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118 – Those Were The Magic Words

Amy called me from Highland Township, outside of Detroit, Michigan. She described her early years dealing with the insecurities of her adopted mother who defaulted to threats to try to control Amy’s curiosity about her adoption. On her search, she learned that her biological mother had been sent away, the man on her birth certificate was not her birth father, and her birth mother’s family had some significant secrets in its history. Secrets that Amy knows, but they don’t. This is Amy’s journey. 


Damon (00:00): If you’re interested, you can check out the story of my adoption journey. Who am I really and adopt the memoir on on Kindle or as an audio book on audible. I hope you’ll add my story to your reading list.

Amy (00:19): She’s so excited. And she said, you know, we’re so happy that you know, we have a new sister and she said, I just want you to know we have enough love for another sibling and, you know, we want you in our lives. And I was so happy to hear that, you know, that’s what you want to hear as an adoptee. Absolutely, absolutely. No, those were the magic words.

Damon (00:49): Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

Damon (00:59): Hi, 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 Amy. She called me from Highland township outside of Detroit, Michigan. She described her early years dealing with the insecurities of her adopted mother who defaulted to threats to try to control Amy’s curiosity about her adoption on her search. She learned that her biological mother had been sent away. The man on her birth certificate was not her birth father and her mother’s family had some significant secrets in its history secrets that Amy knows, but they don’t. This is Amy’s journey. Amy was born and raised in Michigan growing up Amy’s father was a Sergeant with the Detroit police department. There were benefits to being a cop who lived in the city. He served so in their part of town, they lived on the last street within city limits. The whole street was filled with cops and firemen. They were a family of four, her adopted parents, her brother, who was two years older, also an adoptee. And Amy, she said she recalls learning that she was an adoptee when she was about seven years old.

Amy (02:30): So I do remember my mom sitting me down in the living room telling me about it, but I didn’t really grasp it very much. You know, I didn’t really know what she was talking about. I didn’t really realize the impact that it really would have on me. So I just kind of took the story at face value and just left it be

Damon (02:51): On their street. There was another house with an adopted boy and girl, the only other adoptees she knew of Amy said discussions of adoption were seldom occurrences in their home.

Amy (03:02): Every once in a while I could ask my mom questions, but it better be on a good day and a day that she’s, you know, in a good mood in a chatty mood, otherwise it was not spoken about at all. Interesting. I didn’t tell anybody like it was a secret. I told maybe like, you know, I think a boyfriend in high school and my best friend now, and that was about it. I didn’t tell people about it. I felt very shamed to be adopted very much though.

Damon (03:32): Do you recall why you felt ashamed of it?

Amy (03:37): I mean, my, I have to tell it’s terrible, but mom made me feel ashamed of it. Like I was like, your own mother didn’t want you like, things like that were said to me, I would be told or, you know, I can take you back. I’ll take you right back where you came from. Wow. So it was use as a threat and you know, when you’re young, you think they can do it. You know? So you behave.

Damon (04:04): Amy’s feeling was, she didn’t know where she came from, but she didn’t want to go back there. Her mother used her adoption as a weapon, painting her adoption in a bad light. So she didn’t talk about it with anyone until she was a young teenager, around 13 years old, she had questions about where she was born and what the circumstances of her adoption were. Amy wanted to know her story. Her adopted mother didn’t seem to know the story of her birth. So information was limited. I asked if she discussed their respective adoptions with her brother. She said, they talked about it occasionally, but it didn’t really bother him. But Amy felt more unsettled about the whole thing I asked what the makeup of their family was and whether there was any coincidental resemblance at all.

Amy (04:51): That was one of the things. So when my brother was adopted they were told that he was Irish and Italian. And then when they went to adopt a little girl, they went with the same background and I’m Irish and Italian. So Kevin, we looked alike. And we looked like my dad. Oh really? We look down a lot. Yeah. So it was, we did not look out of place at all at all,

Damon (05:24): Which can be very helpful for a lot of adoptees, you know, because you, you don’t feel so out of place, but then the psychological warfare that was happening inside your house would still make you feel uneasy, regardless of whether you look there like, or not, there’s some pretty awful things being said behind closed doors.

Amy (05:45): Yes, very much. So. It was always towards me. It was never towards my brother. And I think it was towards me because I was the one that was kind of asking questions. Yeah. The squeaky wheel, you never, he was never bringing it up. So it was never threatened to him.

Damon (06:03): But her search options were limited in pre-internet information days. And Michigan is a closed adoption state for pursuing information later in life, much later, like three daughters, Courtney, Megan, and Samantha later, Amy decided it was time to do something.

Amy (06:21): And I don’t know why, why it would be the third, but I ended up, I ended up contacting the County and I had requested for my non identifying information, paid the money. Never got it. Really. I was so upset. What County it was Wayne County or Wayne County.

Damon (06:44): Wayne County, Michigan.

Amy (06:47): Yeah. Never got it. They were just bombarded. And I kept calling it and I would check with the lady and she’s like, you know, it can take up to a year and I would, you know, and check again and no, we didn’t find it yet. And I just, I never got it. Never materialized.

