Former Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, who is also the CEO of Verdant Medical Inc., a medical marijuana company, ran for mayor of the city of Boston in 2017. During that campaign, he talked a lot about being adopted, and he had already done a bit of research into his birth family.
What he found out was troubling. His mother had been sexually assaulted as a young girl and was forced to give up Tito.
After the election, Tito decided to take that search a step further, and in 2018, he and his birth mother, Rachel Twymon, finally reunited. Tito and Rachel join us to talk about that reunion.
Warning: Parts of this conversation may be difficult for survivors of sexual assault, and those who've had painful adoption experiences.
On how they were reunited:
Jackson: "In college, I had a physician who was a pain in my butt at the University of New Hampshire and he asked me about preexisting conditions and my family and I said, 'Listen, man, I'm adopted. So I'm just going to assume that all that stuff in there is stuff that I might have a family history.' And he said, 'You know, even though it's a closed adoption state in Massachusetts, you can call the adoption agency and find out what happened, or kind of a narrative.'
"At that time, there was an organization called — well, it's been taken over by the Home for Little Wanderers now, but I think it was called Boston Children's Services. And I called them up and they sent me a narrative that was pretty disturbing. And in fact, it came at an intersection in my life where I was part of a program at the University of New Hampshire called the Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program, where I was learning how to be a first responder to people who had been assaulted. And I was going to be speaking at Take Back the Night. And so the letter came to me right the day before I spoke at Take Back the Night, and it said that my mom had been assaulted by two men. And so that was really hard.
"And so the years passed and then I finally reach out to the Home for Little Wanderers. You send them a little fee and then within two or three months, I got a call from a social worker there that said, 'We've found your mom. We just spoke to her five minutes ago and her name is Rachel.' ... They gave me her phone number and that began the connection because I called her five minutes later."
Twymon: "I told the lady, 'That can't be my son, because he's dead,' because my family told me that he was dead. So I went back in my house and I woke up my other son and I was crying and I was probably the most anxious person in the world. ... I woke up my other son, my oldest son, and I'm like, 'Your brother is alive. There's a guy that says he's your brother.' And it was just crazy. And then he called me and he explained to me what he had done in his life, and how he got adopted and how he's been searching for me. And I just told him that we need to meet so I can tell him the truth of how he was conceived and brought into this world and what a horrible time and horrible life I've had just dealing with that particular part of my life."
On the man Jackson has become:
Twymon: "I'm proud of all my children. He just happens to be the one that was in the political limelight, which I had nothing to do with; all I did was bring this young man into the world. So he chose a path, possibly because of his how he saw his life. But I'm just glad that he wanted to give back. And it's a blessing that he's in that limelight. And it helps me get to where I need to be at. ...
On the times they've crossed paths before:
Jackson: "We have figured out that I went to Sunday school with my brother. That Rachel babysat my chief of staff, Michelle, when she was a kid because they lived in the same building. And that ... when I was running for mayor, I gave my mom and my brothers campaign literature and asked them for their for their vote for the mayor of the city of Boston. So that means that my campaign manager and campaign staff will be very happy to know that I distributed literature to them. ...
"We've literally been in the same place multiple times in our life. And this has been a long journey and it's been circuitous. But when it comes down to it, it has been so worth the journey because I now have two amazing moms who are both 5-foot-1, and they are they are giants. And I am literally the luckiest human being on Earth to be able to have two moms in Rachel and my mom, Rosa. ... I might have been a bad kid, I mean, I had to have two. But, you know, it is so satisfying to be able to connect with my mom and then also my brothers because they were that missing piece and part of me."
On what it means to reunite with her son:
"I just knew that one day this was going to happen. I didn't know it was going to happen like this, and I didn't know he was going to be this big old guy and this public figure. I just always wanted him to be healthy and OK. So with that being said, I live my life trying to be an overachiever and do good and be nice to people and try to raise my sons so they can grow up and be productive citizens of this world, so if they ever meet this big brother, we'll all be proud of each other."
For those who may need help, you can reach the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center at 1-800-841-8371, and the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. You can also reach the Home for Little Wanderers at 617-288-7450.
This segment aired on April 22, 2021.