Tiny Rylyn Clark is an old soul with a big heart, who shares his joy and love of life through viral social media videos, but this inspirational little boy’s story could have been very different.
5-yo Rylyn Clark is a little voice of hope full of joy and gratitude
Last year during the pandemic lockdowns, 4-year-old Rylyn Clark was missing his Nana, grandfather, aunts, uncles and cousins—so he sang a Bob Marley lullaby that his Mom sings to him and forwarded it to his family via social media… and the rest of the world saw it too! Before long, tiny Rylyn was a viral sensation – ‘A Little Voice of Hope’. But this darling little boy could have had a very different start in life, as his adoptive mother Maureen Clark explains.
Rylyn’s Mom knew she was meant to be a mother
Several years ago, Maureen Clark was a woman in her 40s with a lifelong dream to adopt a child. Clark had worked in pediatric palliative care and fallen in love with a number of children that she cared for throughout her career. The depth of feeling she had for some of these amazing kids let her know she was meant to adopt a child; she was meant to be a mother.
“I didn’t have faith that as a single woman I could swing the cost of adoption and raising a child. Through amazing support from my brother and my sister-in-law, some incredibly caring women (MS and DK), a loving adoption coordinator (Marilu), and a leap of faith, I knew I couldn’t wait any longer.” says Clark on her blog, a digital record of Rylyn’s early childhood she keeps for posterity.
One year later, on a Monday night in November 2015, Maureen was blessed with a phone call that a baby was being born within the next 48 hours. She was told that the biological mom had chosen to place the baby with her, but still needed time to make sure she was certain.
“I spent three days on my sofa, home from work, waiting for the call about Rylyn. I was excited but anxious and I needed to be at peace with the waiting. I paced and cried and hoped…and then I remembered that saying that “laughter is the best medicine” so I turned on Ellen’s show. I needed a positive distraction in the midst of the waiting. The show’s theme song (Today’s the Day), by P!nk, struck me and it suddenly became my mantra. Imagine, your child is being born or has been born, but you don’t know yet and you’re waiting for the call that he is on this earth and he’s coming to you and you already love him but you don’t know where he is or how he is….it was overwhelming.”
“It’s okay if you cry,”
That Friday, at 9:10 am, Clark got the call that the baby’s biological mother was certain about her choice to let Maureen adopt her son. “This gracious woman was going to place this beloved boy with me. I was sitting at Logan Airport in Boston, waiting for the call that changed my life. The voice at the other end of the phone was the nurse at a hospital in Florida and she said, "Your son is waiting, how soon can you get here?" I boarded a plane within the hour.”
“My mom, sister, and sister-in-law all offered to come to Florida with me for support but I knew this baby would do better being able to bond one on one with me. I knew I had to do this part of the journey alone.
“I arrived in Gainesville at 6 pm. Because my travel was so last minute, I arrived to find that all the rental cars were booked. Crying from every emotion, I was somehow able to find a cab driver who agreed to drive me from Gainesville to Ocala, Florida. Through tears, I explained that I was going to meet my son.
“It’s okay if you cry,” was all he said to me during the entire hour-long drive. He didn’t speak or turn on the radio, or the air conditioner…there was complete silence other than my quiet crying in the back seat. I was overwhelmed with emotion.
“The silence became too much and at that moment I remembered Ellen’s theme song from the three days I sat waiting for the very phone call that brought me to this place in my life. So in the middle of Central Florida, completely alone at the most poignant time in my entire life, I found P!nk’s song on my iPhone and it became my strength. I listened to “Today’s the Day” on repeat for the 56-minute cab ride. It made me feel so empowered.
“I heard the GPS say 13 minutes until your destination, 7 minutes, 2 minutes, and finally “you’ve arrived”. It was the countdown to meeting my son. I wept and laughed, and I never felt so scared yet so alive at the same time. I was ready to begin the rest of my life.”
“Today’s the day…” and thank you!
Clark walked into the hospital, which was nearly deserted on a Friday night, searching for the special care nursery. Ellen’s theme song was still blasting through her earbuds as tears streamed down her face. “Today’s the day I’ve been waiting for” and “Somebody please stop the clock, don’t ever let this day stop” were the lyrics that strengthened me.
Some of the nursing staff had stayed beyond their shift to see me meet Rylyn. “I’m not sure why…but one of those incredible nurses took my phone and got a photo of the first time my eyes met Rylyn’s. He was a bit of magic from the start.”
“Rylyn was born happy. He has an amazing, natural rhythm and a deep love for music, so we dance… a lot! Whenever we listen to “Today’s the Day”, he dances alongside me, while happy tears stream down my face. My son’s presence in my life is the best thing that will ever happen to me. I am blessed with this child who has a beautiful heart, who is an old soul with an incredible capacity to love, and who is so happy to just be alive – he literally has a joy for life I’ve never encountered. I don’t know how I got so lucky to be his mom.
Ellen’s theme song became mine, and now it’s his. Every time I hear it, it brings me back to the first time I saw him, and it fills my heart. Ellen’s show brought me laughter, P!nk’s song brought me strength and the words were, and still are, my mantra. I’ll always remember it as an integral part of my life when I was cocooning and waiting for the phone call that changed my life.
We live a life of gratitude and so, thank you…
Thank you to everyone who has been touched by Rylyn’s sense of hope and joy and who has reached out to let us know of his impact. We are incredibly humbled by the response.
Thank you to my family and friends for loving my Rylyn so deeply and being so happy that my dream to become a mom came true.
Thank you to the incredibly kind people that make up Rylyn’s biological family – without their grace, I would not have this precious boy.
Thank you to Ellen and to P!nk…you are our happy dancing (Ellen) and your words are our mantra (P!nk).
It is an honor and a privilege to share Rylyn’s infectious joy of life. His presence in my life is the greatest gift I will ever know.
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