Damon (07:03): Amy was 22. Courtney was born. She said after all of the extended family left and she was finally alone with her baby girl in the hospital, the gravity of being an adoptee with a newborn baby truly hit her.

Amy (07:23): People were gone. And I was finally left alone in a room with her. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed over this baby. And the nurse came in and was, you know, are you okay? And I’m like, no, I’m fine. I’m like, you know, she’s mine. And she’s like, yeah. You know? And I’m like, no, I’m, I’m related to her. And she’s like, yes. You know, like not understanding, you know what I’m trying to say. I didn’t tell her, but I was just so amazed. I’m looking at this little being that I am blood related to for the first time in my life. And it was just amazing to me. Her hands are identical to mine, identical. She had the blue eyes and just, just this tiny little thing. And she meant the entire world to me at that moment. She meant so much to me. You don’t have a family mirror, right. We’d ever get to see, Oh, you have someone’s hands or someone’s eyes or someone’s nose. And it was for the first time in 22 years, I saw someone have my hands. It was amazing.

Damon (08:31): Yeah. And it’s magnified by the fact that this is not a person whom you could walk up to on the street and say, Oh my gosh, we’re related. Look at you, look at you. It’s I made this person. This person came from me. My love, my, you know, the intercourse with another person, whatever, the idea that you have created this life. And now you’re able to, it it’s there before you, you’re going to raise it. And you’re going to love it as best as you can. And for the first time you as an adult are feeling this connection to a person whom you’ve never had. You’ve never, you’re feeling this connection to a blood relative. And you’ve never had a blood relative before. It’s unbelievably all inspiring.

Amy (09:16): It really is. It’s just, it was breathtaking to me. I was just so happy in that moment. So happy

Damon (09:23): Megan was born next, but it was Samantha’s birth that re-energized Amy to search. She said she was a little older and wiser with internet access that provided avenues and options for her search. Amy bought a computer and began to explore websites and reunion registries. She said she signed up for nearly every website. She could find entering her birth date, the County and the hospital in which she was born since Wayne County hadn’t returned any non identifying information for her to use the online search didn’t return any meaningful results. Next she petitioned the court to have her birth records opened and she won that judgment. But in Michigan, they won’t give the records to the adoptee. They pass them to a mediator who works on the adoptee’s behalf. The adoptee is not allowed to see their own file. Amy’s court appointed representative reached out to Amy.

Amy (10:22): So the person contacted me and said, I have your file. You have 30 days to give me a $200 fine or fee. And we will search on your behalf, contact your parents. And I backed out. I checked it out. I don’t know why. I just, I couldn’t do it completely back then 30 days slide by. And they closed it out. Really. As you read it,

Damon (10:53): Select on it. Now, what does it feel like to you as to why you backed out back then?

Amy (10:59): I think I was afraid somehow my parents were going to find out, but that terrified me because I would have been dissolved. It was clear, you know, we, I was not to do that.

Damon (11:12): Is that on your father’s side? Also, we sort of skipped past him. We talked about your mother’s threats, but we didn’t really talk about your adopted father at all. Was he in the same campus?

Amy (11:25): Total opposite. Really? It was such a, such a good man. And you know, I never ever talked about the adoption with my dad. It was just like, he was, you could just tell he was just so happy that he had me and, and like, life was good for him. Everything was great. Then I look back as an adult. Those were my mom’s insecurities, you know, after, you know, a few years of therapy, right. Trying to figure out why would someone do this to a kid? It’s her own insecurity. She was scared.

Damon (12:04): Absolutely.

Amy (12:05): I mean, I was told that I was reminded again, once I had children, again, as an adult, she had told me she never go looking for them. I am their grandmother. I understand. So I was not going to cross that line

Damon (12:22): Even as an adult. That’s interesting.

Amy (12:25): No, it would have been bad. It would have been really bad.

Damon (12:28): Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. If he, if, even as an adult, someone is saying to you do not defy what I have told you. And it has been a threat that is been drilled into you for years, since you were a child, I can absolutely see why you would would back out. Now I get it. Now I get it. Hmm.

Amy (12:48): Yes. It would not have been good.

Damon (12:51): Amy’s adopted father passed away in 2003. Her adopted mother passed away in 2007, 10 years later, Amy sees a television commercial for ancestry DNA. She wanted to validate the story of her ethnic background as Irish and Italian. She didn’t realize that part of what ancestry offers are matches to your genetic relatives. She turned her sample in during December, their busiest time of year. So she didn’t receive her results back until March when her results came back, Amy learned she was barely Italian at all. She’s Irish with some English, Scandinavian and French scrolling through her 300 matches. Amy saw the names of people who were biological relations and a new world opened up one connection, Mary a genealogist, turned out to be an amazing person to know once Amy and Mary developed a rapport, Amy admitted, she was an adoptee. Mary took up the charge of finding out where the baby girl adopted in 1968 had come from in their family tree. Mary quickly narrowed down that their connection was on her mother’s side of the family. Within two weeks, Mary called Amy to say,

Amy (14:09): My mother has a half brother that I didn’t know about.

Damon (14:13): Oh, wow.

Amy (14:16): And then I was like, what? She’s like, yes. And you know, she, you know, four children, she listed off everything that I, that would fit for him. And that’s how we found out was that it was her mother’s half brother.

