Close this search box.

069 – I Lived As A Secret, That’s Not Healthy

Honor described a childhood in isolation, so much so that it impacted her health when she started school. Wondering about her biological parents, she developed a romantic story in her mind that they were in love but simply couldn’t keep her. It took her many years to track down her real story which was far more complex, and at one point she thought that one of her worst fears was true. When she found her birth mother, they only had a passing anonymous introduction to one another and when they met again years later, the woman was unable to recognize who Honor was. When Honor tracked down her birth father, his actions indicated he was the right guy, even if he didn’t explicitly say so.


Honor: 00:05 Then he said, “oh, and there’s something else”, and I said, “what.? And he said, “she claims that she was raped”, so I was in bits.

Damon: 00:14 Really.?

Honor: 00:15 I remember going into the garden alone and wondering about and I wanted to cry but couldn’t. I was just crucified inside because that for me, was the worst scenario that I could hear.

Voices: 00:35 Who am I? Who am I? Who Am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

Damon: 00:47 This is who am I really a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I’m Damon Davis, and on today’s show is Honor. She called me from outside of Edinburgh. Scotland. Honor described a childhood in isolation, so much so that it impacted her health when she started school. It took her many years to track down her real story and at one point she thought that one of her worst fears was true when she found her birth mother. They only had a passing anonymous introduction to one another, and when they met again years later, the woman was unable to recognize who Honor was when Honor tracked down her birth father. His actions indicated he was the right guy even if he didn’t explicitly say so. This is Honors journey. Honor was born in good shepherd, mother and baby home in bishop ton near Glasgow, Scotland. Her mother and father adopted her as slightly older parents, 44 and 42 respectively on her, says she was adopted officially at four years old and she remembers that time of their lives because her parents seemed agitated, which she still remembers clearly. They told her she was adopted, but she didn’t know what it meant. She just knew it was a word. She should definitely remember

Honor: 02:12 And occasionally, I would ask the question, why did you choose to me? Um, I think it was probably because I liked the answer, which is because she was the one who smiled. And then I sensed this was old preschool and pre five year old. I then became very aware of how uncomfortable my mother became. If I asked the question, she didn’t like it

Damon: 02:37 and what would she do, how could you tell

Honor: 02:40 she she, she would look uncomfortable and would just say, well, because you were the one that smiled and carry on doing something else. She’d never sat me on her knee and talked about it nicely. It was like I answered, now shut up. It was definitely a discomfort situation which I picked up on. So I stopped asking the question,

Damon: 03:05 Honor said ask her father about adoption, either adoption was never mentioned again in the family except for one time when her father was near the end of his life.

Honor: 03:16 The only time that it came to the fore was when my father was terminally ill and the consultant was asking him questions and one of the questions was how many children does he have? And he said none. And I was sitting there beside him. And the consultants sort of appeared over his glasses at me. Am I squirmed in the seat seats? You know, I mean, it was ridiculous really. And he asked the question again and he said that was the impact, the lifelong impact of infertility came bubbling to the surface.

Damon: 03:57 And what did you feel inside when he basically denied you as his daughter?

Honor: 04:04 Very uncomfortable, but I forgave him because the poor man was dying literally, and he wasn’t himself. HIs mind, had sort of. … I don’t know what else he would just said if he had been better than he was. Even a couple of months prior to that. I’m not sure whether he was just said yes and I have one adopted daughter or something of that nature, but he just said no, no children

Damon: 04:36 Honor said she was around 41. Her father denied her existence as his daughter, but she forgives him because he had cancer that had deeply impacted him. Going back to her childhood, Honor said she was sent to a convent school at the age of four years old. She was younger than her peer group because of her February birthday. She says those preschool years were very lonely, so she learned to entertain herself even though her mother was a stay at home mom. She was a home body, always talking on the phone, sewing, but not engaged in the activities that enrich a kid’s life. She didn’t take her to the park to play and she didn’t read Honor stories either. Her father did that at bedtime,

Honor: 05:19 so he introduced me to the world of books. He was an avid reader himself and it was he who would take me out, say, Saturday morning She would meet a friend for coffee and he would take me to look at the steam trains At waverly station, so we’d go into trains and wander around the guardes while she had coffee and then we’d meet up again and come home

Damon: 05:45 at eight years old. Honored was introduced to riding lessons and she fell in love with the fantasy of owning a pony. One day as we talked, I realized she was so locked away from the world. She probably would have latched onto whatever activity her parents introduced her to and Honor. Agreed. She said she spent her first year of school at home in bed, sick. That secret from the world prevented her from developing immunity, so she caught everything like measles, mumps, and whatever was lingering about. She had to repeat that year, which was okay because she went to school with a nicer group of girls and she was older than the other students. Not Younger, which could have been tough, still Honors parents, put a lot of pressure on her to be a bright star academically and while she was no dummy, she was an average student,

Honor: 06:37 I, I sort of grew up feeling the service never pretty enough or clever enough. I wasn’t the child that they hoped that they would produce between them and yet they were just denied that I’ve been confronted with that. They would have denied that as I said I was, but I wasn’t. I don’t believe it. And so then teenage years were the usual angst and things that I started self harming, which I didn’t realize I was self harming until I was in adulthood. At the age of six I was in the classroom at school and a fellow to the shy and I cut my finger accidentally, and then it was all bandaged up But that was the beginning. So I used to get my dad’s razors then and I would cut myself on purpose and I did that that for a lot of years. And then when my mother was noticing and said, don’t do that, that’s bad for you. I would do it where she wouldn’t see it necessarily as I got older

Damon: 07:57 around 14 years old, Honor, stopped self harming, but she started smoking. She admits smoking was a substitute for the overt physical self harming.

Honor: 08:08 And it was that feeling of not being good enough. I mean they would have claimed they left me, but she would be very, uh, kind of if we were in a social situation and we came home, she would say to me, I just wanted to push you and say speak because I was very quiet. I didn’t want to say. And the thing in case it sounded stupid. So I just kept quiet. And then another time she would be saying how wonderful, and marvelous I was, because I’d made custard or something stupid, you know. So it was this mixed message thing was going on all the time.

Damon: 08:46 Honors read a lot about her behavior in those days. She learned that inflicting harm on yourself is a release of some kind that could be related to pain or that you’re not loved. Honors first school closed. So she was transferred to another dingier, substandard educational school, that she abhorred. She was trying to figure out what she should study to build her professional foundation and her parents tried to steer her toward nursing or teaching, but Honor wanted to be a journalist. She loved to write and it’s a skill she says has helped her in adulthood to deal with everything. I asked her about how her adoption was playing out in her mind in terms of being a teenager and starting to notice differences between herself and her family. She said she definitely noticed differences between herself and her parents and cousins. But it was an interesting experience while traveling internationally that made her actually feel a connection for the first time

Honor: 09:45 when I was 13 or 14. They took me to Ireland for the first time and my mother said before we went somewhere you either love or hate it states away. And I have a scenario playing out in my head that my parents, my parents had been a young Irish couple in most. I was conceived. They couldn’t for whatever reason and I was born and then to be adopted. So I had the whole thing into an island long before I knew of my Irish connection. I felt a strong connection. That was like a coming home almost.

Damon: 10:31 And you did?

Honor: 10:34 No, at that time I didn’t. No.

Honor: 10:37 So when I, when I did find that there’s no surprise, it was a confirmation of something I knew. So yes, I definitely was aware of the differences. And I had this romantic scenario and I used to say to myself, I would hate to discover that I had been the result of rape you know how would you deal with that imagine finding that out.

Damon: 11:00 yeah. Versus the romanticized story you created. Yeah.

Damon: 11:05 Honor got married at 23 years old and had children in her mid twenties. Her first son had red hair, but she and her husband both have dark hair. Of course that was a trigger for her to wonder about her biological contribution to their sons lives. So the desire to search burned within her. Her parents were still alive at the time, so she felt it was disloyal to search for her birth parents just yet Honor had her abbreviated birth certificate, which her parents had unceremoniously handed to her without discussion when she told them she was applying for a passport, she carried her birth certificate around for weeks intending to act on her desire to search, but she couldn’t bring herself to walk in the door of the records department. Finally, her husband said he would take their sons for the day while she went to register house in Edinburg with her abbreviated birth certificate in hand. An older gentleman escorted her to a private room to wait while he collected her adoption records.

Honor: 12:05 So he came back with a large brown envelope sealed with the wax seal, and I have to sign on the front of the envelope, giving my permission to break the seal. So we broke the seal an inside It was my original birth certificate, my baptismal certificates, a medical certificate, and the name of the adoption society who had handled the adoption. Uh, and he gave me copies away of each one of those things. So I remember staring at the birth certificate and he was very good, really empathetic or whatever. He let me digest each thing as he handed it to me, you know the baptism and the birth certificate, and there was this name stating at me and it was actually Honora standing at me, uh, from the page. And you’re thinking, gosh, that’s me. And yet it’s not me. So it was. That was a strange moment.

Damon: 13:13 Okay. This is probably a good time to tell you that Honor is not the name my guest was raised with since she’s a writer, She’s adopted her birth name back and she uses it as her pen name. Honor admits. She was really fortunate to have the easy access to her records that she did apparently in the UK and Scotland the legislation was changed in the 19 seventies to allow open access to personal records. Of course, seeing her identifiable information inspired Honor to keep investigating, but the Edinburg Catholic society through which she was adopted no longer existed, A research dead end. A few years later Honor and her husband were on holiday listening to the radio when an advertisement for birth link spoke about connecting adoptees with birth families, providing information for their registry. A few weeks later she had an appointment with one of their social workers who found Honors records at the sense renamed and relocated adoption agency. The social worker gave her a piece of paper with information about Honors story.

Honor: 14:18 According to this piece of paper, my mother had come over from Ireland to St Jerrod’s at Bishopton to have me because she had been seeing my father for a period of nine months. They had time to get married when he left the army or something, but then they had quarreled before. She knew of her pregnancy and it was all the tug the heart strings stuff. She was all alone in the world. She was had lost a sister and mother, the previous year and so she had me at me and then made the decision to have me adopted. Then there was two letters on file written by her to the social worker saying how much she missed her baby and it was a hard decision and that she’d done it for the best. So he gave me the lessors to keep under the printer. So that bouyed me no end because it confirmed the whole Irish thing for me and I had these letters written by her stating that she missed her baby and all of that.

Damon: 15:33 Yeah. So then at that time, that must’ve been. When you first read that stuff, that must’ve been really comforting because it almost sounds too like at that time you were a romanticized fantasy of what had transpired. Was somewhat confirmed too, right?

Honor: 15:50 Yes.

Damon: 15:51 Honor took time to soak in what she learned about herself and of course, life pressed on. She discovered that Saint Andrews adoption society had relocated to her old convent school. The one she hated. There was a several week waiting list for an appointment.

Honor: 16:08 Maybe six, eight weeks later I was pacing up and down of this horrible school and it had a high wall around it and then one of these great big heavy wooden doors with a little door in the middle of it, so I had to step in to the yard this door and that was a very…kinda moment . And then into the office and the girl at the desk could be in a couple of years below them is school and I’m thinking, Oh God, she doesn’t recognize me.

Damon: 16:42 The male social worker gave her most of the same information she already had, except he also had her birth father’s name Martin. He gave her a sheet with search tips like checking marriage registries, death registries, and noting the names of witnesses on either she chipped away at her search meeting dead ends periodically, like the gruff older gentleman who told her it wasn’t a good idea to go searching. In the mid 19 eighties, she got a clue on a marriage registry out of Dublin for a woman named Sarah born only one day before the date on her head for her birth. Mother Honor, tried to verify a marriage for Sarah, but she couldn’t find it because she had been married in Glasgow. She noted the name of the witnesses, got their phone numbers from the directory and got through to a nice Irish woman who gave Honor and address and phone number for Sarah Honor. Took the information back to her social worker who drafted a letter to Sarah on plain paper with a nondescript return address just in case someone else in the household intercepted the correspondence. He added his contact phone number and allowed Honor to add her phone number too.

