LOVELAND – He has his mother’s eyes. And when she pulled into Logan Stewart’s driveway on March 30, hugging him for the first time in 24 years, there was no dryness in the house.
“It didn’t even look like she had parked the car,” recalls Stewart, the former CSU and Mountain View Rams football star, with a laugh. “She jumped out of the car so fast and was like, ‘Hey, son!’ And we hugged for probably four or five minutes.
“I love you,” Tracy Roberts said. “I love you. I miss you.”
For Stewart, Mother’s Day 2022 is about double moms. Twice the bargain. Twice the hugs.
The former Rams defensive back, who was adopted shortly after birth in South Florida by Kari and Jeff Stewart of Loveland in April 1998, lost count of his blessings about 1,500 graces ago. He blossomed as a young black man raised by two white parents, the middle child of nine — three biological, six adopted — in a home where the cups of love and laughter seemed bottomless.
He also grew up selling hot chocolate and lemonade at Hughes Stadium during Rams football games. He stood out in two sports at Mountain View, winning a long jump state title in 2016. He continued as a junior college football player, then bet on himself again walking at CSU in 2019, where he became a staple at safety over the next three seasons.
But there was always something missing. Something unfinished, buried deep within. Kari often tells this story: When Logan was 2 years old on a walk with his family in a local mall, he came across a black woman, a stranger, sitting on a bench. Uninvited, he approached and leaned on his leg.
“That’s when my parents realized, ‘Yeah, he’s aware he’s different,'” Stewart recalled. “But that’s how it was. Obviously, growing up, you know you’re different, every time you look in the mirror and see yourself. But I never felt different. Because I have always received unconditional love.
For Stewart, the Mother’s Day he never saw coming dates back to Christmas 2021.
Kari and Jeff gave her a DNA test kit through Ancestry.com. When the results came back in February, the company also sent him some likely genetic matches, opening the door to blood relatives he hadn’t known about in decades.
Logan contacted one at the end of the month.
“Are you on the Taylor side or the Roberts side?” asked a cousin.
“I don’t know,” Logan replied. “I am adopted. I’m trying to reconnect with my family.
“Wait a second,” the cousin replied. “My mother will call you.”
Within hours, his phone blew up.
Cousins related to aunts. The aunts led him to his little brother Isaiah. To his biological father, Jean Baptist, in the Bahamas. And, finally, at the end of a frenetic and awesome day – in Tracy.
“‘Hey, that’s crazy,'” he told Isaiah. “’But I am your brother.’
“And then he’s like, ‘Oh, wow. Mom’s going to pick me up from work in 30 minutes. Do you want to FaceTime us?’
“And I was just like, ‘Yeah! Call me when she picks you up.'”
What they did.
“Yes, you are my baby,” Tracy said at the time. “I know that.”
Same eyes. Same nose. Same smile.
“You would think it would be awkward, but we were all kind of like smiling and laughing,” Logan recalled. “People were crying. And then everything was super organic. It was as if we had known each other for 24 years.
In a matter of hours and a dozen calls, Logan went from eight siblings in Loveland to 16 siblings — six on Roberts’ side, plus a half-sibling through Baptist.
“It looks like a movie,” Logan laughed.
“It’s a bit surreal, you know?” Tracy said. “I’m still trying to adapt, to digest everything. Because it just doesn’t seem real.
How do you tell your biological mother that giving up on you was the best thing that could have happened to you? That you participated in the adoption lottery?
Kari is the daughter of a preacher. She met Jeff in the Hickman Mills neighborhood southeast of Kansas City, on the Missouri side. They got married 10 days after graduating from high school.
“It doesn’t feel any different to me because Logan’s mom has always been part of our family,” Kari said. “She just hasn’t been physically present and physically known. But now she’s physically known. So that makes it more special because I’m super excited that Logan knows her. And that she knows Logan.
“Logan’s mom is so nice. Every time she saw me, she would hug me and say, ‘I love you so much, I love you so much.'”
The Stewarts first met Logan at DIA, just weeks after he was born. As they left the door, Kari recalls, a black man stopped them.
“Tell me,” he said, “how you came to hold this baby.”
“We adopt it. Jeff told the man. “We literally just got him off the plane.”
“Wow,” said the stranger. “Can I pray for you guys?”
He got his hands on Logan. On Jeff. On Kari.
“And it was a special moment,” Jeff said, “because it was confirmation that you’re doing the right thing.”
