Brothers reunite after more than 30 years
Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS Rich Cadwallader, left, of Jim Thorpe; and his brother, Ron Speakman, who works at Camp Adams, recently found each other by "accident" after not seeing each other for more than 30 years.
An inquisitive bartender brought two brothers together for the first time in over 30 years.
Their chance meeting happened when the older brother, Ron Speakman, stopped off for a drink one Saturday night at Dom 'N Ali's Restaurant in Jim Thorpe, after working his shift at Camp Adams Youth Services Agency in Penn Forest Township.
Jennifer Matsinko overheard his conversation about being adopted and said that her boyfriend was also adopted.
Speakman's reaction was, "Don't waste my time. If his mother's name isn't Debbie, if his dad's name isn't Larry, if he's not 33 years old and if his name is not Rich, I'm not interested."
Matsinko began to shake. It was all registering.
Speakman has the same smile as her boyfriend, Rich Cadwallader. He has the same eye color and the information he had just uttered matched - perfectly.
'Meet your brother'
"Within minutes she called me," Cadwallader said. "I wouldn't answer the phone. She was persistent - really persistent. I finally answered and told her I had to get up early for work the next day."
Then he heard her say, "Rich, come and meet your brother."
Cadwallader countered with "What are you talking about?"
But he added, "I was curious and I went to Dom 'N Ali's and the first thing we did was stare at each other for a few seconds."
They talked for a few minutes. "At that point we realized we were brothers, Cadwallader said. Then they really started talking to each other.
Speakman, 34, lives in Allentown with his wife, Lindy, and little girl, Addison. Cadwallader, 33, moved to Jim Thorpe in 2007.
Both boys, as babies were living with their parents, Debbie and Larry Smith, in South Allentown. Cadwallader was placed in foster care when he was 11 months old and Speakman stayed with his parents for about a year after being taken from his parents and then he was returned to his mother. Then he also was put into foster care.
Obviously, for Cadwallader, that was the end of the story with his birth parents, as he went from foster home to foster home until he was finally adopted at 7 years old by Stan and Gail Cadwallader of Quakertown. He grew up with a brother, Jason.
Speakman was adopted by a single woman, Nancy Speakman, who also had adopted another girl. She was involved with Children and Youth Services Agency and had often accepted many other short term foster children into the home they shared in Allentown.
For Speakman, the years of living with his mother put him in poverty, scavenging food from garbage cans and being physically, emotionally and verbally abused by his mother and her friends in a variety of ways. When the rent wasn't paid they slept with homeless people in tents.
"I remember being handcuffed to a door," Speakman said. "She didn't trust me to not run away. I remember the abuse. I remember opening up a cookie jar and seeing it filled with cockroaches. I grew up fast in many ways. I remember the fighting, the violence and the rest of it."
Cadwallader has no memories at all of his brother and he doesn't remember the family visits when they were both toddlers, which ended abruptly and for an unknown reason.
Speakman has a few treasured photographs of the two boys together before that happened.
While Cadwallader has been bitter for most of his life that he hadn't seen his brother, he recently had decided to forgive his birth parents and the youth care system for the role they played in keeping them apart for so long. Within days of ridding his life of pain and finding peace and love, his brother unexpectedly resurfaced and since then his heart is filled with happiness.
"I'm stronger because of what happened to me," Speakman said. "I couldn't be the person who I am without all I went through."
Speakman's one regret is that he wasn't adopted with his brother.
"No one can give me answers as to why that happened," Speakman said. "I know that Children and Youth tries to keep families together. I'm not angry any more, but I would like answers."
Finding peace after separation
Cadwallader remembers hearing his parents talk about trying to adopt his brother, but somehow they couldn't find him. Time passed. Cadwallader knew his brother's first name, the name of his parents and grandparents, but had no way to contact them.
Their birth parents divorced and are still alive, but both men don't want to reopen any connection with them.
Both boys suffered from their separation, both have had anger issues, and both have found peace in different ways.
Speakman entered the Marine Corps at 18 years old, where he said his attitude caused an early separation from the Corps, but not before he learned some valuable lessons about life.
He said that the Corps matured him and gave him structure and discipline, which he said led him to entering the police academy and his present job at Camp Adams, where he shares his experiences with the young men there. He said that his experiences in life help the young men relate to him, and vice versa.
Cadwallader's journey with anger ended after a year-and-a-half of counseling sessions with CareNet of Carbon County.
A lasting relationship
"I tried to find my brother," Speakman said. "I heard he was living in Florida. I went to Lehigh County Children and Youth and they had no records. Someone lied to me and I don't know why. I didn't know how to find him. I didn't even know his last name."
"If I wouldn't have gone to counseling, my brother would have said, don't waste my time," Cadwallader said. "I needed to move past the pain and anger to where I am now for this to happen."
"The best part is that it's not too late," Speakman said."It's never too late, but I was looking for him in the dark."
Cadwallader said that when he told his dad that he wanted to find his birth parents at 18. "He supported me but said that some stones are better left unturned."
Now that this stone is turned, the two men are working on building a lasting relationship.