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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.


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, this 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 was her with shorter hair.

Damon (10:12): Wow.

Jen (10:13): And we just hugged and cried for a good five minutes. Then I collected the photo albums that I had brought so she could see pictures of me growing up and we went inside and sat in her living room for a good few hours and just talked.

Damon (10:29): I’m blown away by the fact that her image was seared in your infant mind, such that you could recognize her and feel a connection to her when you, when you got to her house. That’s, that’s really amazing.

Jen (10:41): And what was, you know, what floored me after I saw her was just like I would have recognized her anywhere, which surprised me because in Charles County, there was a mall that I went to all the time and I had to have, you know, passed her or my siblings at some point. But I wasn’t looking that deeply. But I knew that if I had seen, if I had really been looking, if I had looked at the face of everybody that I passed, if I had seen her, I would’ve recognized her.

Damon (11:13): Jennifer was curious about her biological father, but she was protective of her own mental state during her pregnancy. Meeting her first mother had been a lot and she wasn’t quite ready to explore her paternal side just yet. She had been told that he didn’t want her as an infant. So, navigating her father’s family was not something she was prepared to do until she had given birth.

Jen (11:32): I had asked her about my father and she said that he had died, that she didn’t, she didn’t give me too many details. All she told me was that, um, he was, he had died and it was as a result of suicide and the identifying information she’d given me, like in the letter while she had given me information about like his parents were, or the fact that he had a brother and that he was, you know, into construction and stuff like that. She had also said that he had walked out on her when she was in the hospital and she had just told me all kinds of really nasty things about him. And so, and so when we sat down to talk, you know, she reiterated some of this stuff and after she tells me all this, she says, well, do you wanna know his last name? And at that point I was kind of in a bit of shock. And so I was like, no, I didn’t want to know just then.

Damon (12:25): Jennifer says she asked repeatedly about her biological father’s family, but her biological mother seemed to be stalling. There was always some reason why that moment wasn’t the right time. She wanted to maintain the relationship with her mother, but she also needed to know more for her son’s sake.

Jen (12:41): I did approach her via like a letter and stuff like that cause this is, this was in 95 so you know, you didn’t have like instant messenger and texting and all that kind of stuff. So I sent her a letter and said that I would like to know my father’s last name. Radio silence. And you know, I sent another one. I sent a Christmas card and I asked again. Nothing. A couple of months after Christmas she wanted to get together because her mother wanted to meet me. And at that meeting again I asked about my father’s name and she changed the subject. And so now suddenly there’s, you know, resistance on knowing his last name.

Damon (13:23): And what did you think as you’re reaching out to your biological mother, you’re trying to get her to reveal this next set of details that’s going to take you further down this journey and what turned, what initially started as a really great family reunion, it seems sorta turns a little bit chilly. What kinds of things were going through your mind about that?

Jen (13:42): Like rejection again and only it was harder now like growing up she would like the sun and moon set on her. As far as I was concerned, she could do no wrong. And now suddenly I’m finding myself in a position of protecting her in a sense. Like I felt like I had to please her and you know, so I didn’t want to do anything that was going to rock the boat. I wanted that relationship so desperately that I was willing to do anything even back off from asking about my father to keep any kind of somewhat of a relationship. You know, I wanted the Christmas cards and the birthday cards and you know, that kind of thing, which I was getting. And that was almost the most important thing in my life. It became more important than, you know, knowing the rest of my history.

Jen (14:32): And like I’ve always said with adoption, it’s, you know, you have your book of life and when you’re an adoptee you don’t have that, you know, that part beforehand that tells what leads up to the story. And, um, so I was willing to kind of kill that part so that I could have that relationship with my mother. And um, even if it was just cards and pictures cause she was sending me pictures, I would get pictures of, you know, my grandmother and cousins, every year she was sending me updated pictures of my half brother and sister. Um, and then when the internet became more popular, especially like Facebook and stuff like that, you know, I started pushing more about, you know, my father’s name, you know, a relationship with my brother and sister. And she was, you know, she would tell me it’s going to happen or I’m going to talk to them about it this Christmas. I’m going to talk to them about it at Eastern and talk to them about summer break. Well, they’re doing so good in school. I want, you know, I don’t want to disrupt anything. And I was constantly, okay, I understand.

Damon (15:39): And you were trying to manage the relationship, preserve it for what it is not, you know, bring negativity to it. I understand. Yeah. So did she relent? What happened?

Jen (15:50): Well, it kind of became a forced issue and at the time my son had some special needs and he participated in Special Olympics. And so we were at an event in St Mary’s County and a couple of my friends and I went out to eat afterwards. My friends and I are sitting there, our boys are playing in the arcade and I look over my shoulder and I recognize a group of people that just sat down and it was two biological cousins, one of their girlfriends and my half brother’s girlfriend. And I just started crying and my friend looked at me and he was like, what is wrong with you? Like I’m here just, I’m sitting in this restaurant at a table just losing my mind. And I said, those two guys are my cousins. They’re like, yeah so? So I’m like, no, no, no. My real cousins, I’ve promised my mother, I wouldn’t say anything to anybody. I don’t know if they know about me, I’m not going to rock that boat. And at one point I was up at the, the thing getting some pizza and my cousin kind of walked up to get pizza too. And I’m six inches away from him. He has no idea the connection that he has this person standing next to him. And so that afternoon I went home and I messaged my mother and my two aunts on Facebook and told them I ran into, you know, I saw you know their kids and you know all this at, at CiCi’s. And my mother was like, she kind of tossed me a bone and gave me my father’s last name finally. And so now I’ve got something. So I’m not thinking about my half brother and half sister. I’m thinking, okay, I now can search for my father’s family. And went home that evening, immediately Googled my uncle’s last name cause I knew my father was deceased so I couldn’t, you know, couldn’t look him up. I Googled my uncle and I Googled my grandmother and my mother had mentioned that she had heard that they moved to Florida. So you know those websites of, you know, find anybody type thing. I was able to find people by those same names that had once lived in Charles County, Maryland and now lived in a certain area in Florida. So then I just went to white and got their address. So that took five, 10 minutes, half hour later I had a letter typed up and then that was October. So about three months later I finally got the courage to go the post office and mail it and I stood. I actually physically went into the mail, into the post office because I knew that if I just dropped it off in my mailbox that I’d go out there 20 times, take it out, put it back in.

Jen (18:24): And that was, I just couldn’t do that. I knew that I had to go in and put it in the little slot because I couldn’t retrieve it. And I stood there for like five minutes just holding this letter. And finally I just like let it go and I’m like, well, we’ll see where that goes. And that was on a Tuesday and that Friday night I was at my son’s basketball practice and I got a message on Facebook from my mother saying that she was just contacted by my grandmother and I said, sure. Saturday morning I’m friends with my paternal grandmother and uncle on Facebook. By Sunday I was getting text message pictures of a cousin on my father’s side who him and his wife were having their second child and my uncle was texting me pictures of the new baby and as my cousin’s wife was in labor, they were telling her the story of me. So yeah.

Damon (19:18): The family expanded by two in that, in those moments the baby coming and your arrival.

Jen (19:24): and well, by three because my son as well.

Damon (19:26): True. Wow. Gotcha.

Jen (19:30): In one weekend my grandmother went from four grandchildren and one great grandchild to five grandchildren and three great grandsons. And by Monday I was friends with my cousins on Facebook and it was just amazing. And by on Tuesday night, I was talking to my grandmother on the phone.

Damon (19:48): Jennifer’s brief, but heartfelt meeting with her paternal grandmother and uncle left her feeling validated and loved. But the answer she got from them about how her adoption unfolded, flipped her emotions about her biological mother.

Jen (20:02): Basically every question that I had ever had was, you know, like, did they want me, did 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 they didn’t want me, they wanted nothing to do with me and all this other kind of stuff was now a lie. My grandmother’s emotions, the way she reacted was just too honest. And she had said, you know, the biggest question I had was did my father love me? And she said he desperately wanted you.

Damon (20:36): I asked Jennifer, did she think her mother was withholding the information about her paternal side of the family because her mom was in fact lying.

Jen (20:43): I honestly think that was the case. And suddenly I didn’t get many, um, Facebook messages or comments and things like that. Cause I think she now knew that there may be some questions that she was going to have to answer if, you know, if she really kind of tried to talk to me. And, um, at that point I just didn’t care to talk to her because I suddenly had a lot of anger because I had been lied to. I mean, my biggest question of did my father want me was, you know, and I’ve gone my whole life thinking he wanted nothing to do with me and suddenly I’m finding out that he wanted me, my grandmother told me that, um, at some point during the pregnancy they had gotten together, you know, both sides came together to kind of figure out a solution. And at the time, adoption wasn’t really like a major part of the conversation.

Jen (21:38): And, um, you know, it was just starting to kind of like be brought up. And my grandmother said that when they met, they asked, you know, what would they, meaning my grandparents be able to adopt me so that you know, I could stay within the family.

Damon (21:55): Your paternal grandparents.

Jen (21:55): Right. And my maternal grandmother’s response was over her dead body, to which my grandmother replied that could be arranged and tried to crawl across the dining room table. And my grandfather apparently had to carry her out of the house. And, um, one of the things my mother had always told me was that when my father came to visit me in the hospital when I was a day old, that he had zero expression on his face, that he didn’t care. And at some point, not to in the not too distant past, I kind of had a flood of memory where I realized that I had remembered his face.

Jen (22:31): Um, and I knew even when you know, she had said that, I knew that it wasn’t that he didn’t care, that wasn’t why he had no expression. He does the same thing, or did the same thing that my son and I do, which is when we’re really upset, we shut down. And we have a blank expression on our face and that’s usually when we’re the hurting the most.

Damon (22:49): Oh wow.

Jen (22:50): I remembered like him looking at me and I remembered the pain in his eyes. It wasn’t that he didn’t care, it’s that he cared too much. My grandmother said that when he came home from that visit, he went in his room, locked the door and just blasted music, but she could hear him crying cause she was sitting outside his door crying and he had just been told that she would sign.. she was signing the adoption papers. He had been sent papers to acknowledge paternity, but in the same papers he would have had to give, give up his rights to me and he refused to sign them. Even after he died, my grandmother was still getting papers to have his paternal rights severed and I was already two years old and been adopted for about two years at this point.

Damon (23:33): Oh my gosh. Wow.

Jen (23:36): So he never, he never gave consent for the adoption.

Damon (23:42): That is unreal. Wow. How did that feel for you to know that his passion for your existence was so strong?

Jen (23:52): It completely changed my views on my parents. Like I went from loving my mother and hating my father to flipping the script. It was suddenly the love I had for this man who I had met one time in my life, had only held me once in my life and I loved him the way a daughter should love a father and the level he went to really showed how badly he wanted me for a year. Like at some point somebody told them that they thought that they knew who had adopted me and they told him where these people lived. And for a year he sat in front of this house watching this little girl who had red hair, cause I had red hair watching this family play with this little girl in the front yard and he thought it was me. He thought when he died he thought he had found me.

Damon (24:45): Geez.. are you serious?

Jen (24:45): And it was, yeah, I’ve talked to, I’ve talked to my grandmother about it. She asked about location and stuff and I said no, that wasn’t me. And the careers that the parents had were different than my parents.

Damon (25:00): But he was looking so hard.

Jen (25:00): Yeah, he was, he was desperate and every decision he made in his life after my adoption was a result of my adoption. Like his, to me, his death is an indirect result of my adoption.

Damon (25:12): Yeah. I was going to ask if you felt like the trauma from his loss was impactful in his end?

Jen (25:20):

Oh yeah, absolutely. A lot of the details of his death are difficult for me to talk about, but he was betrayed by two women that he cared about and which led to his death and that’s been a hard thing for me to get past. Like I’m still not past it and one of these days I want to look into it further. It’s been very, very hard. Like my, one of my favorite places to go is his grave because it’s the closest tangible thing that I have that I can touch of his.

Damon (25:51):

Jennifer says that her paternal grandmother had kept several things of her biological father’s. Shirts and jackets for years in the hopes that they would be reunited with her one day. Sadly, their home was broken into and the house was set on fire destroying nearly everything except for a few pictures that were spared. Still, Jennifer feels deeply connected to her father in other ways, right down to how much they look alike.

Jen (26:15):

You know, one of his favorite bands was the Ramones. Love the Ramones.

Damon (26:18):


Jen (26:18):

And so it’s like, I feel like in some ways he’s influenced me without even being alive. The way that like I smile is very much like him. Like I always wondered if I looked anything like him because my mother’s side of the family, I just didn’t see the resemblance and my grandmother brought me a picture and the first time I saw a picture I’m like, that’s where I get, that’s who I look like. I look like my dad.

Damon (26:44):

That must have been so comforting. That’s amazing. And I’m astonished by the various ways that you’ve said that you can both retain memories of people and how you feel these connections to them too. I mean that’s just really fascinating.

Jen (26:58):

For me to be able to have those memories of my, both of my parents was very healing. I mean, for my father it was, it was more recently, it was just one of these things of why did I remember her when she’s the one that hurt me the most and why, you know, can’t I remember, you know, the one time I got to meet him and I remember I was in the shower and suddenly it was just like, like this bright flash. I just suddenly remembered everything and it was just like, I just ended up spending 20 minutes crying because suddenly I now remember, you know what he said. I remember the look in his eyes. I remember his touch. I remembered his smell. I remembered all of that from a day old, not even 24 hours old.

Damon (27:40):

Jennifer’s been through a lot on her journey. We closed with an exploration of what she would have done differently along the way.

Jen (27:47):

I definitely wish that I had, when my mother initially asked me if I wanted my father’s name, I wish I had said yes because then I could have had four years with my grandfather before he passed away. My grandmother has said that had they known that I lived 45 minutes away, they would not have moved to Florida. That’s the only reason they moved to Florida was because they had nothing here.

Damon (28:10):

Oh man. That’s powerful.

Jen (28:12):

Yeah. So I would have had a connection to my father’s family. I would have grown essentially kind of grown up with my cousins. Some of my cousins were very young. One of my cousins was just a few years old. Now, one of my cousins was born in the year after my son was born. So I would’ve known one of my cousins his entire life. So my connection to my cousins would have been stronger instead of coming in when they’re now in their late teens and twenties I would have been there from early on. So I could have had a strong relationship with them. Stronger relationship with them. But you know, it’s like in hindsight it’s like, you know, people ask that question, you know, well do you wish you weren’t put up for adoption? That’s a really hard question to answer because my adoptive family was a good family. You know, there were, there were some, my parents, my adopted parents are more the type that if there’s a problem, they’re going to try to figure out a materialistic way to fix the problem.

Damon (29:06):

I see.

Jen (29:07):

As opposed to working on the emotional side of things. But my brothers are great, you know, for the most part my parents are great people, but at the same time, is it worth it to, could I have had that relationship with my father? What would that relationship have been like? You know, my grandmother is convinced I would have been a daddy’s girl and that he and I would’ve been really close and I kind of get the feeling that’s the way it would be because just seeing my uncle with his kids, you know, that’s just how that family is.

Damon (29:36):

It sounds like it to me, and I don’t even know you guys that well.

Jen (29:40):

So like, you know, what kind of life would he have had? First of all, he would still be alive.

Damon (29:46):

That was what I was gonna ask. Did you, did you, was the date of his suicide within that last four years?

Jen (29:54):

Here’s the weird thing. My adoptive brothers were born April 5th of 1979. He died April 3rd, 1979 he died two days before my brothers were born.