Honor: 17:52 Within days she has a contacted the social work, and told him that she had no knowledge of anybody by that name, so that was a bit of a moment because I couldn’t see where else to go. You know that she was sort of the obvious one

Damon: 18:10 two weeks later on or had been out grocery shopping and when she got home her boys were in bed when everything was put away and they were settled in for the evening. Her husband sat her down and said he had something to tell her

Honor: 18:22 and I could see, you know, this was something that matters. And he said o the woman wrote to phoned. and I said what? he said, oh, she is your mother. She said that her conscience has been bothering her, And she’s your mother.

Damon: 18:44 wow.

Honor: 18:45 I said, alright, I’ll go and phone her. And he said, no, no, no, you can’t. She doesn’t want any contact and if you phone you’ll cause trouble for her. Well, I was upset enough with that, and then he said oh and there’s something else, and I said “what?”. He said she claimed that she was raped, so I was in bits. I remember going out into the garden alone and I’m wondering about, and I wanted to cry but couldn’t. You know, I was just crucified insided because that for me was the worst scenario that I could hear. A while after that I would be waking up in the night crying. So it was a combination of the rejection, the second rejection, and this information that she claimed she had been raped,

Damon: 19:42 but something was bugging her. She couldn’t reconcile the fact that her record said that Sarah had been in a relationship for months with a man she intended to marry and had gotten pregnant by, with the more recent claim of a violent act, Honor decided to seek counseling for months, which helped a lot. She decided her birth mother wasn’t getting off that easily, so she reached out, disguising her letter as needing medical information.

Honor: 20:08 She wrote back, um, answered the questions and then the end of it, she said she had no other choice. It was all she could do. And she said the memorare every day for me. So that was the first letter. So then time went on, I thought, no, I want to know more, I need more than this, and the whole rape thing was very much to the fore and I wanted to get… So I connected with her parish priest.

Damon: 20:44 I spoke with the priest off and on for nearly 18 months chatting about everything from her birth mother to politics and more. He was astonished at the story. Honor was telling about Sarah, whom he called Sadie, but he accepted what she said and he shared what he knew about her. Honor was nearby on holiday. So they agreed to meet.

Honor: 21:04 We met and he took me to lunch somewhere. He took me on little to the district block and all of that. And then we went to lunch and then we go back in the car and he said, have I ever seen her? And I said, no, I need to do. I think we should try and arrange for you to see her. We’ll try and arrange, we’ll try and see what we can do. We’ll go past the house. So this is rural Ireland, very rural Ireland and she was on a farm. So the road was very narrow, single track road. So we went down past the farm and he says, Oh good her car is there. So we went down to the bus. We went down to the bottom of the road where there was a little kind of kinds of shop that some kinds and there were three old men just kind of standing chatting one with a bicycle and and they all waved seeing the parish priest. Then we swung around and came out the bumpy track to come back down past the house and still, you know, she’s not coming out and then.

Honor: 22:08 back down and they waived again. So by about the eighth time he said, oh, we’ll just go one more time. And I said , “well you’ve got to live” here because these men were waving every time thinking, what is he playing games is he playing? So then the final time I said, we’ll, give up after this one. There was a track to coming over the hill and he said I knew we’d our moment if we were patient. She was walking behind the tractor carrying a picnic basket, they were on haymaking and he said there she is. So I quickly got a pair of sunglasses out of my handbag and I had a head scarf on , and of course she saw him and she was all smiles and waves in the car and I’m sort of casually waving and trying to have a good old look. So that was my first glimpse of her.

Damon: 23:10 Wow. What was that like? to see her coming

Honor: 23:16 to see her coming, I thought God, oh God, oh God. You’re sort of all twitter and I thought that’s her. You know those moments and then you want the moment back and to seize the moment so you can have appropriate look, but you also have that discontent because it shouldn’t be like that. You know, you shouldn’t be spying on someone like that. You should have a proper connection. Being able to say hello properly,

Damon: 23:46  ..and that was it. They drove away without an introduction. I asked if any of herself in the woman, but it was such a fleeting moment and it was so intense in her mind already. She wasn’t able to detect pieces of herself at all, but the priest saw the resemblance when he and Honor first met. He recognized her from far away because in his opinion Honor looked at the way her mother used to look. At the encouragement of a very nice woman on her met and connected deeply with while researching her birth father. She wrote Sarah another letter asking whether Sarah had been raped, Honor’s, new friends. Since that the topic had been bothering her, but she also said whatever Sara’s answer is, she had to accept it,

