Ruth Carosone: A Dream Realized
Young Ruth Carosone was living a charmed life.
She had a fulfilling job as HR manager, and was appreciated as an asset to her employer. She loved her handsome, gregarious husband who made life fun. The two of them traveled together and explored the world, from the Great Wall of China to the medieval walls of Dubrovnik and the ruins of Pompeii. And when they were at home in Pittsburgh, PA, they enjoyed sailing, fine dining and going to the theater.
Life was good, Ruth knew. And since their efforts to have a baby didn’t prove fruitful, she and her husband planned to adopt. Ruth was active in a group that sought out pregnant women who were considering giving up their babies for adoption – and was delighted that she’d helped some other couples to find their babies. She already had an inside track for their own adoption.
She was excited about the plan to adopt and wrote a note in her journal for that precious child:
“Dear son or daughter, today you are a dream, a longing, a desire in my heart to be your mother. I’m waiting for the man who will be your father to come home. I’m writing this so that one day you’ll know how much I wanted you and how hard I worked to find you.”
“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Ruth loved this quote, attributed to Walt Disney.
And then the rug was pulled out from under her and her charmed life.
She learned that her husband had been leading a double life.
He traveled a lot and was in an intimate relationship with a woman in Buffalo, NY.
Initially, he told Ruth that “the other” was just a friend who needed some help and that Ruth was blowing it all out proportion. Her husband explained that this woman was fragile, both physically and emotionally. He cared about her and wanted to provide his support.
But as time passed, more details came to light, showing just how deep her husband’s relationship with “the other” was. Ruth looked back over notes in her day planner and realized how much time he had actually spent in Buffalo over the last several months.
She looked at the charge card expenses and learned about the restaurants they ate at in Buffalo. She studied a hotel bill from a convention he’d recently gone to in Atlantic City and found out that two keys had been issued. And, the worst insult of all – she found checks payable to the woman in his checkbook. Ruth screamed with rage at him for giving her their money.
He said that she was divorced with two children, sold Mary Kaye cosmetics and that money was tight. That’s why he had started to help her with her finances.
He repeatedly said he would sever the relationship, but found numerous excuses to delay the break up. It was clear that he wasn’t going to give up the woman in Buffalo.
But at the same time, he said he still loved Ruth and didn’t want to give her up either.
Accept that he was having an affair and keep their marriage alive? Impossible, she knew!
She remembers that time well. “I was so very, very angry. I also felt terrified. I couldn’t begin to imagine what my life would be like without him. My experiences with him had taught me to be the person I was. I was sure that a break up would be the loss of myself, not just him!”
Ruth went to work each day to do what she needed to do. She agonized over the situation. She lost weight.
“The driving force that got me through those horrific days was a therapist – Dr. Paul Levy,” Ruth says. “I initially met with him twice a week but over time gradually reduced the frequency of appointments. He helped me to find the strength and courage to go on with my life by remembering the very difficult times I had survived earlier in my life.”
Dr. Levy helped her by using role playing, helping her to remember times of strength, and taking small steps at controlling her life. Ruth took all the actions that Dr. Levy encouraged her to do.
Her friend, whom she calls Wise Helen, told her, “As human beings, we can become accustomed to almost anything. Don’t let this situation become normal for you or it will be much harder to get out of it.”
Ruth fully realized her husband was a master liar and manipulator. She gave him an ultimatum – choose between “the other” or her. But he wanted both and couldn’t choose.
So Ruth made the move. She filed for divorce and, week after week and month after month, forged her own life.
Being alone and losing the identity she’d always known was crushing. She experienced times of despair and seriously considered suicide, but her counseling sessions with Dr. Levy and her belief in the precious sanctity of life stopped her.
Somehow, she kept going. None of it was easy, but Ruth made it through. She bought a townhouse. She went on a cruise with Wise Helen, met new people and started dating again.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
- Vivian Greene
And one day she met a special man. She was taking golf lessons as part of an assignment from Dr. Levy. She didn’t know anyone in the class but connected with a man named Dave. They started seeing each other.
