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060 – Its Like Ripping The Wounds Off Over And Over

Alisa describes her life as the child of Latvian refugees who escaped the brutality and destruction of World War II. They raised Alisa in the ways of their heritage and while she identifies with her community and her upbringing, she admits she struggled with being an imposter. In reunion, her birth parents had an odd request for her that I’ve never heard before, and that she wasn’t comfortable fulfilling. Over time she began to feel like a disappointment to them. Thankfully, in the middle of it all, Alisa was able to express her love and gratitude to her adopted father before losing him suddenly.

Read Full TranscriptAlisa:                           00:05               I told him before he died and I didn’t know he was gonna die. Said, you are the only dad has ever had. You’re my dad I loved him and I really am glad I said that because he died of a sudden heart attack about a month later. I was really, really fortunate that I was able to say that you did make me rethink, you know, the importance of letting people know how much you care about them. She never know what will be your last chance.

Voices:                        00:35               Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

Damon:                       00:47               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 Alisa. She spoke with me from Lincoln, Nebraska. Alisa described her life as the child of refugees from the brutality and destruction of World War II. They raised Alisa in the ways of their heritage and while she identifies with their community and her upbringing, she admits she struggled with being an imposter in reunion her birthparents had an odd request for her that I’ve never heard before and that she wasn’t comfortable fulfilling. Over time, she began to feel like a disappointment to them. Thankfully in the middle of it all, Alisa was able to express her love and gratitude to her adopted father before losing him. Suddenly, this is Alisa’s journey. Alisa was adopted by Latvian parents lot via is a small country on the Baltic Sea, opposite of the famously neutral country of Sweden and west of the notorious Russia in the 1940s Latvia by force under Soviet control and hundreds of thousands of people fled to other countries. Alisa’s parents among them.

Alisa:                           02:08               They flooded in different ways. And then she wound up in the camps in Germany, um, shortly after that until it was freed and they came over in 1950 on the other hand, was quite wealthy after he watched his dad’s twin brother get shot down by Russians right in front of him. They buried all their silver, like most Latvians did, hoping that they would turn back some day and ran and they sold watches off to their bodies, did whatever they could work, odd jobs throughout different places in Europe and until they wound up in the camps for the last year before it was freed.

Damon:                       02:50               Oh my gosh. What a hard way to start life.

Alisa:                           02:54               Yeah, so I don’t fault them for everything they could have done better but

Damon:                       03:00               yeah, yeah.

Alisa:                           03:01               They didn’t have an easy start either. So that being said, being adopted by them and being raised in a Latvian community with a fairly large Latvian community I always kind of felt like an outsider and like a fraud because my first language was Latvian.

Damon:                       03:17               You felt like a fraud community or in the United States speaking Latvian.

Alisa:                           03:23               That’s an interesting question because it kind of has multiple levels as far as that goes because it’s strange anyway. Being a refugee, you never quite fit in. I mean, that’s what’s been so interesting with my, my adoptive parents as I understand that some of what they feel and what they felt in their lives being my dad when he died, he was the last living relative and his family, they were all pretty much killed during World War II. His parents made it over here with them, but they died before I was born. So, you know, the, my dad and I definitely had a close relationship because he understood some of what I was going through and I understood sort of, you know, what he was going through that, um, as far as being a fraud in the community. Yeah. When you’re hanging out with growing up with all these kids that are all fluent in Latvian and doing all the Latvian summer camps and their families are all just. They’re all happy families. And I not only work, not Latvian, even though I was raised Latvian, I also hadn’t talked to her brother who was a handful and he was also adopted and had alcohol, fetal alcohol syndrome, and he was very violent and caused a lot of problems. So we kind of stuck out like a sore from for, you know, for a number of reasons.

Damon:                       04:49               Yeah, because it sounds like what you’re saying is he was troublesome both in the household and in the community and therefore your family took out because of his behavior.

