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064 – The Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

Julie describes herself as very independent from her parents’ influences and drastically different than her older adopted brother. She tells the story of finding her birth mother thanks to open access legislation in Australia and the gentle influence of a psychic she visited for fun. When her birth mother shared that her birth father could only be one person because there were only two men in her life, it took a long time, a bit of disappointment, and some DNA investigation and luck to determine there had to be a third man. Listen as Julie tells her story of going back and forth across the globe from Los Angeles to Australia in search of answers.


Julie: 00:02 I remember that I was in an orphanage for the first two months of my life and I’m so physically connected to my children after I had them and they me and I couldn’t imagine not having them just to respond to their every need at every moment, especially in that first couple of months and I envisioned myself in this crib with, you know, I’m sure I had wonderful care with the nurses, but he, that I bond with and who responded to my needs on demand, what happened. So that kind of haunts me almost.

Voices: 00:39 Who am I? Who am I? Am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

Damon: 00:50 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 Julie. She called me from Los Angeles, but she was born and raised overseas until she was 15. She describes herself as very independent from her parents influences and drastically different than her older adopted brother. Julie tells the story of finding her birth mother. Thanks to open access legislation in Australia and the gentle influence of a psychic she visited for fun when her mother shared that her birth father could only be one person because there were only two men in her life. It took a long time, a bit of disappointment and some DNA investigation and luck to determine there had been a third man. Listen, as Julie tells her story of going back and forth across the globe. This is Julie’s journey.

Damon: 01:48 Julie was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. Her mom is an American and when Julie was 15 years old, they moved to the US, specifically to Washington state, leaving that fun Aussie accent behind. Julie’s always known she was adopted since before she truly knew what it meant. She starts off telling the story. Her mother always shares about the day they met.

Julie: 02:09 My parents used to tell a story about the day they went shopping for me. They dropped my brother off at my, at my grandmother’s and went to the baby store and looked at all the babies in the crib and came across me and I was as wide as I was tall and I looked up and smiled at her and they decided, yeah, and truth be told. I’m sure I was the only one available to them that day. She likes to tell stories she likes to make it. Yeah. So, um, so as far as what it was like, I have a, I have mixed feelings about how to share this because it comes across sometimes as negative has been used against me in the past. Relatively normal childhood. I had two loving parents, I had a brother, I had extended family, you know, so everything was normal. I did have an overwhelming feeling that I didn’t belong and I couldn’t really express that and I didn’t know how to explain it to people around me. So it was always just kind of the itch that I had. Like why don’t I, why don’t I want to do that? Like them? Or why don’t they get that? I want to do this.

New Speaker: 03:32 Can you give me an example of what you mean?

Julie: 03:35 They’re very conservative kind of by the book people, not especially outgoing or creative or artistic, I guess more sports minded, um, and I am the exact opposite of that. I have been singing, dancing and acting and making things since before I can remember. So I just wanted to create and dance and sing and what have you and my parents could not wrap their heads around my desire to do that because they had no desire to do that.

Damon: 04:12 They thought it would be more beneficial for Julie to have hobbies that would actually benefit her in the future. They just couldn’t see how she could make a living singing, dancing, or being artistic. She says her family are some wonderful, extraordinary people. There was just a disconnect between them and herself that pushed her further down the path of curiosity about who she is and where she came from. She has one brother who’s a year and a half older than she and they couldn’t be any more different she says. They’ve been estranged for many years. He was also adopted, but the siblings are so opposite to one another that he all but denies his adoption, his wife and children didn’t even know when I asked Julie about how adoption was discussed in her family, she said she was the only one who wanted to talk about it, which clued her parents in that she’d likely want to search for her birth family. They did the very best they could answering her questions, and she always tried to be sensitive to her parent’s feelings on the topic.

