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120 – Sometimes You Just Have To Let People Go

Veronica, called me from New Orleans, Louisiana. She tells her tale of insensitivity within her adoptive family, even with an adoptive mother who was an adoptee herself. Veronica struggled to conduct a search for her roots after Hurricane Katrina threw everything into upheaval in the Big Easy. When she finally found her birth mother, the woman was apathetic to their connection, turning toxic. Now, Veronica wants to find her half brother, and her paternal roots. This is Veronica’s journey. 


Veronica (00:04): She wouldn’t tell me who my birth father was when I asked her who he was. She said, it’s none of your business. And she told me that she never wanted me. She just wanted to have me and go on with the rest of her life. She said, it might not be what you want to hear, but that’s the truth. Very, very cold and harsh toward me.

Speaker 2 (00:32): Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

Damon (00:44): 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 today you’re going to hear from Veronica who called me from new Orleans, Louisiana. Veronica tells her tale of insensitivity within her adoptive family. Even with an adoptive mother who was an adoptee herself. She struggled to conduct a search for her roots. After a natural disaster, threw everything into a people. But when she finally found her birth mother, the woman was apathetic to their connection. Turning toxic. Now Veronica wants to find her half brother and her paternal roots. This is Veronica’s journey, Chit chatting with Veronica. Before we started talking about her adoption journey, she shared that she had a new job that she loved with her master’s degree in mental health. She had taken a new role at a prison. She said, it’s a safer environment than many of the other environments she’s worked in. And the inmates usually direct their aggression at the guards. Not people like her. Then she said,

Veronica (01:55): The funny thing is that what I didn’t expect was how many inmates have a background and adoption and foster care. And it’s about 80%. Yep. Yep.

Damon (02:11): You said a number you pulled out of your like, based on my experience or like literally you’ve looked at the files and calculated or whatever.

Veronica (02:18): Well, I’ve looked at, I’ve looked it up online. And my supervisor also, you know, stated the same thing when I asked her if it’s a large percentage, it’s about 80

Damon (02:29): Our conversation about the magnitude of adoptees and former foster children who are incarcerated continued. I put the whole conversation at the end of the show so that we could focus on Veronica. Veronica said there were other adoptees in her family, including her adopted mother and uncle and a few others. She said that whenever someone hears that her adoptive mother is also an adoptee, they figure she would be able to relate to Veronica better than an adoptive mother who is not also an adoptee. But Veronica says she has to remind him that her mother was born in a different era where they didn’t have a lot of resources and people didn’t understand the trauma associated with it.

Veronica (03:13): So she looked kind of, I guess you could say in the fog, we call it an adoption community and she didn’t understand her own feelings. I think so she couldn’t help me deal with mine. So it didn’t really make any here. It just was more like, I guess they didn’t understand. I had this need to know who I was. My mom’s also biracial. So there were situations that came up when I was growing up and being teased in school. Cause I won’t show, you know, majority of white schools, white private schools where I got teens for things, anything from my hair to my facial features. And it was kind of difficult when I had a mom who looked nothing like me. And not only that, but she looked more like the kids who were making fun of me in school, if that makes sense.

Veronica (04:05): So it was really, it was really difficult. My parents told me when I was down about five or six years old that I was adopted. And it just made me, I just knew it was something I felt like it was something that wasn’t good. It just made me feel different than the rest of the kids I went to school with. And I got teased on the playground. I felt like, okay, maybe this is the reason that my quote unquote, my real mommy didn’t want me because you know my hair because I’m ugly. You know, things other kids will say to me. So I thought that wasn’t one of the reasons I wasn’t wanted by her. So I dealt with that a lot. You know, growing up when I was a child

Damon (04:47): Throughout her life, Veronica met other adoptees when she was a young girl, one of her parent’s friends had an adopted daughter whom Veronica was very close with after her own adoption was revealed. Veronica remembers one time when the girls and their mothers were driving in the car, their moms in the front seat, the daughter’s in the back, her friend’s mother said she needed to go to Goodwill to get some clothes for her daughter Veronica’s friend spoke up.

Veronica (05:15): She said, I don’t want clothes from the Goodwill. And her mom’s response was I don’t see anything wrong with it and got you from Goodwill. So there was a lot of, I think things that were said that were very insensitive when I was growing up, that people just, they didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. You know, not only by, you know, friends of our family, but also my own family. There were lots of things that my grandparents said to me that were very hurtful. My mom didn’t really step in and say too much. And I think that goes back to probably some things. She, through being an adoptee as well. Like I look back when I look back on it, I can see how she had that people pleaser. She always wanted to please her adoptive parents and some adoptees too, because of fear that, you know, they’ll get sent back or sent away.

