091 – I’m In The Middle Of Two Stories
Ashley had one of those moments where talking to her biological sister felt so familiar it was like texting and and responding to herself. But her birth mother’s pain and uneasiness over Ashley’s desire to learn anything about her birth father was too much for the woman, and their relationship suffered. When she found her birth father Ashley, predictably, learned that he didn’t know she existed. But incredibly he learned that his wife, who was not Ashley’s birth mother, already knew her husband had a child out there, even though he didn’t.
Ashley: 00:00:02 I was worried about her because she just is so constantly, basically, it seemed like she was depressed about the situation. I just wanted to make it go away. I just wanted her to know I had a good life. I was happy. I’m still happy. You’re in my life now. Let’s just go with it because, and I remember I said to her, not many people get this chance. Not many people get a chance to meet their biological family and get to know them and I said like, like let’s take advantage of this.
Voices: 00:00:35 Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?
Damon: 00:00:47 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 Ashley. She lives up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Ashley had one of those moments where talking to her biological sister felt so familiar. It was like texting and responding to herself, but her birth mother’s pain and uneasiness over Ashley’s desire to learn anything about her birth father was too much for the woman and their relationship suffered. When she found her birth father, Ashley predictably learned that he didn’t know she existed, but incredibly he learned that his wife, who was not Ashley’s birth mother already knew her husband, had a child out there even though he didn’t. This is Ashley’s journey.
Damon: 00:01:37 Ashley was adopted as an infant because her adoptive parents weren’t able to conceive. She described her life as comfortable and she got a lot of love from her parents. They held her and rocked her every day. In school, he was given the infamous family heritage assignment, so she assumed the identity of her adoptive parents. She was paternally, Scottish and maternally German in adoption. In grade six, she started to question things more. Her adoption was closed, so there wasn’t much information available to her parents, but
Ashley: 00:02:08 they did know that, you know, I had a couple brothers and a sister, which is cool for me cause I, well growing up I was an only child. So to hear that I had siblings out there was a pretty cool thought. They also told me how I was an auntie before I was born, which again, very cool. You know, don’t have siblings never would be an Auntie. So that thought was pretty cool.
Damon: 00:02:28 How did, how did you know that you were an auntie already?
Ashley: 00:02:31 My Mom and dad, I don’t know if they got told when they adopted me, but my biological parents were older when they had me, like my parents were in their forties when they had me. Like I was, you know, kind of a way later. Like, I mean now, you know, it’s, I look back and it’s like, yeah, you know, I’m 12 years old and I’m an Auntie. I guess that’s pretty cool. Once I, uh, Kinda asked mom and dad questions, I said, you know, like you, you know, you’re an auntie, you have siblings but we don’t much to tell you. And they said when we do find out stuff and when we do tell you, you know, maybe anything else that we know we want you to be ready to handle the information because it’s not going to be something just light to take. So I was like, okay. And I kind of, you know, went on with it.
Damon: 00:03:16 what did you think when they said that? That’s kind of a heavy comment to even make. What do you remember how you felt when you heard those words?
Ashley: 00:03:24 I think I was confused. Like what could it be, you know, that could be so terrible or so huge that I need to wait until I’m old enough to understand. Like, I mean I knew it wouldn’t be something as simple as you have a mom and dad. Like I kind of had that feeling from the get go, but just kind hearing that thought that when you’re prepared, when you’re ready. And I’m thinking, okay, like how long is it going to take me to get emotionally ready or mentally ready to handle whatever it is that might be thrown at me. But it was, I could take my whole life. It could take five years. I had no idea.
Damon: 00:03:56 What was it like to grow up as an only child, but know that you had siblings out there?
Ashley: 00:04:02 It was, I dunno, it was, it was good I guess. Like, I mean I never, um, you know, I guess hearing all my friends and having their siblings and like, you know, sibling arguments and stuff, I kind of was glad, I guess in a way that I was an only child that I kinda didn’t have to deal with that kind of aspect of it.
Damon: 00:04:19 I had the same feeling I would always, there were times when I wanted a brother and then I would go to my, my friend’s house and they will be bickering with their siblings and I was like, well I don’t want that. That’s bleeh,
Ashley: 00:04:28 Yup. Yeah. But I mean at the same time it was kind of hard cause it was Kinda, you know, I always, growing up I always wanted like an older brother or something. So knowing that I maybe had that out there and I couldn’t like have it with me then. It was hard. But at the same time I was thankful for my mom and dad, so I didn’t really try and focus on that thought too much of, you know, what if I had a brother with me, what if I had a sister? I just kind of would push those thoughts out and just, you know, focus on, I have two wonderful parents and a family who loves me and for me that was good enough.
Damon: 00:05:01 I inquired about their families, likenesses and differences. Ashley said they looked alike and their personalities are closely aligned too.
Ashley: 00:05:09 If you didn’t know we were, if I was adopted, you would think that I was biologically their child and is actually quite, um, scary sometimes. Like we, you know, we all have blue eyes, you know, just my dad has a lazy eye. I have lazy eye, the exact same like eye as well. Like there’s just weird little things that, you know, I noticed growing up too that were the same and a lot of people, they always tell me, you know, if I, if I didn’t know you were adopted, I would have never guessed like personality wise too. You know, like I get quite a bit of personality from them. I think being is because I did grow up with them and they raised me and I, you know, been around for 22 years of my life. So how they, you know, acted and everything is what I took as a trait and um definitely, I get you know, stuff also from them completely,
Damon: 00:05:59 that’s really amazing. It’s not, it’s not very often that an adoptee will say that they, you know, resemble their own adopted families so much. That’s incredible. Wow. That must’ve, did that give you a sense of comfort that you’d, and forgive the terms , like didn’t stick out like a sore thumb and therefore weren’t constantly reminded? Like how did it, you’re resemblance to them play out for you in terms of your feelings as a family?
Ashley: 00:06:31 I think for me it was, you know, I could look at them and I could be like, yeah, that’s my mom and dad, yet look at pictures and I could see we were a family and we looked alike, and for me that kind of, yeah, it definitely gave me a little bit of comfort that I didn’t look completely different than my parents and you know, I was part of who they were and they look like they were part of who I was. So for me that definitely made it a little bit easier to, you know, when people found out that I was adopted and I would tell them and they’d be like, really you’re adopted? Like that’s a joke. I’d be like, well no, actually like I am adopted. But I think looking at them, even now it’s like I’m 22 and I can still look at them and I’m like, I still see so much resemblance in looks wise and personality wise. And I think for me and hearing other people’s stories that that’s very, it’s very lucky that I even have that because I know that it can be, from what I’ve heard from others, it’s very hard when you look, you know so different from them and you feel like you don’t fit in and you have to kind of make yourself blend in with them and I didn’t have to experience that part. So for me I feel that was very, I’m very grateful for that.
Damon: 00:07:37 So Ashley’s parents have given her the talk to prepare her mentally for whatever she might learn when she gets more information. When she was about 15 she was so curious about all of the details about her biological family members.
Ashley: 00:07:50 I don’t know if I want to know who they are, but I want to know why. I want to know my background. I don’t know my medical history, I would like to know my medical history. Like there was a lot of things that I just wanted to know just for the sake of knowing.