Damon (14:35): That’s incredible. So this, your return to this family has brought forth a secret that they didn’t even know themselves, correct? Tapping the same courage. Amy used to reach out to connections on ancestry. She decided to petition the court again, determined to stay the course and not back out a mediator calls. Again tells Amy she needs to pay $200. So they could go to work locating one of her biological parents, but she needed to pick which one birth mother or birth father.

Amy (15:09): So I had chosen my birth mother because I think I needed that one the most, you know, this was the woman that I thought I brought like a mom. I crave that I wanted that, that hug that a mom gives to their child. You know, they just love them. And I wanted to feel that. So, you know, without hesitation, it was like, I want you to find her, go find it. So I paid the fee, they did the thing and they had their routine. But in the meantime, I’m doing heavy search and reaching out to everybody who will listen to me. And so many people did help me. But the gentleman that got my record said, did you ever get your non identifying information? And I said, as a matter of fact, no, I did not. And he said, well, I can read them off to you. And I’m like, yeah, I would love to hear it.

Damon (16:11): The man starts rattling off facts about Amy’s birth father and she’s scribbling everything down. Feverously numbers of siblings, religious background, her birth father’s roots in Tennessee. He told Amy what year her birth parents were born. And then he made an offhand comment.

Amy (16:29): Oh, that’s really strange. They both have the same birthday. And I’m like, really? And he said, yeah, he goes, you know, they both had the same birthday, but it’s a year apart. And he said, you know, she was 19 when she had, but shortly after she had you, she had her birthday. So I was like, you know, I’m born May 23rd. So I’m thinking, okay, I’m looking for someone either at the end of may, right in the beginning of June. So it’s like, as they say these little comments that I don’t think they realize how much they’re disclosing taken, every clue we can get

Damon (17:04): The court representative also divulged the obscure fact that Amy’s birth father left Tennessee to work in Michigan at the gas station. His brother owned, there were three boys and one girl in that branch of the family and Amy and Mary had narrowed the clues down to one guy whose birthday and physical description from the non identifying information lined up perfectly. Amy went to Facebook and found the man six foot two as described dark hair, blue eyes. The guy even had pictures of himself in his early twenties on his Facebook page. Since Amy was still in contact with the mediator who was searching for her birth mother, she told him that she thought she had her birth father.

Amy (17:51): I’m like, listen, I think I just found my birth father. He’s like, Oh really? Who do you think it is? And I gave him the name. And he’s like, no, I’m looking at your birth certificate. That’s not the man. And said, if this man is not my birth father, I have no idea who could pop DNA linked to this man. He fits everything. That every fact that you’ve told me off of that list, he fits. So, and his birthday’s June 12th, which is right after mine. And he’s like, I’m telling you, this is not the man on your birth record. And I was like, okay. So I was really disappointed because I thought we found him.

Damon (18:33): The mediator also asked Amy to draft an introductory letter to her birth mother because he had found her and he wanted to send her a certified letter. He asked Amy to include a few pictures. She carefully crafted her letter, then sent it to the mediator when he received it, the mediator was required to read her letter, to make sure that she didn’t include any identifiable information about herself. Amy and her birth mother were required to maintain their anonymity.

Amy (19:03): So a couple of days later, I get a phone call from him saying, Hey, she contacted me and I almost fell off my chair. I’m at work. And I’m like, Oh my God, it’s here. Right. I’ve been waiting for her. So I’m trying to stay calm in my seat. You know, he’s telling me, you know what she read your letter. You know, she thought it was beautiful. She was crying. She told her sister right away. I guess her sister was a very big part of this when she was going through her pregnancy. She does want to meet you, but she wants to know for sure that you are hers. And I said, okay, I understand that. Do you, she wants me to take what another DNA test. And he said, yes. And I said, well, tell you what I’ve done so much research.

Amy (19:57): I’m going to give you a list of names. And I’m in getting access to my ancestry account, call her back and give her these five last names. And if she still feels that I am not her daughter, I will take a DNA test. And he’s like, okay, fair enough. So I gave him the credentials to my ancestry account. He called her back and he gave the names that I told him to give her. And he said, Amy, I didn’t even get down to the bottom of that list. She stopped me and said, yeah, she’s mine.

Damon (20:30): Oh my gosh. Wow.

Amy (20:34): Yeah. So I was really glad for that confirmation. Yeah, that was perfect. Unfortunately at that time. So I finally, you know, get this connection that I’ve been waiting for all my life. She says she wants to meet me. Cause I had the greatest fear she’s going to reject me. And I’m just on air. I’m like, wow, I’m finally, I’m going to meet my mother. And unfortunately my father in law had passed. So my husband’s from England, John and I had to get on a plane and leave for two weeks. Right. When we made this connection and I was like, Oh, this is so bitter sweet. I’m like, I’m so happy, but I’m associate so that a plane and you know, we have to be in England for two weeks. So I tell the mediator, could you please tell her that, you know, I have to leave to England, there’s a funeral.

Amy (21:31):I’m going to be there for about two weeks. So maybe that’ll kind of give her some time to absorb all this. And then when I come back, we can arrange a meeting. And he said, Oh yeah, that’s, that’s a really good idea. And he said, she actually mentioned to me that she is going to need a little time because her children don’t know about you. I was like, Oh, okay. And then like the first thing in my head was he said children. So I have siblings. And more than one little thought, like the first thing that went off in my head, you know, another big smile, you know? And I’m like, Oh my gosh, I have siblings. So, you know, I said, you know, tell her, you know, I’m really looking forward to meeting her and that I will get in contact with you. As soon as we get back from England,

Damon (22:13): Amy and her husband returned from England and informed the mediator, she was ready to meet her biological mother. But the woman’s correspondence from the mediator had gone dark. Amy’s thinking to herself,

Amy (22:26): No, she backing out. And I’m like, you know, don’t panic. You know, she’s probably just really thinking about it. It’s a big shock. And then he’s like, Amy, I keep calling her and I’m sending her letters. I’m not getting any response from her whatsoever. You gotta be kidding me. I was so excited for this. And he said, you know, I’m getting to the point where I just have to close out the file. She is not responding. And then I was like, no head goes out the file. I guess she changed her mind because she doesn’t want to tell her children. I was heartbroken. Oh my gosh, absolutely heartbroken. Cause she’s the one I wanted to meet. You know, most of all, most of all. And she backed out.

Damon (23:16): So Amy focused on the search for her biological father. She returned to the court, asked for another mediator and asked for the next search to be focused on him. The man Amy found with her own search fit her knowledge. So she wanted the court to find this other guy listed on her birth certificate. Somebody had to know who the correct man was. The mediator found the man on the birth certificate in less than 24 hours. She Amy called at work.

Amy (23:46): And she says, are you sitting down? I am. No. She said, listen, I’m the guy that is listed on your birth certificate. I don’t believe he is your father at all. And I said, okay, she lied. And she said, yes, she did. I’m like, who is that man? And she said, I did ask him if he knew your birth mother. And I gave him the name. And he said, yes, I know her. And she’s like, how do you know her? And why would you put your name on her birth certificate? This man was absolutely livid. Just shocked. And you sent it seventies. He was so mad. He said she was sent to her aunt’s house later in her pregnancy. He goes, we all knew she was pregnant. And her aunt lived next door to my parents. And she named him this poor guy that lived next door to her aunt and uncle that took her in while she was pregnant because she was hiding. And she named that guy. That’s the father.

Damon (24:57): So she just picked a guy in order to maintain the anonymity of the actual father. Correct. Wow.

Amy (25:06): And he was not happy. She was not happy. So I said to her, that’s great because I know the guy that I found, he’s the guy I go. So this just, this just proves it to me even more

Damon (25:21): After learning that the man listed on her birth certificate was her birth. Mother’s aunt’s neighbor’s son. Amy wanted to talk to this guy to see if she could get the father’s name from him. The mediator said she couldn’t give Amy his phone number because he said he wasn’t the guy, the mediator was forced to close out. Amy’s file her third closed file with the court system. She said it was all very frustrating. She turned back to Facebook to see what more she could learn. Amy found the man’s son who has the same name, Nathan and he’s the man’s jr. She was shocked to see that the son looked just like her and photos online. He had the same skin color, blue eyes, dark hair. This guy had to be her brother, Amy connected with Nathan through Facebook messenger saying she needed to chat with him concerning family business.

Amy (26:18): And I didn’t get a response. So I let like a week go by. And then I tried again and then I just came out with the truth and just spilled it. I’m like, listen, I think I’m your half sister. It’s your father that I believe is my birth father. I really need to talk to you. Nothing that went on for another week. So then I was just desperate and I’m like, I’m going to pull straight onto his timeline. This guy is going to be like, who is this girl? So I posted right onto his timeline saying, you know, Nathan, I really need to talk to you. It’s really important. It’s about your family. And I put my phone number out there and within five minutes, my phone rings and I was like, Oh, this is about to get real. I got out to talk to a family member for the first time in my life.

Amy (27:08): So that hit me real fast. So I picked up the phone and I’m like, hello. And the first thing he says is, so you think you’re my sister. And I was like, Oh, you did read the messages. He’s like, yes. And he’s like, why do you think that? And so I listed everything. I told him everything that was in my adoption file and all the way down to, you know, he was working at the gas station with your uncle. And he said, yeah, that’s true. And I said, is your dad’s birthday right after May 23rd close by? And he said, yes, June 12th. And I said, was he born in 1947? Yes. Is he six foot two and have blue eyes. Yes. Like everything I was named, does your grandmother have red hair? I went, you know, did you guys come from Tennessee? I’m just blasting them with all this stuff.

Amy (28:00): And he’s like, yes, yes, yes. And I said, well, I think he is my birth father. And then, you know, he tried to said, you know, Amy, I don’t mean to disappoint you or anything, but he’s not a nice man. This is not the kind of guy you want to meet as your birth father. Wow. I was like, so let down, I was like, no, you gotta be kidding. I want him to be a good guy. He’s a kid. He’s like, know, he’s just, he’s not a good person. He said, actually none of us, none of his children talked to him. He said, we haven’t talked to our dad. And over 20 years, which spoke volumes to me, for real, that speaks volumes. When every single one of them didn’t speak to him for over 20 years, something really bad happened. Right. And I didn’t want to pry, but like later on I found out, you know, it was a very abusive alcoholic, Very abusive,

Amy (29:01): You know, they watched their mom go through some beatings and yeah. Like the kind that she would have to go to the hospital, things like that. Oh my gosh. And I was like, okay. Yeah. He’s not a nice guy at all.

