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039 – I’m An Adult, But They’re Acting Like Children

Mitch’s parents adopted his older brother, then him. Then they got a surprise addition to the family. They had a great life outside of Chicago, but Mitch did feel somewhat sidelined by the attention paid to his youngest sibling. He learned as a teen that not everyone in his family was supportive of adoptions, and his attempts at reunion have been a frustrating set of rejections

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Mitch (00:03): And I pulled up my shirt and I pointed to my belly button and I said, I don’t know who this was attached to you do. You can look at yours and you know exactly who yours was attached to. I have never, in 45 years been in the same room as the woman that mine was attached to. I don’t know who she is.

Damon (00:27): 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 Mitch who spoke with me from Chicago. He grew up in a rural area outside of the city, which can be great for a kid to be outdoors, but tough. When you’re trying to make friends with the neighbors. Mitch grew up feeling like his adoption was just fine, but soon he realized that not everyone in his family truly believed that throughout his life he’s been reminded of his position as an adoptee, from painful visits to the doctor’s office, with his wife to hurtful comments by family members. Mitch has struggled to make connections with his biological family. And ultimately he just wishes people could own up to the past and face the present because he is here because of them. This is Mitch’s journey, Mitch’s parents adopted his older brother and they already knew that they would adopt again. So they made the arrangements. When they brought Mitch home, they didn’t realize they were already adding a third baby to their family

Mitch (01:44): as happened, um, with women who have had such difficulties that once in the act of parenting, it seems to help regulate whichever hormones were out of whack and causing the miscarriages. And so when they brought me home, I don’t think they quite realize that my mom was pregnant. Um, I have a younger sister who was their biological child who has eight months younger than I am. Wow. So it was like the Irish twins. You know, my mom has joked about how people would give her just the dirtiest looks. And I’m like, what do you mean the dirtiest? Cause you had two kids. And she said, no, because you could tell that they weren’t twins because they were obviously different sizes. And it was a look like you just couldn’t keep your knees together for two minutes.

Damon (02:32): she was being judged.

Mitch (02:34): Oh wow. Yeah, there was a little bit of that.

Damon (02:37): The family moved out to what was at the time, a rural part of Illinois. He grew up on a huge plot of acres of land, which is a great environment for exploration, but lonely. When it comes to having friends your age,

Mitch (02:50): I grew up on five acres with hundreds of trees and a pond. Um, it was absolutely bucolic and we had horses and motorcycles and snowmobiles and you know, you walk outside and you can do so many things.

Damon (03:05): It’s like a Wonderland for a kid.

Mitch (03:07): Yeah, exactly. The downside to it was that there were no other kids my age, anywhere around. I mean, it was a drive of miles to get to like a friend’s house from school. I mean, it wasn’t like it was all farmland, but there were still farms out there.

Damon (03:23): Mitch has always known he was adopted because his parents wanted to be the ones to share with their children, how their family was formed. They didn’t want the boys to find out by accident from someone else that they were adopted. However, as he got a little older, he learned that not everyone was okay with adoption, like his grandfather, for example, Mitch recounted a moment in his teens when the hardened retired, Chicago detective expressed his disapproval in an overt, but underhanded way, he also shares the negative effects of feeling sidelined by the attention that was paid to his younger sister over himself.

Mitch (03:58): My mom had two brothers, they had only girls. So my brother and I were his only grandsons. So for this guy who was like such a traditional. And so you would think I don’t brand sites, you know, but he, he, wasn’t a personable person to begin with. Um, and years later I think I was in college. He was in a nursing home and my mom and I went for a visit and he leaned over to my mom and you know, almost like he was doing it. So I couldn’t hear, but it was plainly done so that I could hear, uh, he leaned over and said, who is that? And she said, you know who that is? And the way she said that, I just had this gut feeling that this was not the first time that this had happened. He had done this. And one more time, he said, who, who is that? And she said, you know, damn well who that is. And he said, Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s Jack. And Esther’s at that time.

