His mother suffered a severe brain injury when he was 3, and Major Haley went to a foster home with two of his sisters, while the oldest two siblings were placed in another home.
The next year, he and his younger sister, Lee Anne, were adopted by Bill and Carole Haley. Bill was the manager of a steel mill, and Carole was a schoolteacher. It would be 15 years before Michael tracked down the rest of his brothers and sisters, Ms. Haley wrote.
Major Haley met his future wife in college, when she was a freshman studying accounting at Clemson University and he was enrolled at Anderson University, a small Christian school nearby.
At the time, Major Haley went by the same first name as his adoptive father, Bill. But Ms. Haley recounts in her memoir that soon after they started dating she told him, “You just don’t look like a Bill.” She instead chose to call him by his middle name, Michael, and it stuck, she wrote.
The couple encountered resistance from Ms. Haley’s parents, who are Sikh immigrants from India and wanted their daughter to marry someone with the same religion. But in 1996, two years after he proposed, they married in separate Sikh and Christian ceremonies and eventually settled in Lexington, S.C.