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105 – I Call Her Incubator

My guest asked that I maintain her anonymity, so I’ll refer to her as Nina. She shared her story growing up with dedicated parents who embraced her challenges and gave her the foundational support she needed. Her birth father found her through a reunification registry and while he has his own struggles, he’s a very dear friend to Nina. However, her birth mother started down the path of secondary rejection, won’t take responsibility for not getting Nina pre-natal care, and is overzealous with her dedication to her religion, driving a wedge between Nina and the woman. This is Nina’s journey.


My guest asked that I maintain her anonymity, so I’ll refer to her as Nina. She shared her story growing up with dedicated parents who embraced her challenges and gave her the foundational support she needed. Her birth father found her through a reunification registry and while he has his own struggles, he’s a very dear friend…


Nina (00:03):

You know, my relationship with my birth mother is nonexistent anymore. I kind of hate calling her birth mother. I usually call her incubator because, you know, she did, that’s all she did for me. That’s all she’s ever done for me.

Damon (00:22):

Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

Damon (00:34):

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 my guest today asked that I maintain her anonymity. So I’ll refer to her as Nina. She shared her story growing up with dedicated parents who embraced her challenges and gave her the foundational support. She needed. Her birth father found her through a reunification registry. And while he has his own struggles, he’s a very dear friend to Nina. However, her birth mother started down the path of secondary rejection. Won’t take responsibility for not getting Nina prenatal care and is overzealous with her dedication to her religion. All of which has driven a wedge between Nina and the woman. This is Nina’s journey life for Nina was idyllic as an adoptee. She was told she was adopted and her adopted parents never kept it. A secret. Nina told me she still has a Sesame street book called Susan and Gordon adopt a baby in which big bird asks the couple questions about adoption and what it means. She likened her life to the book because she would ask questions. They would be answered and life would go on. Everything was just fine until Nina was 12 years old,

Nina (01:57):

But I know that they did start taking me to the therapist after a bit, because I started to having these nightmares that, um, I was being abducted by my birth parents in, um, in a white van. And, uh, you know, one of those, uh, one of those creepy white vans we all talk about. So, you know, the windowless white van came and took me. So, um, I don’t where that trope came into my mind at eight years old, but it did everything. Everything was completely idyllic until my adoptive father died. Um, when I was 12, suddenly from a heart attack

Damon (02:38):

Quickly, before you get to the, to your father, did the, did the therapy help?

Nina (02:45):

Um, you know, the therapy was quite interesting because it did help. I still maintain that therapist, even though she’s a child therapist, you know, if I’m in, if I’m in town, I will still go and see her. Um, so because there is such a long relationship there that she really does understand me. I think she, she was most fascinated by the fact that, you know, I had forecasted my dad’s death when I was like eight. Well, she did those picture things. And she said, you know, tell me, tell me something. And she’s drawing pictures that she had little, you know, stuffed animals in there. And I drew a picture apparently of my dad lying on the ground. And she said, what’s that? And she’s, I said, well, that’s dad. And she said, why is he on the ground? And I said, he’s had a heart attack and he’s dead.

Nina (03:38):

So, um, I don’t know, maybe at that point I became the creepy sixth sense child or something, but, um, anyway, I don’t know, um, take it as you like, but I guess they tend to look at it as, um, as, you know, having a closeness to, to him and, you know, being able to see that. But, um, he did, he had a heart attack and he died and then it did make things, it made things so, so very different. I don’t want to say hard, but it made things really rather different with my relationship with my mom, because I am disabled primarily because of my birth mother’s actions. My adopted mom became that helicopter parent you always hear about, but it was more like, you know, be careful, I don’t think you can do this because you know, you’ve got some disabilities. Whereas my dad was just kind of like, Oh, let her play in the dirt. It’s good for her. You know? Um, so he was definitely that type of parent and, um, which, which I thought was good. And I think that’s probably the way all parents, because, you know, it’s like, well, you know, you have issues that, Hey, um, you know, you’re either gonna breathe. They’re gonna like, mollycoddle you, or, you know, you’re going to get through this, um, and get through this with some life skills. So

Damon (05:04):

Nina said she kind of resisted her adopted mother’s style of parenting, but by the same token, her adopted mother was pretty busy running the family business and maintaining their house. So Nina didn’t see her much during that time. She didn’t feel unloved. She had the feeling that her adopted mom would spend time with her, after everything was done. She says her mom has always been like that. And it’s a repeated theme of her life to this day. She says her mom just likes to work. Even at Christmas time when her adopted mother comes over, she cleans the floors after Nina and her husband have already done so. Nina says her adopted mother. Does those things from a place of caring?

Nina (05:48):

Yes, exactly. I do see it all as caring and, you know, I’m very glad that I have somebody who, who is like that.

Damon (05:56):

That’s really cool. even if it’s challenging. I know what you mean. There’s there’s folks around you that they just, they care so much in the way that they do things that it can be challenging to have them around all the time because of that level or that type of character

Nina (06:14):

It is. But, you know, having been sick this whole time, it’s like, you know, I, I do, I need her around. Um, and I don’t, you know, I think my husband could provide some of that care, but, you know, because, because he has a set job, you know, whereas, you know, um, my mother owns her own business, you know, and so she could kind of make her own hours. So then it’s like, you know, um, I do, I’m better off being taken care of by her

Damon (06:46):

Nina shared that her adopted father was white. He was in his fifties when they adopted Nina, his brother, her uncle took a DNA test that basically said they were Northern European with some Northern African mixed in that was a shock for the uncle who Nina says was slightly racist, but her father was probably indifferent to it all in the 1960s. He marched as a white ally with blacks fighting for civil rights, even going back to his youth, he would have parties at his home on the farm for the Mexican farm hands of his parents, that kind of behavior incensed, his mother Nina’s grandmother, who was also very racist,

Nina (07:28):

Incredibly racist. And so he actually, I don’t know what happened, but he, he became the opposite of that. And, you know, something clicked in his head and, uh, and unlike his brothers and sisters, he just, he became very, very committed to the opposite cause to the cause of, you know, unification of everyone, you know, race was, was there, but it was mostly a social construct that we have imposed upon ourselves. Um, but, uh, so the, um,

Damon (08:02):

How about your mom, what is her, her racial or ethnic background?

Nina (08:06):

Um, she, she was, that’s interesting because it’s like almost, almost the opposite cause she grew up in a little town and um, basically she and her family were like the only Brown people, but you know, is the funny part about, you know, people who are racist is they’re, they’re so dumb. And so that, you know, they don’t even seek to see, you know, where you’re from, you know, so she, she and her family got called the N word all the time, but they were half Polish and half Lebanese. Um, so, you know, that’s a very interesting pair to have. Um, as she admits and says to other people who say, wow, that’s a really interesting combination. You know, she said, well, they were both Catholics. So that’s the only way that worked out.

Damon (08:54):

Nina says she really resembles her adopted mother, such that whenever she was with her father who was a bit older, he was often seen as her grandfather, which upset her. She’s a little bit lighter in complexion than her mother. But if you saw them together as a family unit, you could easily make the leap that the couple shared biology with their daughter recounting what led up to her search for her birth family. Nina said, she asked more often about her birth mother, nearly never about her birth father. Her questions started at an early age arising around the time her therapy began.

Nina (09:30):

Then it was, you know, it was all kind of like, well, you know, when, when you’re ready to go in and try to, you know, search for her, we’ll help you, you know, but then they put in the caveat of, but you have to remember that she, she may have, you know, a different life and not want to be found. And so, uh, and they, they did, they always gave me the caveat of, of, you know, this may be a whole different, you know, situation for her. And yeah, I get that in my brain, by the same token, it popped up every once in a while then I thought, Oh, I wonder my shit. And then it thought, and then I kind of thought a little bit more about it and um, really, really gave it some, some hard thinking. It came down to, I wanted to see somebody who looked like me and I think that’s, you know, that’s kind of an old, an old trope there in itself, but it’s true. I think, yeah, that’s the thing about stereotypes is unfortunately they’re stereotypes because they’re, they’re true. And it wasn’t enough that my mother sort of looks like me. Um, you know, it was, it was something else. Cause they said they met her briefly.

Damon (10:47):

Did they describe to you at all what the circumstances were for them meeting her?

Nina (10:53):

Yeah, it was, it was fully described to me because I was a private adoption. So, you know, it was very, it was all very, um, I mean it is a private, but it was all very open for a little bit. They just, they, they said that they had gone in there right after she had delivered and they were, they were kind of, I guess the doctors were working on me per se and uh, you know, then they got to go see her. And, uh, before they saw me and then they, they said that she, uh, they said that she looked like me and, uh, that was pretty much about it. That’s pretty much all, both of them remembered.

