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086 – Second Time

As an interracial adoptee and musical artist, Ferera grew up feeling different from her adopted family. When her adoption was tearfully confirmed by her Mom, it created doubt within her about whether it was okay to be different? Ferera met her birth mother, and the woman’s twin sister, so their reunion was a shared experience that somewhat fractured the intimate connection Ferera would have liked to have developed. She’s in touch with her birth father, but they’ve never met b/c he lives in the Philipines.


Ferera: 00:01 She said that I was making it all about me and I do believe that she was saying that out of her own pain. For an adoptee. It’s like, well, I didn’t choose this. I didn’t ever choose to be adopted. I didn’t choose for me to be in this position and so I wanted to work it out. I really did and so when I reached out to her and tried to talk about it, I suggested let’s get on the phone because emails are just, things can get misconstrued, but I never did hear back from her again.

Voices: 00:34 Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

New Speaker: 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 Ferera. She called me from Austin, Texas as an interracial adoptee and musical artists for rare, grew up feeling different from her adopted family. When her adoption was confirmed by her mother, it created doubt within herself about whether it was okay to be different Ferera met her birth mother and the woman’s twin sister. So their reunion was a shared experience that somewhat fractured the intimate connection Ferera would have liked to have developed. She’s in touch with her birth father but they’ve never met because he lives overseas. This is Ferera journey.

Damon: 01:33 Ferera originally from Houston. She said the first time she ever felt different from her family was around three years old since those early days Ferera has gotten her DNA test done. So she can tell you more clearly now what her heritage is. But at first all she could tell you is

Ferera: 01:49 I am a transracial adoptee. And so, um, I grew up in, um, a Chinese family and um, I’m Filipino but there, you know, there’s a big difference so. I think many people don’t realize that there is such a big difference between the two, but there is culturally and all these things. But basically growing up we didn’t really talk about it. I wasn’t really told that I was adopted until I was, um, uh, 10 years old. And that’s only because I asked, because I look completely different from my family, but I always felt like I inherently knew that I was adopted because, you know, I think the majority of us, you know, at least the other adoptees that I’ve spoken to have said like a, yeah, I think I always knew, I mean, even the ones that aren’t transracially adopted. So yeah, I asked my mom if I was at, if I was born from her, those were the words I used. I think that was like six or seven. I forgot how old. The first time I asked her was, she kind of didn’t answer me directly the first time she just said, well, you know, no matter if you’re born, if I gave birth, she or not, I, we love you just the same. And so I thought that was a little bit interesting, but I like, I, like I said, I knew I was not of the same, you know, from that family.

Damon: 03:11 So let me pause you for a quick second. So when you first asked this question, can you remember at all how you felt? It’s, it’s an interesting thing for you to say that you felt different at six and I wonder if to you could just explain a little bit about how you look different from your family because it, when I think of transracial adoptees of course I think very classically have sort of a black white mixed or something like that. Very stark differences. So I wonder if you could help me understand how you could see the differences so easily

Ferera: 03:45 more brown than they are. Um, I’m Spanish as far as the Trans racial features, the physical features. So I, um, I’ve done the 23 and me and all of that, but I, I’m more brown than they are. Um, I’m Spanish and a mix of, there’s like Portuguese, Spanish, European and Polynesian. And so it’s like I look very island slash Spanish fee and then they look very tinies. And so there’s a different skin tone, different bone structure, different build. It was like a different everything.

Damon: 04:22 Yeah. Ferera had one sister who was biological to their parents for understanding is she was adopted because initially her parents didn’t think they could conceive a child. But of course immediately after her adoption, her sister was conceived. They were really close when they were really little, but everyone thought they were friends, not sisters. For Rare. It talks a little bit about the impact on her emotions of finally confirming she was adopted and how it changed her behavior. Then she goes into the story of how she actually confronted her mother at 10 years old.

Ferera: 04:55 My personality by nature is very um, positive spirited. You know, I had a lot of energy. I was a happy kids on the outside. You might not realize that there’s anything quote unquote wrong or going on internally. But in fact there was a lot and I think it really started coming out once it was confirmed that I was adopted, but I really feel like, you know, it would have been what has made a big difference had I found out uh not at 10 had I found out earlier,

Damon: 05:28 What difference do you think it would have made for you.

Ferera: 05:30 Well, there’s a lot of, in general, I think I would’ve been able to not go through that first 10 years of my life feeling like, you know, my heart and my mind are in a different place. Why do I feel this way? Why do I look different? Why do I, so there was a lot of, because there was all that time for this shame to build and questions and why am I not feeling like the rest? Why don’t I feel like I fit in? So had, had I been told, you know, I feel like I would’ve been able to understand myself better because by the time I was 10 I didn’t know what I was like, um, ethnically so people would, that was another layer of it, you know? Well you, you don’t like, you don’t look like your family or you know, people asking if I was friends with my sister, oh, is this your friend?

Ferera: 06:15 Like, no, she’s my sister. And that, that’s actually how I, how I finally was like, okay, I’m adopted. That’s, there was a man in China drawing a picture of my sister and I, you know, out on this like marketplace thing. He was like hand drawing it and he was like, you know, here you go. It’s a picture of you and your friend or you and your friend. And I was like, this is really ridiculous. Everybody thinks she’s my friend, but she’s my sister. There’s gotta be something like, you know, so yeah, in that way it’s like not knowing is, was really how I feel, you know, detrimental to my psychological health.