Honor: 24:32 so she wrote back to me at that point to that letter saying yes she had been raped twice. Now in my head, you don’t go back for more. That didn’t make sense to me. So I forwarded her reply to this Breda, this lady was called Breda, and she wrote back and she said, she says, no way was she raped. She’s doing what a lot of our age women do and trying to make herself, her conscience clear, to make out like she’s the good girl, She never did anything wrong type thing because the nuns would call them the devil himself and children born to these girls were the devil’s spawned

Damon: 25:19 society had a major issue with children born out of wedlock, just like here in the United States in those days. In the middle of all this Honor was also looking for her birth father Martin. In the first letter she asked Sarah for his surname and she gave it to her. Honor Had been to the register house in Dublin where she found there have been six Martin’s with his last name born in a three year span. Her next stop was the Irish military records department on base where an older gentlemanly sergeant with a gravelly voice oversaw one of his young corporals in the search process.

Honor: 25:56 And the same corporal kept moving the screen really quickly up and down. zoom zoom zoom. People wouldn’t necessarily be known by the name they were given at birth, you know a Martin could be a Mike or a Mick or a or a totally different name altogether, so it’s a bit like looking for the needle in the haystack. He said

Damon: 26:19 it turned out the sergeant had his own agenda. He told the story of his daughter whom he had become the stepfather of when her own father left. They had never told their daughter that the sergeant wasn’t her real father and they never planned to do so. Honor was convinced the sergeant had been protecting Martin. She decided to try back a year later and fortunately the sergeant had retired, so she got a new of contact who delivered a seemingly complete file on Martin.

Honor: 26:47 He was 26 years in the army and it transpired from this that He was actually married at the time of the relationship with my mother and already had two daughters who live there in country. They were in the Midlands of Ireland and he was up in Dublin at the barracks and had had an affair with Sadie.

Damon: 27:10 Honor, imagined her birth mother, revealing her pregnancy and Martin responding that he was married with two children. She would have been in quite a bind. Thus Honors adoption. Honor recalled that a nun who was also a social worker had suggested she contact a maternal half brother. She said sometimes siblings have a secret relationship. Honor decided to tell the parish priest that she was interested in contacting her brother

Honor: 27:38 and he said I’ve been hoping you would say that was his response. He said yes, we could contact. Martin. Now, no woman who was raped, calls her only son after the same man who raped her, does she?

Damon: 27:56 No, that’s right.

Honor: 27:58 My brother is Martin. My father is Martin.

Damon: 28:01 Wow.

Honor: 28:03 So yeah, exactly. So you don’t do that. Any other name on the planet with to use the same name?

Damon: 28:13 Honor is 15 years older than her brother Martin. And he was 28 at the time. He was living at home with their mother. So the priest found his address at work and the social worker wrote the open letter with a a note from Honor and sent it there. Her brother contacted Honor, immediately admitting he was having trouble wrapping his brain around her news on her son was traveling to Ireland for rugby, so she told Martin she would be in town and if he was interested they could meet up, but no pressure. He agreed to meet. He picked her up in his car and drove them to a bar for a drink

Honor: 28:48 and we were both looking sideways at each other, pretending not to, so he would be looking at me and I was looking at him

Damon: 28:59 mhmmmm

Honor: 29:01 I thought we had a very good meeting. It was very amicable and he was very charming and all of that. But then as he was dropping me back at the bed and breakfast where I was staying at his phone and went, he looked at the screen and he said, oh, it’s her. All I said was looking at is when is she knew and then he spoke to her and said he’d been delayed. She was obviously looking to see why he wasn’t home.