Veronica (06:12): So my mom was kind of like the people pleaser. So she didn’t want to step in and challenged my grandparents. If they said anything to me, you know, she kinda just let it go. She never wanted to search because she always felt like she would be upsetting or disappointment to her adoptive parents. So there, there were times where I felt like I wish I had a, my uncle had said something, you know, don’t say that to Veronica. It’s very hurtful and upsets her, but she didn’t do it. My grandmother one time she told me that she thought, or she expected my mom to get a better child than I was somebody who was sweet and loving and kind because I was a child. I was going through a lot of, you know, strong emotions as an adoptee. So sometimes I would say hurtful things to my mom. You know, I hate you and leave me alone. And from my grandmother, you know, to her, that was like, Oh, you know, we had hoped that your mother would adopt a nice, sweet little girl, not somebody like you. So it was it’s those things that I remember,

Damon (07:20): Veronica didn’t have a defender in her adoptive mother. What she needed was the adults in her life to be more nurturing in recognizing that as an adoptee, her identity crisis was real. She said her mom had a completely different set of feelings about her adoption. Her mom had buried all of her emotions and replace them with loyalty to her parents. But Veronica, isn’t the kind of person that can burry her feelings. And she said, she always knew that she was going to search. If you haven’t figured it out, Veronica is African-American. She describes herself as darker than her fair-skinned mixed race mother. Veronica said her father is about her complexion with light eyes. She said a lot of people in her family have fair complexions as natives of Louisiana. They have a lot of French Creole in their heritage.

Veronica (08:11): So there were times I remember even my grandmother telling me that I was jealous of my own mom, of my adoptive mother. That’s why I acted the way I did. She would say that a lot. Like, you know, she’s just jealousy. She’s dealt with you because of this. And because of that, and when I got older, I’m don’t know if you’re familiar with it. I grew up in the South, but there’s like colorism. And within the black community, you know, people that are lighter skinned or darker skin getting treated differently by people of your own race. So it makes me, it made me even wonder sometime is that one are the reasons that she felt that I was jealous of my mother because her skin was lighter than mine. I don’t know. Cause her hair was a different texture. I don’t know because my grandfather did tease me because my hair was nappy, you know, there were times he would say that and he was just joking.

Veronica (09:11): I know. But when I look back on it, as I get older, it’s like everybody. And that side of the family, their hair was a different texture than mine. So it was kind of a struggle even, cause I’ve transitioned from getting my hair straightened with chemicals to going actual. And that was a struggle for me because it brought back a lot of childhood memories of people thinking that my hair was nappy. I had gotten my hair chemically straightened from the time I was, I want to say maybe six or seven years old because nobody really knew what to do with my hair. So when I made that transition back to my natural hair, I was so scared. You know, what kind of hair am I going to have? Oh my God, because I was just used to hear people say how nappy it was that it was so bad as the straightened from none of the kids.

Damon (09:59): How did you get to a place of embracing yourself and who you are and the hair that you have and the looks that you have in this adult period of going back to natural hair?

Veronica (10:10): I think part of that was actually finding my my birth family and just seeing people that I look like and not feeling, not feeling so alone. I guess you could say in the world,

Damon (10:29): Veronica said, she always felt like she wanted to search, but she didn’t actively search until she was a junior in college. She had requested her adoption paperwork from her mother when she was 16. Her mother had been going through old papers. So Veronica asked for the envelope with all of her papers in it. That envelope had everything from the letters going back and forth between her mother and father and the lawyers to Veronica’s final adoption decree. Her mother simply said, here it’s yours. You can have it. Veronica kept the documents in her room, periodically reviewing them for clues. She clung to some background information, the description of her natural mother and father, their height, weight ages, education levels, talents they had and skin complexion, not race complexion. Her natural mother was described as quote light. Her natural father was quote dark. That’s it in her early twenties, she decided she needed to know more launching a search, never giving up. Veronica started with her adoption agency to get an updated version of her non ID. They recommended some groups for Veronica to get involved with and suggested a search and reunion expert. She could engage with the searcher took Veronica’s case for free.