Damon: 00:08:02 In high school, the questions really took hold in Ashley’s mind and she wondered how her life would have been different if she were not an adoptee. She wasn’t wishing her wonderful life with her parents away. She just wanted answers to the question, why? Around 16 years old, she spoke with her mother again about her adoption. She said,
Ashley: 00:08:21 when you turn 18 you can fill out a record to release your adoption records and we will help you with that and we will be there for you every step of the way. And I was like, okay, like you know, that’s another year away, I can wait. So grade 12 year came and graduation year and I was still wondering like, am I ready? Like you know, I turned 18 and two months, am I ready to do this? And I remember going to my friends and being like, what do I do? Like do I fill out this form? Do I wait? Like I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m mentally ready. I don’t know what I’m preparing for. I mean, ultimately you don’t know. I mean, by all I knew, you know, my biological parents could be dead, they could want nothing to do with me. There was a lot that you have to prepare for. And I remember thinking maybe I’m ready. Maybe I’m not
Damon: 00:09:08 on her 18th birthday. Ashley didn’t feel ready. She pushed her thoughts away for a year, but they came back nagging at her
Ashley: 00:09:16 and they started to come back and they were more in depth like, you know, was I, was I not good enough? Why, why did they just give me up? Did I mean nothing? What were more of the circumstances? Like are they alive right now? Do they even think about me? Like all these like really deep thoughts started to come into my mind and you know, I felt, I felt ready. I definitely felt that I was prepared to do the journey and figure out, you know, where they are in this world.
Damon: 00:09:44 But her 19th birthday came and went and Ashley still didn’t feel up to the task of the search and facing her answers, if she could get any. When she turned 20, in 2017 Ashley started to ask herself what she actually wanted from a search. Did she want a reunion and a relationship or did she just want to check the box and return to her life? She completed the adoption agencies forms to receive her non identifying information. There were no questions about why she was looking and there was no fee associated with the process. So Ashley completed the form and mailed it back, anxiously awaiting the information she would receive. A few months went by. Then, Ashley has at home when she gets a call from her adoptive mother who had received a piece of mail at her house that was addressed to Ashley.
Ashley: 00:10:31 I said, who? Who’s it from? And she’s like, well it’s really a big envelope and it’s really thick and oh it’s from the adoption agency. And I was like, oh okay, yeah I’ll be there in about five minutes. And I remember I hung up the phone and I drove so fast to their house cause I was like, oh my God. Like this is happening. Like, I’m going to find out, you know, all these questions are going to be answered finally. So I get to her house and I said, and I remember I said to her, I said, oh my God mom, like what is going to be in this? And she’s like, well that envelope is, you know, pretty, pretty thick. Like who knows? That feels like there’s going to be a lot of information in there. So you know, I sat down and I opened the envelope and I had, I don’t know, a stack of 50 papers and I felt so overwhelmed. I was like, oh my God, like there’s so much here to read and so much that I’m going to have to process. And then that thought came into my mind again. Am I ready to read this and I, and you know what I just thought, yeah, you know what? It’s in my hands. There’s no going back, now
Damon: 00:11:26 Ashleys at her mother’s kitchen table sifting through the stack of papers. Her mother is standing across from her looking inquisitively at her daughter wondering if she was going to read the information aloud. The documents confirmed some of what Ashley already knew, like the fact that she had siblings, but it also outlined new information about her birth mother, like her name, some of her hobbies and her occupation.
Ashley: 00:11:49 And it was so cool for me because I kind of, a piece of me felt, I understood who she was. I understood, you know. Okay. Yeah. She, you know, she did catering at one point in her life. That’s, you know, that’s cool. Like I, you know, I could see that now cause I love cooking and baking. So that was kind of cool for me that there was a little bit of a relation there. And you know, like reading her hobbies she liked to read and I was like, Whoa, I like to read. Like, okay, you know, this is cool. And just like picturing what she looked like and where my resemblance came from was a very cool thought for me of, you know, now I kind of know who my biological mom is ultimately. And I’m flipping through these papers and I get to the part about my biological dad.
Ashley: 00:12:32 And there was, there was something that was missing and I was confused and it said, you know, this person signed my, my birth certificate saying he was my father, and then I flipped the page and says, it had the guy’s name who signed my birth certificate and it said underneath sworn oath, he is not biological father. And I was confused. I was like, what? Like this, this guy signed my birth certificate saying he was my dad, but really he’s not my dad. And that, that to me was kind of like in the back of my mind, I knew like my parents did tell me, you know, shortly before that what they had heard was my biological mom had a fling with a guy and that he was married and you know that she went off, she moved back to her hometown and ended up having me.
Ashley: 00:13:27 So it was kind of like, I didn’t know if this guy in my birth certificate was my actual dad or if it was just like some guy that signed it. So, you know, I started flipping through my papers. Well then I come to discover that the guy who signed my birth certificate is her ex husband saying he need, you know, they needed a signature on my birth certificate. So he signed it and that was that. So that was, that was hard cause you know, there was still that huge piece of my life was still gone. I had no idea who he was and then I start, you know, flipping more pages and then, you know, there’s a part that says birth mom didn’t know that she was pregnant until, I don’t know, it was like a month before I was born cause she was going through, you know, a change in life and she had no idea that she was pregnant and then it put in there, she had in there how she didn’t tell biological dad because he was in a marriage, had kids and had voiced his opinion of how he didn’t want any more kids.
Ashley: 00:14:27 And reading that was hard. I was like, okay, like he doesn’t want any more kids. Like what, what’s the point of even thinking of him then? You know, like I’m just gonna, I’m gonna mean nothing to him. So what’s the point?
Damon: 00:14:41 Did you in your mind at that moment, just kind of say I’d love to find her but I’m not interested in finding him.
Ashley: 00:14:47 Yeah, but like a huge time. It wasn’t any, and I think it wasn’t even the fact that it said that he didn’t want kids. It was the fact that he was married. You know, like for me ultimately I looked at mom and I said I don’t want to be a homewrecker, like I am not, I’m not even going down that route cause I said, what am I going to do? Knock on his door and say hi, I’m your kid from you know, 20 years ago. By the way, you know, I’m yours because he hadn’t really, he had no idea. And I could tell by reading my paperwork, he had no idea he had a kid.
Damon: 00:15:16 Can I pause you for a quick sec? Cause I want to ask, your mother was standing there as you opened this envelope and I’m wondering how she felt, how her body language read. Like, what did you feel from her as she’s reading about the mother from whence you came?
Ashley: 00:15:37 Well, you know, she was, I remember looking up and she was smiling at me and I think it was just, she was happy to see that I could get, you know, those answers that I’ve always wanted, that they weren’t able to provide for me. And she was very, she was very supportive and she was like, you know, when I would say like read up and I’d look at her and be like, Oh yeah, she likes to read and all this other stuff. And it would be like, that’s like, that’s, that’s really cool. And she, you know, she was very into it and I felt very, very supported. I didn’t feel like she was, um, disliking what was happening happening. I didn’t feel like she was resentful. I didn’t feel like she was, you know, wishing it wasn’t happening. I felt very supportive, which was huge for me because that was a huge, a huge jump to read about my life. So to have my mom there supporting me was, was huge for me. I mean, she was my biggest supporter and she was there for everything. And to share that moment with her was, I mean amazing. Like I look back now and it was still an amazing moment to share with my mom and I wouldn’t, I definitely wouldn’t have wanted anyone else there with me.
Damon: 00:16:42 Ashley figured she would destroy a family if she showed up in her birth, father’s life or she would face rejection. So she focused on finding her birth mother. She searched online for her birth mother’s name, but she didn’t find anything. Ashley was at her boyfriend’s house using his computer to search Facebook, but still she found nothing. In that moment ,she wondered if there were any Facebook groups related to adoption on the social media platform. When she searched, she found the Canada adoption search and reunion group. She posted her birth date, the fact that she had siblings and where she was born, along with some of her newly discovered information.