Damon (11:37):

Nina said she knew the doctor and the nurse who delivered her and they both recalled her birth mother at the time of her delivery. They said her birth mother looked very young. She seemed very scared. And they said there were complications from not really getting any prenatal care.

Nina (11:54):

He said, I was way I was in the oven way too long. I was the over cooked bun. That’s where all my disabilities came from. It’s kind of one of those spectrum things of you need to be born right in the middle because there’s being born way too early, which causes complications and being born way too late, which causes complications.

Damon (12:12):

So can you give me a timeframe, like how much longer were, do you know how many weeks you were born?

Nina (12:20):

Um, I don’t know, but he just, he, he told me, um, and it’s always been told to me by medical professionals because it’s just on my chart since forever that, you know, I was born too late. Um, and that was just going to cause some complications. But you know, my parents didn’t really care. They were really quite desperate for a child and they did not care whether I was a boy or a girl, or if I came out with, you know, three feet, um, they, they were going to take me home full stop.

Damon (12:52):

The delivery doctor said Nina was going to need some help because to use her words, the bun in the oven might come out larger if you leave it in longer, but you’re also likely to burn it. But Nina’s adopted parents never told her the reason why she struggled with physical disabilities, seeing that she was intellectually strong, they made the decision to keep the fact that she was in gestation too long to themselves in their estimation. They could help her overcome her physical limitations and difficulties. Nina says she’s had trouble walking has decreased stamina and has a weakened immune system.

Nina (13:28):

And then also just being susceptible to pretty much anything that goes is like, there’s a cold going on. I’m going to catch it. It’s like I should have been a goalkeeper for soccer because anything comes along and I catch it.

Damon (13:44):

She told me her physical limitations played out weirdly in her academics. As the school staff seemed to make assumptions about her intellectual limitations and put her in classes beneath her capabilities. She remembers one time her father had to go into the principal’s office to have a confrontation about putting his daughter on the right curricular path. Anyway, Nina search was also partially catalyzed a few years ago because her health was suffering so much that she really felt she needed to find her birth mother medical necessity compounded with the still present desire to find someone who looked like herself drove her forward.

Nina (14:25):

And it was interesting because whereas, you know, my parents had always said, Oh, you know, when it’s the time is right, we’ll help you. That was really not the case with my mom. She had a complete change of heart was not okay. And I think it was due to the fact that, you know, she did most of the medical complications that had happened had just, you know, kind of boiled down to resentment over the years for her. And I don’t know, I didn’t see it that way because, um, I dunno, it just, I guess, you know, part of me was just like, well, she was young and she was scared. So anyway, call it naive. They call it whatever you want. Um, but she, she, there was no prenatal care and there she did nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Damon (15:11):

Nina told me her birth mother had resources available while she was pregnant. There were clinics and other opportunities for services, but her birth mother didn’t do a single thing for Nina’s health. Knowing that watching her daughter’s struggles made her adopted mother resentful at 30 years old, Nina decided she would start off on Facebook looking for her birth mother. And she found her immediately. They weren’t Facebook friends. So there was some online stalking, checking out what other people posted on her wall to learn more about the woman. Nina said, she also knew where her parents kept all of the important papers at their house, everything from vehicle titles to bank notices. So she figured there were probably adoption documents there too.

Nina (15:58):

And indeed there was a paper, I don’t know, some odd part of, a will cause my mother and I made a will together and there was some odd part of it that had said, you know, in the event of my death, this lady was being notified and they gave an address. And it was, it was really kind of a once, once I got there as a very out in the woods address, but on Facebook, I was able to utilize that address and that, you know, location that town to see that, you know, it was, it was definitely that people from that area, um, you know, were her friends on Facebook,

Damon (16:41):

Nina sent her birth mother a message through Facebook, then waited a week. She sent another message. Then she realized her birth mother wasn’t accessing the other messages section of her Facebook page. But Nina felt confident. She had found the right woman. They looked so much alike in the eyes. And Nina could see that if the woman cut her hair shorter, they would look just alike. She saw pictures of her half-brothers and she looked almost exactly like one of them too, since seeing people who looked like herself was so important to Nina. I figured this must have been a really poignant moment to see faces like hers online. She said

Nina (17:23):

It was actually creepy. It was actually quite creepy to me and I, and that’s the best word I can use to describe it. My husband, he always says, I don’t understand creepy. He said, he said, I’ve never understood the word creepy. He said, I’ve never been creeped out. And, um, and we, we had some incident, I forget what it was exactly. But he looked at me and he’s like, he goes, that’s creepy. I said, that’s exactly it. That is creepy. And I got him to figure out creepy. And I said, what? And you know, he has Aspergers, but, um, you know, so I always go over things with him. Um, cause I I’ve worked with people with Aspergers. Um, and so I always go over healings with him and I say, so why did that make you feel creepy? And he said, well, because it was a situation that I thought would never arise. And he said, but it was almost, you know, he said it was almost too good to be true. And he said that, he said, but by the same token, he said, it’s just so many coincidences that line up. He said that it kind of kind of scares you a bit. And so it was, it was a situation where a lot of coincidence is lined up and it did, it scared me a bit.

Damon (18:42):

Nina never got a reply to her Facebook messages. So with a friend who bolstered her confidence to press on, she drove out to the address she had for her birth mother. Nina said she was glad her friend was by her side because the address was to what Nina described as a dilapidated flophouse. It had no windows and there was a barn attached to it when they arrived. There was a couple standing outside and there were people inside, but no one knew of Nina’s birth mother from 30 years before Facebook also listed a workplace for her birth mother. So they went there, Nina spoke with her birth mother’s boss and asked if he would deliver a message.

Nina (19:25):

And I said, so if you could, would you deliver this letter? And he read it, you know? And then he, it was, he knew it was about, you know, adoption and it’s detriment that is looking for birth records. And, you know, then, then I added that, you know, two things is that I would like to see her because I was always told that I looked like her. And then the other thing was, is that I wanted her to know I was okay. Um, and, uh, you know, cause there’s that thing of, you know, I want you to know you made the right decision or whatever. So I, so I put that in there and he said, um, and he just, he was very, he was very encouraged and very Croft, but, um, I thank him for doing, for, for, uh, extending himself a little bit.

Nina (20:09):

So then he just kind of looked at me and my friend and he was like, you stay here. And so it’s like, okay, great. Where’s it going now to get his gun or something actually sure enough. He returned. And he returned with, with this lady, um, who I was pretty sure was my birth mother and, I, talked for a little bit anyway, she listened and really had no expression on her face except for kind of a listening expression. And um, anyway, she just listened to what I had to stay. And then she just said, I’m sorry, I’m not that person. So it was really, it was just like, you know, when she said, Oh, I’m a no this woman you’re looking for. She said, we have the same name. It’s a very, it’s a very uncommon name, very uncommon name. I looked at it and I just looked at her and I just, I, I did, I wanted to say you’re lying, but I didn’t but anyway, I was, I was really upset with myself, you know, because when you’re a perfectionist at the end of the day, it’s like, you’ve let yourself down.

Nina (21:16):

But I did. I was just like, you know, I came out here all the way, you know, and, and to country of, you know, dust bowl and tumbleweed. And, you know, it’s just like, you know, and then I dragged my friend along with me and you know, this, this bore no fruit, which is all. And then it’s like, there’s this woman. She looks exactly like me. I just, I did something inside me said, you know, you’re not wrong about this. And then my friend looked at me and, you know, we chatted to this lady and then I just kind of broke down crying. Cause it’s just like, I thought I had it. I absolutely thought I had it. So she rejects me to my face. Um, I’m very upset because I did, I was for sure, um, that this was her. And so then, um, as usual, when you have any problems, um, a hamburger fixes everything. So, um, you know, my friend and I drove out of that area and back to civilization and uh, sat down and, uh, we had cheeseburgers together and, uh, an extra, extra large portion of fries.

Damon (22:24):

That’s medicinal right there. Right. So what’s happened. What happens next? Then you guys have, you have some medicinal food and hamburgers and stuff.

Nina (22:34):

I’d given this lady my phone number. And I said, if you find the other person from your hometown that has the same name, um, would you please call me and let her know that I, I need to find her because I, you know, I’m desperate for some medical information. And so, you know, she took it smiled nodded and gave me a hug and, you know, Pat on the cheek and a kiss on the forehead and said, you know, don’t worry, you’ll find her. And it was just, you know, this the way she acted. And she said, well, if you’re ever in any medical need, you know, I would be willing to donate blood to you. And it’s just, it was, it was, she was very sweet and maternal and you know, it was came off as very upset that, you know, I couldn’t find this, this lady,

Damon (23:23):

Nina confesses, she took this woman at her word that she was not her birth mother, even though every fiber in her being was screaming, you’re lying. So she and her friend are enjoying their yummy medicinal cheeseburgers, recounting everything they had been through to that point. Then Nina’s phone rang.