Damon: 29:29 Martin spent a little more time with Honor that day, then drove her back to her bed and breakfast. Overtime they stayed in touch, but it was always Honor initiating contact with him. Martin said he was just hopeless at staying in touch with people, but Honors feeling was if you actually want to be in contact with someone, you make the effort. She didn’t want to be a pest, so she stopped calling him. Honor didn’t see any similarities between herself and her brother and she told me she liked him at first, but she’s not that fond of him anymore. She also had two paternal half sisters whom she’s never made contact with, so of course I asked if Honor was ever able to track down her biological father Martin. In 2004. She tried the local parish priest connection again, but this guy didn’t want any part of her adventure. Honor tried the local general practitioner, The community doctor who knew Martin. He told her to leave the task with him and he’d speak with Martin. After several months she heard nothing and she thought that was that.

Honor: 30:34 True to his word he poked up and he said “I spoke to your man yesterday”. He’s coming to my house on Friday afternoon, He said I’ll phone you as soon as he’s been. So he turned up at the doctor’s house. The very fact that he turns up having been given some information what was it was about by the doctor is a confirmation of sorts.

Damon: 31:01 Yeah, it is.

Honor: 31:03 Yeah. Having detoured by the pub. So he came in reeking of booze, I think he was, oh, shiny and you know, he put on his best suit, you know, to go to the doctor’s house, and the suit and the hair was done and what have you. And apparently he sat and he listened As the doctor told him about me , the daugther, and my children and where I live, and what I did and all of that and he listened and he asked questions and then after about 40 minutes, apparently abruptly, ended the conversation saying, it’s a long time ago, It’s hard to remember and walked. And I said To the doctor, do you think it is him? And he said, Oh yeah, you have your man alright. That was his comment

Damon: 31:55 because the fact that he even sat there and, one that he showed up as you said two, that he asked the inquisitive questions, you know. And then three, the abruptness of the ending suggests an emotional attachment, your recollection to the whole thing?

Honor: 32:14 Yeah. Yeah. No, he was in denial. He didn’t want me. Popping up. Drinking was he had left of his life.

Damon: 32:24 Right. Did you ever make a connection to him? Did you get to talk to him? Did you get to meet him?

Honor: 32:29 No. No, I didn’t. And I wish. I wish I had. I would really liked to have found out, which pub he was going to be in on a particular night. I’m that it didn’t eyeball him.

Damon: 32:43 Honor has since seen pictures of Martin, but she. Sorry. She never came face to face with him. He died four years after that conversation with the general practitioner, only one month after his own wife. Since then, Honors connected to someone who knew Martin well and she’s learned a bit about him. She knows a bit about her paternal half sisters peeking in on them through facebook, but still that’s hard because she’s not truly connected to the lives of her biological family. Honor has also connected with a second cousin who’s also a priest. They’ve spoken periodically over the years and he delivers family news when he has some

Honor: 33:21 He phoned the morning My mother died. he actually phoned on the Sunday to say that she wasn’t well and he thought it would be her final illness and then on the Tuesday to say she had died and the funeral and so on the Thursday it’s very quick and Ireland. So I had to get my flight and everything organized but he did say in the conversation. He said, now if you get a chance at all. He says, give me a bit of a nudge or a wink and let me know who you are.

Damon: 33:54 Oh really?

Honor: 33:56 Yeah. So I went to the funeral, which was memorable for all sorts of reasons. It was pretty much the Irish funeral. The coffin was walked down the single road, you know, the single track road to the Chapel, which would be a good distance. The two sets of costs and barriers interchanging. I parked in the lane overlooking so I could see the funeral procession going done and her being carried, you know, and the sun was shining it so quite poignant and then fell into the snake of cars that, had fell in behind the coffin and then parked and into the church and I was upstairs in the chapel.

Honor: 34:39 Now, she has four priests. on the alter. So that definitely is… You don’t… Not everybody has four priests on the alter and the one who was a cousin who’s…. I knew his face because there’s a picture of him in the Diocesan priest, you know priests of the dioces, and so he led the mess. And then the mole, the one who I’d actually reconnected with cuz he also He also phoned me to tell me that she had died. I haven’t told either of t them that I know the other one. It’s all cloak and dagger stuff but at the beginning of the mass he opened the mass saying we’re gathered here today to remember Sadie. Let us priests for the family and anyone else who may have needs to mourn her loss. Isn’t that Nice?

Damon: 35:36 you speaking directly to you in front of everybody?