Julie: 05:09 I’ve always been very sensitive to the fact that what I’m doing may hurt them or may feel hurtful and in fact the only time in this entire process that I have been emotional, deep down, guttural emotional is when things had to do with my parents. For example, when I first connected with my biological mother 25 years ago, the first thing I did, I and I didn’t cry when I talked to her or when I spoke to her the first time,or when I met her the first time but what I did do with after I got off the phone, it was the middle of the night. I crawled into bed with my parents and I wrapped myself around. My mom just cried myself to sleep because I felt empathy for her, like I wanted her to know that I wasn’t trying to replace her and she was my mom, so that’s always been in my mind as much as we weren’t a fit, a good fit. I’ve always. They’ve always been my parents and will always be my parents

Damon: 06:11 in Washington. Julie kind of lived in her own apartment. During her senior year of high school. Her father moved to Los Angeles to find more work in his field and her mother spent a lot of time there with him. They sent her money and her mother’s cousin came over to check on her from time to time. Julie says that setup is indicative of how independent she’s always been from her parents. Her brother moved back to Australia when he graduated from high school, but when Julie graduated, she moved in with her parents in Los Angeles. She was living with her parents in La when she found her biological relatives. In 1987, Julie made a trip home to Australia and on a whim she and her best friend visited a psychic. During the session. The person seemed to be making generalities about Julie.

Julie: 06:58 I was waiting for something groundbreaking for her to say and nothing really happened however, at one point she said, so when did your parents divorce? I said, well, my parents are still together. They’ve never divorced, and she said, well, why do I keep getting two sets of parents? I said, well I am adopted and she said “Oh, that’s what it is, that’s why I’m getting two sets of parents” and then she went on to tell me that she believed that my mother was a very famous Australian actor. I should see her out and at that point I was like ‘Oh come on!’

Damon: 07:41 The psychic session was turning out to be useless until the person told Julie about the adoption act of 1984. The Australian legislation granted adoptees access to their records and when her records arrived over a year later, they were completely identifiable. She had her birth mother’s name and address and her birth father’s name. She was eager to learn more about the people she came from and why she was placed for adoption. In the hobbes section, the document listed her parents’ interests like her father, his affinity for cars and mechanical hobbies, and her mother’s love of swimming, sewing and sports

Julie: 08:19 and then there was kinda like a dot, dot, dot, like an ellipsis written much smaller, but as an afterthought it said singing and that was my Aha moment. I was like finally, somebody that I’m connected genetically connected to that likes using their voice at least as much as I do to where they would list it as a hobby.

Damon: 08:50 Julie received the records from the methodist to babies home, the orphanage that she lived in for the first few months of her life in the early 80s. The babies home changed into the Copeland Street family center with a focus on reuniting families. When Julie returned to Australia the second time, after receiving her records, she went to the building where she spent the first days of her life.

Julie: 09:12 When I went back to, you know, the next time I went back, I went and looked at the place and stood outside the gates and kinda stared at it for a while.

Damon: 09:21 I can imagine. That must have been crazy. Yeah.

Julie: 09:25 Yeah, It was… you know, after I had my kids, especially. I remember that I was in an orphanage for the first few months of my life and I’m so physically connected to my children after I had them and I couldn’t imagine not having them to just respond to their every need every moment, especially in that first couple of months and I envisioned myself in this crib with, you know, I’m sure I had wonderful care with the nurses, but who did I bond with who responded to my needs on demand? So that kind of haunts me almost.

Damon: 10:04 Yeah.

Julie: 10:06 I kind of feel like it almost explained a lot of my insecurities and feelings and you know issues that a lot of adoptees have.

Damon: 10:14 Yeah, I could see that being true. I wonder too, if you feel that part of the reason you are so physically connected to your children is because you lacked that bond in the beginning, like do you feel like you are overcompensating as an adult kind of thing?

Julie: 10:30 Oh, absolutely. I would say so. I was shocked when I had my daughter, how important it was for me to be skin to skin and my kids slept in the bed with me. I couldn’t have done it any other way and you know, it was such a strong. I was overwhelmed by the emotion I felt when I had them, especially my daughter the first time because I couldn’t… it never approached me the love that I would feel I would feel to them, and that’s what spurred me to move on to my, to completing my search and looking for my father.

Damon: 11:12 So Julie has uncovered the connections to her biological parents as documented in her records. She left it to the caseworker to reach out, to make connections to her first family. For months there were delays. Caseworkers left the agency and the process was going too slowly for Julie. So she looked at the papers again, coincidentally the day before, Mother’s Day in 1989, the papers had her birth mother’s name, her parents’ names, and their address with the town they lived in. Julie called the international operator who connected her further with the operator in the Australian town where her mother grew up. Her birth mother had a very common surname, so she asked for everyone’s contact information with her birth. Mother’s first initial and last name. The operator was only allowed to give Julie a few phone numbers, but she said she could call back if she needed more. Julie called the first number and asked to speak with her birth mother by her first and last name. The woman who answered apologized that there was no one there by that name, sharing that it was her husband who had the last name Julie asked for not herself.

