LOVELAND — He has his mother’s eyes. And when she turned up on Logan Stewart’s driveway on March 30, hugging him for the first time in 24 years, there wasn’t a dry one in the house.
“It didn’t even seem like she parked the car,” Stewart, the former CSU Rams and Mountain View football standout, recalled with a laugh. “She hopped 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 twice the moms. Twice the godsend. Twice the hugs.
The ex-Rams defensive back, who was adopted shortly after his 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 flourished as a young Black man raised by two white parents, the middle child of nine — three biological, six adopted — in a house where the cups of love and laughter seemed bottomless.
He also grew up selling hot cocoa and lemonade at Hughes Stadium during Rams football games. He was a two-sport standout at Mountain View, winning a state long jump title in 2016. He walked on as a junior-college football player, then bet on himself again by walking on at CSU in 2019, where he became a fixture at safety over the next three seasons.
But there was always something missing, something incomplete, buried deep down. Kari often tells this tale: When Logan was 2 years old on a walk with his family at a local mall, he happened to pass a Black woman, a stranger, sitting on a bench. Unprompted, he went over and leaned on her leg.
“That was when my parents realized that, ‘Yes, he’s aware that he’s different,’” Stewart recalled. “But it was what it was. Obviously, growing up, you know you’re different, every time you look in the mirror and see yourself. But I’ve never felt different. Because I was always given unconditional love.”
For Stewart, the Mother’s Day he never saw coming goes back to Christmas 2021.
Kari and Jeff gifted him with a DNA testing kit via Ancestry.com. When the results came back in February, the company also sent him a few likely genetic matches, opening the doors to blood relatives he’d known nothing about for decades.
Logan reached out to one late that month.
“Are you the Taylor side or the Roberts side?” one cousin asked.
“I don’t know,” Logan replied. “I’m adopted. I’m trying to re-connect with my family.”
“Hold on a second,” the cousin replied. “My mom’s going to call you.”
Within hours, his phone blew up.
Cousins connected with aunts. Aunts led him to his little brother Isaiah. To his birth father, Jean Baptist, in the Bahamas. And, eventually, at the end of one crazy, awesome day — to Tracy.
“’Hey, this is crazy,’” he said to Isaiah. “’ But I’m your brother.’
“And then he’s like, ‘Oh, wow. Mom’s gonna pick me up from work in 30 minutes.’ Do you want to FaceTime us?’
“And I was just like, ‘Yes! Give me a call when she picks you up.’”
Which they did.
“Yep, you’re my baby,” Tracy said at the time. “I know it.”
Same eyes. Same nose. Same smile.
“You would think it’d be awkward, but we all were just kind of like smiling and laughing,” Logan recalled. “People were crying. And then everything was super organic. It just felt like we’ve known each other for 24 years.”
Over a few hours and a dozen calls, Logan went from eight brothers and sisters in Loveland to 16 siblings — six on the Roberts side, plus a half-brother and half-sister via Baptist.
“It feels like a movie,” Logan laughed.
“It’s kind of surreal, you know?” Tracy said. “I’m still trying to adjust, digest it all. Because it just doesn’t seem real.”
How do you tell your birth mom that giving you up was the best thing that probably could’ve happened to you? That you hit the adoption lottery?
Kari’s a preacher’s daughter. She met Jeff in the Hickman Mills neighborhood in southeast Kansas City, on the Missouri side. They were married 10 days after their high school graduation.
“It feels no different to me because Logan’s mom has always been a part of our family,” Kari said. “She just hasn’t been physically present and physically known. But now she’s physically known. So it does make it more special because I’m super excited for Logan to know her. And for her to know Logan.
“Logan’s mom is so sweet. Every time she’d see me, she’d hug me and she’d say, ‘I just love you so much, I just love you so much.’”
The Stewarts met Logan for the first time at DIA, only a few weeks after he was born. As they left the gate, Kari recalled, a Black man stopped them.
“Tell me,” he said, “how you came to be holding this baby.”
“We’re adopting him.” Jeff told the man. “We literally just got him off the plane.”
“Wow,” the stranger said. “Can I pray for you guys?”
He laid his hands on Logan. On Jeff. On Kari.
“And it was a special moment,” Jeff said, “because it was a confirmation that you’re doing the right thing.”
He never introduced himself?
“(I have) no idea (who he was),” Kari said. “I’ll probably get to meet him in Heaven. But to have that happen, within minutes of Logan being placed in our arms at the airport … it was God.”
How do you tell the angel on your chest that you loved him too much to keep him?
Tracy was born in Chicago, raised in Jamaica and was estranged from her own mother. She became a ward of the state at age 13, bouncing from foster home to foster home, lost in America’s margins.
She was in a relationship with Baptist for more than a decade. Jean, a native of Haiti, ran into legal issues when Logan — Tracy gave him the name “Stephen” at birth — was born and would eventually be arrested and deported to the Bahamas, where he now works to this day.
“I felt like I was such a failure,” Roberts said via phone from greater Phoenix. “I was like, ‘Why couldn’t I have just kept him? I should’ve tried.’ You kind of feel like you let them down.
“But I realized that I did do the right thing. It wouldn’t have been fair to him, for his abilities, to go through a lot of what (I) sought because I wasn’t stable as a single mom, I had two kids at the time.”
She was also 19. They lived in cars. On the beach. Wherever they could.
“I wanted my baby,” she said. “But I didn’t have anything or anywhere for him to go at my young age.”
The cumulative effect of everything took its toll on Tracy’s body. Discs were removed from her back. She’s battled congestive heart problems. Doctors installed a pacemaker last year, describing the heart’s functionality at around 15%.
“You just take a licking and keep on ticking,” she said.
Tracy bundled up four of her kids on March 30, in anticipation of Logan’s 24th birthday on April 3, and drove 13 hours north from Arizona to Loveland. The Stewarts greeted them with open arms, walking them through a lifetime of memories. Logan told his story; Tracy told hers.
No bitterness, her son said. I’m not here to judge your past. Or you.
“It made me appreciate her 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 that a mother could do. And that’s to give up her baby for a better life.
“So hearing that it made me really adore her and the strength that she has … it made me appreciate the life that I was given out here. And I told her, ‘You made all this possible. Like the reason we’re sitting here today and able to have this conversation is because of you.’”
“And, really, our life starts now.”
Logan said his biological mom’s heart is closer to 50% functional now, buoyed by a reunion neither of them saw coming a year ago.
During a call the pair made to The Post late last week, you could hear the genuine felicity between mother and son, laughing like old friends. Tracy cracked that she hasn’t stopped smiling for weeks.
“Every time I go to bed at night, my cheeks do kind of hurt,” she chuckled. “They’re sore.”
Sore with joy. With hope.
Logan, meanwhile, is contemplating the next phase of his life, sports or otherwise. The NFL might call. But it probably won’t. He’s thinking about the Canadian Football League or the XFL, a chance to keep chasing that dream.
In the big picture, though, he’d like a start a non-profit aimed at helping kids such as himself. He’s already counseled other adopted kids, helping them to navigate their experiences while sharing the wisdom of his own. The ones whose past never comes back to them, whose scars never quite heal. And the ones whose pasts suddenly open up to them like a new book. The best book they’ve 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 was given. And to be sitting here and have two mothers to share that experience with, that just makes it even more special.”
Best Mother’s Day ever, Tracy?
She laughed. Are you kidding?
“It’s more than I could’ve ever thought and hoped for,” she said. “I’m not really a ‘gift’ girl. I’m into more of him calling me and we’ll talk for an hour. That means more than flowers. I’ll enjoy that more.”
They’ve got a lot of catching up to do, still. He’s going to have a hard time shaking her now. Ever.
“I’m there for the ride, watching him,” Tracy said with a laugh.
So much pride. For the college degree. The football. The faith. That baby Stephen became this accomplished, wise, strong young man, about to take the high road to the rest of his adult life.
And yet the greatest Mother’s Day gift, Tracy said, “is that he knows love. And that he can give love. For everything that he’s (had), he doesn’t hate. That’s what’s most important.
“If he did not have those things, he wouldn’t be able to obtain his goals. He could’ve had a chance to give up. To say, ‘My mom, she didn’t want me.’ And he didn’t. I was the proudest of that.”
For a twinkling, the call goes quiet.
“I love you Mom,” Logan said.
“I love you, too, baby,” Tracy said softly. “I love you, too.”
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