Honor: 35:39 Yeah.

Damon: 35:40 Wow. That’s amazing. Wow.

Honor: 35:45 I just thought that was so nice.

Damon: 35:46 Yeah. That was incredibly thoughtful.

Honor: 35:49 Yes.

Damon: 35:50 It sounds though that you really watched the whole ceremony from afar. Did you ever get in and engage with the people whom you knew?

Honor: 36:01 I was in the mass. I debated, because I don’t practice anymore. I’m not a practicing Catholic and I thought, “will I go to communion when it came around?” and I thought, yeh dammit I will for Sadie’s sake, so quick act of contrition. Then I went down, but it was to one of the other priests, but I couldn’t help but smile on my way thinking, You know, I could have gone to him and winked and you’d have the women in the front row saying, “Look at her, the bold one, winking at the priest.”

Damon: 36:36 That’s right.

Honor: 36:37 Yeah. And then when the mass was over and it was the buriel then in the cemetery, just outside and people were lining up to shake my brother’s sons. He was standing at the grave site and I thought will i or won’t I, and I thought dammit, I will. So I fell into the queue And when it came to me, I just took his hands in mine and I looked at him. Now, this isn’t like me. I’m not usually this bold. And I stared at him and I was thinking, I’m not making this easy for you, so you need to speak. So he stared back and there was the moment of who is this to the moment of recognition and then a fleeting glimpse of anger and all the while no words had passed. And then eventually he said, thanks for coming, you know, and I moved on that the group behind me where I was leaving the cemetery, she was giving me some look, as if to say, “who are you?” So that was, that was for old Sadie.

Damon: 37:46 She said that was for old Sadie. Honor said she was glad she went to the funeral because she had tried to reconnect with her maternal brother when she learned their mother was in poor health, but her brother never replied. I asked how Honor was doing, never having actually met either of her birth parents. She corrected me that she did meet her birth mother once, not that time on the farm, but in a nursing home when she was much older. Honor had spoken to the mole, the parish priest, who told her to come back for another visit. Sadie had dementia. And she needed a dedicated care. The priest wanted to take on her to meet her mother. Honor, said that walking through Ireland with the priest was like walking next to God himself. The man was so revered by the people in town. They barely noticed her by his side. When they reached the nursing home, the priest was ushered inside Sadie’s room without a second thought. He told her mother that he brought his friend for a visit.

Honor: 38:48 Now, she would have known I signed letters as ____. And did say afterwards to me, maybe we just said Nora, maybe Nora would have had… But I was anxious that this was a frail old lady with dementia to trigger something. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I had triggered a moment, you know, acute anxiety and, or anything like that. So we kind of kept it simple and I have some photographs with me and I showed her pictures of the boys and he’s sitting there saying, “do they look like anyone Sadie,” and she says, oh, I don’t know. I don’t know. And you know, he said would it be alright for ____ to have a picture taken with you Sadie. So she said yes. So she took my hand. She took a old of my hand and was beaming at the camera because he was holding the camera and then, while she had my hand. I said, “Oh, ____ wants you to know that she loves you very much and she looked at me and she said, ____, I said I am, and she said “oh that’s lovely” with a great big smile. And then he was then sitting, blowing into a handkerchief.

Damon: 40:10 Aaaah… so you met her, but she really didn’t meet you for her mental incapacity.

Honor: 40:19 She didn’t know who it was she was just delighted that I was saying what I said. And then as we were going, I said, would it be okay to give you a little hug. And she said, of course. So I gave her a little hug

Damon: 40:34 Man, that sounds heavy.

Honor: 40:41 Yes. But that helped. It helps. Even if it was through the back door and she didn’t really know who that was.

Damon: 40:47 I bet it was, like, to come face to face with her like that must have been somehow validating regardless of the fact that she didn’t actually know who you were to come face to face must have been unbelievable.

Honor: 41:00 Yes. And the fact She took my hand, she took hold of my hand. I don’t know if she would do that with everyone.

Damon: 41:10 Well, that’s really cool that the priest was able to facilitate that too, I mean basically he brought you in as part of his circle of trust and that allowed her to be comfortable with you, which is amazing.

