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122 – Deep Rooted Issues Of Shame And Guilt

John called me from Charlotte, NC, but his story starts in Ontario Canada. He shares how he grew up in a strict home and how even though he was mischievous, he didn’t think his actions warranted his unceremonious delivery to boarding school. After decades of dedication to his search, he finally discovered his birth mother’s identity, accidentally uncovered deeply held lifelong secrets, and he hopes to have a pint with the man falsely named as his birth father. This is John’s journey. 


John (00:03): It was really, really comforting. You know, I’m going through this extremely scary time. I feel like I’m doing it alone. I don’t have the support of my wife or anybody because I kept everybody out. This was, this was my road to walk and whether they would have understood it or not, I kept them separate. But to have to have somebody realize who I was and make those connections of who I was and tie everything together. It was one of the most amazing feelings that, that I can ever remember experiencing.

Speaker 2 (00:45): Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

Damon (00:57): 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 you’re about to meet John. He called me from Charlotte, North Carolina, but his story starts in Ontario, Canada. He shares how he grew up in a strict home and how, even though he was mischievous, he didn’t think his actions warranted his unceremonious delivery to a boarding school. After decades of dedication to his search, he finally discovered his birth mother’s identity accidentally uncovered, deeply held lifelong secrets, and he hopes to have a pint with the man falsely named as his birth father. This is John’s journey.

Damon (01:44): John was born in 1970 in Canada. His adopted parents had immigrated from Northern Ireland as British citizens in their new life. In North America. They were unable to conceive a child. So they recruited the support of the children’s aid society. This society peered John, who was in an orphanage for six weeks with his new parents. Finally, the couple met the status quo for young people who were almost expected to have a child back then three years later, John’s parents gave birth to his younger sister. Then two years after that five years after John’s adoption, they had another daughter.

John (02:24): She was born with a serious illness and birth defects, and she lived till she was about eight. She never, never grew as a child. She came home with us for a short period of time. And at a young age, I didn’t really understand everything that went along with that, but she passed away, like I say, at about eight. And then in 1978, they had their third child, my adopted brother. And I grew up in a homeless, a, an adopted brother and an adopted that were biological.

Damon (03:03): They were biological to your parents,

John (03:05): Biological to my parents. Yes, correct. Correct. So I knew from a very, very young age that I was adopted, I think back in the late sixties, early seventies, there was a numerous occasion of flipping back and forth between when you should tell your child. And when you shouldn’t tell your child. And luckily I was told as young as I can remember, obviously I was told before I could understand what it meant. I had been told that I was chosen that I was special, that they were able to choose me.

Damon (03:42): John’s parents were entrepreneurs who were focused on growing their business. His dad worked really hard, probably more than 70 hours a week. His mother was heavily involved in the business too. So the children were raised by a succession of nannies, Oh, payers and babysitters in his early years. I always

John (04:02): Remember I’m missing my mother and I couldn’t explain it. And I still can’t explain it, even though I’ve kind of gotten to the other end of this whole journey, but I, my parents were given a book a little, I remembered it as a little blue little blue book. And it said, it’s a boy on the front of it. It was provided by the children’s aid. And it had my birth weight, my birth time some pertinent information regarding my religion or the religion of my parents, my biological parents. It had a picture of me as a newborn in a little cot at the hospital. And it had emergency contact information for doctors and et cetera. My, my doctor mother, she kept that in her dresser drawer. And I would go and take that out and look at it. And I was, I was awe struck about realizing that this book talked about me prior to adoption, but it provided no detail or insight.

John (05:15): So although it was probably intended to be a valuable tool or an asset to an adopted child, to help them to grow up, understanding it a little bit better. For me, it was probably more painful to have that book and to see that book, which has many years since been lost, but I would miss, I would miss my mom and I didn’t know why. And I would find myself laying in bed at night, six, seven years old, and I would start crying and I couldn’t explain why. And my doctor parents would come in and ask me why I was crying. And I didn’t know which, which was a lot for child to try to process at that time. But it was a part of, part of that separation that I couldn’t understand, even at, you know, the age of six or seven, but I, I couldn’t process it fully.

