SEBRING — Growing up in Miami and then Sebring, Marcia Stone had an older sister, a younger brother and a loving mother and father.
After she was married and had children of her own, at the age of 34, Marcia Stone Percy learned the truth about her family background.
It was 23 years ago, a year after her mother died and her father was going to a nursing home, when Percy made the fateful discovery. Percy and her siblings where cleaning out their parents’ house when she came across some paperwork.
“I found my baby medical file that listed the patient as adopted,” Percy said. “Of course, I assumed that my file had been mixed up with another child’s file in the doctor’s office because I was never told and I never suspected for a moment that it might be true.”
She asked her father about it.
He revealed that it was true and that his youngest sister was her birth mother.
Back in 1956, an unmarried 16-year-old girl in south Georgia didn’t have many choices, so my “parents,” Lois and Arlen Stone, who lived in Miami, graciously offered to raise the baby along with their 8-year-old daughter, Arlene, Percy said.
Then, “15 months after they got me, they gave birth to a boy, Tim, and they raised their three children in Miami until we moved to Sebring in 1962,” Percy said.
In those days, there was still a stigma for children born in these situations, Percy said, so her parents chose to protect her and never shared the information with her or others outside the family.
Arlene, now Arlene McRoy, said she was 8 years old in 1956 when at the hospital her mother handed a newborn to her and said, “this is your baby sister.”
That’s all she was told, but she knew that her little sister came from her aunt, McRoy said.
“I was ecstatic; I can remember it to this day; I wanted a baby sister so bad,” she said.
McRoy never felt compelled to tell Percy about her background.
“Never did because that was something that was told from day one that she is your sister and that is all there is to it,” she said.
Even after her mother died, McRoy did not speak about it.
“I was always taught it was basically a secret and not to reveal it,” McRoy said, but she was relieved when Percy learned of her background.
“Marcia has always been a blessing, just a blessing to me,” she said. “I don’t know what I would have done without her with my mom and dad being sick so much, especially momma.”
The Lord knew that down the road she was going to need somebody to help, McRoy said.
Percy has fond memories of the parents who raised her.
“My parents were not rich, but we were well taken care of and they provided everything they could,” she said. “My mother was a wonderful Southern cook, hardworking, talented seamstress who made my wedding gown, generous to others in need and most of all, a Godly lady who took us to church always.
“Unfortunately health problems took her from us too soon in 1989.”
Percy said she adored her mother even before she found out what she had done for her.
“Now I can’t wait until I see her in heaven so I can properly thank her,” she said.
A year after her mother passed, Percy said, “the Good Lord in his perfect plan” allowed her to find out that she had been adopted and gave her another mother, her birth mother, with whom she now has a close relationship.
Her birth mother tried to apologize to her, but Percy told her she understood and there was nothing to apologize about.
“It did take me a bit to process my new identity, but it has been a tremendous blessing that I believe happened exactly the way it was supposed to,” Percy said.
Growing up, Percy saw her birth mother about once a year, but was told that she was her “aunt.”
Percy noted some similarities between her and her supposed “aunt.” They were both outgoing while the mother who raised her was more reserved.
Percy noted she looks more like her birth mother, most obviously in their hair color. Percy has red hair and neither one of her parents who raised her had red hair, but three of her aunts, including her birth mother, had red hair.
So when people asked where she got her red hair, Percy replied, “from my aunts.”
“I believe the greatest tribute to my parents is that for 34 years I never suspected that I was adopted because of the unconditional love they showed me,” she said.
Her birth mother gave her life, Percy said, but her mother that raised her taught her how to live that life.
“On Mother’s Day I will call New Jersey where my birth mother lives and I will take flowers to the cemetery for my mother that raised me,” Percy said.