New Speaker: 12:19 And she was about to hang up and she said, “you know I went to school with a Lynette”

Damon: 12:24 Really?

Julie: 12:28 What? How old would she be right now? And she said, well, she’d be 45 and 46. That sounds about right, and that may be what you’re calling from so far away. Why don’t I do a little research here around town and call me back in 24 hours and we’ll see. Maybe I’ll have found something else for you.

Damon: 12:52 Are you kidding? Amazing. It’s incredible.

Julie: 12:56 It happens all the time. To me, I don’t know why.

Damon: 13:00 Apparently Australians are very open and welcoming. So Julie was surprised by the woman’s generosity with her own time to do some research. Overwhelmed by the possibility that she had a lead already and sensing she needed to slow down a little. Julie didn’t call any other phone number on her list.

Julie: 13:18 That 24 hours. So by Mother’s Day in Australia, by the way, I called the woman and I wish I had her name. I didn’t write her name down, I don’t remember and I feel so badly that I didn’t ever get the her but she gets on the phone and she said, Julie, I have your mother’s phone number for you. What are you talking about? So this woman, her father was a taxi driver in this small town and basically knew everybody in the town and he drove up to my grandfather’s house and knocked on the door and said there’s an American looking for Lynn. And my grandfather gave the taxi driver my mother’s phone number because she lives on the other side of the country at this point. A No questions asked.

Damon: 14:11 Oh my gosh.

Julie: 14:12 And was that nutty! So I had my mother’s phone number.

Damon: 14:18 That’s incredible. So did you call her? What? Are you astonished or did you continue to just dive in?

Julie: 14:30 I was astonished and I wanted to dive in, but uh, there was a part of my brain was able to intellectualize. It was mother’s Day in Australia. She likely had other children. They were probably at her home, right then would not be best time to call out of the blue. So I went to bed,

Damon: 14:56 but I’m sure you can imagine Julie couldn’t sleep. It was very likely that she was going to make contact with her birth mother right after mother’s Day. She tossed and turned until 3:00 AM when she gave up.

Julie: 15:10 So I decided scre that I’m going to rip the bandaid off so I went back to the phone and I called and this lady answered the phone and I said is this Lynette and she said yes it is and I said did you have a baby on April 7, 1965 and she said yes I did just very calmly, and I said well I believe that baby is me. and her reaction was nothing short of delight. So my grandfather had called her after he’d given the taxi driver her phone number and said, there’s an American looking for you. I gave her your phone number. so he was like, “i wonder what that’s about”. And her husband actually was the one that daughter of yours, She’s looking for you. They actually got engaged when my mother was pregnant with me. And one of the reasons that I was in the orphanage for such an extended period of time is they were trying to decide whether or not to keep me

Damon: 16:23 During that Julie’s mother shared some of the history of her adoption. Lynette, the father wasn’t interested in the baby and really only cared about himself at the time. Lynette’s Pregnancy was a secret that only her mother and sister knew about. She spent the final two months of her pregnancy in a home for unwed mothers. Lynette started dating her current husband while she was pregnant and he took everything in stride. Even considering raising Julie with her. They got married when Julie was three months old. Julie said at that moment in time as she spoke with her mother, she really just put the paternal information on the back burner. Lynette had said the father wasn’t interested then so they figured the same might still be true at that time. They exchanged photos, but Lynette said she didn’t see any of the father and Julie’s face. All of that happened in May. In October 1989. Julie’s best friend, Sharon, the ones you went to visit the psychic with was getting married and Julie was going home to Australia for the event,

Julie: 17:29 so I flew to western Australia and they pick me up and I spent a week at their house with one of my brothers and my sister and her newborn child and then I got on a bus because there was an airstrike and took a bus across Australia to go for my friend’s wedding and then my mother followed me to Melbourne to introduce me to her family because she had five brothers and sisters I guess. And I had a ton of cousins and my grandfather was still alive at the time and we had a reunion. Yeah. And actually the coolest thing probably for me was I had an opportunity to be on a TV show and sing when I was there and something. Yeah. And something that my parents had never really been interested in doing. Not because they didn’t, weren’t supportive, but because they felt out of place was being with me at these events, like coming to support me as a, you know what I’m saying? So she actually came to the studio with me and it was really touching because you know, I would meet different people and you know, when I production assistance and what have you, and she would make a point to say, I’m the mother… I’m her mother. Yeah, it was really cute. I was like, oh, nobody’s ever done that before.