Ashley: 00:17:20 I hit post and I thought, okay, like, you know, maybe nothing will happen, who knows? And next thing I know, five minutes later this woman’s messaging me and she’s like, I think I know who you are talking about. And I’m thinking, yeah, right, like, this is a joke, please, you have no idea. And she’s like, no, I think I know who your sister is. And I was like, wait, what? Like, and I, I remember I was like, I was, so I looked at my phone and I was like, but this is a joke. Like I’m dreaming, like this has gotta be a lie. And so I said, okay, like, you know, and just like that, She sends me my sister’s name. And I was like, okay. So I look up my sister on Facebook and I look at her picture and I was like, oh my God.
Ashley: 00:18:08 Like it was like a spitting image of me. It was like someone who looked just like me but with, with red hair and was a little bit old, like older than me. And I was looking and I’m like, oh my God. Like this is actually, this is scary. Like, I remember, like I said to my boyfriend, I said, oh my God, like look at this picture. And he said, who is that? And I said that’s my sister. And he was like, and like looks at the picture and it looks at me and we’re like, Yep, that’s my sister. And it was just like, I had that moment of like, I felt my like stomach drop, I felt my heart drop. And it was just, I was, I didn’t even know what to think. I didn’t even know what to do. So I thought, well, I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? So I go to message her and I say, you know, hey, my name’s Ashley and I’m a, at this point I was 21, And so I said, you know, I’m 21 and, uh, I was adopted in 1996 and I believe that you are my biological half sister. And I hit send and I’m waiting and waiting,
Damon: 00:19:16 agonizing seconds and minutes, right?
Ashley: 00:19:17 Yup. And next thing I know, I get a message and she’s like, Hey Ashley, uh, yes, you are my biological half sister. And I’d read that biological half sister and again, I just felt like, oh my God, like I literally, I literally just found my sister, like, this is crazy. Like this is unreal. Like this, this is just, this must be a dream. This must be a joke. Like I didn’t even know what to think, what to believe. And she says, I, uh, I know who you are and I’m thinking, what? And she’s like, I knew I had a sister. So I was like, oh my God. And she said, out of the respect of our mother, she said, I want to let her know that you reached out before I continue to talk to you. And she was wanting to, you know, respect your mom’s wishes before, you know, maybe we created a friendship. I was like, okay, like, sounds good. And she’s like, I’ll probably talk to you in a couple of days or whatever. And I said, okay, yeah, take your time. Like it doesn’t matter. I, I was just in shock like, you know, and there I am texting and calling my parents, texting my friends, like guys, like I found my sister, like this is real. Like I literally just found my sister and I’m like screenshotting her picture and I’m sending what they look like and I’m like, oh my God. Like this is happening.
Damon: 00:20:32 Ashley’s journey had really started. She showed her mother the picture of her half sister and she saw their strong resemblance too. The next day, Ashley went to work and told her boss all about what had unfolded. Her boss was really happy for Ashley and as they talked her phone buzzed with a message from her half sister. The sister said she had spoken with their mother and the woman wanted to reach out to Ashley, but she needed some time to process everything. She said that until then she wanted to get to know Ashley.
Ashley: 00:21:02 We texted back and forth and I, you know, got to learn about her, what she was like and it was weird. It was weird texting her. It was like texting another like me. We talked so alike. We had so much interest that we shared. Like it was quite interesting to see how we interacted with one another. Like the way she would word things was how I worded things, you know, some of her hobbies and her interests were kind of like mine and it was, it was weird, it was like, okay, like this is, you know, I have similarities to you. Like that’s, that’s really cool. And I literally felt like I was texting another me because it was just, it was crazy. Like texting her just felt like I was replying to myself and it was like, I didn’t even know what to say to her though.
Ashley: 00:21:48 Like it was kind of like, what do I say? And we were texting one day and she asked me, she said, what, what do you want out of this? And you know, I really thought to myself like, what, what do I want out of this? And you know, I said to her, I grew up questioning so many things and wondering so many things about my biological family. And I said, and now that I am in contact with you, I do want to know things. Yes. Ultimately, you know, that’s, that was my reason for reaching out was I wanted to know things. But at the same time I am open to a friendship. If you were open to one, you know, I said we can’t force one but if it happens, it happens. You know, I said, I am very open to having someone who is like a sister in my life and you know, she agreed with me, you know, she said I feel the same way and we’ll, you know, take it day by day. And I thought, okay, like glad we’re on the same page. Like we got this, you know, figured out.
Damon: 00:22:48 Did you, did you have a sense that she was going to be on the same page with you given how much you guys have jived already? You word things the same way, you have similar interests, you get the feeling that you sort of think similarly. Did you feel pretty comfortable saying like, I’m open to a relationship and feeling like she would be reciprocally receptive?
Ashley: 00:23:09 I felt very comfortable, you know, going into it, my walls were so high up, I was protecting myself for that rejection of I don’t want you, like you weren’t in my life like you’re not my sister. And I was prepared for that and she made me feel like I was part of the family and not even like I guess saying that I was like her sister, but I felt like I was someone to her. I felt like I mattered in that what I said mattered and how I felt mattered and that was huge. And I, so when I, you know, when I sent to her that I wanted a friendship, I felt like I was going to get a pretty good positive response. I felt comfortable with it and I thought, you know what if she says no, I guess that’s just how it is. Like then I can’t say I wish I would have tried cause I then, you know, I tried, I reached out, I did what I could and if you don’t want a relationship with me then that’s fine.
Damon: 00:23:59 In the summer of 2017, Ashley is out with her dad visiting family. On the way home, Ashley gets a text message from an unknown number
Ashley: 00:24:08 and I open my message up and it says, you know, hi, I’m your biological mom. And I thought, oh my God, like wow, this is happening. Like, you know, I got my dad’s sitting next to me, we’re in a vehicle and I’m like, I didn’t even say anything cause I didn’t even know what to say. And I’m like sitting there and I’m reading my message quietly and you know, she’s like, I’m your biological mom and you know, she’s like, I’m sorry I put you up for adoption. And she’s like, I heard you had a great life and I’m happy for that. And she was like, I was going to call you but I just can’t stop crying. And I was like, oh my God, like what is happening right now? And I remember I turned to Dad and I said, dad, I said, I just got a text.
Ashley: 00:24:59 And he’s like, okay? Whatever. I was like, no. Like, I just got a text from my biological mom. He was like, oh. And he’s like, well, what did she say? And so I told him and he was like, are you going to reply? And I said, well, yeah, I’m going to reply like obviously like I’d be crazy if I didn’t. So, you know, I replied back to her and I said, you know, like I thanked her for, you know, getting in contact with me and I told her, you know what, I’m not mad at you for putting me up for adoption. Like, please don’t feel like you need to apologize to me because I never once was mad. I never once, you know, felt like I wished I wasn’t adopted. I said I had a wonderful life. I have two wonderful parents and they raised me and you know, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
Ashley: 00:25:45 And you know, she messages me back and you know, she tells me how she just wishes she could have been there for me, but she knew she couldn’t provide me with a good life. And I was like, you know, I’m fine with that. Like I have no, I have no angry feelings. I have no feelings towards you that I, I just not mad at you. And I was, there was something I really wanted to get across to her that I was not mad. Like I don’t want this to be a, you know, a poor Ashley conversation of let’s apologize to her because I gave her up. Like, that was ultimately something that I never, never even crossed my mind to be angry about. Not a day in my life, you know, I thought like, oh my God, what the hell was she thinking putting me up for adoption? Like that was never a thought.
Damon: 00:26:32 that’s good that you put that to rest right off the bat. I mean, obviously she said it so you had to respond to it, but it’s really good that you just said right up front, you know, don’t stress, we’re good.
Ashley: 00:26:42 Yeah. So I asked her, I said, like, what? What are your like what do you do for work? What is your life like? And she, you know, she told me, you know, she did catering at one point and whatever. And I said, you know, like, I like to cook and bake, so that’s pretty cool. And you know, and then she starts asking my hobbies, asking what my life was like, you know, did I have siblings growing up? Like I really felt like she was interested in me. She wanted to get to know me for me. And that was, that was huge, just like with my sister, you know. And that wall that I had up kind of came down really quick because of just the way she made me feel was like I could tell her anything and she would respond in such a way to make me feel comfortable and make me feel like she wanted a relationship with me.
Ashley: 00:27:34 And I, you know, asked her, I said, what, what do you think would happen if we continue to talk? Like, so do you want a relationship out of this? Do you want to just, you know, talk every once in a while? Like, what do you want? Because I said I don’t want to cross any boundaries. I don’t want to, you know, just make it seem like I need to be a part of your life. Cause I said, you know, ultimately I haven’t been in your life for 21 years. So like I don’t expect to be this huge, you know, part of your life. And she said, you know, I’m open to a relationship if you were open to one. She said, I would love to get to know you more and to talk to you. And I said, I, I’m more than happy with that, you know, that was huge. I was like, okay, like we’re on the same page. And I felt very confident in both relationships.
Damon: 00:28:22 Ashley’s birth mother shared that she had a son, Ashley’s brother. Ashley and her brother did communicate over text a little, but he wasn’t much of a talker. So they just messaged a few times and that was about it. That same August when Ashley’s birth mother made first contact was also Ashley’s birth month. She was turning 21 years old. On that milestone birthday, Ashley was at work.
Ashley: 00:28:45 This phone call comes in from her and I’m thinking I’ve got work, like I can’t answer my phone and the girl I’m working with, she says, no, go answer that phone. She’s like, go to the back and the phone, like, I’ll, you know, cover our stuff for however long. I’m like, okay, so, you know, I answered this call from her. This is my very first phone call with my biological mom. Instantly I can sense the emotion. She’s crying and I’m like, oh my God. Like I’m at work. Like I don’t wanna, you know, be bawling my eyes out. But like, this is gonna happen and she’s, you know, she wishes me a happy birthday and you know, we started to just talk about life, you know, like, how is your day? What did you do, what have you been up to? And it just felt like a normal conversation.
Ashley: 00:29:24 It just felt like I was talking to anyone else that I do in my life. And of course, you know, yeah. So, you know, then we’re both crying and whatever. And you know, I said, you’re like, I’m, you know, I’m at work. Like, I do have to go back. And she said, okay. And at the end of the conversation, she told me she loved me. And, um, that was the first time she ever, she said, I love you to me. And I didn’t even know what to say in that moment cause I was like, I’ve only known you for like two and a half weeks. Like, yeah, we’ve got to know each other, but I really don’t know. You know, where, what I’m really truly wanting out of this. And so she tells me I love you. And I was like, Yep, you too. And I hung up the phone and I thought, oh my God, that was the stupidest thing I could have done.
Ashley: 00:30:15 And I’m thinking, oh my God, like, what did I just do? You know? So I texted to my birth mom the next day and I said, thank you for calling me. Like I really did appreciate hearing from you and I got no reply. I thought, oh my God. Like what? Just like, what is going on? And so then I texted her again and I said, you know, like I’m, I’m sorry for how I ended that conversation. Like I just, I didn’t know what to say. No reply. I thought, oh no. Like what did I, what did I do? The next day I got a text message and she said, you know, I’m sorry, she said just around your birthday is very hard for me. Things that I gave you up. and I thought okay. And I kind of, you know, felt like a sigh of relief. Like okay, thank God it was not something I did.
Ashley: 00:31:01 And it was hard though because it was like I’d already reassured her so much about my life and how great it was that her, our conversations were a lot of me reassuring her. There was a lot of her feeling guilty for giving me up. There was a lot of her feeling like she made, it almost seemed like she felt like she made the wrong decision and that was confusing. It was like, what? Like I was like, you know what? You made the decision, you know, 21 years ago and I’m okay with it. Like I am completely fine where we’re at. And you know, it was a lot of her just feeling so down and for me to constantly be reassuring her was hard on myself because then I emotionally was thinking, is she like regretting she put me up for adoption, like what is happening in this conversation? And I didn’t know how to react to that. I didn’t even know what to say to her. Like I, I like to think I’m a person who can, you know, comfort my friends and family when they’re going through a rough time. But that was something I didn’t even know what to say to. I didn’t even know how to react and I knew none of my words are going to make it go away. I knew, you know, nothing I could say would make her maybe feel better cause I tried and nothing was working so,
Damon: 00:32:20 but she was back in touch with you. I mean it must’ve been really heart wrenching to think have this feeling of things going down the drain for what was it two days that she was nonresponsive and especially given that she had called you on your birthday, said I love you and you and I don’t fault you for this at all because it’s really tough to know what to say when in the first conversation, but you know you, you ended the conversation sort of awkwardly and then I’m sure it must have weighed heavily on you like is is it over because of that. Ashley admitted that the whole time she was texting with her sister and with her birth mother during their phone conversations and in the moments after she was constantly wondering if she was going to say something to screw up. She said she was really careful with her word choice. When her birth mother wasn’t in touch for two days, Ashley felt like it was the end, but when they reconnected, Ashley felt good again comfortable that things were going forward. Then her curiosity about her birth father crept in, who was this guy and what did he look like?
Ashley: 00:33:22 And so I asked her, I said, I would like to know about my biological dad and her response to me was, I don’t want to talk about it right now.
Damon: 00:33:33 Fair enough. The holiday season was approaching and Ashley and her birth mother were still in touch, but the cadence of their communication had slowed down. Ashley figured it was fine. Her birth mother was busy with catering. At Christmas, Ashley sent her birth mother a card. Her birth mother sent Ashley a gift and Ashley’s Mom and dad sent her birth mother a card saying thank you for giving them the biggest gift they ever could have received. Her birth mother thought that gesture was really thoughtful at first.
Ashley: 00:34:02 She was very appreciative that my parents, you know, like reached out and you know, even said that to her. And I said, you know, my parents are more than grateful for you. Giving me up really like, I mean I was their biggest gift. I was the biggest blessing. I mean, especially being as they weren’t able to have kids and you know, I was their only child. I was my parents, you know, I was there as they referred to me growing up, I was their angel. You know, I was their gift that they got that they never thought that they could ever receive. So I said they’re very grateful for me and they’re very grateful that you brought me into this world. And they had the privilege to raise me and to call me their daughter. And you know, she took that very, she took it very hard, it was, again, we were back to the reassuring and it, it was hard. It was hard for me to go back from feeling so good to, you know, having to reassure her again.
Damon: 00:34:51 Yeah, that’s, it’s interesting and it’s such a hard set of emotions to figure out because on the one hand, she, I’m sure you know, she’s already admitted it was hard for her to give you up and then you’ve come back and she’s now trying to get to know you and understand how you’re doing. And then this decision that she’s made that was so hard turns out to be this amazing thing for these other people on top of her pain. And that must’ve been really tough to sort of reconcile.
Ashley: 00:35:27 Oh, it was, it was, it was one of the hardest things to like, think of what, what do I even say to you? Like I just and, you know, a huge part of me just wanted to make her feel better. Right. And I was, I was worried about her because she just was so constantly, basically, it seemed like she was depressed about the situation. I just wanted to make it go away. I just wanted her to know I had a good life. I was happy. I’m still happy. You’re in my life now. Let’s just go with it. Because, and I remember I said to her, not many people get this chance. Not many people get a chance to meet their biological family and get to know them. And I said like, like, let’s take advantage of this. Like, you know, I’m 22 like I want to, you know, have you, I’m 21 I want to have you in my life.
Ashley: 00:36:11 Like, you know, I wouldn’t have reached out if I didn’t think that there was going to be a possibility. I wanted you in my life and I do. So let’s just go with the flow and try and think more positive instead of focusing on the negative. And that was really what I thought, you know, it was for me especially, I tried to think all on the positive, you know, I knew there was gonna be some negative aspects of the journey. You know, I was waiting for something to happen ultimately because I knew it’s not going to be all perfect.
Damon: 00:36:39 Later in 2018, Ashley realizes she still has questions about her biological father. So she asked again, the response was the same. It’s not a good time. I don’t want to talk about it. So Ashley reminded her birth mother that she already had the records. She knew he was married. The situation wasn’t exactly ideal, but that she still felt that she was owed an answer. Her birth mother went silent for a week. Ashley was at a loss, she gave it a few days. Then she reached out again, sort of apologizing for the pain of the topic, but still pressing for an answer.
Ashley: 00:37:14 And I said like, I’m sorry if I, you know, hurt you or brought up some bad memories the other night. But I said, I just feel like I need an answer. And you know, she told me she was embarrassed and I said embarrassed, about what? Like, and she said I made a bad decision. Like he was married and I said, I don’t think any less of you. I said, you know, you made that decision 21 years ago. That’s, that’s fine. Like that was a decision you made and I’m not going to belittle you for it or make you think less of yourself because that’s something that I just don’t do. And it’s something I can’t do. Like you were an adult, you made a decision and that’s that. And here I am because of it. So we just need to kind of, you know, deal with it and move on from it. Again, no response. I thought, okay, here we go again.
Damon: 00:38:02 But this time their conversation suffered, their texting relationship moved from robust, dense conversations to one line exchanges. Ashley started to question her desire to search, Her choice to pressure her birth mother about her birth father snd she took on some guilt about the whole thing.
Ashley: 00:38:19 There is a sense of regret and I remember saying to one of my friends who said, maybe I wasn’t ready. Maybe I took this on too early. And you know, she said to me, Ashley, you would never be ready for this. Nobody would ever be ready for this. And I said, you know what? You’re right. Like it’s nobody could mentally prepare for it. Nobody at all.
Damon: 00:38:38 No, because it’s not, it’s not straight forward. There’s twists and turns and ups and downs that you could never plan for. You know, you start off with positivity, with your sister being receptive and you guys are, you know, seemingly so connected and she then respectfully brings in your mother and you know, she very thoughtfully calls you on your birthday and you know you’re on this positive trajectory. But then there’s this undercurrent of uncertainty and you know, sort of undiscussed, undisclosed feelings. It’s impossible to have been prepared for this. Nobody can mentally get themselves ready for this kind of change of, of pace and there’s no way.
Ashley: 00:39:26 Yeah, definitely.
Damon: 00:39:28 She felt like things were at a standstill. Summer was approaching, and again, Ashley’s birthday was looming in August when her birthday came and went. The pair had a brief conversation, but nothing nearly as emotionally charged as their first conversation on her 21st birthday.
Damon: 00:39:45 Ashley brainstormed how she could possibly figure out who her birth father was without any details at all about his identity. She had nothing to start with. On Facebook, She went into a search and reunion group where she learned that my heritage DNA was giving away 100 free DNA tests, but people had to articulate to the company why they felt they deserve to receive one. Ashley figured, what the Heck? She didn’t have anything to lose, so she drafted a paragraph making the appeal to learn who her biological father was because her biological mother was withholding the information. Ashley admitted it was a shot in the dark. A week later, she learned she qualified to receive a free test. She submitted her saliva sample in June in the presence of her adopted mother. It was a long wait to get her results, but one Friday in September at her job teaching in elementary school, Ashley received the email that her results were in from her DNA test. She downloaded the my heritage DNA app onto her phone, checked her results, and found she had 5,000 DNA matches. That’s an overwhelming results set for anyone and she didn’t know how she would even begin. At home that night, Ashley messaged a search angel named Trish, whom she had been following in the search and reunion group. Ashley explained that she had no clue what she was looking at in a DNA results. They started uploading her DNA results to other sites to try to search for more matches.
Ashley: 00:41:13 You know, I thought, you know what? Let’s try one more time with my biological mom. And maybe if I tell her that I did a DNA test, maybe just maybe I can get something out of her. So I waited till the next day, so we’re on a Saturday now and I worked at a convenience store as well. And I texted her and I said, hey, I said, you know, I wanted to let you, I did a DNA test. I have taken a step to trying to find my biological dad and I feel like out of respect, I feel that you should know that. And I have 5,000 relatives that come up that I have a matched with and I don’t, I don’t know a name, like I don’t even know where to start. Like I don’t, I said, I don’t know a name for my dad. So I said, could you please give me a name to try and help me?
Ashley: 00:41:57 And her response to me was, oh my God, are you kidding me right now? And I said, and instantly I felt anger myself, I was like, are you like, are you kidding me? Like, am I kidding? You know, but like why, why do we have to play this game? Like why do we have to just do this continuous, I don’t want to talk about, I don’t want to talk about then let’s ignore me for weeks and weeks on time. Like I was sick of it at this point.
Damon: 00:42:23 I’m sure.
Ashley: 00:42:24 So, you know, I said to her, I feel like I deserved to know, I said, I just want to know, just give me a name. That’s all I want. I said, I won’t tell him anything about you if you don’t want him to know your name or your, you know, your married name now. Anything. I will not say a word like I won’t bring you into it. I just need a name. And her response to me was, I feel the worst anyone has ever made me feel thanks for that. It feels like you just drug me through hell. The most likely name is, and she gives me his name. And I looked at that message and I thought, are you kidding me? I was mad. I was angry. I wasn’t even, I wasn’t even sad at that point of what she said. I was just so mad that someone could even say that to me. I was like, I drug you through hell? But like by what? By asking you a question.
Damon: 00:43:10 Yeah. About my existance. Something that, forgive me, you created. So I’m sorry for asking a question.
Ashley: 00:43:11 yeah, yes, exactly. So I was very like, what did you like, what just happened? So, you know, I thought I can’t, I can’t reply to this right now because I was just, I was fuming.
Ashley: 00:43:29 I was so mad. I just could have went off on her. So I thought, nope, you know what, not even worth it. So, you know, I put my phone down and you know, I got myself kind of calmed down. I thought, you know what? We’re going to give it a while before I respond to that because it hurt, you know, after a while it really hurt. The more that I thought about. I was like, how could someone even say that to me? Like, you know, and I, I, I reached out to her after a couple of days and I said, you know what? I said, what you sent me really hurt me. I said, ultimately, I didn’t choose to be on this earth but you made that decision 22 years ago and I am here because of it and you need to own up to it. You need to deal with it like we can’t keep pushing it under the carpet. I said, it’s my life we’re talking about I deserve answers. I deserve to know because I mean, you know. I said, I’ve wondered all these things for so long and for it to be at the tip of my fingertips and not even get a chance to know a name. I said, how is that fair to me?