Veronica (11:54): Basically, I went to one of those adoption meetings and this gentleman was looking through some of the forms I had and they had a date that I had always looked at on one of the forms, the date that 1130, 60, I didn’t know what this meant. I’m like, why does it say 1960? I wasn’t born in 1960. And this gentleman looked at it. He was adopted. He said, my mom used to be a nurse. She said, I know exactly what this is. They scanned your birth. Mother’s medical ID bracelet from the hospital on your paperwork from when you were born, because my birthday was right next to it. And on his medical ID, bracelet is the date of the person that’s in the hospital. That was not my birthday, but actually it was my birth mother and birthday. So when I gave it to the lady who said she was going to search, I guess she was able to pull up people by date of birth. And she was able somehow to come up with the first name from my birth mother,

Damon (13:00): It was late August of 2005. Hurricane Katrina formed in the Atlantic ocean, gained strength in the Gulf of Mexico, then decimated new Orleans and a wide swath of the Southern United States. 80% of the city was underwater. Over 1000 people lost their lives. Some estimates go as high as 1,800 people. And over $1 billion in damage later, the big, easy was forced to rebuild. Some residents were forced to relocate to other parts of the nation, never to return. And of course, any records that were maintained on paper were destroyed if the floodwater reached them.

Veronica (13:42): So I waited a little while, you know, before I contacted her and cause I had all these thoughts running through my mind, like, Oh my God, my paperwork, you know, cause adoptees aren’t allowed to get any of their information from when they’re born. What if it flooded? What if my records are destroyed? And there’s no chance of me ever getting it, even if they change. So these are the kinds of things that were running through my mind. And I waited for several months before I contacted her to see, you know, how her family was, if she was okay, when is she going to start searching again? And you know, to make a long story short, basically she just stopped working on my case. She stopped helping me. She told me she wasn’t working on cases anymore, but when I would look online at her profile and different things, there were people she had been communicating with that she had been helping. So she just decided she stopped working on my case without confronting me face to face, calling me and telling me she didn’t want to move forward with it. So to me it felt like another abandonment, you know, as an adoptee, why did this person just, just stop? You know, she’s let me down. You know, that was very, very painful.

Damon (15:00): Veronica went through many search agents, they worked on her case for awhile. Then they would stop. They would pull up a list of names and give it to her, but not follow through with the case. Veronica has no bad feelings about search angels and thinks they’re really great when they follow through with helping adoptees find their families. But for her, she got the impression that the ones she was engaged with were taking on too much, couldn’t get through their workload. And she got pushed aside because her case was more challenging. Veronica got tired. So she turned to hiring a company that came highly recommended by a friend of hers, a woman who happened to be a first mother herself, Veronica used student loan money and tax returns to fund her search forging over all of the information she already had to the private investigator within a week, the woman found her birth mother.

Veronica (15:54): Well, my friend, the lady who is a, I’m a first mother that recommended I use this service. I gave her the information because she also acts as like a representative intermediary when she contacts the birth mothers for us. Cause she’s also a birth mother. So she hopes that she could maybe talk to them and ease some of their concerns that they might have about connecting with their adoptee again. So I gave her the info and she contacted my mother and she told me when she first first spoke to my birth mother, she didn’t really seem like she cared that much. She told me, she said, you’re going to be disappointed. And I’m so sorry. She just, she said she, it self centered. She tried to, you know, get as much information out of her that she could, you know, just in case she did not want to talk to me. And basically she told her that when I was born, she said that they gave me to her. She didn’t want to hold me. So she started freaking out and they had to remove me from her arms. She didn’t want to talk about her family. She said she would only talk to me if I didn’t have any questions about her family.

Veronica (17:19): But eventually she was willing to come around and let me allow me to call her. And when I spoke to her, I remember the first time I called her, she didn’t have any kind of enthusiasm in her voice. She kind of found it like I was bothering her and before it’s so funny. Cause before I could even get anything out, you know, when you’re younger and you have all these questions, like what did they like eat? What was their favorite foods? What was their favorite color? Or what are they like to do before? I can ask her anything? She just straight out told me I don’t have a favorite color. I don’t have favorite food I don’t have a favorite hobby. So don’t even bother asking me

Damon (18:08): This. The, just the open dismissal from the beginning.

Veronica (18:12): Yeah. Yep. When not tell me she wouldn’t tell me anything about her family. She doesn’t want to talk about them at all. I only kept in touch with her for maybe a few months back and forth. When she did find out that I spoke to another family member because I had located cousins on Facebook when she found out I had connected with them, I would get phone calls and it was hi, how are you? I’m good. How are you? How dare you talk to so and so, and my family, you don’t have any business talking to them and you know, her yelling at me because I have no right to contact them and talk to them. And that happened every time I got another family member, pretty much. Can you remember

Damon (19:18): Just going back to that first conversation, you know, she’s basically shut down all questions of interest. You can’t ask about the family. You don’t, she doesn’t have any things of self-interests that she wants to share. What did y’all even talk about that first conversation?