Damon: 18:51 Julie spent a few more weeks in Australia. Bonding with everyone, then she returned to the states and got on with her life. Social media was taking off. So facebook made it easier for her to stay in contact with Lynette and her maternal family. Oh, and remember how Lynette’s husband John immediately assumed that the American looking for Lynette must be her long lost child well guess who also had a child come forth and identify themself. A few years after Julie met Lynette, a previously unknown child of John’s showed up as well. Julie and I talked a bit about how there could be so many fathers out there like my own, when I found him, who don’t know, they have a child who is waiting to possibly meet them. Fast forwarding and Julie’s life. She had a daughter and like so many adoptees, she began to see that the jigsaw puzzle was missing pieces.

Julie: 19:44 She was a part of me and my husband felt like my kids needed to know their maternal and paternal connection,

Damon: 19:54 but the search for her father was a lot more complicated. When Julie asked Lynette about him, she was surprised to see how little Lynette remembered about the man she dated and got pregnant by. It wasn’t clear if she was being cagey or if she genuinely didn’t recall the details of that time in her life, but Julie had his name and

Julie: 20:14 My aunt knew him as well and she knew his mother and she actually is the one she’s given me more information than my biological mother had. When I was visiting Australia, handed me a photograph and said, this is all four of your grandparents, and there was a picture of my maternal grandparents and my paternal grandmother and another man that she didn’t know was my grandfather or not. She was somebody who was with the grandfather at the time, but there were altogether a. supposedly they used to go dancing together and were in dance competitions. Yeh, so they socially knew my mother’s family, which is why I couldn’t wrap my head around my mother not knowing more about where he might be now.

Damon: 21:05 I understand your question now.

Julie: 21:09 Now had access to the electoral roles and what was on ancestry and what have you. So I started researching his name and I researched and I researched and I researched and I could not for the life of me find him and I started thinking perhaps he didn’t make a bit. I started writing to my mother and my aunts together. I would send them like facebook messages saying, um are we trying to protect somebody? Is there something you’re not telling me because I want you to know I’m a big girl and no matter how ugly this situation may actually have been, I just want answers and the truth is more important to me than anything. And they continued. My mother especially continued to say no, I don’t know, it’s nothing. I’m not hiding anything. I’m going as far as thinking that perhaps it was a family member or you know, and there was so much shame in that and so much, you know, secrecy that if it came out the whole family apart and I told her if it’s something that’s very dark, I will keep it to myself. I just need to know. Nope, nothing, nothing happened.

Damon: 22:15 It was the late 1990s. Julie was so bewildered by everything. She went to GED match with her mother’s and her own DNA and use the related tool to analyze their data. Still nothing Her birth parents were not related to one another by 2014. Julie have already done DNA tests and Julie is online learning more about her own. She’s searching through family trees for the man’s name and variations of the man’s name.

Julie: 22:45 One day out of the blue I saw somebody with a tree, a very extensive tree, that had people with that name or variation of his name and they hailed from Ireland, which I should say this. When you first get your ethnicity report from ancestry, if you’re very new to it you take it very literally and my ethnicity report said that I was like 45 percent Irish in hindsight, what that means is a region of Ireland, Scotland and northern England, and part of Wales– but I thought I was Irish, so I just started looking at people from Ireland or Irish descent, so that’s how I got to this one woman with that name and I emailed her and said, hey, do you have in your tree by chance? I’m just frustrated. I can’t find this person, and I gave her as much information as I had. Well, she happened to be a trained genealogist and knew how to do searches in the databases that I did not yet know how to do, and she came back two hours later and showed me a picture and said, well, this looks like your grand parent’s marriage. And I’m like, how did you do that?