Damon: 06:49 Wow. That’s fascinating. Yeah. So this is the… I interrupted you earlier. You were about to say something about your father taking you on a business trip and this is it, the trip to China where you drew the picture?

Ferera: 07:01 Yeah, this is where I found out. And um, he was, we went along with him, he was on a business, it was kind of like a business slash family vacation and that’s when it all unfolded. And I finally asked her in the hotel lobby, you know, if I was born from her. And she started crying and she was like, “no, but you know, you know mom loves you anyway”. And my sister started crying so it was, you know, my dad was at work. Um, and it was just me, my mom and my sister in the hotel lobby when this happens. And I just kind of, I didn’t cry. I didn’t, you know, it was kind of like a, well I already knew this but thanks for confirming. You know, I wasn’t upset at them, you know, but I was kind of like well why didn’t… So there’s an element of trust. I will say that there was an element of trust. I feel like that was, I mean lost, you know that you know, they didn’t tell me but I think you know, regardless of whether they meant well cause I think they didn’t want to tell me cause they didn’t want me to feel different. But that just goes along with the knowledge now that kids do know. It doesn’t matter if you tell them or not. I really feel like they might not say that they know, cause I was just really a vocal kid

Damon: 08:24 Ferera said Everything felt secret and taboo when it came to talking about her adoption until she confronted her mother. I was wondering what it felt like for her mother to finally admit everything to her out loud.

Ferera: 08:36 So what I was feeling was, and I’m like I was saying I was processing this as a 10 year old with 10 year old words. Feelings. And I was like, okay. So, so briefly I felt like kind of cool. I’m just being honest. I was like, okay, cool. I’m kind of, but then it drifted to this, But I’m, I’m different though and I’m, I’m all alone. I’m by myself. I’m alienated from not, not, I don’t know if alienated, it’s the right word, but maybe isolated. Like I’m not like you guys, you know? Um, it’s very clear that I’m not like you all. And I think that’s when a shift happened. So when she first told me, it was like, I knew this, it was a knowingness. And then there was like a, for a very, very brief moment like all this. That’s cool. I’m kind of, that’s cool. I’m, I’m like a special kid. You know, she didn’t use the word special, but then that’s really weird. Cause then what am I and why did my parents give me up? What’s the story? You know, I didn’t have all those answers. So it was just ultimately a big question mark.

Damon: 09:46 Wow, That’s really interesting. So this happened on foreign soil. You guys are in China, you’re not, you’re not at your home. So you’re out of your element and you’d be like, there’s nothing uncomfortable around you right now. What do you know, who do you recall about your return home and your, you’ve now probably set foot back in the house and you have this reality now that the admission has been made. What was it like in your house after you’ve gotten this confirmation on foreign soil?

Ferera: 10:14 You know, until you actually framed it that way. I’ve never even thought about it and I swear like as you were saying that I got chills. I was like, oh my gosh, I’ve never thought about it that way. Yeah. I was completely out of my element. I had, I had no idea. It was more of a confirmation than anything. It was a confirmation. It was like, okay, this is official. It’s, I’m officially told that I’m adopted and that I’m not… And then I have parents somewhere else and I don’t know why I was given up. I think honestly, if I’m being completely honest, I think I started beginning to feel really, I just remember I started having trouble at school, really isolating myself. Um, and it was the worst year ever because I think it was fifth grade and I started telling friends that my parents died.

Ferera: 11:06 Okay. So that’s like a brief little side story. I had a best friend that she was my best friend, like in, in elementary school, we went on to fifth grade together and one day on the playground I told her that my parents died and she was like, no, they didn’t. And I’m like, yeah, they did. So as a fifth grader processing the fact that she was just told that she was adopted. I’m fabricating a story that’s more, that’s less painful to believe then that I was given up. So I’m like, okay, well mentally I’m just going to tell myself that they died and that’s why they couldn’t keep me. Right. So I’m telling my friend they died. She’s thinking, I’m talking about the parents, she’s met, you know, my adoptive parents. And so then she goes and tells her parents that, you know, Ferera’s a liar too. Then we, you know, our friendship ended and it was so I lost my best friend. Yeah, it was a big thing. And then I, but I was like so confused, but because she thought I was lying about, about having other parents that passed away and all this stuff.

Damon: 12:13 Ferera said she also experienced a lot of bullying during that same year. So she spent a lot of time in the school counselor’s office. Behavior issues were surfacing in the aftermath of revealing Ferrera is adoption and it was a difficult year and she switched schools at the following year. That’s when her creative outlet really opened up.

Ferera: 12:33 And that’s also when I began writing music too, which that was like my lifesaver, literally.

Damon: 12:37 Really?

Ferera: 12:38 And so, yeah, you know, I was like, well, I don’t know how to talk about this, so I’m just going to put it all into music. And that’s what I, that’s, you know, I always played piano and violin, but that was when I actually started writing writing.

Damon: 12:51 She started piano when she was three years old and her sister took less than soon after. Then Ferera took up violin when she turned six. But the piano was always her goto instrument. The family learned, her sister’s strong suit turned out to be academics, but Ferera continued with music. She said she used to jot down bits of songs and occasionally lyrics, but never fully developed songs. The instrumental work began when she was 10 then the deeper emotional lyrics came out. So of course I asked if Ferera as an adopted family was musical too, or whether there were similarities between them.

