ATLANTA — Christine Farrier wants to be a writer. The recent Georgia State University Perimeter College graduate might want to start with her own story.
After decades of deferring her dream of going to college — and her dream of finding her birth mom — she was able to realize both dreams when she graduated with her associate degree and met her birth mom — in the same week.
Farrier is 60 years old; her birth mom, 94.
“The timing of everything was uncanny,” said Farrier, who started at Perimeter College in 2015 to get her associate degree. During that same time, she continued her search for her biological mom — a search that already had spanned more than 20 years.
“I had always known I was adopted, but I was curious to find out where my blonde hair and green eyes came from,” Farrier said.
After a tumultuous childhood — “I went to seven schools growing up,” Farrier went straight to work after high school. She was successful in sales, working in several companies and traveling regularly. But she couldn’t shake her desire to write.
“I always tried to work and go to college — I knew I wanted to get a degree in writing — be it in communications, English or journalism,” she said. “But I was progressing in my career, and they were shifting me around a lot,” she said.
So, she put her college dream on hold but continued to search for her birth mom. When her adoptive parents died, she began the pursuit in earnest, even hiring a private investigator at one point. That search came up empty.
When she was laid off from her job in Alpharetta in 2013, she decided to take writing courses and came to the Alpharetta Campus.
“The advisor said why don’t I just enroll and get my degree,” she said.
The timing was right.
Coming to college as a nontraditional student was a great experience, said Farrier. She became president of the Dunwoody Campus’s Second Wind Club, which is devoted to nontraditional students seeking degrees later in life. She earned several scholarships and graduated with a 3.94 GPA.
“I loved it … . It was not just the academic education that I got — it was also an education in diversity,” said Farrier. “I met all different cultures, and it was a window for me to see how our society is changing.”
Meanwhile, her search for her mom progressed. In early 2018, she tracked down a half-sister in Thomasville. That connection opened the door to finding her birth mom.
In April, Farrier, accompanied by her half-sister, Gloria Thomas, met with their birth mom, Helen Boling, for the first time. It was the same week she finished final exams at Perimeter College.
Boling had been living in a high-rise senior citizen apartment in Atlanta for the past 20 years — less than 35 miles away from Farrier’s home.
Still alert and fit at 94, Farrier’s mom was reflective during their meeting. She had worked until her 80s, and at one point, had owned a bar in Puerto Rico.
“I was working when I was 6 years old, picking fruit, anything for money,” Boling recalled. “It was a hard life.”
Difficult family circumstances led to her giving Christine up for adoption, she said.
“I can’t change what happened, but I prayed every day for God’s forgiveness,” Boling said.
For Farrier, this new chapter in her life has opened a lot of possibilities.
With her degree in hand, she looks forward to the future — and a birthday party for her mother. In October, Helen will be 95 years old.
Farrier will be there, celebrating with her mom and new-found family.