Honor: 41:22 Yeah, yeah.

Damon: 41:25 Honor says it’s been quite a journey and along the way she began drafting fictional stories with nuns, rape, and adoption themes. Her writing partner since the, that Honor needed to get her own story out of the way so they could write fiction together. So she wrote a book. I asked if it had been cathartic to write her own story.

Honor: 41:45 Yeah, totally. Totally. And what I’ve done, I hope, and I’ve been told, you know, for some it works is I’ve gone into the psyche of the adoptee. because so often we’re the member, and our needs and wants and all of that have to be squashed down if you’d like, you know, if your mother says to you, I do want to meet because of the year and she told her husband and there’s lots of women in Ireland for sure in that situation. We’re not allowed or shouldn’t do anything about it. So we, we live. I lived as a secret for years, I kept it a secret for years. I didn’t talk to people here, you know, apart from a couple of close friends and husband, so it’s all locked inside us, and that’s not healthy and the whole psychological impact of discovering or potentially discovering that resulted from rape is huge. Now how do you ever get your head around that. So you just don’t get your head that you’ve just got to find a place to carry on living is. That is always going to be there.

Damon: 43:13 Wow. I bet there’s a lot of people that pull a lot from the tone and the sort of hidden or overt messages that you put in the book about adoption and adoption experiences.

Honor: 43:26 Well, I hope so because that was the intention. You know, I wanted to educate people because so often, I’m met with, this get over yourself is a favorite fit or um, something that’s done with children. Adoption is a good thing. Or I know someone who is happy and they were adopted. You know you get all of these responses and it’s these things people have to learn to… and you do learn to live, you get things into a place where you know, you know, you’re ok with it. When I was going through the worst, the blackest moments I kept trying to tell myself it’s the boys that matter, it’s my marriage that matters for goodness sake. Why does it matter so much? But you know you can’t stop what’s bubbling up inside you. It’s there and needs to be dealt with. Otherwise, it’ll bubble up in another way, which is detrimental in some way. So you have to kind of deal with it as best you can, as best the circumstances will allow you . And there will always be that sense of regret that it had to be like that. I mean, I’m not a gloomy person particularly. But it does knock you sideways.

Damon: 45:03 Absolutely. Well Honor, thank you so much for taking time to share your story and it was really interesting to hear it. You know, thematically has some similarities to stories that I’ve heard here in the United States, but I’m sorry for how traumatic it all was from start to finish. I mean to have a family who, you know, adopted you, but didn’t really embrace you to, you know, getting the false story that you had been a product of rape and, and to learn, you know, in essence, through those facts that you’ve now that you now know that it probably wasn’t true. That must’ve been really tough, but you sound like you’re working through it through your writing and, and I appreciate your work to try to relate to it.

Honor: 45:49 Yeah. Yes, well it helps. I’ve got a trilogy there now. And I’m onto another book which is not connected to adoption in any way at all.

Damon: 46:04 That’s good. I’m glad to hear that you’re expanding your writing into other, other things. Alright, Honor. Thank you so much for your time today. All the best to you.

Honor: 46:13 Thank you, we’ve been on a while so that’s your time too. Thank you for that. This thing.

Damon: 46:21 My pleasure. Take care then.

Damon: 46:23 Okay. Bye now. Bye.

Damon: 46:31 Hey, it’s me. I don’t know about you, but it was tough to listen to Honor. Tell the story of her lonely childhood. Kids are supposed to be out playing, laughing and exploring the world around them, but her adopted mother didn’t create that environment. I thought it was really cool though that the parish priest took Honor to meet her mother and they got a picture together. That’s a moment that will last the rest of her days, even if Sarah didn’t know who Honor really was. If you’d like to read some of Honors work, you can find her as Honor Donahoe on, where her trilogy and other works of hers are sold. I’m Damon Davis and I hope you will find something in Honors 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?

Damon: 47:21 If you would like to share your adoption journey and your attempt to connect with your biological family, please visit who am I really You can choose to share your whole story, maintain some privacy about parts of your journey or share completely anonymously. You can find the show at, or follow me on twitter at @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 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?

Find the show on: