It was April 15, 1994 and Farrah’s phone began to ring. As she glanced down and saw the number, she was immediately scared. It was her mom. She didn’t want her mom to know where she was and the thought of answering it and giving away her location was terrifying. She sat back in the hospital room and answered the phone and prayed the hospital intercom didn’t give her away.
She elicited a long sigh of relief as she hung up the phone. She was in the clear. In some ways she figured the hardest part of her day was over after the phone call despite the fact she was in labor and about to give birth to her first child.
She met the child’s father, Zach, when she was 15 years old at driver’s education. They began talking as they both sat outside on the curb waiting for their families – who were both typically late each week – to pick them up after the class.
The decision to keep her pregnancy from her family was a difficult one, but one she felt was necessary. Her family was not a fan of Zach, the baby’s father. Their dislike had little to do with his character, but much to do with the color of his skin. Zach was black and Farrah was white, and though it was something that didn’t matter to Farrah, she knew her family’s feelings and she felt it was best to remain mum about the pregnancy. She also knew they wouldn’t be keen on their teenage daughter having a child out of wedlock.
It was April 15, 1994 when Nicole came into the world.
Farrah sat back in the delivery room as her best friend’s mother, Jan, scooped the baby girl up right after she was delivered. She wouldn’t see the baby girl she gave birth to that day. Farrah knew Jan was only trying to protect her by taking the baby so quickly since she had made the decision to give Nicole up for adoption. She didn’t want to make it harder on her.
She made the best decision she could at the time. She put Nicole up for adoption not because she didn’t want her or that she didn’t love her, but because she wanted her to have a better life than she could provide at the time.
“I didn’t know how to support her and I didn’t know how to tell my parents and I was scared to tell my parents,” she said.
She was fresh out of high school and neither her nor Zach were in a place to care for a child, so Farrah sat down with a case worker and looked through biographies of families looking to adopt. She found two families she was interested in, one was a couple from Ohio with no children and the other was a couple from Sugar Land, Texas, which is where she lived, who had adopted several other children.
Farrah chose the couple from Sugar Land, Texas. As she looked at their biography she felt like it was the right fit. She could picture her baby girl living with them and having a happy life, and that is what she wanted most.
A New Beginning
It was just a few days before April 15, 1994 when Doug and Carol Blaskowsky got a call from the adoption agency that there was a baby girl about to be born, and the young mother had selected them as her adoptive parents. It would be their first daughter together and they were overjoyed. They had been waiting for over a year between filing the paperwork to actually receiving a call to adopt the newborn and they were eager to meet their newest addition.
They had both dealt with adoptions before, as they had adopted two biracial boys previously and Doug had adopted another daughter in a previous marriage. They were initially surprised the young mom chose them since they already had several other children, but they were ecstatic nonetheless.
Upon adopting Nicole, the Blaskowsky’s learned that one of the stipulations with the adoption was they would have to meet with her birth parents shortly after the adoption. The birth parents had made the request because they wanted to meet the couple that would raise their daughter in hopes of providing a sense of closure. To them it didn’t seem out of the ordinary, after all, they were giving the Blaskowsky’s something very precious to them.
Though this practice was uncommon for a closed adoption, they saw it as a way to get to know Nicole’s birth parents. The Blaskowsky’s would meet Farrah and Zach when Nicole was about 5-6 months old at the adoption home.
“We were a little apprehensive because you don’t really know what to expect when you go in,” Doug said. “We basically sat down and met with both of them and they explained a little bit about their high school and how they met and what they were doing now. They said they were just wanting some, I guess closure is the way to say it, and to have an idea where their child went to.”
While at the adoption home, Farrah and Zach had the opportunity to hold Nicole and feed her. There were more smiles than tears as both sides kept it lighthearted. Though Farrah and Zach would not find complete peace about the situation, their minds were more at ease after meeting the Blaskowsky’s for the first time.
They would leave knowing Nicole would be well taken care of.
Growing Up Blaskowsky
Nicole grew up in Sugar Land, Texas. She was a happy child who always had smile on her face. You wouldn’t catch her inside the house much as she spent most of her free time playing sports. She dabbled in softball, tee ball, skateboarding and of course basketball. With two brothers in the house, she wasn’t going to be left out when they played outside.