Damon: 00:44:27 I’m sure you can guess what happened. Ashley gave up her birth mother, figuring the woman could open communications with her again whenever she was ready to come around. Ashley took the name. Her birth mother provided and scoured the DNA results looking for the man. Nothing. She felt like she was back at square one. Trish was still on the case and she found that Ashley’s highest match was a first or second cousin. Ashley messaged the guy to see if he could lend some help and provide some clues, but he wasn’t sure he could help her. He was adopted too, but he gave Ashley his birth mother’s name. So Ashley messages Trish with the new clue. Trish adds the name into the family tree. She’s building on ancestry DNA and ancestry starts popping with hints and pieces are finally coming together. Trish had an idea of a possible last name for Ashley to pursue, so she circled back to Facebook where she found her maternal half sister who connected her with her birth mother. Ashley figured the man might have stayed near where she was born. So she focused on Alberta, Calgary and Edmonton.
Ashley: 00:45:31 I’m looking at this picture and I took a, I took a screenshot and I sent it to my two friends and I said, do you think there’s a resemblance here and they’re like a little bit. And I’m like, Kay. So you know, I sent it to the woman who is helping me and she’s like kind of cross-matching looking at my picture, that picture. And she was like, Ashley, I think we just found your dad. And I’m like, we what? And she’s like, I think we just found your dad. And I was like, oh my God. And she’s like, and that would be like his current wife. And in the middle of the picture there was a boy who’d be my half brother. And I thought, oh my God. So this is September of 2018 and I was like, okay. And I’m like, well, what do I do?
Ashley: 00:46:15 And I remember thinking to myself, I thought of this situation years ago, what am I going to do? Because ultimately I’m a kid coming into this man’s life showing up, being like, Hey, I’m your kid when he’s already married, has kids, by all I know he could have more kids than just my half brother. So it was a thought, what do I do? And I remember I said to my friends, like, what do I do? Do I like call him up and be like, Hey, by the way, remember when you, you know, met this woman and you had a fling with her when you were married? And Yeah, here I am. I’m your kid. I thought, no, I can’t say that. What am I going to say to this guy? So this lady has helped me. She said, let’s give it a while. Let’s know, make sure this is really who he is before we reach out. And I was like, okay, fair enough. So it was crazy because I got my search results on a Friday. We found his profile by Sunday. Like it was two days. We were like, no, we were on the phone at three, like one, two in the morning, texting each other. I’m looking up obituaries from like, you know the 1940s like I, we were like full into it. Like I’m like I, I’m not giving up at this point. I’m like, we were going to figure this out.
Damon: 00:47:22 Trish was confident that the man they had identified was Ashley’s Dad. They both stalked the family Facebook profiles, looking some kind of phone number or email. Together, they figured out Ashley’s birth father has a wife and there’s a step sibling. Trish offers to message Ashley’s brother as though she was simply working on a family tree project. Of course, they could have messaged Ashley’s birth father directly on Facebook, but it was clear that his wife was using their shared account more so that wasn’t a solid avenue to pursue.
Ashley: 00:47:52 I can’t even remember exactly what happened, but she had, this woman ended up getting in touch with my biological dad’s wife and they were on a phone. They were on a phone conversation. She said like, you know, I’m looking to do, or I’m doing some research on the family heritage and I’m looking for someone who is related to Louise, which was my cousin’s mom. And she was like, oh, well, I don’t know much about that family, which is my dad’s. And she’s like, but here, here’s your, here’s his number, um, Earl’s number, which is my dad. And she was like, here’s Earl’s number. And we’re like, well, that was easy. The wife just gave up the number to another woman. Like we’re, Oh yes, we’re on a roll now.
Damon: 00:48:32 The wife shared that her husband works late so they’d have to catch him in the early evening before he went to bed. Ashley asked Trish, which one of them should initiate contact with her birth father Earl and Trish offered to do it.
Ashley: 00:48:44 She says, I’m working with a girl who is 22 and is adopted and we believe that you were her biological dad. Well, she said there’s a moment of silence. And he was like, he didn’t really deny it. She said like he was very, he did. I think he just, I mean, you know, knowing he had a kid out there, what do you say? Yeah, she told him who my biological mom was and he went by her full name and he said, no, that’s not her. I don’t know who that is. And so then she called my biological mom by a nickname that she went by and he’s like, I know her. And I think in that moment it probably pieced for him like, oh my God, like I have a kid. And so their conversation ended and she calls me and she’s like, so she’s like, I talked to Earl and she said, good news is he didn’t deny it. I said, okay. And I said, so now what? She said, well, she’s like, I feel like this might take awhile being he is married and you know beings how it’s such a shock to him. It might be a long wait.
Damon: 00:49:51 That was September of 2018. a few weeks pass and Ashley’s checking in with Trish to see if she’s heard anything, but she hadn’t. Trish contacts Earl again to offer to speak once more. Earl said he and his wife wanted to meet Trish, see some credentials and generally legitimize who they were talking to. But Ashley was impatient. She had been on this journey for a year and a half and she was ready for answers, worrying about whether this whole thing would ever really happen with him. November and December past but there was nothing from him. Their relationship with her birth mother was dying and naturally, her sister was on teen mom. So Ashley was out after feeling so excepted, but things were about to take a turn, wait until you hear this.
Ashley: 00:50:36 So it was hard. I’m, you know, I’m dealing with, you know, basically what felt like almost like a rejection from my mom and my sister. I’m reaching out to my dad and we’re getting nowhere and I, I felt so lost. I was like, oh my God, like nothing’s going to work out. In December I had messaged this woman, I said, have you heard anything yet? And she’s like, no. And she said, what if I sent him a picture of you? Cause at this point he had no idea what I looked like. I don’t even know if he knew my name. So we thought, well maybe if we send a picture, maybe it’ll kind of make the situation seem a little more realistic. Yeah. So, you know, she sends him a big long message and she said, you know, like Ashley is this wonderful 22 year old girl and she wants nothing more than to know you.
Ashley: 00:51:22 She is beautiful and smart and she sends a picture along, you know, I’m thinking, okay, maybe, maybe just maybe something will happen. So that night that she sends this picture, I go to my parent’s house for supper and you know, just a normal night with my parents. I think I was going to the living room to go kind of sit down on the couch. My phone rings and it’s like unknown number from grand prairie. I’m like, who the hell do I know in grand prairie that would be calling me. I’m thinking, oh my God. Like maybe this was my dad cause she had given him my cell number. So I thought, oh my God. Like maybe, so I answered the phone. This voice comes on the phone, it was a man. He says hello. I’m like, hi. He’s like, my name is Earl, I am your biological dad.
Ashley: 00:52:07 I’m like, oh my God. And I’m like, and my mom and dad are like, who’s the, who’s on the phone? I’m like mouthy, like it’s him. And I’m like, oh my God. Like what do I say? What do I even say to you? And it was like, that conversation for me was so, it was hard and it was like, I didn’t even know what to say and normally I’m a very talkative person, but that conversation I was as silent as could be because I was like, I don’t, I don’t know what to say to you. I don’t know what to bring up. And you know, he’s like, you probably never thought you’d hear from me. And I’m like, well, I was kinda thinking that. Yep. And you know, and he’s like, I had no idea about you. He’s like, I had no idea at all.
Ashley: 00:52:50 And I was like, well, I kind of figured, and I was like, I couldn’t even imagine. You know, the thoughts you were thinking and you know how hard it must be for you to know that, you know you have a daughter. And he was like, you know, it’s hard. And he wasn’t very talking very much because all of a sudden this woman gets on the phone, his wife, and she’s crying. And I’m thinking, Whoa, my God, she’s like, Ashley. She’s like, I knew about you. And I’m like, what? And she’s like, I worked at the hospital you were born at, and I was like, what?
Damon: 00:53:22 Shut up.
New Speaker: 00:53:25 I know, right? That’s what I thought. I’m like, you what? What? I know, like she’s like, I worked on the floor that you were born on. She’s like, I remember when you were born. I remember when they took you away. I’m like, oh my God. And I’m like, I felt like all of a sudden this emotion hit me and I was like crying, and I’m like, oh my God.
Damon: 00:53:50 The conversation was only 10 minutes, but in that short period of time, the couple had dropped a bomb on Ashley. They said they would love to meet her offering to meet up the day after Christmas. Boxing day. Ashley was beside herself after the call. She’s pacing her parent’s house, texting her friends, and generally freaking out. Ashley couldn’t figure out how Earl’s wife knew who she was, but Earl didn’t. Also keep in mind, Ashley has never met any of her biological relatives before, so that boxing day meeting that was coming in a week and a half was a major event for her. To her surprise, Earl texted Ashley the next day to ask what time she got off work. She was teaching high school. So her day ended at 3:30 she looked at her phone again and saw she had a voicemail. When she listens to the message, Earl said where he was and surprise, he was close by.
Ashley: 00:54:42 I don’t think I, that’s only like 10 minutes away from me. Like what are they getting at here? I’m thinking, oh no, they want to meet tonight. Like instantly I had that moment like I, I’m not ready. Like I’m at work.
Damon: 00:54:54 when they talked by phone, Ashley was on her way home from work. Earl asked what she was doing that night. She had no plans. So he asked if she wanted to have supper and she said yes to her own amazement.
Ashley: 00:55:06 What did I just agree to? Like I was like, did I just agree to go meet them? Like so I was Kinda like, oh my God. Like what am I going to do? And so I called my mom and dad and I’m like, so I’m going to go meet my biological dad tonight. And they’re like, you’re what? It was like, yeah, I’m a, I’m going to go do it. And so I went home and I was like, what do I like? What do I do? I call one of my, I texted my two friends and I’m like, I need some like words of encouragement or something. I’m like, cause I’m freaking out over here. And I’m like, like, what do I do? Like I’m like, do I wear the same clothes I wore to work? Do I change? And like what do I, what do I wear? Like what do I do? What? Like what do I wear for this kind of stuff? And she was like, Ashley, she was like, take a deep breath. She’s like, you’re fine. She was like, they’re gonna love you for who you are. She’s like, you’re an amazing person and they’re going to love you. And if they don’t, well it’s their loss.
Damon: 00:56:09 So with those words of encouragement, Ashley got ready for the big night. Earl asked if she could come to the hotel where he and his wife were staying and they would leave for supper from there. On the drive over, she’s freaking out full of emotions. When she pulled up to the hotel,
Ashley: 00:56:25 I had a moment of this is my chance to turn around and go home. Like I could, I could believe they wouldn’t even know cause I didn’t tell them I was there yet. So I’m like, I could leave they wouldn’t even know. And I thought, no, you have to do this, like you need to do this. So I texted them, I was like, I’m here, I get no reply. And I could see this door open and this woman comes out, which was his wife. And I thought, oh my God, I was like, this is truly happening at this moment. So you know, I get out of my car and she’s like, Hi Ashley. Like it’s so nice to meet you. And I’m like, yeah, like you too. Like I didn’t even know what to say. And I walk into this room and my biological dad, you know, gives me a big hug and he was like, he’s like, it’s been too long to wait for this.
Ashley: 00:57:12 And I was like, Yep. And like, you know, I had my emotions intact at this point. I wasn’t crying yet. And like he like was hugging me and like he kept hugging me tighter and I could like, once we let go of the hug and he looked at me, I could tell that his eyes were like glossy, like he was about to cry and I seen the emotion and I was like, oh, like this is really real. Like this is really happening. And you know, so we sat down. We started to talk and you know, it was weird. It was like looking at a spitting image of me in person, like the eyes, the, you know, the facial structure. It was, it was scary, honestly. I was like, you know,
Damon: 00:57:57 It’ll trip you out, man. When you see somebody that looks like you, you’re like, wait, What??
Ashley: 00:58:01 Yeah. It was like 22 years of not knowing where my looks come from. And now, you know, someone who looks just like me is standing right in front of me. Like, this is crazy. So we, um, you know, we go for supper and, you know, they said, we have a lot of questions for you. I could imagine. I was like, likewise, like, you know, there’s a lot, there’s a lot to talk about. There’s a lot to know. And so they asked me and I said, how is your, do you know your biological mom? And I said, well, you know, yeah. Like we’ve texted, like, whatever. And you know, they said, if you don’t mind me asking, how was your relationship with her? And at this point I hadn’t really talked much about my biological mom because she wasn’t really a part of my life anymore. And it was hard. You know, I kind of kind of got emotional and I said, you know what, like when I had asked about you, I said, she didn’t really like my question.
Ashley: 00:58:58 And I said, she kind of took it out on me, which was very hard. Um, and I said, you know, like she told me you guys had a fling and you were married. And I was like, I didn’t, I didn’t know what to do. Like I didn’t want to come in and ruin your life kind of. And he like kind of looks at me. He’s like, what? I was like, uh, yeah, like you guys had a fling and he’s like, no we didn’t. And I’m like, uh, excuse me. And he’s like, we lived together for quite some time. I’m like, okay. And he’s like, no, like we actually lived together for like half a year, Ashley. I’m like, you did? And he was like, yeah, like we lived together. I worked for her, me and my wife took a break and I was like. So it wasn’t an affair? He’s like, well no, like she, my wife at the time very well knew that I was with her cause I was living with her. So I was like, oh, okay. And like, you know, like when I had asked my biological mom about my dad, she had told me she didn’t know a last name for him. She couldn’t remember. And then at that moment finding out they live together, he worked for her, which means she wrote him paychecks. I’m like, how did she not know a last name?
Damon: 01:00:14 Yeah. Not to mention she also had, or at least as you conveyed it, use the words, which really struck me, the most likely candidate is, that’s a very, that’s a weird generality to make. They don’t, they’d almost paints the picture of her, you know, sort of very carefree days.
Ashley: 01:00:34 Well, that’s what I thought. You’d know, like sleeping around like, okay, there’s a chance of multiple people being my dad and maybe it’s not Earl. You know, that was, that was a worry. So when he tells me this and I’m like, what? What is happening? I’m like, I was so confused. I was like, what? So I’m like, I’ve led to believe from my adoption records. You know, there’s a fling. I asked her, there’s a fling. I ask him, no, there’s not a fling. And I’m like, who, who is lying to me
Damon: 01:01:03 and someone else’s name is on your birth certificate.
Ashley: 01:01:05 Yes. I’m like, where is this coming from? And I’m like Oh my God. And I’m thinking to myself, and I remember I’m thinking in the back of my mind, mum and Dad told me this is going to end, this is exactly what my mom told me. She said, you are going to probably get two different stories that might happen at some point. And she said what it’s going to be like is a nasty divorce and you’re going to be in the middle of it. And at that moment I felt like what my mother had said to me, what happened was so true. I was like, I am wow. Like I’m in the middle of two people who are like ones telling me one thing and another is telling me another. And I thought, okay, like whatever. So I asked, you know, his wife, I said, how did you know about me?
Ashley: 01:01:43 Like I said, this is really kind of been on my mind. And she’s like, well, I worked at a hospital, your birth mom came in and gave birth. And she’s like, I knew that Earl and her were together and I was like, and she’s like a feeling in me thought that maybe that was Earl’s child, but I didn’t know. And you know, at that time they had six weeks where the biological mom could choose if she would change her mind if she wanted to give the child up or not. So she said, I didn’t say anything to Earl. She’s like, confidentiality. She couldn’t anyways, so she said I was going to give it the six weeks and see. Six weeks came and nothing happened. So she thought maybe I wasn’t Earl’s but in the back of her mind, she said she always kind of had maybe a feeling that that was Earl’s kid. So when I called or when that Trish called and you know, said that there was a kid in the picture, she had to come clean with Earl and say like, I knew, like I knew about it.