Damon: 24:07 When the woman found information on Julie’s grandparents marriage that gave her her grandmother’s maiden name information, that was the linchpin to the rest of the mystery. Julie searched the Australian white pages looking for their surnames and just started calling people. Julie’s already said she’s got pretty good luck with calling people and it was true on this search to about the third phone number. She dialed, connected her to another open, honest, a woman on the other end of the line when Julie asked to be connected to anyone related to the man on the marriage certificate, the woman said,

Julie: 24:42 well, that’s my husband’s grandfather. Wow. Oh really? Is he from? And I named the town that they were from and she said yeh, that sounds about right. I said, what’s his wife’s name? Whatever the name was, and she said, yeah.

Damon: 24:56 Julie continued naming her grandmother and then her birth father. Then she stopped to tell the woman exactly what her inquiry was really about.

Julie: 25:05 She said, well, you need to call my sister in law. My brother’s… My brother and sister because she’s the genealogist in the family and she’ll be able to tell you more. So she gave me the sister in law’s phone number and I called her and we started talking and she gave me as much information as she could. They sent me pictures. They told me stories about my father and I now had a connection to the family and it was definitely, them it was definitely his family, but they hadn’t spoken to him in years and they didn’t know where he was at that point. Well, I’m the detective. I’ve been doing this a long time and I know every which way to find somebody, so I found out and then a couple of days that he had three other children and they had very unusual name, unusual first names or the teen girls, and I also knew that there was Kym who was the aunt when my father’s sisters, so I went to facebook and I type in the name of what would be my sister, which is relatively unusual name from somebody with that name living in Adelaide, South Australia, and I looked at her friend’s list which was open to the public and there was somebody with her sister’s name and her brother’s name, and there was also a Kym Kym, Bingo. I believe that’s my sister.

Damon: 26:29 Julie decided to reach out to her new aunt Kym instead of shocking one of her siblings. In the early days of facebook, you had to pay a small fee to direct messages to a person. So Julie Gladly paid for her message to go through.

Julie: 26:43 Long story short, I went through one of her sons and he connects to her to me and she read it and then she got back to me and said, this is all quite shocking. Um, I need to talk to Malcolm about them, but I will do that and I’ll get back to you in a few days, the days of my life. So finally, after about five days, I said, hi, Kym. Um, I know you know, you’re taking your time with this, but I’m kind of losing my mind here. Is anything happening? I went back and said, I spoke to Malcolm. He’s thrilled to hear about you and here’s his phone number.

Damon: 27:20 Were you, were you concerned? She said that he didn’t care back then, but this is an older guy who might not be the same dude while he was in his younger days. Were you concerned that he was still that younger guy who wouldn’t care?

Julie: 27:36 You know what, I really didn’t care to tell you the truth because I was prepared for anyone for it to be. I just wanted my answers and it was really more important for me to connect with the family and to be able to trace the genealogy of this family I came from. So I didn’t care. And uh, once again I didn’t, I didn’t feel an emotional connection. It was just a means to an end, but I absolutely was curious and I wanted to hear his story.

Damon: 28:09 So Julie Has Malcolm’s phone number and she called him immediately when he answered the phone, he sounded jovial and he was receptive to talking with Julie. But soon she figured out something wasn’t quite right

Julie: 28:21 First thing he said was I am so mad, if I knew this happened to you. If I’d known I would’ve been able to take care of you because I used to go to la all the time and I used to go and he started naming off car dealership to buy. He said he used to buy cars and Los Angeles and have them shipped to Australia and he was there on time and he could have seen me, and I thougt that’s really weird. Then we talked some more. every time I’d asked him a question he would bond with some outlandish respond like there was always connected to it. Um, and it just seems too good to be true. I don’t care about celebrities, but it was like, why did he feel he clearly needed to control the narrative of what I thought of him.

Damon: 29:12 Yeah. And uplift himself in your eyes. Yeah,

Julie: 29:15 correct. So within, I would say three minutes of talking to him, I had his number and it was clear this man was pathological liar, which explained a lot of what happened between him and my mother back then.

Damon: 29:29 Malcolm and Julie spoke for just under an hour. During that time he said Lynette never told him she was pregnant. He admitted that his mother knew of the pregnancy, but that the last time he, Lynette on the street, she burst into tears and ran the other direction. The whole thing just didn’t feel right to Julie, but there was one more thing that really rubbed her the wrong way.

Julie: 29:52 I asked him questions and he would tell me all these stories. Never once did he ask anything about me and why do you have any questions for me and both times he said, yeah, when are you coming to visit me?

