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043 – When I Looked At Him, I Could See Things About Me

Paige didn’t even know that searching for her birth family was an option until she learned about it on local tv as an adult. The topic of adoption was closed her whole life, partially because of how her parents understood and portrayed her closed adoption to her. Fortunately, Ohio law allowed her to access her original birth certificate (OBC). Receiving personal information about herself ignited a passion to learn more and set her off on a voyage of discovery. Paige was lucky to find her birth father’s name in the papers, a which doesn’t always happen for adoptees in that era. She connected with him one time, then he vanished. When he resurfaced, Paige was able to complete her journey because he had finally decided to be honest with his family about his past.

The post 043 – When I Looked At Him, I Could See Things About Me appeared first on Who Am I…Really? Podcast.

Paige (00:05):

And I just knew don’t push certain buttons. It’s not worth it. There’s no point in making a 78 year old guy embarrassed about something from 1961. That’s right. Now he married the right person for him.

Damon (00:27):

Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? This is who am I really a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I’m Damon Davis and on today’s show is Paige. She lives outside of Cincinnati, Ohio growing up Paige, never talked about her adoption with anyone. The topic of adoption was closed partially because of how her parents understood and portrayed her closed adoption to her. But as a young married woman, she saw on TV that Ohio actually did allow her to access her original birth certificate, receiving personal information about herself, ignited a passion to learn more and set her off on a voyage of discovery. Paige was lucky to find her birth father’s name in the papers, which doesn’t always happen for adoptees. In that era. She connected with him one time. Then he vanished when he resurfaced, Paige was able to complete her journey because he had finally decided to be honest with his family about his past. This is Paige’s journey. Paige was born in Ohio in March of 1961. Her understanding is her birth mother went into labor early. So after her birth, she spent a month in an incubator before being adopted. 13 months later,

Paige (01:56):

I was born in Ohio at, at the time. Um, and my parents didn’t my parents who raised me, did not understand the law really well, or it was one of those, you know, how people hear what they want to hear and see what they want to see and think what they want to think. Their understanding. I don’t believe they lied to me in any kind of direct way. Their understanding of the law was since it was a closed adoption, that meant I could never, ever in my entire life of lives ever find them because it was closed the way the law in Ohio was. And my parents didn’t bother to keep up on these things because they basically got what they wanted and were like, we’re done. We’re done here. Right? Um, law in Ohio at the time was changed in 1964. The records were open.

Paige (02:47):

Now. I wouldn’t have been able to get them until I was in adult, but the records were open. Some law was passed at some point that made it so that as long as you were born prior to January of 1964, your records were open when you were an adult. So since I was born before that time, I was able to get my records eventually. Now I never knew that because I trusted what my parents said until I realized, Oh, they see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. And then I’ll ask a lot of questions and you know, me growing up in the sixties and the seventies and part of the eighties is question everything, listen to rock and roll and question everything.

Damon (03:32):

Paige talked a little bit about her adoption and her childhood. She highlighted that adoption was a closed topic in her home. So she was left to develop her own understanding about what adoption means by herself, without adult support and guidance. She says her parents were operating under the assumption that they were not able to conceive. Her father had been in the army and test suggested he wouldn’t be able to reproduce. So he wrote himself off from becoming a father. Naturally,

Paige (03:59):

they go get married. They think they can’t conceive. And they decide when it’s time that they want to have a kid, they go out and adopt me. And then six years later, they have my brother biologically.

Damon (04:14):

And what did they do for you? Do you remember that? Like, did you always know you were adopted and then what did it mean when your mom was pregnant?

Paige (04:21):

I knew I was adopted and I had a rough idea what it meant as a kid, as it, especially as a small kid, I kind of equated it to like, Oh, like when you went in, you picked out a puppy out of the litter and we got a dog, you know? Yeah. And then, you know, say that sometimes the joke is the fastest way to conception is go adopt a kid. So they’re, you know, there we got my brother. So I knew that he was coming into the world in a different way than I did. And I think one of the hardest things was all the people who went and on and on and you know, Hey, there’s the miracle of life be. He’s a boy, carry on the family name, you know, see, it makes my dad look like a big macho man. Cause he of all things, he produced a guy too, you know, they told me I couldn’t have any and I’m irritable and all the talk about how much he looked like everybody ancestor people, grandparents, great grandparents.

Paige (05:19):

He looked like my daddy, my mom had this. He had that, his toe looked like this. You know, his lip looked like that, all these things. And I’m just sitting here, like what about me? Um, yeah, he gets born, but at least they bring me a present. I rather had been told how much I looked like somebody and knew it was the truth. Then be handed whatever little gift thing but yeah, I did get some presents when he was born. But yeah, I, I would have rather have been a biologically born natural kid. Born like everybody else. I, there was no kid to my knowledge because nobody talked about it back then. No kid in my school or my neighborhood or anywhere else in the family. That was an adopted kid that I could hang out with or bond with or discuss with not around.

Damon (06:11):

Yeah. No topic is off the table. Back then

Paige (06:14):

the topic was off the table. Right, right. So yeah, even if they were, we were all like people under undercover yet out in the open, you know, there was just nobody I could talk to about it.

Damon (06:31):

Paige chose to shut down her thoughts about her adoption. She chose to fake it til she made it as she put it. She didn’t talk to anyone about adoption at all. Not even her closest girlfriends. And she developed a bit of a shame in her mind being an adoptee. She felt weird and isolated sometimes partially because there were also no other children in their family at all, just Paige and her brother, her mother was an only child. So there were no aunts and uncles and therefore, no first cousins, her dad had one sister who had a baby, but the baby died. The first person Paige told about her adoption was her high school, sweetheart. Who’s now her husband, Paige was adamant that she could only marry a guy who would accept her as an adoptee.

Paige (07:16):

Yeah. We were seniors in high school and kind of going through that whole senior year. And what if we never see each other again, stuff. And you know, we were in love and all those things, you know, and we were riding around in his car and I thought, well, yeah, this is going to make or break the relationship. Cause I thought it’s up to that point. Any other guy? It was almost my truth meter. You know, it was the one little benefit that came out of it was like, if I’ll never tell a guy that’s not, the guy want to marry, you know, I will never get married before I tell anybody. And I didn’t even want to have a kid if my own, I had no motivation for any of that, um, for, for years. Um, but I thought when I, when I met him, I was like, if there is any guy in this world that I will ever marry, this is the guy that it’s going to be.

Paige (08:10):

Because if I can’t tell them the truth about being adopted, well, you can’t have a baby with somebody and all of a sudden bammo you have no family history. You know, I’m sure people have done it, but I, I couldn’t do that. So it was like, you know, this is the deal maker or breaker with this guy. And he was like, well, I got two adopted first cousins, no big deal in my family. But I was like, but it’s a big deal to me. So don’t even tell your mom and dad, I don’t want anybody to know because they’ll ask me dumb questions that I can’t answer. They’ll treat me funny. They’ll look at me sideways. I know. I don’t want anybody to know. So he was like, okay, you know, whatever you want, I’ll never say a word. I’ll never bring it up. So the only reason I’m telling you is because we’re kind of like at this point in the relationship, you know, and then that was that. So, you know, yeah. We go through

Damon (08:57):

test him kind of like it,

Paige (08:58):

it was like a test. It was a guy test. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. He passed. He passed.

Damon (09:07):

Paige said that in 1987, she was at home with her husband watching a local television program. The IRA Joe Fisher show, when a commercial came on, promoting the show, it advertised that the next episode would feature adoptees and a social worker. She said, watching that show triggered her curiosity. It provided a mailing address in Columbus, Ohio to apply, to receive her birth certificate. Paige was confused because her parents led her to believe that a closed adoption truly meant closed.

Paige (09:37):

I was like, but my parents said my adoption was closed and I couldn’t do this. But the TV they’re saying it doesn’t matter. Your record is open as far as Columbus goes, cause you’re an adult. So the lady on the show that they interviewed was a lady running a support group here in town for Cub concern, United birth parents. We had nothing for uniquely adoptees, but Cub was covering everybody that wanted to come. And it was adoptive parents, birth parents adopted people. So I went to a meeting and they were like, write to this address, send them a copy of your social security number and your driver’s license copy. And you know, your marriage license. Do they see your name change when you got married, they’ll send it all to you. $20 check. So I did. And a month later I got my paperwork and I opened that I had in there, there was a copy of my amended birth certificate that looked like the one my parents raised me had.

Paige (10:35):

And then there was the amended one and the decree of adoption in there. Then there was a name change form that said they were changing my name from what my birth mother had originally planned to name me to what my parents have raised me, decided they wanted to name me instead. So I’ll tell you, this is really weird. I had this really spooky feeling like somebody was watching me. I felt for lack of a better term, spooky ghosty. When I opened that thing, like who’s what’s going on here? You know, who’s watching me. I mean, it was, it was, it was creepy. Yeah. It felt like something wrong yet. Not wrong. It was going on. Yeah.

