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Who Am I Really?
54 minutes | 6 days ago
148 - Being More Positive Is Huge In My Life
Ben, from Fannystelle, Manitoba Canada, had an extremely rough start in his first home with his biological family. He was abused at the hand of his step dad, so he was removed by child and family services for his safety. Bensen, or Ben was nursed back to health in foster care, and placed in a new family at seven years old. He admits he was an angry teen, taking on negativity in his life to cope. But as an adult he's done the hard work to make positive change for himself despite living with triggers on his body that remind him of what he's endured. Ben speaks of breaking the cycle of abuse when raising his own daughter, thanking his foster family for their loving care, and encouraging other adoptees (especially men) to tell their story over and over to try to reduce the pain we sometimes feel. This is Bensen's journey.
61 minutes | 13 days ago
147 - Please Don't Carry That Weight Anymore
Lisa Marie chatted with me via Skype from Lake Garda in the North of Italy.In her journey you'll hear the impact of a transracial adoptee who grew up in a homogenous world that didn't look like herself, and the serendipitous meeting that allowed Lisa to free herself from part of her past. Even though she lived a world away, technology allowed her to find her birth mother and spend the entire day online with her and her birth family. In front of an intimate audience in Colorado, Lisa got the once in a lifetime opportunity to sing to one special woman sitting in the front row of her show. This is Lisa's journey.
44 minutes | 19 days ago
146 - You Were Who I Always Needed
Michelle, from Ohio. She talks about the challenge of her childhood, craving a connection, but having the one she shared with her Dad snuffed out. Her search, which began with Adoption Network Cleveland where she found an ally in a birth mother in the group. Along the way Michelle felt the shame of her simple request to have access to her own records, and was met with secondary rejection. Luckily, Michelle has found the one person she now shares an undeniable bond with -- the one she's always needed. She said that adoption shaped her, her lack of attachment to her biological family forever changed her to her core. But she's moving forward with all the joys in the family she built and with the family she's found.This is Michelle's journey...
29 minutes | a month ago
145 - Tommy Davidson, Living In Color - What's Funny About Me
Comedian television and film actor, and all around entertainer. Tommy Davidson has seen it all. He launched his comedy career in the Washington DC area. Capitalizing on his innate ability to entertain people and make them bust out in laughter. But his earliest days were grounded in trauma that as an adoptee, he didn't face until he was an adult and was at risk of losing everything. Tommy graciously took time to chat with me about his life and his career as documented in his book, living in color. What's funny about me. From being found as an infant, clinging to life, to his show, business success on one of my favorite sketch comedy television shows, living color . Tommy has put in the work to face the trauma of his adoption, overcome addiction and rebuild his life. This is Tommy's journey.
28 minutes | a month ago
144 – Gullah Girl
Brandi, who called me from myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is an inquisitive person adopted in to a family with a history of scholars, which is rare for a black family in the south. DNA led Brandi to a cousin who was determined to help her figure out their biological connection and which of two men were her birth father. Coincidentally Brandi studied the music of a uniquely east coast southern diaspora of African people, only to learn she was studying the music of her own roots.This is Brandi's journey.
42 minutes | a month ago
143 - He Really Stepped Up
When Susan, from Irving, Texas, found her natural mother, she learned she was conceived in transit when two young lives collided, then never saw one another again. Her birth mother's life seemed too chaotic the women to make a deeper connection. The woman ended things abruptly when Susan didn't behave the way she wanted. Susans's paternal connection, while a complete surprise, was filled with joy and acceptance for a father who needed to fill a void, and a daughter who craved the same. This is Susan's journey.
71 minutes | 2 months ago
142 - "American Baby", Gabrielle Glaser
David, and his birth mother Margaret's story of adoption relinquishment, lives lived apart but close to one another, and their brief emotional reunion is told in the book, "American Baby", written by New York Times Best Selling Author, Gabrielle Glaser. Gabrielle first met David while he was on kidney dialysis awaiting a transplant where he shared that he hoped he would find his birth mother one day. In reunion, David learned that he had always been loved, and his birth parents never forgot about him. Gabrielle share's David's journey.
57 minutes | 2 months ago
141 - That Wasn't The Real Me
Gloria called me from Texas where she grew up with Mexican parents. In younger days she tried to find the ways she looked like her family. In adulthood, following the whim of some co-workers, Gloria did a DNA test naive to what it could possibly reveal. In a matter of months she was plunged into the deep end as a late discovery adoptee. She began drinking to cope, accidentally pushed away her paternal sister, but managed to hang onto her relationship with her biological mother. This is Gloria's journey.
45 minutes | 2 months ago
140 - I Wanted To Be My True Self
Darryl, from Australia, admits he had a challenging childhood from his relationship with his adoptive father, to their family's need to move around a lot because they were so poor, and his experience learning he is a late discovery adoptee. Darryl describes himself as a person for whom the truth is very important, so as an adult he discharged his adoption setting his personal record straight. This is Darryl's journey.
39 minutes | 2 months ago
139 -A Sense Of Peace And Calm
Wendy, from Minnesota, had a lot of information about her natural mother and assumed the woman would want to know her, but that wasn't the case. They corresponded once, solely for her natural mother to share clinical information, then the door closed.Wendy said finding her paternal sister Jen, a woman she could have met years earlier at church, has been a redemptive blessing that's brought Wendy peace. This is Wendy's journey.
34 minutes | 3 months ago
138 - She Never Thought She Would See Me Again
Marilyn called me from Southeast Tennessee. When she met her natural mother, she finally learned the story of what the woman had been through as the pieces of 50 years of history returned to her memory. Maryilyn admits she didn't have a huge void to fill in seeking reunion but that being in reunion has opened up closeness with her natural mother that some of her closest friends have waited years to achieve. Listen at the end for the cute story of how her son met his grandmother for the first time right at his own school, you're gonna love it. This is Marilyn's journey.
50 minutes | 3 months ago
058 – I Feel Like I’ve Found My Tribe
Nicole was adopted into a military family, the structure of which ran against her freewheeling nature. She’s an interracial woman with interracial adopted parents, so they looked like a natural family. In reunion, Nicole is facing secondary rejection from her birth mother, but her maternal grandparents and uncle have accepted her with open arms. She’s learned that her birth father wanted to keep her, and her paternal family feels so natural, Nicole feels like she’s found her tribe.Read Full TranscriptNicole: 00:05 I feel like I’ve found my tribe. These are, these are the people that like I fit. I feel like I’ve found peace within myself because it’s not who am I really? It’s it’s I am me and I’m who I’m always supposed to have been. It was just put in a different family.Voices: 00:30 Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?Damon: 00:42 This is who am I really a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I’m Damon Davis, and on today’s show is Nicole. She called me from the terrible rush hour traffic in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. She was raised in the south, but her mixed racial heritage partially originates from Germany by way of the Commonwealth of Virginia, a state we’re in adoptees. Legal rights to obtain their original birth information are extremely prohibitive in reunion. She’s exercising patience with her birth mother as she waits to be revealed to her maternal siblings, but she’s also surrounded by love and acceptance by other family members on both sides. This is Nicole’s journey.Damon: 01:30 Nicole was born in Virginia, adopted after three months in foster care. She is a woman of mixed race and she was adopted into a mixed race family. Her mother is white from Germany, her father is African American from Boston, and she grew up in a military family.Nicole: 01:46 You know, growing up it was, it was pretty normal. Adoption was like, you know, I was a typical day, you know, in the fog adoptee. That makes me special. And it was one of those things where, I mean, it was it really necessary to talk about, you know, it was, I’m adopted and that’s what it is. And you know, here’s our family.Damon: 02:09 Did you have siblings?Nicole: 02:10 No, I’m an only child. So my parents actually adopted me when they were both in their late thirties. Um, they just could not, could not have children. My mom had a lot of miscarriages and stillbirths. Um, so they went the adoption route and you know, growing up in a mixed race family it, it just seemed normal. I fit.Damon: 02:34 Her father had been in the military for more than 20 years by the time they adopted Nicole. So they put down roots in Atlanta, ending the usual repetitive relocations that military families often endure. They wanted to give Nicole a place to feel grounded. They lived off base, but they were still surrounded by military families, which meant a wide array of family mixtures. Many of them with German spouses. Nicole’s parents sent her to the German School of Atlanta on Saturdays because her adopted grandmother really wanted to be able to speak with her granddaughter in her native language. Sometimes adopt these don’t necessarily identify with the culture they’re introduced to when they’re adopted. So I asked Nicole how she identified with Germany.Nicole: 03:19 Oh, I am. I’m very proud German. It was never a thing. I mean obviously it was odd, you know, going to Germany and being the only brown skinned kid running around with all of the cousins. Very concentrated white area in the small villages. But other than that it was normal. I felt like I fit.Damon: 03:48 Did you go to Germany often?Nicole: 