Mitch (05:04): And you know, it was like, I just, if, if that had been an undercurrent before that I was oblivious to it just never noticed it didn’t want to notice it. I don’t know. But that was, you know, that was quite a striking moment. So, you know, so, so as far as other people, I don’t know. I mean, there’s a part of me that looks back and thinks, you know what, like my sister, she was the only girl she was the baby, but there’s part of me that feels like there was a little bit like kind of this golden child thing, where there were some friends of the family that were just always about my sister, always. Um, and, and I felt like I was kind of off to the side. Like just didn’t figure it. And there’s part of me. That’s like, you know, Hey, I’m over here. I’m the one who’s on the honor roll. I’m the one who’s on the Dean’s list. I’m the one who a four year ride to a major university. I’m the one who is a graduate teaching fellow at another university. You know? I mean like, come on, you know, but it’s her, her, her, um, to this day with some of those folks. So, I mean, I’ve, I’ve told my mom, like, if I never see those people again, I’m cool with it. I don’t feel the need.

Damon (06:16): Yeah, no, I, I totally get it. And I wonder, how did that impact your relationship with your parents and with your sister?

Mitch (06:25): Um, negatively, because of course they haven’t had negative experiences with these people. So in a way, my perspective is completely foreign to that. So, so they don’t, I mean, they don’t see it. They don’t seem to notice it, but, you know, having pretty much kind of felt like the odd man out for a very long time. Like I said, I just got to the point where I just felt like I don’t need these people in my life. And just as things go, our paths don’t cross and I am totally cool with that.

Damon (07:00): You’re you’re referring to the friends of the family. Yes. Yeah. How are, how about with your adopted sibling? Did you did that person

Mitch (07:12): Well my brother died 32 years ago. So yeah, he’s been, he’s been gone a long time. With my sister, we are strained at best right now, just because I don’t know a bunch of things.

Damon (07:24): Just kind of how families go.

Mitch (07:26): Yeah. I mean, that’s part of it. She, she doesn’t get it at all

Damon (07:31): as with so many adoptees, a trip to a physician’s office can be painful when you’re forced to admit that you don’t know your family’s medical history. In other cases, the birth of a child can be a milestone reminder of an adoptees undocumented link to their familial history. Mitch remembers an incident that combined both scenarios in a moment that re-energized his desire to search for his first family.

Mitch (07:54): My oldest is now 10 and when my wife was pregnant with her, the first time we sat down with the nurse at the OBS office and they’re taking the family histories and everything, they took my wife’s first. And then they turned to me and um, said, okay, dad. And I started saying, well, I’m adopted. So I, and before I could even finish things out to their nurse, just drew a line through the entire page from the lower left corner to the upper. Right. And flipped it over and went back to my wife. Damn. You know, and it was striking. Yeah. It was like, wow, delete it.

Damon (08:28): The nurse didn’t even give you that moment to say, um, but here’s what I do know.

Mitch (08:32): No, I didn’t finish the sentence. I couldn’t even finish the sentence. She heard adopted, she scratched out the page and turned on to the next page.

Damon (08:40): Hmm Hmm. Hmm.

Mitch (08:42): Um, and so, yeah, it was, I was just sitting there, like, I don’t matter, you know, we’re talking about the life of my child and then the stroke of a pen cut out.

Damon (08:57): Your contribution to that child’s life was just crossed off the page. Yes, damn Mitch attempted to get some information about his biological family in the 1990s, but he had no luck that then he was motivated by the actions of his parents to manage their own health based on their knowledge of their heredity. His mother’s family had many instances of cancer and his father’s family was able to take evasive action. Knowing what they were genetically at risk for all Mitch knew was he was an asthmatic with allergies. He didn’t want to be caught off guard by a known and avoidable health problem. He had written a letter to the court to try to open his case,

Mitch (09:37): but the court basically wrote back. I don’t remember the exact wording, but the letter was sending that reading. And it was basically, you’re not dying. So we’re not opening your file. I mean, it basically stated that unless I were dying and had no other recourse, then they would consider it. It didn’t even say they would open it. Then it said they would consider it.

Damon (09:59): Hmm. Come back when you’re dying,

Mitch (10:01): basically. Yeah. Basically that let us know if you’re dying and then we will sit down and talk about whether we will consider the possibility of reviewing it. So it, it made me want to start looking again. And in that timeframe, you know, I said to my mom, you know, I I’m going to start looking, I wasn’t asking her permission. It was basically, you need to know, you know, and I I’d like to know if you have any information. So my mom, as it happened, had the name of my birth mother, her, it was not redacted from my adoption decree. And she said, here you are. And I started looking and I thought, this is, this can’t be, there was one woman in the United States with that name.