Damon (06:16): John grew up in private schools. He said he was a little bit of a rabble rouser, especially as compared with his siblings who were biological to his parents. He remembers the time when his second sister was brought home and the medical team was trying to diagnose what might be wrong with her. She was taken off to the hospital for examination, but her departure triggered pain for John,

John (06:40): Seeing her get sent away to hospital, I think opened up a lot of pain and a lot of wounds to me, I’m not understanding exactly why, but there was that abandonment fear, again, that was played out at a young age. Abandonment actually was something that kind of followed me. My most of my younger life. I was sent away to a boarding school at 14 and felt very alone very quickly learn to self sooth. I would find myself making up wild stories of who I was and where I’d come from. I remember telling people that my adopted mother or sorry, my biological mother was a movie star and that she was traveling and shooting on set. And she was unable to look after me. So I make up these stories about who I was and try to live a life that I thought other people would accept more readily.

Damon (07:52): Let me ask you real quick. You were talking a little bit about the infant child who was not very well. And she came home for a couple of weeks and then she was sent back to the hospital. It sounds like that was a trigger for you in terms of, you said it, it made you think of your own abandonment. So there there’s this situation where you’re watching this other child be removed from the home, even though it was for clinical reasons. And, but it, but it triggered for you, is that right?

John (08:22): It did. And you know, looking back now as an adult, I understand it a little bit more of what the cause and effect was back then. But I, I had a fear of abandonment because of that. I, I actually would hold her in the home that my adoptive parents allowed me to name her. They knew that she was probably not going to to survive for a great deal of time. So I got to name her and in those weeks I bonded very closely with her. You know, my mother obviously stayed at home recovering from a childbirth. But there was a shame that she carried as well of having a child that wasn’t perfect or didn’t didn’t appear to be able to survive for a long period of time. So, yeah, so the time that I got with her name was Julie at the time that I got with Julie was a very, very special time for me, but when she would go away, I couldn’t understand feeling that I was having inside of fear of being abandoned.

John (09:39): And I didn’t understand why she was going to a hospital I do now, but as a, as a five year old child, I couldn’t wrap my arms around why she had to go away. She seemed perfectly fine to, to me as a, as a, as a young child, but the day that she left and got loaded into the car and taken to the taken to the, the home was, was very, very hard. And it was hard obviously on my adopted parents. Like, I can’t even imagine what they went through either, but they, they remain strong and kept a strong face. We would go to visit Julie in the home. You know, it would start once a month and then it would turn into once every couple of months, once a quarter. And it would just over time, the, the, the visits would be farther and farther apart. And I would go with my mother most times to to the home or to the hospital we’re doing was, and I can still remember the smells and the sounds in that home, even at 50 years old now. So it was, it was very traumatic, traumatic to me as a child and not understanding why it hurts so badly that she was going away. But looking back, it’s the trigger of that abandonment.

Damon (11:07): John was born and lived in Ontario, Canada for boarding school in the ninth grade. At 14 years old, he was sent away to Nova Scotia, nearly 3000 miles away.

John (11:20): I remember very clearly the day that I was taken there, we, we drove cross country or half cross country. My two siblings myself and my parents. And we pulled up to this campus at this boarding school. And my father reached over and pushed the button and pop the trunk and the trunk opened up and I got out and I was excited. We’d sat in the car for what seemed like an eternity driving halfway across the country. And I took my stuff out and stacked it on the on the gravel road, out in front of the dormitory. And my dad shook my hand through the car window, and I went to the other side and give my mom a hug. And neither one of them got out of the car. And I can remember the feeling of standing there as they drove out the gravel drive and seeing the dust cloud behind their Mercedes, as they drove out, they didn’t get out and walk me into the dorm.

John (12:23): They didn’t spend a spend time seeing where I was going to be. They had obviously done their research through our minister and our home church back home. And I’m sure it was hard for them as well, but they, they left me. So again, remember that abandonment feeling. And I remember at 14, looping back to your original question of this during my teenage years, it became, it became a habit in my life at that point to pretend I was something that I wasn’t, and it was a wall that I was creating to protect myself from allowing myself to feel either insecure or did not meeting the expectations. My parents were hardworking, they were financially sound, but I would have people believe that I was far wealthier or came from a far better tight background than what I had come from. I realized that if people thought that you were upper class or upper crust, that they would be more accepting of you.

John (13:37): And I fell into that niche of creating this, this false hood of who I was to the point of, I wouldn’t even know that I was making these stories up. And then I had to pretend that’s who I was. So I created, I created a trap for myself that I had to continue to try to be whom I had created others, the image that I had created for other people. So it was an interesting an interesting roller coaster but it was more of a hamster wheel because I couldn’t get off in reality. It was, it was me reaching out in a cry for help. I, I wasn’t bonded with anybody and I felt very alone and I could get attention by, you know, being a bit of a troublemaker. And any attention was better than no attention.

