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'14 UMES grad gets 1-of-a-kind surprise

  • Friday, May 30, 2014

    PRINCESS ANNE, MD. - (May 30, 2014) - Michael J. Taylor got a graduation gift this past spring few could match for its emotional impact.

    Norma Palmer and son, Michael TaylorMichael's mother secretly tracked down three of her adopted son's long-lost brothers and invited them to a post-graduation party she threw at a Salisbury hotel.

    "I don't know how to put in words how I felt," Michael said several days after word spread across the UMES campus about the reunion.

    Michael only has memories of his oldest brother, Christian. They last saw one another in 1997 when Michael was five.

    "I never forgot Michael. I kept him in my heart all this time," said Christian, 29. "I cried tears of joy. It takes a lot for me to cry."

    Michael, now 22, was so overwhelmed by the surprise guests that he never touched his plate of food.

    "I couldn't even tell you what was on the menu," Michael said.

    Joining Christian at the surprise party were Elijah, 18, and Antonio, 17, who were infants when Michael and a fifth brother, Saleen, 21, moved with Norma Taylor Palmer from the Philadelphia area to nearby Eden just north of UMES.

    Norma Palmer contacted a social worker this past spring seeking help finding three of Michael's brothers she believed were living in Philadelphia. The social worker passed along the inquiry to the family with whom Elijah lived, and Elijah then shared the message with Antonio and Christian.

    Christian occasionally did Internet searches looking for Michael, but always came up empty. "I was starting to give up hope," he said, until Elijah's phone call came on April 30.

    "I've always believed in God and this just proves you should never give up hope," Christian said

    Michael, a Washington High School alumnus, earned a sociology degree from UMES May 16, graduating with honors. He was a member of the Richard A. Henson Honors Program and participated in the prestigious (2013) Summer Humanities Institute held at the Ralph J. Bunche Center on the campus of the University of California at Los Angeles.

    It was the first time Michael had ventured that far from home.

    Michael is the first in Norma Palmer's immediate family and in his own biological family to earn a college degree.

    Peers and professors characterize Michael as grounded, focused and mature beyond his years. He is admired for his attentiveness toward his mother, who has battled health problems.

     Michael Taylor and siblings"I'm so proud of Michael - what he has been able to accomplish," Norma Palmer said. "I've been truly blessed to have him in my life."

    Her surprise party not only has enabled Michael to reconnect with three of his brothers, but a younger sister as well that he had never met until traveling to Philadelphia to give Christian a ride back home.

    "All the boys are together now, at least in their hearts," Norma Palmer said. "Family has always been important to us, and I wanted Michael and Saleen to know a little somethin