The Third Man


Episode #404

Date October 27, 2012

Run Time 49:54

Mani Sheriar tells how she fought one battle to have a baby and another to keep him.

Song: RISK! Theme by Wormburner and John Sondericker

Song: Russia by Ramona Falls

Radio Story: The Third Man by Mani Sheriar

Song: In the Beginning by Daughn Gibson



Download: MP3

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Mani Sheriar
11 years ago

Kevin thank you so much for helping me tell this story! I am so grateful for your support. And I love the music and the way you cut everything together. Perfect! <3

Flora Colao
11 years ago

A wonderful story. This is the first time I’ve listened to your show, I’m positively impressed. Thank you and please thank Mani Sheriar for sharing her story. As a social worker, I think it should be taught in Social Work schools and workshops.

David S.
11 years ago

Best Risk story ever.

A powerful story of redemption.

David M
11 years ago

Such a riveting and powerful story! It amazes me how much love can bridge the gaps that seem insurmountable between people. Than you Kevin for sharing this story and Mani for the bravery to tell it.

11 years ago

What a profound story, and so beautifully told. I had tears streaming down my face as I listened. Mani, you are an amazing mom. My favorite Risk story to date.

Melissa N
11 years ago

I am so thankful I listened to this. You really touched my heart Mani, how you are so honest and heartfelt. Your love for your son and all things is inspirational.

Thank you for sharing your story. xo.

11 years ago

The most amazing Risk! story ever. Thank you.

Mani Sheriar
11 years ago

OMG I just had to share … I am BLOWN AWAY by this email I just received from our lawyer, who was there with us at the hearing, and who heard the podcast:

“Thank you so much for sharing this. I just listened to it and loved every minute of it. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I remember the case so vividly and you do such an amazing job of sharing the story and the powerful message behind it. It is case I will always remember.

“The 10 minutes I had in that room had the exact same profound impact on me as well. It was truly a divine gift to see that kind of beauty and to learn that powerful life changing lesson. It is a story I share with others and that I will share with my children. I think of ourselves as so lucky to have had that experience.

“The only thing that I would add is that it was even more profound to me because while I too got to witness the beauty and lesson coming from Frank, I also got to witness the beauty and lesson coming from you.

“I always say that we are not what happens to us but, rather, how we react to what happens to us. This is what defines us. You were in such a bad situation and your reaction to it was so profound and loving. It was just as powerful as what was coming from Frank.

“I will always be enriched for being in that room to see you both teaching the same lesson of compassion, strength and love. It is amazing how the small 10 minute occurrences in our lives can be so life changing and powerful.

Thanks again for sharing it with the world (and me).”

WOW. I am humbled. ♥

Kevin Allison
11 years ago

Now THAT’S why we do what we do! I am thrilled that this story is touching others as much as it did me. Comments are coming on Twitter and our email as well. Thank you Mani! We’re honored.

11 years ago

Absolutely riveting and deeply deeply touching.

11 years ago

Damn you for making me cry at work! Honestly I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again, I’ve always tried not to judge but trying isn’t enough. I know that now.
And I almost want to write a screenplay based on this because I would truly love that experience and if I did I would call it Almost Never.

11 years ago

What and absolutely amazing and beautiful story.

11 years ago

All I can say is that you make me proud to be a human being. Thank you with all my heart.

11 years ago

This story would be incredible just to read about, but to get to hear it told with such closeness and emotion, I feel honored to have had the experience. It will have a lasting impact on me. Thank you so much for sharing.

11 years ago

Risk! folks and Mani,

I’m not really sure how to thank you for this. So… thank you for this.

I’m a birth-father, in a very open adoption. My son was born last October, and his adoptive family have welcomed me and mine in. I cried through most of the second half of your story, Mani. At an open adoption support group meeting last weekend, one of the couples in The Wait was talking about it, and I took a break from the early episodes to listen. Thank you especially for humanizing Frank, by using his name, even as you were building him up as a monster, for that magnificent turn. I had no idea, until I was at the barrel-end of the system, that birth-fathers nowadays who *want* to be involved pay for the sins of the self-involved deadbeat douchebags. I hope your story helps other people problematize the way they see birth-fathers. We ain’t *all* villains. I’m so glad you have a powerful, hopeful story for Brody, when he’s old enough for it.

In a VERY different way, I had to fight to be involved, too—not with the adoptive family, but with the birth-mother, who was abusive to me. When I feel I’ve got enough perspective on my story that I don’t feel like it’s driven by self-pity, I’ll pitch it here. Seems like the right place.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

11 years ago

This is hands down the best story that’s been aired on Risk!. I’m not one to easily well up but the end of this beautifully told story had me crying while on the tube at rush hour.

Another Kevin - not the host
11 years ago

Thank you so much Mani for this beautiful story! I was adopted long before the process was open. To this day I still think about my birth parents and wish I could have known them. Your son is lucky to have you and your husband. He is lucky to still have a connection with his birth mother and he was lucky to have Frank in his life, even if only for ten minutes. Thanks for sharing this life changing experience with all of us. It has enriched my life and, yeah, I cried like everyone else. Still am actually.

11 years ago

It’s in all the other comments on this story and I’ll repeat it. Rarely do we get such a profound look into someone else’s life. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and transformative story. It’s people like you who give me hope.
Thank you!

11 years ago

Wow!! There are no apt words to express the love, compassion and gratitude that I feel after hearing Manis story! Thank you for sharing it with me.

11 years ago

I will never forget this story, nor the profound effect it had on me. I have listened to it thrice, and I have cried every time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

11 years ago

I haven’t listened to every story on risk (yet) but this is my favorite by far. Such a touching story. Thank you.

11 years ago

Heartbreaking, heartwarming, beautifully and dramatically told — one of the best Risk stories ever!

11 years ago

Such an emotional story beautifully told. Thanks for sharing

11 years ago

There are no words. So lovely and clear and real. Such an amazing story. Thank you for sharing. Thank you.

11 years ago

As a mother who gave a child up for an open adoption, I can’t begin to express how much adoptive parents mean. It’s so difficult, and so painfully beautiful. My daughter’s parents have been so amazing. I am so thankful for people like them, and you and your husband.

8 years ago

This was a beautiful story. I had to hold back from sobbing at my cubicle. But at the end, i had to let out some tears. Truly touching. Hope the family is doing well!

8 years ago

This is a beautiful story, thank you for this podcast! I was smitten at how much this story resembles our story (my husband and me), couldn’t stop sobbing while listening to it. It’s helping so much to see that we are not alone and like Mani said “Everybody is fighting their own battles”.

8 years ago

I just finished listening to your story. I am so deeply touched <3
I had to send an email to my sons birthfather and share the link for him to listen.
our stories are not all so different. My sons birthfather was in jail and contesting the adoption as well. I had heard plenty of bad stories and also was so afraid of losing the son I so desperately loved.
Our first meeting with him was in the jail. As soon as he began to talk to us I also changed my thoughts. I saw the love he had for his baby son.
In the end he decided to drop his case and allow us to adopt.
We have since had an open adoption and our relationship has thrived.
Our son is now 17 years old. Time sure flies.
God Bless you and your family. So thankful for you sharing your story.
Adoption is a beautiful thing 🙂

8 years ago

Such a BEAUTIFUL story told by a beautiful person. I do hope Frank is doing well. Okay, I need to go finish my sobbing. Thank you for this!

8 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

Thank you so much, Samantha <3

8 years ago

And thank you, everybody! Even though the story was done a few years ago, every time a new comment comes in it means so much to me.

I have learned a LOT about adoption since I first did this story, and I now have some mixed feelings about how I told it …

First, I now understand that a pregnant woman considering adoption should never be referred to as a “birth mother” – she hasn’t even given birth yet, let alone relinquished her parental rights (and BOTH of those things need to have occurred before someone is a “birth mother”). Calling an expectant mother considering adoption a “birth mother” is coercive, and I really wish I hadn’t done that.

Secondly, I worry that this story isn’t really mine to tell … it’s my son’s. The whole world doesn’t need to know his history if he doesn’t want them to. I feel badly about revealing so much personal information about him when he was so little and unable to give any kind of consent.

But on the other hand, I love this story! I love the message of acceptance and grace and the transformative power of love. And on many levels I’m so happy to have shared it. I’m forever grateful to Kevin and the Risk! team for their beautiful support and editing. And I feel very lucky that no one has jumped on me for not knowing then what I know now. I have been very fortunate in the warm response my story has received from the Risk! fans.

Thank you, everyone – very sincerely. <3

8 years ago

This made me sob. I’ve been in the process of listening to every RISK episode and THIS stands out to me the most. Thank you.

7 years ago

I am new to the Risk! podcast but I have been hooked ever sine I found it. I have been just flitting around listening to things here and there but this has to be the best story. I was so afraid at the beginning that it was going to be something awful like you had to give Brody away because his father wanted him but it was soo much more than that. This is a true story of compassion and so wonderfully told. It really made me think about how I judge people by the way they look without even thinking sometimes and that is never the way to go. Thank you, Kevin, for this wonderful podcast and thank you very much, Mani, for sharing your family’s story. I wish you all the best in the world. <3

7 years ago

I recently found the RISK! Podcast and have been flying through all the episodes. I thought I had made my way through everything, but I found one I hadn’t heard today and it was this beautiful story. I am so incredibly moved by this story today. My 3.5 year old son keeps asking me why I’m crying and smiling.
Mani, I see your comments above and I hope that your concerns about the story are just minor. I do understand your sentiment about the term birth mother, but in referring to your son’s birth mother you were accurate because you did know that she would become a birth mother. Your comment can definitely help someone think about the words they are using.
This story is your son’s but it is also yours. I know consent is important but I would like to think that when the time comes he will see the beauty in the story that we all see. Your story didn’t focus on the private details but something so much greater and contains great lessons.
Thank you for sharing so openly. As an adopted daughter, I always love hearing stories from adoptive parents and birth parents.
May your lives be filled with love and joy.

5 years ago

I just listened to The Third Man and found it so moving. I could feel your fear of losing your son and your compassion for Frank and the biological mother. You have the knack for story telling and sharing your unique experience. Hope you and your sons enjoy a long life filled with happiness and joy.

5 years ago

Haven’t listened to the podcast, I read the third man story and it was the best story of the compilation. Fast paced and beautiful, very heartwarming. I will have to disagree with your second comment Mani. Even though this is the story about how your son came to be yours, it is still your story to tell. You made these decisions and he came into his life. I’m sure he’ll be grateful when he grows up that so many people loved and cared about him.

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