Damon: 01:02:43 My Gosh, what a crazy reversal. Oh my gosh.
Ashley: 01:02:48 Right. Like she’s like, I had to tell him that I had a hunch that maybe it was his kid and I’m like, oh my God, I’m like here we are. I don’t know who my dad is. I’m reaching out. And then it’s like Earl has no idea he has a 22 year old kid. So then he’s got to break the news to his wife that hey, I have a kid and then now you have her telling him. I had like, I kind of maybe had a feeling and I’m like, oh my God, like this is like some like thing things that just don’t happen in normal life.
Damon: 01:03:17 Unbelievable. I’ve never heard of anything like that before. That’s astonishing.
Ashley: 01:03:21 So she’s like telling me and he was like, and you know Earl was like, Ashley. He’s like, no, really? He said, ultimately, who would I have chosen? My wife or a kid who is claiming she’s my daughter. I said, well, obviously your wife like that’s a given. And he was like, I needed to sort that out. He said it was very hard for me to accept that I had a kid, let alone telling my wife. I couldn’t even imagine. You know, that feeling of finding out you have a daughter and then finding out that your wife maybe had a feeling. He asked her, he was like, why didn’t you tell me? She’s like, I couldn’t. She was like, number one, confidentiality and number two, I didn’t know if it was yours. And I was like, this is crazy. I’m like, Oh my God, you know.
Damon: 01:04:03 So unreal. Did Earl and his wife explained how they knew each other back then because of Earl was living with your biological mother and the, his current wife was working at the hospital. Earl is in the middle there somewhere. How did he know the woman who is now his current wife? Did he break up with your biological mother and start dating her or do you know?
Ashley: 01:04:23 Yeah, they, uh, they went on a trip, also their half, uh, their son that they’re together, Earl and his current wife. So my half brother, um, lived with Earl and my biological mom at the time when they were together. And I guess, you know, Earl just said that the relationship wasn’t what he thought it was going to be with my biological mom. And he went on a trip with my half brother and his, um, current, it was like his wife from the time and they went on like this family trip for my brother’s birthday cause you know, he wanted mom and dad to be there kind of thing. And when they came back he kind of realized that, you know, his relationship with my mom wasn’t what he thought it was. And so he left and then went back to his wife and they’ve been together ever since.
Damon: 01:05:11 So that was the wife that he left? Shut up.
Ashley: 01:05:19 Yeah. So I was like, it was crazy cause like, and I said to them point blank, I said, I knew you were married. Like I was quite figured it out on Facebook that you are married. And I knew it from my records anyways. And I said, but how do I say that to someone who has a wife and has and has kids? Like I said, I didn’t want to ruin a marriage and I made that very clear to them both. I said, I’m not here to ruin a marriage. I’m not here to stir up, you know, drama. I’m just here for answers because I just, I want answers. That’s, that’s what I’m here for.
Damon: 01:05:52 I wish you could see my face. I’m in such astonishment. I cannot believe. I mean he is. So he broke up with his wife, moved in with his girlfriend and his, at the time almost ex wife and he had a child outside of their separate, during the separation and the wife was there.
Ashley: 01:06:12 Yep.
Damon: 01:06:12 Oh my God. That is bananas. And she’s known it the whole time. Oh my God.
Ashley: 01:06:22 Yeah. Isn’t that crazy?
Damon: 01:06:22 That is surreal. Ashley said her relationship with Earl and his wife is amazing. She’s made a trip to their house and later they picked her up for a trip to meet her half brother. They’re all getting along well and Earl and his wife want Ashley to continue to be exactly who she is.
Ashley: 01:06:39 They picked me up and we went and met my half brother and his soon to be wife and kids and crazy enough, I have two stepsisters and a stepbrother and they all have kids, which so technically like my nieces and nephews I guess you could say. And it’s crazy cause they’re older than I am. Like it’s actually, you know, like they’re 27, 26 and I’m, you know, supposed to be an Auntie and I’m 22, so it’s kinda crazy. But you know, it, it was cool. I went and got to meet them and actually, you know, get to know a little bit of them. And, um, when they brought me back, my mom and dad had a chance to meet Earl and his wife, which was huge for me because, you know, I really wanted Earl and his wife to be able to meet my parents and get to meet the people who got to raise me and who made me who I am today because they were so, Earl and his wife were very open of how grateful they are and how they want to meet my parents. Like they made it very clear that we don’t want you to leave your adoptive parents, we want you to be their daughter and you to be a part of us though as well. Which was huge for me that they took it that way. And you know, now actually tomorrow I get to go meet my stepbrother and in May I am going to the Dominican with them all for my half brother’s wedding.
Damon: 01:07:59 Oh, that’s going to be really cool.
Ashley: 01:08:02 It’ll be very cool. I am, you know, I feel very much a part of the family and you know, I, it’s great to have my mom and my dad, you know, supporting me and my friends supporting me through it all, which is huge.
Damon: 01:08:13 Of course. Dang that is amazing, Ashley. I’m so happy for you. I can’t, I, I’m going to be telling so many people your story. This is unbelievable. I just, every time I feel like I know where a story’s going, someone says something outlandish and unexpected and you have done it again, thank you so much for taking time. I appreciate you calling and sharing your journey. This is a really, really unbelievable and I, I hope at some point you can find the way back to your mom if that’s what you want in your heart. Cause that’s, you know, that’s a really important relationship and I guess if nothing else, you have spoken with her, but you know, it would be nice to have some sort of reconciliation because now, you know, right?
Ashley: 01:09:00 Yep, exactly.
Damon: 01:09:01 Alright. I wish you all the best. Ashley, thanks so much for taking time to call.
Ashley: 01:09:06 Thank you.
Damon: 01:09:06 All right, take care. Talk to you later. Bye Bye.
Ashley: 01:09:09 Bye.
Damon: 01:09:13 Hey, it’s me. I liked how Ashley took a thoughtful approach to trying to accept whatever she was going to find on her journey. I’m sure many of us can relate to the feeling of regret and self doubt. When it became clear that the relationship with her birth mother was stained by the woman’s guilt and tainted by the inability to let the past be the past so that Ashley could have the answers she desperately wanted. But what an incredible turn it was for Earl to learn of Ashley’s existence, only to learn further that his wife already knew he had a child in the world. You can hear my reaction. I was just incredulous at the unforeseen twist in Ashley’s story. I’m really glad that she, Earl and his wife are able to get past everything and move forward together with Ashley remaining fully, her adoptive parents daughter who is part of Earl’s family too.
Damon: 01:10:02 I’m Damon Davis and I hope you’ll find something in Ashley’s journey that inspires you, validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn Who Am I Really? And Hey, quick side note, I recently finished my book also called, who am I really and it’s available now for preorder. Go to WhoAmIReallypodcast.com then click shop where you’ll be redirected to the publishers bookstore. Thanks for adding my story to your reading list. If you would like to share your adoption journey and your attempt to connect with your biological family, please visit WhoAmIReallypodcast.com/share 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 facebook.com/WAIReally, or follow me on Twitter at WAIReally, and please, if you like the show, you can support me at patrion.com/WAIReally 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 would take a moment to share a rating or leave a comment, those ratings can help others to find the podcast too.