Damon: 30:06 Very self centered.

Julie: 30:08 No, he was not curious about me or my life or anything. He just assumed that because I was adopted, I had a terrible life, which is not the case, but when I hung up from that first call it was a really odd feeling. I was like, I didn’t know if I was disappointed, but I was a little like, Oh god, how am I going to get the facts from him if he can’t tell me any facts? You know what I mean?

Damon: 30:36 How do you separate the lies from the truth? So Julie started reaching out to her siblings and one of her sisters, Serena was very open and welcoming. They chatted on facebook where the sister admitted Malcolm had just called her to simply blurt out that she had another sister. He didn’t leave Serena. Any context about Julie’s emergence, when Julie asked what the deal is with Malcolm, her sister said they should speak by phone,

Julie: 31:03 so she was still in touch with him. The other siblings were not he had basically abandoned. His family was one of those people that creates a personality and takes it as far as he can and then when it turns around bites him in the butt and he runs away and it’s a whole new life and if somebody calls him on it, then he doesn’t own any of it, its their fault and they’re the ones who do things wrong and I could tell from the phone conversation that was exactly what was going on in the family who didn’t talk to him. It was their fault because they did drugs or they don’t respect my lady or what have you. You know, very quickly I was like, okay, well at least I have siblings.

Damon: 31:49 They started talking a lot in a few months later, Serena traveled to Los Angeles to me, Julie, and they formed a bond. Julie had also been doing a lot of research about her paternal side of the family, so she had a ton of information to share with the family back in Australia when she traveled home again at the end of 2014. Serena was there to support her meeting Malcolm and the family even though she knew his personality flaws. It was important to Julie to be able to say that she had been face to face with her birth father. When she arrived at Malcolm’s house, he was in his garage working on restoring an old Volkswagen bus. Within minutes. She caught him in a yarn. He had spun about his injury,

Julie: 32:31 So he’s working on the bus, and he sees me and he he comes towards me and it gives me a hug and she’s got cast or a big bandage on his right arm and I’m like, what happened here? And he said, Oh yeah, well, and he tells me a story thing that when he was in this specific place that was top secret, that he had gotten nuclearized or something involving a radioactivity that that had been, that he had had. He had some kind of a cancer. That because of that, and that was being taken care of and he was fine, so I thought, well that’s interesting because that looked like it’s probably. Let me see. It’s on his right arm. They have a right hand drive in Australia, Australia, directly under the hole in the ozone layer. He was a truck driver, which means he drove with his arm out the window for many years under the hole in the ozone layer. My guess is it’s probably melanoma. Of course, I knew not to challenge him on any of this.

Damon: 33:40 Malcolm proceeded to, so Julia photo album purportedly have photos of his prior life. They were pictures of oil rigs and submarines and other places. He had worked, but not one picture featured him. He offered the album to her, but she declined because he wasn’t in it. Malcolm, she had another album with family members in it, which he also offered to Julie and she accepted because it actually showed their family members’ faces. All the while, Serena was lurking nearby far enough to give Julian and Malcolm space, but close enough to be able to hear everything he said to her.

Julie: 34:14 Every time she’d come into the room, he’d moved to another room because he didn’t want her hearing what he was saying to me.

Damon: 34:21 After three hours, Julie had had enough and she was ready to leave, but before she departed, Malcolm agreed to do a 23 and me DNA test.

Julie: 34:31 I met him the next day he brought his sister to meet me at my hotel, which was lovely. She’s a lovely person and I got to spend a little time with her and then that’s the last time I saw either of them.

Damon: 34:43 Since Julie was all the way across the world already. She and her childhood friend Sharon decided to get together again. The girlfriends took an amazing road trip to Victoria together, stopping in on different branches of the family, having many reunions along the way.

Julie: 34:59 It was very cool and I had no less than five reunions with different branches from both of his parents side and it was really cool and a lot of people shared a lot of things with me and I was able to share things with them that they didn’t know. There was a couple of people, extended relatives that were not happy with me being there because I’d uncovered a couple of things that I think they had wanted to take to their grave… That happens with the older people in families and I’m all about truth, so would like. No, no, no. This is really cool. We need to know this. I mean, it was a horrible thing that we learned from our past and it’s something that happened. I, I don’t believe including anything under the rug. That’s just me and I, you know, I, I understand that they’re uncomfortable with it.

Damon: 36:00 It was also a different time for a lot of things.

Julie: 36:00 Absolutely.

Damon: 36:01 Julie said that was an amazing time for her. She returned to the states in December and submitted Malcolm’s 23 and me DNA sample

Julie: 36:09 and on January first it came back and he’s not my father.

Damon: 36:13 Are you kidding me? You sat there for three hours and endured this guy. Wow.

Julie: 36:19 So My Dad. So all these people who I told about their family. I met them because I thought we were related and all this money that I spent traveling across the country and across the world because I didn’t take it. He didn’t do a DNA test first.

Damon: 36:40 Julie clarified that she did ask Malcolm to take a DNA test before, but the test never reached 23 and me’s lab. He sent his sample directly from Australia and at that time the company was not accepting test samples unless they came from the original person it was sent to, so she spent money to go to Australia to find these people investigated their family tree and spent hours on the road driving from place to place, exposing long-held family secrets only to discover she wasn’t related to their family. Julie was disappointed, but she was only operating on the information she was given by her mother, Lynette,

Julie: 37:19 and by the way, my mother has insisted, even since the results came back that she’s never been with anybody other than her husband and Malcolm.

Damon: 37:30 Ok, well That doesn’t really seem realistic, does it?

Julie: 37:34 No it doesn’t. And many times have I tried to say, do you think you were drugged, do you think you have amnesia, and the thing that bothered me the most about it is that she doesn’t seem that concerned. When I told her, well, this is weird, Malcolm’s DNA doesn’t match me. Her response was weird that she didn’t have a response. She didn’t have. She couldn’t explain it.

Damon: 38:00 Of course, the next logical thing to do was to have Lynette’s husband John take a DNA test because nothing was making sense. Julie admitted that when she met Malcolm, she was taken aback by his height, six foot three, Lynette’s five foot nine, and then her own height, five foot three. How did Julie get to be so short? Still the dates for Julie’s conception with John didn’t line up because the story was Lynette met John when she was already pregnant with Julie, but John’s tests came back negative too. Julie spent months trying to jog when that’s memory as to where she had been, whom she used to know, and speculating on all kinds of scenarios like Lynette’s being drugged and not knowing. She had been with another man.

Julie: 38:48 He would give me names of people that she had known. But she said she’d never slept with them and she also said she never did drugs or drank, which I don’t care if she did, so I took that as maybe she was sending you signals. So there are at least three DNA tests that I administered to complete strangers that I have called and have allowed me to test them because they are related to these people and nary a single one have come up as a match. But I’m stunned at how open people are to helping me by giving you their DNA.

Damon: 39:30 Yeah, it really is amazing.

Julie: 39:32 Yeah, it is.

Damon: 39:35 In 2017, Julie was resigned to the fact that her mother would not be a source of honest information. The only thing she could do was rely on her own DNA matches, but she didn’t have anything closer than a fourth cousin. Then one day out of the blue, she got a paternal match that seemed to be an aunt or cousin. She did some sleuthing, found the person on facebook, sent her a message through ancestry DNA. Then immediately turned to her friends in an online genealogy group in Australia to recruit some help.

Julie: 40:07 All of a sudden I get a pop up message from that exact person who happened to be in that chat. Julie, I just sent you a message. Oh no

Damon: 40:19 (lauging) wait! You weren’t supposed to see that.

Julie: 40:22 Cuz I stalked her facebook page basically, as I do, that’s what we do. That’s just what we do, Damon. she talked to me, said, this is my partner’s test. I said, okay, is there a tree there, a family tree, and he said yeh let me check with his family if it’s okay to show it because it’s a private tree.

Damon: 40:45 The family granted Julie Access to the tree and she immediately started making a mirror tree, replicating the information on their family tree to find the places where she might fit into their lineage. With the help of some DNA detectives. She was able to figure out many of the connections, understand the branch of the tree she had come from, and

Julie: 41:04 I narrowed it down within a few days to my father being one of two brothers.