Damon (14:31): Yeah. Yeah. I’ve heard that before, but I find it particularly callous to drive a child for many, many hours in the car together. Pull up to what it sounds like the front gate at the end of a long gravel road and shake hands out the window. I mean, that just sounds pretty harsh.

John (14:52): It was even looking back now. Yeah, I’ve got, I’ve got three daughters and I can’t imagine doing that to any of my children. You know, I think back in that era or in the era in which I was adopted parents, weren’t prepared for the fallout of children that were suffering. So they were probably struggling themselves on what they were doing. And it was probably easier for them to just you know, open up the door and let me leave as opposed to making it a long term departure. It was callous. Callous is a good word. It’s not it’s not something that a child needs to feel that love or feel that catchment to people. And to have left a memory in my mind of seeing the dust cloud behind their car, as they drove out the lane way, you know, to this day still still haunts me.

Damon (15:53): John stayed at the first boarding school for two years. Then he went to a second boarding school in Oklahoma city. Both schools were religious institutions. John said he just couldn’t find his own place at either school. He didn’t connect with a crew of people where he felt like he was part of the group. And though he tried hard to be accepted. He never developed any close friendships. John stayed at the second school for only one year, then returned to Ontario and completed his senior year of school from home. That’s a lot of moving around for a young adopted man while his family is living at home together. When I asked John about the straw that broke the camel’s back to get him sent away to boarding school, he said, all he had really done was a mix of minor mischievous things, nothing big that would warrant being boarded, thousands of miles away. It was a strict home.

John (16:51): So the connection because of the traits that I had taught myself to try to be something that I wasn’t the connection wasn’t very strong. I didn’t bond very strongly with my mother. My father worked like I’d said earlier in a numerous hours, seven days a week trying to grow a business. And he didn’t was not able to spend a lot of time with us. We would go on family vacation for a couple of weeks, a year to South Florida. And I used to enjoy that. But aside from those trips that we would take, it was all about work for both of them. So there was never really any, any significant bonding. Yeah. I’m told I’m going to jump back a number of years. I’m told it today. I was dropped off at nursery school and I don’t know what age that would have been.

John (17:46): Maybe three that the nursery school lady came out and met my mother at the end of the day and said, John cried from the second you dropped him off for about four hours until he found this other little girl. And he hasn’t let go of her hand since. And he has been holding her hand now for about five hours two that that’s the only way that he stopped crying. And he saw this girl across her room and walked over and grabbed a hold of her hand and held onto her hand. I don’t know who that girl is. Never, never been able to figure out who that young lady was, but she a child the same age as me was obviously there to pacify me in a time of need.

Damon (18:36): John said his desire to find his biological parents went way back to when he was a pre teenager. He searched for the little blue book that had the descriptions of his infancy, but he could never find it. They had moved a few times, but it also could have gotten stored away out of his reach. He said that searching for that book was looking for some missing piece of himself. The story John was told was his birth mother was a college educated young woman who had immigrated from great Britain to Canada. That information satisfied him for a while, but at 17, John wanted to know more. He drove himself to the children’s aid society to request the name of his birth mother at 17, his request was denied until he turned 18. At 18. He was told that the records were sealed with an agreement between his birth mother and aoptive parents, but they gave him a form to complete that collected his name, birth date, and a contact phone number. They told him that every year he could come back and update it, but there was no promise that anyone would reach out to John. If someone did show up that he should know from 18 years old, until 48 years old, John applied to get his information every single year, but he never told anyone that he was doing. So I asked John if that annual outreach and dedication to his search was triggered by anything. Yeah,

Damon (20:06): These were always terrible. I’ve been asked that before. Was it triggered by my birthday? I suspect subconsciously it was triggered by the birthday because I didn’t like them. I would actually convince people, including my parents, that my birthday was a different day that even, even to this point in my life, there’s mass confusion about what day my birthday is on, because I was able to control that. So I’m sure there was triggers from the birthday because you know, within a week of my birthday, I would reapply

Damon (20:42): In 1993, John moved from Canada to the U S with that move. It became more challenging to reach back to the registrar in Canada to see if anyone had inquired about him. But he did it from 1993 until about 2018. John said he thinks he only missed two years of outreach. Think about that. He checked in to see if anyone was looking for him every single year for decades, when he was 48 years old, it kind of clicked for John that people were finding relatives through DNA testing. But what he also realized was Ontario had already opened their adoption records for years. He was used to asking if his birth mother had left any messages since he was living in the United States and therefore disconnected from the local Ontario news. He was unaware. The province had opened its adoption records back in 2008. When John caught that news, he covertly applied for his birth certificate. Not even his wife knew he had submitted his records.