03:53 Every Summer my mother and I would go.Damon: 03:54 What was it like for you there? Tell me more about being this brown child running around as the only person of color, Probably, in the in the area.Nicole: 04:05 I guess to me, because like I said, for my family made it very normal. Um, I did have a cousin and she was also mixed race military as well, but she grew up in Germany rather than moving to the states. Her mom stayed in Germany, so like I said it, it was just boggling normal. I mean, I guess it was, I noticed that I kind of stuck out of. But it, to me it was like, Oh, you know, I’m the special kid, you know, I’m the one brown kid here, here in Germany. Of course everybody was fascinated with my hair and, and all of that, but it was, it was just very, very normal.Damon: 04:43 Nicole’s interracial heredity meant she really looked like she could be the product of her adopted parents. They even have little inside jokes and the family about her resemblance to her father’s distant relatives who were also mixed race. Some of them passing for white. A lot of adoptees have that joke or sometimes irritation at the constant reminder that they couldn’t possibly look like their relatives because they were adopted. Of course, their families resemblance made it hard to convince her friends. She was telling the truth when she revealed she was an adopteeNicole: 05:14 and my friends, some of them just didn’t believe that I was adopted. You know, there’s no way you’re adopted. You look just like your family. And I’ve looked. My Dad told them that I’m adopted and he goes, oh, maybe she was. Maybe she was on. That was our joke.Damon: 05:32 It’s funny in they’re ask. So you’ve talked a little bit about your German orientation, but tell me about your father. He’s black from Boston. What did he, what did he introduce for you in terms of culture and how did you deal with sort of racial identity growing up in general?Nicole: 05:50 I think it was more so. He didn’t really touch on waste to entirely much, but his sister, he funny enough, his sisters also adopted. Their mother was a widow and they were adopted by my grandfather and they actually had the choice to be adopted and some of them decided to be adopted and others did not, but they were big on kind of bringing me into the African American culture. And they were very insistent that when it came time for college that, you know, we have to, you have to tour the black colleges in the area, um, you know, uh, you know, reminding me of how to take care of my hair because my mom tried to, but she wasn’t, she didn’t really know how to take care of my hair other than like let’s slap a relaxer in it and keep it straight so, you know, they, they were a big part of that as well as my grandmother because, you know, we would go to Germany every summer, but we also went up to Virginia and I would stay with her for two or three weeks. Um, so my dad’s mom, my grandmother was very big into kind of reminding me of embedded into the culture and going to the very typical black churches participating in a the choir and all of that. So I got it pretty good on bedside. Yeah, there is a reason I feel like there is a reason I was put into the family that I was in because there’s too many small little coincidences within my biological and adoptive family.Damon: 07:20 It sounded to me like Nicole was perfectly comfortable right where she was so naturally. I was curious about what made her want to search. She said it’s always been something she wanted to do and her parents were well aware. Her mother used to joke with her and in certain situations that she must be just like her biological motherNicole: 07:39 because I was this loud boisterous child of in you know a very buttoned up military family and very strict rules and here’s this artsy kid and where is she getting it from?Damon: 07:52 when Nicole turned 18, she was moving out of the house, but she also contacted Catholic charities to request the documents necessary to start her search. But listen to how she talks about the experience.Nicole: 08:06 $500 fine that you have to get the paperwork moving out of the house. $500 is not something easily come by .Damon: 08:18 It’s funny that you used the word fine also, right? They would call it a fee, but you very much feel like it’s a fine for finding your own identity, Huh?Nicole: 08:27 Yeah. I mean that’s what it really feels like. And I had my first son when I was 19 years old, so that was the same age that my birth mother was when she had me so and I actually considered an adoption plan for him, but thinking about just to me, the hell that she went through and those feelings. I couldn’t do it because they’re going to make it work, we’re absolutely going to make it work.Damon: 08:54 Over the years, Nicole requested the paperwork more than once. She repeatedly committed to herself that she would find the money to pay the fine, but finally on her birthday in 2017, she told her boyfriend she wanted to submit a sample for AncestryDNA. She had also listened to a Ted talk given by Catherine Robertson in Baltimore, Maryland. Catherine’s talk outlines the seven reasons and adopt these original identity should not be a state secret. In reason number six, she tells the story of how she found her birth family on her own outside of the unfair laws of the state of Virginia where Nicole was also born. In Virginia and adopt. He can petition to obtain their records, but the petition will only be accepted under one condition if both parents consent to have their identities revealed. To Recap Katherine’s point, that means if both parents are deceased, the petition is
37 minutes | 3 months ago
020 – I Don’t Silence Julie Anymore
Michelle says growing up she felt very different from her adoptive family because she looked completely different from them. When she was a teen she embarked on a voyage to reunite with her birth mother, traveling back to the UK where she was born. Seeking some of the basic answers to her identity and acceptance by her biological mother, her trip was going great, until the neighbor came over and asked who Michelle was. What happened next became a pivotal moment in Michelle’s quest to discover herself.But the acceptance and love that Michelle was looking for were still out there and they came from a person that she didn’t even know existed. She located her half brother in Spain, and was able to he relay the final emotions of their dying father, bringing some peace to Michelle.The post 020 – I Don’t Silence Julie Anymore appeared first on Who Am I...Really? Podcast.Michelle (00:03):And climbed back as a teen. I just remembered, I don't know how to do this, but I know that these people aren't the ones to give me my truth and I'm either gonna find it myself or I'm gonna die not knowing, and I wasn't willing to live a life not knowing.Voices (00:25):Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?Damon (00:37):This is Who Am I Really? A podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I'm Damon Davis, and today you're going to meet Michelle. She told me she grew up feeling very different from her adoptive family because she looked completely different from them. Michelle reunited with her birth mother as a teenager traveling back to the United Kingdom where she was born. She was seeking some basic answers to her identity and acceptance by her biological mother. Things were going great for them until the neighbor came over and asked who Michelle was. It became a pivotal moment in Michelle's quest to discover herself. But the acceptance and love that Michelle was looking for was still out there and it came from a person that she didn't even know existed. I asked Michelle about her journey and what adoption was like for her growing up. Michelle starts us off with the events that brought her into this world. Her parents weren't able to keep her. So Michelle was placed in foster care and it was there even in those early days where people placed judgment about her existence.Michelle (01:39):Well, I was born in England. I go back to that because it's really part of the whole journey of identity for me. Uh, I was born in England. Mother was British, father was Spanish. Um, I was a product of their affair. My mother at the time was married. She had three children and my father was single, a bachelor. They had an affair. I was the product of that and it was quite a scandal actually at the time. And I was secreted away into foster care. My birth father said he didn't want to be a father, didn't want to raise me. Birth mother had a choice to make, you know, she couldn't keep me. And she looked to keep her family intact with her husband and her three children. In foster care in the U K I was labeled because of the circumstances around me. You know, it was labeled in my foster records, illegitimate dark, because I had the coloring of my birth father peculiar looking because I was very much, you know, was identified as an ethnic child.Damon (02:40):You saw all of this information in your records?Michelle (02:43):Yeah. Yeah. I've, I've seen it in my foster records.Damon (02:47):That's fascinating.Michelle (02:47):And you know, it's, it's interesting because I don't know, you feel that even if you aren't given it in the, in the beginnings, you know, even if you don't see it in black and white, there's something about the judgment, um, that you feel, I think even at the youngest of ages, you know, you can feel that negativity surrounding you and you can definitely feel the weight of judgment.Damon (03:10):You can feel how you're perceived.Michelle (03:12):You can feel yes, how you're perceived. And so a lot of that fell on my young shoulders.Damon (03:18):Michelle was adopted by Americans and brought to this country to be raised. Her appearance made her feel different and she was often reminded of it. But her inability to share more about her heritage made her feel incomplete.Michelle (03:31):But I look like no one in my family. I had long black hair, big brown, almond shaped eyes, Mediterranean skin. My family was Caucasian, fair skin, blue eyes for the most part. And I did. I stuck out and people would ask, well, where are you from? And I just remember feeling so different. And I also remember feeling such a, uh, such an overwhelming sense of being silenced because I didn't know how to answer the questions because I really didn't know. I knew a certain amount of my history, but I didn't know all of it. And so there were pieces and holes that left me feeling disempowered and certainly far, far away from what would have been a true identity. My name was changed upon being adopted. My culture, you know, shifted, uh, my family shifted, everything changed. And in that space is quite a void.Damon (04:30):Michelle's adopted parents had two biological sons of their own, but her mom really wanted a girl. Her American parents tried to adopt while living in Taiwan, but it wasn't until they lived in the UK