Ferera: 13:25 The way I think and the way I am and the way I talk and express myself. I mean it’s completely different. And so that’s why we’re union was so crazy because I was like, oh my gosh, these people are like me. It was like the most bizarre thing ever.

Damon: 13:41 I asked Ferera if she had ever gone back to some of her old songs to see how they sounded to her now. She told me her mother has some of them on cassette tapes somewhere, but then we both correct up when we realized neither one of us even hesitate deck to play music on. But she did remember the essence of one of her first songs.

Ferera: 14:01 There’s one thing I can remember on one song, it was me telling God that I needed him. I know that sounds so crazy for like a 12 year old to say, but there was a lot of like, like I, I don’t know what to do and like I just need God to help me. It was like, but what’s heartbreaking is that I do remember one lyric… me not wanting to be who I was. So there was a lot of like shame and I’m like oh my gosh, this poor 11, 12 year old girl who thinks that it’s not okay to be how she is. And because I was so different. So that derived from me being different for my family. And so there’s the shame of that. And then me, then me writing a song about God helped me like not be who I am. Cause cause it was so deep rooted in shame. I mean that just, when I think about that I’m like… That sucks. Like I, I just to like hug my little girl cause that’s just, that’s awful. You know? And I just didn’t have, you know, my parents didn’t have the resources or the information either. And you know, so it was a very difficult thing for, I think everyone has to go through, you know, my parents too, cause I was just, you know, I don’t want to say I acted out, but I was like, I had some issues

Damon: 15:12 whenever Ferera asked more about her adoption, her mother’s information was always limited. So her answers were never satisfactory. When Ferera was 15 she wanted to find out more. So her mother took her to the agency. She was adopted from a subsidiary of the United way. They were given Ferera file folder, which wasn’t very thick and didn’t have her original birth certificate because that’s not allowed in Texas. But it did have notes that the social worker had taken the last names of her first family were whited out, but the first name’s remained.

Ferera: 15:46 And then there were three things in there that of course I was like so excited to get in that folder. It was a poem from my birth mother, a letter from my birth mother, and then there was like a photocopy, black and white of course. And it was not good quality. You can’t really, couldn’t really see it, but a picture of her. And then my birth father.

Damon: 16:05 Wow. What did you think when you saw a poem? I mean you, you know, or a songwriter at this moment.

Ferera: 16:10 Yeah. Wow. She really, she cared enough to write me a letter and a poem, you know. So when I got home, of course I dug in that folder. I was so excited. I remember just reading it over and over and over and over. Her hate looking at her handwriting because the poem was type written, but the like she typed it out and then the letter was handwritten and it was all in cursive and it was really, and what did I think? Well, the first thing I thought was, oh my gosh, she sounds a lot like me or I sound like a lot like her. Yeah.

Damon: 16:45 Wow. That’s really amazing.

Ferera: 16:48 Yeah. The poem was titled “Never Forgotten”.

Damon: 16:52 Ferera kept it the whole folder together in her nightstand by her bed all through high school and throughout her life when she moved to Austin in her early twenties Ferera recalled the adoption agency and had several conversations with a seasoned veteran of the Organization. Ferera called her Dina but I got the impression that wasn’t her real name. Dina said there was a $500 charge for the agency to help with her search, but Ferera didn’t have it and she didn’t want to ask her parents for the money. When she was 25 she was dating a guy named Steven, whom she showed her precious folder to. Steven noticed that the first three letters of Ferera’s birth, mother’s last name had not been whited out on the poem she wrote. She had seen that before, but she had no idea what to do with only a few letters of the last name. They searched a Filipino last names database to see how many there were starting with those three letters, Filipino last names, often Spanish in origin. So there was a chance they could have found hundreds of possibilities. They found three, she picked one of the last names that she was really drawn to, went to and added the first name she already had with the last name and found her birth parents.

Ferera: 18:07 I had both knew their first names and so I typed in this last name and the first thing that popped up was their marriage license. And I had was like, they were married??? Like I like, it was just like the crazy craziness.

Damon: 18:23 Wow

Ferera: 18:23 I mean I know, I didn’t know they were married because the paperwork didn’t say it. It didn’t say whether they, cause they married after they had me.

Damon: 18:33 That was what I was going to ask. Yeah,

Ferera: 18:39 absolutely. I, I think I screamed and then I ran around my apartment and he was like all wide eyed. Like oh my God, you found them and we didn’t even have to pay five hundred dollars, you know. Anyway, so I called the lady and I was like, I think I found him and this is the, these are some of the names. And she was really quiet for a second. I think she said, she was like, I can’t technically say, but yes or no, but I’ll tell you that you’re on the right track. And I was like, okay, I have the right people.

Damon: 19:09 It was 2008 so Ferera went to MySpace where she found a bunch of cousins online. She said seeing pictures of her cousins was really validating because of their strong resemblance.

Ferera: 19:20 As it turns out, my best friend growing up, I another one of my really good friends, she was college I think suite mates, so not roommates, but they had, they shared a suite with my, one of my first cousins.

Damon: 19:34 Wow, that’s crazy.

Ferera: 19:36 I know. Crazier part is I had met her before

Damon: 19:40 you had met your cousin before.