Veronica (19:36): I’m trying to think. I can’t even remember too much cause she, she didn’t ask me anything about me. She didn’t ask me anything about my life. She, well actually she said, did you have a good life? That’s all she wanted to know. She didn’t want to know about who I was as a person. And what do I like to do at all? You know she talked a lot about her medical condition that she had, but really it just wasn’t a pleasant conversation. It was more like she was just talking at me

Damon (20:10): Like a hoped her birth mother would cave and answer questions about family members, but she didn’t even want to share a photo of herself. Veronica hoped if she opened up and sent a few pictures of herself, perhaps her birth mother would open up. Didn’t happen on top of it. All she learned in her own non identifying information in her early twenties that she has a half brother, her birth mother didn’t mention Veronica sibling at all. And wouldn’t tell her who her birth father is.

Veronica (20:40): She wouldn’t tell me who my birth father was when I asked her who he was. She said, it’s none of your business. And she told me that she never wanted me. She just wanted to have me and go on with the rest of her life. She said it might not be what you want to hear, but that’s the truth. Very, very cold and harsh toward me.

Damon (21:03): That sounds really cold. Very harsh. I’m sorry. That sounds horrible.

Veronica (21:10): Yeah.

Damon (21:12): How did you, how were you after that phone call? Where, how did that lead?

Veronica (21:19): You know what, I was kind of numbed toward it, I guess. I mean, I didn’t even shed a tear. I think because I had spent so many years crying and wondering who she was and you know, dreaming, you know, about this, this person that I came from, I just had no more tears to cry. It almost felt like that. Like I was just numb to it almost. I do feel like it was extremely selfish of her. Not to at least provide me with information on my birth father or my brother. Cause I grew up with no siblings at all their siblings that I could have out there from not only my birth father’s side, but the one is she had. And when I spoke to other family members and you know, they would give me the same story. That one day she had a kid and next thing she didn’t, they don’t know what she did with him. They’re telling me.

Veronica (22:21): And he’s, he’s about probably one or two years older than me. I only have a first name. His first name is Eric. I was told, but I do know that she kept in touch with him as he grew up. So I believe that it was some sort of either he was taken by his father’s family or it was an adoption of a kinship adoption somewhere within the family somewhere. But she did keep in touch with him because I have been told that by other family members. And then they say, one day she just stopped talking about him. Vanished. Apparently, apparently vanished. Obviously somebody is not telling the truth. Obviously somebody is lying. They’re not gonna tell me because they don’t want to upset her. Everything that’s been going on is pretty much to keep peace because she gets very upset and they don’t want to get her riled up. So if she doesn’t want me to know, they’re not gonna tell me anything.

Damon (23:32): Veronica said, it took a long time for someone in the family to even share a photo of her birth mother, because they’re all afraid of her and didn’t want her to find out they had done. So she said her uncle, the birth mother’s, who is one of a total of 10 aunts and uncles told her unequivocally that the family is afraid of her. When Veronica first found her birth mother, she reached out to cousins to try to get their parents, her aunts and uncles to call her. Besides that one uncle only one aunt called her and only one time. And Veronica has never heard from that on again. Veronica met one cousin. That’s about the same age as her adoptive parents, a very nice person whom Veronica is still in touch with today.

Veronica (24:18): One cousin that I had been speaking with on a regular basis, he would reach out to me quite often. I like to think we got pretty close. He would call me, see how I was. We were also about the same age he died. And this was just out of the blue that he died. I had just spoken to him. Maybe I want to say less than a week prior, before he passed. And at that time I was working at a psychiatric facility in an overnight position. So I would go in really late and get off like seven or eight in the morning. I got a text message on my phone. And all it said was so and so has passed and I was like, what, what is this? And it was a text message from his phone, from my cousin who died from his cell phone telling me that he didn’t even bother to call me. You know, they just sent me a text. Instead of these, this was around. I want to say five, six in the morning or something.

Damon (25:22): And they didn’t even say like, Hey, this is, this is so-and-so on. So and so’s phone. Wow.

Veronica (25:30): I later found out it was, I said he was good. You know, cause he’s passed. And I said, who is this? And he said, this is his brother. You know? But you don’t, you don’t do that to somebody, you know, or at least call me and explain to me. Cause they knew I had been communicating with him. You know, they couldn’t even give me that kind of courtesy, you know, but to call me up and let me know what happened or they didn’t look like they didn’t care.

