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154 – I Felt Like I Could Breath Again

Yvonne called me from here in Washington, DC. She is a birth mother in reunion with her son after more than 40 years apart. She shares the loneliness of her pregnancy, her desire to keep her baby versus her inability to do so, the moment she came face to face with her son’s adoptive mother and her search to find the man he grew up to be.

Yvonne is launching a new podcast, “Birth Moms Real Talk” (www.birthmomsrealtalk.com) where other women like herself can share their stories openly in a safe place. But before we get to her podcast this is Yvonne’s journey.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

154 – I Felt Like I Could Breath Again

COLD INTRO

[00:00:00] Yvonne: [00:00:00] I wanted the family to know , the reason why wasn’t, because I didn’t love my son and didn’t want to take care of him I just couldn’t. And I wrote a letter and, , I was still at my parents’ home and I had left the phone number and the mother called.

And the first question she asked, she said, do you want him back? And , my response was, I wish that I could. I just can’t take care of him.

EPISODE INTRO

Damon: [00:00:31] I’m Damon Davis. And today you’re going to meet Yvonne. She called me from here in Washington, DC. Yvonne is a birth mother in reunion with her son after more than 40 years apart. She shares the loneliness of her pregnancy, her desire to keep her baby versus her inability to do so.

The moment she came face to face with her son’s adoptive mother and her search to find the man he grew up to be. [00:01:00] Yvonne is launching a new podcast, “birth mothers, real talk” where other women like herself can share stories openly in a safe place. But before we get to her podcast this is Yvonne’s journey.

Patreon thanks

Hey, real quick. I just wanted to share my appreciation for a new Patreon donor, and you’ll never guess who it is. It’s last week’s guest Sari. She told me in a message that she had been meaning to contribute for a while. So I thanked her for taking action to be supportive of the, who am I really podcast?

If you’ve been meaning to contribute, take a moment to do it right now. Go to patreon.com/w ai really to show your support for more adopt these stories coming to light

EPISODE OPEN

You may remember episode number one 36. Your absence has gone through me with Ann Marie, a [00:02:00] birth mother. Near the end of the episode, I commented that I would love to interview more natural mothers, but that I didn’t feel equipped to do so as a man and an adoptee, because I didn’t think I could do the stories justice.

I said, I think it’s really important That someone initiate a podcast where natural mothers like Anne Marie can tell their stories too, like adoptees can share their journeys here. After that episode, I got an email from Yvonne that red.

Damon your last podcast was my confirmation that I need to do a podcast for natural mothers. I found my son two and a half years ago, after 45 years.

Since November of 2020, Yvonne and I have been working on her new show, birth Moms Real Talk For the audience of birth mothers out there that have been wanting to share their own stories. But right now, Yvonne would like you to hear her story.

Yvonne grew up in Petersburg, Virginia, [00:03:00] 25 miles south of Richmond.

She was a country girl who grew up on a farm, raising pigs, chickens, and growing vegetables and wheat for bread. . She said she laughs at what passes for organic today based on how she grew up. Her family was self-sustaining everything they grew and raised they lived on

Yvonne: [00:03:19] I joke and say that my tasks before I went to school in the morning was getting the eggs and milking the cow. And, um, my first store bought milk was when I went to college and it tasted so strange and people were looking at me is like, no I’m used to the real thing that came straight from the cow, but that was something completely different.

Damon: [00:03:44] Yvonne’s father worked in civil service at Fort Lee military base, and her mother worked at home maintaining the farm and the family. Once her children were born. She was a quiet woman. And if you didn’t focus on her, you might not even know she was in the room. [00:04:00] Quite the opposite of Yvonne’s vibrant personality, in my opinion.

She described herself as always being an inquisitive person, asking questions and wondering why things were the way they were the youngest of three children. Yvonne considers herself a tomboy.

Yvonne: [00:04:16] because it was always boys in the neighborhood.

So I played the marbles. I rode the bike. In fact, quite frankly, my brothers with a bet against their friends have educated, beat my sister and riding the bike, but I couldn’t

Damon: [00:04:29] is there. Right. They were bet against their friends in favor of you that’s got a funny.

Yvonne: [00:04:36] Yes. Yes. So I grew up around mostly boys in the neighborhood.

So I always felt as if I , could do, I could do a boys did or whatever

Damon: [00:04:46] Yvonne went to high school in the 1960s in the rural south, she did well in her studies, joining the honor society and making great grades, but she was only one of 20 black students who [00:05:00] desegregated what had been a white school.

Yvonne: [00:05:02] So that was a very turbulent time. But at the same time, it was a time that I really stood, I guess, my ground and for my rights. And that was the time that I wanted the very best education, because my intent was to go to college and, and quite frankly, be a doctor in Africa and here I am now working globally.

Damon: [00:05:26] That’s amazing. Wow. What do you remember about. The struggle of desegregating a school in the sixties, in a rural Virginia.

Yvonne: [00:05:37] A lot of it is coming back now during the turbulent times that we’re in, because that was the day. , the time of the civil rights act was passed in 1965. That gave us the right to go to the other school and the opportunity before separate but equal.

And it was standing and really going through being called names and things thrown at us [00:06:00] simply because we just wanted the education we were in trying to start anything and so forth so , , protests were less so more. I just continual you know, that whole system and it did bring back. A lot of the memories is like, things really changed since 1965, this systemic racism.

And that’s true. That is a true thing that I have seen, , before my eyes.

Damon: [00:06:27] Wow. I’m always thankful for those who’ve come before me that because the people who endured that kind of struggle and strife have made it possible for me to be even as accepted as I am, let alone have the opportunities that I have.

And there’s a diverse, a big difference, right? It can be sort of accepted in society. Like, yeah, he’s over there and he’s not bothering me and I’m not going to hurt him. And then there’s actually opportunity

After high school, [00:07:00] Yvonne went to Lincoln university. The school that originated as the very first, historically black university in the United States in 1837 in Pennsylvania.

Going from rural Virginia’s farm life to that university, two states away was a huge culture shock. At 18 years old, Yvonne had never even spent a night away from home and there she was launching her collegiate studies. . She was scared to death to use her words, but she desperately wanted the opportunity to achieve more.

Yvonne attended Lincoln on scholarship and took jobs on campus in the lab, worked as a trainer and started a business, Kind of a precursor to Uber while she was there. There were a few dollars of scholarship money leftover. So Yvonne bought a car and shuttled people to Philadelphia, to the airport or bus station.

Ride sharing multiple passengers , who needed a ride for a few dollars, a person. Yvonne wanted to be a physician in Africa. So [00:08:00] she studied pre-med biology and chemistry. Took summer classes at Virginia state university When she was back for the summers in petersburg and graduated one year early in only three years

Yvonne: [00:08:13] I finished my studies in three years because I’ve actually had Burton accepted into our early admission into medical school Rutgers university, and, , New Jersey and medical college of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia. And so I had finished, , Lincoln, and I just had to go back the next year to get my degree, to get into medical school.

So I got some money to go to medical school, but not enough to really get here in. So that was 1973 that I finished at Lincoln and that was a year I became pregnant..

Damon: [00:08:46] So what did you do after college then leading up to your pregnancy. Now, tell me what happened after college.

Yvonne: [00:08:53] Well, actually I became pregnant that in 73, which was my last year. On college [00:09:00] campus. And so essentially, , that was like maybe January. So my son was born October of that last year of college after I finished my, my studies.

And so after getting my degree, the next year that I was an analytical chemist for three years then became a stockbroker and then went into my own business, which Ive been in for the last 32 years.

Damon: [00:09:29] Wow. So is it my, it’s my understanding that you got pregnant in your second year and maintain the pregnancy while studying and still graduated early, is that correct?

Yvonne: [00:09:45] Yes,

Damon: [00:09:47] that’s amazing.

Yvonne: [00:09:48] Wow. It was. It was a journey. You know, the thing of it, when I found out I was pregnant, you know, I’d really had finished, , my [00:10:00] studies. I had to go back and take my comprehensive exam. And my son was born that October of that year. I ended up graduating that next may. , and then that’s when I went into a corporate job and, , actually, uh, research and development lab as an analytical chemist.

That was my first job after college.

Damon: [00:10:23] Yvonne son’s father was someone she knew from Petersburg, Virginia. He had been in Vietnam for two to three years. She said when he returned from the Vietnam war, he was not the same person he was when he left. Like so many veterans of war, he struggled with a variety of things, reentering life at home.

He was in and out of different living situations and was trying to sort himself out. And it was around that time that they reconnected.

Yvonne: [00:10:50] . So that was the only time that we sort of got back together my last year of college and. That, , was when I did become [00:11:00] pregnant.

Damon: [00:11:01] And what did you think when you found out that you were pregnant?

Yvonne: [00:11:04] Well, my first thought was, wow. First of all, I didn’t know it, I didn’t, this is my cycle then actually it was that spring time of 73 that I was back at home and again, on the farm and I was doing something on the farm and I felt the cramp as I okay. That’s different. And when I went to my, , my doctor and I found, and that’s what he was saying, well, yeah, you feeling a cramp you’re expecting.

And so I did know until that time. So at th at the time when it’s a, what did I think is like, okay, uh, what am I going to do? , I reached out to, to the father and quite frankly, he was not in a situation over leaving. I think even knowing what I was saying to him. And so it was thinking in terms of what, what will I do?

I’ll note that my [00:12:00] doctor actually was my mentor of helping me and I worked in the local hospitals, a couple of summers with his recommendation because he knew I was pre-med. And so his question was knowing that what I had been accepted to medical school, it’s like, well, what are you going to do? I don’t know, let me go home and talk to my parents.

And so when I went home and talked to them first, my mom, and as I said before, a mom, you really wouldn’t know she’s in the room. So when I said to her, I said, mom, I’m pregnant. And it was silence. And I don’t say that was different because at my family has been very non-communicative family of not talking or responding.

So it was like, did you hear me mom? And still really nothing. So, as I shared, my dad worked in [00:13:00] civil service at Fort Lee. And so he was at work at that time. So the next day, and I saw him, I said to him, and it was like, it was like, I wasn’t saying anything at all. And like, not acknowledging what I said. So I call my doctor, went back in and said, I don’t know, I’m not getting any response from my parents and I, that situation, like I said, it was just finishing college and didn’t have a job.

And so I didn’t know what I would do, but I knew I would need help. And at that particular point I wasn’t getting any help. And so it was trying to figure out what’s the next step.

Damon: [00:13:43] That’s really. Fascinating. So if I have this straight, your own doctor was also a mentor to you in your studies because you’re studying to be a doctor.

And yet you now are approaching him with a personal [00:14:00] challenge that you’ve gone home, told your parents each, individually, neither one of them has said a thing. Now you’re back at the doctor trying to get guidance. That’s that’s fascinating. So what did, what did you guys discuss?