Ferera: 19:44 None. I know. And I’m telling you this, it’s like, you know, cause this is the first time I’ve actually recounted all of this to anyone. And like a long time I feel like, you know, it’s been a while I’ve talked about this stuff, but I met her, I met her at a bar with it, with somebody who was like having a good party at uh, at, uh, it was like a bar or restaurant. And we had a brief conversation cause cause I was like, oh, she’s Filipino. Like Oh, I’m actually adopted. And she was like, oh you are? And I’m like, yeah. And she goes, do you think you’ll ever try to find your family one day? And I said, I dunno, maybe. And that was the extent of our conversation. And I had no idea. I was talking to my first cousin who was the closest age to me and of all the cousins. So I was born and then she was born the next month.

Damon: 20:25 That is astonishing.

New Speaker: 20:28 It’s crazy.

New Speaker: 20:30 That’s so fascinating. And you know, it’s interesting too, and it’s funny, I could see how you know, adoption doesn’t always come up, but I could see how if the reason that you and she connected was because you’re both Filipino, that you would start to talk about your family, your culture, whatever the thing is that brings you into there. And that’s how I adopted because it would, it might not normally. So that’s especially at a bar, you know, that’s really interesting.

Ferera: 20:57 I know!

Damon: 20:59 Ferera knows now that she resembles her paternal cousins a lot, but it just wasn’t obvious to them during that random bar introduction years after that bar meeting, things happened really fast before a trip back to Houston for rarer already had planned. She decided to message another cousin on Facebook. She was treading lightly because she didn’t know who knew about her and who didn’t. Fereras gently if her cousin’s happened to have an uncle named Arnold. When they confirmed they relation,

Ferera: 21:30 she wrote back and said, hey, my mom wants to know if you would like to come over and meet the family. And of course I said yes. And so literally that day I went to their house and met them and there was like 90 people felt like they were like 90 people. I mean Filipinos have big families so there were a lot of people there and walking in it was very overwhelming. I mean I think at one point I went to the bathroom and I hid for like a few minutes cause I just to collect myself,

Damon: 21:59 no, you need a safe space. Yeah it is. Yeah, it’s a lot to take in.

Ferera: 22:07 Yeah, it was a whirlwind and there were a lot of cousins there. I just remember it was like this shock. There was excitement shock and there was this, “Oh you came back”, there were a lot of these lights came back that these phrases like we’ve been looking for you, you know, we’ve been looking for you. And so, you know, walking into a situation like that, I mean I don’t even know that I have the right words to describe it to describe this, but it’s like you’re two different people. It’s like you’re stepping into a different dimension like it. Cause I’m like well, but what do you mean? I came, came back, it was like their perspective was so different, you know? And for me, I’m like meeting them for the very first time and I mean they’re meeting me for the first time too, but it was, oh it’s one of us coming back and I’m like approaching it from an a completely different angle. It felt good to be there. But I will say that it was like, you know, I didn’t sleep for like a year. I think

Damon: 23:12 it’s funny, as I listened to you express sort of recount what they said, I can’t help but think of the language they’re using. It sounds definitely like they’re familiar with you, they knew you and you went away. But it also is sort of the language of your choice to have departed. Right. Versus the reality, which is you had no choice, you were sent away. So it’s just really interesting. I can see how you would feel like two different people because you’re walking in like I’ve found you and I didn’t really know who you were and they’re looking at you like we knew who you were and we’re happy you’re quote unquote back. That must’ve been really weird.

Ferera: 23:53 Yeah, it was really weird and I felt like, I mean even when I’m like, I’m like trying to find a word and I can’t even, and I don’t want to, I’m like, I’m not trying to like throw anybody under the bus here, but I recall like one person kind of even being suspicious that I was really who I said I was.

Damon: 24:13 Oh, interesting.

Ferera: 24:15 Yeah. And I’m, and I’m like, do you not see how I look like all these people?

Damon: 24:20 Everyone was so friendly, so warm and welcoming and her paternal side of the family is really loving. Her aunt was very emotional and shared the story of trying to keep Ferera in the family that they didn’t want her to be adopted and they fought for her. And that her birth father loves her. He wasn’t present for the meeting because he lives in the Philippines. To this day, Ferera hasn’t been to the Philippines. He hasn’t been back to the United States, so she hasn’t met her birth father yet, but they’ve spoken and she gets the sense there’s still love on his side for his ex wife, her impression was the families did not like each other Ferera’s maternal family was a well known Filipino political family and the paternal side. We’re closer to working class so the social statuses didn’t mix. Ferera turned her search to googling her birth mother. She had married, she had married Ferera’s birth father, very young, divorced and remarried, so she was tough to find. But Ferera, paternal relatives revealed that her birth mother had a twin sister whom Ferera was able to find online out of the blue. She called her aunt one day at work and asked,

Ferera: 25:32 do you have a sister named Mary who had a daughter who had given birth to a daughter many years ago? And she pause. She asked if she could call me back when she got off of work. And then she did. And we talked for like four hours, I think straight. I know, I mean, it was like crazy. And she’s telling me all about my, we clicked really fast, my, my aunt and I and my birth mother. And then of course then we scheduled a phone call. She told my birth mother and there was a bunch of emails exchanged, um, scheduled a call. And my aunt was always, they’re twins, so they’re extremely close and they’re best friends and all of that. And so she was part of the process every step along the way, which was extremely helpful that she was there to kind of facilitate the meeting over the phone and all of that. But I think in retrospect, I think I would have, I mean, I believe everything happens for a reason, but I really wish that, you know, I would have gotten a chance to just be with my birth mother, just her and I, um, you know, so

Damon: 26:48 yeah, that’s interesting. As I hear you describing it. At first I was like, wow, that’s really cool. There’s literally a parallel person who can speak to this situation with some kind of objectivity from the side, but I also hear what you landed on, which is, but that also meant that this person was in every intimate moment of those first moments between us, which is challenging.

Ferera: 27:16 Yeah, it was extremely challenging, especially given how it all kind of turned out. It was, I just wish that we wouldn’t have been influenced by outside sources that haven’t lived what we live every day that have never experienced a loss of their child or their mother. You know, because I feel like I don’t know, and I know I don’t want to, my feelings towards my aunt are very complex. On one hand, I appreciate her. I was, we were very close, but there was some things that happened at the end there that are still a huge question mark that I don’t know. You know, basically after my birth mother and I had our, I don’t want to say a falling out, but there was, there was a lot of, we just didn’t have the resources. I mean, and this happens a lot from, from what I hear from with girls and their birth mothers or even even men and their birth mothers.

Ferera: 28:14 I’ve heard that the gist is that like it’s really great in the beginning and then at some point it falls off because underneath all the excitement there’s grief and there’s anger and there’s like all this stuff that, you know, I didn’t even realize I was processing and so she was just like, we’ll just be honest with me. And I was, and that, that’s what honesty looks like upon reunion for an adoptee is lots of fluctuating emotions, lots of trust issues, lots of back and forth. Maybe like one moment I think I want to do this, but I don’t know. I’m scared, you know, and I had no therapist to process this with and so it looks like I was like all over the place and, and so of course to her that would be hurtful because she wants me to trust her. I’m her child. But that’s just not how it in reality, you know, that’s not how it perfectly plays out. And so I think it’s heartbreaking because we don’t have a friendship any longer.

Damon: 29:15 I asked Ferera to take us back to her first call with her birth mother and her aunt.

Ferera: 29:20 There was a very significant moment in our very first conversation over the phone and she like, she went quiet for a second and I was like, hello? And she was like, Oh, I’m still here. I’m just listening to the inflections of your voice. And I remember thinking like, you know, in the moment I was like, oh my gosh, she’s listening to me. It was almost like the, the woman who gave birth to me just told me that she’s listening to me and I’ve described it like it made like all of a sudden I felt alive.

Damon: 29:54 I can imagine

Ferera: 29:56 like I was like, oh my gosh, she’s, she hears me, you know, and so, um, and I’m, I’m sorry. I know I’m probably being a little dramatic, but that’s literally how it felt like I was just like in the moment I didn’t like put that together, but over the years I was like, that’s how I felt. And so we talked and I listened to her voice

Damon: 30:16 Ferera’s birth mother and aunt are relatively young, only 15 years older than her. So in that first conversation it was like speaking with two older sisters. The aunt was living in New York, her birth mother in Chicago. So everyone agreed to meet back home in Texas. The sisters brought their mother for rare grandmother and their younger sister Ferera’s other aunt. In August of 2008, they all met at a restaurant in Houston.

Ferera: 30:40 We hugged and I immediately started crying. I immediately like my body. It was really weird. It was almost like my body recognized her instantly, even though cognitively I didn’t. It was, it was a very crazy experience. I mean just the way that my, the way that my body reacted. I actually got sick like immediately my, my immune system, I just got a really bad cold like hours after we met and touched and all that thing, all of those things. And she cried too. And we were hugging and then, um, we had the same color nail Polish on. We ordered, ordered the same entree, ordered the same. I mean it was really like, it was a really cool experience. And later that night we went to, um, my aunt they have a younger sister, so there was twins and then they have a younger sister who I mentioned already lived in Houston. We ended up going over to her place for coffee and whatever. And I had, I bought my keyboard with me. That was the one thing that she asked me to bring was my keyboard.

Damon: 31:43 Really

Ferera: 31:43 Yeah. And we played for each other.

Damon: 31:47 Wow, that’s awesome!

Ferera: 31:47 Yeah. There’s a video of it. It’s crazy. Crazy because of the way that I’m looking at her as she’s playing and vice versa. And she also writes music off the top of her head too. And so we kind of just played for each other. It was really, uh, it’s really special.

Damon: 32:02 Yeah. It sounds amazing. I mean, she’s basically invited you to come bring one of the pieces of yourself that you got from her in reality so that you could share it together and play some music. That’s really cool.

Ferera: 32:16 Well, yeah, and it was really, really special. And you know, it was that, um, it was really, and she gave me a bracelet that said, love who you are. Like it was really, she’s really thoughtful, you know, the whole thing was really special and, and so I don’t regret any of that, you know, regardless of how it out at the end, you know? Cause I honestly, it’s the most reunion is the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through in my life to this day. It’s something I still processed daily. It’s still something that I wake up every day feeling like I have to start over and let her go every single day. It’s like, it’s really hard, you know, being adopted and having this experience. I mean, but I don’t regret it. I’m really glad that I got to meet, meet her, you know, and know my aunt too.

Damon: 33:09 I was pretty curious about the deterioration of Ferera’s relationship with her birth mother. She’s already alluded to the challenge of not being able to articulate her emotions and the added complexity of having a second person very much in the mix of their reunion, Mary’s twin sister. She said after their first meeting in Houston, she and her friend Rebecca flew to Chicago to see her birth mother again. They met her birth mother and her half brother Rebecca and Ferera spent the day with them.

Ferera: 33:38 I didn’t spend the night at her place or anything like that cause I mean it was the second time ever meeting. So, but it was, we were already so close. But the plan, you know, we had several plants we had, the plan was to call my birth father. The plan was we had like an and but I was scared. And so that didn’t happen. And then like there was, there were a lot of emotions. I mean there was just so many emotions. I can’t even put in the words, all the complexities of what was going on internally with myself and also with her. And of course on the outside we’re just hanging out and having, you know, having a great time. She, she would ask me about my family. She was really sweet about asking about my family and things like that. And Oh, I forgot to mention where we stayed was at my sister’s, my sister lives in Chicago.

Ferera: 34:24 And so it’s coincidental.

Damon: 34:28 The sister you grew up with

Ferera: 34:29 Yes. Yeah. And so, you know, all along things just happened to synchronistically. It was like, okay, this is supposed to be happening. And so when it started to deteriorate was actually that trip. I think, you know, after we hung out, I asked her to drop me and Rebecca off at a store like it, cause you know, like down, um, there’s like a magnificent mile and there’s, there’s like some shopping there. And instead of asking her to take me to my sisters and from what I understand, she felt like I didn’t trust her. And that was a big trigger for her is to feel untrusted, you know, that really hurt her, that, you know, and that we didn’t, we also didn’t call my birth father, you know, and so she, there were these, in her mind, there were all these inconsistencies. Yet what she didn’t realize and what I didn’t even realize was, well holy crap, I’m processing all of these emotions and things.

Ferera: 35:29 I’m 25 I’m meeting my birth mother for the first time. Now the second time processing all the, the grief, the anger. I mean, cause up until that, up until that point I had been through already a lot as a young adolescent, as a young adult, I had been through a lot emotionally because related to my adoption, trauma issues. And so, you know, when I say trauma, because now we know that it’s extremely traumatic for an infant to be removed from their mother. And so, so I was processing all these things, not knowing what I was even processing and, and so there was a lot of lost in translation. There was a lot of wires crossing. We were, we went at each other. So fast because there was so much excitement that we like kind of ran past each other. We just missed each other. And that was, that’s what is so heartbreaking because in my heart, I know that her and I had an extremely special relationship.

Ferera: 36:29 I mean, we’re I’m, there’s so much about me that’s a lot like her. And like she made me laugh and we made each other laugh. I mean, it was really just so natural. And then so it’s, it’s a shame that because of the lack of information, it’s the resources. We just didn’t have the information. We had no idea what was going on within ourselves or with the other person. And so how can we navigate that, you know? And we didn’t have any help. I mean, and then, and then she’s talking to her twin sister for, I’m sure she was relying on her for, and you know, my aunt is very, she’s a very logical person, which there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s, she’s not lived what we have. We just didn’t have the help. And so from that point on there was an email from her and I exchanged after that trip and that was kind of how it ended.

Ferera: 37:15 Like it was like, well you know, you said we were going to do this and blah blah blah. And then you know, one of the things that really be really hurt, I mean to this day I think about it and more just hurt and she said that I was making it all about me and I do believe that she was saying that out of her own pain for an adoptee, it’s like, well I didn’t choose this. I didn’t ever choose to be adopted. I didn’t choose for me to be in this position. And so I wanted to work it out. I really did. And so when I reached out to her and tried to talk about it, I suggested let’s get on the phone cause emails are just, things can get misconstrued. But I never did hear back from her again.

Damon: 37:56 Ferera went on to say that Mary’s email asked if she had thought about what it was like for her to lose Ferera. She underscored the trust issues like having invited Ferera into her home to meet her half brother, but Ferera didn’t trust Mary enough to drop them off at her sister’s house.

Ferera: 38:14 It really hurt her that I didn’t trust her on the same level that she trusted me like, and I don’t know how to say this but like I’m going to say it but to the parents and also not only that, I kind of felt like, you know at the time I was, I couldn’t believe that what I was reading because she was basically saying that I needed to be on the same, but it’s not. That’s the thing. It’s you can’t, no two people, even people who are in like,

Ferera: 38:43 you know, relationships are married or whatever. Look, no two people is ever there. They’re never on the same, in the same place, in life on their journey and the same like at the very same time. That’s just impossible. People are going to end, people are going to process things on at different paces, at different levels. And I didn’t know that at the time. She didn’t know that at the time, but she was. But the main theme of her email was that I didn’t trust her. She was offended and hurt by that. And also I, she just wanted me to be myself in my head. I’m like, but I have been, I have been nothing but myself. In fact, I was transparent enough to you. I trusted her. I trusted my natural mother with my pain. You know enough. I trusted her enough to show my pain.

Ferera: 39:34 Um, because I, I did say things like, well, I don’t know that I could ever love you and Arnold the same way that you guys love me now. That’s an uninformed statement that I made as a 25 year old processing reunion. Do I still feel the same way now? I mean, I don’t know. I mean I can’t if, if we all judged each other by things that we said or did when we were younger at different times, I don’t think there would be any relationships in this world, so I just kind of feel like just the unfortunate nature of all of this, I feel like it could’ve just been prevented or maybe it was just we unnecessarily lost each other a second time and I just think that’s sad and that’s what I live with every day as an adoptee.

Damon: 40:24 Ferera feels like she’s glad for all that she’s been through, despite the pain of losing her birth mother again, she said it took her months to write and eventually sent her an email in December of 2018 to the last email address that she had from Mary. She explained her new perspective of what happened in 2008 in a more mature, more organized message. She even included recent pictures of herself, but Mary hasn’t replied. Ferera found Mary on social media and occasionally she’ll like her posts and she’s not trying to stalk her online but

Ferera: 40:57 If I’m being honest, probably every day for the last month or so. I mean, there was, there were periods of time or times where I just, I was like, this isn’t good for me. I shouldn’t look at her pictures. But then of course you fall back, I mean she’s the woman who brought me into this world. How can I just treat her like, like she’s nothing. I mean, I could, but I mean, we had a relationship, so

Damon: 41:24 And you’d like to think it’s not over. It’d be different if you were in a place where you’re like, well, this is done, but you’re not, you’re in a place of, it’s really a, that that went down the way that it did. And even though you haven’t articulated it, it sounds like you think that it’s repairable. Therefore why wouldn’t you continue to try to reach out in little ways? Yeah, I hear you.

Ferera: 41:46 Yeah. And you’re absolutely right. That’s exactly where I’m at. And I don’t know that there’s not some barriers that are being implemented by people in her life.

Damon: 41:59 Hmm.

Ferera: 42:00 If that makes sense. Like, I don’t know if that even came out like,

Damon: 42:06 What I kind of heard you saying is that sometimes in reunion, you know, you have the people that you are close to when you trust and talk to about this and they therefore are for lack of better words in your ear about the situation. And so you said something earlier about people possibly thinking, you know, are, are you crazy? Why would you, do you, do you feel like you should have even gone through this if this was the way it was going to turn out? So you have people in your ear expressing certain opinions and therefore, I think what you’re saying is, as she talks about this situation from her own perspective, others are in her ear saying things that are basically potentially putting up false barriers that don’t need to be there between the two of you, when in fact, it should be about just the two of you for right now.

Ferera: 42:54 Okay. You said it like you hit the nail on the head. That was exactly, I couldn’t have said it better. That’s exactly where, yes, yes, yes, yes. All of that. And it’s, if that’s what makes it such a shame and I think, and she’s a huge hearted, you know, passionate woman, like she’s a really like, she’s really loving and, and that’s why I’m like, there’s no way that she could just, I mean she’s the kind of person who used to tell me that she would forget that she’s mad at you. Like cause she, she’s just all about, you know. And so if I find it really hard to believe that this complete no contact that that’s happening now is fully her decision,

Damon: 43:40 Ferera has begun to accept that the current situation with her birth mother could be their reality for a long time. She’s processing everything every day. I encouraged her not to give up hope.

Damon: 43:52 If I could offer something to you, and this is something that I tell a lot of people is to continue that sort of contact outreach, the light touch stuff that just reminds people periodically that you’re there. So you know, if the email hasn’t bounced back and you are thinking about her and like just say so you know, and send the email anyway because it can be one cathartic to you to get it off your chest. You know how it is when you want to reach out to some don’t and it builds up inside you and you just want to explode. So I would, I would say I would say let the, let the valve go little bit and just lightly, right? Because you don’t want to pour out so much emotion at you for all intents and purposes, turn the person off. But you know the likes on her, on her page and things like that. She may not be in a position right now to receive you, but ultimately she also hasn’t blocked you, which she could do if that was what she really wanted to do.

Ferera: 44:52 Yeah. That’s another thing is he hasn’t blocked me.

Damon: 44:55 Exactly.

Damon: 44:56 So she’s, she’s not, it doesn’t sound like she’s completely in a place of just complete frost towards you. The other thing that I would offer is you’ve said you’re in your early thirties and she is, you know, 15 years older than you are. Um, I get the feeling that with time will come her own level of sort of maturity and processing about this that will allow you guys to take another step at a different time. So I just don’t get the feeling that the door is closed

Ferera: 45:32 Oh, that means a lot to me, yeah.

Damon: 45:35 I, I just, I’ve, I’ve had people say to me, you know, that they’ve, I’ve, I’ve encouraged people to do this over over time. I had another guest who said, you know, she, she wasn’t sure what to do, you know, on father’s day on his birthday and things like that. And I was like, listen, if it’s in your heart to reach out and say, I’m thinking of you, then just do it. Because the worst thing that you want to do is not do it. And then have the person ask, well, you never reached out to me and it was in your heart to have done so. So I feel like those are light touch things. They don’t cost anything. It gets it off of your chest. And it allows them to know that you’re still thinking about them. And until that time, when they changed their email and block your social media accounts, you know, you’ve still got a little tiny, you know, line into their heart and, and, and I think that’s okay.

Ferera: 46:24 Yeah. Well I really appreciate that and that gives me a lot of courage to, to do that next time. Cause I’ve thought about doing things like that and then like didn’t because I was like, well that’s kind of stalkerish are weird, but you know. But I totally think you’re right. I think you should just do it. I mean, the worst thing that can happen is, you know, if they do block you or if they don’t answer it well then at least you got it off your chest and said what you needed to say. Yeah,

Damon: 46:51 that’s right. I feel strongly about that. And I think you’ll be, I think you’ll have another turn at a, at chatting with her.

Ferera: 46:58 I hope so.

Damon: 46:59 Cool. Well Ferera I really appreciate you taking time to share your story. I guess I’ll just ask one final thing, because I know that the part of the reason you and I connected is because you have a song that you’ve written. Tell me a little bit about the song that sort of expresses your emotions about the situation.