Damon (10:43): Wow, that is unbelievable.

Mitch (10:46): Yeah. It took me. Yeah. It took me still two and a half to just over two years before I found her because her first name is Judith. And one day it dawned at me, I’m sitting at work and it just dawned on me. All of a sudden I had Googled so many times trying to find something I never did. And it suddenly dawns on me. I never tried Googling Judy. And when I did that, I found that some random person found somewhere, I guess, online the obituary for my biological grandfather and entered in on ancestry.com. And it came up publicly and it said, and survived by three children, two sons and a daughter. And the daughter, there she is. There’s her name in South Carolina. And I thought, okay, well, hold on. Because I was born in Chicago, she’s in South Carolina. And the last name I had, I didn’t know if that was a maiden name, a married name, a made up name. Right? So it was like, how do I put her in Chicago? And when I found that obituary, it said, here’s this guy who was from Chicago,

Damon (11:51): Mitch had been searching the, for this woman’s name for years and only ever found one person seeing that name on what he assumed was his grandfather’s obituary led him to believe he had found her right then and there, he sent a letter. He dove right in avoiding the butterflies of procrastination, skipping the process of seeking guidance from others on what to say. He knew he had to do it right away, or it would never be done. He wrote in the letter that he had reason to believe she was his biological mother and documented his proof. He didn’t even include the adoption decree with her name on it because he was in the moment drafting the letter while he was at work

Mitch (12:32): for days in my head, I’m imagining the letter, you know, getting to the post office. And I’m imagining the letter going from the post office onto the back of a truck. And I’m imagining it crossing every single state to South Carolina , you know, and then imagining she may have gotten it today. It was like, imagining, is it coming back on a truck? So help me, God, like the next morning it was in the mail, a reply. And it said don’t ever contact me again.

Damon (13:04): Oh no. Judy’s letter affirmed that Mitch’s assertions might be true, but she had slammed the door shut. She expressed her feelings in that moment when she read his letter, using words like petrified and terror, her lifelong secret had found her again.

Mitch (13:22): What I eventually came to learn was that she was living in a duplex and the person on the other side was her mother. She had kept me a complete secret from everyone in her family. She was 26 and divorced. She had a seven year old son. She couldn’t explain me to the son. She was living on her own with this on. And you know, managed to keep herself. One brother was at college. One brother was in Italy, studying abroad. And she managed to spend a few months away from seeing her parents in person so that nobody ever knew. Wow. So I tried a little bit here and there to reach out to her and say, you know, I understand, please forgive me for just reaching out abruptly. I know that must’ve been a terrible shock. I hadn’t considered that. And I’m so sorry,

Damon (14:15): Mitch’s mother had gone silent. One year, he found the perfect holiday card that was so appropriate for his feelings that he sent it to her.

Mitch (14:23): It was just the perfect card. And I just signed my name to it, you know? And it was like, you know, even though the miles keep us far apart and we don’t talk to each other, you are in my thoughts and I hope you are well, Merry Christmas, something like that. Um, and just nothing, just nothing, nothing, nothing. So after a couple years, about two and a half years of eventually realizing that door just wasn’t going to open. I had found, uh, cousins on Facebook and I reached out and one reached back

Damon (14:52): Mitch sent the cousin some information to legitimize himself and to try to put the person at ease with his outreach. He forwarded his real estate business webpage and tried to make her feel comfortable with his interest in just getting a few questions answered. There was trepidation on the other end, his cousin tried to find out a little information from within the family because Mitch had always been a secret. So his outreach was completely unexpected.

Mitch (15:17): You know, at first she got in touch with her dad, um, said do you know anything about aunt Judy having another kid. And she was like, no, of course not no, but he called her and she said no. And he said, okay. And then he told my cousin, she said, no. And he said, dad, are you near a computer go to this page? And he sees my picture. And as the story was told to me, he calls her right back and says, you need to start talking. Wow. Because the resemblance is undeniable. You know, the first time we met, my cousin was just staring at me. She said, I’m sorry, but you look like more of somebody from this family than your half brother does

Damon (16:03): while he didn’t establish a strong relationship with his maternal side. Mitch said it really meant a lot to have the experience of connecting with them.