Damon (11:13):

Do you think you had that feeling because you had just not been able to openly talk about your adoption, so going seemingly behind your parents’ back, I guess.

Paige (11:22):

Yeah, it was, it was a forbidden thing. What I’ve been told was forbidden my whole life and here I’ve got the power of God in my hands for the most part, you know, and my birth father, his name was on my birth certificate. Usually the birth mothers never put the man’s name on there, especially if they don’t want any the man to have anything to do with it. Or if they are mad or feel cheated by the birth father. And the people at Cubs said, well, if she wrote his name on there, she probably, you know, wanting to have a relationship with them and attached to him in some kind of way. If she, she felt she had nothing to hide by putting his name on there. So I’m like, Hmm.

Damon (12:05):

Paige was a school teacher. So while she acquired her personal information in April during the school year, she was way too busy to start a search until her summer break until then her mind wandered. And she racked her brain to try to remember if she had taught any children over the years with either her birth mother or birth father’s last names. It’s one of those things we adopt these do. Sometimes when we get a little bit of information we search for even the tiniest connection to where we might have crossed paths with someone we’re biologically related to in our past, back in the late 1980s, there were no internet searches. So Paige investigation into her biological family required patients. She scoured library microphages and made long distance phone calls on old school landlines.

Paige (12:49):

Yeah, 1987, I ran up a $360 phone bill making some long distance phone calls, which I guess would be about 800 bucks in today’s money.

Damon (12:58):

She even requested courthouse records. Fortunately Paige had her birth father’s first and last name. And with the luck of accurate information in those records, she found him in no time,

Paige (13:09):

you know? So I go down there and start looking and I found him lickety split, mainly because he’s a man and men don’t change your last name when they get married most of the time. And then once he has housing address, when he bought a real house, his wife still owns the house today. I mean, they’ve been in that house 50 something years. Wow. So I found him first and what I learned just from the way I snooped. It took three days to make sure I had the right guy and all my facts about him because it’s like, I’m going to creep on this guy as much as I can before I would actually contact them. Cause I’m just not good with just knocking on a stranger store. And he worked for company here in town, general motors. We had a big old factory here and it closed down that same summer.

Paige (13:56):

So the first thing I realized about him is dudes losing his job and who knows what he’s going to do. And his 50th birthday is coming up, you know? And again, I was 26, 27 at the time. So 50 was like, Oh my God, he’s turning 50, but losing your job on top of it. So it’s like, okay, his life really sucks this summer. I don’t know if this is the time for me to contact him because I know his life sucks right now. And you know, some people don’t have the luxury of finding that kind of information, you know, or they today they just find them on Facebook and message him out of the blue. And they don’t necessarily have some background facts about anybody. So, um, you know, and that’s, that’s a risk and I’m glad I took it slow.

Damon (14:49):

Paige admitted that the hunger more information kind of fed itself. And while she’s glad she took things slowly. She definitely got a craving to gather additional information with each milestone. She passed in her search, getting the birth certificate, allowed her to learn her birth parent’s names. Those bits of info were like breadcrumbs down a path. She didn’t even know existed. Remember she didn’t grow up fantasizing about who her biological parents were nor about a reunion. The whole thing was new to Paige as an adult simultaneously that summer Paige was searching for her birth mother, but she was very tough to track down. Paige found her and her husband listed in prior years directories, but then they disappeared. She searched the records in neighboring Kentucky just to see if she perhaps had missed something and they had moved, but she didn’t find anything. Then she got a hit on some information.

Paige (15:42):

Couldn’t find her, couldn’t find her, couldn’t find her. She was in the directories to a point with her husband. And then all of a sudden the names disappeared. You couldn’t find her or her husband anymore. They’d vanished. And then when I kept pursuing, I looked in some more recent directories. Cause I wanted to double check that I wasn’t screwing up. And if I could find things right still, you know, I didn’t make any mistakes. I found her husband with another wife, he resurfaced, but married to someone else. So I thought, okay, so they divorced where’d she go? You know what happened? So I wrote to her former husband, just a nice little handwritten letter on cutesy stationary. The Cub people told me, tell him, you’re looking for, don’t call her your birth mother, just you’re looking for. So and so it’s about family business. Could he please kindly provide you with a phone number or an address or something and let it go with that and see what happens? Well, he wrote back and he said she passed away in long beach, California and he signed his name and he put his phone number on the letter.

Damon (16:50):

Oh wow.

Paige (16:52):

Well, at that point I realized that spooky feeling. I was feeling every time I was pulling out that birth certificate. And when, especially that day, I got it and was sitting at the table looking on it. I mean, I kind of knew then what was going on? And I called him and he wanted to meet me. So my husband and I drove over. Cause I was kind of afraid to go to some guy’s house all by myself and met him and his new wife. And he had two little start over kids. They had been divorced, but they were in touch. And I have a older sister who’s 18 months older than me. That was part of the reason why she couldn’t keep me. He’s the biological father of my sister. But he always wondered in the back of his mind if I wasn’t his too. And he didn’t know, he wasn’t quite sure what the truth was. Yeah.

Damon (17:44):

Paige already knew she had a sibling out there somewhere when she received the documentation, her adoption, the little box for whether she had siblings had been checked on her form in the affirmative. But Paige had no clue who the woman was until Arthur, her birth mother’s ex husband and the father of that sibling gave her the sister’s name. Arthur knew that his daughter had gotten married, but they were estranged for many years. So all he had was her maiden name and an address where she used to live. He was happy to know that Paige was energized to find her older sister, even though they are no longer married. Arthur had photos and information about page’s mother. Like the date of her death. I asked what Paige felt when Arthur shared that her mother was deceased.

Paige (18:31):

Something in me said, I knew it all along. I had felt that all along. I’d had it con yeah, I had had a time when it was when I was in college. And I remember I was sitting out in the hallway with a bunch of friends and pass it around some booze and we were sitting around and I wasn’t saying anything to anybody, just sort of sitting there, people watching, watching everybody else be stupid. And I had this thought in my head, my birth mother’s dead she’s somewhere with my grandma that I was raised with had died. And I was thinking about her. And I said, my grandma knows where she is because she said they’re both dead together somewhere. So I had had that. That was another thing that helped me kind of shut the whole adoption thing out. She said, anyway, what’s the point? She’s dead.

Damon (19:21):

And as you think back on that, it was around the same time

Paige (19:25):

it was, she died 1976. I didn’t really get that feeling about it until 1981. But then again, I’d been shutting it out and ignoring being adopted for so long. I didn’t have time to really think deeply about it till I got away to college and I wasn’t in my parents’ house. Wow.

Damon (19:45):

Did it feel like a premonition?

Paige (19:47):

Yeah. So that was my premonition was that she was dead. So when art wrote me back and told me that I wasn’t shocked and I didn’t stand there and cry and go, Oh my God, I did all this work and she’s dead. You know, which a lot of people will do that. And it’s totally normal. But I guess I just gone through that at such a prior time that I was more like, wow, I’m good.

Damon (20:12):

Yeah. Right. You had already sort of felt it and dealt with it so that when the news came for real, it wasn’t necessarily as shocking,

Paige (20:20):

right. It wasn’t. It was like, Oh, proof,

Damon (20:24):

Paige’s mother and Art had gotten divorced in Cincinnati in the late 1960s, but they were still friendly and hippies. So our drove an old hearse, his brother drove an old school bus and they all moved to long beach, California. Page’s mother refused to ride in the hearse. She rode with his brother. She was technically divorced. So when she settled in California, she met another man got married and gave birth to Paige’s younger sister, Paige shares some of the story of her mother’s passing.

Paige (20:55):

So in all, she had three girls and I was technically the middle kid. Oh, that’s so fascinating. Wow. Yeah. So my birth mother died. She was 36 when it happened. She had had rheumatic fever when she was a kid, it wasn’t treated properly. But then again, she came from the Hills of Appalachia. It wasn’t treated properly. So it did damage to her heart valves. So she recovered, but she had a weak heart. Nothing’s genetic. So she went through the childbirth with my older sister when she was 17 years old. And I guess just being a 17 year old, she was a little more resilient bounce back from that. Although it was taxing on her, then she had me and I came early. So something in her body was like, it’s now, or you’re not going to make it never. So that probably explained how I came out early. Then she had my sister 13 years later in Southern California. And she was weakened after that, you know, she couldn’t really function at a job anymore. You know, didn’t have energy and that kind of thing probably again probably, or her body kind of sending the message up. We do this now because it’s not going to work out so great later. And she passed away in October of 76. My sister was three years old. My sister, my younger sister has no working memory ever said same as me.

Damon (22:23):

Paige says everyone who looks at pictures of her mother thinks she looks like her, but she struggles to see it sometimes. However, she looks just like her sisters, but we’ve jumped ahead a little bit. I wondered about how things went with her birth father. He only lived 20 minutes away. So she and her husband checked out his area of town. Then Paige gathered her courage and dropped him a letter.

Paige (22:47):

I’d never had a phone number for him cause he was unlisted. But I had his address, my husband and I had done a couple drive by. So we knew where his house was. We were creeping and I thought, you know, yeah, well people sue one another over stuff like this. So, you know, I’ve gotta be really careful. And so I can’t ever talk to her, I’ve got to reach out to him. So I sent him a nice letter to on just a nice stationery and tell them how I was. I gave him a Xerox copy of my original birth certificate. So he knew I wasn’t messing around. I said, my birth mother passed away. So he’s the only parent I got biologically. And you know, here’s where I’ve been living. Here’s what I do for living. I just got a new job because I was laid off and you know, really like to meet and you know, I’m married and love to know some things about, yeah, this is just me loved to know some things about you, you know, not, not trying to, like, I’m not looking for a daddy.

Paige (23:45):

You know, I didn’t need that. I just, you know, as a human being, as kind of like a neighbor or a friend, I want to know you, it took him a couple of weeks. And then he called me one night and I was working. I had a mall job at night and he called while I was at work and my husband called me at the store and he said, uh, you got a message on the answering machine. And I’m like, Oh, I played it back. And he left me his phone number. And so I called him and we talked for about 20, 25 minutes. You guys aren’t as chatty, as ladies are usually, you know, I had a few questions to ask him, but I didn’t want to like overwhelm him and bombard him or anything.

Damon (24:26):

They lived so close to one another. They didn’t have to take forever on the phone. Anyway, they arranged to meet at a local Denny’s Paige and her husband got there early and had dinner together, wanting to listen intently to all that her birth father had to say, when he arrived before the meeting, Paige and her birth father told one another what they would each be wearing. So they could easily recognize the other.

Paige (24:48):

And of course, when I looked at him, I’m like, if I were a guy, that’s what I’d look like. Wow. You know, I can, I can see it. When I looked at him, I could see things about me and my husband could too. He was like, Oh my God. Yeah. Yeah, totally. That’s fascinating. Yeah. And he and I, and my husband, we sat at the table for about two, three hours. You know, I just, we just let him prattle on, on his life. And I didn’t want to ask him too many touchy feely questions about my birth mother or anything like that, because I just didn’t want to embarrass him or put him in a bad spot or anything like that. But he, he kind of said, Marry and her wouldn’t have worked out is just what he said. So when you get married, you marry your inlaws too. It just wasn’t gonna work out. So I was like, yeah, that’s you got a point there. If you can’t handle the inlaws, it can make things pretty rough.

Damon (25:46):

Yeah, that’s right. He gave page some background on how she ended up in adoption, but he didn’t share the full story and all of the details. She learned a fuller version of the truth from another family member.

Paige (25:59):

What he didn’t tell me. And I think it’s because he was either ashamed or just people get it in their head. They, they think you don’t need to know. And it’s like, uh, well, yes and no, no, I don’t need it to live, but I need it for information. Cause I want the truth, man. You know, that’s all it is. But you know what I learned later after talking to my great aunt, my birth mother’s aunt when she had her side of the story that apparently, you know, when he refused to marry her, my birth mother pretty much threw this big tirade. And you know, it was kind of like, well, if I can’t have my baby, he certainly not going to have my baby. And you know, if I can’t keep her, he can’t keep her kind of thing. And she just went ballistic and she made sure that he had absolutely no rights to anything. And you know, it, wasn’t going to be one of those 12, you know, are you willing to help with the baby? If not me or nothing. You know? So she pretty much cut her losses and went the other direction and married my sister’s father. And what we found out later was my birth father was already with another woman. So, but the one he married, you know, they were married for 52 years and had four other kids together. And it was the right marriage for him.

Damon (27:21):

But that’s an interesting though, if she was in such a place of a vindictive is not the right word, but just anger or irritation, angry. She’s very mad. She still chose to put his name on the birth certificate. Something she could have chosen not to do.

Paige (27:35):

Right. Well, what we found out too was she was holding out hope. He, um, didn’t marry for a full year and curiously the date, the court signed my papers. That’s his wedding anniversary. That’s when he got married. So she probably found out and decided at that point, you know, throw our hands up in the air and said, that’s it. I can’t fight this anymore. I really have no chance now.

Damon (28:01):

Yeah. He solidified his decision on his end it’s time for me to solidify my decisions.

Paige (28:07):

Yeah. And she was holding out until she couldn’t hold out anymore. Part of me is like, well, you didn’t give up until you absolutely had to. You kept going. It’s not, you were not making this a light decision. You know, I can tell from everything I’ve learned about her, she didn’t mess around. She did everything in her power to not have to relinquish me and basically got backed into a corner. And she had a whole lot of things not going in her favor.

Damon (28:34):

Paige learned that her mother had gotten pregnant with her older sister while she was in high school. The man was one of her first real boyfriends and their relationship was on and off for several years before they ultimately got married. It was during one of those off periods with the first man, when Paige’s mother met her father and got pregnant again, her family had rallied around her to assist with the first baby. But when she got pregnant again with a different man, they were dismayed by what was becoming a pattern with her Paige talks a little bit about that time in her mother’s life and how things went with her biological father who was blown away by page’s ability to find him.

Paige (29:15):

And she met my birth father in the meantime at one of those periods where he was not in her life. And my birth father said, cause I asked how’d you guys meet? He said we were in the same apartment building together. So they were apartment building neighbors. Wow.

Damon (29:31):

So they connected at a time when your older siblings, father was not in your mother’s life. Right. And then he came back and finally escaped together. So how are things now with your biological father?

Paige (29:46):

Well, he passed away two years ago, but it was, it was pretty good. Um, his family is great. They welcomed me in what happened when I met him. Um, after that dinner that we had at Denny’s together, um, he said, well, okay, we’re gonna get together again. We’re gonna do this again. We’re gonna have another dinner together. At that point, he hadn’t told his wife about me and I was under the assumption that, you know, it’s been 26 years. He never shared with her what happened, you know, although it’s like, well, you know, look who he’s been married to and had his family with, you know, if he was playing before he got married. Well, you know, he wasn’t married that, you know, but he’s a little prideful, a little conservative and you know, just hadn’t mentioned it, you know, didn’t think it was ever going to be an issue.

Paige (30:37):

Well, it really freaked him out that I had the ability to find him. Um, not that he thought it was a bad thing, but he just couldn’t imagine anybody having the wherewithal and the skills to do it, that I had the means and the, the, the ability to do that and stick with it. Even when there were times where I wasn’t finding the information I wanted. So it was like magical powers to them and it kind of scared them a little bit. And I think he also wanted, what exactly do I know that I haven’t divulged to him yet? You know?

Damon (31:09):

Uh, yeah. You know, along those lines, one of the things that’s also probably was challenging for him was the fact that you grew up in a different information age than he did similar that your children or whomever will have grown up in a completely different one than you. Right there. The microfish research is not the same thing as like the immediacy of searching a name on Facebook and blank. Bam found them.

Paige (31:34):

Yeah. That just blew him away that anybody could do that.

Damon (31:39):

I asked Paige how she dealt with her adoptive parents in her search for her biological parents. She says her mother absolutely thought she would go on a search and wondered what took her so long. Her dad on the other hand fell to pieces, but he had a very personal reason why he wasn’t in a place to accept Paiges search. He was on a personal journey of his own.

Paige (32:00):

Well, again, my mom was totally cool about it cause she was like, I would have done the same thing and she would, if she was that type of person and it’s like, if there’s something out there, well, I’ll be damned if anybody’s going to hide, keep that from me. Yeah. And um, yeah, like she said, I was wondering what took you so long. And I was wondering if that would ever happen. And I guess the thought maybe was in her mind, but she’d never discussed it with me because we never discussed adoption much, very rare that it ever came up. So in my, my dad at the time, he was going through a lot of personal problems in his own with alcoholism being the smallest issue, um, anxiety stuff, crazy anxiety things, I guess in today’s world, you know, bipolar, manic depressive kind of episodes fueled by too much alcohol at the same time, he just went to pieces.

Paige (32:59):

He was, Oh my God, you’re looking for better parents. Or what did we do? We screwed up, you know, and all that kind of, he got melodramatic and upset and now here’s the cat sweater. He was coming out as a gay man and little did we know at the time he was harboring his own little secret about that same way. I was kind of harboring my adoption secret for a long time. So we were both kind of coming out in our own little ways about two very different things. But yeah, he was dealing with all those things. And my parents that raised me, ended up getting a divorce because of course, you know, it’s like, well, when your partner ends up gay, I mean, what can we do? Right. Yeah. And, and that was the height of the AIDS scare, you know, in the eighties like that too.

Paige (33:50):

And, but my dad was hiding still because his mom, my grandma, he didn’t want to have to come out to her and he didn’t come fully out until she passed away in 1990 going on and for you to be searching for other parents. But I was like, you know, I’m an adult living my own life and my own bills in my own house. And this is something my husband and I agree upon and I’m going to pursue this. And you’ve got things that you’re pursuing and you know, don’t charge me and I won’t sell it to you kind of thing. It’s kind of where, what I had to put it to him as you know. And I said, it’s not, I’m not looking for better parents. I’m not looking for miracles. Um, Hey, if I make some great relationships with these people and we can have something that’s similar to like a friendship on, I’m totally good with that, but I’m not looking to replace anybody and I’m not doing this cause I’m dissatisfied.

Paige (34:51):

I’m just doing this because I want to know. And I’m allowed to know, was he able to reconcile with responsible citizen? It was very convenient for him that my birth mother was deceased. And the other thing was with my birth father, after that one dinner, the ball got dropped. So we never got back together with him. Again, we all got dropped. He didn’t fought well. We agreed to me to do a second restaurant and he didn’t show. And then my husband and I were sitting in the restaurant going, do we order we wait for him or was, I don’t know, well, let’s go ahead and order a salad because I’m starving. You know, we’re sitting there. And then all of a sudden we got th he, he had the good to call the restaurant and they called me to the phone and he said he couldn’t make it because one of his kids was in a car accident. He had to go to the emergency room. Okay. I totally understand that. You know, thank you for calling. We’re getting together again. I will call you. Okay. And then he never called and I was afraid to call him. Cause I wasn’t sure if he was copping out for real or what, and the ball just totally got dropped. And I never heard from him again, flash forward 2002, how many years later, 15 years later, wow.

Paige (36:15):

15 years, you know, I’m going around going literally WTF. What the father

Damon (36:24):

life is pressing on during the 15 years Paige and her birth father were out of touch. She and her husband had two children and their lives were packed with all of the day to day rigor. That makes us all feel so busy. Then her mother arrives in town for a visit from her home in Florida for mother’s day. Paige bought them tickets for a night out at the show. They went to see mama Mia.

Paige (36:47):

So we go down to see mama Mia, and I’m sitting there in the audience. We’re having a good old girl time. Right. And I had my two daughters with me. So they knew the album music and they were all excited for them. It was like taking them to a concert. You know, I had no idea. The plot of that story was about a girl getting married, but she didn’t know who her birth father was. And it was one of three guys and I’m sitting there in the audience going, geez, I’ll pee. But I had this other level going on in my head while I’m sitting there in the seats, but come home that night, right. We kick off our shoes. My husband says, look at the caller ID box. And I’m like, Oh my God, it was my birth. Father’s last name on there. I thought the only thing it could be is he’s dead.

Paige (37:36):

And somebody figured out about me and they’re calling me. I had sent him a photo and a birth certificate. And if he’d kept that stuff, he must, he he’s dead. Well, he wasn’t dead. It was, um, my sister, she had to go to a family funeral on her husband’s side. Something happened at that funeral and a mystery relative showed up that nobody really knew about. And the guy picked an awkward time to show up and announce himself. And it wasn’t an adoption thing, but it was still like, where the hell is this guy from? You know? So she comes home, picks up her son at her parents’ house. This is, guess what happened at that funeral? Craziest things, dude shows up and blah, blah, blah. And my birth father and his wife kind of looked at each other and he came clean because I think in the meantime, my understanding is he told his wife, but he told his wife don’t you dare contact her.

Paige (38:27):

I don’t want to get into this. I don’t want to deal with it. This is just going to open up a can of worms because he thought I’d put them on the spot, embarrass him or shame him. And he was very intimidated by the fact that I had education. It was like, you shouldn’t have been, but you know, how do you tell somebody, you know, he’s 70 years old at this point, how do you tell him that? You know, so my birth mother’s wife or birth father’s wife harbored the secret along with him. And they never told their children. But then when that happened, they decided yet before something happens to somebody, maybe we need to like talk about this. So they talked to their kids about it. Then my other sister on my birth father’s side called me. And that was the, she called back the next morning,

Damon (39:15):

the sisters talked for nearly three hours. They all lived in the same town with her birth father. So catching up in person was very easy as a teacher, Paige had that summer off. So she got together with her sisters every few days, all of the women had children. So her kids got a firsthand experience with what reunion really meant for their mother. I asked Paige what it felt like to know that her birth father had finally come clean to his family about her existence. She expressed some relief that he had finally done. So after so long and expressed excitement about the possibilities for the future.

Paige (39:51):

Well, there’s part of me that kind of went what the, you know, what took you so long? And then there was part of me that was like, he finally did it. Okay. What I really want out of this at this point is a relationship with my siblings. You know, that’s the most important thing. He isn’t going to be around forever, but my siblings are going to be around for a long time. And I, I want to have a chance at that.

Damon (40:20):

Paige said that while he was alive, she experienced some really cool milestones with her birth father. For example, when her own daughter got married, her birth father attended the wedding. She said it was a huge affair because the bride side of the guest list had expanded exponentially. After Paige found her biological family, she said her adoptive mother even met her birth father sharing Thanksgiving and Christmas together as a family Paige shares a final thought about sharing her reunification experience with her own children.

Paige (40:53):

Actually, my girls got to go through that reunion with me, which was pretty cool for them. They got to experience as a non, it was the best way to teach a non adoptive person what it’s like. But my kids, I had raised them talking about this stuff in the story we had total family honesty, you know, age appropriate from the get go. Just the way I always knew I was adopted from the get go. What if there’s one? What if they’re the one that picks up the phone someday?

Damon (41:22):

Yeah, that’s right. Thank you.

Paige (41:24):

Yeah. You know, I gotta have them ready.

Damon (41:26):

That’s great. It sounds like things are going really well or at least, you know, they were, I’m sorry that your, that your biological parents have passed away, but it sounds like you really got a lot of really good answers and some connections to some siblings,

Paige (41:39):

We’ve gotten, so much mileage and so much good out of it that, yeah. And it’s all, you know, it’s all worked out and again, like he and I never sat down and had a touchy feely conversation.

Damon (41:51):

Yeah. But you got the, um, you got the opportunity to make a connection and you, and you got some answers and you know, a lot of people don’t even get that, so.

Paige (41:59):

Right. Right. And I just knew don’t push certain buttons. It’s not worth it. There’s no point in making a 78 year old guy embarrassed about something from 1961. That’s right. Yeah. It’s just, I know some people would do it. They would go after him. How could you leave her, my mother that way, blah, blah, blah. Yeah. He married the right person for him. You know,

Damon (42:24):

thank you so much. This has been really fascinating to hear your journey. You’ve been through a lot. I was. So that was a really interesting to hear that part where you said that you have basically had, you know, almost a premonition of feeling about your mom’s death.

Paige (42:38):

Yeah. I’m really glad. Well, you know, they say there’s that connection, that, that biological connection, um, is there, you know, even if you can separate the parent and the child, but there’s still that intuitive connection that, that doesn’t go away.

Damon (42:54):

I’m glad you were able to connect with your biological father and congratulations on your relationship with your siblings. That’s really cool.

Paige (43:00):

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for sharing. Alright, thanks so much. Take care. Bye bye. Bye.

Damon (43:13):

Hey, it’s me. Can you imagine the love Paige had to see that her local television show was going to be featuring adoptees after years of unawareness that she could search for her birth family and what an incredible vision she experienced in college when it hit her, that her adopted grandmother and her biological mother were together in death. I’m always amazed at the stories of adoption reunification that unfold before the explosion of the internet age. Partially because I know myself well enough to know that I probably would have let my own search language if it was dependent on me being the researcher, but Paige was diligent and finally found her birth father living right in the same town with her. They lost a lot of time during that 15 year break in communications, but I can relate to how she felt, not wanting to reach out for fear of creating trouble in his home after she had been a secret for so long.

Damon (44:06):

I’m glad they reconnected, shared family milestones. And she now has a relationship with her siblings. I’m Damon Davis. And I hope you’ll find something in Paige’s journey that inspires you, validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have this strength along your journey to learn who am I really, if you would like to share your story of locating and connecting to your biological family visit, who am I really podcast.com/share? You can also find the show at facebook.com/waireally, or follow me on Twitter at waireally. And please, if you like the show, take a moment to rate who am I really on iTunes, Google play, or wherever you get your podcasts or leave a comment for me@whoamireallypodcast.com. Those ratings can help others find the podcast.

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