By Luke Kenton
After nearly two decades of waiting and wondering, this mum was given the birthday surprise of a lifetime, when her daughter’s secret present turned out to be the son she had to give up for adoption, 18 years earlier.
For almost any mother, the idea of giving up their child is an unimaginable thought, but for Tammy Oswalt, from Orlando, Florida, it was an inevitable reality she was forced to face.
An already-single-mother to two young girls and on the brink of homelessness, Tammy wanted more for her soon-to-be third child.
In an attempt to provide him with the stable home and loving family that she at the time could not, Tammy came to the painstaking decision to register her baby for adoption.
Racked with guilt and uncertainty for the next 18 years, Tammy was celebrating her 53rd birthday with eldest daughter Samantha, on September 20th, when it was proclaimed during dinner that she was about to receive a gift ‘that money can’t touch’.
Notorious for the ‘incredible’ presents she’s surprised her mother with over the years, Samantha captured Tammy’s reaction during a Facebook live stream, when she announced this year that her gift would be that of her son, Dylan, who she hadn’t seen since giving birth to him.
Stunned by her daughter’s claim, Tammy turns away to compose herself, before facing the reality she’s spent nearly two-decades dreaming about: To hold her son in her arms once again.
As if making up for lost time, without hesitation, Tammy stands to pull her son into a loving embrace, repeating ‘Oh my god!’ several times, before telling him he’s ‘absolutely beautiful’.
Tammy said: “Last year Sammy had surprised me with tickets to see my favourite band, ACDC, so I was kind of in a ‘wait for it’ moment to see what wonderful thing she’d arranged for me this time.
“As soon as she said about it being something that ‘money can’t buy’, something in my heart knew what was about to happen and I was so afraid to turn around.
“The moment I looked back and saw him, so much ran through me. There was so much love, I just wanted to hold and kiss him.
“Finally, the peace I have craved for in my heart was now right in front of me.
“I felt whole for the very first time, since I last held Dylan in my arms.”
After giving up Dylan – originally named Bruce – for adoption, Tammy had limited interaction with her biological son, except for a few updates issued by the agency shortly after his birth.
From that point, after a number of her requests for more information were turned down, Tammy nobly took a step back and left Dylan to grow-up without her presence.
Tammy said: “When I was pregnant with Dylan, my world around me was falling apart.
“My partner had left me; I’d lost my job; and I was on the verge of losing the house as well.
“He deserved a family with two loving parents, a stable home and everything else I couldn’t provide at the time.
“Since Dylan’s birth I had essentially hated myself. It tore me up daily wondering where he was, how he was and if he hated me.
“I didn’t give him up because I didn’t love him or want him.
“I gave him up because I loved him and because I wanted him to have a better life than I could offer him.
“There were times that I thought about giving up, but what kept me going was the hope that we would one day meet again.”
Unbeknownst to Tammy, in October 2016, Dylan had reached out to his big sister, Samantha, with a hopeful message to one day be a part of the family’s lives again – but he wasn’t yet ready to meet his mother.
After months of secret conversations, Tammy one day received a message from her daughter, asking her to check her inbox, where within stood a long-awaited message from Dylan, beginning with ‘How are you, mom?’.
Tammy said: “The first time I saw that he’d called me mom, all my fears just dissipated.
“I couldn’t believe it, I was so overwhelmed that I just burst into tears.
“For just a moment I was hurt that she had kept it from me for so long, but quickly that no longer mattered.
“I knew how difficult it must have been for him to reach out to a woman who has seemingly given up on him.
“And I was so glad he found the courage, it was a moment I feared would never come.
“It feels incredible to have him back in my life again.
“Dylan and I promised one another we would never lose each other again.
“No matter what happens from the point, it will all be as a family.”
Dylan, an 18-year-old student, added: “It was honestly so hard to reach out, I had a letter prepared and some photos about a year before I actually did contact Samantha.
“But I’m so glad I did, seeing how happy and emotional my biological mum was when she saw me, just felt incredible.
“I feel more complete now in a sense, no longer is there a whole side to my life that I wonder or don’t know about.
“I’m not sure what the future holds for me and my biological family, but all I know is that we won’t be apart again.”