Damon (25:57): Veronica has actually met her uncle while the whole family was icing her out. This uncle said he wanted to meet her. So she flew to California. She said she was scared of the situation and was really reluctant to stay at his home. But she did.

Veronica (26:12): I mean, I thought it went well. You know, it was really strange for me. I had never been around anybody that I looked like, you know, is very strange. He said he lives somewhere in California and he said he likes to be around mountains. He liked mountains. I’ve always loved the mountains if he asked me beach over mountain. So it was really strange just to see that we share some similar interests. You know, personalities are kind of similar and more laid back personality, but I haven’t spoken to him in years. He doesn’t talk to me anymore. It’s because of her, whatever it is. I know it’s got something to do with her. And I haven’t even spoken to her in years because I feel like I’m not going to fight to keep you to have a relationship with you. Because for one thing, if you’re not honest with me, cause she lied to me about so much.

Veronica (27:07): There was so much, she lied to me about just little things. You wouldn’t think of your matters. She told me she didn’t have a high school education. She didn’t know that wasn’t true. My cousin said she has their high school photo in the house when she graduated. Like there were just little things that she would not be honest with me about like my birth father, my brother. I feel like you can’t have a successful relationship if people are going to lie to you or keep things from you. There’s no trust. Yeah. I couldn’t keep going back and forth with her. About every time I spoke to a family member, her calling me and you know, yelling at me because I found out something new about her. So sometimes you have to just let people go because it was more, I felt like it would’ve been more harmful for me to allow her to stay in my life than if I just had walked away. So I just said, I’m going to walk away from it. If she wants to contact me, she can. But as soon as she starts yelling and all of a sudden I’m not going to put up with it, I don’t have to. Which is a great thing I don’t have to eventually,

Damon (28:13): Yeah, that’s a good point. Although I’m sure it’s very hard because this is the person from whom you came and they’ve pushed you away in every way possible. And, and sounds like really misbehaved with all of their other family members to the point that nobody wants to talk to you. I mean, it’s just really terrible behavior, but you’re right. Like you can’t, you’re, you’re in this position of, it’s almost like you’re facing a fire hose and you have the choice to just turn your back and walk away from this thing that’s blasting in your face. And it sounds like that’s the position that you’re in is like I don’t have to stand here and get blasted by you.

Veronica (28:55): Oh, I just walk away for my own sanity, basically from my own sanity.

Damon (29:01): Veronica told me she read a book about synchronicity and adoption that discusses the coincidences that occur in adopted families and birth families. Almost like the universe has a way of keeping the families connected. She gave the example of her friend’s father and his sister who were born in Guam, but were adopted separately when their parents, her friend’s grandparents died. The father searched for his sister, his whole life. And to turned out these children from Guam were living down the street from one another, as adults. Veronica said her synchronicity story involved, her adopted parents who bought a house in a very small country, turns out her biological grandfather is from that same small town and the high school that some of her biological aunts and uncles went to is right down the street from her parents’ home. In that town. I asked Veronica how she shared her reunion with her adoptive parents.

Veronica (30:01): I didn’t tell him what I had found until maybe a year after, because I wanted to allow myself that time to, you know, just kind of deal with some of the emotions I had been feeling before I let them know. My dad, my adoptive dad, when I first started searching. And I remember this was like the first day when I brought home the non identifying information from the agency. Cause he saw it because it said the name of the adoption agency on the envelope. And he thought, and he asked me about it and I said, you know, this is what I did. I got it. Cause they had always told me they would help me search when I got older. That’s what they said. He saw it and he said, well, I don’t think you’re going to find anything. So he really wasn’t confident that I was gonna find anything.

Veronica (30:49): Not at all, no kind of support or anything. My mom had always said she would help me, but I didn’t really clue her a whole lot. You know, it kind of just went on my own my own way. And when I told them, you know, I showed my mom a photo of some of the family members that I had gotten from pictures. And I told her my birth mother responded and she was, she was really upset that my birth mother acted the way she did. And I tried to show my dad a photo of one of my aunts so he could see how much it looked like. He really, he didn’t even look at the picture, even though my mom has never because she’s always had that loyalty to where her adopted parents. I do think she still empathizes with me more being an adoptee like to him, it’s kind of like, I took you into my home and I gave you everything. Why do you need this? He’s he’s one of those types.

