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113 – I Was Loved Everyday By People I Didn’t Know

Carrie called me from Lynchburg, Virginia. In her journey you’ll hear her talk about the moment she realized she was found, and how she was in contact with her birth parents at the same time one the same day. Carrie talks about two amazing reunions: one where she got to see her birth mother in competition, the other where she got to meet her maternal and paternal siblings together. She also talks about herself as an adoptive mother to a special young man who came into her life at a time when he needed her most. This is Carrie’s journey… 

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Carrie (00:03): One reason why it’s all been so positive for me is that, you know, the minute I learned that they were looking for me, it was kind of like, Oh, well, they really did want me, you know, like they really did. You know, it wasn’t like I was just discarded or somebody’s secret or anything. No.

Damon (00:25): Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? 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 Carrie. She called me from Lynchburg, Virginia, in her journey you’ll hear her talk about the moment she realized she was found and how she was in contact with her birth parents at the same time. On the same day, Carrie talks about two amazing reunions. One where she got to see her birth mother in competition, the other, where she got to meet her maternal and paternal siblings together. She also talks about herself as an adoptive mother to a special young man who came into her life at a time when he needed her most. This is Carrie’s journey.

Damon (01:29): I had the good fortune to interview Carrie on January 2nd, 2020. I wished her a happy new year and added what a special anniversary this day was in her life. One year ago, that day was the first time Carrie had received an email from her biological mother over the holidays. Last year, she received a generic piece of mail that looked like a credit card offer or something. So she just stuffed it in her purse and dismissed it on new year’s Eve. She was cleaning out her purse when she found the correspondence that said the sender’s client was looking for someone that they thought might be Carrie, the woman who sent the letter was out for the holidays. So she didn’t receive Carrie’s reply until she returned to the office on January 2nd, 2019. Before we get to that though, let’s go back to the beginning. I mean, you didn’t think we were just going to jump right into the good part. Did you? I asked Carrie to tell me about adoption for her as a kid in her family and in her community. She said she was adopted at six weeks old from Catholic family services in Roanoke, Virginia. She grew up in a small town called Alta Vista, South of Lynchburg, Virginia.

Carrie (02:45): I have had the most amazing parents. I mean, I have never wanted for anything. I’ve never known anything other than a house full of love, um, which has been super amazing. And, um, I think actually kind of this year has really highlighted that more for me and given me a bigger sense of appreciation for all that I have had growing up,

Damon (03:08): Carrie had one brother, six years older than her. So he had his own set of friends. She said she was alone a lot. So she played make-believe games, did art and entertained herself. In her small town she grew up through school with nearly all of the same friends until she went away to college. She said when she was a kid, people in the community would often say she looked like her adopted mother.

Carrie (03:34): She would look at me and be like, should we tell him? And so we would always say, you know, well, I’m adopted. And so I’ve known, you know, since before I can remember that I was adopted, um, it’s never been secret or anything, you know, I don’t even really remember how I found out. Uh, I just know that I’ve always known

Damon (03:53): Carrie said she always got support, love, hugs, and kisses. She can’t even remember any tough discipline growing up. Carrie said she could go on and on about her parents and how she shares their taste in music. She’s good at fixing things like her father and she enjoys having her mother edit her writing, even though as an English teacher, she can be pretty brutal. Carrie said that as adults, she and her brother have gotten closer these days, enjoying memories with their parents. Carrie went to show on university in North Carolina, graduating with a graphic design degree, then went on to old dominion university, achieving a master’s in higher education. When she met her husband back in the Hampton roads area at ODU, they decided to move back to Lynchburg. So with what sounds like a wonderful life and no gaping holes to fill in her identity, I asked if she ever wanted to search for her biological relatives, access to the internet, sparked a nascent curiosity that had her going online, adding her name to adoption registries. But it was just a mild curiosity because it was the first time she had that level of access to information. Then a few years later,

Carrie (05:08): Maybe two or three years into our marriage, um, uh, we were talking about, you know, maybe having kids and seeing how that would go. Um, you know, that got me really curious as far as like my medical history and all that kind of stuff, which I think is pretty common. A big question people have when they’re adopted is, you know, what the heck? And especially like going to the doctors throughout my whole life, they’re like, what’s your family history? And I had to go through the whole thing. I don’t know. You know? So, um, finally I was like, well, if I’m gonna try to bring a child into the world and I probably should have some information,

Damon (05:48): One of Carrie’s friends who had done extensive adoption research, turned his skills towards her story. Then he gave her some information about herself on a whim, on a shopping trip in Roanoke, Virginia, about an hour from her home, Carrie proposed dropping into the courthouse. She gave the clerk, the information, her friend had dug up about her. The woman went away, but came back empty handed, saying her records were sealed and Carrie would have to petition the court to access them. She wasn’t so interested in accessing her information that she wanted to pursue a court case. So she just kind of let it go. That was five years ago, a short while after that, Carrie is going to work on the final day of a job that she was miserable in on that very last day of work.