Alisa:                           04:59               We actually stopped going to social things because of some comments that have been made about my brother and made my mom uncomfortable so she didn’t want to go anymore. So we’re kind of removed from it later on when I was maybe around 10. So I was already being withdrawn out of a community that I thought was mine that even so still is somewhat of a fraud in just so many layers on top of layers of different levels.

Damon:                       05:26               So at 10 years old, Alisa’s family began to withdraw from the tight knit community because of the comments and perceptions of her adopted brothers behavior. I asked Alisa about how she identified with the Latvian culture as an adoptee because there was a good chance that wasn’t her actual heritage. She said she still identifies as Latvian to this day, engaging in online communities wearing traditional jewelry and buying the folk art. She grew up in the Lutheran church, which adds a layer of complexity to her journey because she married a Jewish man

Alisa:                           06:00               That sort of further distance from the church, I think in some ways. Yeah, I can imagine both my kids Jewish, so let’s just see how many ways we can isolate onseself. I just thought about this. You know, I’m an adopted kid in Lincoln, Nebraska, adopted by two Latvian refugees. who’s decided to raise my kids Jewish and also be vegetarian.

Damon:                       06:26               Yeah.

Alisa:                           06:27               How many ways can we just make this complicated? I didn’t intend to do any of this

Damon:                       06:32               for whatever reason. I was a little curious about how elise has also decided to be a vegetarian growing up in the Midwest She’s seen the treatment of the animals and finds the slaughterhouses disgusting. She be called a time when she was a teenager when her mother made a steak for dinner, Alisa cut into the meat, blood squirted out, and that sealed it for her vegetarianism from then on with some occasional pescatarian meals from time to time. I also wondered how Alisa’s parents made her feel comfortable and adoption, especially in light of her brother’s behavior as brought on by fetal alcohol syndrome. She said they didn’t talk about adoption much at all. As a matter of fact, her brother was so challenging for her parents. He drew their attention away from Alisa, leaving her to fend for herself. She remembers a story of her brother’s abuse when she was about seven years old

Alisa:                           07:24               In most ways. I raised myself because they were so consumed and busy dealing with my brother who’s three years older than me. They thought I was able to take care of myself, so I pretty much did quite often to be honest, and when he would physically hurt me or something, they would go after him and knowing what he would even checkt to see, how I was, and I don’t think it was really an. It wasn’t an intentional. I didn’t know it was upset or being mean to me. They were more worried about his issues than mine.

Damon:                       07:58               Wow, that’s fascinating. So how would he hurt you?

Alisa:                           08:02               Oh, like um One example, he threw a big metal truck at one of those big trucks or whatever they are, those big metal bulldozers are some things you had in the sandbox. They were metal and big and heavy and he went it at my back and of course I screamed really loud and my mom ran out to see what was happening and she ripped my shirt off and tells me to lay on the picnic table and runs in and I hear yelling at my brother and no one ever came back out to see what I was doing and laying on the picnic table going, oh, finally I just got up off the picnic table and I’m wearing nothing but a great, And went up to my room and it was never talked about a do.

Damon:                       08:46               Were they loving parents? Were they caring parents?

Alisa:                           08:49               I think, um, I think that they did their best. I think they really tried. I know my mom wanted a big family. She wanted everything to be okay and block out before, living in the camp for seven years and that’s where she grew up. My Dad on the other hand was very busy photo journalist traveling and when he was there, he was there. He and I had a great relationship, but he didn’t do a whole lot to raise me.

Damon:                       09:14               Alisa was one of those kids who read voraciously. She zipped through two books a day sometimes staying up after her bedtime with her flashlight in a book under her covers. She said she was probably considered a strange kid because she was trying to transcribe hieroglyphics, reading about witchcraft and constantly searching for all kinds of information and she thinks that early thirst for knowledge about other people’s ways of living may have been her first search for her own identity. As she got older, her mind ran wild about who her birth mother could be fearing some of the possibilities of being conceived from a violent act or other unhappy scenarios. When Alisa began her search, she had a lead on where to start accumulating information.

Alisa:                           09:58               I kind of had an edge in some ways because my go father handled the adoption and finally one day I went over there and it was. It was odd because I didn’t go visit him all the time, especially not by myself. We always went over as a family to hang out with them and one day I just said I want to come over, I need to talk to you about some things. And I think he already had it all figured out what I wanted to talk about. So I asked him some questions. He was, he was an attorney. He’s deceased now, so I’m not too worried about defaming him in any way. He didn’t tell me anything because he just can’t. As a lawyer, he just can’t really say anything. But he did say, you know, um, I have to think about this. I’m gonna I need to run to the kitchen real quick, I’ll be back. And I was like, that’s odd. Okay, that’s really odd. So he got up to do what he needed to do and I got up and I saw all my paperwork sitting on his desk.

Damon:                       10:54               Wow. Really?

Alisa:                           10:57               And I saw some names, nothing I could really figure out other than a figure it out the maiden name, which was a really odd name. It’s very odd and you know, and I’m, I’m, I’m used to different ethnic names, you know, this one to me seemed really odd. It was just spelled weird and it was one syllable and so it stuck with me, but I was like, is that them, could that be them? Was that my mom,

Damon:                       11:25               Alisa’s Godfather, cleverly realized he couldn’t disclose any information about her adoption to her, but if she happened to see some important papers sitting out on his desk, she might learn something. When her godfather returned to his home office, he and Alisa talked a little more then she left. Her curiosity fully sparked. She started researching that unique one syllable, last name and she found some contact information

Alisa:                           11:51               …And I found a phone number and a friend of mine who took it upon herself decided to try one of the numbers I had, isolated it down to an Omaha and called them. And I was so livid. I did not want her to call them at all. It was not ready. It’s not what I wanted. She called them and tried to act like she was a high school classmate of my birth mom and wanted to know where she was. They gave her the number.

Damon:                       12:20               She took it upon herself to call someone that you identified as a possibility.

Alisa:                           12:27               Without my knowledge. This is the home of my biological grandfather who was her dad, who was responsible for making sure I was given up. It never talked about again,

Damon:                       12:40               So Alisas’s friend, going rogue on the outreach plans, actually let her straight to the person responsible for her adoption as is sometimes the case with adoptees, searches Alisa struggled with being prepared for things to move so quickly and what this new development might do to her connection to her adopted family. She was super nervous to make the call. Alisa worried that she would throw up or pass out before this huge call to this woman she wasn’t even positive, was her birth mother. It took Alisa a long time to dial the phone number to her birth, mother’s home,

Alisa:                           13:13               …So and it left me feeling really freaked out because I had a strong sense of guilt and loyalty to family that adopted me and also, not sure what to do with that information. What was I going to find out? I sat on it for maybe a few months and then I finally called them up and they were very excited. It turned out being both my biological parents married together.

Damon:                       13:45               They married each other.

Alisa:                           13:47               They married each other and turned out they were 16 when she was 15 when she got pregnant with me. Had to go through the whole. I was thinking of the last generation where women were sent away, so she actually that sent to a home and my birth dad would go visit her everyday and they would play cards and all this trying to figure out what to do and her dad wanted nothing to do with any of it. Wanted me gone and raced and his dad really wanted to keep me that they had no rights because you know, my birth dad was a minor, so one of those horrible situations and then it gets even stranger because it turns out I have three full siblings that they had after, long time after. Yeah. There’s a 13 year gap between me and the next kid. They had.

Damon:                       14:47               Wow. So pause for a second just and go back. So how did you discover that they were married to each other? You’ve, you, you paused at the, you skipped over a part. So you sat on the phone number for quite a while, a couple of months, and then what happened?

Alisa:                           15:03               I didn’t know, until I called him was really overwhelming frankly because they really, really wanted me to be a part of their family at that time and they wanted me to leave school. They lived in South Dakota at this time in Sioux falls and we want to leave college and move in with them. You know, their kids were young. We had no concept. I was a grown person and I was in college. I was working 30 hours a week putting myself through school. I’m not going to quit everything to go suddenly move in with a family. I don’t know, it’s just the whole thing was seemed really weird to me.

Damon:                       15:43               That’s a little strange

Alisa:                           15:45               and I hadn’t even met them yet at that point.

Damon:                       15:47               Lisa said her birth parents spilled all the beans in that first phone call in the following months. The couple sat down with their younger children who are 13 years Alisa’s junior to explain. They had an older sibling in 1991 Alisa was doing environmental work out west and she was driving back to Nebraska with a friend on a phone call with her parents before the trip her birth parents told her that they would be at an rv park. That was a long her return route home.

Alisa:                           16:17               This is beautiful. I A folks wagon bus at the time and it was with an old hippie friend of mine. He was a good 30 years older than me. Had gray hair down to his butt and I pulled her to meet them. They were in an Rv camp in the black hills and when they met met me was like, oh my God, you’re not dating him or you know, and I’m like no, no, God. And they thought I was from, you know, Mars, because they were complete typical midwestern white. I was not what they were expecting I don’t think. I’m a little more on the liberal spectrum and you know, doing things for the environment and everything is a little too out there for them. I think, and not to mention I didn’t eat meat, I didn’t even tell them that I didn’t eat meat. They handed me a hamburger, I ate it and I true it up behind the RV and went back and acted like nothing had happened.

Damon:                       17:14               Are you serious?

Alisa:                           17:15               Since I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to do. I was so nervous.

Damon:                       17:20               Imagine Alisa is a vegetarian, is crazy nervous about meeting her birth parents and they handed her a fistful of red meat. No wonder it didn’t stay down. It all made for an awkward first meeting. Alisa made it clear that she had no plans to move in with her birth family, but she still tried to link up with her birth parents when she could. She said they would visit her in Lincoln, Nebraska, and she got to spend some time with her paternal grandparents whom she grew very fond of. Alisa’s paternal grandfather never wanted her to be placed for adoption. And he told her a story of meeting her again another day.

Alisa:                           17:57               His, um, his dad, my grandpa’s still alive, but he never wanted me to be gone. In fact, this is a crazy story. He told me at one point he ran into me and my mom at the mall when I was a little girl, a memory, like a steel trap. He was positive. That was me because he remembered because he sat there in the hospital waiting to see who picked me up when I was being adopted and I was premature, I weighed like four pounds, four pounds, three ounces, so I had to stay there for a little while. So he was there everyday just watching. So he saw my mom take me and my mom actually confirmed this because she remembers that day and we only talked about it once and she was so freaked out and I remember it vaguely that we didn’t go back to the mall for a long time because he tried to talk to her and she took off with me and that was that, sorta broke his heart a little bit.

Damon:                       18:57               Oh my gosh, that’s so crazy. So he recognized your mom who had picked you up on the day you were adopted and he tried to introduce himself

Alisa:                           19:07               And I looked like all the other kids at that point, dark skin with super blonde, straight hair. And just looked like the rest of them. I’ll look at that point when they were little,

Damon:                       19:20               you know, many times adoptees don’t want much from their birth parents. In some cases it’s just a desire for the most basic connection we want to know about our birth parents lives and we hope they’re curious about how we’ve been during the decades since they last saw us, but that wasn’t the case for Alisa’s birth parents.

Alisa:                           19:41               The strangest thing about my birth parents is that they wanted me to move in and everything, but they didn’t want to know anything about me. They didn’t want to know anything about my adoptive family. They didn’t want to know really anything. They just wanted me to be a part of the family and and not say or do anything.

Damon:                       20:01               That is kind of strange. Why do you think that was?

Alisa:                           20:05               I don’t know if maybe it was guilt on their part and not wanting to acknowledge and I think maybe there’s just some denial. Some people just aren’t able to express themselves very well and some other people in the family have trouble really talking about genuine feelings. We keep things on the surface, it’s sort of a trait amongst some of them and I think, um, my my birth momwas very much that way. I never had a real conversation with her before she died. I mean, it was ridiculous. I would call her up and she would say, Oh, yes I’m having ladies over. We’re going to have a leg shaving party. And what was I supposed to say to that?

Damon:                       20:46               It’s really superficial,

Alisa:                           20:48               uncomfortable conversation. I just never really got to know her. Oh, it was a real disappointment.

Damon:                       20:55               It sounded like the paternal grandparents connection was fulfilling for Alisa, but keep in mind it was her maternal grandfather who orchestrated her adoption. I asked how things went with her maternal grandparents connection.

Alisa:                           21:08               Oh, this is fun. So the one time that I met my maternal grandfather who want to be erased from history was was at my paternal grandparents anniversary. I showed up for the anniversary party. I was still in college. I was dating a Pakistani guy at the time. So I showed up at the reunion with the only dark skinned person in the room, like, seriously, people grow up. I’m sorry. They all looked at me and when my maternal grandfather recognized who I was, he stormed out of there. That was it. The only time I ever saw him, he looked me in the eye once, looked Very angry and that was it

Damon:                       21:54               really. Did he know you were coming?

Alisa:                           21:58               I don’t know. I don’t know the whole backstory on it. They might not have told him. I also, at one point, years later when I got to know my siblings after they were grownups, because we had a good 10 year break when we weren’t speaking, so I went to a reunion that my maternal grandmother had invited me to. Even though I only met her a few times. It was just a family reunion at a park picnic thing. I showed up at this thing. I didn’t realize no one knew about me because I had already been floating around in their psyche for the last 15 years or something at this point and I showed up and they asked who I was and I told them and even my uncle who had been trying to make contact with who keeps saying he’ll call me back and never does. It’s my bio mom’s brother. He told me he thought when his sister left, um, that she was going down to Texas to take care of someone who had had a baby and he had also heard a story that maybe they had sent her to Bible camp.

Damon:                       23:03               They had been all fed false narratives that were never corrected after your birth.

Alisa:                           23:09               Yup. I think one sister knew, I think, and it was a sister who also had given someone up, so there’s someone else floating out there. I don’t know who’s ever found her.

Damon:                       23:18               In the years since her initial reunion, Alisa has meant many biological relatives online through DNA testing. She said that an entire generation of biological cousins have identified themselves and at least 10 of them were also placed for adoption.

Alisa:                           23:34               I thought most of it was from my, my paternal grandpa had other siblings, so a lot of them are from that, but then there’s also a couple that coming up through the maternal side too as well, and we’ve been piecing all that together. I actually speak to three of them on a regular basis, just like family now and I’ve joked with all of them, you know, at this point we could start her family. We got enough adoptees.

Damon:                       23:59               Right.

Alisa:                           24:00               We’re actually all related.

Damon:                       24:04               Wow, that is really crazy, but you’re right. It does sort of put you in a bit of a kinship with each other that you are all adoptees, but in the same family, fascinating. Alisa was in reunion for about eight years when she decided she needed a break from her biological family. She had a three year old daughter. Her husband was a traveling musician and she had to keep up with the band and there was pressure to travel to see family members all over the country.

Alisa:                           24:31               Part of it too. I wonder if I was still trying to figure out who I was. It was all just too much and I felt like that family, my biological family, that I couldn’t give them and I had nothing in common with them and I felt like I did nothing but let them down so I wasn’t getting along very well with my birth father at this point anyway, well my birth mother never talked to me. I never even in a room alone with her. Who knows? I mean, I don’t really understand what happened with them. They talked about behind closed doors. (laughs)

Damon:                       25:07               Why weren’t you getting along with your, your birth father?

Alisa:                           25:09               I disappointed him. He wanted me to move in with him. I think, it turned out I didn’t really have a whole lot in common with them.

Damon:                       25:16               Did that request persist for the 10 years that y’all were in contact?

Alisa:                           25:20               Not really. They sort of gave up because I wound up running off to Los Angeles and getting married and having my first kid, they did come to my wedding. I flew back to Lincoln to get married here in Lincoln and they did show up. I didn’t know what to say or do. The whole thing felt so awkward because we were having it at the Latvian church with also the Jewish stuff taking place in the middle of it all and it just felt really overwhelming to add the third culture, which is my biological family wedding.

New Speaker:              25:57               Yeh that sounds really heavy. You’ve got a wedding Which is stressful unto itself, in your Latvian church and you’re pregnant and you marrying a Jewish guy and you’re bringing your South Dakota Biological Caucasian family into that mix. Man…You are one for layering complexity onto situations, Arent you? I know I’m kidding with you, but wow, that’s really unbelievable. That must’ve been so awkward.

Alisa:                           26:35               It was and I felt terrible because they were there. I see them in the pictures. I have pictures of them at my wedding. I didn’t talk to him a whole lot. They didn’t fit in, you know, they just didn’t look like the rest of us. It just didn’t fit in and they looked like they stuck out like a sore thumb. They didn’t look like me, which is funny because we have genetic traits that looks similar that their. Their sense of style, their demeanor, everything. Nothing fit. Who I was or who the community I surrounded myself was. This is really awkward and I also felt a tremendous amount of guilt. I didn’t want to ruin my wedding day for my mom or my dad or making anyone in my my husband’s family uncomfortable and I and my mom was very, very mad at me for a long time for looking at all and when they found them, she was just mortified that I would turn it into something bigger, like all those shows. You see it oprah, where everyone’s so happy they’re reuniting and I was going to do that to her and it turned out I didn’t do that to her, but I just felt a huge amount of guilt.

Damon:                       27:43               Overtime Alisa divorced from her husband and raised their two children by herself. When Alisa finally broke from her birth family in 2002, she didn’t know whom best to communicate her wishes to. She and her mother never had substantive conversations and she and her father weren’t getting along anymore. Anyway,

Alisa:                           28:01               I sent a letter to my birth grandpa because I didn’t know who else to write it too. I just said, I can’t do this anymore. I feel too much pressure. I don’t know how to keep all these different balls rolling and I don’t want to lose you guys, but I don’t know how to not have contact with my birth dad without losing all of you. It was just awful because they knew I was crushing them, knew it was hurtful to them. I just didn’t know what else to do. So, um, I, I caused the first break.

Damon:                       28:32               Did he respond?

Alisa:                           28:34               He called me and I talked to him. It was both cried and then he respected, respected my wishes and I thought about him and I missed him all through the years, but it’s still, it just didn’t know what to do. And I let it go.

Damon:                       28:48               The last time Alisa spoke with her birth father was in 2002 the morning of her birth mother’s funeral.

Alisa:                           28:55               Oh my God. The last time I spoke to him, you’re going to thingk I’m a terrible person, but it’s a long complex deal is I just go to him. That morning of the funeral, he called me and I didn’t know what to say. I just didn’t know what to say and I already knew I was nothing but a source of disappointment for him and that’s when I wrote the letter. I just couldn’t do it anymore and the person I had wanted to make a connection was what was my birth mom and she was gone. So that was never going to happen. I didn’t know. I don’t know.

Damon:                       29:29               Let me ask you, you’ve said more than once that you felt you were a disappointment to him. In what way?

Alisa:                           29:37               First off, I didn’t move in with them. Second of all, like I didn’t quite get where they were all coming from culturally with their whole culture is so different from mine. We didn’t match with mesh at all. They didn’t understand the culture that I had grown up in. Something about me is just, I don’t know exactly what it is, is I haven’t quite figured out. You know, you go through your whole life, maybe figure out half the things at some point. I think there’s somethings you just never figured out.

Damon:                       30:12               Yes, that’s right. That’s right.

Alisa:                           30:16               The feelings I do, but I felt I felt guilt I think because I couldn’t. Maybe I could get along with her, my birth mom and we just had nothing in common. Maybe I felt guilt because I had nothing in common with him and he wanted so badly to have a relationship with me that he got angry and distant with me and he told me at one point that he saw me as nothing more than a distant relative.

Damon:                       30:42               Wow. How did you take that?

Alisa:                           30:45               It really, really hurt. Really, really hurt.

Damon:                       30:50               Two years before her birth mother passed away, her adopted father died. Suddenly. Luckily she shared her warm, heartfelt sentiments about his place in her life.

Alisa:                           31:01               I told him before he died, I didn’t know he was going to die. You are the only dad I’ve ever had and that I loved him and I really am glad I said that because he died of a sudden heart attack about a month later. I was really, really fortunate that I was able to say that to him and it did make me rethink, you know, the importance of letting people know how much you care about them because you never know what will be your last chance.

Damon:                       31:26               When I asked Lisa about her adopted parents as it related to her search, she said they weren’t part of it at all. They didn’t talk about it much, but her father was somewhat supportive.

Alisa:                           31:37               My mom was very angry with me up until recently. I think she. She was very, very hurt by it. Maybe a little more insecurities and had always dreamed of having a big family and it didn’t quite work out the way she wanted until she ended up getting divorced and adopting two kids. One of them who was a handful for her life didn’t quite turn out how she had hoped.

Damon:                       32:00               Interesting. So your, your adopted mom, she adopted you and your brother with your father when they were married and then she got a divorce and then after that she’s left to deal with your brother, try to raise you and have now in the future gone and sought what she believes is another mother.

Alisa:                           32:23               just horrible. Like yeah, she thought I would just abandoned her and leave her.

Damon:                       32:28               MMM hmm.

Alisa:                           32:29               I think she’s also seen, that I never did that and I’m still here and she has Parkinson’s now and I try to help her. However way I can. You know,

Damon:                       32:38               Alisa’s, mother ailing, has Parkinson’s disease and is still dealing with her brother today. As we talked, I reflected on all that Alisa has been through, so I asked if she would do it all again. I don’t know. I. I still think I’d rather live in the truth and know exactly what the truth is rather than not have thought that at the same time the pain involved with it is just horrible. It’s like ripping the wounds off over and over again in some ways

Damon:                       33:12               going back to her last break from her paternal family. Alisa told me a little bit of the background leading up to the end before their relationships ended. Alisa felt like she had a pretty good relationship with her siblings. Their kids had visited her and she had taken her youngest daughter to visit them. They’ve taken trips to Mexico together and Alisa had been to Arizona to stay with her birth father and his new wife. She thinks that things unraveled after what she believes is a difference of opinions expressed online. On facebook, Alisa shared her views about the issue of minimum wages. Then her biological sister chimed in with an opposing opinion. Alisa’s friends attacked her biological sisters commentary. Then her brother jumped onto Alisa’s wall too in defense of his sister. Next thing you know, her sister had blocked Alisa on facebook. Her youngest sister who wasn’t part of the online debate also blocked her online and her biological brother unfriended her, which surprised her.

Damon:                       34:11               After 26 years of Reunion, they ended the relationships. She’s disappointed that no one even wanted to speak with her about the issues, but Alisa suspects there was more to their break then she initially realized she’s hopeful that one day someone will tell her the whole truth. It’s sad that families, no matter what, their structure is, end up divided over social, geopolitical, and economic issues. Reflecting. Alisa realizes that her siblings aren’t necessarily people she would have normally hung out with because they’re so different from her. She only got to know them because they are biologically related. We talked about the challenges of an adoptees return from the sibling’s point of view.

New Speaker:              34:53               There is a pressure that you feel and there’s a pressure that they feel to accept you, welcome you in, try to get to know you and stuff too. And I wonder if we sometimes underestimate, we feel the pressure because we feel like we’ve been gone and we want to come back, et Cetera, et cetera. But uh, I don’t know how many folks actually think about the pressure that it puts on siblings when and adoptee returns. And that’s worth considering.

Alisa:                           35:24               I wonder sometimes if my sister who made me break without, with the rest of them, hated the fact that she was no longer the oldest.

Damon:                       35:32               Ah, yeah.

Alisa:                           35:35               Once again, very different lives. She doesn’t moving over difference. I don’t really know. And here I feel bad. I’m making a judgment, but I’ve been trying to think what the heck, you know, I always kind of tried to offer advice and listen and try to understand that she’s coming from what she knows and her perspective was really strange to my birth sister pretty regularly on the phone. And she would always tell me that she loved me and it always sounded so superficial.

Damon:                       36:06               Oh really, ‘I love youuuu’

Alisa:                           36:09               And of course, it took nothing for her to never talked to me again.

Damon:                       36:11               Yeah. Well maybe your gut feeling about it being superficial was right. Wow. Lisa. Well, I’m sorry for how things have turned out, especially because they soured, you know, electronically over opinions online. That’s just,

Alisa:                           36:27               Yeah, I never even got to say good bye to any of them.

Damon:                       36:27               that seems kinda ridiculous . I’m sorry. But, you know, it sounds like there were some good things that happened along the way. The fact that you got to tell your father that you love him before you know he passed is really amazing and the fact that you got to hear the story that your maternal grandfather saw you when you were a kid. Um, and wanted to try to get to know you in that moment. That was, that was pretty cool. Uh, and those are things that you want.

Alisa:                           36:58               Yes.

Damon:                       36:59               Yeah. Those are things that you never could have learned had you not gone on this journey despite how it has turned out. So

Alisa:                           37:09               No its… question have been answered and I still don’t know everything. And I also have realized over time that everyone’s perception is different. So it’s important to remember that what you see and think and feel is what you see and feel and not what someone else might see, think and feel in the same situation if your birth parent is feeling something totally different and if you’re not able to communicate, it’s not ever going to come to fruition and be understood in any way whatsoever.

Damon:                       37:39               Well, thank you so much Alisa, for calling. I appreciate you sharing your story.

Alisa:                           37:43               Yeah, thank you. I appreciate the chance it will give me some more time to reflect on everything that I’m dealing with too at the same time.

Damon:                       37:50               All right. Well Lisa, I wish you all the best. Thank you very much for sharing your story.

Alisa:                           37:56               You too. You take care

Damon:                       37:57               You do the same. Bye. Bye.

Speaker 2:                   38:03               Hey, it’s me. Alisa said that it was really strange for her that her birth mother would never be alone with her and never allowed more than a superficial connection between them. She said she could tell that even when they talked on the phone, her birth mother wasn’t alone in the room. During their conversations. I asked Alisa how she’s doing now managing everything that she’s been through. She said this last year has been really tough with almost daily ups and downs. She’s reviewing her life, fighting depression, and exploring the ways she can into healthy interpersonal relationships. Alisa’s making it day by day. I’m Damon Davis and I hope you’ll find something in Alisa’s journey that inspires you, validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn who am I really? If you would like to share your adoption journey and your attempt to connect with your biological family, please visit who am I really You can also choose to share your whole story, maintain some privacy about parts of your story, or share completely anonymously. You can find the show at or Find me on twitter @WAIReally And please, If you like the show, you can subscribe to it. Who am I really podcast on? Apple podcasts, Google play, stitcher. Tune in radio or wherever you get your podcasts and while you’re there, take a moment to share a rating or leave a comment. Those ratings can help others find the podcast too.


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