Close this search box.

095 – I Tested Her To See If She’d Give Up

Laura called me via Skype, would you believe, from Falkirk Scotland. Laura told the story of her childhood knowledge that she might have siblings out in the world, and her quest to meet them. When she met her biological mother things started slowly as Laura tested the woman to make sure she wasn’t going to leave again — and she didn’t — then she did. Laura’s developed a great connection with her paternal sister, even though Laura never got to meet her biological father. This is Laura’s journey.


Laura (00:03): Yeah,

Laura (00:03): That would see her call and she would text me and I just, I couldn’t, I didn’t feel able to respond. I was too frightened to answer and to go into, I don’t know why I was maybe texting her, maybe just to see if she would give up on me, but she doesn’t.

intro (00:24): Who am I? Who am I? Who

intro (00:27): am I? Who am I?

Damon (00:31): Who am I? Who am I? This is who am I really a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I’m Damon Davis and on today’s show is Laura. She called me via Skype. Would you believe from fallkirk, Scotland. Laura told me the story of her childhood knowledge that she might have siblings out in the world and her quest to meet them when she met her biological mother. Things started out slowly as Laura tested the woman to make sure she wasn’t going to leave again and she didn’t. Then she did. Laura developed a great connection with her paternal sister even though Laura never got to meet her biological father. This is Laura’s journey. If you heard last week show with Barry, you’re probably wondering what’s up with all of these guests from Scotland all of a sudden, I promise you it was purely coincidence that Laura’s story followed his. Laura made time to speak with me after running two races that morning, uh, 5k and a 10K. so as we settled into her recovery time, I asked Laura to take me back to the beginning of her journey, which started in Alloa Clackmannanshire. And yes, I really wanted to say Clapman Shire.

Laura (01:48): Well, I feel like I approach my own story with caution because so much of it is only known from the social work records that I have and from the stories that my adoptive parents told me. Um, from what I know, my parents, who I was born to, were and our relationship for our own nine months. And that came to an abrupt end upon the discovery of my mom being pregnant with me. And I think she only discovered that pregnancy at around five months. Then so quietly, wow. My parents worked in the hotel trade. My mum was a training trainee chef and my dad was a waiter and when I was born, my mother was aged 20 and my dad was 33 so she was quite young. And my dad, my dad was fairly young, but he was in the middle of a, a second divorce. Um, so I think maybe my mom had been an affair or maybe I rebound following the breakdown of his marriage. Um, so I often wonder if when I was conceived and by what, by what accident of failed contraception or drunk and forgetfulness, I came to be, eh, but the, the decision to have me placed and to care seemed to send around, eh, the lack of support that my mom had from my father and from our family. And maybe I’ll lack of confidence on her part and perhaps a lack of money because where she was working, she, you still have end the hotels. And when I was born she was living in homeless accommodation.

Damon (03:25): So Laura’s birth mother was living in a homeless shelter that September while she was in the hospital for eight days before moving to foster care. She stayed there for three months until she met her adoptive parents who took her home in December of that year. Laura was rattling off the facts of her chapter one backstory when she said this,

Laura (03:45): If it feels so unpassionate, they talk to them about the story because it doesn’t feel like it’s about me. The fact I was born with a different name. It makes it feel like that baby is someone else.

Damon (03:54): I know.

Laura (03:56): it feels like recounting the story of a stranger, but for as long as I can remember, I knew that I was adopted and it felt like my family accessed it as ghosts walking around. In my mind. They weren’t physically there, but it felt like they would ever present.

Damon (04:14): Are you referring to your birth family?

Laura (04:16):Yeah. Yeah. it felt like. it felt like my birth family, I knew, I knew that they were there, but for whatever reason I wasn’t sure why I didn’t ask bucket and half of them. Um, so it was a bit strange.

Damon (04:29): Laura’s adoptive parents mentioned to her one day that there was a possibility that she had biological siblings. The announcement made her really curious about what parts of herself were out there. I asked Laura about when she remembered having that ghostly feeling.

Laura (04:44): I think one day my adoptive mom and I were having an argument. I was only maybe about seven or eight and I think I was misbehaving and I must’ve really upset my adoptive mum and she said to me, in anger. You know, you can go back to your birth mom, we can send you back. And my reply was when I’m at that stage, she got really, really angry and I think it was from then it seemed to validate that my family were real and that they were out there, I wonder what they looked like. I became a lot more conscious of the fact that I didn’t look like anyone and I think that’s when, that’s when it became more prominent. I think

Damon (05:31): Laura describes herself as having fair light, blonde hair in a family of Brown haired parents. It wasn’t a stark difference enough to prevent her from passing as their child with others, but it was striking to her that she had no similarities with them. No one’s mouth, eyes, nose or jawline. She said the differences weren’t significant to her. Just noticeable. But it became pronounced when she noticed the joy her parents, other people took and comparing themselves to their own parents. Of course, family similarities and dissimilarities are not limited to physical traits. Did you notice any differences in your own personality traits in likes and dislikes?

Laura (06:12): I think so. My adoptive parents were very hands on practical people. They light scalped and then they like sewing and they’re like DIY and I was never into these things at all. I was into reading books and writing stories and drawing and things like that and where they were very outgoing and party animals. I was very quiet and introverted. I think. So. I don’t know. I don’t know if I was the child that they expected or the child that they ideally would have wanted. Maybe it would have been different if I’d been born to them. Maybe that some of that would come to me through the, through the genes.

Damon (06:50): Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good point. It’s a, it’s a wonder that, uh, people feel like the child that they get is going to somehow be molded into the person that they want.

Laura (07:02): Yeah.

Damon (07:03): And I think it’s only become realized by a lot of parents these days that you know, this blank slate idea is not at all valid because the giant does in fact come with a lot of heredity. They know that that was passed on to them. I was curious to know whether Laura knew any other adoptees growing up. Sometimes that can reduce the otherness that an adoptee feels and prevents them from feeling like some kind of pariah. She knew one other kid at school whose brothers and sisters were also adopted. The adoption narrative they received was positive, like the children had been saved or given a better life. So Laura bought into that mentality. She was very pleased to be with her family even though she was confused about why she couldn’t know her birth family. When I asked about the catalyst for Laura’s search, she said she’d always had some social worker sourced information about her birth family, but it wasn’t until she was 17 years old in 2007 that she was legally allowed to view her original birth certificate. She left the social work department with a copy of her OBC, which documented the name Laura was given when she was born. Ashley, from the moment she received that document, it was pretty much a given that she was going to search. Laura and her adoptive mother went to visit a social worker who gave her the information. She told us in the beginning the relationship between her parents, et cetera. The social worker initiated a search for her birth mother and before long they were facilitating a letter exchange because they’d found her. Her name is Isabelle. The social worker shared that she had moved out of Scotland, gotten married, and had more children. That news didn’t sit well with Laura

Laura (08:48): After me. She had gotten married and she had two boys, and I remember when I found out the age of my brothers, so at the time I was 17 and I think around at one brother was five and the other one was 14 and when I found that out, I felt really angry.

Damon (09:08): Where were you angry?

Laura (09:09): I felt angry that she, I felt she’d moved on too quickly and had another boy, and I felt jealous and angry that he got to stay. But I didn’t express that anger at all. I think I hope that I kept that under wraps because I thought if the social worker sees I’m angry or if it gets back to her I’m angry, it may sabotage things.

Damon (09:31): In her intro letter to Isabelle, Laura tried to play things nonchalant and portrayed a positive adoption experience. She painted a happy picture for this woman to come into and tried to not to convey that she had missed this woman whom she didn’t actually know her birth mother’s response letter went something like this.

Laura (09:49): The sort of tone of it was that our life had been quite difficult and she’d had to make some hard choices. She explained that she got married, had the two boys, and then the marriage broke down and she moved with the two boys to Northern Ireland. She didn’t go into too much detail, but she said the marriage had been difficult. Um, she said that she hoped, she was glad to hear that my life had been good and she said that she would be coming over to Scotland quite soon with the boys so that they could see their dad and that she hoped to meet me then. So all seemed quite positive for me.

Damon (10:27): Excellent. Yeah. At least for starters. Yeah. So were you, were you in any way comforted by just the fact that she wanted to be in touch, that you were corresponding, that you had connected with this person?

Laura (10:38): Definitely. I had been, I think coached and counseled for the possibility of her, not wanting contact. And I think, I think, I thought I was ready to deal with that. But I think if that had been the case, I think it would have affected me hugely in ways that I could never have contemplated. Fortunately that wasn’t the case. Um, but looking back now, I think our relationship could have used a lot more support than we got. As we moved on to reunion together,

Damon (11:06): Their social worker arranged a meeting at a local restaurant for the mother and daughter to meet. Isabel caught a taxi. Laura drove herself as she had just gotten her license. Their social worker met them outside in the parking lot

Laura (11:19): And I just don’t remember her getting out of the taxi and coming up to me and I remember that she didn’t look like the person that thought she was going to look in the head. I think. I think I’ve always had a 20 year old girl in my head and she stayed like that. And my mind, she didn’t age and my mind, our face, I think in my, in my mind I had my mother who looked like someone softer when the social work helped me and got my records for me. They found some photographs of my mom and I together in the hospital when I was, so I would have seen them when I was 17 um yeah, all those before I met her and she obviously looked younger and when I met her she was 37 so not old, but you know, she looked different to have a thought and I think that was a bit of a shock. Um, I didn’t know what to do with our, I thought do I cuddle her, do I shake her hand? What do I do? I’m not really sure if I remember who I had done. I just remember looking and wondering how, how do I feel about this person is there’s something I should feel as there is a rope that should be between our two hearts pulling us together. I wasn’t sure. I don’t think we touched, I think we say hello and I think we moved quite quickly into their shrunk together. With the social worker

Damon (12:42): That’s really interesting. You don’t recall shaking hands, hugging anything. You just sort of walked parallel into the restaurant?

Laura (12:49): I think so. I think so. I remember my first physical contact with her after that, but I don’t think we, I don’t think we had a hug or anything

Damon (12:57): That’s really interesting. So how did the social worker join you in the restaurant for the meal? Like sit there with you guys through the whole thing?

Laura (13:05): Yeah. She ate with us and then after we’d finished eating, she left and we were left alone for awhile. And I, I don’t remember precisely what we talked about, but we must’ve talked about something sad because I remember at that point our hands, our arms around the table and I reached over and held her hand. And I remember that and I remember what he and about what people around us might think and what our relationship was if people might misconstrue it and not know that she was my mother. I remember I didn’t want to let go of her hand. I didn’t get any impression of her pulling away or of it being uncomfortable. But I remember she was talking about sad things, just wanting to keep holding her hand. And I remember how her hand looked the same as mine as my hand. I didn’t immediately see my face in her face, but I definitely seen bodily similarities.

Damon (13:56): The social worker took a picture of the women at that reunion lunch. Laura said seeing herself side by side with her birth mother. Their resemblance was more noticeable, same face shape, similar hair color. They were even wearing similar tops in the same style of their outfits. Like she said, Laura’s social worker left them alone for awhile. They visited for a little over an hour when it was time to go. Laura offered Isabel ride home to her sister’s house where she was staying while visiting Scotland.

Laura (14:26): We’re chatting away quite easily, but I was quite worried about what would happened when we got to her sisters, who’s my auntie and it felt kind of like a date. It felt like she was the woman and I was the guy who was desperate to get inside and get upstairs, eh, not for sex or anything obviously, but to meet my family I thought, am I going to get invited in and meet these people? So I wasn’t sure and I didn’t want to pressure her. So I think we sat in the car and talked a bit more and then she said she was going to go and say it and that was fine and I just went home. So wish it would have been good if we talked about boundaries and how we felt and how things may have happened and what timelines might have worked for us, but we didn’t. We just sorta tried to guess and feel our way through it together.

Damon (15:19): Talked about boundaries in in what do you wish that you had said?

Laura (15:23): I wish that I’d been able to see, I’m really keen to meet my family right now and I wish that perhaps she had been able to see how she felt about it. Maybe. Yeah, that would be fine or no, not yet. And if we’d verbalize that, but I think maybe both of us were too afraid and we didn’t know each other enough to know how to interact with each other. Comfortable yet

Damon (15:47): After a few trips to visit one another, Laura finally got invited inside, but the pair never discussed how things would go, so it was a little weird.

Laura (15:57): Again, it would have been good if we talked about things because I went and, and she, my birth mom introduced me as a family friend. So my brothers don’t know that I’m their sister and I’d never done reunion before. So I thought, well maybe this is normal, maybe this is the best way to do it. Seems fine, let’s just go with what she wants. And it was fine. She eventually eventually introduced me as their sister and I think the day that that happened, that was the day that they began to remember who I was before that. I’d met them a few times, but because I wasn’t of any significance to them, they don’t really seem to have any memory of that. I knew I was looking at my brothers, but for them I was just a visitor in the house.

Damon (16:45): So you had been in there before and she, I see. And she introduced you as a family friend just as a sort of cool introduction and she saved much warmer introduction for a subsequent visit.

Laura (17:00): Yeah.

Damon (17:01): Interesting. So she changed your identity in front of them. Basically, she introduced you as a family friend and then she turned around finally after it sounds like a couple of visits and finally admitted that you guys were siblings.

Laura (17:13): Yeah. Yeah. That was it. Yeah.

Damon (17:15): That must have been weird for you.

Laura (17:17): It was quite weird because there was things that I couldn’t talk about in front of them. My aunty and uncle, they knew who I was, but I couldn’t give away anything that would, that would tell that I was related to them or that I was her daughter , that we had any sort of Shared history in case the boys tweaked. I wonder what that was about. I wonder. We never, I’ve never talked about it. I wonder if maybe she was afraid that I would maybe meet them once and leave and leave the boys with a lot of unanswered questions maybe.

Damon (17:46): Oh yeah. That’s a possibility that she was them.

Laura (17:51): Yeah. Yeah,

Damon (17:52): and you know, the other thing that I can’t help thinking is you said it yourself the way you use the words. I’ve never been through reunion before and I would imagine that it’s probably the same for her. She doesn’t know how to, do this

Laura (18:07): Yeah, that’s it. That’s it. And after the first meeting, there was no social work involvement and I think if there had been, it may have been a good touch point for both of us for guidance and for support on how we feel and how we manage our feelings with each other. But we were sort of just left on our own so we just done the best we could. It would have set a good precedent of asking difficult questions and even if we weren’t able to answer, I didn’t feel ready to discuss it. Just to be able to say that and to see, to set boundaries and say this is the extent to which I can love you and be in relationship with you and this is how much space I need to be on my own and to do my own stuff.

Damon (18:48): Laura and I talked about how it can be labor intensive for social workers to be really involved in facilitating a reunion. From doing the research to find a person to being present for the face to face meeting and supporting parties in the aftermath. It’s a lot, but that full process of support would be helpful for a lot of people. She admitted that she wished they had bridged the gap of outlining for one another. What kinds of questions were within bounds to ask and what was uncomfortable territory and just generally setting a safe space to admit vulnerability. In time, Laura and Isabel would stay on the phone for long conversations and even though she was exhausted, Laura never felt comfortable emitting she needed to go, so she let Isabel talk as much as she liked until she detected Laura was worn down. Unfortunately, that pattern became draining.

Laura (19:42): and so it led to quite a sad period where she would call me and I started not to answer the calls and I think that lasted for quite a few months. I would see her call and she would text me and I just, I couldn’t, I didn’t feel able to respond those too frightened to answer and to go into, I don’t know why I was maybe texting her maybe just to see if she would give up on me, but she didn’t and eventually I did answer and things seem to go back to normal and apologize. You said I’d been busy for so many months but maybe I felt more confident with it after that cause I thought maybe she won’t leave again. She’s here.

Damon (20:21): That’s interesting that you, you, it doesn’t sound like she did anything to trigger you to stop answering. You just decided to test her one day. Then unconsciously it sounds like, cause I don’t get the impression as you speak about it now that you even have thought about it much.

Laura (20:40): Yeah, I think I just messed one call and then I missed another one and I thought I can’t really, I’ve not got the energy for this tonight. And then it just continued like that and looking back, I definitely think that I was thinking, I wonder how long it will be before she gives up because I knew, I knew that my adoptive mother would never give up on me, you know, she would never just leave me and maybe I had some idea that if Isabel thought that I wasn’t reachable or wasn’t interested, that she would give up, but she didn’t. I’m glad she didn’t.

Damon (21:15): Did you, did you finally reach a point when you did answer the phone where you could feel that she wasn’t going to give up and you could, did you, did you settle into a deeper level of comfort than you had been at first

Laura (21:28): I did. I think after that I was able to talk to her and the way that our daughter talks to a mother, we were able to have conversations about day to day difficulties in our life and I felt like I could ask her for advice and she would listen to me. Just listen to me mourning about trivial things. She became more important to me and I felt like she was able to be there for me sometimes in ways that my adoptive mom hadn’t just because of our own difficulties. I felt she was strong and I felt I could lean on her.

Damon (21:59): Yeah, that’s amazing. That’s really, yeah. Two years ago, Laura got married. Isabel was among the guests and one of her sons, Laura, his younger brother, walked her down the aisle and she loved it. Her birth mother is in the wedding photos and they had a lovely event, but about a year before the wedding, Laura decided she was going to locate her birth father. She went back to the social work department to try to get some more information, but she didn’t want to ask Isabel for clues if she didn’t have to.

Laura (22:30): I knew that my birth mom probably held useful information about him, but I was frightened about getting her involved because I thought if she thinks I want to find my dad, I had this idea that I would make her want to leave me. So I said, can we do the search without involve in her first? So we did, but nothing came up, so I said, right, okay, I’m going to have to have this really difficult conversation. So I phoned my birth mom. I told her I want to look for my a dad. She was upset, I was upset. We were both crying and she said, I understand why you want to do it. I think, I think she just carries a lot of hard feelings from and I’ve tried to understand that. So I said, well, you help me. She said, yes.

Damon (23:12): Isabel shared information with the social worker to aid their search. Laura had his name, a physical description of the man and the names and locations of places he had worked, but no results came from their search. She got an idea to make a Facebook video to try to appeal to her local community, including Sterling, where she grew up to see if anybody had information about this guy on father’s day 2018 at the peak of frustration with her difficult search juxtaposed against her effortless search for Isabel. She recorded an unscripted video appeal in the video. Laura outlined at the situation around her birth, described her birth father, and she asked for information about him from anyone with local knowledge. The next morning, Laura had three Facebook messages from people she didn’t know.

Laura (24:03): So I opened them and I read them and it was from three women who knew my dad.

Damon (24:08): Wow.

Laura (24:08): I think one from school, maybe one just from his work and maybe one was just from the local area. So I felt for a moment I feel absolutely elated. And then immediately after that I just felt deflated and I felt broken because all three of them described to me that my father had been dead for 10 years. So that was that. So it just, at that point, it just felt like the train had stopped when I was looking for him. It was frustrating, but it felt like something was in motion. Something was happening, something exciting was coming my way. But when I found out he died, it was just the end of our journey and it was on Monday. So I thought, God, well my dad’s died, but I have to go to work. I thought, can I take time off work for this guy that I don’t know who’s died? Um, do you get bereavement leave 10 years after the death of no funeral to arrange? So I thought, I don’t know. So I couldn’t really face having this conversation with my work because I thought it might be really difficult. So I thought, I’m just, I do, I want, I don’t want to go to work. I want to just find out more. But I thought I’m just going to go and see how I get on.

Damon (25:15): Needless to say, Laura didn’t get any work done that day. She spent her time searching obituaries for her birth father. The Facebook acquaintances of the man gave Laura the correct spelling of his last name. It ended with an E, not an I. So she had been searching for the wrong identity the whole time. But with that error corrected, the obituaries were easy to find and shockingly informative.

Laura (25:40): I remember just reading it and then I felt like I’d jumped up out of my own skin because underneath the obituary and the comments section, there was a comment from someone called Rayne and it said, rip dad that, so for the first time in my life, that was when I discovered that I had a sister. I knew it was possible and my dad had other children, but there was nothing solid before then. So I thought, wow, I’ve just discovered my sister.

Damon (26:06): Wow, that’s incredible.

Laura (26:10): So I’ve searched on Facebook and online, but I couldn’t find anything so, so,

Damon (26:16): Well, before you go down that, that road there, I want you to just tell me a little bit more about the grieving period that you had there, because this is a guy that you said, you know, I didn’t know this guy, he’s been gone for 10 years, but still there’s an attachment that you feel to this person because you are obviously biologically and genetically connected to this person.

Laura (26:39): Yeah, yeah.

Damon (26:40): Tell me about your sort of grieving period. What you, what did you feel, what did you do?

Laura (26:46): Um I sought counseling. I started going to a counselor and that was, it was really helpful for me because it just gave me a space to just, to just um, just be angry about it and upset and a space where I wasn’t judged and no one tried to give me advice or to tell me what to do. And equally I felt good because I think I’d been talking to my, my husband and my adoptive family about it for so long that I thought maybe they might be a bit sick of it and a bit burdened by it. So it felt good just to have a space that was completely in mind where I could just talk about what I wanted and talk about it at whence that was helpful for me. That’s great. Yeah.

Damon (27:28): Yeah. I think, uh, I don’t think enough people seek out that safe space to talk and you know, you end up in your own head and that’s not always as a great, safe mental health space. And so seeking some counseling can be really, really helpful. That’s great that you did. So Laura got married in March, 2017 but she didn’t find her birth father until June of 2018 just before she found him. In may of 2018, Isabel stopped responding to Laura calls and texts, cards and letters all went unanswered. Her youngest brother had ghosted her too.

Laura (28:09): After some prodding, um, I got a reply from a brother who was very angry, very upset in a way that I’d never known him to be before. He seemed angry at me. I can’t, I can’t remember what about, but it gave me a smash and the way that teenagers can, um, and then he blocked me.

Damon (28:28): So he blocked you?

Laura (28:31): Yeah. Blocked my number so I couldn’t contact him. And then, and then my mom had bought my birth mom had blocked me as well. Uh, at the time I thought it was temporary, so I thought I’ve just got to wait it out and I thought I’ll wait, she’s in a Huff, she’ll come out of it. So it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time.

Damon (28:53): Laura thinks it’s likely that her birth mother saw a Facebook video and the things she was posting online about her search and it was too much for her. Back on her birth father. She learned that his brother, her uncle still lived in her paternal grandparents’ home. She had located her birth father’s grave, so that same Monday that she found his obituary online, she went to visit his final resting place where he’s buried with his parents, her grandparents. She had also written a letter to her uncle, which she slipped through the letter slot in his front door.

Laura (29:26): I really wanted to knock on the door. I thought that might be too much.

Damon (29:29): That’s really fascinating. I can only imagine how he felt on the other side to have received that because it would not have had postage on it. It would have been just, it would’ve been clear that it was hand delivered likely by you. Laura waited all week for a response which came that Thursday on her phone was a number with an area code in Sterling where her uncle lived.

Laura (29:52): So I answered that. And it was my, my auntie who had also found out about, and she was, you’re so nice to me. So nice. She said, hello Laura, thanks for your way around. It’s so nice to hear from you. And she didn’t mean these words in any bad way and there is no badness contained in them. She said, we didn’t know anything about you and that’s not their fault. I thought they may have known. I thought I might have told them. So it was a like shocked to see, to find out that my dad had kept me a secret and it must’ve been a big shock for them too.

Damon (30:23): Yeah, for sure. Especially if he had been deceased for 10 years.

Laura (30:28): Yeah. Yeah. So, um, the way that things happened after that was that I went a couple of weeks later, I went to meet with all of them, my auntie, my uncle, my cousins, um, at her house I decided, I decided to keep things quiet. I kept things off social media because my birth mom wasn’t speaking to me and I felt angry and I thought, well, if she’s not going to speak to me, she, I don’t feel she has an entitlement to know all the stuff that’s going on. She wants to know what’s going on. I want her to speak to me and be involved and support me if she can. So the first meeting was, um, that was the time when I seen, I thought of my dad for the first time. I didn’t immediately see it, but I went home later, um, and put pictures, of me and him together and a half has face a half his whole face. Um, I don’t know. But when I was born, I had really bright ginger here and the first picture of him, he had really deep, deep red thread here. A disclaimer as being like Ronald McDonald. Really eh, intense. And I remember just, I fell overcome laughter because I thought, I knew from the descriptions that I dread that my dad had red or ginger here, but I didn’t expect it to be so in your face as it was. And it was, it was handsome. It was in a wedding photo with his first wife and he had a suit on and it was nice. And then I thought, well after that last scene of him was not too long before he died and it was very fun. And I learned that when he died it had an eating disorder. Um, I think it might’ve been anorexia and he died when he was about, maybe I’m at 53 I think. So I found a lot out.

Damon (32:19): That is fascinating. When you get to see the picture of the person for the first time and, and they’re, they’re full color, they’re full features. All of them is represented in a photo for you to see for the first time. It’s really amazing.

Laura (32:33): Yeah. Yeah.

Damon (32:36): Go ahead.

Laura (32:37): Oh no. Yeah, I think I’ve built up, I must have develop quite a collection of pictures of hin. And I spend a lot of time, I’ve got this app where you can put photos side by side and I do that. Me and him zooming in and me and him and my mum and just different family members and finding more myself.

Damon (32:55): That’s really interesting. Wow, that’s cool. I had just a side note, I had a same thing happened to me and I didn’t know that my biological mother was a stark redhead either. So.

Laura (33:07): WOW

Damon (33:08): No, you know, I’m black and my, when I was growing up as a youngster, I used, to you know, wore an Afro in the 70s and things like that and.

Laura (33:17): yeah.

Damon (33:17): And my mom would, once in a while she would comment about these reddish tints in my hair and now where I don’t, I cut my hair super short now. So you could never ever see it anymore cause I go where bald head. But I remember when I first saw a picture of her with this red hair, my, my adopted mother’s voice came back to me saying, I wonder where you get this, you know, this red hair from in there she was this bright red hair. It was really cute to see. So I can, it resonates with me that you see this bright red hair for the first time and you’re like, Whoa, that’s amazing. So how was it meeting your, your paternal family?