Damon (31:50): He feels betrayed. I think speaking of her maternal adoptive parents, the ones who adopted her mother, Veronica said, she felt like she got less love from them than she did from her adoptive father’s parents. She said it was always her mother’s parents that made her feel like she didn’t belong. Veronica said that when she grew up and as she got into the mental health field, she began to question why her adopted maternal grandmother used to say the cruel things that she did. She wondered what she might have gone through herself. Veronica said, there’s always a reason people behave the way they do. So since Veronica couldn’t get any information directly from the family, I wondered if she investigated them on her own to gather more information. She said, she’s gathered a lot of Intel and has had some wonderful people who have helped her along the way. Veronica has a friend who is a genealogist who is also looking for more details on her behalf. The genealogist found an article about one of her uncles who was murdered. She found high school photos of some of Veronica’s aunts. As far as her own efforts, Veronica called the courthouse to get any publicly available records. She could, she found things like her birth mother’s court case against the store and a vehicular accident involving a child.

Veronica (33:12): So every now and then I found find bits and pieces of little things that come up. And I believe that it’s only a matter of time before everything reveals itself. I was able to find a second cousin match on ancestry for who we believe is from my biological father’s side. So we’re still trying to trace that it didn’t really go too well when I did start speaking with my second cousin, but other members of his family were not thrilled that he had been communicating with me. So they cut him off.

Damon (33:53): What, ah

Veronica (33:55): It’s yeah, a lot of secrets. There’s a lot of secrecy that I’ve learned in my family. A lot of secrecy. I started to do a family tree on ancestry, you know, their child abandonment, you know, you can find like, you know, patterns. Sometimes my birth mother’s mother, my grandmother was not raised by her parents. She was raised by her grandparents even. I don’t know why her mother didn’t raise her, but I can tell you that this is a fact because it’s in a census record who she lived with, who she was raised with. There’s just different patterns you can see throughout the family. And you know, somebody, I believe that when we have generational patterns, curses, whatever you call it, I believe somebody has to put it into it and stop it and say enough is enough. I’m going to end it with me. Those kind of secrets need to come out. When I have a family, I don’t want it to be that way. It’s not going to be that way. I need it to be open and honest. And that’s partially what I that’s, what I’ve learned just from that family is that secrets hurt and they destroy lives and you can see it.

Damon (35:10): I’m glad to hear that. I mean, that’s, you’re right. You can see it. It’s evident in the experiences that you’ve had and the isolation that has been inflicted upon you because it seems like of some secrets and things like that. But I, I like that. What you’re saying is I’m turning what has been an unkind negative experience towards me into openness for my family going forward, the family that I create and the love that I put out into the world is going to be one that is based on truth because secrets lies and unkindness have been very harsh on me. And I don’t want this to continue through to the next generation. I love that. You’re thinking about it from that perspective. That’s really amazing.

Veronica (35:58): Yeah. I mean, it’s still challenging. I feel there was struggle all the time and you know, I wish that I had that connection with them. It’s never going to be the same, especially with all the cousins I have. I didn’t grow up with him. We don’t have that, that connection. It will never be that way.

Damon (36:16): Veronica has one biological older cousin that she still communicates with, which she’s thankful for. And she maintains a relationship with her adoptive parents. She said, of course they could have done a few things better, but they also didn’t have the education we have now about adoptions effect on children. Veronica said they have a long way to go, but things are getting better between them. She said that her work in the mental health field has also given her perspective on adoption as a whole and herself as an adoptee

Veronica (36:48): Working in the mental health field one day. And I’ve seen all kinds of situations with adoption and then moved to helpful. I’ve spoken to parents who have adopted two different children and they don’t want the children to know that they’re biologically related. You know, I’ve spoken to people who don’t want the child to know that they were adopted at all. I’ve spoken to kids who have wanted to kill themselves, younger than 10. You know, I’ve seen all kinds of situations. And a lot of people will tell me, or even of the post on Facebook, it’s like, Oh, I went to a therapist. They didn’t do anything for me. They didn’t help me. They didn’t know anything about my situation. What I really want to encourage people to do is that when you are looking for a therapy, you have to ask them the right questions to a lot of therapists.

Veronica (37:42): Mental health therapists will do consultations like 15, 30 minutes free consultations. You have to ask them if they are familiar with adoption related trauma. Have they ever worked with any body, any adoptee or anybody in adoption? Try it, ask them if they are trained in adoption competency, because now they actually have certificates or training that they offer where therapists and social workers can get. And it’s called adoption competency. I’ve sat in, I’ve sat in on the class before I’ve even opened in the class before when I told them my story. And it talks about things like the problem wound in the trauma and the separation. So when you talking to that therapist, when you did that consultation, make sure you ask those questions because if you’re going to try to look for a doctor to handle your physical health, you know, it could be an endocrinologist.