Damon (29:14): Her half-brother Nathan said he would talk with his sisters. They would speak with their mother and discuss the whole situation. Their mother denied up and down. There was any way that their father could have gotten another girl pregnant. He was well accounted for overseas in the Vietnam war. Their mother said Amy had to be mistaken. Nathan texted Amy to say his sister, Lisa was going to call that night when they got on the phone. Amy could sense that Lisa was very on guard. Amy respected Lisa’s caution and treaded lightly, as they spoke. Lisa said, she thought perhaps Nathan had a few of the facts wrong. So she asked Amy to clarify a few things. So Amy restated, all of the facts as she knew them.

Amy (30:03): And she said yeah, every single one of those describes my father. And I said, you know, I forgot to mention. I said, one of the things I did tell me was when I was born, your dad was married for nine months. So that weekend, before he got married is when this happened because it was nine months later.

Damon (30:27): Oh my gosh.

Amy (30:30): Which her mother didn’t know. And she’s like, what? And like he was nearing their mother and next weekend. Oh my gosh. That’s when I was conceived. I’m like, what kind of bachelor party was this? Like, this isn’t good.

Damon (30:49): Oh my gosh. You’re right. That would have been sort of a bachelor party kind of thing. Holy mackerel. Wow.

Amy (30:56): Yes. Nine months later. So I was, she was like, Oh, I’m like, so you might want to talk to your mom about that and see what she has to say, because she keeps saying he was accounted for, you know, cause he was in Vietnam, but he came home for the wedding. He was there and she’s like, well, that’s true. I’m like, well that’s when I was conceived.

Damon (31:22): Lisa spoke to her mother who was still in total disbelief. Amy suggested the only way to clear things up was for one of the siblings to take a DNA test. Lisa agreed. Amy ordered an ancestry, DNA kit then met Lisa and her husband at a restaurant a few months later. Amy said she wasn’t very emotional. Leading up to that restaurant meeting. It was very transactional regarding the delivery of the DNA test kit. Amy, Lisa and her husband had a great dinner.

Amy (31:55): The first thing I noticed about her was we had the exact same eyes was like, again with the eyes, but I didn’t say anything. Cause I thought, Oh, she’s going to think, Oh, you poor little adoptee. You’re just reaching for anything. I didn’t want to say anything at the end of the dinner, she looked at me and she said, her eyes are exactly the same. I said, Oh, did you notice that too? I just looked at it that, you know, we’ll soon find out. So she she took the test four weeks later we got the results and she showed up as my half sister.

Damon (32:35): Unbelievable confirmation. Finally, what did she say when you got those results back?

Amy (32:41): She was so excited. Really? That’s awesome. She’s so excited. And she said, you know, we’re so happy that you know, we have a new sister and she said, I just want you to know we have enough love for another sibling and you know, we want you in our lives. And I was so happy to hear that, you know, that’s what you want to hear as an adoptee. Absolutely. Absolutely. No, those were the magic words that

Damon (33:10): Next weekend, all of the siblings and their spouses met up at a local bar to get to know one another.

Amy (33:17): They were great. It was like sitting around, talking with old friends. Like it just clicked. It went very, very well. That’s the great thing.

Damon (33:26): That’s so cool. Wow.

Amy (33:29): So exciting. Like after all these years and I’m thinking my search was for my birth mother and I’m so happy right now, I’m sitting here with my paternal siblings. I was so happy that finally met someone connected to me.

Damon (33:43): Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s funny. You can imagine, even, even at the moment, you know, before, when you got your ancestry results and it shows connections, these, if they don’t have, you know, sort of an avatar or a picture of themselves, they’re almost like apparitions in the distance and the distance, you can’t make them out. You couldn’t pick them out from anyone. And then as you said to her, to have these conversations, you start to find them on Facebook. He started to really start to identify them. They become real people, but it’s not until you really actually sit face to face with someone else that it becomes real that’s and for it to work out well. Wow. That is amazing.

Amy (34:26): It was amazing. So they were there at the bar. I think like a half an hour before me and my husband. So we walked through the door, you know, they all stood up and Lisa came up to me. It was just the biggest smile and I hugged that. Girl’s so tight and just said, thank you so much for believing me. Thank you so much for listening to me. You know, I know you didn’t think that I was, but here we are. And she’s just like, well, we got another sister and we’re happy. And then she took me over and introduced me to the other siblings. So I was, it was, it was nice. It was really, really nice. It was a great touch.

Damon (35:03): That sounds amazing

Amy (35:06): That I’m still in touch with them today. Yeah, it’s awesome. That’s awesome. So in between all this, you know, I was like, well, this is great. You know, it didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted it to be, but you know, I got these siblings and you know, this is good. We’re all in connection. You know, all the cousins met and we had this big, huge dinner one day and you know, I brought my kids, they brought their kids and you know, it was just as exciting for my girls. Right. Cause they were going to see another side of the family that they are also connected with. It’s not just about me. Like these are your aunts, these are your uncles. These are your cousins, your first cousins, you know? So it was really exciting for them too.