Ruth initially promised herself it was only for fun. “My marriage had been a disaster and left me feeling angry, embarrassed, naïve, like the stupid wife.” Other men she’d dated also left her feeling empty. She didn’t need a serious relationship.
But the good times with Dave brought the two closer together. They shared about their failed relationships, their challenges and joys in life.
And eventually, Ruth and Dave declared their love for each other.
At one point, Ruth talked with Dave about her quest for a child and the realization that her ex-husband hadn’t really wanted one.
She told Dave, “It’s taken me a while to orient my brain to the fact that there will be no child for me. Life has become so much fun again because of you and that has helped. I love the feelings and adventures. I can envision the future that we’ve talked about sharing. But, sometimes, I still wonder how I will feel looking back on my life when I’m 60 or 70 or maybe even 80.”
Dave’s unexpected response turned Ruth’s world upside down.
“Well, you really don’t need to orient yourself to that fact if you don’t want to. I’ll adopt a baby with you!”
And he meant it! They married. And it didn’t take them long to connect with Adoptions from the Heart and begin the long process of paperwork and waiting.
Their hearts soared when Ruth and Dave went to China in December of 1998 to get their precious little baby.
On that amazing trip, they met other Americans who were also adopting children to bring back to the U.S. Ruth met and developed a lifelong bond with two other new mothers in particular, Mary Lynne Lorch and Sheri Kunkle.
She says, “We became special friends, connected by having shared some of the most impactful days of our lives – adopting our daughters. I can talk about anything with Mary Lynne and Sheri and know I will have their support and understanding, as they will always have mine.”
The two women agree and share easily about their friend Ruth.
Mary Lynne says, “Ruth is intelligent, wise and comforting. She has always been a source of comfort to me as I share with her some of my fears and concerns. And I appreciate that she is extremely organized and a wonderful planner!”
Sheri is just as enthusiastic. “Ruth is a very compassionate, loving person with the ability to lead us fearlessly through anything! She is wise beyond her years, extremely intelligent, loyal and has the foresight to look ahead while navigating a path through life with grace and substance.”
These three friends who eventually became family had unique but intense journeys of despair that eventually led to China and the adoption of their precious babies. They decided that they wanted to share their journeys with others who desperately need the hope they once sought.
So that’s why they co-wrote their book, “Bundles - A Journey from Despair to Hope.”
Ruth explains, “We hope to help other persons believe that they can find a way to the other side of terrible, difficult situations in their lives. I believe there is a miraculous part of each human being that moves us to struggle to survive, even if we don’t consciously want to or know how to.”
She sums it up: “We hope that reading ‘Bundles’ will help others find the strength, courage and will to move through their terrible situations.”
Ruth and Dave’s precious bundle is their daughter Loretta, simply called Retta most of the time. She has a special bond with Mary Lynne and Sheri’s daughters, also. The three, Retta, Katie and Sarah, shared so much time and love together growing up that they call each other their China sisters.
Ruth and Dave loved being parents so much that they adopted a second daughter from China. Tricia, three years younger than Retta, is every bit the joy that Retta is.
Thinking about the journey she has been on through her years, Ruth is thankful for her life, which she says is wonderful. “I am surrounded by the love I feel for my husband and daughters and the love I feel from them. We all love to travel and continue to explore this planet together.”
“My mom is smart,” Tricia says. “She’s the one I turn to when I need something or when I have issues to deal with. She would do anything for me.”
Retta agrees. “She’s my role model. I’m proud of her. In her book, she shares how to pick yourself up after hardship. She’s optimistic. I want to be like her someday.”
Ruth knows that her journey of despair brought her to Dave, Retta and Tricia. She had a dream of having a loving family with children, and almost gave it up.
But she didn’t.
“Never, never, never give up.”
- Winston Churchill
“Bundles - A Journey from Despair to Hope” is available on Amazon and other places where books are sold.
This is the second part of a www.PeopleLivingWell.com trilogy about the women of Bundles – Mary Lynne Lorch, Sheri Kunkle and Ruth Carosone. They each experienced immense, unique and personal difficulties that led them to China to adopt their daughters. Their families are now part of the historic mass exodus of Chinese girls from their troubled homeland in the late 1900s and early 2000s.