that they found their daughter. Unfortunately, as Michelle grew older, her mom used some damaging language about Michelle's adoption that made Michelle feel like she always had to be at her best. To top it off, her distinctive appearance, contrast it against her family members, set her clearly apart from them, a constant reminder of her adoption.Michelle (05:01):So, there's no doubt that I was wanted, you know, um, very much so by my mother for sure. And I know by my father too. But, um, I think all of that was just expressed differently. I grew up in a family where my mother would say things to me like, I saved you from that situation. And so I had a sense of needing to be always grateful and in some ways always perfect in her eyes because I was convinced as a child and for a long time in my life that imperfect things get sent back and perfect people get sent away. So the, the quest for perfection to always be seen as perfect, grateful, always striving to make others proud, being a pleaser, those behaviors quickly I think came into, uh, into play in my life.Damon (05:55):Wow. Can you give me an example of how that happened?Michelle (05:58):Well, I would never, you know, number one, I was always very hard on myself. I wanted to just be the best because I really felt like if I was the best and whatever that meant to me at that time would, would equal safety for me and security. And so I wanted to make the best grades. I didn't want to disappoint. I wanted to be the best in school and my ballet company or you know.Damon (06:19):You wanted to be good enough to be kept.Michelle (06:22):I wanted to be good enough to be kept. And so that became my identity is the girl who is striving everyday in every way to be good enough. Even though deep down inside she could not figure out why she felt so unworthy of love of being adopted even life. To be quite honest with you, I just felt like, well sometimes maybe God makes mistakes and I'm just one of those mistakes and I'm just going to have to figure out how to live with that identity.Damon (06:51):I was going to ask with regard to your mother's remarks of I saved you from that situation? Did you perceive that as her sort of saying, I'm a great person because I saved you? I've heard some people say that their parents made these offhanded comments accidentally. Uh, but some people made these comments very, very intentionally and I was kind of wondering which one you felt your mother fell into.Michelle (07:17):Well, I think sometimes it would depend on the situation. Um, I think when she made that particular comment to me, I think she very much knew what she was saying and I think it was a way of correcting me in some way or shifting me back if, if there was ever, maybe if she saw me as not acting as if she would like me to do or there was a behavior that she was not pleased with, she would remind me. And I think what that did for me, it, it, it would put a little fear into me that, okay, what she's saying is she saved me from something and in this moment I am not pleasing her. And so if she saved me from something, then there's the risk that she could send me back to that. I don't think she meant it. I don't think she ever had a clue the overriding impact that would have on me emotionally and mentally.Damon (08:08):I understand.Michelle (08:09):To live in that kind of world where you feel things are very fragile, love is fragile.Damon (08:15):Michelle said her mother's words ultimately made her feel that her love might be conditional. Making that love fragile in Michelle's mind. She got the feeling her mother felt she had done something exceptionally altruistic for taking on another child. But her mother also expressed her love for Michelle.Michelle (08:31):I think my mother did feel that she had done something exceptional in adopting me. You know, people would say that like, what a good person you are for taking her in. Um, they would say, people would say to me, what a, what a lovely thing your parents have done. And so I do, I do remember my mother saying, well, we're, we're, we're, the ones were really blessed. I remember hearing her say that as well. So I'm, you know, I, I never point fingers of judgment. I, and I do believe that everyone does, you know, for the most part, the best that they can in the situations. But I think it's, there's a level of awareness that I'm trying to help, um, within this conversation of what it feels like to live in the skin of adoption and how we perceive things versus how others might perceive what they're saying or what they're doing.Damon (09:24):Yeah, I could see how her comment could have been completely innocent and, um, and possibly factual to be honest with you. You know, it's entirely possible that she did save you from a very challenging situation, but the choice of words, the moment at which it said, and as you've said, the backdrop of your own emotions as an adoptee who already feels like you don't look like your family, you could see how just without the precise careful selection of certain words at the right time could go awry.Damon (09:55):Michelle's adopted parents both passed away just a few years ago in 2016 she says she really healed a lot with them during her journey in her loving family and she knows they would want her to be open and honest in sharing her story for the benefit of other adoptees. Michelle conveyed the challenges she had feeling validated in her existence when she questioned why her first family gave her up and her adoptive father seemed to change after her arrival.Michelle (10:21):
59 minutes | 3 months ago
061 – I Know They May Not Love Me…
Stephanie grew up in a very wealthy family in South Carolina and you’ll hear discuss the family’s fortune, but pause before you pass judgment on how easy life must have been. Her story is filled with manipulative behavior, malicious intentions, and a foundation created from lies. You’ll also hear Stephanie’s intelligence and tenacity to get her through the tough times as she learned the truth about her adopted family’s feelings towards her, the story of how she arrived in her aunt’s care, and the tough road to connect with her sister.Read Full TranscriptDamon: 00:04 I’m going to say at the time I really didn’t want to meet her. My life was pretty torn up as it was, but the reason I said yes is I thought, what if this is the only chance I have? What if? What if this is it? There’s no more chances.Voices: 00:24 Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?Damon: 00:36 This is who am I really a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I’m Damon Davis, and on today’s show is Stephanie. She called me from Charleston, South Carolina. Stephanie grew up in a very wealthy family and you’ll hear her talk about the family’s fortune, the pause before you pass judgement on how easy life must have been. Her story is filled with manipulative behavior, malicious intentions, and a foundation created from lies. But you’ll also hear Stephanie’s intelligence and tenacity to get through the tough times as she learned the truth about her adopted families, feelings towards her, the story of how she arrived in her aunt’s care and the tough road to connect with her sister. This is Stephanie’s journey. Stephanie was born in upstate South Carolina in her adopted family. She was the oldest child and all of her siblings, except for her half brother are adopted. Adoption was part of their lives with adoption children’s books around that were red from time to time, but it wasn’t an open topic of discussion. In fact, quite the opposite.Stephanie: 01:48 My parents did not like talking about my adoption and it wasn’t that they ever told me you’re not allowed to ask any questions, but when I would start speaking about it, the only way I’ve known to describe it is it is like this thunderstorm suddenly came over my mother’s head and just the entire mood just changed. And I knew I was treading on thin ice. I was told the same kind of background stories as a kid. I was told by my aunt, my father’s sister, that um The way I came into the family is she had a friend who worked for social services and she went by one day to have lunch with her and there was this little child, this toddler sitting in a chair. And, um, she just said she thought I was so beautiful and her friends that I just have to finish up here before we go. I’m trying to find a home for this child, a temporary home. And um, my aunt said that she just immediately said, oh, well I’ll take her home with me. And that’s how I ended up with her.Damon: 03:04 Were you, did you tell me, were you, where did you fall? You said you had several siblings, others who were adopted. Where did you fall in the order of children?Stephanie: 03:15 I was the oldest, but I was not the first to be adopted.Damon: 03:19 Oh, interesting. Okay. So she had already adopted younger children than you?Stephanie: 03:27 Uh, well, the way it happened, I’m not sure that she wouldn’t have adopted me. Um, had she not already been involved in my life, my mother had she not already been involved in my life. Um, before she got her to start drops. So they were trying to have children and my mother had two ectopic pregnancies that nearly killed her. And so they looked into adoption. And the way she always told it was the doctor asked about bonding with a child that wasn’t naturally hers and she said she laughed him off and said, I have no problem bonding with animals that aren’t even of my species. So that won’t be an issue. Yeah. Which as a kid I just took, like I just took it for what it was, you know, that’s my mom. But being an adult, thinking about that, it’s, it’s odd.Damon: 04:21 Stephanie’s mother and father were both physicians well connect it in the hospital, maternity wards. And they had thought about adoption before.Stephanie: 04:29 And My mother told me the reason they didn’t take any of those babies as they were drug babies.Damon: 04:34 So Stephanie started to calculate in her mind her place with her mother. She figured out that her mother wasn’t just desperate for any baby because she told Stephanie flat out that she had rejected some children in need. So it made Stephanie feel like she was not on solid footing within the family. Later, Stephanie found out that her mother’s parents didn’t believe in adoption and that if a woman couldn’t have children, naturally that was God’s message, that you are not intended to have children. I assumed that meant her mother had gone against her parents’ religious beliefs. She said, that’s not the case at all.Stephanie: 05:09 It wasn’t a religious thing. My family is very snooty. They’re very affluent, wealthy.Damon: 05:15 But I keyed in on something Stephanie said earlier that her mother would not have adopted her if Stephanie wasn’t already in her life and that Stephanie was living with her aunt. So you were saying that basically they didn’t adopt some of the other children because they were drug babies and she