Damon (35:51): That’s so cool. Oh yeah. I’m glad you raised that. I was definitely going to ask, go ahead.

Amy (35:58): Very supportive. All three of my girls and my husband just very, very supportive. You know, they saw me go up and down, up and down, you know, and when this end result happened and they saw how happy I was and they were just behind me, 110%, you know? And it was great. It was a great feeling. Everything about it was good

Damon (36:18): In terms of trying to locate her biological mother, Amy didn’t give up. She replicated some of the search techniques. She learned from Mary, the genealogist, she adapted strategies. She picked up on her own creating spreadsheets of contacts, whom she reached out to searching for more clues during the ongoing search. Amy read the girls who went away by Ann Fessler. Her goal was to develop empathy for her birth mother for all that she had gone through. When she got pregnant back then Amy wanted to have a clear understanding of the environment for unwed mothers, just in case she ever met her own birth mother. One day, her search lasted nearly two years

Amy (37:03): And one day my husband and I in the summer, we’re just sitting out like little bonfire. And I thought, well, I’ll check my app on my phone. You know? And it came up that I had a new high match and I was like, well, it’s probably my paternal side. So I looked at it and I’m like, I don’t recognize this last name at all. Like, this is not in any of my spreadsheets, not this isn’t in any of my research. Who is this person? So I looked her up on Facebook and I swear it was five minutes. I figured out it was my birth mother’s sister. It was my aunt. That’s awesome. My maternal side. Wow. She, she had one sibling and there, she was looking at me. I’m like, this is my birth mother. Like all of a sudden I have a picture in front of me like that fast. I don’t look anything like her, but I was like, there, she, she materialized, like she’s a person now she’s in front of me and I couldn’t believe it. And I’m like trying to tell my husband, but I’m like, you know, blurt stuff out so fast. He doesn’t know what I’m saying. I’m like, this is her. This is

Damon (38:16): Right. Is nonsensical excitement over this massive, dry off. You’ve just had, I hear you.

Amy (38:22): It’s just a babbling fool. So, you know, I’m telling them. So I was like, that’s so weird. I’m like, I wonder why she took an ancestry test. And then I remember from the very beginning, when my birth mother was contacted and I had told that mediator, here’s my ancestry credentials. And these are the names that came from it. Well, he told her that it was from ancestry.

Damon (38:48): Wow, you’re right.

Amy (38:51): Yeah. And she told her sister ended up taking the ancestry test. And this is over a year later.

Damon (38:59): Yep. Knowing full well that you would have a relation to her, but that there would be a bit of a barrier between the two of you, you and your birth mother. She asked her sister to do it. Right.

Amy (39:11): She did not. My birth mother had no idea that she was doing it. Really. She did it behind her back. Yeah. Yeah. I found that out later. I guess she took the test. She had gotten the results and then she told my birth mother I’m letting you know right now I did take an ancestry test and I matched with her and she said, my birth mother said, don’t you dare reach out to her and don’t, you dare tell her anything about me. And she made her promise, do not reach out to her really. So she promised and she, she did not. But she said, if she reaches out to me, I will speak to her. And she’s like, okay. So I’m happy. She actually stood up for me.

Damon (40:03): So their match sits there and ancestry DNA, but Amy’s aunt doesn’t reach out. Amy told her husband, John, she’s going to reach out to her aunt. And John agreed. She had nothing to lose.

Amy (40:17): And when I sent her a message through ancestry, I did a very factual message. Like you are my aunt, this is my birth mother’s name. This is where I was born. Like I told her, like, I know for a fact, I know exactly who you are. And I know exactly who my birth mother is, but all the, you know, the hospital, you know, my birth date, all this stuff. And a couple of hours later here comes to this message and said, you are absolutely right. I am your aunt. And like, thank you. I got it. Yes. You know, you need that acknowledgement. Right? You want someone to say it? You know, tell me the truth. And it was like, she’s like, absolutely you are right. She didn’t have any qualms. You know, she didn’t try to dance around it. She was like, I am your aunt.

Damon (41:04): The women agreed to talk by phone. That night, Amy was excited to hear the truths contained within her story. Her aunt knew Amy had a ton of questions. So she invited her to fire away.

Amy (41:17): What’s the story here? You know, I said, really boyfriend and girlfriend, you know, like what happened? And she said, no, he she’s like your father. And I never mentioned his name on purpose because I wanted her to say his name. Yeah. Just because of the whole thing on the birth certificate and stuff. So I never mentioned his name. So she’s like your father had a cousin that lived on the same street as us two doors down. And he would go with his cousin all the time. And that’s how your mother met him because he was hanging around his cousin’s house, two doors down. And they were all like right around the same age. And they all hung around. She had no idea that he was engaged to be married. She had no idea that he had already fathered a child. She just thought he was some guy free. And you know, just doing what you do at 19, 20 years old, you know, no commitments, no nothing. But he had already had quite a secret life that he was not telling anybody about. He was quite a ladies man, from what I understand.