To please his children, Doug put up a basketball hoop in the driveway and Nicole and her brothers would play daily. They would play pick-up basketball with the neighborhood kids. It was usually 3-on-3 with the three Blaskowsky children on the same team. They would usually win.
There came a point where Nicole had to choose one sport to commit to and it wasn’t a hard decision. It was basketball that she loved the most. It was always basketball despite being naturally talented at softball.
“A 2007 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that adopted children are more likely to participate in extracurricular activities as school-age children (85 percent of adopted children vs. 81 percent of children in the general population).”
Nicole played basketball in middle school and it was there that the high school coach at Austin High School, David Kubicsek, saw her play. He reached out to Doug and asked what high school she would be attending next year and if it was OK if he enrolled her in the varsity PE class for basketball. It was then that she became a starter on the varsity team as a freshman.
Her basketball career took off as she pursued AAU basketball in the offseason. Her dream was to play in the Big 12 and she vowed to commit to whichever Big 12 school offered her first. Iowa State was the first to pull the trigger and she committed before ever taking an official visit, much to the surprise of Doug.
Nicole picked up the phone after verbaling to the Cyclones to let him know the big news. He came home from work and sat her down to talk things through.
“Well, are you sure you want to do this?” Doug said.
“Yeah,” she responded.
“Well, do you know where Iowa is?” he said.
She paused and contemplated the question before replying, “Well, I know it’s in the United States.”
“Well, let’s get a map out and I’ll show you where it is,” Doug said.
As Doug pulled out the map, she got the picture rather quickly that Iowa and Texas are vastly different climates.
“So, she realized where it was and realized it was going to be a little bit different as far as the weather went,” he said.
The easygoing exchange was typical for the pair, who share a very close bond. Nicole prides herself on being a daddy’s girl through and through.
Doug fits the role of a supportive father well. He is a fixture at the Iowa State road games cheering on Nicole, along with her stepmom, Jill. He makes his work schedule around her basketball schedule and tries to get to as many as he possibly can.
“He just loves it,” Nicole said. “He loves to see me be successful. Obviously he raised me, so it’s not like I got this far by myself. He paid for my AAU tournaments and teams and took me where I needed to go. I think over the years, you just kind of get into that zone. Jill also travels to a lot of my games. She shows me a lot of support and has helped me become a better person.”
Doug has also never missed a first practice during her time at Iowa State.
“My first practice that he came to, I was really homesick my freshman year, and he came and I cried,” Nicole said. “It’s always good to see him.”
Nicole has always been open about how much she loves her family and the way her parents raised her. It was that happy childhood that nearly prevented her from ever desiring to contact her birth parents.
It wasn’t until late in the summer of 2011 when her mother, Carol, asked her if she wanted to meet them that she even considered trying to locate them.
“I was always the youngest in my family so I always thought, maybe I have younger siblings or something,” Nicole said. “There was one letter they wrote that had their names on it, and one of my friends that I grew up with found his parents on Facebook. He just searched their names. So, I was like ‘Screw it, I’ll just search.’”
It didn’t take long for her to locate Farrah, who was active on Facebook. As she pulled up the profile she was startled as she looked through photos on her page. She saw pictures of Farrah, Zach and two children and she knew immediately they were still together. The similarities between her and the children were striking. She knew they were definitely siblings. The same round face, nose and welcoming smile stared back at her through the computer screen.
She decided instantly not to waste any time and she began to type a message to Farrah.
Reuniting the Greenwoods
It was a regular work day in the middle of August in 2011. Farrah looked down at her phone and saw she had a Facebook message. She was about to be in a meeting, but she clicked on the message and her heart stopped momentarily. It read (sic):
“hey, this is Nicole blaskowsky you and zach greenwood are my birth parents carol and douglas are my parents and I am about to be a senior in high school I go to Austin high school and play basketball and am verbally committed to iowa state university :) I was just messaging you to get in contact please message back.”
“According to the Adoption Congress, 65 percent of adoptees want to meet their birth parents.”
She had hoped this day would come. She was nervous, excited, anxious and ready all at the same time. She sent her a quick response since her meeting was about to begin and she knew she didn’t want to wait. Needless to say she wasn’t concentrating on the meeting much.
