Richard Ripley knows he wouldn’t be the man he is today if one special woman hadn’t intervened on his behalf decades ago.
Born into a family plagued by addiction, Richard and his brother, Kevin, were placed into separate foster homes at a young age. The way Richard sees it, he got the short end of the stick, bouncing from home to home and suffering abuse along the way. But as he told Humans of New York, he couldn’t be happier with the way his life turned out.
When the brothers entered the foster care system, Kevin was placed with the Ripley family while Richard went on to live in four different homes over the course of three years. Richard and Kevin only saw each other every few months, but during their visits, Mrs. Ripley grew to care for Richard, too.
“[Mrs.] Ripley would take us for lunch at McDonald’s, and that’s when she first noticed the scars all over my body,” Richard wrote. “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. “
Unfortunately, Mr. Ripley passed away from cancer shortly after Richard joined the family. But even in the face of tragedy and hardship, Mrs. Ripley never once considered parting with Kevin or Richard.
“Nobody would have blamed her for taking us back. But instead she took us to court and made it permanent,” Richard continued. “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.'”
Thanks to her unfailing love and guidance, Richard grew up to be the strong, successful man she always knew he could be. He joined the Marines…
…and graduated from law school! And, of course, his mom was always there by his side, celebrating right along with him.
Now, as a parent himself, Richard couldn’t be more grateful to the Ripleys for making his life worth living — and giving him a future to look forward to.
“Last year I had a daughter of my own. And that really put me into an emotional tailspin,” he wrote. “Because I realized how every little choice I make is going to affect her future. 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.”
There are very few forces as powerful as a mother’s love. We’re so happy Richard and Kevin found the mom and dad they both desperately needed. While Mr. Ripley was taken away from them much too soon, his and his wife’s kindness will never leave them.
Share to honor all the adoptive and foster parents who open their homes — and hearts — to children in need.
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