Damon (42:30): Oh wow. Yes. Six foot, two blonde hair, blue eyes, whatever you descriptive arguments. Yeah. Sounds like

Amy (42:40): I did see his pictures and you know, he was a good looking guy. So, you know, my aunt was like, Oh, you know, your mom, your mom was just so infatuated with him and thought he was, Oh, so good looking. So he probably just preyed her for that. He knew and had whatever fund, it was a onetime thing. And he got married the next weekend. And few months later, she finds out she’s pregnant and now he’s already married.

Damon (43:06): Yeah. Right. She has no, no recourse.

Amy (43:10): Yes. And she still didn’t know that until I told Barbara on the phone, I said, did you know, he was engaged to be married? And that he had already had one daughter with this woman. And she’s like, no, we had no idea. He was not a single man. So I said, you know, how did my grandparents react to this? And she’s like, well, not, well, you know, we came from a strict Italian Catholic family and I said, Oh, and she said, your grandfather came running out of the house with a shotgun and chased him down the street.

Amy (43:42): You could back then, you know, they told her you’re not going to have this baby. And you’re going to go to your aunt’s house. That’s out on some farm. And then at the end, you’re going to go to an odd one and unwed mothers home. And that’s exactly what happened. That’s unbelievable. As I’m talking to Barbara, she makes a comment that I thought was strange. She says to me, you know, I got all my ethnic breakdown and she said, you know, I’m looking at it. And I just where’s the Irish coming from. Huh. And I said, well, I’m Irish. And she’s like, yeah, I just didn’t, I don’t know where the Irish came from. And I was like, Oh, I don’t know. I said, I guess we all have a little bit of everything. She was like, well, you know, my mother was French Canadian and my father was a hundred percent Italian. And I was like, Oh, I’m like, I don’t know. I mean, I can help you dig through your ancestry if you want. And she’s like, Oh no, no, no, honey, that’s fine. I just thought it was strange. I wasn’t expecting to see Irish. And she just kind of left it at that. We said a few more pleasantries. And we hung up.

Damon (44:52): Amy went straight to ancestry, grabbed her aunt’s results. And compared them with her own side-by-side Amy could see there was 0% Italian in her aunt’s DNA. Amy had 1% looking more closely at their match. Amy sees that she and her aunt are matched highly as first cousins digging deeper. Amy found that this aunt wasn’t a full aunt. She was her half aunt, which meant she and Amy’s birth mother were half sisters in their conversation. Her aunt kept saying our dad, but it was becoming clear to Amy that she and her sister only had their mother in common.

Amy (45:36): I kept looking at these results in I’m sitting there thinking this man is not her father. There’s no way this man is. Her father is zero Italian. So then I went back to my research and there was one family that I could not link after I had figured out everything. I had this one family that I was connected to, that I could not figure out where it fell. I could not figure, I couldn’t link them to my birth father’s side. I couldn’t link them to my mother’s side. It just was kind of out there on an Island. And I could not get it into, to get into this family tree. I ended up talking to this girl who would be a first cousin. They were trying to help me. And then one day they were like, you know, why don’t you just call us?

Amy (46:24): She was like, well, that’s weird. So I’m like, yeah, I’ll call you. So I get home from work and I call them and I said, listen, you know, something’s not right. I said, you know, these sisters are actually only half sisters. They think the father that raised them is their father. They have no idea. And I’ve got this branch that doesn’t work into anything. And then she’s like, yeah, we had something to tell you. I was like, well, what, what is it? And she said, our grandfather was a player back in the day. He owned a grocery store in South gate. And I was like, okay. And I had told them that my birth mother’s family owned a music store in South gate on this one strip.

Amy (47:16): So she says, you mentioned this music store that was in South gate. And I said to him, yeah, that’s what they told me. And she said, well, my grandfather had this store. No, it was two stores down from that music store. And my father got music lessons from the music store. And I was like, Oh, I can’t. He was dropping his son off for music lessons. And he ended up having this affair with my grandmother and got pregnant. They were both married. And then it just, it all clicked the stores. It was in South gate. This guy had music lessons. And I was like, that’s how he knew, you know, my maternal grandmother, he was dropping his son off to get these music lessons. And then they ended up striking up some kind of fling. And she got pregnant with my birth mother. That is crazy. It’s ridiculous.

Damon (48:17): Oh my gosh. I’m totally blown away because you’ve actually revealed. It sounds like

Amy (48:22): It was like, this story just keeps going and going.

Damon (48:30): You better stop before you blow up the whole family tree.

Amy (48:34): I’ll tell you one of the cousins though. She had said to me, she was, you know, she kept helping me and she said, you just remember one thing. And I said, what? And she’s like through your search, you will find that DNA doesn’t lie. But people do

Damon (48:48): That is incredible. Wow. What do you mean?

Amy (48:51): Absolutely incredible. So these women do not know that that’s not their father and what a twist. The adoptee knows who the birth mother’s father is. I know exactly who he is, but she doesn’t. You’re right. That’s crazy.

Damon (49:12): That is unreal. Oh my God.