Damon: 41:09 Her original cousin matches name is hunter perusing hunters, facebook contacts. She noticed one person’s profile in particular that stood out. It turned out this guy was the son of one of the two brothers. Julie introduced herself as a cousin and suggested they might even be closer than cousins. Walking him through an explanation of how she arrived in his messenger box. Julie sent the man to her blog where she has documented her full story, reading her journey, allowed him to digest exactly how she arrived at her conclusion

Julie: 41:42 and he was so open to it and just warm and welcoming and like, this isn’t going to change our lives as we know it. Of course, you know, I think we all want answers. So he agreed to take a test and the theory was that the test would either come back with him as a first cousin match or a half sibling match, which would tell us which was my father because his father passed away 10 years ago.

Damon: 42:10 Oh, and so what was the result?.

Julie: 42:13 The result was he’s my half brother.

Damon: 42:15 Is that right?

Julie: 42:16 So, Yep. So I now know who my father is. I have an amazing half brother. I have two other half brothers and half sister and I now know who my family is. I’ve gone and researched my tree way back to. Well, the best thing I can say is that I have identified all 32 of my third great grandparents.

Damon: 42:42 So now my biggest curiosity then is what did your birth mom say?

Julie: 42:48 Never heard of them. I’m not going to get anything from her. That’s all she can say. There’s nothing she can do. And I, I wrestled with this because she’s a really good person, a really good, decent person and I have to go back and forth between does she have amnesia or has this been a lie that she’d been telling for so long that it’s become truth to her and she blocked it out or just believe that herself or maybe I don’t know that she’s, she’s not giving me nothing I can do about it, but. And I have my answers and my father looked like me. He looks like my children and I know that I’m connected to the family.

Damon: 43:41 Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. Wow. What a crazy adventure you’ve been on. I never anticipated you were going to say you went all the way to Australia and then found out it wasn’t him. And then to find him and have her say never heard of him. That’s, that’s incredible. Wow.

Julie: 44:02 It is. A lot of mothers are an absolute denial about that and I feel so sad for the children of these mothers who just because they’re denying people of their birthright, it has nothing to do with you. It has to do with us because you know, most people get to know both sides of their family. They get to know who they are and why they were the ones that have to be in the dark because of something that you did or some shame that you felt or. Yeah, it’s a constant, constant thing I struggle with that I wish more people would be open, but I think as you said, the DNA testing has changed the face of genealogy.

Damon: 44:49 Absolutely.

Julie: 44:49 And there aren’t any secrets anymore, and I’ve been, since this happened less than a year ago. I have found a five people’s father’s for them.

Damon: 45:01 Is that right?

Julie: 45:02 Just using DNA?

Damon: 45:04 Wow. I mean, wow. You’ve got quite an adventure there. That’s really incredible. Thank you so much for sharing. This is. This is really unbelievable.

Julie: 45:15 You’re welcome. Thank you. It’s something that I. I like to tell people the truth is stranger than fiction has never been more true in this case.

Damon: 45:26 I know you. You nailed it. Wow. That’s incredible. Well, thank you so much again. I appreciate your time. Take care, Julie. All the best.

Julie: 45:33 Thanks Damon. Okay. Bye.

Damon: 45:35 Bye.

Damon: 45:41 Hey, it’s me and I’m still shocked at the breadth of Julie’s adventure. It must’ve been just amazing to finally hear the circumstances of her redemption from Lynette so many times. That’s all we want answers about how and why we got to be where we are, but it can be troubling when you finally realized that the whole truth hasn’t been told and the rest of the mystery is up to you to uncover. Some of us gave up, but Julie dug deeper, making mirror trees, and relying on DNA detectives to help her decipher clues. After listening to the self centered stories of a man, Julie felt was a pathological liar. It must have been such a huge relief to have finally learned to the identity of her real father from her own brother.

Damon: 46:25 Julie says that since she found her own answers, she sort of serving as a search angel, giving back to the community, using the tools, resources, and knowledge she’s accumulated to help others. I’m Damon Davis and I hope you’ll find something in Julie’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 adoption journey and your attempt to connect with your biological family, please visit You can choose to share your whole story, maintain privacy about parts of your story, or share completely anonymously. You can find a show at, or follow me on twitter @WAIReally. and Please, if you like the show, you can support me at you can subscribe to who am I really on apple podcasts? Google play, stitcher. Tune in radio or wherever you get your podcasts and while you’re there, it would mean so much to me. If you would take a moment to share a rating or leave a comment, those ratings can help others to find the podcast too.

Who Am I Really?

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