John (21:49): I called the lady in Canada and I said, Hey, I’m sending this in again. I understand that the birth records are open. I want my birth certificate. And the lady remembered me from years past of calling and reaching out, trying to find some information. She did. She remembered your recurrent outreach. She did my recurrent outreach and she, she had a lot of sympathy, I assume for me because she said, Oh, John, I’m glad you’ve reached out again. And although I can’t tell you what I have in your birth file, I’ve seen your birth file. And all I can tell you is don’t give up. So that was my first glimmer of hope. This was around Christmas time 2018.

Damon (22:45): And what did you think when she said that? I mean, that is a big glimmer of hope right there.

John (22:50): You know, not knowing what is in there. You know, obviously my mind race, there’s going to be pictures of my mother. There’s going to be a name. You know, her last known address, I might even have a phone number. Like my, my hope was that it would lead me straight to her front door, which it did not, but it was very close.

Damon (23:13): January 29th, 2019, John’s mailman arrived at his house. His black Labrador retriever starts barking signaling John, that someone was at the front door when he got his mail, he found a thick envelope from Canada. John took the envelope to his home office closed and locked the door, then opened the envelope to find his birth file. The woman John had been in contact with for years back in Canada, told John the file would need to be redacted before it would be sent. When he looked his record, there were very few black lines over critical information.

John (23:49): I almost think that intentionally mine was not a black down as much as it probably should have been. The only names that were blacked out were a foster family that I spent some time with as an infant. But in front of me, I was holding not only a copy of my birth certificate that was filled out completely, but my entire adoption file from the time I was born, the discussions with my mother, my birth mother, that is discussions about my birth father and background information, medical information, like it was a treasure trove. And I remember looking at this at about 7:30 at night and my eyes are all welled up with tears and there was my mother’s name. And I knew the pound that I was born in and sure enough, it matched and everything in that birth file was almost verbatim with the stories that I had been told as a child growing up. Oh, that’s interesting about it is it was, it was very accurate. The stories that were told were very accurate with what was written on this document, although on true, they were very accurate. So I went and told my wife and I said, I have found my birth mother and I had never shared any of my fears with my wife because I try to keep all that into myself. So understandably, my wife was not too phased by the idea. And she said, Oh, that’s good. That’s that’s good.

Damon (25:31): John jumped online with what he realized was his birth mother’s maiden name, knowing it was unlikely. The last name she still had at that time, unsure where to go. He turned to the fact that his birth mother had immigrated from England in a certain month and year. John found a ship’s registry where she, her three brothers and her parents had arrived in North America by boat from South Hampton. That meant that he had the names of his uncles, which were unlikely to have changed in marriage like his birth mother’s maiden name likely had digging deeper online. He found phone numbers for his biological maternal uncle

John (26:11): The next day, which was ironically my birthday. I, as soon as everybody left and my wife was gone to work, I called the phone number that I had and the lady answered the phone, perfect American accent. And I’m in sales. So I don’t often get tongue tied on the phone. And I said to this lady, I said, I don’t really know how to, how to say this. But I I’m, I’m looking for I’m looking for somebody and I’m wondering if you can help me. And she obviously thinking that this is some sort of a print or something. So I said, I’m looking for a gentleman named Steven. I’m actually looking for Steven indirectly to find a lady named Jane. And he, the lady hollers at the top of her lungs, he then, and sure enough, few seconds later, Steven comes to the phone and in a perfect English accent, Steven said, hello.

John (27:14): I said, Steven, my name is John. And this is a, this is a very odd, I don’t know how I would deal with this phone call, but I’m looking for a lady named Jane and I get her last name. And I believe that she is my biological mother. There was a very long pause and I’m getting goosebumps talking about this. There was a very long pause and seemed like an eternity. Although it was probably less than 10 seconds. Steven said, well, John, I guess I need to wish you happy birthday. And I had never told him that it was my birthday, but this man knew that it was my birthday.