She wondered what Nicole would think. Over the years she and Zach would contemplate whether she would be angry. Angry they gave her up for adoption. Angry they ended up getting married. Angry they had two other children together.
She debated what she would tell Zach and when she would tell him. She knew he would take it very hard. Putting Nicole up for adoption had been difficult for the two of them despite the fact they knew it was the best thing for her. She decided to wait until the next morning to tell him as she dropped him off for work.
Still unsure what the appropriate way to break the news to Zach was, she pulled up Nicole’s Facebook profile, handed him the phone and watched as he became overcome with emotion. She let him know that she had made contact and that a meeting was imminent.
Zach could hardly concentrate at work the entire day. He had waited 17 years for this moment.
“It’s not easy knowing that there’s a piece of you out there that you have no idea where or how or if things are going the way they should,” he said.
“Research shows that 95 percent of birth parents who are contacted want a reunion.”
Over the years, Zach had done research on adoption and he knew that it was typical for adopted children to contact their birth parents in their teenage years. The last 17 years were difficult and the decision to give Nicole to the Blaskowsky’s had constantly weighed on Zach.
A few days after making initial contact with Nicole, the Greenwood’s made plans to go over to Carol’s and meet Nicole. First they sat down their two children, Ryen and Boston, and told them about their big sister. The conversation wasn’t nearly as complex as they thought it would be. They had elected not to tell Ryen and Boston about her over the years out of fear of confusing them.
They almost had to explain to Ryen about her older sister when she saw a picture of Nicole from first grade sitting on Zach and Farrah’s dresser. She, ironically enough, thought it was a picture of her. The two look strikingly similar and Farrah and Zach just played along with it.
As the Greenwood’s pulled up to Carol’s home, Nicole opened the door and Ryen, who was 5 years old at the time, greeted her big sister with a hug. Zach also followed suit with a long-awaited hug of his own.
“I always wanted to hold her again after the first time I held her, and I never got the opportunity to, so I think I picked her big old butt up,” he said.
The initial meeting went well. Nicole spent most of the time getting to know her younger siblings as Farrah and Zach talked with Carol. They decided they would begin a relationship, with neither party really knowing what it would look like.
They started casually and slowly with Nicole coming over to the Greenwood’s home to play with her siblings and chat with Zach and Farrah. She would come over frequently and dance with Farrah and her siblings, a hobby they both enjoy. Before they knew it, they had made Nicole a house key.
“I always kind of assumed that there would be some bitterness on her end because of the decision that we made,” Zach said. “Right off the bat, she revealed to us that she thanks us and there was not any bitterness in her heart about us giving her up for adoption. She didn’t want that to be an issue, and it hasn’t been. Kind of from that point on, everything has been natural.”
For Nicole, bitterness wasn’t even a thought.
“I mean I never regretted what they did because I think my dad and mom raised me well,” Nicole said. “It’s cool now that they can look back on it and see actually who I am and how far I’ve come.”
“I never stopped thinking about her, never,” Zach said. “Every birthday, every April 15th that went by was a depressing day. Now that’s not the case anymore.”
Nicole is now preparing for her senior season at Iowa State, looking to make her fourth NCAA Tournament and help guide the Cyclones to their 10th in a row. Her support system is as wide and vibrant as ever. The Greenwood family has been welcomed by the Blaskowskys, two families joined by one common thread. This presence of families also makes the transition to the arenas of the Big 12, as the Blaskowsky and Greenwood families have made trips together to see Nicole in action when she is playing in the state of Texas. They also make an annual trip to the Big 12 tournament to cheer on Nicole and the Cyclones.
On March 1, 2016, Iowa State will play West Virginia at Hilton Coliseum. It will be the final home game of Nicole Blaskowsky’s Cyclone career. For the Blaskowsky family, it will be closure to a basketball life, and seeing a dream and an ambition of a child reached. For the Greenwood family, it will be a moment they could have never possibly considered on April 15, 1994 when Nicole came into and left their lives in the blink of an eye.
For Nicole, it will not just be her final game in Hilton Coliseum, or her Senior Night. It will be a chance for her to be joined arm-and-arm with her families, in front of a fan base that has become her family over the years in Cardinal and Gold. This is her reality, she would not want it any other way.