Yvonne: [00:14:16] Well, , again, he was, he said what I wanted to do. I said I would like to, to have my child , but I don’t have any help. I don’t, I don’t know what to do cause there’s no one in helping or assistance in any way or not getting a response from my parents. And, , I always knew during growing up, it was like just a, not the family of talking about things.

I expected a response, but I never got a response at all.

Damon: [00:14:46] After speaking with her parents a second time, but not getting any meaningful response. Yvonne didn’t know what she was going to do. Returning to her doctor and mentor. He told her that he knew of a family in his neighborhood [00:15:00] who had been trying to have a child. And he thought their home would be a good place for her son. Adoption was on the table for discussion.

Yvonne: [00:15:08] And I have to say he was my angel and I used that word angel because he stepped in, he, uh, took care of everything because the thing with the care, I didn’t have insurance. So he took, I mean, really didn’t charge , anything. He just, I mean, he was, he was truly just an angel for stepping in and was there for me. When actually it wasn’t my family that was there for me.

Damon: [00:15:38] Wow. That’s really amazing. Not everybody, as you know, has had anything remotely resembling that kind of kind outpouring from a professional. That’s really nice to hear.

Yvonne made the decision to carry her son to term and place him in adoption [00:16:00] with the family. The doctor recommended. Yvonne wasn’t getting any help from her mother about what to expect during her pregnancy. She didn’t get any guidance from her mom about what her body would feel like when the time came to deliver and she was very much alone through it all

Yvonne: [00:16:17] Well, realizing I’m having pains. So, so something’s up. So maybe this is the day not really knowing like, okay, five minutes apart or whatever. And I really wasn’t timing. And again, I bring back to probably a rural area.

We were, I lived maybe about 10 miles from the hospital. And so just thinking with the severity of the pain, I think it’s time. And my older brother was there on the farm and I asked him to take me to the hospital and so went to the hospital into the emergency room [00:17:00] and they examined me but said, I guess it wasn’t time and sent me home.

Okay. So then maybe about three or four hours later. Well, meanwhile, he left. Um, my mother did not drive.

Damon: [00:17:17] Wait, your brother left in the three hours that you were at the hospital.

Yvonne: [00:17:22] My brother left. And so

I drove myself

Damon: [00:17:29] back to the hospital,

Yvonne: [00:17:32] to the hospital.

Damon: [00:17:35] And so you had to check yourself in and you went through this alone

Yvonne: [00:17:40] and doc Dr. B, um, my doctor . He was called. So he took me up to labor and delivery and he came in and delivered my son. And he had already notified the hospital that I would be [00:18:00] placing. And when I said he’s an angel here, this is 1973.

There were no private rooms in hospitals, but somehow he got me a private, rural, and meaning that it was another bed, but no one ever came in there. And because he had set that up that way, , I did not see, , my son, when he was born, I heard him had good lungs. , and so after I had delivered, I was taken back to my hospital room and I was there for three days.

Basically by myself, didn’t have any visitors. And when I, um, Went home. , my son ended up staying, , a couple more days later, a few days later, but I went home and basically when I could be released and I call someone to pick me up and take me home and [00:19:00] no one at home ever said anything about it, didn’t mention or ask me whether I had a boy or a girl I announced .

I have a son. I remember doing that. I have a son

Damon: [00:19:15] it’s so many pieces to this. How, how did you announce it? Did you just blurt it out? Like y’all, aren’t asking me. So I’m just telling you, like, how

Yvonne: [00:19:24] did that go? Yeah. And when I came into the house, I had a son.

That’s how I did it. Nothing ever was ever said to me again, or questions or anything, anything

Damon: [00:19:38] do you, I’m thinking of so many things you sat there in that hospital for three days, and for three days you stayed there, that means, and you couldn’t just drive yourself home.

That means somebody came and got the car, but did not actually come in to see you.

Yvonne: [00:19:57] Cause it was parked in the, um, [00:20:00] emergency parking lot.

Damon: [00:20:03] How did you feel about your family in those times?

Yvonne: [00:20:06] Well, [ nervous chuckle], while I was at home, maybe. , before I went to college and I say this statement, I make it very succinctly that I broke out of this functional system and family that obviously had been there for years.

I mean, I’d seen it during elementary school, high schools just to not talking like not acknowledging. And it wasn’t just that time that I was pregnant, but I said it was a very good student and it was not even acknowledging that accomplishment and you know honor society. You know, I played in band concert band and recognitions and not really getting that.

So I ended up being that person that I would give to myself, validate myself and so understanding whatever generation [00:21:00] and my parents were older of, that’s what they could do or could not do. And. Felt as if they need to be there for me. Yes, absolutely. Um, end up learning to understand they just couldn’t, you know, , just in, in therapy and all things I’ve been through three years of just recognizing that they weren’t able to give me what I needed and I didn’t get it, you know, even from, um, my older brothers and they’re still learning to this day.

Damon: [00:21:35] Yvonne had completed her studies early in January of 1973. In March, she found out she was pregnant and her son was born in October. Graduation was May, 1974 from Lincoln university, but she didn’t need to be back on campus since her studies were complete. From October to may, Yvonne was still at home.

And no one was talking about what she had been through. [00:22:00] No one asked about the baby boy she had brought into the world.

Yvonne: [00:22:04] It was still that alone, trying to deal with it myself, of recognizing that I have a son and just, and to me, I’ve always been that one when I have to say it out loud. So me announcing and saying out loud that that made it real. , even though no one was acknowledging it when it was real to me, , that time itself, back again on the farm doing farm chores.