Mitch (16:12): So, I mean, do we have a warm, fuzzy relationship? No. I mean, I get a Christmas card from them. I send them cards, you know, and you know, the cousin and I talk every once in a while on the phone, it means everything to me that she was willing to meet with me in the first place. You know, it’s that, it’s that intangible moment when you actually see somebody that you’re related to.

Damon (16:43): It’s unbelievable.

Mitch (16:44): Every time I, yeah, I mean, in some real, we were noticing things about each other, how, you know, our hair at the hairline on the forehead, at the corners, we both had this same little kind of like flip that her hair does, you know? And I could see a resemblance in her face.

Damon (17:04): Mitch said, the funny thing is his ethnic composition is similar to that. Of his adopted family. He looked so much like them that when he told people he was adopted, they never believed him leading up to meeting his cousin. Mitch was online trying to find information on his half brother after his mother closed the door, Mitch contacted his birth mother’s brother, his own biological uncle, and gently fished for information about the half brother. But his veiled attempt was perceived as a lie by the family. So Mitch doesn’t believe he’ll ever meet his brother.

Mitch (17:38): So I reached out to the one cousin and I said, do you happen to know of any way to get in touch with Glen? He and I have been out of touch for a very long time, which is true. We’ve never been the same room. Um, you know, I didn’t cause they’re like you said, you were friends with them. I said, well, no, technically I didn’t, you know, I was, I was trying in some way to communicate that there was a valid reason for me to try to be getting in touch with him, you know, because most people, they hear adoption and they completely just shut down. I mean, adoption is still a dirty word, you know? And I have campaigned almost violently against that. I feel like we all need to rise up in the streets, you know, and say, look, your DNA is no different from mine.

Mitch (18:30): It’s all made of the same proteins just because I’m adopted doesn’t mean I’m less of a person. Right? However, I came to be, I am here. I don’t know. I’m not exactly a rabble rouser, but I don’t accept things easily. I’m not a person to just say, okay, and walk away. And I think part of that comes from the fact that I have found myself, you know, even to my detriment, to be someone who campaigns for truth and facts, because I feel like it’s been so hard for me to get for most of my life. That there’s the part of me that says, I want the facts. I want the truth, give it to me straight or go screw yourself.

Mitch (19:11): So, so there’s the part of me that her, my birth mother saying, she wasn’t gonna talk to me. It was like, you know what? I’ve given you some time. There is absolutely no reason I have to live under a rock because you don’t have your shit together. You’ve had over 40 years to figure out what you were going to tell people and what story, whatever you’ve had over 40 years to get your shit together. You didn’t do it. I don’t give a shit whether you did or didn’t that doesn’t deny me the right to be who I am.

Damon (19:41): True. Very true.

Mitch (19:42): So that’s where I had no problem. After years of trying of going to other people in the family and outing her because like I said, her needs do not Trump, mine. I didn’t sign anything. I was not a party to this agreement

Damon (20:01): Mitch learned through the whole process that his half brother lives mostly off the grid. Therefore it’s highly unlikely to two will ever meet. Of course, I wondered about Mitch’s biological father, and whether they were able to connect. Mitch had been online in Facebook groups with search angels who tried to piece this puzzle together, but they didn’t have enough information to even get in the ballpark of who his birth father might be. So the paternal connection was a waiting game. Then an unexpected discovery on ancestry DNA led him down the path toward his paternal roots.

Mitch (20:36): She wouldn’t tell me anything about my biological father. She wouldn’t tell me anything. Um, so that’s where I was like, you know what? Then screw you live in your corner and do what you need to do. If you ever want to talk to me, I will be here. My door will always be open. I have love in my heart for you. Um, but I don’t feel any need to sacrifice the single second of my life because you don’t have yours together because you can’t be honest and truthful. So, uh, last year it was May 27th of last year. I logged in ancestry.com to an amazing surprise of a half sister.

Damon (21:18): Really? That’s it. That’s a close match.

Mitch (21:21): Yes. And I knew I didn’t have any half sisters on the other side. So I knew this was my birth father. I mean, this, this was taking me right to his door. So all of a sudden they have a half sister pop up, you know, it was Holy shit. I was shaking. It was like five 30 in the morning. Everybody else is still sleeping and I’m just sitting there going holy shit (x2). And you want to know the real kicker, only one woman in the United States with that name.

Damon (21:55): What really that’s crazy.

Mitch (21:59): So there was, there was nothing to search. I mean, I found it in 15 seconds and the time it took me to open a new tab and cut and paste her name into a Google search, I had her phone number. I had her address. So I waited and I waited. I sent her a stupid long message on ancestry. And, fortunately she never logged back in. And before I went back in and I’m like, it’s just TMI, man. I got to cut that down. So I deleted, I deleted that message and wrote one that was just a short paragraph and the months went by and she never logged back in, you know, ancestry.com will tell you, like for your matches last logged in yesterday or last logged in last week. Right? Well that, that, that May 27th day stayed there.

Damon (22:51): Mitch elected to take a different approach with this contact attempt. He figured he was going to do it the right way this time. So he used a confidential intermediary who has worked with hundreds of adoptees in situations just like his, through the intermediary. He sent a letter to the man. He thought was his birth father explaining the ancestry DNA match and the close relation of Mitch to the woman he matched with the intermediaries letter, explained that the DNA matches age, eliminated the chance she was his grandmother and made it highly unlikely. She was his aunt, the letter speculated, the two were half siblings and the man was their father.

Mitch (23:30): You know, he has reason to believe that she is this half sister. So if you are her father, which you believe it to be, that means you are also his. Wow. Um, you know, with some biographical information on me sent that at the end September to this day, no response. Um, before Thanksgiving I sent us because she still hadn’t logged back in to ancestry. I sent a snail mail letter to my sister and similarly, uh, I was imagining, you know, the trip that it took. So I’m imagining it traverse the Southeast United States and whether it would get there, but then the days passed after that. But a week after Thanksgiving, my phone rang and it was her and we kind of talked for almost a half an hour and I didn’t want to hang up. I was afraid to hang up, but I said, you know, my wife isn’t home yet. I’ve got four kids. We’re kind of finishing dinner and got to do bath time and all that stuff. Can I call you back later? And she said, yes. And we talked for about two and a half hours then. And, um, she told me she would definitely, definitely, um, be in touch with me again soon. And, uh, that was December 1st. And I haven’t talked to her since it doesn’t answer. Doesn’t reply to texts. So frozen out there for whatever reason,

Damon (24:56): Mitch admits, they sent the letter to his biological father via registered mail. He wondered if perhaps the man’s wife received the letter and maybe it never reached him. Mitch speculated about whether his emergence might have stirred up something from the past in their home as they were married. Only two years after Mitch was born here in the present. Mitch learned that the man’s wife had recently passed away. So he felt like extending his condolences to their family. He thought about sending all kinds of messages.

Mitch (25:26): The letter that I sent to him, we did not send certified mail. We sent it, uh, registered or whatever, just so that we had a tracking number. And we would know when it was delivered because the intermediary said that she, it had been her experience that certified mail just freak people out in general because who gets a certified letter anymore, unless it’s some kind of bad news or something. So, um, so who knows it could have been that his wife got it. He married her. Uh, what does it say? Like about two years after I was born? How do you know that? Um, because she died earlier this year and it said in her obituary, when they got married, I was born in 69. They got married in 71. Um, so I don’t know how long they dated, you know, I don’t know if he was just trying to hide it.

Mitch (26:22): Um, I don’t know if she found the letter and just threw it away and he never even knew about it. Who knows? I mean, there are so many variables, there’s so many possibilities, but the upshot of it is I never got a response. Um, like I said, she died, uh, in June, I think it was June or July, I think, um, was visiting a sister back here in Illinois and they were at a casino and she had a stroke two days later, it was gone. So I had thought about trying to reach out to him. I reached out to my sister, you know, sent my condolences, no response. Um, I thought about sending him a letter with my condolences. I thought about sending him letters that say, you know, dear dad of all the characteristics and traits that I had hoped my biological father would have when I found him cowardice. Wasn’t one of them, I thought about finding out if there was a billboard anywhere on the street between his house and his church and saying, you know, putting up a billboard that said, it’s a boy.

Damon (27:35): Yeah. You must have just won

Mitch (27:37): with his name on it. Yeah.

Damon (27:39): You just wanted to lash out and force them to acknowledge it.

Mitch (27:43): Well, like I said, it’s the hang up on truth. There’s a part of me that feels like the, the, the ironic thing is that I’m the adult in this equation and they’re the ones behaving like children. They’re the ones without the maturity. Like I said, after now, 40, I was 47. When I sent him that letter. He may not have known I existed, but I have reason to believe that he did, according to the documents that she filled out, he knew about me, you know, as much as that’s to be believed, you know, it’s just the irony that, like I said about my birth mom, you know, you have 47 years to get your shit together and be honest with yourself and the people around you. And you’ve been too chicken to do that. So how much of my respect do you actually deserve? So as I choose to move forward or not do anything about it, your needs are no longer my priority. You know, it’s kind of like, if you can’t be a grownup, if you, at your age, can’t be a grown ass adult and say, look, yeah, I had a kid.

Damon (28:45): Mitch says he just wants to have a conversation with his paternal side, which he doesn’t think is too much to ask. And I agree. It occurred to me that I didn’t have a clear understanding of how Mitch learned about his birth mother’s story. They had never spoken. So I couldn’t figure out how he knew so much. Mitch explained that her last name was so unique making the combination of her first and last name, the only one in the nation. So she was very easy to locate. He also found a woman in a Facebook genealogy group who had a comprehensive family tree for people with that unique, last name, the tree traced the family back to its original immigrant to the United States. Back in the 17 hundreds, he connected with her online. Then she gave him a copy of the family tree on which he found his birth mother. And half-brother, she was also the one to give him some of the backstory, which he needed. So since he hasn’t connected with either parent, I wondered where Mitch was with his hopes and desires to ever connect with his birth parents. So you must, there must be some part of you that just still holds out hope that people are going to turn around and say, look, I can’t run from this anymore. Let me just, let me just face this.

Mitch (30:02): I don’t know with my birth mother. No, because it’s been eight and a half years now since I reached out to her, nothing. So I don’t, I don’t think, yeah. I started saying like, she told her brothers at the time that I surfaced, because my, the one, my cousin, the cousin, I talked to her dad, I mean, he called me one day, my phone rings and he says, hi, um, I guess I’m your uncle.

Damon (30:28): Wow.

Mitch (30:29): You know? Yeah. And we talked for awhile and it was intense. I’m not going to kid you. I mean, I couldn’t believe it that I got that phone call, you know? And he’s the one who told me the story about how he talked to her and she said, no. And then he saw my picture and called her back and said, you need to start talking because he said that the resemblance was undeniable. So, you know, I mean, do we chat all the time? No, but we had a good chat then, you know, and it was, it’s the validation. It’s, it’s, it’s like somebody saying, you’re real, you know, now we know it

Damon (31:03): an acknowledgement of your existence,

Mitch (31:06): you know, that’s all I’ve been looking for. Yeah. You know, they don’t have to like me. They don’t have to invite me for Christmas. I’m not asking them to get my kids presents on their birthdays. It’s acknowledgement as opposed to being denied. It’s just the shitty feeling of field denied. So I dunno if my birth dad, I don’t know. I was hopeful for a period, but like the sister who called me and that we spent three and a half hours on the phone in one afternoon and who told me she, her exact words? No. I was like, what do you think? You know? And she said, no, I’m just fascinated. You definitely. I mean, definitely, definitely. We’ll be hearing from me again soon. And that was last December 1st. And here it’s October 27th. So now that’s the hope? No.

Damon (31:49): Do you get the feeling that the same way your biological father didn’t respond? If she was open and supportive and suggesting she would be back in touch if she approached her father, do you think maybe your father, do you think your father forbade her from reaching back out?

Mitch (32:06): Who knows? Who knows? I mean, it’s possible. I mean, she told me that she was worried about his house. She was worried about him having a heart attack if he found out.

Damon (32:15): Hmm, wow.

