The life of a teenage boy is typically consumed with thoughts of hanging out with friends, the latest blockbuster movie, and maybe even which pretty girl he’ll ask to the prom. For Ryan M., these concerns are barely a blip on the radar. This high school junior has more serious and personal matters on his mind–namely telling the story of a frightened 12-year-old girl and her incredible choice to give him life.
Ryan is adopted, which on its surface, is not all that unusual. However, the circumstances surrounding his birth and subsequent adoption are both horrifying and extraordinary, and until a few years ago, they were a complete mystery to him. When Ryan was 14 years old, he came across a file with information on his birthparents and he finally found the courage to ask his adoptive parents about the file. At the age of 22 months, Ryan came to live with the only parents he’d ever know and officially became their adopted son when he was four years old. He has no memory of his birth mother because he was removed from her care when he was only three weeks old.
From there, Ryan’s story took a strange turn that he could never have imagined. While being sexually molested starting at the age of 12 by a 24-year-old man, his birth mother became pregnant at the age of 14 with him. Under California law, any person 21 years of age or older who engages in an act of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor under the age of 16 is guilty of either a misdemeanor or a felony. This crime is called statutory rape and is punishable by imprisonment. California law is clear: A 12-year-old child cannot consent to sex with a 24-year-old male.
After all these years, Ryan discovered he was conceived not by an act of love between two consenting adults, but by an adult and a child. When Ryan was three weeks old, authorities intervened, and he and his mother were placed with Child Protective Services. She subsequently lost custody of her son, and Ryan was put up for adoption, which led him to his forever family, with adoptive parents Kay and Pete.
Ryan’s adoptive mother, Kay, describes him as an old soul, with a servant’s heart.
“Ryan has always wanted to be older than he is,” she explained. “At 10, he would continually insist that he was almost a teenager.”
Active in church and in school, Ryan was always on the lookout for those in need.
“He always wants to help people,” Kay continued. “When he was younger and would see a homeless person, he wanted to bring them home.”
Just recently while creating a sign for his church’s preschool program, Ryan encountered a 22-year-old woman who had no place to stay. Ryan called his mother to ask if she could stay with them for a while. Even at two years old, Kay recalled, Ryan would give away his toys or candy if he felt someone else needed it more than he did.
“He has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met,” she said.
Ryan believes that by telling his and his birth mother’s story, he might be in a position to save even one young girl from sexual abuse and her baby from the horror of abortion. That is why Ryan has partnered with Living Exceptions, an organization dedicated to pro-life values, the protection of life, and the belief that all life has value no matter the circumstances of conception.
After graduating from high school, Ryan plans to major in Theology and continue on his journey of reaching out to those around him, showing others God’s grace as it has been shown to him.
When asked about Ryan, Monica Kelsey, a woman who was also conceived in rape and now speaks out on pro-life issues for Life Exceptions, said Ryan is truly a living example of 1 Peter 4:10: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
“Ryan is not an exception,” Monica said. “He is God’s child, dearly loved.”