Nina (23:46):

I looked at my friend and she goes, I think that’s her. And I think she’s calling to tell you that it’s her. So I answered and you know, kind of, bit of hesitation and, uh, you know, it’s her on the other side of the line. And she says, um, yes, I’m your mother. And she said, you know, there was no, sorry, I lied to you. There was just, yes, I’m your mother. You know, I have some medical documents and it was just, she, she just kinda went into robot mode and you know, yes, I have this, yes, I have that. And blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And it’s like, okay, fantastic lady. But why, why weren’t you honest? You know? And I, and I said to her, you know, why, why weren’t you honest? Um, you know, I was right there. She said, well, I was scared.

Nina (24:41):

And I said, but you know, it was just us and your boss. Nobody else had to know. I said, you know, it was any of your family around. She said, no, it was just like, well, okay, so you, you created this, you know, I didn’t go into it at the point that it was like, you create this huge lie, not knowing me not anything. And it just, it came out as rejection. Number two, rejection number one was when she flat out in the middle of the night from the hospital leaving no information whatsoever. And you know, even the fact that she had left like current address, the current address really didn’t exist.

Damon (25:20):

Nina admitted that her approach basically showing up at the woman’s place of employment completely unannounced was an unexpected intrusion into the woman’s world. The woman revealed to Nina, the person who convinced her to call back was her husband. He knew about Nina because with scars, from a cesarean section, there was no way to hide her truth. The couple agreed. They also needed to tell their adult children about Nina’s emergence. Nina said her birth mother didn’t want to call her back, but she’s glad the woman’s husband had the vision to recognize what his wife needed to do to step up and open up to Nina’s return and request for medical help. On the phone Nina reiterated the two things. She wanted to see someone who looked like herself and to receive her pertinent medical information.

Nina (26:11):

These are the only things I really want. I’m not asking for a full time relationship. I’m not asking you for any of that. And I said, that comes from you and said, what we get out of this that’s, that’s up to you because, you know, I’m, I’m just here and, you know, whatever you want, um in this relationship. That’s, that is, that is your choice. And, um, at your pace. And I said, you know, if it’s not good with me, then I’ll tell you. But, you know, I felt, I felt she would be the one, if anyone, to break off a relationship because she was so sketchy and she was so edgy. And so I did, I just felt that that would, you know, she, she, she would say one day, Nope. And just disappear in the scenario.

Damon (27:04):

And she hasn’t.

Nina (27:06):

I was the one who said, no, that I’ve not disappeared into thin air. Um, you know, I still have contact with, with my half brothers. Um, you know, they, they, you know, she’s made a lot of mistakes. They have, they they’ve made no mistakes. You know, I can’t, I can’t ever fault them for anything because, you know, if anything, I kind of feel sorry for them. Cause they’ve been stuck with her their whole lives.

Damon (27:33):

When I asked Nina about finding her birth father and how her birth mother helped or was supportive, she said

Nina (27:40):

She completely lied about who he was. Um, you know, she gave me a name and, you know, if it could have been any closer to John Smith, it would have been John Smith. Um, you know, it was just like a nothing name. And I don’t know where he’s from. And you know, you know, he, he walked out on me, blah, blah, blah, left me pregnant. Um, it was, it was horrible. And I knew before she told me this, that this was not true. She’s she is an absolute serial liar. Like, I dunno, I can’t even go into how much she lies about things. But my birth father had found me.

Damon (28:25):

Nina was about 20 years old. Well, before she found her birth mother, her birth father found her through an adoption search registry where Nina had entered her birth mother’s name as the woman she was searching for. But hadn’t entered a birth father’s name, the birth father’s name listed on Nina’s birth certificate was a very John DOE general male’s name anyway. So he wrote to Nina describing his life in those days, saying he was with her birth mother at the time Nina was conceived. He was pretty sure he was her biological father.

Nina (28:58):

So he goes, I am pretty sure that I’m your biological father. And you know, again, it’s like creepy, creepy man sending me creepy information, you know? And it’s like, okay, well, you know, I’d like more information from your side of things. And so he said, you know, okay, I hate to spill the beans and stuff was going on. And then said, just one day, she up and disappeared. Like literally he came, he came back to the place they were sharing and there was no note, no, nothing. Her clothes were gone. He said she didn’t have much to begin with, but the clothes were gone, everything was gone. And he just said she was, she, she just gone. And he had tried to locate her. And, um, it seems that there’s just like a little bit of, you know, in that area, there’s just kind of a, a sort of wall of silence of people protecting their own. Anyway, he said that it basically, he just kinda got turned away at most places.

Damon (29:59):

Nina’s birth father reportedly even threatened some people as he searched for his then girlfriend. But that was a bad move because those protecting Nina’s birth mother told him he needed to pack up and leave the whole abrupt and mysterious breakup took a toll on the man. His life began to decline and he even had a nervous breakdown. He told Nina that her birth mother who was overweight at the time anyway, was gaining weight, but never told him she was pregnant.

Nina (30:29):

You know, he was really excited and, you know, he sent, he has always wanted a kid and, you know, he said, I really wanted a girl too. It’s like, because you know that he did it. He said, you know, it’s, it’s about, you know, your feelings about, you know, how you want to continue. And I said, well, he was in Europe. And I said, you know, from the fact that, you know, I’m all the way somewhere else and, you know, you’re all the way somewhere else. Then I don’t feel like we can, you know, at this point have a proper relationship. And, uh, so he said, you know, that’s fine. And he said, you know, do you mind if I email you every once in a while? And he goes to promise it won’t, you know, it won’t be taxing. And so I said, yeah, and sure enough, he said, okay. And you know, nice feeding you and, uh, disappeared

Damon (31:19):

Her birth father didn’t vanish. He just went away and checked in lightly with her from time to time, like he promised he would. So her birth father lives in Europe, Nina loves studying abroad. So she decided to take a second study abroad trip in the area where her birth father was living. In that city Nina asked one of her professors to go along with her to a coffee shop and sit at a nearby table to work for her first meeting with the man who said he was her birth father.

Nina (31:48):

And so then I met the man who claimed he was my birth father and, you know, came in and it was just like, there is no resemblance to this man whatsoever. I feel he talked with me very, very well dressed, very, you know, I mean, this guy went to the best schools in the world, extremely educated, but he was, he was a little weird. Um, he was just a little weird and, you know, he said, uh, you know, you said, I have to tell you, I have like multiple mental health issues. And he said, so, um, and he’s like, one of them is kind of, he said, I’ve kind of got a bit of agoraphobia. He said, so I’m not really comfortable being here. He said, by the same token, I think it would be really weird for me to ask you to come over to my place.

Nina (32:35):

He said, and you probably won’t feel comfortable with that. And I said, no, I won’t feel comfortable with that at all. He, uh, he said, okay. And so then he said, well, you know, uh, he said that I do want to figure out if you really are my daughter and, you know, and I said, yeah, I’m totally fine with taking a DNA test or whatever. It’s like, literally next day, there’s something for me, you know, at the place I was staying at. I mean, it’s his lawyer, his lawyers, you know, dressed in a nice suit, probably a tailored suit and comes and hands me this envelope. And it’s like, okay, this guy’s got some money going on. And it was, it was an envelope basically like a nondisclosure agreement that, you know, if I don’t turn out to be the one, then I have no right to say that he has, you know, it’s just like, okay, he’s got some money here because it’s, it’s talking about, I have no right to his property or money or anything.

Damon (33:33):

Nina went over the legal documents with her professor because even with her minor in law, her emotions were overtaking her training. She signed the paper, went to the designated testing center. Then a few days later, the same well-dressed lawyer was back with more legal papers, clearly drawing the line again, that Nina has no rights to the man’s wealth. The whole thing made her wonder how many children has this guy fathered to be making such strides to protect himself. They met up again at the coffee shop. Nina’s professor posted up again nearby.