Carrie (06:39): I got an email from a guy, um, who thought that he might be my brother and he thought I was his sister. I mean, he had just learned that his mom has had a baby and given her up for adoption, same day that I was born from the same hospital where I was born. And so he was trying to find his sister. And so he had found my information on whatever that site was that I had registered on years ago. And so he just reached out to me, hoping that I was his sister and I wasn’t, but I know it’s really weird is this guy actually lived in the town where I had worked for four years. And I got the email from him the last day that I worked there because I had quit my job. And so it was my final day driving to this place. And this kid had emailed me and we shared pictures and I was convinced that we were, we were related, even people near me. You know, my friends were like, Oh my gosh, he looks just like you, you know, that can really be your brother. That’s a very strange, very strange.

Damon (07:37): In December, 2018, Carrie got the nondescript letter that she thought looked like junk mail, but for whatever reason, she kept and put in her purse on Christmas Eve, Carrie cleaned out her purse and she opened the letter. She had stowed away. The author alluded to their client who was searching for a biological relative that the sender thought could possibly be Carrie and asked her to email or call.

Carrie (08:04): Even when I finally opened it, I was like, Oh gosh, am I gonna, what am I going to do? Is this is Pam? I don’t know. Do I want it? You nail them. I know it was crazy in my head for a little bit.

Damon (08:13): I can only imagine the woman was out of the office for the holiday break. So she emailed Carrie back on January 2nd, 2019. Carrie works as the secretary for a church that afternoon. It was quiet at work. No one was around just Carrie. The woman returned Carrie’s email early that afternoon, asking for confirming details about her biological family to determine if they had made a match. Carrie confirmed her date of birth, the hospital, where she was born and the organization through which she was adopted. She also highlighted that her birth mother had five siblings, a distinguishing factor from the young man who reached out to about possibly being her brother. His mother only had one brother, the woman emailed a reply to say she was going to touch base with her client. Then get back to Carrie.

Carrie (09:06): And like 20 minutes later, she emailed me again. And she said that, um, her client said that all of those things matched, you know, she had those many sisters and the knee surgery and she wanted to be a writer and she played softball and all these little things. And, uh, and that she was very, very certain that Pam was my biological mother. And so she asked what I wanted to do if I wanted to call her or what. And I said, well, just give her an email address for now, because this is so new. And you know, I’m like freaking out in the office. I’m like hyperventilating and crying. And like, nobody’s there to help me with this or witnessed this happening, which I’m kinda thankful for. Cause it was nice to have my own private moment, I guess it was just really cool. And then maybe 10 minutes later, Pam emailed me and she said, hi, I’m Pam. And a lady tells me that you’re in my birth. You know, my biological daughter. And um, you know, it was a very introductory email, you know, she’s like, I live with my husband, we had two children, you know, it was just very basic. Like I’m Pam. I would love to get to know you

Damon (10:18): In reply. Carrie wrote back how crazy the whole thing was and that she was glad Pam had found her. Of course, in that brief period between Pam searcher, finding Carrie and Pam writing back, Carrie had Facebook investigated Pam. She saw Pam’s photo a picture of her half sister and already recognized how much they looked alike during the email exchange. Pam asked if she could share Carrie’s email address with her birth father and Carrie said, yes.

Carrie (10:51): So then later in the evening he actually emailed me too. So I heard from both of them in the same day, it was nice. It was. Yeah. Yeah. So they’re not together. Um, they were not together after my conception.

Damon (11:07): I reiterated to Carrie what a massively heavy day. It must have been for her going from a letter. She nearly threw away before the holidays to emailing with both of her parents in the new year. She said the whole thing was just nuts in the best way possible. She described it like a lifetime movie playing out in front of her, except it was about her. Since Carrie was introduced to both of her birth parents on the same day, we decided to focus on her birth mother’s piece of their story first. Pam sent Carrie a Facebook request to be in closer contact, but Carrie waited a while to accept the new connection. She wanted to make sure she spoke with her parents first. So they knew all that had happened so rapidly. And wouldn’t surprised Carrie and Pam texted back and forth on Facebook messenger. First communicating with ease.