So I’d never really didn’t really work that six months. , but it was coming to terms with the fact that I was a mother just coming to terms with that and wondering about him, , Part of the, I call it the, the God story about it, because I believe God has such a path for us. And he lays it out before us that, , during the time of the after delivery, again, Dr. B being [00:23:00] that angel had set up everything regarding the legal signing of papers and so forth, , that I, um, and that’s what I say, I don’t know is a guy thing, or just the way it worked. I ended up finding the last name of the family who was going to adopt my son. And, , I wrote a letter Damon back in 1973, still had phone books, people’s phone numbers and addresses.

And so I just looked in the phone book for that last name and wrote a letter. I wanted the family to know , the reason why wasn’t, because I didn’t love my son and didn’t want to take care of him I just couldn’t. And I wrote a letter and, , I was still at my parents’ home and I had left the phone number and the mother called.

And the first question she asked, she said, do you want [00:24:00] him back? And , my response was, I wish that I could. I just can’t take care of him.

Damon: [00:24:08] . That must’ve been really hard to say.

Yvonne: [00:24:11] Yeah,

Damon: [00:24:13] it must have also, it also must have been hard to realize

that you’ve got this secondary opportunity and you just, you can’t make it happen.

Yvonne: [00:24:27] That, that, that was that. And I said, with things come before you, therefore reason. And that gave me that chance to tell the story, because recognizing my, my, my doctor could only say a certain amount. And because what he said to me, he shared a little bit about the family. He knew the family lived in his neighborhood.

They’ve been trying to have a child and they will give a good home. [00:25:00] And so I suspect likewise, he probably told them, he’s known me since I was 13 years old. She was, you know, finishing college had finished college, go to medical school, so I’m I’m suspecting. That’s what he told them. But I just wanted to just say it.

That is fact it’s not because he was not wanted. It was because I simply could not take care of him. And his father was not available either to help in any way.

Damon: [00:25:30] Wow. Did you, why did you appreciate that call from her?

Yvonne: [00:25:35] Yes. Yes. Because when I wrote, I had no clue whether here anything I did, I did. So yes I did. Yes I did.

So that was great to even have that and not knowing what’s in her mind. Well, one of the first things of course is thinking that, that I wanted to, to in the, the adoption. Cause that was her question. Do you want him back? [00:26:00] I was like, I really wish I could. I really wish I could. I wrote simply to let you know the circumstance I wanted you to know, and hopefully you will share with him to let him know that he was loved and, and it’s not because he wasn’t wanted.

Damon: [00:26:15] Six months later, Yvonne got her own place. Got a job as an analytical chemist and moved away from home. She continued to try to accumulate life successes, but the experience conceiving a child. Delivering her son alone and not being supported by her family was lingering with her. A piece of her was out in the world without her. I asked what it was like to live her day-to-day life with such a massive secret in her recent past.

Yvonne: [00:26:45] Yes. And I’m glad you said secret because it wasn’t something that, of course I announced every day there were a few people. [00:27:00] That came in my life that I would share and said, I placed a son. One of the fourth Pearson’s quite frankly, was someone that we worked together.

, actually one of my probably after three or four years, , I had moved jobs from, and being analytical chemist to a stock broker. And I was riding with a coworker and it, turned out she had been adopted and she had, I guess, but it was like a family adoption or something. And she was, was about to meet or heard of, or knew it was learning some things about her birth mom.

And we were riding in the car and as she was driving, I was a passenger and her statement. She said, I don’t understand why my mother placed me in adoption. And my response was I do, what do you mean? I said I do because I did. And I did it because I loved my son and I wanted him have a good life. [00:28:00] So that was one of the first times I shared it.

Damon: [00:28:02] Wow. That must’ve been mind blowing for both of you, one for her. Yeah. She’s sitting next to a birth mother that she didn’t know. And two, you’re not saying this to anybody. And for all of a sudden, this wide open opportunity presents itself for you to finally release the valve and admit it to somebody.

That’s incredible.

Yvonne: [00:28:27] Right. So when she pulled the car over and she looked at me, she’s turned and looked at me really? Yes, really. story.

Damon: [00:28:36] That’s unreal. Was it a relief to tell somebody.

Yvonne: [00:28:41] Oh, yes. Oh yes. And then she wasn’t the first, so it wasn’t out just blasting out, but random times in which there was an opportunity exist.

, and I, I can probably say the first time I say I went public as the worst mother was probably [00:29:00] about maybe six years after that. , I ended up getting married maybe about seven years after my son was born. , marriage lasted close to 10 years. Never had children had a couple of miscarriages, but after that time, and I did a lot of community work and I remember being on a panel, , and it was regarding, , It was, we got an adoption is actually, and you may have heard his organization called one church, one child that churches mainly black churches would advocate for, as in people adopting children, black children, there were in orphanages or whatever.

And I was one of the panelists. And, , and that was a question about fours. Why someone should I say, I’m a birth mother? And it was like, as seem to just as this announce, well, I’m a birth mother was like, okay. And no one in that whole room or that, that whole meeting knew that until I announced it. And this year my [00:30:00] story.

So when opportunity presented itself, I would, , but it was pretty much mostly on a one-to-one shared arrangement, shared, , where we, the conversation.

Damon: [00:30:12] As Yvonne was telling her story, it hit me that she knew exactly where her son was in the 1970s. We couldn’t cyber stalk people online and watch them from afar. You had to physically go check on someone to see how they were doing. I wondered if she ever drove by the family’s house where her son lived, but she said, no.

She believed in their right to privacy. Yvonne did take advantage of the state of Virginia’s adoption registry and periodically when she had life changes, she would update her address and medical information with the state. She knew that when he turned 18, her son could contact the department of social services and ask for her letters and

Yvonne: [00:30:55] . I want him to have that want to have to have that. But at the same time, knowing in the [00:31:00] area that he was thinking too, one of the first thing I wanted day when birth mothers, I think relate to this, why did you see a picture of.

Because my only time, because I said I left about at three days later, he couldn’t, he left a few days after that in the way we had first set up the placement with the attorney in the, in the signing of the documents, is that the law firm who was handling adoption of paralegal is someone from the firm would pick my son up at the hospital.

Well, after I got home, I, for three days, I got a call that I was the only one who could pick him up from the maternity ward.. So I went back to the hospital to pick my son up from maternity and meet the paralegal in the lobby of the hospital. So I saw my son for the first time [00:32:00] and the last time, 10 days after he was born.

Damon: [00:32:06] Oh, my God. That is unreal. That must have been so hard to do

Yvonne: [00:32:13] hardest day of my life

Damon: [00:32:16] because you had to pick him up and hand them off again.

Yvonne: [00:32:21] It was the hardest day of my life. but his face was etched in my mind. I remember looking at him and I said, you’ve got my nose, your eyes, my mouth. I could see that. I could see that.. And that was etched in my mind.

Damon: [00:32:43] Yvonne thoughtfully, hopefully continued updating her information with the state for years. But she admitted her main desire was to see a picture of her son. The last memory she had of him was the infant. She picked up from the maternity [00:33:00] ward. And handed off to a stranger in the hospital’s lobby.

She told me God has taken her on some twists and turns during her journey. And her time as a stockbroker was one of them. She was working out of Richmond, Virginia

, only 30 miles from Petersburg. So she would visit home from time to time. Yvonne also had a client assigned to her there in Petersburg a physician so she called to make an appointment to introduce

Yvonne: [00:33:28] So I came into the building and just announced myself, you know, Yvonne Rivers here for Dr. So-and-so and had a seat. And I look up at the desk where the receptionist who had greeted me with me and said, you know, you’ll bet Dr. So-and-so no, I looked up and the name tag on the desk was the adoptive mom’s name?

Damon: [00:33:53] No, Are you serious?

Yvonne: [00:33:56] I’m serious. I’m serious. And it took me [00:34:00] 10 seconds, like .

Where the office, the building was located and the vicinity, uh, what I knew the adoptive parents lived, I put it all together 10 seconds and then it was like, I mean, it was, I was, I think I was hyperventilating. Okay. What am I going to do? Cause I, when I came in and announced myself, but it was like, you know, I didn’t make appointment with her.

It was with the doctor. And so I said, get yourself together Yvonne, stand up. Because behind her was a credenza that had a picture that seemed like a family picture. And the first thought in my mind was my son is in that picture. I’ve got to see that picture. I got myself together enough to be able to stand up.

It was walking towards the desk when the doctor came out and I had to [00:35:00] go in and see him. I don’t know what I said. It is man, Damon.. I really don’t. I really don’t because I was just that picture on that credenza. And so when I finished the appointment and I came out and she was still at the desk and never could get a close look at that picture, but I just wanted to see that picture.

Cause I knew he had to be in that picture.

Damon: [00:35:26] Oh my gosh. That is so crazy. Are you serious

Yvonne: [00:35:32] I’m serious? And that was verified. When I ended up meeting my son, I told him the story and I said, was that her? He said, yes,

Damon: [00:35:47] That is unbelievable. You came face to face with the adoptive mother and she’s got a picture of your son behind her that you don’t even actually [00:36:00] get to see.

I was just, I just couldn’t just couldn’t. It was too far, but I just couldn’t, but I could tell it was a picture seeing me of a family. So he’s gotta be

unbelievable. Unbelievable.

At that time, Yvonne would have been about 28 years old. Her son was about six years old in that picture that she never saw. Sometime later after that harrowing incident. Yvonne was

Yvonne: [00:36:29] We knew each other for maybe a total of 10 years of marriage last for maybe seven and a half, eight years. Um, we ended up having two miscarriages, so no children came out of that.

Damon: [00:36:39] Tell me about your miscarriages. That must’ve been really difficult. I mean, above the norm and I don’t mean to make light of any anyone else’s miscarriages, they’re all tragic losses, but you have actually delivered a son before that you don’t [00:37:00] get to raise. And now here you are trying to have other children in. You can’t, what was that like?

Yvonne: [00:37:08] Well, the first thought quite frankly, was, um, I don’t know whether I said it this way or not the, I really felt as if as I said this one day, , that God was punishing me because I had a son and didn’t raise him and I wasn’t going to get the opportunity to have others.

That was one of my first thoughts.

Damon: [00:37:32] That must have been really tough. Did your husband try to talk you down from that?

Yvonne: [00:37:37] Well, not really. I mean like it’s like, and people are at different stages of whatever the, the loss itself of the child. Oh, because we had always talked about having family and not being able to, and especially when the marriage ended, I just, it was [00:38:00] like at a time of feeling as if not that things are just not going my way.

That was really a lot.

Damon: [00:38:07] Of course, I wanted to know what was happening in Yvonne’s life. When reunion happened for her and her son. She knew where he was raised as a young man, but after high school, there was no way of knowing where he would have ended up. Internet connectivity and social media platforms became part of Yvonne’s life in the early two thousands.

She searched online using Facebook and LinkedIn, but never really found anything. At first yvonne found her son’s younger brother one of two boys born into her son’s family after his

Yvonne: [00:38:40] It was June 15th, 2015. And asked me how I remember that birth mom was always remember

and you know, on LinkedIn, you see a picture. Sometimes people have birth dates or not, but at this particular [00:39:00] time I saw this and I was searching just the last name and popped up. And it didn’t say a birthday. But it said where maybe where you born at or something like that. So I maybe put in last name I was searched.

I was a internet slooth . Cause I’m looking for myself and uh, I saw a profile come up and looked at the face and it’s like, I remember saying, that’s my son. I remember calling my best girlfriend was my college roommate. We’ve known each other for over 50 years. And I said, I found my son on LinkedIn.

And when I found that picture and if anyone who knows me knows I’m a go forward, is that a nail? Never. So I wrote her a message. Well, first she had to connect and I think I requested a connection and [00:40:00] obviously got it. So I’m thinking, okay, that’s gotta be him. He’s after my connection. So that same day. I sent a message kind of cryptic and hours in search of son and this subject and see you from this area, , was, you know, anything or sent them like that.

And so the response back was not sure what you’re asking. And I said, okay, so, but I was convinced, I was convinced, you know, he did not acknowledge them. I was just convinced. And I said, if for when, you know, or you want to talk, or this is you, I left my phone number and my email address. And that was 2015.

Heard nothing until 2018 still kept connected to this, , profile. I was never deleted. So that’s what just kept convincing me. This has gotta be him. This has gotta be that [00:41:00] same LinkedIn message I sent on April 28th. 2018, nearly three years later, a message from that same one I had said hi, I’d like to meet you and talk.

Damon: [00:41:18] Wow. What did you think when you saw it

Yvonne: [00:41:22] Hallelujah. That was the first thing out was the first thing, because it was, it was hi. Want to meet? Oh. Would you be willing to meet or talk? It was like asking. If I was, and I said, absolutely, yes, that was my response. I wrote.

Absolutely. Yes. And I say, you let me know when and where. And so that was in April. , and he set a time to call about [00:42:00] four days later. And so I talked to him on the phone for the first time.

Damon: [00:42:06] What was that like?

Yvonne: [00:42:08] Wow. My first thought it was like, my mind was crazy because about three or four days in between, it’s like, you know, I don’t think I slept or whatever. And I was like, what does he sound like? Does he sound like me? Does it sound like me? And I think he found, sounded like me when he called right on the dot, it was like four 15 or the 15.

I was waiting by the phone and he called and talked and it was like, it was, as we say, relief, I feel as though, you know, I feel it felt as if I was holding my breath for 45 years and I could breathe. I could breathe. And I simply told him the story of circumstance and why he was placed and, uh, about my angel, Dr. B and all of that. [00:43:00] And so that was may I think we talk for the first time and we kept telephone conversations. And we ended up meeting for the first time in person July 5th of 2018.

Damon: [00:43:14] During the nights before that meeting Yvonne didn’t sleep well at all. Her mind was racing too much, trying to imagine how her reunion would go. All she had was the image of her baby boy’s face etched in her mind. The glimpse of a family photo on the office, credenza of her son’s adoptive mother’s desk. And the adult picture from LinkedIn of himself as a man.

Reading his profile. She learned that her Had the same major as she did in college. And it turned out he also wanted to be a physician. Nature and nurture were part of his life, But the nature was starting to shine through for Yvonne. Yvonne lives in Washington, DC. Her son lives in central Virginia. So they met at a [00:44:00] halfway point between them in Fredericksburg, Virginia at a hotel. At 12 noon on july 5th, yvonne is in the lobby waiting for her

And he was texting when he was on the way. And I said is, you wouldn’t do it this Damon. When I said, text me before you, come into the hotel lobby because I may pass out. But because I got to get prepared to see you. So I was serious, you know, how you gonna respond to your child you haven’T seen it forty-five years.

And so I texted him, I say, well, I’m sitting in the lobby on a, sofa facing the fireplace. And so it was getting close to 12 noon and it’s like, I was looking at my clock. I think it was like 10 minutes to, and so of course I was facing away from the lobby doors where people come in and you don’t have a good sort of sense that somebody is there.

And I looked around and he had walked in and, and I say it this way. [00:45:00] My beautiful brown baby boy, who’s now on adult man six foot hall. Was it standing there with this big smile on his face? And we just embrace hug. I just sobbed , I just, I know a wet his shirt all up and just was holding each other and embracing, and he just locked his arms around me.

And I know people in the lobby were wonder what’s up with us, but I just didn’t even care.

That is on believable. That embrace. Must’ve just felt absolutely

Yvonne: [00:45:34] amazing. I felt like I could breathe again. I felt like I could breathe again. So they embrace and hug on me. I don’t know how long we held that and

once we released, I looked up at him cause he’s taller than I am and I just said, “my son” he said, yes. . There’s not an amount of money in the world that was priceless. [00:46:00] That moment. Priceless.

Damon: [00:46:04] That’s amazing. . So what did you guys do after you sort of came down from that moment of finally meeting each other?

Did you just sit and talk?

Yvonne: [00:46:14] Well, we, we went, , upstairs, , to the suite that I had and, you know, like as a low area, so for TV and whatever, and sit and talked on the sofa, um, And holding hands. I brought some things. I brought the letters, copies of letters I’d sent to the social services over the years. I always was writer in journals.

So I bought some of those, some family pictures. And so I had that up there to show him all of that. And we just sat and talk for six hours. We took a break to go to cracker barrel to get some lunch. And I found that that was one of his favorite restaurants. So that [00:47:00] was all good. And so I really, we just talk until it was dark, whatever, and he had to go back home.

And that was the beginning. That was the beginning.

Damon: [00:47:13] That life-changing event happened in July, 2018. Yvonne and her son have seen one another three times in person. One of which was october of that same year for his

Yvonne: [00:47:26] And this was important for me. And it turned out for him also because you as adoptive, no, you don’t know your history. Well, especially when you go to medical and so forth. And so I had been working on a family tree for both sides of the family, these both sides on dad’s family.

And I think a pallet over years. So it’s like as rich as a word document, I’ll 30 pages each for his birthday. I presented to him his family tree, as well as my DNA from ancestry.com. It, [00:48:00] this shows a heritage from coming from and all of that. So he had that. So that was my birthday gift.

Damon: [00:48:08] That’s really amazing.

How did he receive it?

Yvonne: [00:48:11] Oh, he was thrilled. He was real, you know, it was exited. That we met again, at Cracker Barrel and he was just thumbing through it the whole time. So, wow. It was like this, and I was telling a lot of narrative history because we are from the family of Nat Turner is, uh, south Hampton county, Virginia, and all of that.

So just a lot of just family history stories that, um, he now knows his roots.

Damon: [00:48:44] That’s incredible. What a gift and it’s so interesting too. It’s especially poignant, I think for black families, because there’s the history you have, the [00:49:00] history you lost and the history that was, you were disconnected from an adoption, right.

There’s so much to try to convey and. My birth mother, and did the same thing. She was a genealogist and she was a librarian and just a skilled, , researcher. And she found all of this family history and she gifted me a, an album of pictures of herself and, , , a whole lineage of our family.

And it was just this amazing connection back to history, both personal and global, you know, from, you know, the days of, you know, the Jim Crow south through the slave trade. And it was just such an interesting way to get connected back. I can imagine what he felt like to receive that from you that’s,

Yvonne: [00:49:50] you know, and it was important for me to have that for him.

, when you mentioned four isn’t. One particular artifact that I had by [00:50:00] doing my research right in the courthouse of south Hampton county, Virginia, and pulling copies of all, I mean like 18 hundreds of whatever. I fell in a deed that, uh, my great, great grandfather after coming out of slavery, being a slave 13 years later, bought land 30 acres for $300, he signed a deed with an X.

So that was the kind of thing that was able to show him, you know, what, you know, because I, we believe, you know, no way you come from to know where you’re going and realizing he wouldn’t have had all of that. Wow.

Damon: [00:50:37] So you guys are in reunion still?

Yvonne: [00:50:40] Yes, we are.

Damon: [00:50:42] That’s it. Excellent. I’m glad to hear that.

So first of all, Yvonne, I really. I appreciate you opening it up to share your story because you and I have talked quite a bit, but never in depth about who you are as a birth mom. And [00:51:00] it has been enlightening to hear your experience both personally colleague to colleague, and adoptee to adopt to birth mother.

Right. And so I think it’s really powerful for adoptees to hear some of the stories of birth mothers, which brings us to. Your project.

Yvonne: [00:51:24] Yeah.

Damon: [00:51:26] So tell me what you’ve been working on another

Yvonne: [00:51:29] journey, a journey. And I think I said to you recently, November 29th, the 2020 was when I think I heard your podcast, that you had a birth mom on.

And I so related to that, cause I was listening. I me, I would listen to your podcast. And specifically, as you just said, to get the perspective of adoptees, I know my perspective as a birth mother, but I didn’t know [00:52:00] adoptees, and I’m always proud of the journey and the healing and reunion and getting to know my son, he getting to know me and all of that is a noted perspective.

Everybody’s different, of course. But when I heard that I reached out to you. I remember sending an email, you immediately responded and that’s it. I want to do a birth mom podcast, just like that, because I think a comment you said on the show is that, that, uh, you would hope that a birth mothers would step up and do that because that’s something that’s needed.

And I have had realized that before, because, and I use a terminology I’ve been in the rooms, meaning birth mom, support groups or whatever, even before I found my side. Even before, you know, and recognizing that there’s a community there, there’s, I call it a village there of being related to each other.

But at the same time, being able to talk to each other and deal with this, this journey [00:53:00] of healing is serious. I see it that way because it’s, it’s it’s emotions. We’re all wrapped up in the terminology. Even my son and I both will use this roller coaster of emotions is a roller coaster. A lot of times you don’t know what that day is gonna bring and how do you, how do you heal?

How do you deal with that? And so conversations around it and, and being in roles in different people and different perspectives and so forth. So this podcast, birth moms real talk. Is going to be exactly that real talk with birth moms, as well as a discussion about different topics. It’s sometimes a tough, I’m calling them hot topics.

Cause a lot of times people don’t want to talk about it. They want to face the reality of, or how do you deal with what if your child does not want to see you? There’s some birth moms don’t want to see their children, you know, so all of that memory is real [00:54:00] and everyone’s different, but how can we get through this healing together?

One being, , our say and for me, and I believe from my son also that that time we saw each other for the first time, that was the beginning of both of our healings. I truly believe that. And nobody’s from me. And because as he, as a, you put it that way, I have a missing piece of myself where that time it was 45 years.

So he’ll be 48 in October. So all four 48 in October, from that time of looking him in his face, that first time I still see, and that was something I said to him, the day we met, I said, you still got my eyes. He still got my nose. She still got my mouth. I could see it. I could just see it, that it was etched in my mind, 45 years before I saw it.

When I saw it on that first day.

Damon: [00:54:52] That’s amazing. It was still there really incredible. . I’m excited for your podcast. I know, you know, you know, I’ve [00:55:00] been working on it for a while and yes, I meant it when I said it, that it would it’s needed. There’s a lot of adoptee content out there. And my suspicion I’ve often joked.

But I mean is relatively seriously that I believe there are a lot of birth mothers. Like you listening to the podcast because it’s like. If you’ve ever had children and you’ve driven in the car with them, you know, they’ll sit in the back seat and they’ll talk to each other as if you’re not even sitting there.

And they’ll say all kinds of crazy stuff. And I feel like the podcast is a bit of a way for y’all to listen in on us talking to each other, to gain some level of perspective as to what we’ve been thinking and feeling. And that’s part of the joy that I get from doing the show is that I get to help other adoptees bring their voice forward, their opinions forward their feelings forward for one another, to hear [00:56:00] and for others to learn from, be it, birth mothers, non adoptees, birth fathers, whatever the thing is, you know, I want folks to have that.

And, and so I’m excited for your show because this is another piece of the story. That precedes our own piece of the story. We know if reunion happens and we hear your version of the story, we, we hear certain parts of it and we’re able to, to fathom certain parts of it. But to have you all talk to each and bring out the history of how you got to this point where you found yourself pregnant, what it was like to traverse that pregnancy, be it as a community or very much alone.

And what you had to endure in the aftermath of trying to understand who you are now as a woman, as well as how you are going to traverse the rest of your life with this thing that for all intents and purposes sort of has you in a [00:57:00] closet. And as you said, it’s not until you get to face it, acknowledge it and reunite with a child in many cases that you can start to breathe again.

So I’m just really happy that you. Have taken the initiative and are inviting women to open up with their courage to share their stories. I think it’s going to be amazing.

Yvonne: [00:57:23] Absolutely. And it’s been such a thrill because, you know, I’ve taped some episodes and all different. Some are reunited with the job, someone not different circumstances of how they became mothers.

And that’s the joy of it. As you just said that the diversity of around it, that people are going to hear all different kinds of stories behind it and get that perspective. And I agree with you, far is this podcast is not only just for birth moms for doc it’s for everyone. And I say that for everyone, because part of it, what part of my journey of learning number [00:58:00] one to lot of people outside of the triad being adoptees adoptive parents, or, or both parents don’t understand.

The whole, I see adoption, what people go through and the reunion. And specifically like when I was in new unit with my son and I shared that, and sometimes the response was all, I guess, now everything is fine, you know, like as bad, as easy as that. So is that like, you just, you know, you’re away from your job for 45 years and now you meet them at all.

Okay. Everything just immediately go. Yeah, exactly. I actually, somebody said that, oh, think good now. Oh man. Well, it is, I’m grateful and I’m blessed of that, but it’s working through that and the healing. That’s a big part of it and understanding that whole, when you, or you heard me say that I wrote a letter to just let the adoptive family know.

I’ll do reasoning. Why? That I [00:59:00] did love my son because I’ve heard this too, is like, well, if he plays for adoption and you don’t want them or you now, and now you will understand his name. It was fighting words to me, fighting words to me. When someone says you gave my baby away, I did not give my baby away.

I placed my son in adoption. So that’s fighting words for me. You got to fight on your hand from Yvonne you say that to me?

Damon: [00:59:25] Yeah. That’s right. Well, good for you. Um, I guess more than anything else, I’m glad you’re able to breathe in a full way having gone through reunion with your son.

I’m so thankful that he was receptive. I know it took him a couple of years to finally sort of reconcile himself to the idea that you were out there and, you know, he is of you and that you are connected regardless. And I’m so glad that you’ve found a way to make a connection with him. And again, I’m really appreciative of your [01:00:00] effort to help bring birth.

Mom’s real talks podcast to the air so that people can hear some stories from some birth moms. So congratulations on getting the surrogate show going. Yeah. Thank you

Yvonne: [01:00:12] so much, Damon. You’ve been there with me cause it’s been all since you’ve been there and I so appreciate

Damon: [01:00:18] it. Of course, my pleasure, Yvonne, this was really great.

I’m so grateful for your time and your openness and your candor. Thank you so much. And you take care. All right.

Yvonne: [01:00:26] Okay. Thank you, Damon.

Damon: [01:00:27] All the best. Bye bye.

Yvonne: [01:00:30] Bye.

Episode Close

Damon: [01:00:35] Hey, it’s me. While we were talking, Yvonne said her story is like a lifetime movie with its emotional rollercoaster and her incredible lived experiences. After achieving academic greatness from rural small town roots, Yvonne found herself pregnant and alone in 1973. She delivered her son, but didn’t even see him.

Yvonne saw his [01:01:00] face 10 days later when she returned to the hospital, as the only person who could extract him from maternity and it was the first and last time she saw his face for decades. When Yvonne found him online, it took him three years to return her message and invite her to talk.

It was that meeting with her son. That allowed Yvonne to breathe again after more than 45 years.

You’ve now heard two birth mother’s stories on the, who am I really podcast. And Yvonne would like to bring more stories forward. She’s launching a new podcast called “Birth Moms Real Talk”coming out in another week and it’ll be available wherever you get your podcasts.

I’ve heard one of the episodes of birth moms real talk, and it was enlightening to hear the experience of another birth mom besides Ann Marie and Yvonne, my guests. And there are so many more stories to come.

To the birth mothers listening. I hope you’ll subscribe to Birth Moms Real Talk [01:02:00] podcast and join the Facebook community to support one another. I’m Damon Davis, and I hope you found something in Yvonne’s story 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?

Who Am I Really?

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