Amy (49:15): Okay. Imagine if I met her, I’d be like, well, I know who your dad is.

Damon (49:18): Amy said, she was very thankful for that one family who admitted their grandfather was a player. And for everyone who helped her along this road, we closed by talking about the power of the truth that DNA testing has revealed for so many people and how many more scenarios are possible for other people.

Amy (49:38): Yeah. I tell you this whole ancestry and everyone doing DNA, it’s just, there’s gotta be so many people out there just worried if they had a secret, you know, so many people are doing this, you know, they get them as Christmas gifts or birthday, you know, it’s something fun to do and not knowing, you know, they could unfold some deep family secrets.

Damon (49:59): Yeah. And it’s funny too. I think about it from several different perspectives. I think about the guy who used to be a player and is wondering like, Oh, do I, how many kids do I have out there? And then of course the stories of, you know, the sperm donors who end up being, having, you know, children. But I also wonder about, you know, the, the biological father out there who was in, like in my example, had no clue. He had had fathered, you know, a child. He, my birth father had no idea I was coming and in there are going to be even more who they have lost their full mental capacity right there in their older years, they don’t remember stuff. And that this were secret could be revealed and they can in no way corroborated, but DNA very much States what transpired, even if they’re not able to bring forth facts that are supportive or deny, what has, what has been proven?

Damon (50:57): I mean, there’s just, there’s so many scenarios out there for people. And you know, there are, there’s a whole, whole bunch of birth mothers out there. Many of whom are like hanging on to your, and my story hoping that this child that they were Linquist sometime ago finds them and that they find the Fort good fortune of being, you know, found by DNA. There’s a whole bunch of others who are like, Oh, like, I’ve got, I’ve got a sweet life here. I haven’t told anybody about what happened. This is going to rock my world and they are living in absolute and utter fear of what might happen next. And it’s just, it’s so funny. I would love to have heard some of the early conversations about the benefits and detriments of commercialized DNA testing to see if people even thought of this. Right. Cause it’s hard to realize the ramifications of technology way down the line, especially when it’s democratized, the way that commercial DNA tests have been. So wow. You have revealed a gang of stuff all in one story. It’s unbelievable.

Amy (52:07): Yeah, it was crazy. But the one thing I look at this, you know, I see this DNA, you know, everyone, you know unfortunately I’m going to state that, you know, it’s closed adoptions. There’s only X, many States that will allow you to have your records. So this DNA, you know, it blew it off for the adoption community for the first time. You know, we don’t need someone’s permission. We can turn on our samples and we’ll be matched and we have control of what we do with that information. And we never had that control before ever. Yeah. You know, they’re handing it to you. Yeah.

Damon (52:44): Yeah. It changes the game. Because, you know, as you’ve said, there are places where you are blocked by state law and this, you know, provides you an on ramp to a whole new, you know, a whole new freeway on which to try to find your pathway forward. It’s really remarkable. Wow. Well, congratulations, Amy, I’m really glad that you were able to find some of these answers. I know that you didn’t get everything that you wanted, but I mean, it sounds to me like you got some tiny closures, not the right word, but some answers and sometimes that’s better than nothing, right?

Amy (53:21):

Yeah. Like I, you know, the most important thing was I wanted to know my story, how did I come to be, you know, what happened? And that was a big one that was on the top of my list. And you know, that was the answer I did ask for medical information. And there was, there was nothing major. So that was a relief and good to know. But at all, you know, I, I gained some siblings, great people, super cool. You know?

Damon (53:47): Excellent. Congratulations to you, Amy. Thanks so much for taking time to share your story. I appreciate it. It was, Oh my gosh. It was like, I was up and down with you through the whole thing, but through disappointment and through, you know, your triumph and everything, and I’m glad you got some answers. So thanks so much for taking time. I’ll talk to you later. All the best. Okay.

Amy (54:06): Okay. Thank you. Damon. Take care. Bye.

Damon (54:13): Hey, it’s me. Amy’s life started out really challenging with the looming threat of being ripped out of adoption and returned to her unknown place of origin. Later, she went through three unsuccessful rounds of trying to find her biological parents through the courts in the end, DNA helped Amy find out more about her story, but only after she learned the real stories of her birth mother’s pregnancy, her birth father’s last days of bachelorhood and her maternal grandfather’s player ways. I’m so glad Amy got the fulfillment of meeting her siblings and introducing her own kids to their cousins. That kind of closure can fill voids. We didn’t even know existed after the show. Amy wrote me an email to share the following. I forgot to mention one other fact that I found shocking during my search. Like I said, I met my three siblings on my paternal side.

Damon (55:12): When we were all talking, our birth dates came up, come to find out. When my birth mother was pregnant with my birth father, his new wife became pregnant within the first month of their marriage. His wife and my birth mother were pregnant at the same time with due dates four weeks apart. So I have a sister that was born one month after me. I was born May 23rd, 1968. And my sister was born June 22nd, 1968. I’m Damon Davis. And I hope you’ll find something in Amy’s journey that inspires you, validate 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 whoamIreally You can follow the show at or follow on Twitter at Waireally. If the show is meaningful to you, you can support me with a contribution to keep it going on. Patrion.Com/waireally 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.

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