Carrie (12:01): You just chatted. I mean like we had, you know, just known each other for a long time already. I mean, it was just, it was so easy. I mean she know questions, like why did you give me up for adoption? And you know what, my medical history and you know, all these, I mean, I asked all the questions and it was like one 24 hour period. Every question of my life has been answered. Um, so that was pretty amazing.

Damon (12:29): And what was the story that she told you?

Carrie (12:32): Um, well she says that her parents, she got pregnant when she was 17. Um, and her parents were not okay with it. Um, they were about their appearance and didn’t like how that would look for their family. Um, and so they sent her away, um, when she was like four, four months pregnant, I think, um, to live with her sister in Roanoke, which is how I came to be in Virginia because the rest of the family is in Arizona. So that’s actually something pretty crazy is, um, you know, I never in my whole entire life ever imagined that my biological family members would be anywhere other than Roanoke. And I know that’s kind of small minded, I think, but looking back, I think it is, but it’s, you know, I just never even thought, Oh, that could be somewhere else. And I can remember going to Roanoke, you know, we wouldn’t go there often, but I mean, it’s closer, bigger metropolis metropolis area from Lynchburg, we’d go there to shop or whatever.

Carrie (13:36): And I can remember being hyper aware of the faces that I would see in Roanoke thinking, Oh my gosh, that person could be my mother or that person could be my brother or whatever. And we actually went to Roanoke not too long after the first email exchanges. And I remember thinking on the way there, you know, I don’t, I don’t have to do that anymore cause I know who the people are now and they’re not in Roanoke. So her parents sent her away, um, and said, you know, go live with your sister and run off, have a baby. And if you want to come back and don’t bring the baby back. And I think it was much worse than that. I mean, it’s easier to talk about it for me because I mean, I was, you know, I was a baby I don’t, I don’t remember any of that, you know, but I know that it was very hurtful for Pam. I can’t imagine being a 17 year old pregnant woman and going through that, I mean, it was 80, it was 1982 and they sent her away. I was born in 83. So, you know, unwed mothers was a big taboo thing. I mean,

Damon (14:34): And even the way you described it, it may not have been verbatim what they said to her, but just the way you termed it, if you want to come back, don’t bring the baby back. That in and of itself is harsh and like decisions

Damon (14:52): It’s yeah, it’s up to you. Um, and you know, you can either come back and be part of this family or by, and that sounds horrible.

Carrie (15:01): Yeah. I can imagine. I cannot imagine my parents trying to tell me something like that, because I know without a doubt, if I had ever come home pregnant or unwanted, they would welcome you with open arms. And you know, I couldn’t even fathom being in a situation like that because I have had such love and support from my parents.

Damon (15:22): Carrie said her birth mother, Pam can’t recall certain parts of their story. So it’s not clear if Pam didn’t contact Carrie’s birth father before she went to Roanoke or why not. But her father, Richard has his own story to tell. He told Carrie that he and Pam were high school sweethearts.

Carrie (15:41):They were in love and he woke up and she was gone and he went to her parents’ house to find her and her dad’s threatened him, was calling the police if he showed up again and was the whole thing. So my birth mother and I were ripped away from my birth father in a way. And, uh, Pam didn’t contact him during that time. I don’t know. I, like I said, I don’t know for sure. So, um, she had me a week before her 18th birthday, which I think is kind of crazy because it’s like, if I’d been born a week later, she might’ve made a different decision. I don’t know. She says that she wouldn’t have, but you know, who knows? I mean, once she turned 18, it wasn’t been up to her. So a lot of little coincidence is like that just made me go, huh? Everything really does work out how it’s supposed to.

Damon (16:34): Yeah. It’s fascinating. I mean, you could definitely sort of spend time thinking about what could have been, but the truth is regardless of she, whether she was 17 one week and 18 and next, if her parents said, you know, you make your decision and we’ll be here when you get back or whatever. I mean, it’s impossible to know how she would have done anything, any differently. Pam and Carrie had a really nice rapport as they chatted on Facebook messenger. As a matter of fact, Carrie was chatting with both parents at the same time. She said she didn’t want to go to sleep that night because there was a lot of talking back and forth. The chat with Richard was a little different. Deeper because he was more forthcoming with his emotions about his side of the story.

