I was born July 27, 1975 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Immediately, I was placed in the hands of foster care. At the age of 6 months, I was adopted by a loving Irish family. My birth name went from “Baby Boy Ayad,” to “Martin C. Maguire Jr.” Later in life, because I do not look a bit Irish, I legally changed my name to Martino Ayad Cartier.
By the age of 5, I started asking my mom questions about God; questions she could not answer. My mom encouraged me to ride my bike to a local church, and attend Sunday school. My first week there, I learned about Moses and Egypt. Shortly after, my mother explained to me the few details she had pertaining to my adoption. I learned my birth mother was from Cairo, Egypt, and her name was Mariam. We did not know a last name. She had diphtheria as a baby, and only reached the height of about 4 foot. We knew nothing about my father, except he was from Egypt as well. The adoption agency told my adopted mother that my birth mother went back to Egypt to marry my father.
In 1986, I was eleven years old. A movie called An American Tale came out with James Ingram’s “Somewhere Out There” as the theme song. The movie was about a little mouse, Fifel, who is separated from his parents on their journey to America from Russia. As I watched this movie as a little boy, I remember the tears rolling down my face, getting on my knees, and begging God to help me find that “Somewhere Out There.”
Throughout my life, I would meet people from Egypt, tell them my story, and they would reply, “You must be mistaken, there is no adoption in Egypt. It is forbidden law. Maybe you are from India or something?” I suffered with depression all of my high school years. My guidance counselor, Margaret Mateolli (856-881-2200), who is still practicing at Glassboro High School, had a big heart and assured me that when I turned 18, the state would have to give me my records.
When I turned 18, Mrs. M and I drove to Jersey City to the Bureau of Vital Statistics, traveling down JFK Blvd* to get there. Only to find my records were still sealed, and would permanently remain that way.
I was always known as the “life of the party”, president of my class, Mr. Glassboro, but inside, I was a walking dead man. This put me over the edge – I drove my mother’s car into the woods, put a garden hose in the muffler, the other end in my window, and closed my eyes. I wanted to die. My God had a better plan. I woke up in the hospital with my crying mother looking down at me and life went on.
My principal loved me too. Even though I went to a public high school, I can remember him one day sharing with me a Bible verse from Exodus 14:14. “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still,” and that is when God helped me, when I was still.
In 2006, I had a dream that I was in Egypt. I saw a short woman with auburn* hair walking the street, and went up to her and asked her if her name happened to be Mariam. She replied, “Who are you?” I asked her if she was in America in 1975. She replied, “Who are you?” Gasping for air, I said “Baby Boy Ayad.” She cried and said I named you Ayad because it was my last name. The state wouldn’t let me put my last name on your adoption papers, so I figured if I gave you my last name as your first name, one day you would grow up, put the two names together, and you would find me. When I woke up, I was in a pool of sweat, and my heart was racing faster than ever.
Over the years, I have called the State of New Jersey – Adoption Registry Department on several occasions. Only to be greeted by uncompassionate state workers who could more or less give a darn. This time, I spoke with a Delores Helb. She informed me, that she would send me a packet, I was to fill it out and 6 months later, I would receive any un-identifying information. To me, this was useless, and I politely hung up the phone. To my surprise, for her own satisfaction, she decided to still look in my file. This happened on a Friday, at 4:55pm, Ms. Helb called me back with bitter-sweet news.
Unfortunately, no one ever took the time to look in my file all of these years. In 1986, my birth mother wrote a letter to the state looking for me. Screaming with tears, I begged her to read me the letter. I was told, I would have to wait until Monday, she had a train to catch. I pleaded with her to please just tell me one thing, “Is her name Mariam Ayad?” She hesitated, and replied, “Yes.”
That weekend that I waited for Monday to come, was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I immediately called our State Assemblyman and former Mayor of my town, Paul Moriarty. With tears in his voice, he told me he would drive me to Trenton, Monday morning.
We arrived in Trenton, and in the hands of Delores Helb, was my life, and the key to unlock my unknown.
The letter read as followed:
Dear my son,
(At that point, I couldn’t read anymore and Mayor / assemblyman had to read the rest)
I want to tell you something. When I was pregnant with you, I am not married, and my family shame me because this is illegal in my country. If I was a resident in the USA, I would never leave you. I would keep you and we would live far from my family. I hope you read this letter before I die, I am sick and handicapped. But, I want you to know, I love you very much, I try to explain why I leave you with another family. Please forgive me. Later, I will tell you the whole story. I wait for you anytime. I am your mother.
2554 -60 JFK Blvd*
Jersey City, NJ
(with phone number)
At that moment, I realized my mother never went back to Egypt, we never knew the truth. I realized that in 1986, God answered my prayer, and I realized that God fought for me when I was still, in my dream. Immediately, I called my mother who raised me, and for the first time in my life that day, I met my birth mother.
What is the best gift you could ever receive and cost you nothing? When we walked in that door, my birth mother told my mother and I that all of these years, she watched Lifetime for women, and Unsolved Mysteries, and was so afraid for this day to come. Afraid that my mom who raised me would reject her, and put lies into my head about her. Here is the best gift – my mother who raised me took my birth mother by the hand and said, “Because of you I have a son, and because of me, you know he is okay. From this day on, we are sisters.” My mother then gave me a picture of her when she was young, and she had auburn* hair.
I later went to Egypt found my father and two half brothers along with a wonderful step mom. I am truly blessed.
Later, I learned about my birth father, went to Egypt, met my two brothers that I never knew about, and they accepted me into their family, which is unheard of. I now have two wonderful families, and have dedicated my life to inspiring others, mending broken homes, and reconciling lives.
I have one mission in life. Through my salon, I have had dozens of fundraisers, paid a mortgage for two years so that a mother with a dying son could quit her job, and stay home with him until the end. This is just one of many. My goal today, through my life story is to inspire, change, uplift, encourage, and bring hope to the world in which we live.
Me and my two mom’s