Nina (34:11):

I’m kind of surprised because I have zero resemblance to you like whatsoever. And, uh, I don’t know, I it’s, it is as a case of nature versus nurture because there’s so many things that, you know, over the years, I’ve found that he’s interested in that I am and, you know, things, I can’t really explain as to why I liked them, but then it just gets explained that he likes them. And, you know, I think we kind of have the same laugh and, um, you know, we have, he and I have a really good relationship. It’s like, you know, big brother, little sister kind of relationship, you know, I don’t, um, you know, I had my dad and that was nice. And then I’ve had a boss who is very much like a father to me, as I said, he was the one who walked me down the aisle. I’ve never had like a true father connection to my birth father. I mean, certainly he’s been there for me and all that type of thing. But, um, I don’t know. He, I guess he understands that, you know, he’s the problems that have come between us are usually due to his mental illnesses. He’ll, he’ll drop off the radar for it. He’s much better now. He’s really quite stable with his mental health now, but, you know, he would, he dropped off the radar for awhile.

Damon (35:25):

Nina told me that she doesn’t necessarily have a father daughter relationship with her birth father, even though she’s sought father like figures throughout her life since losing her adopted father, bosses, professors, and other men in strong positions in her life have all served paternal roles.

Nina (35:43):

I’m not going to lie. I have major daddy issues from, you know, my adoptive father passing away. So, um, I do look for dad somewhere and, um, you know, even, even right now, you know, because it’s two and a half years since my boss passed away, it’s like, I’m, um, I’m kind of struggling to try and stop myself from, you know, from looking at my birth father as a father because, um, you know, it’s one of those paths that you go down and it’s like, this man has, you know, some, some major mental health issues. And, um, you know, he’s, he’s tried to commit suicide a few times while I’ve known him and it’s just everything piles up for him. And he just, and that’s his, that’s his, he just, you know, every single time things pile up, they become too much and he just tries to commit suicide.

Nina (36:35):

Fortunately, he’s really horrible at it. Or, you know, he, he doesn’t do it with full intent. So I don’t know. Um, anyway, you know, I try, I’ve tried to help him. I’ve gone to visit him, but, you know, again with people who have serious, serious mental health issues, there’s only so much you can do. Um, because it is an illness. And, you know, I mean, for a lot of people, it is incurable. He has the, where with all to say, you know, I need help by the same token, you know, beyond that. It’s like, he, he does, there’s not a lot that can be done for him. You know, when he, when he’s, when he’s great, he’s awesome. When he’s not good, he’s, you know, he’s really bad. And I, I find it very hard to be around him. And I don’t like to see him suffering, but, you know, uh, I do, I feel, I feel a need to be there. So, because I mean, at the very end of the day, he’s, he’s still, he’s still very dear friend.

Damon (37:36):

Speaking of the relationships that are most important to Nina, she had nothing nice to say about her birth mother, which is a moniker. Nina has a hard time even using anymore.

Nina (37:46):

You know, my relationship with my birth mother is nonexistent anymore. I kind of hate calling her birth mother. I usually call her incubator because, you know, she did, that’s all she did for me. That’s all she’s ever done for me. She’s just an absolute habitual liar. And um the last time I saw her was probably a five hour session with my therapist and my, I went to the bathroom and as I was going to the bathroom, my therapist texted me and said, this lady is, you know, not okay. And she said, I can see it in your eyes. You’re not okay with all this. And she just said, tell this lady, you’re an atheist. I think that will get rid of her really quickly.

Nina (38:33):

And, you know, because the thing, the thing is it’s God, you know, she can’t take any responsibility, so she will, should go into this God thing. And so sure enough, you know, I say, you know, by the way, I think he should know I’m an atheist. And she just like, you know, it was wailing going on the ground. And ah, and you know, this is, this is God’s punishment for, you know, me leaving you, you know, it’s like, no, it was my own decision at a certain point in my life. But it was, if I had stayed in that relationship, it would have been, it would have been, there have been three people in that relationship, me her and God, you know, again, I know religion helps a lot of people. I met a lot of people who, you know, um, would do good things because of their religion.

Nina (39:20):

You know, I’ve, I’ve donated money to specific religious organizations that it’s, it comes down to the point that there would have been three people in that relationship. So I just cut off the relationship because she could not hold any responsibility for anything. And, you know, listen, you know, you didn’t go to prenatal care. You didn’t do this. You know, you didn’t do that. Why didn’t you do this? Oh, I don’t know. Um, the God tells me that, you know, God told me everything was going to be okay. It’s like, did God tell you that I was going to be born with cerebral palsy? Because you know, you didn’t do what you were supposed to as a mother. And as like, did you, you know, your second child, did you go to the doctors? Yes. It’s like, so why didn’t you do that with first child? It’s like, well, but you know, God tell it’s like, Oh, okay. It’s like, right. Well, I don’t know where God, got his medical degree from, but, um, he needs to be, he needs to go back for some retraining or something,

Damon (40:23):

Continuing education. Wow. This is crazy. I certainly wish that things had even started off better for you. As much as I hear disappointment, I don’t necessarily get anger from you. Is that accurate?