Has he introduced himself yet?
“(I have) no idea (who he was),” Kari said. “I will probably have the opportunity to meet him in paradise. But for that to happen, minutes after Logan was placed in our arms at the airport…it was God.
How do you tell the angel on your chest that you love him too much to keep him?
Tracy was born in Chicago, raised in Jamaica and separated from her own mother. She became a ward of the state at 13, bouncing from foster home to foster home, lost on the margins of America.
She was in a relationship with Baptist for over a decade. Jean, originally from Haiti, ran into legal trouble when Logan – Tracy gave him the name “Stephen” at birth – was born and was eventually arrested and deported to the Bahamas, where he still works today.
“I felt like such a failure,” Roberts said by phone from the great Phoenix. “I thought to myself, ‘Why couldn’t I have kept it? I should have tried. You kind of feel like you let them down.
“But I realized I had done the right thing. It wouldn’t have been fair for him, given his ability, to go through a lot of what (I) was looking for because I wasn’t stable in as a single mother, I had two children at the time.
She was also 19 years old. They lived in cars. On the beach. Wherever they could.
“I wanted my baby,” she says. “But I had nothing and nowhere to go at my young age.”
The cumulative effect of it all took its toll on Tracy’s body. The discs were removed from his back. She battled congestive heart problems. Doctors installed a pacemaker last year, describing heart functionality at around 15%.
“You just licked off and kept ticking,” she said.
Tracy bundled up four of her children on March 30, ahead of Logan’s 24th birthday on April 3, and drove 13 hours north from Arizona to Loveland. The Stewarts welcomed them with open arms, guiding them through a lifetime of memories. Logan told his story; Tracy told him.
no bitternesssaid his son. I’m not here to judge your past. Or you.
“It made me appreciate his decision,” Logan said. “Knowing that she could have been selfish and kept me in that environment, where I was likely to fail. But she made the ultimate sacrifice a mother could make. And that’s to give up her baby for a lifetime. better.
“So hearing that made me really adore her and the strength that she has…it made me appreciate the life I’ve been given here. And I was like, ‘You made it all possible. Like the reason we’re sitting here today and able to have this conversation is because of you.
“And, truly, our life begins now.”
Logan said his birth mother’s heart is closer to 50% functioning now, backed by a reunion neither of them saw coming a year ago.
In a call the couple took to The Post late last week, you could hear the genuine bliss between mother and son, laughing like old friends. Tracy cracked up that she hasn’t stopped smiling for weeks.
“Every time I go to bed at night my cheeks hurt a little,” she laughed. “They hurt.”
Sick of joy. With hope.
Logan, meanwhile, is contemplating the next phase of his life, athletic or otherwise. The NFL might call. This may not be the case. He thinks of the Canadian Football League or the XFL, a chance to pursue this dream.
Overall, however, he would like to start a non-profit organization aimed at helping kids like him. He has previously counseled other adoptees, helping them navigate their experiences while sharing the wisdom of his own. Those whose past never comes back to them, whose scars never quite heal. And those whose past suddenly opens up to them like a new book. The best book they have ever read.
“It makes me appreciate everything that’s happened in my life more when I look back on it,” Logan said. “It makes me appreciate the life that has been given to me. And to be sitting here and having two mothers to share this experience with makes it even more special.
Best Mother’s Day ever, Tracy?
She laughed. Are you kidding?
“It’s more than I could have ever thought and hoped for,” she said. “I’m not really a ‘gift’ girl. I don’t want him to call me anymore and we’ll talk for an hour. It means more than flowers. I will enjoy it more.
They still have a lot of catching up to do. He’s going to have a hard time shaking it now. Already.
“I’m here for the ride, watching it,” Tracy said with a laugh.
So much pride. For the university degree. Football. The faith. This baby Stephen has grown into this accomplished, wise, and strong young man, about to hit the high road for the rest of his adult life.
And yet, the greatest gift of Mother’s Day, Tracy said, “is that he knows love. And that he can give love. For everything he has (had), he does not hate. This is what is most important.
“If he didn’t have those things, he wouldn’t be able to achieve his goals. He might have had a chance to give up. Say: ‘My mother, she didn’t want me.’ And he didn’t. I was most proud of it. »
For a blink of an eye, the call becomes silent.
“I love you mom,” Logan said.
“I love you too, baby,” Tracy said softly. “I love you too.”