John (27:59): He, that is where my mother was. And he asked if he could reach out to her to kind of soften the blow a little bit, which he did. And it did not soften the blow. But one of the questions that I had for Steven was who my father is. And he said, I do. And he mentioned the gentleman’s name. I said, yeah, that’s, what’s on my birth certificate. But when he called my mother and said, you’re never going to believe who I just spoke with. Here’s what we talked about. There was a sense of fear that came across my mother, mostly what appears to have been stemmed around the mention of my father’s name.

Damon (28:42): About a week later, John still isn’t in touch with his birth mother. She was overwhelmed by his sudden appearance from the shadows of the past. John and uncle Steven are emailing back and forth. Steven reassuring John, that the whole thing was a shock for his birth mother. And she was going to need some time in the interim. Steven sent John pictures of his biological, maternal grandparents, nieces, and nephews, and a variety of family members since his birth mother’s name had changed after two marriages where she changed her name each time, she was hard for John to try to find she’s not a Facebook user. So he wasn’t able to find her online that way. But he did discover that he had a sister by triangulating his uncle’s connections on Facebook. John just couldn’t wait any longer for the next step in his reunion with his birth mother. So he sent his sister a Facebook message

John (29:39): And she, she and she thought I was crackpot. She had, she had no idea. She thought I was possibly related to her father that I was one of her father’s offspring. I guess he traveled a lot. And I guess that possibility may have arisen for him to have the fairs on the road or whatever. But she said, well, so what year were you born? And we talked a little bit and she couldn’t understand how we were related. And I went to my birth certificate and I took a picture of my mother’s signature and the date. And I sent it by a text to her through, through messenger. And that was the beginning of what has turned into a wonderful relationship with my sister. She, the next morning when my mother, my mother, ironically, was in the middle of building a house and was living with my sister. She was in bed during our phone call. And the next morning my sister was able to set my mother down and say, I’m so we need to talk and get some information. My mother was already aware of it, but she was pretending it hadn’t happened. She hadn’t told anybody about it. So yeah, that’s a, it was a year ago this past January 30th that I found my family. So yeah,

Damon (31:07): This was, and this was on your, what? 49Th birthday.

John (31:11): I found them on my 49th birthday. Yes.

Damon (31:14): That is absolutely astonishing. This thing comes to you in the mail the day before your birthday. And you’re able to track everybody down. Is that right?

John (31:23): That is, that is a hundred percent accurate. And I luckily found that ship’s log that had some brothers names listed.

Damon (31:30): Absolutely unbelievable. Wow. Wow. The fact that your uncle knew of you and immediately registered that it was your birthday. I mean, he didn’t even blink the last he had been thinking about you every year. You know, that’s a really amazing,

John (31:51): It was really, really comforting. You know, I’m going through this extremely scary time. I feel like I’m doing it alone. I don’t have the support of my wife or anybody because I kept everybody out. This was, this was my road to walk and whether they would have understood it or not, I, I kept them separate, but to have to have somebody realize who I was and make those connections of who I was and tie everything together, it, it was one of the most amazing feelings that, that I can ever remember experiencing. Yeah.

Damon (32:27): Yeah. Oh my gosh. That’s incredible. Wow. Wow. So tell me then what has happened? This is, it’s been a year now a year in January, 2020. You’ve found your biological family. Tell me how the relationship is with your biological mother. And then after we get through that, let’s, let’s hear about the search for your biological father.

John (32:50): Yes. So my, my biological mother, I, I flew to Canada. The moment I could get, get my S my composure and I was up there within a few days. The first meeting was fantastic. We sat across the table from each other and I just held her hands that I, it was less about talking. I just wanted to feel her skin. I wanted to see her face and my mother is very stoic. So she was able to keep her composure a lot better than I was. And we, we spent a couple of hours just talking really lightly. I would look, my sister actually happened to come along at that time. And I, I would look over at her and I’d see these funny faces that she was making. And she’d been taking photographs. And I said, what are you doing?

John (33:44): She said, you have the same ears. You have the same facial expressions. You’re doing things the same. You have the same mannerisms. And I was just going through the realization of this myself, but for somebody else to realize it was really, really hit home. So that was a really good meeting. I spent a couple of days there. My my career actually allowed me to go back about five more times throughout that summer, last summer to meet with them. I have a brother who’s in his early forties, my sister’s in her mid mid forties. And we have a pretty good relationship, but my, my mother carries the shame and the baggage and the guilt of an era gone by she was part of the, you know, the 1960s sexual revolution. Her parents were very devout Catholics. Her father was a prominent person, very well known.

John (34:48): So this, this was a very shameful event back in that era. So it was, it was put out of her mind and it was filled with other, other things in her life, whether it was boyfriends or raising her own kids. She, she tried to fill that void, but she never healed. So my mother and I, we, we communicate a couple of times a month, but it’s, it’s very, very distant. It’s very standoffish. She doesn’t want to tell me anything. She doesn’t want to give me any insight, which is a great segue into the search for my father. John said,

Damon (35:31): What little interest he may have had in finding his birth father was overshadowed by his deep interest in connecting with his birth mother from his birth records. He had the man’s name, Nick, the town he was born in. And with that, it was relatively easy to locate the man in London. Apparently this guy didn’t have a phone in his flat, and wasn’t on social media using Google earth. John pinpointed, a small restaurant, two doors down from his birth father’s place. After confirming Nick was a customer of the restaurant. And without sugarcoating a thing, John told the owner of the place to let Nick know his son was looking for him. John called back a few times. And finally, the restaurantor gave John Nick’s girlfriend’s name since she was on social media. John was able to find and verify an address for Nick. So he sent the man a letter with his email address included. He added a copy of his birth certificate with Nick’s name, highlighted, sent the package off and waited

John (36:36): About five or six weeks later. I received an email from him and he said, good, good morning, John. My name is Nick. I asked him if I could call him. And I called him and he gave me a phone number of one of his neighbors. And we were able to speak on the phone. Nick spoke so fondly of my mother, he spoke very highly of the type of person. She was the stories that I had been told as a child, all kind of tied into all these stories that I was hearing, but it was wrong.

John (37:14): During this time, I decided that I was going to do an ancestry test. I received my results during the time that Nick and I were communicating and building a great relationship. He was extremely excited to have a son. He had no children. He had no heirs. He had, nobody has all of this. He was the end of this family line, but Nick and I didn’t have any genetic connection. And Nick lived in London. As I say, he had followed my mother to Canada in the mid sixties and spent a short period of time there. So the dates all worked out properly, but Nick got chased back by my grandfather to England. My grandfather did not want Nick and my mother to get married, although they were engaged to be married, but it’s quite possible that my mother was pregnant with me. And they were able to get rid of Nick. So Nick had no, no idea that you have this and being that he was sort of 4,000 miles away across an ocean. There was never any, anybody reaching out, asking him to fill in anything on my birth certificate information or my adoption file information. So it was all taken as gospel truth. I had a tremendous amount of connections in Canada, in the Ontario region that were not on my mother’s side. So I contacted a search angel who got into the leads and we narrowed down a man that was very likely my birth father

Damon (38:55): With some research. John discovered this second guy had two daughters. One of which worked for the federal prison system. John reached out to her at work, leaving a message that her brother was looking for her, his sister must’ve taken that message to a paternal aunt to help navigate the odd and unexpected situation. The aunt acted as an intermediary passing John’s contact information to his sister and vice versa back to John. When John spoke to his sister, he learned

John (39:27): My father died in 2011 and he left two daughters behind one who’s 42 and one who’s 46, my two half sisters in on my father’s side. And I still live in the town that I was born in. One of my sisters lives in house that my father lived in since he was a child, I’ve met one of them. I have not met the other one yet. And through our discussions, we’ve had a number of phone discussions. When my father was on his death bed, he called his two girls in and he said to them, you’ve got a brother out there. He’s probably in his late forties. And he’s going to come looking for you someday. I suspect. And I’ve never met him, but just know you’ve got a brother out there. So don’t be alarmed if somebody comes knocking on your door. So having, having them prepped and primed that, you know, as odd as they thought that was having them prepped and primed for this, made that connection a lot easier.

John (40:32): How does this tie, how does this tie to my mother? My mother had lived a lie that her parents wanted told from 1970. It was very easy to put the blame on somebody that was on another continent that I couldn’t answer questions. And for 50 years this lie was lived and I finally got my mother to have a heart to heart with me. Granted it only lasted about two minutes, but she said, I’ve always known the truth. The lie was easier to live. It was easier to explain to people and I’m so sorry. And that was basically all that I could get out of her really.

John (41:23): So our relationship is very high level. How’s the weather type questions. She’s not ready to get into specific details. She doesn’t want her friends to know about it because she’s lived this life for so many years that she feels it would be a very troubling thing for her friends to understand. My maternal sister and brother have explained to her that times are different now, but those are some deep rooted, deeper issues of shame and guilt that are tied to her religion and that of her family’s religion. And it would be a very difficult thing for her to overcome.

Damon (42:06): Yeah. Yeah. She’s carried it this long. Interesting. It’s funny how sometimes people are like, I’ve carried it this long. I’m just going to see it through. And some people are like, Oh my God, I’m so glad the burden is lifted. Let me just tell everybody, you know, and they’re just, they’re glad that it’s out there. It’s funny how you can be on either side of the pendulum could swing in either direction for a person.

John (42:28): Absolutely. I think, I think as an adoptee, because this all got dropped in my lap and I, I felt very Sherlock Holmes ask. I probably came on pretty strong. You know, I, I visited five times in three months. It, you know, the first visit was fantastic. The second visit was almost as good, but by the time the fourth and fifth visit would come, I’d spend time with my sister. We couldn’t leave the house because God forbid, anybody would ask who is that person? But my mother would she, she, she would be cordial. And she would have things that she would schedule to, to not have to have the discomfort of spending a tremendous amount of time. So I’m sure I came on very strong. If I was going to do something differently, I would probably have been a little bit more aloof, although I don’t know if that would have changed anything.

Damon (43:26): Yeah. I can’t imagine that it did, because what you’ve just said is that in the end, when her false story was revealed, she maintained it anyway. So it sounds like regardless of whether you came on strong or less strong, her mind was set that she was going to hold this story. As it had been told in her family, in her community, amongst her friends, et cetera. So I can’t say that you did your doing anything differently would have changed anything.

John (44:04): No, and it may not have, but you know, hindsight’s 2020. So you, you always, you always question when things go awry, but other, other, other than those few hiccups, it, it’s not something that I would go back and undo. It has been very painful. One of the hardest things was calling Nikki and having to tell this man that I had started to build a relationship with over a of months period, that I indeed was not his son. And he was very, very angry. He, he raised his voice and he said, how could you do this to me? Oh man. And I said, Nick, I’m, I’m sorry. I, I, I didn’t intend to do this to you. This is, you know, you have the same documentation that I sent to you that I have. And it clearly states that you are my father. It gets you, your mother and father’s name, where you were born, your career, it talks all about you.

John (45:02): And then he started to get a sense of despair, I guess, for my mother for probably putting him through this emotional turmoil. And the last, the last thing he said to me on the phone was I was just getting used to telling my mates that I had a son who was successful in living in America. And now I don’t know what I need to tell them. So the lies run, the lies, run deep and affect many people outside of the initial ripples of the mother abandoned child or adopted child. They, these are those ripples are very strong and they are very far reaching and they may get smaller in time as they move out from that circle of initial contact. But there is some tremendous, tremendous ripples created through these, these processes.

Damon (45:59): Hmm. God, you’re absolutely right. And I’m so sorry for him. Cause I can imagine that excitement of this completely unlikely piece of news blossoming out of nowhere and then dying almost immediately after you’ve gotten used to it. I mean, that must have been pretty heart-wrenching it sounds like he’s a pretty good guy though, to have welcomed you in, to have accepted the story, to have begun, to share with his buddies, that he, you know, had a source of pride in America. But yeah, it sounds like that was absolutely heart-wrenching.

John (46:35): It had to be. And you know, I said, Nick, I travel a lot and I, I had been blessed to travel many, many places throughout the world, but next time I’m in London, I obviously didn’t have your street address. I’m going to come and knock on your door and we’re going to go and have a pint. And he said, if I find out you’re in London and you don’t come and see me, I’m going to be very hurt. I loved your, I loved your mother deeply. And although this isn’t the outcome that I was expecting, I would really look forward to meeting you. So I, you know, interestingly enough, I’ve, I’ve met a man that I am not connected to. That was special to my mother. And there is a slight piece of me that, that that’s special to me, that she was a special, that she had a special relationship with this man that treated her well and looked after her. So, you know, there’s some kinship there. He was gonna marry. Her said, it’s huge.

Damon (47:31): He was going to marry her. It’s huge until he was chased away. That’s I mean, and you know, you’ve been through many relationships, I’m sure throughout your life. And as, as dear as your daughter’s mother is to you, there are still people out there that hold a special place for you for that moment in time in your life when you guys were connected. And you’ve brought that, you brought that back to Nick

Damon (47:58): And you know, and it’s really, it’s, it’s special for him regardless of how painful it ended up. So, wow. That’s incredible. Yeah. It’s been a roller coaster of a year, man. What a year? What a year? What a year. Geez, gosh. And all of this started on your birthday, which, you know, ironically, you said was somewhat of a trigger for you constantly reaching out to try to get information in the first place. So for them to deliver information right before your birthday is pretty interesting. And then for it all to come to fruition for you is really, really cool. Wow.

John (48:36): You know, I even had, I even had our original talk scheduled on my birthday. Oh, is that right? Just as a way of sidestepping, the the emotional triggers of that day, that tends to haunt me for a couple of days a year.

Damon (48:53): Yeah. Wow. Oh man. I’m sorry. We had to reschedule, but I’m so glad we were able to make this happen. John. Thanks so much for the call, man. I appreciate it.

John (49:01): Thank you for for talking with me. Thank you for what you do. I think you’re, I think what you’re doing is not only beneficial. I think it’s a huge part of healing for so many people and your podcasts catch people in so many different ways. You’re, you’re very appreciated and highly respected in the adoption community. And I thank you for, for what you do for us. T.

Damon (49:24): Hose are super kind words, man. I really appreciate it. It’s that kind of stuff that keeps me going. So thank you for sharing your, your sentiments with me. I appreciate it all the best to you, man. Thank you for the call. Take care. Alright. Alright, John.

Damon (49:42): Hey, it’s me. John was the first child in his home, but with parents immersed in entrepreneurial endeavors, he was mostly raised by caregivers. It was heart wrenching to hear how his parents dropped him off at boarding school, leaving him in the dust of a frosty goodbye. I wasn’t even there. And the scene John described haunts me. I was so glad to hear that when John finally got to speak to his uncle, Steven, the man immediately wished him happy birthday validating. The family knew he was out there and had been thinking about him, but it must have been tough for John to have finally found his birth mother only to learn that she had been living a lie, that she remained unwilling to reverse that false story though. It protected her at the time she was pregnant, had lasting effects that impacted John as an adult and even the man whose name appears on his birth certificate, who lives a half a world away.

Damon (50:41): John shared his feelings with me about the need for adoptees to heal from their adoption experience where necessary and from the reunion rollercoaster where applicable, you’ll hear a bit about his thoughts after this I’m Damon Davis. And I hope you’ll find something in John’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 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. And 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.

John (52:24): There seems to be a, a lack of the ability to, to heal. I think a lot of the groups are, and there’s a place for them, but a lot of the groups are a place for people just to almost wallow and never find, never find that that glimmer of hope they can share their stories and they find people who are along the same journey or a similar journey that they are, but they just can’t get out of it. So I’m, I’m working with another adoptee to come up with you know, a playbook as it were to, to see if, to see if there’s a way to, to help move that needle, you know, to get, to get us as a, as a group, you know, making forward momentum as opposed to it’s all great. Everything’s going well, you know, the high, the highs of finding somebody and then the lows of what is more often than not abandonment again. So it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s an interesting, it’s an interesting situation that I see a lot of us in. And it’s just the time that, you know, the time and the era that things are starting to open for people, you know, in 20 years, I suspect things will be a lot different, but they’re right now, they’re not.

Damon (53:53): Yeah. Yeah. I think you’re right. I think that this time and space of online access to each other has opened up something really creative. And the next phase of that, where folks are coming out of the woodwork is going to be drastically different and things like the tool kit that you’re working through are going to be incredibly valuable. So good, good on you.

John (54:15): Yeah. Hope so. That’s good for me to selfishly, but yeah,

Damon (54:18): No, this is what these things are born out of like every innovative solution, you know, most of the time it’s somebody sees a problem and they’re like man, I can’t, this is affecting me. I gotta, I gotta solve this on. I don’t want anyone else to go through it. And so it’s, that’s a lot of what innovation is driven by. So there’s nothing wrong with that selfish, motivation to heal yourself and then offer that healing to others.

Damon (54:40): That’s great. Exactly. Exactly.

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