really would not have adopted. You had not already been in your life. You were living with your aunt. So what is your relationship to your mother thenStephanie: 05:43 We’re very estranged.Damon: 05:44 What? But I mean, is there a direct relationship? Is…uh she, you are not her niece. You said you were living with your aunt, your aunt was a social worker and that’s it?Stephanie: 05:54 No. Um, my aunt on a social worker, she was in banking, but she, that’s the story she told me.Damon: 06:01 But that’s not true.Stephanie: 06:03 No, it’s not true.Damon: 06:05 They made it up.Stephanie: 06:06 Yeah, they made it up.Damon: 06:08 So what was life like then for you as a child? They feed you. It sounds like you were living under a cloud of deception that you didn’t even realize was there. Did you detect other things that sort of made you feel like your adoption was in any way fake or taboo or anything like that?Stephanie: 06:27 I definitely did. I don’t necessarily have specific examples, but my mom even said when I finally knew more about it as a teenager and I was just like flabbergasted. Just completely appalled that I also knew that I had to be very reserved because I wasn’t, my feelings weren’t acceptable and so I was, I was trying to let her know just how, how upset and um unsure this made me feel when I finally learned more things and she just said, oh, come on Steph. You always knew you were always the one asking questions. You always knew there was something up and just shut down the conversation. That was the last time she talked about that.Damon: 07:09 That was about 16 years ago when Stephanie was a teenager. I wondered how the adopted siblings dealt with their mother’s refusal to discuss adoption, but Stephanie says they never talked about it amongst one another, but one time her older brother was visiting and casually raised something that stuck with her.Stephanie: 07:26 He told me that if he were made, he would want to search for his birth mother.Damon: 07:31 Stephanie said she used to ask her mother about adoption in front of her siblings intentionally to have backup on the topic by trying to surround herself with others who were also impacted by her parents answers.Stephanie: 07:43 I do know that one time I asked the question and my sister was old enough to um, follow up. I know my mom didn’t like that, so my mom told me the usual story and then my sister pipes up, I think from the backseat. We were driving and asked her what she knows about her and she says, I know that your birth mother was 18 and your biological grandfather was some type of engineer and then a, that leads the way for my youngest sibling, my brother to ask something about him. And um, that’s when I found out that I always knew he was premature, but he asked what they knew and my mom said, well, we don’t really know much. She intended to keep you and you were born premature and she couldn’t afford the medical care. Even as a kid. Of course I didn’t say anything, but even as a kid I just remember my heart clenched. And uh, I didn’t know we were wealthy. My parents were very, um, they didn’t talk about money and it took awhile. I was pretty naive. It took a while for me to realize that you were a well off. I just thought, well, everybody has three homes and that kind of thing. But I knew that we were well off enough that we could help someone like that. And so I remember my heart clenching and I thought that’s just how sad, like I wonder why they couldn’t...
24 minutes | 3 months ago
074 – I Feel Some Of It Too
Serena told me she had a similar experience to what a lot of adoptees feel, even though she grew up with her birth mother. I’m always talking about empathizing with others, so I wanted to hear her story. Serena told me about her birth on a Native American reservation in Arizona then her mother moving away. She was adopted by her father when he married her mother, but Serena never knew her biological father. When her paternal family called to say her birth father was ill, she was too stunned to act quickly, so she only met his relatives at his chaotic funeral. Take a moment to listen to the parallels between what I’ll call Serena’s “adoption adjacent” experience and those of other adoptees.Read Full TranscriptSerena: 00:02 I don’t think I recognized the severity of his sickness. I didn’t… At that age, you still think you’re invincible and I had never had anyone that was even close to me die. So to have, you know, these people who are part of my paternal family, but I’ve never, I’ve never known call me and sort of dropped this sort of bomb. I think I just kind of froze.Voices: 00:35 Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I in mind?Damon: 00:47 This is who am I really a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I’m Damon Davis, and on today’s show is Serena. She called me from Virginia shortly after I met her at the Maryland Pod-casters Association meetup. She told me she had a similar experience to what a lot of adoptees feel, even though she grew up with her birth mother. I’m always thinking about empathizing with others. So I wanted to hear her story. Serena told me about her birth on a native American reservation in Arizona. Then her mother moving away, she was adopted by her father when he married her mother, but Serena never knew her biological father. When her paternal family call to say her birth father was ill, she was too stunned to act quickly, so she only met his relatives at a chaotic funeral. Take a moment to listen to the parallels between what I’ll call Serena’s adoption adjacent experience and those of other adoptees. This is Serena’s as journey.Damon: 01:49 Serena was born on the Navajo reservation in Fort Defiance, Arizona, but her mother was only 18 at the time living with a friend because her own mother and grandmother had moved to Colorado. Her mother wanted to stay behind to finish high school at Window Rock, another Navajo reservation. That’s when sheSerena: 02:09 met a boy, fell in love. Got Pregnant. She was… My mom is so freaking smart. She is God. She puts anything, anything at all I I’ll ever do to shame. She gave birth to me and then very shortly after flew across the country and came to the DC area and went to… And did her undergrad at Georgetown. I think something like two or three weeks after after giving birth because I was a little late. I was in the care of my grandmother for think my first two years out in Wyoming while my mom was sort of got her academic career started here and you, it’s a rough transition being from a reservation and living out west and you know, coming out here, it’s a, it’s a pretty big culture shock, you know, coming from a very small place where a lot of the people you see are, are like you or related to you or you know, you have a common culture to someplace like DCDamon: 03:23 from other established herself in the DC area. Serena, when she was three years old, her birth father John moved to Alexandria, Virginia too and they made a go at being a young family togetherSerena: 03:35 for whatever reason. That didn’t work out and eventually she met my father. so my father is The person who’s been my dad my entire life, he’s my Dad. He’s my father. I kind of use the term birth father for John Because I don’t have any anything else other than pictures and not even very many stories with him. I think, you know, this sort of thing is just for the people that lived through it. It’s so long ago that you don’t talk about it, but then at some point I kind of told my mom like, I, I’m missing a couple of gaps in my life.Damon: 04:21 Just for the record. Is John Native American as well?Serena: 04:24 Yes, So I am three quarters Navajo. He was full blooded and my mom is half.New Speaker: 04:36 And may I ask, what is her other half?Serena: 04:36 ha! Swedish.Damon: 04:36 Serena told me that her grandmother was part of the native American boarding school system, which removed her from the reservation and sent her away to boarding school. When she finished school, the work placement program landed her a job as a secretary with NASA in southern California. That’s where she met. Serena’s maternal grandfather, a Swedish rocket scientist. I asked Serena to circle back to her early years back in Arizona with her grandmother while her own mom was in DC. She of course doesn’t have any memory of that time, but she did saySerena: 05:08 my grandmother, and I’ve always had this intensely close bond. She helped raise me when was ittty bitty, and my mom, my grandmother, and my mom was the second oldest, so I still had three aunts and an uncle that were there when I was a baby, so I’ve just heard stories about how the girls would just take me and bathe me and dressed me up and put me in dresses and and bows and I was just like their little dollDamon: 05:46 Serena said she used to go back and visit her aunts and uncles who weren’t too much older than herself. She went on to tell me about her dad. Steve. He and her mother were married for only a few divorcing when she was about eight years old. They had one daughter, Serena, sister Sarah.Serena: 06:03 It’s so funny because I mean biology is just, it’s, it’s biology, you know? There’s no sentiment behind that.Damon: 06:12 That’s very scientific.Serena: 06:18 [Laughs] We’ve never, we’ve never referred to each other as this is my sister. No, she’s always just been my sister and we’ve always just been sisters and you tan skin, dark hair, dark eyes, and she’s got that very, very fair skin. Freckles, light, Brown hair can go blue eyes.Damon: 06:42 Wow. Yeah. You guys sound like you’ve built, you look very different from one another.Damon: 06:47 Serena said among her sisters, they may not look alike, but they share many of the same mannerisms. She lived in the DC area most of her life and with a 12 year gap between them, they had to work at a familial bond. You’re probably wondering if Serena grew up with her mother, then how is this an adoption story? Bear in mind. Adoption can take many forms. Hers was adoption by marriage. Serena talks about how she learned that Steve had adopted her as his daughter and how she felt different from her dad, like other adoptees sometimes feel with their families.Serena: 07:21 So when Steve and and my mom got married, um, he actually adopted me. So on my birth certificate, there’s his name and I just, I have a weird memory of like being in kindergarten and like, you know, how they put the, put a little laminate thing and tape it down to your desk and that’s where you sit and that’s your name and you know, that whole jam. But I didn’t recognize my last name because I think it was still my birth father’s last name, but I just knew that wasn’t my last name.Damon: 08:04 Oh, Interesting.Serena: 08:06 Yeah, so I think that they. They started the adoption process probably sometime around then.Damon: 08:14 So Serena was a kid who grew up with one last name, but suddenly in school, her name tag on her desk had a different name. Serena was about eight years old when her mother and Steve divorced. They were living in Virginia. He lived in Maryland and they would trade off visits with him. She said around 11 years old, the curiosity hit her about whom her biological father could be. So her mother tried to find her birth father, John, using an old address she had for his parents. Serena wrote him letters and he responded that he was remarried and had a son. And that was it for Serena. Her curiosity was satisfied. She established a connection and she didn’t need anything else at that moment. As a kid. What she says next is just one of the things that aligned Serina story with other adoption journeys.Serena: 09:01 I feel like I, I definitely felt different after they got divorced and has always been my sister. My Dad has always been my dad, but they look very similar like you can see the similrity between Sarah and my dad and it was a little weird and awkward and you know, at this point like I’m about eight years old and so we’re just starting to kind of notice the differences between you and your peers and there were definitely times where I was starting to notice how I maybe looked like would like I was Sarah’s friend. Like, you wouldn’t look at us, at least way back then, I feel like way back then in the early nineties and think, Oh, that’s a dad and his two daughters.Damon: 09:53 When Serena was about 12, her mother moved back to Arizona to pursue her law degree with a concentration in tribal law. But the mood changed the game for visiting Steve. She lived in
37 minutes | 4 months ago
053 – Seeing The Life That Could Have Been
Meredith had enough adoptees around her growing up that adoption was no big deal. Yet, her parents never felt comfortable actually discussing adoption. After getting pregnant, and spurred on by her mother-in-law’s intuition that Meredith wanted answers, she started searching. When her social worker found her biological parents, they were married with children. Her reunion has filled her with mixed emotions because she’s thankful for the life she’s led but’s she’s seen the family photos for the life that could have been.The post 053 – Seeing The Life That Could Have Been appeared first on Who Am I...Really? Podcast.Meredith (00:03):In the beginning. I, I didn't set boundaries for myself, for the relationship with them, for, I didn't give myself time to feel anything. I think I was, you know, adoptees are people pleasers and that's what I was being. And I was so concerned about what everyone else was feeling. And I don't, I didn't recognize what I was going through. And I think maybe that's why I struggle a little bit more now with my emotions.Damon (00:35):Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? This is who am I really a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I'm Damon Davis and on today's show is Meredith. She called me from Northern Virginia, but her story takes place up North in a small town in Massachusetts. There, she felt loved and adoption was no big deal growing up because there were adoptees around her and life was good. Her reunion happened quickly, but it was transformative for her when she learned her biological parents were together and her adopted parents felt betrayed. This is Meredith's journey. Meredith grew up in a quaint little town in Western Massachusetts. She said she doesn't remember even being told, but she always knew she was adopted. She also had an older sister, also adopted, but unrelated to herself, coincidentally Meredith's childhood best friend who lived right across the street was also an adoptee. SoMeredith (01:49):It just felt very normal to me. And then actually the day that I was adopted, I was adopted a month after I was born. Uh, we celebrate that as my special day. And, um, my mom always would make cupcakes for the class at school. Um, so it was kind of like a second birthday for me.Damon (02:10):That is so coolMeredith (02:10):Yeah. And we still, you know, she'll send me a special day card every year, which I still get. So yeah, it's always just been something that made me feel unique.Damon (02:21):Both sisters got birthday and special day celebrations and the girls were made to feel cherished and loved Meredith said she always had questions about adoption, but when she was younger, sometimes she would get a little pushback from her mother when she broached the topic. So she usually didn'tMeredith (02:38):It didn't, I didn't start to really think about it more until I was like in high school. And I don't know if it was partly my curiosity too, but a lot of people would ask me questions, which I think maybe sparked like me wanting to know more too. Does that make sense?Damon (02:58):Something that you haven't really Thought about, but as other people think about it more and more, it definitely invades your own mind. Right?Meredith (03:06):Right. But honestly, when I was in high school, like I didn't even know where to start. I, I, wasn't still in contact with the other adoptee friend that I had. So I didn't really have a community of people who understood it or even knew like how to help me.Damon (03:22):Those were pre-internet days in the 1990s. So while she wanted to search for her relatives, Meredith didn't have any ways to do so easily. While in high school, she says she didn't talk about adoption much with others on any meaningful level until she got married. She discussed being adopted with her husband and her mother-in-law.Meredith (03:42):Cause she's just a very curious person. And she would ask me a lot of questions. And she's actually someone who helped me a lot in my search when I actually got answers.Damon (03:53):Meredith thinks that part of the reason she didn't search sooner was a little bit of fear, a lack of a real support system. And just not even knowing where to start narrative has already said that she only casually discussed adoption with others. So I wondered what it was about her mother-in-law that made Meredith open up.Meredith (04:12):I think maybe because I knew that she genuinely cares about me and I think she saw that I wanted answers. And you know, sometimes you just need that little push that person to nudge you along and bring that out of you. And I feel like I knew that she would support any decision or outcome and she would be there for me.Damon (04:36):So her curiosity, her curiosity and support, evoked a feeling of trust. Yeah. for sure, just after Meredith and her husband got engaged in 2008. They were back in Western Massachusetts for her bridal shower. Her future mother-in-law traveling with them. The group was at Meredith's mother's house. And since adoption was an open topic among them, they decided to have a look at her baby book, which had her adoption information easily accessible within it.Meredith (05:06):And we were just curious, and we were looking through adoption papers that my mom had just, um, non identifying information. And we noticed something on one of the papers. There was some whiteout and I had a friend with me there too. And so my mother in law and the friend noticed the whiteout and then they got kind of sparked my interest. You know, I've looked at these papers all my life. Why have I never questioned this whiteout? Um, so we start investigating and realized that there's a name under there. And we couldn't tell what the name was. It started with an E you know, we, we weren't sureDamon (05:43):The friend and her mother-in-law were trying to figure out what the name under the whiteout could have been, but it was a covert operation and Meredith didn't want her mother to know they were analyzing her adoption records. The whole thing got her kind of freaked out. So they made copies of the documents and she let her curiosity subside for years, Meredith was thinking about having children. So the classic adoptee desire for health information was on her mind. But that piece of paper with redacted information also lingered in the recesses to. Additionally, her mother-in-law could really tell that she wanted answers. So she suggested they dig in to start a search and Meredith agreed. The documents she had gave a little bit of information about Meredith's birth parents. So they tried to triangulate for who the people could be, but there just wasn't enough to go on. Meredith contacted the adoption agency that did her adoption, which had transferred her records to the hospital where she was born.Meredith (06:45):So I called contacted the hospital where my file was. And basically they gave me the same thing. You know, it's a closed adoption. All we can give you is non identifying information. You need to send us a written document with a signature, just requesting the information. So that's what I did. And then I got a call back from them when they pulled my file. So she told me that in my file, there was a letter from my birth mom when I w that was written when I was one day old. And it basically said that if I ever made contact that she wanted to be contacted.Damon (07:26):Wow.Meredith (07:27):Yeah. So I guess technically that gives permission to open the file, but since it had been 30 years, she had to find her first and make sure that she still wanted to be contacted.Damon (07:42):Yeah. But that must have been heartening for you to know that in the moment that she was making these decisions, she did want to know you again one day.Meredith (07:52):Yeah. Yeah. It was kinda crazy. And I was actually working full time at the, at the time. While, while I was getting the call phone calls and I just, I remember like sitting at my desk just like bawling my eyes out in the middle of the Workday. Um, just trying to like deal with this and then not being able to focus all day,Damon (08:16):Oh my gosh, I can. So remember that feeling. So did they read you the letter over the, over the phone?Meredith (08:22):No. So she did send me the letter, which actually is funny because she told me when you get the letter, don't be alarmed because it's addressed to a different name, but that was your name at birth. And the name was Elaine. So it just confirms that the name that was whited out on that original document I had was Elaine. Cause we knew it started with an E.Damon (08:46):wow. You were hot on the trail. That's really interesting.Meredith (08:51):Yeah. So, yeah, so I did get that letter. Um, it was handwritten, it was very emotional. Um, just explaining why they had to give me up and basically that she, she didn't know the future, you know, she hoped that her and at the time her boyfriend were, you know, would stay together, but she didn't know the future. And financially they, you know, they, they were just out of high school. They didn't live together. They didn't have a house, they didn't have real jobs. So, um, it was, it was basically based on, you know, just not feeling like they could provide a better life for me.Damon (09:34):How did you identify with the name Elaine, when you finally read it?Meredith (09:39):Um, I mean, it's a little strange for me. I, I wrote a found out that it's actually my birth mother's middle name. So it's, it's very meaningful to me. I mean, she knew she was giving me up and so I don't know. I feel, I feel like it's, it's special and it means something to me, but obviously it'sDamon (09:59):Yeah. You grew up as Meredith.Meredith (10:02):Yeah.Damon (10:03):Going to see, yeah. To see another name and have it actually be your former identity. It's very, it's, it's weird.Meredith (10:13):Yeah, it is.Damon (10:15):So Meredith waited impatiently for the social worker to get back in contact with her while they attempted to locate her birth mother.Meredith (10:22):My mother in law actually kept pushing too. And you know, kept calling the social worker like, come on. Like we really need some answers. Cause at this point I was like, I've waited 30 years. I feel like I'm so close that like, I just need answers now. Yeah.Damon (10:38):They learned that the notes in her adoption file showed that her parents called the adoption agencies several times after Meredith's birth to see how their baby was doing within a few months, just before Christmas, that year, the social worker called back with news.Meredith (10:54):Okay. So I get a phone call from the social worker saying I made contact because lo and behold, no one up North changes their phone number. They happen to have the same phone number. And um, she said, Oh, I need to tell you your birth mom married your birth dad. And they're still married today.Damon (11:18):Wow. What did you think when you heard that?Meredith (11:22):I never in a million years thought that that would be the outcome. So then immediately I'm like, Oh my God, do they have kids.Damon (
35 minutes | 4 months ago
013 – It Wasn’t That He Didn’t Care, He Cared Too Much
Jennifer learned that she was adopted when she was six years old. Interestingly, her adopted parents shared a letter with her that was written by her biological mother whose instructions were that Jennifer should have it when they felt she was ready. In fact, her parents had an entire package of detailed information about her adoption which satisfied some her curiosities and sparked new ones that she wanted answers to. Thanks to some clever sleuthing her biological mother was very easy to locate. Jennifer’s adopted father had calculated who her mother likely was and pinpointed where she probably lived based on some of the information they already had. But what began as a warm introduction turned cold when Jennifer was forced to repeatedly ask her biological mother for identifying information about her biological father. When she finally learned who he was, and traced his family to their home in Florida, she learned that her deepest connection on this journey was with the father she never knew.The post 013 – It Wasn’t That He Didn’t Care, He Cared Too Much appeared first on Who Am I...Really? Podcast.Jen (00:01):Basically every question that I had ever had was, you know like did they want me? Do they care about me? There was no doubt that I had been lied to and my entire world suddenly flipped because my mother who had told me that that they didn't want me, they wanted nothing to do with me and all this other kind of stuff was now a lie.Voices (00:27):Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?Damon (00:39):This is Who Am I Really, a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. Hey, it's Damon and today I spoke with Jen. She's a Marylander just like me and in her journey she learned that her biological family lived just one County away from her growing up. She's a rare case for adoptees because she was given a really comprehensive package of information about her adoption, including a letter written to her from her birth mother. Her biological mother was very easy to find and connect with thanks to her adoptive father's ability to calculate and pinpoint some of Jen's family based on the information they already had. But what began as a warm introduction turned cold when Jen persistently asked her biological mother for identifying information about her biological father. Here's Jen's journey.Damon (01:41):Jennifer says she had a pretty typical middleclass upbringing, three kids and a dog. And the topic of adoption was always open for discussion at their house.Jen (01:49):I was adopted at two months old and was the first in the adoptive parents family. They had tried for 10 years to have a child and just couldn't. So they went through Catholic charities and you know, ended up with me and when I was about 22 months old, they adopted two twin boys. So there was none of that conflict of biological mixed with adoption or anything like that. It was just strictly all adoption. So I had younger twin brothers, which was definitely an experience in growing up because it was always them against me, which I guess could be at any situation, whether you're adopted or biological. So in that aspect, you know, it was pretty normal family. My adoptive parents were really good about, you know, not treating us any different, but you know, even still I always kind of felt like the odd duck out. I was six was when I was told. And at that point, you know, six years old when you're told something this big, it's not something you'd kind of keep quiet about. It's something you've got to be prepared to, you know, rain with talking about it. And so I would allow to ask questions whenever I wanted to. And of course there's only so many answers they could give but they didn't have, you know, all the information. But it was open topic growing up.Damon (03:07):She was given a letter, a very special letter that told her more about her adoption when she was six years old. It was a letter she would refer back to for years.Jen (03:16):There was no big sit down. And you know, the somber conversation for me, it was a letter that my natural mother had written to me when I was a few weeks old. My mom just gave it to me and told me to read it and when I was done, if I had any questions I could talk to her about it. And so I sat down at six years old and read this nine page letter and when I was done went into my mom and I remember she was washing her face and she said, do you have any questions? I was like, no, I'm good. And then I left the letter with her and I went off and played and that was just how I was told. It was no big deal to me. It was included in the packet. My natural mother had asked if she could write me a letter to be given to me at whatever age was felt appropriate and as long as there was no identifying information in it.Damon (04:04):What kinds of things did it say in it?Jen (04:06):It explained her reasons for giving me up. She was so young, she was 14 when she got pregnant, 15 when she had me. But I don't think she thought of the fact that, no, it's not going to be that easy to find you when you know at the time comes. But in hindsight, actually it was easier. You know, there was just a lot of information that I was able to kind of get a glimpse of my family.Damon (04:29):Jennifer says that she had a lot of information, notes about her family, notes from the social workers sessions that were therapeutic for her own mother, and just generally way more information than an adoptee normally receives about themselves. She says she always wanted to search for her natural mother and knew that she would do so one day. And that desire grew, especially as she got older in her teenage years, but then very definitively as she reached a point in her own life that was similar to that of her biological mother. So you're six years old, you get the news, you've got the letter. Tell me about when you began to start to feel like you wanted to find this person.Jen (05:06):I always did, you know? But of course that grew as time went on, especially in my teen years when it would be typical teenage angst and you're fighting with your parents. There was that whole going back to connection, you know, it's like, why did you give me up? And you know, would it really has been that difficult and especially when I became a mother at 18 I was only three years older than my mother was when she had me and it's like it could have been done because she had even told me in the letter that if she had wanted to keep me, her mother would have allowed it. But at the same time she was saying that she didn't want to be that one that would go off to party and leave her mom to raise me. So there was, you just, it was like a lot of conflicting stuff started happening as a teenager because you know, I understood why she gave me up, but at the same time I didn't. And that made it, that started to make it difficult.Damon (05:56):You were in a similar but different situation as an 18 year old who was having her own child, that must've just immediately resonated with you and you got pregnant. It sounds like you just started thinking about her at a similar age.Jen (06:09):Oh yeah.Damon (06:10):That's fascinating. When Jennifer decided to search, her dad began helping her to calculate who this person was, reverse engineering information that she had received in that initial package and then he was able to give her plenty of clues that she needed to make that very first call.Jen (06:26):In the letter that my mother had written to me, she wrote it on her personal letterhead so it had her initials and I had known her first and middle name, but I didn't know her last name, but based on her letterhead, I knew it started with an S or I should say my father did cause he started, I was born in 77 and he started this in like the early eighties and we knew her mother's name. We knew her parents were divorced. We knew that her mother lives in the general vicinity of, of Maryland. She had talked about in one of her counseling sessions a place that she would go hang out. Well, there was only one of those, so my dad was able to kind of narrow down a woman with the same initials and last name. Well, for the last name, he figured out that, you know, start with an S and in the paperwork there were so many letters missing in the name because everything was typewriter. And so he was able to kind of figure this out, thid one person. Same initials, similar, let number of them that letters in the last name that lived across the street from this one particular place as she indicated she did. And then every year he tracked her in the phone book.Damon (07:32):What a sleuth!Jen (07:35):Oh yeah. My dad, my dad's an engineer and he's just, he's very super smart.Damon (07:38):Yeah. It sounds like a very, very calculated approach to this.Jen (07:41):Oh yeah. And so when I turned 18 as I was eight months pregnant and I was living with my now ex husband, but my, my oldest child's father and I knew the time was coming. I was very excited. I was like, okay, I know I'm going to make this phone call. But when the time came I froze. And for two weeks I was just like, you know, going back and forth. And finally he was like, okay, I'm done with this. We are making the call today, sit down. So he called my grandmother and told her who he was and who I was and she immediately gave me my mother's phone number.Damon (08:16):So this was your biological grandmother's house?Jen (08:19):Yup. And I live at the time I lived in Southern Calvert County and she lived in Charles County 45 minutes from me. And I grew up in Calvert County. So he calls my mother's house who also lives in Charles County. And he just, he was like, okay, this is ridiculous. I'm just gonna put you on the phone with her. And I get on the phone and my mother of course is confused about why is this guy calling just putting some random girl on the phone. And as soon as I told her who I was, she broke down into tears and we talked for a few minutes and set up a date to get together. And it was that simple. Within a half hour, I went from not having contact with anybody and being super nervous to having a date to go meet my mother. Before I got the phone, I had to tell her, Oh, by the way, just so you know, I'm about ready to give birth to my first child. And she's like, that's okay. That's okay. You know? And so we set up a time to meet and get together. So I went to her house.Damon (09:14):In that very first call, you let her know that she was about to be a grandmother.Jen (09:19):Yeah. At 33 years old, she was going to become a grandmother.Damon (09:23):Our mother to be and her long lost biological mother arranged to meet at the mother's house. The meeting went very well. In fact, it felt very familiar.Jen (09:33):So, uh, we get there and she was waiting on the front steps for me and I immediately recognized her. People think I'm nuts when I say it cause I was sent to the infant home at just a few days old and for the first like week or two she would come to see me on, I think it was Sundays and just spend a little bit of time with me. But after that, after I was, you know, three or four weeks old, I had never seen her again. But when I saw her that day I immediately recognized her cause for 18 years I had this vision of a girl, young girl in my head looking down at me like shoulder length, brown hair. And when I met my mother it...
32 minutes | 4 months ago
072 – Amazing Intuition, One Cousin Connection
Recalling her early family life, Ann said she felt like her parents were sucked into feeling like they had to have a family, and while they were focused on creating a better world in their professional lives, that didn’t necessarily translate to their home life. She always had the feeling her parents cared more about appearances than about who their children were in their uniqueness. Ann sought out her birth mother, but found her maternal grandmother instead. The woman’s receptivity to Ann’s return seemed to be a good sign but ended with secondary rejection. There has only been one cousin who has accepted Ann into her life, and that’s because she’s distanced herself from the family too.Read Full TranscriptAnn: 00:04 If that was her, if that was your upbringing, and then all of a sudden union happens in Georgetown poor thing. she gets shuttled off to a home for unwed mother that I’ve also researched and it just looks almost slave like, so yeah, I have a whole lot more empathy and compassion and I really feel for the fact that she had such a societal burden to bear,Damon: 00:35 who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I in mind?Damon: 00:47 This is who am I really a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I’m Damon Davis and on Today’s show is Ann she lives in West Virginia. Recalling her early family life. She said she felt like her parents were sucked into feeling like they had to have a family and while they were focused on creating a better world in their professional lives that didn’t necessarily translate into their home life. Ann sought out her birth mother, but found her maternal grandmother instead. The woman’s receptivity to Ann’s return seem to be a good sign, but ended with secondary rejection. There has only been one cousin who has accepted Ann into her life and that’s because she’s distanced herself from the family too. This is Ann’s journeyDamon: 01:39 Ann said she learned she was adopted when she was four years old. Her friend Jenny was at her house when Ann’s mother decided to tell her that she was adopted, but Jenny was not. Ann’s mom neglected to clearly explain that Ann was not born from her own womb, so Ann thought that her mother was saying the reverse was true. She thought Jenny was not born from her mother’s womb. Ann and her sister, also an adoptee who is a year and a half younger than herself, discovered what it meant together. Their family moved overseas to Brazil where they got a reality check on the course openness with which people inquired about their adoptions.Ann: 02:17 The expatriate community was much smaller and sort of more in your face and when we told people we were adopted, it was always met with “who is your real family, who’s your real mother?” And so after a couple of years of dodging that and feeling kind of inferior about our adoption, we made a pact, my sister and I, that we just wouldn’t tell anybody anymore that we were adopted because we didn’t like we didn’t like the questionsDamon: 02:46 Ann describes her family as socially committed and one that presented great educational experiences and provided for them financially and intellectually in every way, but they could have been better about providing emotional support and said she feels like when she and her sister were adopted in the 1950s, societal norms dictated that a couple should have children and be a family, but she’s not sure they want it to be parents. They were very concerned about making the world a better place through their work in the foreign service and social work. But that didn’t necessarily translate into making a strong family. When I asked Ann what she meant by that, she be called a story from when she was 16 and her sister was 15 and her sister had gotten pregnant.Ann: 03:30 And the first reaction from my mother was, who have you told? And my father’s first reaction was how often does this sort of thing happen and who knows?` So it was um, it was, it was about the exterior,Damon: 03:52 it was about the perception in the community, not about the welfare of your sister.Ann: 03:57 Exactly. Right. So I ended up being the one that cared for her during her decision making.Damon: 04:03 So what was it like then for you to sort of see them witnessed their daughter be pregnant, not really provide any emotional support and be completely about what the community was like, like what is your, how did you feel about your parents at that time? Do you recall?New Speaker: 04:19 Well, I felt then and frequently through my upbringing that they cared more about what, what people thought rather than who we were. I don’t think that they were prepared as people to really understand and cherish who, who we were in our specialness or differentnessDamon: 04:37 I got you. And how were you guys special and different?Ann: 04:41 Well, my younger sister is no longer alive. She succumbed to drug abuse very early on and really never kicked it. But how was she special? She was get an amazing sense of humor and amazing ability to sort of see, um, before anybody else. DidDamon: 05:06 If I may, did her drug abuse come from the time after her pregnancy or do you, do you get the impression that she was already down that path?Ann: 05:15 I think ninth grade for her was a, was a, was a very important turning into a very dark future.Damon: 05:24 And was that the time that she was pregnant?Ann: 05:27 Yeah.Damon: 05:28 Yeah. How were you then? If you were the caregiver and your sister is on a path towards abuse, what was your sort of social situation and your level of responsibility? Tell me about you as a kid.Ann: 05:44 Well, Until That same year I was kind of considered the bad kid because I was the one who acted out the one who, as my father said, I ran away from home as soon as I learned to walk, I was the one who I was the one who was always getting lost, but at that point that year we switched and I became the, the good student and she became the bad student. And I became, um, sort of, in my opinion, the truth teller a, but it was not accepted. So when I found the drugs, um, for example, one time in her room and I shared them with my parents, I was the one who was reprimanded for snooping and she was the one who got off with an excuse about diabetic friends.Damon: 06:31 wow, really. So they enabled her, from earlyAnn: 06:34 Yeah. Yeah.Damon: 06:36 Fast forwarding to adulthood and set. Her sister moved in with their mother, but it was clear her sister was taking advantage of their mother and documented the depletion of her mother’s bank account. And there were strangers coming to the front door. One of them wielding a gun. Annf Was forced to take over guardianship of their mother and kicked her sister out.Ann: 06:57 At one point when this was happening, my sister basically, whatever happened to unconditional love? So I think, for her supporting her behavior was all about test of love because she never really felt the love she needed.Damon: 07:15 Sometimes that happens, people push and push to try to find the boundary for where their loved ones won’t love them anymore. At least love as they’ve defined it, given what she had been through with her sister and her own adoption Ann decided at 18 years old to dedicate her life to reproductive rights, family planning, and had a multi decade career in public healthDamon: 07:38 and was that a direct result of her pregnancy?Ann: 07:42 Well I think its a result of that and I think it also goes back to my adoption. My birth mother had no choice and I’ve always thought it was interesting when people say, well, I wouldn’t have been born, and I’m like, does that really matter? In the big scheme of things, it’s really the option is if you want to have a child or not. So I think that my adoption really has shaped my whole professional and personal outlook.Damon: 08:11 That’s an interesting piece there. I was taught, there’s a woman whom I interviewed previously named Rebecca and I’ve
37 minutes | 5 months ago
097 – You Gotta Forgive
James called me from right up the road in Laurel, Maryland and we have one degree of separation with one of my adoptive father, Willie’s, friends. In his story you’ll hear his struggle to find himself and an identity as a youth in a family that didn’t look like him. It took him years to find his voice after a bitter divorce left him and his adopted siblings abused. Thankfully James’s wife, an excellent investigator found his birth parents and helped initiate meaningful reunions that allowed James to express forgiveness and find belonging.Jame's book, "The Miracle" is available here: https://amzn.to/3kMYSxVThe post 097 – You Gotta Forgive appeared first on Who Am I...Really? Podcast.
