Bray. His name became Mark Douglas Bray.
Mark Bray is married to Shannon, has two children, and lives in Sparks, Nev.
Judy got his phone number and, probably trembling a little, called. All she got, though, was Shannon’s voicemail.
But she left word she was the birth mother of Shannon’s husband. Shannon called her back.
Then, on June 27, Judy came home from work and heard a voice on her answering machine.
It was Mark.
"My heart," Judy says, "soared like an eagle."
On Oct. 5, Judy and Bob flew to Reno, Nev. There, in the airport, mother and son were reunited.
"It was wonderful," Judy says.
Besides, Judy got to meet the two grandkids she didn’t know she had: Mark’s children, Hannah, 15, and Jacob, 12.
After Judy and Bob returned home, Mark e-mailed her that "I had the time of my life spending time with you. I cannot believe after all these years it was just the most warm and comfortable feeling with you and Bob.
"You have a wonderful husband. I really enjoyed the time I was able to spend talking with him. He’s a keeper.
"I am so thankful to God that we had the time to spend together just to get to know each other. I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful mother like you. I am so proud to call you MOM."
He concluded his e-mail with, "I will see you in January (minus-30 degrees?????)"
Each year, Bob’s Christmas present to the guys in the family is to take them to an ice fishing tournament on Devils Lake.
The next one will be held Jan. 28. At that one, Judy and all the kids will be there; all the kids, including Mark, who will meet his North Dakota siblings for the first time.
Meanwhile, Judy and Mark call each other almost weekly and send off numerous e-mails to each other.
"God is faithful," Judy says, "and hears our prayers. His timing is perfect even when we think it should be different.
"Christmas will be complete this year," she says, "knowing where each of my children and grandchildren are. I am especially happy that Mark and his family are Christians and they are celebrating the Christmas season the same way we are — with Christ."
So, here’s to a merry and blessed Christmas to Judy and her family — all of them — and to each of you from Neighbors.
Bob Lind writes a column called Neighbors in The Forum at Fargo. This story is reprinted with permission from The Forum.
Left to right, seated, are Jacob Bray, Judy Possen and Hannah Bray.
Standing are Bob Possen, Shannon Bray and Mark Bray. Mark is Judy’s son, who was given up for adoption shortly after his birth. Jacob and Hannah are the children of Mark and Shannon.
Robert Shirek (right) newly elected chairman of the Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resource Board presents a certificate of appreciation to Larry Gellner (left) for his service as the 2005 chairman at the joint board meeting in Devils Lake January 4. Shirek represents Walsh County on the board and Gellner is the Cavalier County representative. Other board members include Carl Duchscher, Benson County; Mike Tweed, Eddy County; Mike Donohue, Nelson County; Duane Hawk, Pierce County; Les Windjue, Ramsey County; Ron Heinz, Rolette County; and Dale Anderson, Towner County. (Photo courtesy of Mike Noone of the ND State Water Commission)
The Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resource Board’s 2006 Water Stewardship Award was presented to the Nikoliasen Waterfowl Production Area eight miles north of Cando in Towner County. Presenting the award January 4 at the Lake Region Extension Roundup in Devils Lake was the joint board’s new chairman Robert Shirek, left, who represents Walsh County on the board. Accepting the award was Roger Hollevoet of the US Fish & Wildlife Service. The project included local landowners, local, state and federal agencies and organizations. Benefits of the project include flood control, water quality maintenance, erosion control plus enhanced tourism and economic diversity.
(Photo by Mike Noone of the ND State Water Commission)
Hoop shoot winners
The Maddock local Elks Hoop Shoot Contest winners are shown. Winners in the boys’ division were, left to right, Hunter Buehler, 8-9-year-olds; Dylan Gigstad, 10-11-year-olds; and John D. Schmid, 12-13-year-olds.
In the girls’ division, winners were, left to right, Alyssa Nystrom, 8-9-year-olds; Katelyn Engh, 10-11-year-olds; and Mackenzie Bullinger, 12-13-year-olds.
Hunter Buehler is shown after winning the district competition in Devils Lake on Sunday, Jan. 8. He will now compete in the state competition in Jamestown.
Oberon School students who completed their December reading assignments are, left to right, front row: Larissa Dunn, Shawn Lewis, Louis Blacklance, McKenzie Scott, Darica Deckert and Levi Thumb. Middle row: Cyril Shaw, Shaylee Scott, Dakotah Greywater, Brock Azure, Lacey Brown and Myron Wanna.
Back row: George Brown, Alfred Littlewind, Cody Greywater, Tanya Two Hearts and Chelsea Hook.
Oberon students who had perfect attendance for the third six-week period were treated to bowling January 6. Left to right, front row, are Darica Deckert, Jace Feather and Louis Blacklance. Middle row: Dakotah Greywater, Bailey Thumb, Shaylee Scott and Emily Thumb. Back row: Joetta Three Irons, Cody Greywater, Sarah Hook, Chelsea Hook, Tanya Two Hearts, Alfred Littlewind, Cyril Shaw and Mikellene Applebee.
Jim Swanson to retire soon
Maddock native Jim Swanson of Fargo will retire from the ND State Seed Department the end of January. He has been regulatory manager at the ND State Seed Department since 1990.
An open house roast will be held in his honor on Friday, Jan. 20 from 2 to
4 p.m. at the ND State Seed Department office at 1313 18th St. North in Fargo.