Veronica (38:39): You’re looking for a cardiologist or whatever. You’re going to do your research. And you’re going to ask around, who’s the best one. You’re going to go online. And you’re going to try to look for reviews. You know, if they have any marks against them, it’s the same way with mental health. You gotta do your homework. That’s a really good point. Yeah. You can’t blame the therapist all the time, because there are therapists who don’t know anything about adoption trauma. If you speak to somebody during a consultation and ask them if they understand the trauma wound and they tell you, no, that might not be the right therapist for you.

Damon (39:09): I told Veronica, it sounded like she was in a decent place in terms of her own mental health and her ability to let go of some of what happened to her along her journey. It sounded to me like her experiences haven’t defined her. And she sounded like she was on a positive trajectory. She agreed. But she also said this.

Veronica (39:29): The thing that kills me though, is because I guess of my personality and just I’m a helper, you know, that’s why I’m in the profession. I helped other people is that I am concerned about my brother. You know, he’s older than me. I don’t know what happened to him. And I work at, I told you I worked in a prison and I see a lot of these men that are incarcerated from male prison, a lot of African American men, the majority probably. And they have that background in foster care and adoption. And you ask yourself, you know, is this part of the reason they went off, down the path that they went down because of that trauma of losing the mother or the father or whatever it was. And it worries me because I wonder is my brother, did he end up as one of those men that are in prison, he’s incarcerated because this happened to him.

Veronica (40:20): How did it affect him? Does he have a lot of anger now as an African American male? Because he went through this with his own mother, because I’m sure. I mean, he remembers I’m sure being left when he was around, I guess the age of maybe two when it happened. So he could probably recall the events or even if she kept in touch with him throughout his life. He can probably remember the last time he spoke to her. You know, I don’t know if she still speaks to him, but I just I’m concerned. You know, that his life took a wrong turn because of that. And it’s not fair.

Damon (40:57): Yeah, you’re right. It isn’t fair. Then I hope that that’s not the case, but those statistics about adoptees ending up incarcerated foster care and adoptees is just, those are staggering. Wow. I hope that’s not the case. I hope that’s not the case. And I hope that you do get some answers and that somebody in the family comes along and decides that they no longer want to be part of this iceberg that is blocking your path. And they want to try to chip away at it to let you in a little bit. Cause you know, life short

Damon (41:34): Time is short. It’s actually really hard to maintain that level of negative energy towards anybody. I’m always surprised when people find that they want to just keep pushing towards that level of negativity. It’s just so exhausting and draining. Versus, you know, it’s like turning and facing the truth and you know, I mean, that’s also very difficult, but it’s such a relief in the end. So I wish you the best towards getting some level of of satisfaction from your search that gives you some answers from people that are at least in a closer circle with your biological mother and father.

Veronica (42:12): Yes. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Damon (42:14): Take care of Veronica all the best to you. Okay.

Veronica (42:18): Yes. Thank you for letting me tell my story. Of course.

Damon (42:21): Thanks for being here on the show. I’ll talk to you later.

Veronica (42:24): Okay. Bye bye. Bye.

Damon (42:29): Hey, it’s me. Veronica endured some insensitivity from the adults in her family about her adoption, but she seems to empathize with them to a degree understanding that they didn’t know back then, what we know now about adoption trauma. It was sad to hear that Veronica’s birth mother treated her so unkindly trying her best to reveal nothing to Veronica and even lying about some of the things she did disclose. I kind of questioned why she even bothered to get on the phone at all. I hope Veronica is able to find her half-brother and more information about her biological father, Veronica underscored, that adoptees need to do their research about getting therapy from adoption competent therapists and to our mental health professionals out there. She recommended that you seek out adoption competency training courses so that you can help more people appropriately. You’ll get continuing education credits for taking the course and fun fact, Veronica and a prior guest on the, who am I really podcast Shelby episode 106.

Damon (43:35): Beautiful truth. Our partners on a book project called rooted in adoption. A collection of adoptee reflections. The book is a compilation of experiences from adoptive people of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences. It reveals the joys of adoption and the challenges associated with living a lifetime of unanswered questions rooted in adoption. A collection of adoptee reflections is available for presale on Amazon, Barnes, and noble nook. And BookBaby I’m Damon Davis. And I hope you’ll find something in Veronica’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 who am I really

Damon (44:32): 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.

