Gift of Love: Michael Reagan's Story Of Adoption
It was January 26, 1940. Ronald Reagan married famous actress Jane Wyman. About a year later, they would have a daughter named Maureen. She always wanted a brother and on March 21, 1945, got her wish when Ronald and Jane adopted Michael at just 3 days old.
"I was born German and three days later I was Irish," jokes Michael.
At 4 years old, Michael would find out in an expected way how he came to be a Reagan. It all started when Michael knew what Maureen was getting for her birthday. He explains, "She said I don't want to know but I said I want to tell you and she said if you tell me a secret I'm going to tell you a secret. I went, you're getting a blue dress and she said and you're adopted. Course I didn't know what adopted meant."
So, he did what any 4 year old would do, he asked mom. "Mom gave one of those Angela Channing looks that she used to give on Falcon Crest to Maureen, like what have you done? Then, she just explained to me that I was chosen and you were lucky and let's not ever talk about it again."
The subject didn't come up again until Michael was in boarding school. The students began to tease him, telling him he was not really a Reagan. "I started to equate that if I was the illegitimate child of the Reagan family maybe that was the reason my birth mother gave me away. There had to be a reason because mother's don't give children away."
He never discussed it with his parents for fear they would give him away too. So, the anger and self hate began to grow. By this time, Ronald and Jane had divorced. Michael only saw his father on weekends at his ranch. Shortly after, Michael was enrolled in an after school camp which, it turns out, was run by a pedophile, Don Havlik.
"He made me feel good about myself and ultimately in that making me feel good about myself started molesting me while I was in 3rd grade and by the end of 3rd grade he had taken pictures of me without my clothes." Michael goes on to say, "At that point in time, I knew my life was over."
Michael would keep that secret inside for the next 30 years, afraid of what people would think. His rage became uncontrollable. "I wanted to earn my way to hell and I was trying to get there as fast as I could. Anything that went wrong in my life it was so easy to blame God. I walked away from church."
In 1973 he met Colleen, a Christian woman. They would get married but he would keep his secret from her, too. "It's interesting, she prayed for me and didn't know why."
She would begin to pray even harder after they had a son. Michael became verbally abusive to little Cameron when he was 7 years old, about the same age Michael was when he was molested. Colleen had had enough.
"She said to me, 'I'm tired of you blaming God for everything in your life that you say is wrong in your life. It's time you got on your knees and you pray to God instead of blame God.' I got down on my knees, that was 1985 and that year I was baptized on Father's Day," says Michael with tears welling up in his eyes.
But Michael still kept his secret and the pain inside was beginning to spread. He got a call one day that his son, Cameron, was on the steps of the school crying. "I said, What's wrong? He said, Is grandpa really my grandpa? I said, Yes why? He said, Kids say he isn't because, Dad, you were adopted. Your mom and dad didn't want you. So, is my grandpa really my grandpa?" With tears now rolling down his cheeks Michael adds, "We have a lot of work to do."
Finally in 1988 Michael broke his silence and, to this day, believes God had a purpose for his childhood trauma. "I think what you see here is God saying people need to see the damage that is done to a child and to truly understand it. Now, 50 years later, you can still go back and relieve that moment that happened to you when you were 8 years of age and feel it again."
And Michael says the celebrity status of his parents, had nothing to do with his past. "The damage is done. Whether you have famous parents or don't have famous parents, the damage is the damage. If you're molested, that's what's done."
Michael says helping foster children heal from a troubled past is actually pretty simple. "They need to know they are loved."
And he's grateful for the love in his life. "My parents, Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman never referred to me as adopted. I was always their son. We are all adopted into Christ's love but when you bring a child into to your home, that's your child. You don't have to pigeon hole them and say, that's the adopted one."
Two family's, joined by one little boy, both helped make him the man he is today. "Greatest gift Irene Flaugher gave me was life. She gave me a chance at life. Greatest gift Jane Wyman and Ronald Reagan gave me, is really nurturing that life."
As for the man who molested Michael, Don Havlik, he never faced any charges in this case. He died February 7, 2008. Don's family discovered hundreds of nude photos of children in his house. They have since all been destroyed.
As for Michael, he is now a successful Radio Talk Show Host and has written two best selling books about his life. He says he would like to write a third one and title it, "Please, stop calling me adopted!"
Gillian Sheridan, Reporting email@example.com