Special Report: Father & Son Reunited After 36 Years - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

Special Report: Father & Son Reunited After 36 Years

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As manager of the King’s Rook Club, Ryan Bartosek is always looking for bands and musicians.

But in his personal life, there's been another search of much greater significance.

"I knew nothing,” said Bartosek.  “No information whatsoever about myself, at all."

For the past 30 years, he's been trying to track down his biological parents.

"That's a hard thing to deal with, the why did this happen?” said Bartosek.  “Why do you give birth to a child and decide that you didn't want to keep that child in your life?

In September of 1980, Bartosek was adopted two days after his birth.  

“My parents told me when I was six-years-old, that I was adopted," said Bartosek. “They were always cool about it, my entire family was.  I was never made to not feel like I belong, I just was just always part of the family.”

At 36-years-old, with each passing year, he remained committed to finding the man and woman, who gave him life.

"I reached out to the doctor who had set up the adoption process,” said Bartosek.  “He told me there wasn't anything he could do."

With no access to his adoption records, Bartosek began to lose hope.

"I hit a bunch of roadblocks,” said Bartosek.  “I just stopped looking because I didn't know what to do, where to turn, how to do it."

In Albion, a similar search was also underway, 36 years and counting.

"There's not a September 27 that doesn't go by at 5:11 p.m. that I would look up and say happy birthday." said former Albion Fire Chief Scott Hyde.

In 1980, Hyde and his then fiance Debbie Holden found out that she was pregnant.  They were both 18-years-old.

"Probably a month or so before she was due, her mother thought that with us being so young, that it probably wasn't the right time to have a child." said Hyde.

The young couple gave their son up for adoption.

"It was like an emptiness,” said Hyde.  “For 36 years, it was an emptiness."

As both men continued their search, Bartosek’s friend and co-worker Ashley Sayre day Rivas told him to try www.ancestry.com.

"I know what it was like the first time I met my father after not knowing him for 20 years,” said Sayre de Rivas.  “I know exactly how awesome that feels to find that peace that you're missing."

Bartosek took her advice and purchased a DNA kit from the website. 

“I signed up for the free trial and I hit with three DNA (matches) with real high probability,” said Bartosek.  “Two of them were real high.  They were my cousins, and one of them was like 99.8 percent, so that was a match."

After Bartosek reached out to those matches, Hyde received a text message from his cousin.

"His text was, “Are you sitting down?”  I said yeah,” said Hyde.  “He said, I think I just talked to your son.  My cousin gave me his name, and of course, being where I work, I went on Facebook and found him"

Hyde then messaged Bartosek.

"Wednesday morning, I woke up to a Facebook message from a man that said, you were born September 27, 1980 at 5:11 p.m. at Saint Vincent Hospital.  I'm pretty sure I'm your father."

Hours later, the two men reunited.

“For me, it's everything I hoped for,” said Hyde.  “I have known for 36 years that this day was going to come. I just didn't know when."

Hyde and Bartosek met for the first time at the Fox and the Hound, where they shared a couple of beers and plenty of stories.  They soon discovered that they’ve only been separated by a distance of 10 miles.

“You always hear they adopt children out and they send them to other parts of the country,” said Hyde.  “He was 10 miles away from me, this entire time.”

“There's so many times when I could have just been around him and not even know it,” said Bartosek.  “We search for each other 30 years, and this whole time he's been in Albion.  It’s crazy.”

Their moment of joy is mixed with sadness.  Four years ago, Bartosek’s biological mother died from brain cancer.

“This has been such a happy experience, but I've had some pretty dark meltdowns,” said Bartosek.  “I'm mourning a woman that I never met that I love with all my heart."

"We went out for dinner and she said if I had to do it all over again, I would have kept him,” said Hyde.  “She was never able to have children again."

Both Bartosek and Hyde are now focused on the future.

"I've always wanted a brother or sister,” said Bartosek.  “The fact that I have two of them (brothers) now, and I have nephews?  It's fantastic."

After 36 years, a father and son are reunited, with nothing but time to catch up.
 

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