Ferera: 47:18 So, the single that I just released on February 1st it’s called second time and um, it’s about, um, you know, losing my birth mother a second time and um, about what happened during our reunion and it was written for her and I wrote it shortly after all of that went down. And so the song itself, you know, it’s a very emotionally complex song in that it sounds, there’s a lot of grief, there’s some anger, there’s some, it’s a just processing out loud song, but there’s a lot of love obviously you can tell from me to her. And so yeah, I wrote, I wrote that in 2010, which is kind of when things really, we kind of just stopped our communication and um, and it took me almost 10 years to release it. So, cause I was scared all these years. Like, what if she hears it and she is mad that my song is like, you know, am I confrontational in some ways? And like, you know, but I needed to write it and I needed to get it out and I needed to express it. And there’s, you know, of course when I released it, a lot of my listeners are adoptees and a lot of them have gone through something similar as me in their own reunion. So of course I’ve been getting messages, like, your song made me cry today and all these things, I’m like, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to make you cry, but it’s like, you know, it’s,

Damon: 48:45 I would imagine it’s a healthy cry, you know? And I have had this conversation and I’ve said some things that are in your heart, I’m quite sure your song is saying things that are in someone else’s heart. And because you’ve said it, they feel both validated and like, crap, that feels awful. And it makes me cry. You know what I mean?

Ferera: 49:05 Yeah, no, I cry actually every time I listened to it in the car. Um, but it feels good. It’s like, you know, at, at the, uh, and um, I on Spotify I looked at my stats and actually it says that there’s three listeners in Chicago. Well, I only know one person. Well I think I know two, but I don’t, I always wonder like, you know, if she’s kind of cross it but hopefully she doesn’t listen to it and then never want to speak to me again. But no, I’m kidding. No, I don’t think it would do that.

Damon: 49:41 Yeah, that’s fascinating. Well thank you so much for telling your story Ferera. It sounds like, you know, another adoption, emotional rollercoaster and I really do wish you the best on her coming around and two, you know, for your father to you to actually get to meet him one day. Cause I think that that’s going to be super important. However you can organize it.

Ferera: 50:04 Yeah, I agree. I’m just, you know, waiting for, I don’t want to wait too, too long, you know, because tomorrow’s not ever promised. Right. I don’t want to wait too, too long.

Damon: 50:16 Well, good luck and I wouldn’t wait too long because you know the difference. If those two aren’t together, the differences in their emotions could be very drastic. And you could end up getting something interesting from him that you weren’t expecting.

Ferera: 50:29 Yeah, he’s extremely, well he said happy birthday to me this year, which that’s made my, my made my, my year. I mean everything. I mean it just meant everything to me that he said it, you know, happy birthday. And then he made sure that someone else told me happy birthday too though. It was like, oh my gosh, he remembers my birthday. I mean, I don’t, I don’t know if she remembers my birthday, but of course, you know, other birth mothers are always like, oh, we always remember.

New Speaker: 50:56 Yeah, reach out to him.

New Speaker: 51:02 Ah, will do. You are such an… inspira… I loved, I’ve loved talking to you. I didn’t really know what to expect with this, um, with this podcast interview. But like you’ve, I, it really does feel like I’ve just been talking to a friend and you’ve given me some, some I think what’s going to be some, some life changing advice as far as like just you know, doing it. You know, I’ve held back a lot of my communications, you know, except for the email just lately just because I’ve been so scared, you know? But I think it’s like, what am I, what have I got to lose, you know?

Damon: 51:32 Oh Man, I’m so glad to hear that. It’s just you and me on the phone here, girl. So I’m glad we were able to connect and I really appreciate you opening up. Thank you so much.

Ferera: 51:40 Yeah, thank you.

Damon: 51:41 Take care Ferera. All the best to you, Okay.

Ferera: 51:44 Okay. Thanks.

Damon: 51:45 Bye. Bye.

Ferera: 51:50 Bye.

Damon: 51:50 Hey, it’s me Ferera’s reunion was so interesting to me for the fact that her birth mother’s twin sister was such an integral part of it. One of the things adoptees want very much is to create a personal connection to our biological relatives. And sometimes that’s tough when the reunion is comprised of a room full of people or as in her case, there was someone so close in the mix that it was hard to get close to Mary who was the focus of her search. I hope that things will turn around for Ferera and Mary, I liked how she phrased the issue between them that things were going so fast that they ran right past each other.

Damon: 52:27 Let it serve as a cautionary tale to others to slow down to the extent that you can. On another note for rare told me that her birth father is also a singer and she’s been watching a video of him singing an Elvis Presley song on heavy repeat. It’s amazing to me how our biological parents pass on interests to us that we don’t even realize we’ve gotten from them until it’s confirmed in reunion. You can find Ferera’s latest release entitled “Second Time” on Youtube, Spotify, and Soundcloud. I’ll let a portion of her song in the show. I’m Damon Davis and I hope you’ll find something in Ferrera’s journey that inspires you, validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have this 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 who am I really you can choose to share your story, maintain some privacy about parts of your journey or share completely anonymously. You can find the 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 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.

Ferera sings: 54:13 I’m sitting in the dark house, I read your last note to me. Tears are falling down my cheeks. You said What about me? Why wont you let me in? The answers you should know You should know. While I was searching for the truth. Oh you’ve shown me everything I need to know about you. Now I finally understand just why I’ve been without you. How can you say you love someone and don’t even want to know. I knew all I needed the second time you let me go.

Who Am I Really?

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