Damon (30:05):


Jen (30:05):

It’s hard to describe how he, how his thought process was, but he was dealing with a lot of crap and after my adoption, you know, part of it was he needed to kind of get away from the area and kind of get a fresh start, which put him in a position to meet somebody else, which led to more betrayal and it just, it, it didn’t end well at that point.

Damon (30:28):

But you, you would not have, you would not, you had no chance to have met him. I was thinking about what you said about the last four years and I was just wondering.. I understand that.

Jen (30:39):

No, he died in 1979 so I would have never had the chance to meet him. And you know, had, had he’d been allowed to raise me or my grandparents allowed to raise me, he would have never had to feel the need to leave Maryland. He would’ve never felt the need for a fresh start. And he’d still be here this year. He would be 60 years old. And when my husband and I got engaged, we were in Florida visiting his parents and my inlaws live in Sarasota and my natural family lives on the East coast of Florida. And literally it’s just like a straight three hour drive across. So I was going to be going over to visit my grandmother and my uncle and all of them. So beforehand my husband and I talked about, you know, when did we want to get married? I got this just this idea popped in my head. And I looked at the calendar and my dad’s birthday was on a Friday. So I said to my husband about, you know, well what about my dad’s birthday? And he was like, I like that idea. So when I went to go visit my grandmother and my uncle, we were sitting down eating dinner and my uncle said, so you guys picked a date? I said, yep. I said, dad’s birthday. He looked at me and smiled. He says, that’s a really good date. And my grandmother and my uncle both came to the wedding and my uncle pulled me aside at one point and we were talking and I was telling him how happy I was that he came and he said there was nothing that was gonna make him miss it. As a matter of fact, his wife was the one that wanted to come with my grandmother, but one of them had to stay behind for the business. And my grandmother or my aunt grudgingly told him, well I guess it is technically your niece, so I guess you should go. But he was like, he was like, there was nothing that was gonna keep him away because he knew that my dad would have been there if he was still alive. And so that meant a lot. So we found a way to bring him back into the family in regards to the wedding date. And then when my son was born, um, we gave him the name Russell, which was my father’s last name.

Damon (32:39):

Oh wow.

Jen (32:39):

We kind of, you know, bringing it back into the fold.

Damon (32:42):

That’s really great. You have got his memory infused with that throughout your family, throughout your memories. That’s really thoughtful and really special and amazing. Well, thank you so much for telling us your story. I mean this what a journey you’ve been on emotional roller coasters and 180 degree turns of opinions about people and family members and it’s just amazing. Thank you so much for your bravery and generosity and sharing a story with us.

Jen (33:12):

Thank you for letting me share.

Damon (33:13):

Oh, it’s my pleasure and I hope one day I can talk to your brothers.

Jen (33:17):

That’d be cool. So I’ll see if they’d be interested in doing that.

Damon (33:19):

That sounds cool. All the best to you, Jen. Take care. Thank you.

Jen (33:22):

Thanks, you too.

Damon (33:30):

Hey, it’s me. I thought it was just amazing that Jen had the amount of information that she did about her own adoption. Either met anyone else that has had that much access to so much rich information about themselves from the moment they were told they were adopted. She said that initially, she had that protective feeling of wanting to preserve the relationship with her mother, even though she couldn’t extract any information about her biological dad, but when she finally wore her mother down and got to her father’s last name, the entire saga took a turn when Jen learned that her biological father’s family wanted her desperately from the moment the pregnancy was revealed. I got to say the human brain is astonishing and its ability to cope with challenging situations and retain distant memories. The fact that Jen feels like she can remember her father’s face as he stared down at her after she was born and she felt like she remembered her biological mother’s face are just incredible. It’s tragic that her biological father took his own life in the years following Jen’s birth, but Jen has found so many ways to help his memory live on within her own family. I hope you’ll find something in Jen’s journey that inspires you, validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn, Who am I really? This episode was edited by Sarah Fernandez. If you would like to share your story of locating and connecting with your biological family visit

Who Am I Really?

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