Carrie (17:20): So I kinda like to think that I first connected with him first more so than Pam on an emotional level. But, um, and at some point through the year, it kind of switched to now I feel like Pam and I talk a whole lot more than Richard and I do. And that’s fine. I mean, you know, there’s no right or wrong way to have a relationship with your biological parents, but you never knew

Damon (17:41): Reflecting. Carrie feels like maybe Pam was holding back a little bit, both because of the newness of the relationship. And because her emotions may have been dulled by medications, she’s taking Pam suffers from multiple sclerosis or ms. She’s been through a lot in her life from placing a child for adoption and all of the related trauma to joining the armed forces and eventually having another child with all of that in her past resurrecting her emotions under the cloud of her ms. Meds may have been hard. On the other hand for Richard Carrie’s emergence opened up a whole new world for him the same way Carrie had searched faces in Roanoke, looking for connections. Richard had searched his whole life for Carrie in Arizona, but never got anywhere either way. There were emotions opening up with both birth parents at the same time from that era in their lives. Naturally since Carrie was introduced to her birth parents nearly simultaneously, I wondered whom she met first. It was Pam, Carrie and Pam had about five to six months of chatting and getting to know one another before their meeting and listen to how unique this first meeting was

Carrie (19:01): She, okay. So she is in a wheelchair from her ms. And she participates in the national veterans wheelchair games, which is really, really, really cool. And so this year the games were in Kentucky, they were in Louisville, Kentucky, and that’s about an eight hour drive from us. And so we just early on to, she said, you know, it’d be so cool. If you could come to the games, that would be really cool way to meet you. And I don’t, I don’t know if she was serious at first, but then all of a sudden we were planning the trip.

Damon (19:33): So Carrie and her husband, Mike drove to Louisville Kentucky a couple of days before the national veterans wheelchair games. And they were having a great relaxing road trip before they left. There was a bit of a hotel mix-up. So Carrie and her husband had to scramble to reserve an Airbnb instead of staying at the same hotel as Pam and her husband, Carrie said that ended up working out well because once they arrived, she was unexpectedly uncharacteristically nervous about the reunion. Oh, and side note don’t mind carries 24 pound poodle diesel barking. At this point, our chat, her husband, Mike had just gotten home.

Carrie (20:14): It works out really well because we got to go to the Airbnb and check in and then it didn’t have to to meet her. Right. Then, you know, I could take a minute and breathe and freshen up from the long trip. And, um, so I was ultimately very thankful for that Airbnb situation was kind of stressful, not knowing we were going to be where we were going to be at first. It was like, as soon as we parked and I got in that room, I started freaking out. Like I had been fine in the hallway there, you know, jamming out our road trip tunes. We played, um, that, um, John Denver song, when we got to West Virginia, you know, I mean, it was the whole thing. We’ve had a great day. And as soon as we were there, I freak out like nervous. I was dropping everything. I was like obsessed with what I was going to wear. I even like put my head in the shower. I didn’t have time to take a shower shower, but I put my head under the water and like, did my hair, um, just for, just for meeting her, like, I’ve never felt like that. Even on my wedding day, I had never been that nervous, which is so funny to me that I was like that, cause I’m not a nervous person.

Damon (21:25): Carrie had been using an app called Marco polo that allows instant messaging and video chatting as a way of being connected with Pam’s daughter, Megan, her sister. So she turned it on in the cab for the ride to the reunion. Carrie’s husband. Mike took the phone to record the reunion as it happens. So some of curious friends could watch the event online when they reached the lobby of the hotel. It was actually easier to recognize her birth mother at the far end of the room because of her wheelchair.

Carrie (21:55): It’s actually kind of dramatic. I walked the whole length of the room and she stood up in the wheelchair. Well, I was going to bend down to hug her. And then she said, no, let me stay in. And so she stood up and just like fully embraced me and like put my head in her hands. And she’s like, Oh my baby, we were both kind of crying to kind of not crying. Cause it was just so like happy. Um, it was like too much emotion to even cry. Um, if you can imagine that. So yeah, it was incredible. It was incredible.

Damon (22:29): Pam had not competed for the week. So there was time for their reunion before she had to focus on her events that first night they chatted for hours. And one evening Carrie and Mike had dinner with Pam team who were very excited to meet her. I asked Carrie how it was to watch her birth mother, whom she had only just met when it was time to compete.

Carrie (22:52): First of all, if you’ve never seen anything like wheelchair games, you need to put it on your bucket list because it was the most humbling experience ever. Um, you know, all these, these veterans are either some of them wounded from, you know, combat or, um, their service. Some of them just wounded in life and they’re veterans and so they can participate. So, um, and so Pam participated and, um, she did bowling, she did this, it was called the slalom when it was like a little obstacle course, her wheelchair is motorized. And so it’s kind of thingy on the hand part where she like a joystick. And so she just moved it like that. Um, and so the obstacle course, you had to get through, you know, like go around the cones or go through a door without knocking a cone off. Um, and that was actually the most, that was the most emotional part for me to watch for her because there was a point in the obstacle course where, um, she had to turn her wheelchair around inside of a circle.

Carrie (23:57): And you know, if you touch the circle, you had to start over. And so this is a time to vent and whoever had the best time one, and, um, that part, her, it ended up, we think that her care was just too big for that little circle, like physically too big, but she tried so hard. I mean, and I was recording her through the slalom for most, you know, I tried to record the whole thing and I mean, it was a good five or 10 minutes, maybe even longer that she tried to get that circle, you know, to go in that circle, to complete the thing. And you know, it just was so powerful and she, you know, at one point she started crying and I’m like crying on the sideline and thinking, Oh gosh, I hope she’s not crying because I’m watching. And, you know, I know I could just see how frustrated she was and how badly she wanted to finish this race and do really well. And so it was really powerful for me to watch and just like, you know, this, the that’s cool. She’s my birth mom and she’s not giving up. And I’m really proud of her. And I only met her like a day ago was it was really cool.

Damon (25:05): You raise an interesting point that I can’t say. I remember hearing from anybody else before that you’ve met your birth mother a day or so ago, and suddenly this person is in a position of showing you demonstrable determination and strength and like character and what they’ve trained to do it almost immediately after you’ve met them. That must have been incredibly emotional for both of you guys. That’s really fascinating.

Carrie (25:41): Yeah, it was. Um, it’s kinda like, you know, when we met and we took a picture and I could see us together and how similar we looked, but then it’s like, when I saw that, you know, when I witnessed her doing that and, and just not giving up, I was like, Oh, you know, that’s me too. Like there I am, you know, I don’t quit things and I could see that in her. And so that was really powerful. She also participated in an event called, um, motor rally, which Michael and I were super excited about. Cause we thought it was going to be like this intense race of motor wheelchairs or something. You go to different stations and the answer question, and then, you know, whoever gets them all right. Or the most right in the least amount of time, you know, when, but it was really neat because this particular event was at Churchill down. And so, um, it was really cool to go there and you know, it was not a race day. Obviously you got to go kind of behind the scenes and see the place. That was a really cool thing to experience with her. Like, you know, our first like cool historic tour of something.

Damon (26:49): So I asked Carrie how things ended with her and Pam after that first visit.

Carrie (26:55): Oh my gosh, there’s no ending. That was really the beginning of a lot of things. Um, we, we got tattoos together that week. We, we, um, we stayed up every night talking, um, at the bar or at the restaurant or wherever we were, we would talk all night long and just talk stories back and forth. Um, one of my favorite parts was, and so both of our husbands names are Mike, which is kinda cool. Um, so her mike and my mike were at the bar one night and, um, Michael just told me this, you know, later, but he said that Mike leaned over to him and said, wow, you really married her mother. And so I just thought that was kind of cool, like in just such a short time, you know, they could go see how, how similar we are. And so I told Michael in response to that, I said, well, you know, you really marry both of my mothers. Cause I’m a lot, like both of them, he got a double whammy.

Damon (27:54): I don’t know whether to congratulate him or say poor guy. That’s awesome

Carrie (28:01): Still figuring that out. I think,

Damon (28:03): Oh, I’m sure he feels very lucky. Well, that’s really cool. Turning to Carrie’s biological father Richard. She said that during that trip to Kentucky, his partner, Kathleen called her. Kathleen asked Carrie if she wanted to make the trip to Arizona to be a surprise for Richard’s birthday in September.

Carrie (28:23): And of course I was like, yeah, I’ll be there. Let’s do it. But then

Damon (28:27): Carrie pondered how she was feeling about being a surprise

Carrie (28:31): Because I could feel this pressure building on me, like, you know, I just didn’t want it to go down. Like I wanted him to know that I was coming. I wanted him to have the same amount of time to be excited and he was going to meet me and I didn’t, you know, it just was causing me great anxiety to know that I was going to be a surprise. And so she, she was fine with that. And so she finally, she told him that I was coming. And so, um, you know, then we could talk about it and he was so excited and I was really glad that I asked her to do that. Yeah,

Damon (29:04): Yeah, yeah. That would have been immense pressure and yeah, just the, you know, sometimes people act accidentally really weird with surprises. Right. And it could totally be innocently taken the wrong way.

Carrie (29:20): Exactly. Yeah.

Damon (29:21): Yeah. You’re absolutely right. I’m glad you said one. Yes, let’s do this, but two let’s not have it be a surprise cause yeah. Wow.

Carrie (29:31): Um, and so I have several siblings, um, which we haven’t really gotten into, but I have two living siblings from Pam and I have six siblings from Richard. Wow. So I went from one sibling my whole entire life to now I have nine good ones, which has been really crazy. Um, I say two living siblings from Pam because she did have a child, um, who passed away when she was six years old. Um, so I’m, you know, I consider her my sister also, but nine living siblings now for me to get to know

Damon (30:11): Richard’s birthday party plan was to have all of his children present at a Lake house, along with his mother Carrie’s grandma, Joan, one of her paternal siblings, Tony had bonded with Carrie pretty quickly. And they had been text chatting ever since Carrie’s emergence. The plan was for him to pick her up at the airport since he lived the closest, when she landed Carrie’s phone was nearly dead, but she was still texting Tony to see where he was, but he wasn’t answering as she walked to baggage claim.

Carrie (30:43): I come down the escalator and there’s Richard and Kathleen at the bottom of the escalator waiting for me. Um, so Tony had been on it then in on it this whole time, which, you know, kind of rude for lying to me, but whatever. So we met right there at the bottom of the escalator and Kathleen got that all on video too. So that was pretty cool.

Damon (31:06): So the surprise got flipped on you.

Carrie (31:09): Yeah, it did. So, um, in the moment, you know, I kinda handled it with grace and I was excited. I mean, you know, I was happy to meet him under whatever circumstances. Um, but after I thought about it for a little while, I was like, dang, I was so surprised and I couldn’t even cry. You know, I couldn’t even feel like all the emotions I wanted to feel, but it was still, it’s still really worked out and it was still amazing, um, to, you know, just to have that extra time with him that I wasn’t expecting. So yeah, I got surprised

Damon (31:46): Carrie spent an extended weekend with her family, Lakeside, thoughtfully. Richard had also invited Pam’s kids, Sean and Megan Carrie’s maternal siblings. So she got to meet all of her siblings on both sides of her biology at the same time.

Carrie (32:04): So I got to meet all of the siblings, all eight of them. And it was just so cool to hang out with them and, you know, Richard big, big, like guy like boater and he fixes boats. He knows everything about mechanics that you could think of. And, um, so it was really cool to see him in his element having fun and just, it was neat to hear stories from each of the different siblings and it was, it was incredible. It was really cool and Joan was there. So that was really neat. Um, I actually lost my last remaining grandparents five years ago. Um, and it was really hard for me. It’s really hard to lose grandparents as an adult because you’re closer to them I think. And I mean, cause I lost two grandparents when I was younger and I missed them, but it was way different, you know, as an adult losing grandparents. And so that was actually one of the things that I got really emotional about in the beginning was learning that I still had a grandma. So that was really cool to meet her. And she’s just the cutest little lady ever. Um, so it was, it was just a really great weekend. It was really fun and relaxing and we had a great time.

Damon (33:13): Tell me a little bit about what it felt like for you to suddenly be the oldest of all these kids when you’ve been the youngest by six years by this other brother, how was that

Carrie (33:26): Know? It was wild. It was so wild and actually, yeah, so I’ve always been the baby. I’ve always been the spoiled one, you know, um, just as the baby that’s what’s happened for the baby and I actually kind of really related to the baby of the sibling who is Dylan, because he has always been babied and he’s the favorite as they say I didn’t, but they called him the favorite. And so I really related to him, I think, on that kind of level. And then it was really neat being the older sister, but watching the former older sister interact with everyone, her name is Jessica. And she, I think is, can’t remember how old she is, but um, you know, her whole life she’s been the oldest and in many ways she was very much the oldest, even still with me right there. I could feel her like nurturing and taking care of me and everyone. And you know, it was just, it was fascinating to know that I was the oldest, but still feel like pretty young um in the family lineup. So it was incredible to be there, um, with them all. And just to learn a little bit about each of them

Damon (34:45): Keep in mind, this whole reunion journey for Kerry’s adopted family came at them by surprise. So I was curious how they took the events in Carrie’s life in reunion. Carrie said her family was never negative toward her adoption reunions, but her parents were very cautious.

Carrie (35:03): It was hard at first because I was really excited. And when I get really excited about something, I want everybody to be really excited with me because it’s cool and you should be on board with it. Um, but it was hard because you know, well, my mom was pretty skeptical. She’s like, you know, these people, aren’t who they say they are. How do you know sort of looking like, how do you know this is them? What do they want? You know, why now, why, you know, why 35 years later has they now come to you? And you know, I, I tried to be really patient, um, with her. And I typically just talk about my mom when I talk about it, because my dad is the quiet kind. Like he it’s always just mom and dad together. Like, so when I say her, I really mean both of them.

Carrie (35:55): Um, but you know, she, it took a long time. I feel like for her to come around and be excited for me. Um, and I think, and I told me that to say that she wasn’t, it’s just, she didn’t show it. You know, it was hard for her to express her excitement to me because I’m a baby and she was worried for me and she doesn’t want me to get hurt and you know, all those things. Um, so I think after the first trip, she kind of loosened up a little bit more, um, and was a little more receptive to me talking about Pam and talking about my sister, Megan, and just all these things, you know? Um, and then after the second trip, it was like even more, you know, she was more into it. And so now I think she’s at a place where, um, it’s, it’s a lot easier, you know, she, she knows that no one’s coming to take me away from her.

Carrie (36:44): You know, no one is trying to replace her and then I’m not replacing her with anyone. You know, I’m just adding to my amazing family already that I have. So it’s gotten better. I mean, never were they negative to me, you know, never did they say don’t do this my whole life. They’ve always been open about me being adopted. And like, you know, you know, if there’s a time where you want to search, you can do that. You know, they never shut that door for me. And so, um, I think it was a little bit different than they were expecting being that my family came looking for me versus me seeking them out. Um, and so I think that might’ve been one of the hardest things for them to come to terms with was, you know, it wasn’t necessarily my decision to go looking, um, as it was, they were finding me. So, and actually I think that’s one reason why it’s all been so positive for me is that, you know, the minute I learned that they were looking for me, it was kinda like, Oh, well they really did want me, you know, like they really did. You know, it wasn’t like I was just discarded or somebody secret or anything. No. So that was pretty cool. And I’m thankful for that for sure.

Damon (37:58): Yeah. When someone puts forth the effort to find you, it is a true commitment to trying to find you. And that’s not to take anything away from any birth parent who hasn’t gone to those full lengths to do so, because I know that there’s a great many people out there who would love to do exactly what your parents did reach directly out, that they are so scared that either they will be rejected or that they won’t find the person they’re looking for, or that they will somehow be an intruder into a person’s life who didn’t know that they were adopted. Fortunately you did. Can you imagine if you didn’t know, like there’s so many parents out there that wish that they could do what your birth mother did. Um, so, and there’s so many adoptees that I’m sure given their choice of never, ever finding a birth parent and having that birth parent come out of the woodwork. And if they’re curious, they will probably opt for that sudden surprise cause knowing is better than not knowing. And you’re, I feel like you’re just extremely fortunate to both have known and been comfortable with your adoption and to have had this happen in a positive way for you. That’s really incredible.

Carrie (39:18): Yeah. It’s been pretty cool.

Damon (39:21): Carrie is returning to Arizona in March of 2020. Their family is expecting three nephews, two of whom are expected in March. So she’s traveling at the end of the month to meet the boys and snuggle them all up. She’s also looking forward to meeting aunts and uncles that she didn’t get to meet the first time around. And she’s making a trip to Fayetteville, North Carolina to meet up with her maternal aunt. The one her birth mother Pam was sent to live with in Roanoke, Virginia, when she was pregnant with Carrie,

Carrie (39:54): She actually came here after Christmas. She came last Thursday to come hang out with us and meet me. So I got to relive it all again, last week we met for the first time and I feel a strong connection to her because she was there, you know, when Pam was pregnant with me and she was in the room when I was born, she helped me as an infant. I mean, you know, it was just really cool to meet her and get to know her and hanging out all weekend. And, um, I’m so glad she was kind of close to, we’re gonna, we’re gonna meet up in the middle of some time to do stuff probably, but that was really cool. And so my parents actually got to meet her too. And so Mary was the first person that my parents met from my biological family. Um, and I think that went really well. They had a long conversation and got along really well. So that was great.

Damon (40:45): Wow. That’s incredibly lucky. I wish I had another question. I don’t remember what it was, but now I’ve got another one, which is awesome. No, it’s okay. This one’s even better because I want to know what your aunt told you about that time and your mother’s life. You know, she was a direct witness to everything.

Carrie (41:05): She didn’t really, she, she had some, um, and you know, she said that Pam, she was there and she got big when she was pregnant with me. She has a son, my cousin, um, he was a baby. He’s like a year older than me. So he was traveling around when Pam was there. And so I can’t imagine how hard that was for Pam to be, you know, watching her sister take care the baby while she was pregnant and knowing that she was going to give me up for adoption. And Mary says it was a really hard time, you know, it was very emotional for all of them. And I think, I think they don’t like to think about it, which makes a lot of sense because I don’t think I would want to think about it either. You know, if, if I had gone through that.

Carrie (41:56): And so I know that it was really hard. She brought some photo albums for me to look at, which was pretty cool. Cause I could see, you know, my face in some other faces in old photos and she actually had a picture of me. Um, we’re not quite sure where it came from, but the only really option we can think of is the foster parents. So I lived with foster parents for six weeks before I was adopted. And so we think that they took a picture and sent it to the adoption agency or something. We really don’t know. We don’t have the details, but it was probably the first picture of me taken ever, which was pretty surreal to see the baby picture that I hadn’t seen before. And actually Pam had carried that around in her wallet, my whole life. Um, that was something she had emailed me. She, she told me and those first few emails was that she had carried that with her forever. So can you imagine how healing that was just to know like, you know, I wasn’t just given away and forgotten about I was loved and prayed over and thought about every day of my life that people want to know.

Damon (43:01): That’s incredible. Wow.

Carrie (43:03): Pretty freaking cool.

Damon (43:05): Carrie and Mike are also adoptive parents keep in mind, adoption comes in many different forms. Carrie was working in the recreation department of job Corps, a national job training program for young adults several years ago. It’s where she met a special young man named Tony have a listen to their adoption story.

Carrie (43:28): He was in the office often. Um, he hung out with us with me all the time. And um, he, his mother had actually been deported, um, his senior year of high school. And so he came to hang out with me in my office a lot and started calling me mom and really, you know, we got really close. We bonded and it turns out that he was done with the program at the same time I quit my job. And so, um, we asked him if he wanted to move in with us, Cause he didn’t have any work ago. Really. He didn’t have a secure home to go back to. So he came to live with us. So it’ll be four years in April. Yeah. And he, you know, he’s not legally our adopted son, but he’s every bit of our son that you could be. Um, my parents adore him. He’s their grandchild. He is 24 so we have adopted an adult. We actually looked into adopting him legally, but it was like a one year age difference we had to be or something and we weren’t old enough to legally get up. And so it’s pretty cool that I’m an adopted kid who adopted the kids, I think. Um, yeah,

Damon (44:38): That’s really incredible. You’ve got a huge heart. That’s amazing. It’s cute that he started calling you mom too. I love that.

Carrie (44:45): Yeah.

Damon (44:46): Wow. Carrie, you got an amazing story. I’m just

Carrie (44:51): Pretty cool. So much more we could go into, I mean, Oh my gosh. So much more.

Damon (44:58): And I, I can only imagine there’s gotta be a ton, but this is, yeah. This has been a great start. And the fact that you’re documenting everything is going to make for an amazing memoir one day. I can’t wait to read it. That’s going to be,

Carrie (45:11): Yeah, I know. I know. I can’t wait to write it. It’s all in there. It’s all up here in my head and I’ve got yeah. Conversations with Pam conversations with Richard video footage of, you know, all sorts of conversations and conversations with my siblings. It’s just incredible.

Damon (45:27): And that’s cool. Start writing it down now. Even if it’s not formal, just make notes, make an outline because you want to start putting the pieces together while you’ve got it fresh in your mind. Wow. Good for you, Carrie. I’m really happy for you. Thank you so much for taking time to share your story.

Carrie (45:41): Sure. Thank you for sharing this story.

Damon (45:45): Thanks so much, Carrie. I’ll talk to you later. Alright. Bye bye. Hey, it’s me. Carrie has an amazing story of being found by her biological mother, Pam. I loved hearing the story of reunion at the national veterans wheelchair games. And I tried to imagine what it must be like to watch your parent fighting hard and competition after meeting her for the first time days before, a lot of times we look for physical markers of how we’re similar to our birth parents. Other times it’s personality traits that match. Carrie said she saw Pam’s determination in her chair as a trait that she may have inherited because she also doesn’t give up easily when it comes to challenges in her own life, meeting Richard on a trip that got turned into a reverse surprise must have been so heartwarming to Carrie had all of her siblings in one place and another chance to meet a grandparent after the losses of her adopted grandparents over the years, like so many adoptees stories, her sounds like a movie I would love to watch, but her incredible story is her life.

Damon (46:59): I’m Damon Davis. And I hope you’ll find something in Carrie’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, 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 follow the show at facebook.com/waireally or follow on Twitter at waireally. If the show is meaningful to you, you can support me with contributions to keep it going at patrion.com/waireally paypal.me/damondavis or Venmo at Damon L Davis. Please subscribe to who am I really on Apple podcasts, Google play, or wherever you get your podcasts. It would mean so much to me. If you took a moment to leave a five star rating there, those ratings can help others to find the podcast, too. If you’re interested, you can find who am I really an adoptee memoir on amazon.com. I hope you’ll add my story to your reading list.

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