Laura (33:57): Oh, it was, it was really good. I think because I’d grown up so much from the first union, I felt much more able to just say what was on my mind and just be honest and upfront and not be so afraid. It was probably easier because with my dad being dead, it was out of the picture so he wasn’t there either as a barrier or you know, as the passion bring us together so I could kind of do it on my own terms. So I remember when I first met them, I just, I was honest and I said, you know, one thing that’s been really worrying me as you might think, I am back here to get money or to get something from you and we joked about it and laughed and you know, they said, no, that’s not the case at all. But it’s a genuine worry I think we have as adoptees that birth families think, why are we back? There must be some reason we must want something from them, something something sinister maybe, but it was a good meeting since the first meeting. I would start going through every other weekend and my birthday was in September and I went to see them, I think maybe on birthday or the day after and there they had a birthday cake for me.

Laura (35:04): That’s so cool.

Laura (35:06): It was really cool. It made me think, wow, I don’t have any shared history with these people, but they cared about me and they want to have me and they do things to make me feel valued. That meant,

Damon (35:20): Oh yeah, it really does and you’ve come back as a representative of, you know, they’re deceased, which is really cool. Laura expected that her sister would be younger than herself, but she’s older because she’s from her birth. Father’s first marriage. Laura’s paternal sister lives in Manchester, England, so it was a little harder to meet up with her for the first time, but they did in April, 2019

Laura (35:46): I was very worried about contacting her at first because I thought that she might feel some anger towards me. I had no idea of what her relationship had been like with my dad. And so I thought maybe she might feel threatened by me or might feel anger towards me as someone who’s coming to intrude. So I waited a good few weeks and now I worried about it for a few weeks straight about what to do and have to contact her and whether I should contact her. But my aunt and uncle and cousin didn’t say too much about it. I don’t think they wanted to get in the way. So it got to the point where I thought, right, I just need to write her a letter, um, that’s always seemed to be the best way. It gives people time to process things and respond in their own time. So I put together a letter I try not to put too much and I said, I don’t want to burden you with all my emotions about things, but I’m here and if you want me, I’m here. So there you go. Um, and she came back to me quite quickly by text and I discovered, I’ve learned so much from her. I’ve learned that relationships beset ones, they don’t have that same tension that they do with parents. She was so welcoming and easy with me. She said, I’ve always wanted a sister. I’m so glad you’re here. And things, things have been easy and I always feel suspicious in what he suddenly things are going to take about term, but they seem to be fine.

Damon (37:13): Laura took a day trip to Manchester. She could have tried to stay for a few days, but she didn’t want to put an undue burden on their relationship too early creating pressure to entertain her or maintain interesting conversation when things could be emotionally difficult. The sisters met at Victoria train station in Manchester

Laura (37:32): And then I remember just walking up to me and let’s seen pictures over. So I knew what she looked like, but the two of us were just laughing and I think it was just that the, it just seemed like such a ridiculous situation. Um, so nice to meet each other but sort of ridiculous that we’ve had all this time apart. Um, so ridiculous to meet your sister as an adult and to have to introduce yourself and tell each other about your lives. But it was, it was really lovely. We had a really lovely meeting.

Damon (37:57): That’s a really cool, yeah, she was so welcoming and I always love to hear when someone says that their sibling always wanted a sibling of their, own.

Laura (38:08): yeah.

Damon (38:09): So that’s really cool that she always wanted a sister. That’s awesome. My curiosity turned to how Laura’s adoptive parents handled the whole situation. She describes her adoptive father as kind of on the sidelines, not really knowing how to be involved.

Laura (38:23): I don’t think he really knew how to be involved. So whereas my adoptive mom was with me all the way supportive. I mean, I chose to meet my birth mom on my own and I’m glad that that I wanted that to be my moment because I’ll have my adoptive mom and she’s a great person, but she can be very loud and she can over take over situations without meaning to and without realizing it. So I needed my first meeting just to be mine , but she was with me all the social work meetings encouraging me. She’s been really very good and I needed her support as a 17 year old. I was still know, I know legally I was an adult, but my mind, I was still child and didn’t know much about the world, so I need to have her beside me. And she was so, she was very good. but my dad I think he’s, he’s supportive but there’s just not that same interest there. There’s not that same strong curiosity about it. And I think because I’m a grown up now and because I’m married, I’ve got my husband and I speak to him much more about it, which is, which is feigned and it’s been a totally with different journey finding a grave and not finding a person. So I’ve been able to seek out more professional help on my own.