Nina (40:41):

I get, I get angry with her sometimes. Um, I don’t think there’s any resentment. Um, I know because I know like my mom resents her a lot. There’s a lot of resentment and I it’s, it’s a facial expression, um, that I get from my mom then it’s just like, it’s just F her. And it’s like the, the resentment that she has and it is it’s like, I have so many medical issues as you know, it just, it goes from one thing to the other that, you know, I just, I feel like, yeah, she could have gone in and helped out a bit, but that’s, that’s sort of beside the point now we’re stuck here where we are. We need to, you know, do that. You know, it’s like, I’ve not, I’ve never let my medical issues get in the way of what I want to do. And I think that if I, if I sat there and stewed long and about what happened and everything, then I would, I, I would be bitter and I would get nothing done with my life that I want to.

Damon (41:42):

Wow. It sounds like it’s been a rough road, but I mean, you are, I’ve listened to the vocabulary that you use and you’re clearly incredibly smart. I’ve listened to what you’ve said about your degrees and things. And you, you definitely have an aura of positivity about you, regardless of all, that has transpired both prior to you even being born and since, and I find that really inspiring. That’s incredible.

Nina (42:13):

Well, thank you.

Damon (42:14):

Well, thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate it. You’ve said you’d like to be anonymous. You’ve also stated your condition just now. You want me to take that down as well?

Nina (42:27):

Um, no, because I want people to understand that if you, uh, if you are lax about a pregnancy or, you know, you don’t take things that ought to be taken seriously, seriously, that that’s going to happen.

Damon (42:39):

I understand that makes a lot of sense. I like that.

Nina (42:42):

It’s an educational point, as you said, you know, I think people have a view of cerebral palsy as this, you know, really debilitating condition. And, um, it’s, I think there are a lot of us who are, it is a spectrum disorder like autism, but the thing is, is there a lot of us out there who want to say this is absolutely not something that is entirely debilitating? Yes. You do have physical problems, you know? Yes, I do have leg braces, all these things, but the. the thing is, is, you know, it doesn’t, it doesn’t prevent me from going to school, getting degrees, things like that. That’s the only time that that stopped is by, you know, administrators who say, listen, you’ve taken a lot of time off. It’s like, well, I can’t really help that. But the thing is, is it’s, it’s not, it’s not a condition that, um, you know, can prevent you from, from learning and from, you know, obtaining degrees. The only thing that can prevent you from that is, uh, you know, the outside world.

Damon (43:39):

That’s right. That’s right. Very cool. Thank you so much for taking time to share your story. I appreciate it.

Nina (43:46):

Well, thank you.

Damon (43:47):

Of course. All the best take care.

Nina (43:49):


Damon (43:54):

Hey, it’s me. I always knew that prenatal care is critically important to the development of a child, but Nina’s story of her lifelong struggle with medical issues, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and physical limitations taught me the consequences of not getting that care and letting gestation continue too long. But as you heard her say in the end, she doesn’t let anything stand in her way. When it comes to achieving great things in her life, Nina has studied abroad more than once achieved. Her PhD has gotten married and is living her life as best she can. And I love it. Of course, I wish that her birth mother could have been more apologetic for her actions and taken more responsibility for not getting prenatal care when she was pregnant with Nina.

Damon (44:44):

Thankfully, she has a dedicated adoptive mother who loves her, and that means a lot I’m Damon Davis. And I hope you’ll find something in Nina’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, you can find who am I really online at? Who am I really at, or follow me on Twitter at waireally I’d really appreciate your support for the show with Davis or Venmo at Damon L Davis. You can subscribe to who am I really on Apple podcasts, Google play, or wherever you get your podcasts. And while you’re there, it would mean so much to me. If you took a moment to share a rating or leave a comment about what the show means to you, your ratings really do help others to find the podcast too. Oh, and one more thing I just wanted to let you know that my own adoption memoir, who am I really is now available on I hope you’ll add my story to your reading list.

Who Am I Really?

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