Michael says he always knew he was adopted and spoke openly about it with anyone who expressed curiosity. However, when he launched his search, he didn’t feel like he could share those details openly with his adopted mother. When he found his birth mother, she told Michael she always knew he would find her. To continue his search for his birth father, she encouraged Michael to connect with his half-brother by another woman but forewarned Michael that his birth father didn’t know of his existence. But it turned out there was a lot more Michael’s father didn’t know… about himself.
She said before her mother passed away, she was saying, you should really find your, your, your sons. And I think she might’ve been looking on her own before she died, because her DNAs on 23 and me, and it’s my number one hit.
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 Michael. He’s a theater teacher in New Jersey. He says he always knew he was adopted and spoke openly about it with anyone who expressed curiosity. But when he launched his search, he didn’t feel like he could share those details openly with his adopted mother, when he found his birth mother, she told Michael, she always knew he would find her to continue his search for his birth father. She encouraged Michael to connect with his half brother by another woman. But for warned Michael, that his birth father didn’t know of his existence, it turned out there was a lot more that Michael’s father didn’t know about himself. This is Michael’s journey. Michael grew up with three siblings, one adopted sister, three years older than himself and twin siblings born to his parents, whom they brought home from the hospital exactly two years to the day after they brought him home. Michael was so comfortable with how his family was formed. He openly shared that he’s an adoptee with everyone. When he eventually found his birth parents, he went back to his adopted mother to ask when she actually told him he was adopted.
People always ask me, when did you know, you know, how old were you when you found out you were adopted? And I, I don’t remember being told that I was adopted. I, I just have always known. Um, and when I’ve spoken to, when this whole thing happened with my birth parents and I spoke to my adopted mother and I asked her, I said, when did you tell me? Cause I don’t remember. I don’t remember. And she said that they were taught, you know, through the adoption agency, you know, they, they were advised by them to tell, to tell me, as, as young, as even in the crib telling, you know, you’re loved and you’re, you’re, you know, you you’re special and all this stuff. And so I guess it just was always known to me, uh, and growing up, you know, I was very open about it.
I, I, I guess, cause it, cause I’m an actor. I really don’t have, I wasn’t shy as a kid. Let’s just say, so I would, I’d be with my, my brother, you know, in a playground and people would say, are, you know, are you, are you two brothers? And I’d say, yeah. And they say, how come you don’t look anything alike? And I’d say I’m adopted. And I’m like seven years old, you know? And my mother would say, you don’t have to tell people that. I said, well, why, you know? So it was just second nature to me.
Yeah. You told me why wouldn’t I tell other people?
exactly. I mean, I get what the big deal was. Yeah.
As he got older through high school and college, Michael continued to be open about his adoption, which seemed to fascinate whomever. He was talking to friends, girlfriends, and other people had so many questions. Like, do you ever want to find your birth family? But their line of questioning was always kind of strange for him. And he never wanted to explore their inquiries further. He just didn’t want to go there. And it took him until he was 45 years old to do so I asked Michael what he would say to people about why he didn’t want to search.
I never really had an answer. I would always kind of downplay it. Like I, you know, I don’t know. It’s not something I think about or, you know, I would have some kind of, you know, dismissive remark that it really wasn’t something I really was interested in. Yeah. Well I would say, yeah, you know, I think about it, but you know, and I would kind of, I wouldn’t really engage any further in it and they’d say, well, you know, if they went any further, like, well, have you ever thought about, would you ever search? I go, I don’t know. Maybe someday, you know, I never really took a definitive stance on it. And it’s probably because I really didn’t know. My answer was always, I don’t know. I kind of never, I felt like I never really wanted to completely go there and really, really think about it because it’s something that I was always with me. And I always kind of thought about it, but actually going and searching and finding, uh, you know, it, it took me till 45 years old to even go there.
Wow. That’s really fascinating. Michael added that, even though he didn’t feel a strong desire to search, he was always protective of his adoptive mother’s feelings too. He said she’s a fairly sensitive person which played into his apprehension about the process. So I wondered if Michael didn’t begin searching until he was 45 years old. What fired up his curiosity after avoiding the search for so long, he said that his parents divorced around the year 2000 and he was estranged from his adopted father for about 16 years. But when they reconnected one night over dinner, his father brought a story about his own brother Michael’s uncle learning through ancestry.com that his father Michael’s grandfather must have had two daughters out of wedlock. Michael’s dad shared that he suddenly had half siblings and that got Michael thinking
that night I was driving home with my girlfriend and I said, ah, I wonder if I have any half siblings, I should, I should do ancestry. And that’s kind of what led to it. Wow. Um, and now ancestry didn’t lead me really anywhere other than for the first time I knew my ethnicity, which was kind of cool. what did you think you were previously and what did you learn that you were
well, um, growing up, when I used to ask my parents, what am, what am I? And my parents gave me this answer that always felt like it always felt like a stock answer, like a, like a fake answer. My father is, uh, half Irish and half Lithuanian. And my mother is a hundred percent Italian growing up. So my mom, when I would ask them this question, they would say you, uh, you’re half Irish and half Italian, except your mother’s Irish and your father’s Italian. And I always thought that sounds like a, such a made up answer that they just switched. It.
It turns out Michael’s about 45% Irish, 19% Italian and 26% German, which we’ll cover later. So of course, through ancestry.com, Michael discovered a cadre of distant cousins, but it didn’t really lead to any deep connections. 23 and me had the same disappointing results turning to Facebook. Michael joined groups like DNA detectives and search squad. He had been bitten by the bug of desire to learn more. He learned that he was adopted through Catholic charities. So he sent away for the application for them to begin their search. A member of the online groups explained that he could get his original birth certificate because he lived in New Jersey. He mailed in his OBC application to the state.
And literally, I think it was the same day that the birth certificate arrived. I got the application from Catholic charities. Wow. That’s crazy. It was weird. It was like right around the same time, odd serendipity. Right. Exactly. And I remember after I opened the envelope, I called Catholic charities and said, I got your, I got the application. Turns out I don’t need it because I got my birth certificate. Um, and Catholic charities, you know, the woman didn’t say, well, what are, you know, what are you, what do you know? What, what does it say? And I told them what it said. And she was able to actually confirm, you know, she over the phone. She said, well, yeah, that, that is, that is the name that I see here in front of me. So that was kind of cool. You know, she couldn’t, she couldn’t tell me the name, but once I said, is it this?
They said, yes. So, so the birth certificate, I opened it up and I see for the first thing I saw was Matthew. And I kinda like looked at it and then like put it down and said, Oh my God, there’s a name on there. And I was with my girlfriend and she was like, open it, read it. And I was like, I’m afraid to, I didn’t, I was so much emotion. And I saw the name, Matthew and then that, and I said, that was, I said, that’s my birth name? That’s, that’s the name I was given at birth Matthew. And I saw my mother’s name, Loretta. Oh, you know, all of a sudden I was like, wow, that’s her name? You know, it was like this weird, crazy feeling becomes, it becomes real very quickly. Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Everything else matched up. As far as my birthday and where I was born, that stuff I knew on the bottom, it said number of previous live births before this birth or something like that. And it’s a two and it’s a date of most previous live birth. And it was three years before I was born. So I said, Oh, I have siblings.
So Michael has his birth mother’s name Loretta from his OBC. He also learned that he had two older siblings, which made him super curious about who they were. Were they brothers or sisters? Were they adopted too? He went back to the closed Facebook groups with the updated information.
I, if it, if it, if it was 35 seconds, somebody said founder. Wow. And they found her Facebook page. Uh, somebody else found her mother’s obituary. Uh, and all of a sudden there she is, I’m looking at her on Facebook and yeah. And I looked at her and the name obviously didn’t ring a bell. But when I looked at her, it was instantaneous. I knew really in your own face in hers. Oh yeah, absolutely. Wow. Yeah.
Before you go on that, tell me, take me back for a quick second to that moment. When you saw that you had two older siblings, what did that feel like for you?
My, my initial reaction was kind of just curiosity, like who are like, well, who are they? Because, you know, and, and what are they adopted? Or, you know what, you know, what’s the, who, who are, who are these two siblings? Are they male? Are they females? You know, it was more curiosity. It was once I found her on Facebook. Oh. And somebody else on Facebook found because the birth date was there and her name was there and where he was born was there. They found him instantly too. And so I knew his name, his name is Julian. Um, the most recent one. And when I looked at her Facebook page, Julian’s on the Facebook page with her. That was when I had a, uh, uh, a reaction, I guess you could say was what I knew that Julian is still with her. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a huge question, Mark. Isn’t it? Yes. And so that was the first question of why did, why was, why did she keep Julian and, and, and, and give me up. And also once I looked through the Facebook page, I saw there was a third sibling younger than me. Wow. Yeah. So she left, she had four sons in total.
I asked Michael what scenarios came to mind about why he was placed for adoption, but his siblings were not. He wondered if he was conceived out of wedlock. He pondered whether he was the product of a rape Michael’s mind was reeling, trying to figure out what might have happened outside of Loretta’s marriage. Michael had located her information on Facebook and he was tempted to reach out right at that moment. But he held off for a day. He sent her a note through Facebook messenger, but there was no response. Michael dug a little deeper and discovered Loretta had a Facebook business page, which also had a Gmail address to contact her. He did some research on how to write his introductory email, keeping things vague, simply saying things like, I believe we may be related. And if I contacted you in error, please accept my apology. She wrote back in 30 minutes
and she wrote me back and she was like overjoyed. She said, yes, I am that you reached the right person. I am your birth mother. I’ve been waiting for you to, um, to meet you for all these years. And I hope that you’ll want to talk with me on the phone. And, and I saw that email pop up on my laptop in front of me. And I was like, Oh my God. She wrote me back. And I, and I was so afraid to open it because I was like, I didn’t want it to be like, you know, don’t ever contact me.
Yeah. So flat rejection. But she, you were vague in your introduction, like, Hey, we might kind of be related. And she’s like, I’m your birth mom? That’s amazing.
Yes. Yeah. She’s, that’s how she is though. She’s very, very openhearted, very, very emotive, uh, you know, very, you know, she’s, she’s a crier and a gusher, you know, that’s just how she is. As I got to know her. So
they spoke on the phone that same night, Michael called her through heavy nerves. He was shaking. His mouth was dry and his stomach was all knotted up. She told him later, she felt the same way. But what she said on the phone was both moving and jarring.
I learned a lot, obviously on that first phone call, my mother, what did she say? Well, you know, first of all, she said, I wanted to tell you why I never tried to find you. And she, that was the, she felt, that was the first thing that she needed to say. And she said that she made a decision after I was born, that she said she would never interfere or try to insert herself into my life, but that she would remain open to me finding her. And that she hoped that I would find her. And she said, she never like, you know, she didn’t have an unlisted number. Like she kept herself find-able, but that she never wanted to actually find me. And she did say, uh, that she knew, she said, I, she, she sent photos in the hospital with me. And she said, the one thing that she remembered about me was that of all of her sons, I looked the most like her. She said, and I reminded her and I reminded her the most of herself. And she said, and she also has a flair for the dramatic, which I’ll get into it a little bit. Um, she said that, she said, looking down at me, she said, this, this child will find me. That’s what she said. And she was right.
Unbelievable, dude. I would have cried uncontrollably.
It was pretty intense, pretty intense. And then the next thing she said was, I have to ask you a question. I said, okay. And she said, were raised with your biological brother. And I said, no, I wasn’t. And she said, I was afraid. You would say that show. So this was the first child, her first son she gave up for adoption.
Loretta said that four years before Michael was born, she was 19. When she gave up her first son for adoption, she moved to San Francisco, California, where she later gave birth to Julian, returning to New Jersey with three-year-old Julian. She got pregnant again. At that time she couldn’t afford another child.
So she made the decision to give me up for adoption. And when she brought me to Catholic charities, she asked if I could be placed with my biological brother. And they told her we’ll do our best. And it turns out that that first child who she named Christopher was adopted by a family and moved out of state. We found this out from Catholic charities, they moved out of state. We don’t know. They wouldn’t tell us where he moved, but the state where he moved to, they had adopted a baby girl, like literally days before I was to be adopted. And apparently there’s a law in that state where you can’t adopt two children that close together. So by law, they couldn’t take me. So, which is why I wound up going to my adopted parents instead of with him.
So she had really truly asked that you guys be placed together. And it just so happened that the other family had adopted, just done it. Wow. So for 45 years, Loretta imagined her boys living together in her imagination. One day two men would come knocking on her door, but it was only Michael her previous desire to stay away and not interfere in her son’s lives was evolving with Michael’s coinciding desire to find his own brother. Loretta sent the paperwork into Catholic charities to try to connect with Michael’s brother. She and Michael hoped that he knew he was adopted and that their outreach had not made him a late discovery adoptee. At the time I spoke with Michael, they hadn’t heard back from him. Michael asked the next logical question about his birth father’s identity. She joked that she had four children by four different men admitting that
she didn’t know my father well. She said, I knew him. I know his name. And she said, I don’t know much about him. I heard that he became a pastor. He was not a pastor when I knew she’s funny. But she said he was very, very good looking and he was very charming and he was very nice. And that’s all she could really say. She said, she said, Oh, she did say that. She said, I know he has, at least I know he has other children. Uh, and as a matter of fact, I know one of his sons, because the way she came to know my father was, she was living in a little garden, apartment complex in New Jersey. And her sister lived in the same apartment with her. So, and the apartment was her and her sister, her sister had a three year old or four year old. Uh, and she had my brother Julian. So there were her and her sister and two little toddlers living in this little apartment. And her sister’s best friend had a four year old child as well. That is my other half brother with my father. And so my father would come around the apartments to visit my half brother Jason. And that’s how my mother met him. And that’s how this encounter came to be. How are you, sir?
So he fathered children from two women in the same apartment complex? Yes. Wow.
Yeah. He was a rascal. And that’s his words
with his birth father’s name? Michael returned to his old faithful resource. Facebook.
And I look more like him than I look like her. It’s like ridiculous spitting image.
That’s funny. I had the same thing happened to me. I’ve I’ve I met my biological mother and I was looking her in the face and I was like, Oh my God, I look just like this woman. I was astonished. And for years until I found my biological father, I like held high pride for the fact that I looked so much like my mother. And then I met him and I stood next to him. And then I looked at a picture of us and I was like, Oh my God, I look just like this dude.
Yeah. It’s crazy. It’s crazy. Unbelievable. How you could look so much, like two people it’s like, it’s like crazy. Yeah. Yeah. And I, again, just like, I look the most, like her out of all her kids, I looked the most like him out of all his kids, when I met his kids, they were like, are you kidding me? Like, you look just like him. Wow. Yeah.
Loretta warns Michael that his birth father didn’t know he existed.
She said that Jason, his other son, my half brother, Jason knows about you. And I, when I talked to Jason, he did say, I did mention, it mentioned you to him and he denied it. Jason’s
your half brother and the apartment complex. Yes. How did he know about you? He was only four.
Well, because his mother and, and, and my sister’s mother, my mother’s sister were best friends. And also, I believe his mother saw my father there that night. So yeah. So he, you know, he knew, he knew about me. He heard the adult talk and yeah. So I was really, really worried to meet him. Cause I didn’t know. I didn’t know anything about him. I didn’t know. I didn’t know how he would react to me. Yeah.
So Loretta has shared the whole story with Michael and said, she hoped he’d want to meet her. And he said, yes. She drove down from her home in upstate New York and met Michael at a diner in the town where she grew up.
I was prepared for this big emotional thing. And it was, I walked in and I looked at her and she, and we just laughed. It was just like, you know, I expect it to be, you know, like look around and like, I wonder if I’m going to recognize her. And it was like that. There she is. It was crazy. The other thing that was funny was I told you about my theater background, my whole I’m the only one in my adoptive family that does theater. I have like a distant cousin that does theater that, but other than that, there was no one. And when she asked me what I did, I said, I, you know, I teach college theater. She said, get out. And I said, what? She said, I used to do children’s theater, no way. Really. She, she used to do puppet shows and make puppets. She wrote a book on doll making and puppet making. I used to make puppets when I was a kid, like I was obsessed with the Muppet show. Like it was crazy. Wow, dude,
i wish you can see my face. I’m like clone right now. That’s the most random thing for two people to do. And yet this, this innate Nate versus nature versus nurture thing is
right. I really believe it now. I really, I really, I really believe it.
Oh man, this is why I love these stories. Um, cause they just, when folks are able to find a connection, a lot of times there is something in them that has been in their parents and it just, you can’t fight it.
And, and, and you know, sometimes it’s, it’s bad, you know, like addiction and things like that. It’s true. You know, it’s not always good.
Yeah, no, yeah. I certainly said that from the point of positivity from your own story, but you’re absolutely right. There are definitely folks who are unable to escape certain things that have been not so positive aspects of their personal history. So wow. He says, Loretta is very artistic. She draws, she paints makes dolls and loves theater. After dinner. Michael asked if he could see more of town where she grew up. Talking about the experience, touring the town with his mother, Michael was reminded of a unique connection to her mother, his grandmother. He also talks about a special request he had for his mother.
Oh, I forgot to mention this. On 23 and me. My top hit was her mother. Her mother did her DNA without telling her really. She said, she said before her mother passed away, she was saying, you should really find your, your, your sons. And I think she might’ve been looking on her own before she died because her DNAs on 23 and me. And that’s my number one hit that’s unreal. But that I tell you what, my number two hit. It was 23 and me, but that’s, I’m saving that for later. That’s a good story. Wow. But anyway, when we were done with that, she said, so what do you want to do now? I said, can you take me to where you lived when I was born? And she said, okay. And we drove over there and we eventually found a little garden complex. And we looked up, she pointed at the window. She said, that’s where you began.
And then she said, and right here, it was where your father parked. And then he drove away and I never saw him again. Yeah. What was that like for you to stand there and that in that environment and try to put yourself at 45 years back, I’ll tell you, and this is, it sounds crazy. But when I, when we were driving around this town that I’d never been to, I felt so like turned around and lost. And, and as we pulled in, I said, it’s so crazy. I know it sounds crazy. But we pulled in. I said, I been here before. I know this place. Wow. I totally recognized that place. That’s unbelievable. Yeah. I know. I’ve never been, I’ve never been in that town before, but that place was so familiar to me. It’s like
the aura. I mean, you weren’t even born. It’s like, you could feel the aura of the place.
Yeah. You had come from. That’s really fascinating. Yeah. I mean, I lived there for nine months, you know, even though I didn’t, I wasn’t, I wasn’t born yet. I still had some kind of connection to, yeah. Wow.
So the teams of people on Facebook helped Michael locate his biological father’s profile, his email address, and some phone numbers associated with his name. None of the contact information panned out. And Michael wasn’t getting anywhere talking to Loretta about the whole thing. She suggested. Michael tried to connect with his half brother, Jason, to make a connection to Bob, their biological father. Jason had been in a similar situation to Michael’s trying to connect with Bob as an adult, after a lifetime apart, Jason is the oldest of Bob’s four children, all of whom have different mothers.
I reached out to Jason on Facebook and he wrote me right back. And he said, he said, I know that, yes, I know who you are. And I’ve known about you your whole life. And we are brothers. He said, can we, can we talk on the phone tonight? And I said, sure,
one at a time, Jason conferenced in each of his siblings making introductions to Michael on separate calls, when the sibling introductions were finished,
Jason said, I’m going to call him right now. I just want you to know that I said, okay. He said, I don’t know how he’s going to take it, because I mentioned you once years ago and he denied it. So we’ll see what happens. And you know, I’ll, we’ll be in touch. He goes, I’d like to be,
Michael is sitting with his girlfriend, watching television. When his devices show him an alert from Facebook,
Bob has read or accepted my message on Facebook. Then it sent him like two months earlier or something. And that alert popped up. And I went he’s he’s on Facebook right now. So I opened up my laptop and I opened the message that I sent him. And the three dots are going underneath it. I said, he’s typing to me right now. Wow. And all of a sudden, I get a response from him and it said, you can call me if you want. Cool. And I was like, he wants me to call him. And I was like, what do I do? And she’s like, call him. And I was like, I don’t have his number. She said, ask him. And I wrote, can you give me your number? And he, he gives me and the number pops up and I go, Oh my God, that number, that was the number I called that day that rang and rang and rang and never picked up.
Really? Yeah. I said, that was the number. That was his number. You had him. I had him. And when I, and then finally I called him and he answers. He goes, Hey, Michael, like, he couldn’t have been, I was expecting this grumpy kind of closed off, like keeping me at a distance. He was like completely friendly. He goes, so Jason tells me you were looking for me. Like, it was like, and I was like, he was at the grocery store. Yeah. And he goes, you got it. And he goes, you had me at a bit of a loss here because I don’t know you. I don’t know. I don’t know your mother. And I don’t remember any of that. So I apologize if I’m a little confused. And, uh, so we, you know, I said, well, I, I told him and he says, he doesn’t really remember anything.
He said, he said, my life was a little different then I’m not the same person that I am now. He went through a lot of stuff. And, um, he said, but he said, how come? You said you didn’t have my number. You called me the other day. And I said, did I? He goes, yeah, I was watching TV. And I saw your name come up on my caller ID on the TV screen. And he goes, but my wife was on the phone. So I didn’t pick up. I said, Oh, I said, well, that nobody picked up. I assumed it was a dead number. He goes nuts. And I said, but how did you know, how did you know my name? How did you know it was me calling? And I said, and remember that first cousin on ancestry that I told you about that was his first cousin turns out. He, once he figured out who once, once he put two and two together, he called my father and said, Hey, there’s this guy on ancestry who thinks he’s your son. You should know that. So he knew who I was like weeks before we even called him. Wow. And then he’s sitting there and saw my name, pop up.
Bob told Michael, he had no memory of Loretta from that time in his life. He said, he’d like to meet Michael, but suggested they do a paternity test just to be sure of their relation to one another. The men agreed to meet.
And we met as a diner, a different diner. Um, it’s Jersey. There’s a lot of diners. And, uh, we had breakfast and we talked and he was great. And, uh, I looked just like him, except he’s got white hair. Yeah. And then we sat in the car and swapped our cheeks and we’re sitting there doing it. And then all of a sudden he starts laughing. He goes, what? He goes, can you imagine what we must look like? Now? What walks by the car? Cause he had to swab like, you know, three on each side. So we’re swabbing for like 20 minutes. Yeah. And he mailed off the, uh, the paternity test and then a couple weeks go by and he calls me up and he said, so I got the paternity results. 99.9%. You are my son
that must’ve been validating. Even though you knew it, she named him. Everybody connected you to him. That like the yeah. Yeah. And you look just like him still, the scientific proof is still somehow validating.
Yeah. Wow. And, uh, he, he, once he had proof, cause you know, he was a little skeptical, a little standoffish, you know, keep him at arm’s length. But his tune completely changed after that. He said what? He goes, whatever you want, if you want a relationship, I’ll ha w whatever, if you just want to say hi, it’s nice to meet you. And you go about your, whatever you want. I’m open to
Bob is a religious guy who believes in divine Providence. And that there must have been a reason for their lives to have been brought together. Michael says, Bob is very openhearted and open minded and generally seems to be a great guy. He sees Bob about once a month because they live much closer than Loretta who lives five hours away since Michael’s reunions seem to be going well. I wanted to go back for a moment and ask how Michael’s adopted mother and father coped with everything that had happened.
My dad was actually because of what happened with his half. He was really cool with it. And he was actually, he was the one that convinced me ultimately to reach out to my father because I was so nervous. I said, I talked to him on the phone. I said, you know, this dad, this, that this guy doesn’t even know about me. And he said, you know what, that’s him, that’s on him. He said that shouldn’t prevent you from wanting to know him. You have every right to know him. And if he doesn’t want to know you, that that that’s his business, but that shouldn’t stop you from, from reaching out. And he really coached me. He was really good about it. I finally, once I told my father and I told my, my siblings, I, I said, I, I have to tell my mother.
So, um, my girlfriend and I met her for dinner. We had a nice dinner, but did she know that you had been searching? No. Okay. Well, she knew about, she knew I had done, I was doing ancestry. And when I brought up, uh, you know, I did ancestry. She said, I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know. So that’s all she knew. And when I would bring it up, she didn’t want to know. So that was like, you know, that was months earlier. So that day we had our dinner and stuff. And then we went back to her place and we’re sitting there. And I said, so my, I, I have something to tell you. And she said, what? And she, she got that look on her face. And I said, ah, it’s nothing bad. It’s it’s I just wanna, I wanna, I want to tell you something.
And she said, is this about your birth? And I said, yes. And she burst into tears and said, I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know. Hmm. So we sat there when my girlfriend and I, and let her cry for like, like five minutes. And then finally she started the conversation started going and she said, well, what did, what do you, what did you find out? And I said, well, you know, and I told her when I found out as much as she could handle in one setting and she took it and she cried about it. And then we kind of left it at that. And she changed the subject. And then a couple of days go by and I talked to her on the phone. I said, well, you know, how, how are you doing with all? And she said, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. And I think it’s, I’m very happy for you. And, um, you know, it’s just a lot for me to handle right now.
A little time would go by. And Michael and his mom would talk about his reunion in bite sized chunks, discussing things a little at a time, every once in a while, he asked her if she wanted to see a picture, but she said, no, thank you. A little while later, his mom came around
and then finally, one day she agreed to look at some pictures and she goes, Oh, okay. She said, I thought she would look older than that. And I said, she’s younger than you. And, uh, so that the, the pictures was a big step for her.
As his mother was getting adjusted to Michael’s reunion, he was preparing for a play. Loretta said she wanted to come down and see the show. So Michael thought it might be a good time for his birth mother to meet his adopted mother, anticipating his mother’s nervousness about his proposal. He asked her about the meeting first, because if she wasn’t comfortable, there was no reason to pursue the idea with Loretta to Michael’s surprise. His mother said yes.
So I still like called the letter. And I talked to her. I said, so how would you feel about meeting my mother when you come down? And she did, she got cold feet. She was the one that wanted to meet her to begin with. Then when she was finally faced with it, then she went, Oh, I didn’t know we were going to be doing that. I said, well, I just, I just thought of it. She said, she’d be open to it. She’s like, I don’t, I have to think about this. I said, Oh, no, I didn’t see that coming. Yeah. So luckily a couple of days went by and she thought about it. And she said, I, yes, I do want to do it. And so she agreed to it and we made the plan and then they met, Loretta had one request. She said, I’d like to spend some time alone with her, if I could with you not there. And I said, well, let me ask. And my mother said, yeah, that’s fine. So we went, we took her over, we introduced them. And then my girlfriend and I like went to Starbucks for an hour and they sat and had cake and coffee and they talked and they got along really well. Wow. Really well. It was kinda cool.
Did they did either one of them tell you about what they said?
Yes. They both. They both did. Uh, and, uh, it was just a lot of like talking about me growing up and talking about their own situations and just really just getting to know each other. Um, it was, it was, they’re very similar, which is kind of funny.
Loretta met Michael’s adopted father the next day. And Michael is hoping one day Bob will meet his parents too, but he doesn’t anticipate re-introducing Bob and Loretta, Michael lived one of those moments that some adoptees, not all long for when they’re in reunion. He said, when he talked about the parent introductions in Facebook, adoption groups, other adoptees couldn’t even fathom introducing their birth parents to their adopted parents. That’s partially because every adoption journey is just so very different. Michael said there was one more piece of his story. He was working on. Recall Michael is about 45% Irish, 19% Italian and 26% German. Loretta did her DNA. And she was definitely the source of Michael’s 19% Irish heritage, but she had no German heritage, which meant Michael’s German descent came from Bob. Bob shared that he grew up knowing his grandparents on both sides were Italian. So he asked Michael, he goes, did you do your ethnicity? And it’s funny. He always, he can’t pronounce the word ethnicity. It’s a funny joke with us. And this thing, he can’t say it sniff city.
So Bob decided to check into his DNA ethnicity because something didn’t seem quite right.
He said, you did it. Right. I said, yeah. He said, what was your percentage of Italian? I said, 19%. And he said, get outta here. I said, yeah. He goes, well, that doesn’t sound like a lot at all. His came back 45% Italian. And the rest was German. When I went to his house for the first time, just like with Loretta, he showed me pictures. He showed me and he’s an only child. He showed me pictures of his mother. And he’s very close with his mother. And he looks just like his mother. And therefore I look like his mother and then we’re looking at it and I said, who’s this? He goes, Oh, that’s my father. And I go, that’s your father. I’m thinking to myself, he looks nothing like his father. And then we’re looking at his DNA results. And he just like me has the same cousins.
They’re all on his mother’s side. No one, not one cousin or match on his father’s side, not one between, either one of us. So that day I’m driving home. I’m in the car with my girlfriend. I said, I don’t think Bob’s father is his father. I said, how come I don’t have any cousins on his father’s side? How come there’s no. And his father has a huge family that, you know, cause she said, well, maybe nobody tested. I said, there’s. I said, I’m finding people with his last name. I’m from his town on ancestry and I’m not related to them. So then I start thinking who, you know, what, what does all this mean?
Michael is really puzzled. So he decides to dig deeper. He returns to 23 and me where one of his closest genetic connections was with a second cousin. And it turned out to be a paternal match. That means Michael’s grandfather. And this 23 and me matches grandfather must be brothers. It also means that through the family tree, Michael and this person would have the same last name by way of Bob on ancestry. Michael finds a family tree with the man’s name in it.
I found him, I found his grandfather and his grandfather had two brothers. And I look at one of the brothers. I traced down, look at his records on ancestry. This guy was born in Ohio, died in Georgia. I said, okay, how do I connect this guy to New Jersey? And I found him in 1947, the year my father was born living two towns away from where my father was born.
Wow. That puts him almost on the scene. Doesn’t it. Right.
I go onto Facebook and I find this guy, who’s now deceased. This guy’s children who are now in their seventies, on Facebook. And they all look exactly like my father and me. Wow. I have told him. Yes, of course. He’s his reaction was really, that seems a little weird. Uh, but again, I told you he’s open-minded so he said, well, you’ve given me a lot to think about. He goes, I guess there’s really no way to prove it. Cause my mother’s no longer alive. And I said, well, there is a way to prove it there’s DNA. I said, if I could find the one of these people who is your half siblings and convinced them to do a DNA test, we could probably find out pretty definitively if they’re your siblings. Um, so sure enough, I contacted one of them on Facebook and I, he responded and I spoke with him on the phone and I told him the story and I showed him the pictures and he’s now ordered his ancestry kit and we’re waiting on his results, man. That’s so cool. That must be crazy though, for your father. It is, it is. But he’s being really cool about it. And so is this guy, this, his name’s Ed, who would be my half uncle. He’s being really cool about it too. That’s really great. And so the story continues.
Wow, Michael, I wish you luck, man. This sounds really crazy. But how exciting that you were able to find these elements of your biological father’s existence that he didn’t even know about. And I mean, Yeah, It must be fascinating too, because you, your own existence introduced him to the possibility that there are other family structures out there at other ways that children have come into the world and then you brought him the news that he actually may be a product of the very same thing. Yup. That’s amazing.
And I told him, I cause his reaction was, you know, my father, you know, the man who raised him, he said, my father, you know, he was a very loving man and he was a good father. And I said, he’s still your father, no matter what happens, he still your father. Yeah. I said, my adoptive father is still, I still call him dad, you know, just because I have a relationship with you doesn’t mean he’s not a father. Right. And he gets, he goes, yeah, you’re right. And he gets that, you know, I think that really helped open. It, opened his mind up to you. He said, you know, the, the, his exact words were, you know, that let’s go down the rabbit hole together and see where it leads.
Oh, that’s so awesome. Wow. Really cool. Well, Michael, I’m so happy for you. This sounds like such an amazing experience. I mean, I’m thinking back on how sensitive you try to be to your mom and protecting her from this whole thing. And then, you know, sort of feeding her the bite sized chunks as they, as she was able to sort of swallow them was really, really thoughtful, but how cool that you were able to go back and, you know, figure out your own DNA matches and then get these results and ultimately find these half siblings who were able to say, yeah, I know where he is. Your father is right over here. Absolutely. It makes me feel like maybe I shouldn’t be one of these DNA detectives or something. Cause I’m getting pretty good at it. Yeah. You, you should certainly start spending some of your time to be in a search angel.
I interviewed a search angel recently and you know, the work is so meaningful to other adoptees like you and me, that it’s a, and if you enjoy it and you’ve gotten good at it, man, you may as well put your skills to good use. Absolutely. Wow. That’s really cool. Michael, thanks so much for sharing your story, man. I really appreciate it. Yeah. All the best. I’m looking forward to hearing your I’m going to download your podcasts and start listening to them. And that sounds awesome. I look forward to it too, to hear more of your stories. Yeah. They’re amazing. They’re amazing. I mean, they, they’re not all, they’re not all happy and cheerful, but they are all very real. And I think that that’s really important and that’s why I do this. I think it’s great what you’re doing and, and I’m glad you’re doing it. Cool, man. Thanks for your time. Take care of all the best to you. Alright. Take care. Alright. Bye bye.
Hey, it’s me. Michael was very fortunate to find both of his parents that his adopted mother eventually got comfortable with his search and that his parents wanted to meet each other. There’s a real irony to his story of presenting himself to Bob, then turning around and helping Bob confirm who his own birth father was. Bob clearly learned a lot from meeting yet. Another of his sons, I checked in with Michael to see if he had heard anything from his brother whom he and Loretta are searching for. And if he learned anything from Bob’s DNA testing and his email reply, he said that unfortunately they haven’t heard from his brother yet, but they’re still waiting and hoping reading from his email. Michael also shared this update. I think I told you about my suspicions about my birth father’s father not being his father. Well, the man Ed, who I suspected to be my father’s half-brother tested with ancestry and matched as a quote close family member.
So that seemed to confirm my theory, but there’s a twist Ed’s father was an identical twin and since identical twins have identical DNA, there’s no way to know for certain which twin is my grandfather. My birth father is not taking this well. He was very close with his mother and is upset that she seems to have taken this secret to the grave. And he’s not yet ready to accept it, but Ed accepts him as a brother. Hopefully Bob will come around soon after all. He was very accepting of me. Only time will tell. I’m Damon Davis. And I hope you’ll find something in Michael’s journey that inspires you, validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn who am I really, if you would like to share your 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/wai really, or follow me on Twitter at WaiReally? You can subscribe to who am I really on? Apple podcasts, Google play, or wherever you get your podcasts. And please, while you’re there, take a moment to share a rating or leave a comment. Those ratings can help others find the show too.