Michael Reagan, the son of the 40th president of the U.S., endured sexual abuse while at his daycare. On Wednesday, Nov. 14 at Payson Library, Reagan chronicled this lifelong struggle and how he has used it to help benefit the lives of others.
Reagan based his speech off of his book, “Twice Adopted,” which discusses his experiences after being adopted into the Reagan family and then later being adopted into God’s family.
However, despite the painful subject matter, Reagan made the audience laugh several times. “I always tell people I was born German and became Irish,” Reagan said. “I’m the best person to drink with. You never know what personality I’ll take on.”
Reagan explained to the audience the struggles of having both parents who were professional actors in the 1940s and 50s, despite the assumed glamour of Hollywood life. Because his father and mother, academy award winner Jane Wyman, worked frequently, Reagan was often put in daycare. Don Havelick ran one of these daycares. Havelick was a pedophile who stood in as a father figure for Reagan who at the time was only 8 years old.
Havelick forced Reagan into child pornography and made Reagan help him develop the pictures — which haunted Reagan throughout his adolescence and his father’s political career.
Throughout high school, Reagan was convinced that he was evil and condemned. He questioned his homosexuality because he believed it was his fault he was molested by a male.
“I didn’t care if I succeeded because I thought I was gong to hell anyway,” Reagan said. “I thought I was living a lie because no one knew what I had done. I questioned my sexuality, I stole money from my parents to buy prostitutes trying to convince myself I was straight. I just didn’t know … I thought my birth parents gave me away because they knew I would be evil and I thought the Reagans would give me back if they found out.”
Reagan, intimidated by the church’s condemnation of homosexuality, didn’t tell anyone about the sexual molestation for years, and didn’t reveal the truth to his father until 1987 — long after Reagan was married, he had rediscovered God, and his father had been elected president.
However, with an impersonation of his father that had the audience laughing, Reagan explained how, when he told his father about his experience, the former president said, “Well. Where is he? I’ll kick his butt.”
Reagan explained how he has now used his past to benefit others. “I don’t think I lived through it to be quiet,” he said. “We never stop being that 8-year-old child.”
Reagan now frequently speaks at churches and other venues to help people better understand foster children as well as sexual abuse and sex trafficking of children, and child pornography.
Every year in America, 300,000 children are taken out of their homes because of neglect and abuse, Raegan said. All of those children are in foster care, but because of a lack of attention and laws
that make the domestic adoption process unnecessarily difficult, most people adopt from foreign countries.
Of the foster children that are not adopted, 73 percent end up on the streets or in jail for a lack of education and support.
Sex trafficking of children is a $12 billion industry with anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 American children in the business. Kids who run away from home are recruited into sex trafficking within an average of 48 hours.
These children’s bodies are usually used 25 to 30 times a day. And California is a focal point of the industry.
On average, one pedophile will sexually molest 107 children during his lifetime because children are usually too frightened to confess to anyone what has happened to them.
Reagan revealed how after meeting his wife and finding his way back to God, he has become grateful that he can hopefully make a difference in the lives of other children by sharing his experience with others.