Mitch (32:16): And I’m like, well, I already sent him a letter. You know? I think she missed that. At first. I had told her that I had reached out to him first. Just never heard anything. And that’s why I reached out to you. You know? Cause she said, I’m afraid of him having a heart attack and I kind of giggled and she’s like, no, I’m serious. And cause I guess when she got my letter, he was there in the house. He was down in Atlanta visiting really? He and his wife. Yeah. You know, her parents were down there visiting. And so he was in the house when she opened the letter and read it and she like, she was panicked. She hid it. She didn’t know what to do, you know? And she kept talking to her husband like, you know, I don’t know mean he he’s the one that I owe thanks to because apparently he’s the one who said, you know what? He put his phone number on the letter, call him. So, so who knows?

Damon (33:02): Mitch says his whole journey has been a frustrating quagmire. And he’s irritated that the adults he’s related to can’t face this situation head on. He’s the kind of guy who likes to openly address issues and be straight with people. But he’s not getting any reciprocity in his approach to life from his birth parents. Now that he’s been through this experience, he can recognize more easily when people are avoiding hard conversations. In other areas of his life, he includes his own sister in his frustration over the whole situation. But the unbelievable irony of the whole thing is they’re actually related to one another after all,

Mitch (33:39): when I started looking, you know, like sometimes people do, she’s like, well, what is it you’re missing? I mean, what is it that you feel you didn’t get from mom and dad that you feel you have to look and it’s like, that has nothing to do with it. Right. And I pulled up my shirt and I pointed to my belly button and I said, I don’t know who this was attached to you do. You can look at yours and you know exactly who yours was attached to. I have never, in 45 years been in the same room as the woman that mine was attached to. I don’t know who she is. Wow. You know? And, and it was like, she just didn’t get it. She just didn’t get it to this day. I still don’t think she does. So there’s part of me. That’s like, look, this is important to me. This is about who I am and what my life is and where I actually come from. You know? So if that makes you uncomfortable, then there’s not room for you in my life. Because once again. Yeah. Because once again, I shouldn’t have to deny who I am to make somebody happy. I shouldn’t have to deny my happiness for their comfort. And if they’re asking me to do that, then I just have to be finished with it.

Mitch (34:54): The real kicker is that we might actually be related. How do you mean? Well, I, you know, I never got it until I swear to God yesterday. My grandmother died four years ago and I swear to God, I never got it to yet. I was always her favorite. She didn’t know her father. Really. He died of tuberculosis when she was two years old and her mother remarried in about a year. So, you know, she married a wonderful man who treated my grandmother like his own daughter, you know? But my grandmother told me once that she basically wasn’t allowed to ask questions about her father, that she remembered one time when she was young. And she did. And her mother pointed to her stepfather and said, that’s your daddy. You don’t talk about anything else. You know, it’s that, it’s that idiotic child mind, if we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist.

Mitch (35:53): If we talk about it, it makes it real. And we are not going to make it real. Right. So she, she knew nothing. She didn’t know her grandparents’ names. And she and my mom looked and you know, years and years ago they found a census document. Her father was DAS Benjamin, short human by DB. They find a census document and it has his father’s name on it. But it’s initials. It’s Jay Z, Jay Z short. So they looked and looked and they went to the national archives office in Chicago and never found anything else. Never two weeks after my grandma dies. And I don’t remember right this second, what it was that made me get back on and on ancestry.com and look again, and in seconds, I swear to God, it was like, my grandma was there whispering in my ear. I don’t really believe that sort of thing, but it’s like, Oh my gosh, like never found this until after she dies. And I, I find something that was like, wait a minute. It’s not Jay Z. It’s J Y somebody wrote a cursive Y in a really weird way, but this, this is it. And in seconds I had her family tree going back to the 17 hundreds.

Damon (37:06): Is that right? Wow.

Mitch (37:09): Yeah. And so as far back as it goes, so there are two people on her family tree that I have found on the family trees of my DNA matches on ancestry.com.

Damon (37:23): Interesting. Really? So there’s a crossover. Yeah.

Mitch (37:26): Like I said, I’m 99.9% certain that it’s the right people. And if it is, you know, this guy, my DNA match has in his family tree, my grandma, my adoptive grandmother’s three times. Great grandfather.

Damon (37:40): Wow. That’s really unbelievable. Wow.

Mitch (37:44): I don’t know if, if possibly part of the reason that was my grandmother’s favorite was that she sympathized with the fact that, you know, she, she didn’t completely know where she came from.

Damon (37:53): Mitch has always been a history buff and the investigation into his past has revealed some interesting ancestral connections. He’s lucky that his biological family tree has been well-documented. So he’s uncovered some fascinating connections to world history. He admits that some of the connections may be legend or lore, but Mitch is fairly certain he’s related to Charlemagne emperor of the Romans lady Godiva Henry, the second William Bradford, who came over on the Mayflower and an ancestor in Jamestown in 1608. Of course, these kinds of exciting discoveries can be amazing for an adoptee to learn more about their roots, but that excitement can be dampened by the feelings of a person’s adoptive family when they hold some resentment for an adoptees search, Mitch experienced some of that from his own mother.

Mitch (38:44): So I was just excited to be finding these things out. And it was, I think, before Thanksgiving or some holiday, and then we were at my parents’ house and I was talking with my uncle about how I was excited. And I had found some of these things out. And my wife is in the kitchen with my mom and my mom kind of half mutters, you know, but loud enough obviously to be heard, you know, sometimes people will kind of mutter something it’s kind of like half to themselves, but they kind of fully want some of you hear. And my mom says, well, you know, I, I suppose you could just never tell somebody they were talked to, you know, and as much as she had said she was open and good with me searching, obviously, you know, as often happens for adoptive parents, when an adoptee searches, all those unresolved feelings and hurt and grief from the miscarriages, the inability to conceive, you know, whatever the case may be can come flooding back because they believe that having that child in their lives was going to take care of all of that.

Mitch (39:45): But we never acknowledged that, that doesn’t having the adopted child. Doesn’t just cure all those feelings. And it’s like, you know, it’s one is not a replacement of another, as I’ve said to people before my sister had four kids. And one time when she was, you know, what didn’t you get from mom and dad? I was like, all right, I’m gonna use different names. Cause they’re all minors, but you had Suzy. And then you had Mark, what was wrong with Susie? She obviously was not child enough for you that you felt you needed to have another one to hopefully fix whatever was wrong with Susie. And obviously he wasn’t right? Because then you had Tom and obviously something was still wrong with the three of them that you finally had Jamie and bam fixed. You finally got what you wanted. And she said, that’s ridiculous.

Mitch (40:37): And I said, I know. And it’s exactly the same thing. My love for my adoptive parents has nothing to do with my biological parents. They are completely separate things. One gave me life. The other gave me birth. I have no misgivings. I mean, I’ve had a great life, a life that I never would have had had. I stayed with my biological mother because she, she didn’t have the wherewithal. She didn’t have the means. So I have no doubts about that. No reservations. My looking for my biological parents had nothing to do with my adoptive parents. It had everything to do with the fact that I had an identity that I didn’t know anything about.

Damon (41:21): I’m sorry that you got the amount of rejection that you did. That’s gotta be incredibly hard to deal with, but it sounds like you’re really in a place of, you know, some inner strength. And I think that that’s probably the most important thing going forward because you can’t change the past and they’re not willing to acknowledge it. So you gotta be strong. And as you said, Be adult going forward, right? Yep. I gotta be me. Yeah. That’s right. Take care, man. Thank you so much for your time today. All the best. You’re welcome. Best to you too. Thanks Mitch. Bye.

Damon (41:54): Hey, it’s me. You know, as I think back on the court system’s response to Mitchell’s request for information. I understand their perspective in upholding the law, but it seems equally criminal to prevent a person from knowing their own identity. It must’ve been so frustrating to read their response that basically translated to come back when you’re dying. I really wish that Mitch, his parents could bring themselves to face their past and talk with their son while his emergence may have evoked fear and made them close themselves off to him. I think it would be wise for them to empathize with the man he is today who has no connection to the people that brought him into this world. However, I loved that Mitch was able to relate his own experience and adoption back to his grandmother’s love for him and her life’s experience, not knowing who her father was.

Damon (42:42): It must have been such a heartfelt moment when he drew that conclusion about his deep connection to her. I’m Damon Davis and I hope you’ll find something in Mitch’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, if you would like to share your story of locating and connecting to your biological family visit, who am I really podcast.com/share You can also find the show at facebook.com/wAIreally, or follow me on Twitter at WAIreally? And as always, if you like the show, take a moment to rate who am I really on iTunes, Google play, or wherever you get your podcasts or leave a comment @whoamireallypodcast.com. Those ratings can help others find the show too.

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