Veronica (45:11): The funny thing is that what I didn’t expect was how many inmates have a background in adoption and foster care and it’s about 80%. Yep.

Damon (45:27): Is that a number you pulled out of your like, based on my experience or like literally you’ve looked at the files?

Veronica (45:34): No, I’ve loved it. I’ve looked it up online. And my supervisor also stated the same thing. When I asked her, if it’s a large percentage, it’s about 80.

Damon (45:46): You find them that you’re able to relate your own experience to them. At least just being kindred spirits and in adoption.

Veronica (45:57): I don’t really talk to them about adoption. When, when you work in a prison, it’s, it’s a little bit different. There’s only certain things that we really discuss with the inmates. We don’t want to talk about trauma too much because when you’re out in the community and you’re working with people who have gone through a trauma and you can give them coping skills there’s places they can go, they can take a walk, they can do meditation when you’re working in the kind of environment that we’re in. We don’t want to open any wounds where they can’t close them. Because a lot of times they’re sitting in a cell all day, but they really don’t have anywhere to go except to be with their thoughts. So it shifts a lot harder for them to be able to cope with some of those, you know, reoccurring, intrusive thoughts all over again. So we’re just very careful. But a lot of times what we do is we teach coping skills instead of talking about the trauma. Okay. Here’s some coping skills that you might be able to use, whether it’s deep breathing, guided imagery, meditation. I don’t tell them that I’ve been adopted because you gotta be really careful cause even in a prison, when they’re your clients, they’re still inmates. They still have a background in crime. Of course you don’t want to give them anything that’s too personal.

Damon (47:18): Yeah. I can understand from your own personal perspective, but it strikes me as odd that you wouldn’t want someone to deal with their trauma. When all they’ve got is time to about what it means and how it has affected them and stuff. Like, I mean, you don’t, it sounds counterintuitive to me I’m not clinically trained and I don’t have any kind of degree in psychology psychiatry. What have you. But if these people are sitting, I mean, so many of them are not all, but many are lamenting what they did, you know, wished they had made a different change, a different decision in a certain moment. They’re focused on how they can get the heck out of there. And hopefully many of them not come back. And if the source of what they’re dealing with comes from their childhood and is a, is sort of exponentially built upon by their environment and other sort of social circumstances.

Damon (48:19): I mean, it just seems like that’s the perfect place to do it just cause you can’t go walk in a park. Doesn’t mean that they’re going to think about it anyway. They’re going to think about it. Whether you make them think about it or not. Right. I just don’t, it seems odd to me that you wouldn’t talk to them about childhood issues. Cause I’m sure that many of them say, you know, yo, I wouldn’t even be in here if it wasn’t for, you know, the man and the socioeconomic status of my environment and you know what I’m saying? Like, it just feels like they’re thinking about this stuff already, just because you didn’t say it doesn’t mean it’s not coming up in their mind. You know what I mean?

Veronica (48:55): I haven’t been only been working there for several months and I’m not licensed yet. I’m still a registered intern working towards my licensure, but this is just what I’ve been advised by those who have been in this profession longer than me who have worked in the system that it’s just, we don’t want to open up that they can’t close. Cause we don’t want anybody. Who’s got a history of injurous behaviors starting to cut again when these intrusive thoughts come into their, in our mind, these flashbacks. So that’s just what I’ve been advised. So, you know, if it is something that they want to talk about, you know, of course we can have a conversation about that, but we also want to make sure that we teach the coping skills because that’s actually a lot of times what prevents people from going to therapy when they have a background in trauma is that they don’t want to talk about the trauma again. So it’s really important to teach the coping skills.

Damon (49:56): Interesting. Wow. That’s fascinating. I appreciate you sharing that. That’s really, really interesting. Cause it just I’m, again, I’m a novice, but it strikes me as a hole in the system where if I get it that if you person is cutting and other self injurious behaviors, you don’t want to somehow accidentally provoke that. But by the same token, these people have nothing but time. And they’re thinking about everything. Every person has ever been in their life. It just strikes me that this is an opportunity to build these people back up by helping them to cope through this most fundamental piece of who they are and where they fit into society. I don’t know. Fascinating. Wow.

Veronica (50:39): Well, yeah. And I’m still learning too, but when I’m talking about trauma, what I mean like any kind of abuse, you know that we don’t want to bring up too many, too many triggers and things like that. You know, if they want to talk about their childhood and how they grew up, that’s fine. But you know, there’s certain things, certain things we just don’t want to provoke. So, you know, we just have to, we just have to be careful. I understand that makes sense.

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