Deborah Fry never expected to make the state meet.
A senior sprinter turned shot putter, Fry’s progression in the ring has been so fast and so unexpected that weeks ago she sent out invitations to a high school graduation party to be held this weekend — the same weekend as the CIF state track and field championships in Clovis.
So when Fry launched the shot a personal-best 38 feet at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions Saturday to finish second and secure a place at the state meet, she had an immediate, painful decision to make: Attend commencement with the rest of her Santa Rosa High classmates, or give it a shot among the state’s best in Clovis.
“I have been working hard on throwing and school but I think school, to me, was more important. I think I worked harder for that,” she said.
At 19, Fry’s concept of hard is probably a little different from your average high school senior.
Deborah Fry was seven years old when her family in Haiti gave her, her younger brother Abraham, 5, and younger sister Macdalah, 2, up for adoption. The family had eight children and were unable to care for them all. The three middle children were sent to an orphanage in Port au Prince.
“I lived with them for seven years, but for the three years before I was adopted, I was living in an orphanage,” she said. Because of their ages, the children were put into different units in the orphanage.
“They split us up,” she said. “I would see them but I wasn’t involved in what they were doing.”
At the same time, 1,500 miles away in Pennsylvania, Kristie Fry and her husband were interested in adopting. They’d been to Haiti, had seen immeasurable poverty and heard stories of how difficult it is to find homes for older orphans, Kristie Fry of Santa Rosa said.
They told an adoption agency they were interested in two older kids. The agency responded by sending a picture of Deborah and her two younger siblings.
Even after they decided three kids was too much, Kristie Fry kept their picture on her desk. Months later, the agency called again. There was news — a family in France wanted to adopt Macdalah, but not Deborah and Abraham. The two older children would be available to the Frys.
“Is it done?” Kristie Fry remembers asking.
No. The preferred outcome was to keep all three siblings together.
The Frys decided to adopt all three.
But there’s more.
The cost of adoption was still an issue. A tens-of-thousands-of-dollars issue. Initially, an anonymous benefactor of the agency the Frys were using to adopt Deborah had offered $1,500 for whatever family took the siblings in.
Then the phone rang again.
“It was a call from the agency: ‘We have bigger news and we need to know if you are sitting down,’” Kristie Fry remembers the agency rep saying.
The benefactor was so appreciative that the Frys had agreed to take all three children, he covered the expense of the entire adoption. He also paid for their plane flights to Haiti and their visas.
“I never saw a bill,” she said.
In the three years it took to adopt Deborah and her siblings, Kristie Fry did her best to learn Creole. She studied, listened to CDs and would talk to herself while driving alone in her car. But it was still a shock when the kids finally came to their home in Pennsylvania.