60 minutes | 5 months ago
029 – A Lifetime of Interveners Saw Me Through
Born in the Panama Canal Zone, Stephanie was adopted by a US military family stationed there in 1961. She was never told she was adopted, but she always knew there was a family secret. When she was 43 years old Stephanie discovered the secret was her own adoption.Because she was born in the Panama Canal Zone, her adoption records were available through a Freedom of information Act request (FOIA). Unfortunately, that didn’t lead to a reunion with her biological mother. After 13 years, she has never heard from her biological mother.Fortunately, she reunited with her birth father and his entire family has warmly welcomed her. Stephanie says “For the first time I know how it feels to look into the eyes of those whom I share a connection with. That cannot be described with words.”The post 029 – A Lifetime of Interveners Saw Me Through appeared first on Who Am I...Really? Podcast.Stephanie (00:04):Cause you know, I never really looked at it that way before to say, wait, nobody uses the same pen to write something over a six year period. And it's like, and then all of a sudden, you know, it's like I've now I've just got to go. I'm thinking to myself my whole life fundamentally has been a lie.Voices (00:30):Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?Damon (00:41):This is Who Am I Really, a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I'm Damon Davis and on today's show is Stephanie. She was never told she was adopted, but she says she always knew there was a family secret. In her early forties she discovered the secret was herself and the woman who raised her was not her mother. While she felt vindicated that she had been correct, the news turned her world upside down as she looked in the rear view mirror to see a trail of deception right down to the notes in her baby book. Her reunion with her birth mother didn't go as she had hoped. Fortunately, things were very different in the reunion with her birth father, Stephanie shares, how she located her birth father's roommate in the military and how he was one of the many supportive interveners throughout her life. Here's Stephanie's journey.Stephanie (01:34):I always had this feeling that I, something wasn't right.Damon (01:40):That's Stephanie. Before I even had a chance to ask her a question about her journey, she was already going deep on one of the interesting parts. So I just listened.Stephanie (01:49):You know, like there was some sort of secret in my family, something wasn't right and I kept coming back to I don't fit here, you know, and I have friends that I've had for 40 years and they always say, have you taught, you been talking about this adoption thing for ever. So the way that this happened is, um, we had family here for Christmas in 2003, um, a toothbrush was left in the house and it was a room that my adoptive mother or at that point, my mother stayed in. So we clarified that it actually belonged to her. And I said, well, this is my chance to actually find out if I, what I have believed for a very, very long time is true. And I found a lab in Canada that could extract DNA from it and sent it off and waited and waited.Stephanie (02:44):And about six weeks later, and um, April of 2004, this letter arrives and my spouse opened it and I got home from work. I didn't know it had arrived. We sat down and there was kind of this nervous tension. We had a friend staying with us and finally she said to me, so a letter arrived. And I'm like, well, okay, are you going to tell me? And I will always remember the way that it sounded to me in that response as "the toothbrush wasn't your mother." Because that's kind of the words you hear when something like this happens. You always hear it a certain way and remembered a certain way. And I was like, and I jumped up and it was like I knew it. I always knew this was true. Oh my God.Damon (03:29):And you were 43 years old when you found out.Stephanie (03:32):I was 43 years old when I found out I was adopted.Damon (03:35):Stephanie didn't use the commercially available DNA tests that most of us think of when we're looking for answers about our biological past. She had swiped a toothbrush that was left behind by her adoptive mother. I asked Stephanie what that confirmation of her lifelong suspicion had changed for her.Stephanie (03:52):Well, I would simultaneously say everything and nothing, so it changed everything about my life and nothing about my kind of background. So it was sort of a mixed bag of things all at the same time because it kind of vindicated this sense from me that I always knew that there was some thing in my family that didn't fit and that there was a secret and there was all these things going on and all these dynamics. I just didn't know it was me.Damon (04:26):Wow.Damon (04:28):Okay. Now let's go back to the beginning of Stephanie's story. She was born in the Panama Canal Zone, adopted by a U.S military family stationed there in 1961. She was the only child of parents who had been married for seven years prior to her adoption. Her father spent most of his time out of the family home on isolated military assignments, but that wasn't the only isolation Stephanie felt. Her mother's greatest interests seemed to be with keeping up appearances for outsiders. That put a lot of pressure on Stephanie to stick to the script and put on a good show for others.Stephanie (05:04):My parents divorced when I was 12 my father was pretty absent and we really didn't have any extended family, so I came from a very isolated childhood. But you don't know as a kid what isn't normal unless you don't know what's normal. Right?Damon (05:23):Right. Your normal is what's normal.Stephanie (05:26):Exactly. So I now, you know, look back on it and say, well, there were some things that were pretty weird about my childhood.Damon (05:35):Like what?Stephanie (05:35):No interaction with any sort of extended family, no interaction with anybody. And as long as everything looked right to the outside, it didn't matter what was really going on inside the house. The inside of the house was fairly strange in comparison. And the older I got, the more aware I became of that.Damon (05:57):What do you mean by it was strange?Stephanie (05:59):So my mother was extremely secretive about everything that went on in our house. And I learned from a very young age keep secrets. Everything was a secret.Damon (06:11):Can you give me an example of something?Stephanie (06:13):Agree. I think a good example would be my parents got divorced when I was 12. I didn't know that nobody there, that nobody outside the house was supposed to know that. That she had gone on portraying to everyone that he was on a military assignment somewhere, but that they were actually divorced.Damon (06:33):Wow.Stephanie (06:34):So, you know, I'm a kid. I mean, I know what's going on. And um, you know, I go to school one day and one of my classmates says, well, your dad's my dad now he lives at my house.Damon (06:46):Whoa. Really?Stephanie (06:47):Oh yeah.Damon (06:49):No! Really? What did you think at that moment?Stephanie (06:49):I sort of, um, I think looked at this individual and said, really is that true? You know, I mean you just don't know what to say that situation. Cause you know, I was so used to playing off anything that happened. Like it was just normal. And that by that time I had had learned to spend a lot of time looking at people around me and learning how to behave because I wasn't learning any of that in my house.Damon (07:18):You were taking social cues from other people?Stephanie (07:20):Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean I learned all of those sorts of interactions from people around me, not from anyone who parented me.Damon (07:32):So do you get the impression then that basically your mother was really trying to maintain appearances at, at whatever the cost?Stephanie (07:40):Yes. And I'll describe it a little a little differently by saying my mother had a story and she had a story about how I came into this world and she had a story about how life was. And that story was drilled into me from the earliest age. It was, I'll describe it as well documented, well memorized, well-rehearsed and it was not to be deviated from and well, there were pieces of the truth in it that were weaved in. So, um, I don't know if you had a baby book. I had what was called a baby book. So it started from theoretically the moment of my birth through about age seven. Okay.Damon (08:25):Right.Stephanie (08:25):
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