Damon (39:35): Well that’s good. That’s good to hear.

Laura (39:37): Yeah. Yeah.

Damon (39:39): The, the journey, you know, you, you go down the road and you just don’t know what kind of twists and turns are ahead of you on dead ends and it’s, it’s gotta be really sad to try to find this person and then learn that they’ve been gone for a very long time.

Laura (40:00): Yeah. Yeah.

Damon (40:02): Did you, I’m curious, did you, when you learned about the fact that he had been gone for 10 years, did you go back in time and try to think where was I at that time.

Laura (40:14): Oh, yeah, I still do. I do that so often. Um, I’ve got a rough idea of where I might have been, what I was doing. It died and April, 2009 and I’m thinking I would have been at university, I would have been aged 18. I would’ve been not long and to have a reunion with my mother when he was in hospital dying. And I think, what was I do? I think, what was he doing when he took his last breath? Where was I? What was I thinking? How was I feeling? Should I have known somehow? Should something have told me that I should have known and I think about, I think about his funeral and that there would have been funeral cars driving around and I’m just getting on in my life. Yeah.

Damon (40:56): Yeah. It’s kinda hard when you think about someone else’s passing and when you weren’t there. Like what was I doing and how come I wasn’t tuned into the universe to, to know what’s happening.

Laura (41:06): Right. Yeah. Yeah.

Damon (41:07): There’s a little bit of an, an uh, a guilt trip that you put on yourself for not having been conscious of this thing that was happening around you.

Laura (41:17): There is, there is, but in some small way, in some very small way. I do feel glad because I think if I had searched for him at that age and at that time it would have sent my education off course. I don’t think it could have focused and I don’t think I could have taken on grief with the same strengths and the same ability to find support that have I have now.

Damon (41:38): Yeah, that’s a good point. That’s a good point. Cause you would have met him at a time of sickness and in potentially facing his demise. You know that’s you’re, you’re right about that. There’s no way to change it and it may be good that it good is not the right word. It might be fortunate that it happened the way that it did.

Laura (42:01): Yeah. Cause I still know he’s gone and I’ve still gotten to memorialize them in my own way. But I’m glad it’s happened when I’ve been older and more mature and more aware of the support that’s around me and the support that I can create for myself.

Damon (42:16): That’s great. Well Laura, thank you so much for taking time to share your story. It’s been fascinating to hear sort of some of the parallels obviously with my own story where you know, you see this picture of this person for the first time and when you get to see yourself next to them like wow, look at us. We do look alike.

Laura (42:36): It’s mind blowing.

Damon (42:36): And yeah, but I also appreciate what you said about sort of setting boundaries too, because I think that’s really an important thing that people miss. We’re diving into this reunion and you want to just keep scooping in information and drinking from this fire hose as fast as you can, but you don’t think to yourself like what kind of person am I? Am I the type of person that needs to like sit and process stuff and should I tell this other person that I’m meeting for the first time? Hey, I need, I’m going to need time. So I like it. You said that cause I think that’ll be beneficial to others. Yes.

Laura (43:09): Thank you. I appreciate your time, as well.

Damon (43:11): Oh, thanks so much. Alright Laura. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Recover from those races. Get some rest. Okay.

Laura (43:18): I will do. I will do. Thanks Damon.

Damon (43:20): Alright talked to you later. Bye. Bye. Bye.

Laura (43:27): Hey, it’s me. I thought the role social media played in Laura’s journey was interesting. Facebook was both instrumental in finding answers about her birth father and damaging in creating separation between her and her birth mother. I think one lesson learned about going into reunion is you need to communicate to set boundaries. If you can, if you feel that you’re going to need time, you should say that, but if you feel like you’re wide open, you should say that too. Still, no matter how much you prepare yourself, there will always be emotional ups and downs, twists and turns that you could never have prepared for. I’m Damon Davis and I hope you’ll find something in Laura’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, I’ve had a lot of people reach out to support the show. I want to thank you guys. Many people have done so on, but a lot of folks have basically said, come on man, do I have to join another platform? No, you don’t. If you’ve already got PayPal or Venmo accounts, you can support the show there too. You can find me at or on Venmo at Damon L Davis and another thing, I hope you’ll leave a rating wherever you get your podcasts. I tried to read as many as I can because they inspire me to keep going and as you know, those ratings can help others to find the podcast too. Thanks for listening. If you’re interested, you can find who am I really an adoptee memoir on and like I always say, I hope you’ll find something in my story 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.

Who Am I Really?

Find the show on: