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090 – It’s Not Your Fault, I Made It Through

Lori was adopted after her biological mother lived with her adoptive parents, desperately trying to escape the tyranny of her abusive husband. The abuse her birth mother suffered would be a recurring theme in her own life when her mother’s drinking got worse. Lorie tells the story of growing up reminded of the privilege she lived with but wanting only to be herself, not keep up appearances for her mother. When she found her birth mother, she was able to share her own sons with their new grandmother, a woman who missed out Lori’s youth.

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Lori:                            00:00               He had actually moved her from the house and moved her into like an abandoned farm hill and she said there was no electricity, no running water. Um, it was her and my oldest brother, pretty much they had no food. She was severely malnourished when she was pregnant and to the point where he would take car parts out of the car, so she couldn’t go anywhere. She was pretty much abandoned in a foreign house and had nowhere to go. She couldn’t escape for the longest time.

Voices:                        00:35               Who am I? 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 Lori. She called me from Georgia before her move to Washington state. She was adopted after her biological mother lived with her adoptive parents, but that boarding situation was forced because of abuse, which was a recurring theme in Lori’s home, thereafter. She tells the story of growing up reminded of the privilege she lived with, but wanting only to be herself, not keep up appearances for her mother. When she found her birth mother, she was able to share her sons with the woman who had missed out on her youth years ago. This is Lori’s journey.

Damon:                       01:31               When I spoke to Lori from Georgia, she was planning to move their young family west to Washington following her husband’s career in the United States army. Lori’s five month old son was in the background so you might hear him from time to time. She told me that she was born and partially raised in central California where her parents and most of their family were from. She didn’t really know too many adopted kids in her area and adoption wasn’t spoken of in her home. She said she was one of four that her parents tried to adopt. Her oldest brother is five years older than herself. Lori was adopted at birth after her parents had fertility issues and even lost a child. Their parents tried to adopt another boy, but the adoption fell through and the boy went back to his biological family. Lori shared that she had good memories of her childhood with a tight knit family and grandparents who were great people. But when she was 10 her parents tried to adopt a brother and sister who would have been two middle children between Lori and her brother. But their adoptions didn’t work out either.

Lori:                            02:31               About that time when I was about 10 years old, I don’t know what necessarily happened or anything, but it was just stuff just went down hill. I know my oldest brother was kind of like a trouble maker. He, he did a lot of things kids shouldn’t do and I know he kind of reck havoc on my parents, but I don’t think it was necessarily because he was just like rebellious or anything. I just think that’s the only way he knew how to get attention and I know that took a toll on them, but they, that’s like around the time I remember they started drinking too and it was just, I dunno, it was like a big snowball effect. It just kind of went negative from that point on.

Damon:                       03:14               Lori admits that she may have been naive to the drinking when she was younger. She said that things seem to start out almost perfectly because she was really close to her dad, but the family dynamic did change when she was 10. Her parent’s drinking and the stress of her brother’s acting out took a toll and their home turned abusive. Lori’s brother was sent away to children’s homes, so he was inexplicably in and out of the house, which was really confusing for Lori. When she asked about her brother, her parents said he was at summer camp when Lori asked why she wasn’t in summer camp too, her mother changed the subject just like she always did. In their part of California, there were work camps where troubled youth were sent to pick crops as part of community service, so he went there for a while

Lori:                            03:59               so it was like he was in and out, in and out, and then he was gone and I wasn’t allowed to talk about it, wasn’t allowed to ask about it. My mom at that point started getting pretty abusive towards the rest of us. So it was literally like a switch went off. I’m not really sure how to explain it.

Damon:                       04:17               Lori remembers waiting for her brother to call home, but after awhile the calls stopped. When they went to visit her brother where he was boarded, her parents would drop off Lori at her grandparents house or when they did take Lori along, she was left in the boarding schools office, unable to see her brother.

Lori:                            04:34               So I went from being like the youngest sibling and then we got the other two from foster care and they fell kind of in between us and they were with us at that time. And a year after my brother left for good, my sister was sent back into foster care and then not even a year later, the um, younger brother was sent into foster care. So they were split up and then it was just me at that point.

Damon:                       05:00               Wow. So how was it then for just you, your mother and father have begun to drink? There’s a huge rift in the family. There’s all of this tumult. Children are coming in and out of the house and now it sounds like it’s just you and you three have moved overseas. How was it for you?

Lori:                            05:23               It was hard at that point cause before, quite honestly, um, I felt like my brother was like the center of attention and not, not necessarily good attention. Cause like I said, he got into trouble, only thing I did, I always sat back and watched, um, you know, kind of like, Ooh, I better not do that. Cause you know, I always had that fear that I’d get sent away too. But um, it started out like good for me. Like I was, I don’t know, I guess he always was getting mad at me because I was treated better. I was the good kid that could do no wrong and everything. And then once they all left, it was like, there was no one else for them to focus their attention to. And they, but I want to say mostly my mom, my dad started kind of separating himself like so he would either stay busy with work or kind of keep out in the garage at his workshop or stay busy building things or doing stuff. And it was just mainly at like at that point it was like my mom just, she had to, I don’t know, get out her anger, her stress or whatever out on me. Like I was being put under a microscope. All of a sudden

Damon:                       06:25               Lori was 14 as a young woman. Her self esteem was oscillating and her mother was overly critical of her appearance, tried to dissuade her from her interests, pushed her to be like other girls and generally torpedoed Lori’s self-esteem.

Lori:                            06:39               I felt like I had to try to prove myself to her and even more so for the fact that, well I might get sent away too and I don’t have anywhere to be sent to. So it was just kind of like the huge thing, like what do I need to do to stay here and what do I need to do to please her? Or, you know, make her proud, to make her happy. So I spent my teen years just trying to battle with that on a daily basis.

Damon:                       07:07               And May I ask, you know, she sounds like she put a lot of emphasis on your looks. Tell me a little bit about your look at the time. Do One, do you resemble her and your father at all? And two, were you, you know, sort of a tomboy in, uh, you know, sort of very, you know, more girly world. Tell me why she was, why you feel like she was so focused on your looks?

Lori:                            07:31               Well, to be completely honest, I didn’t look like anybody in the family. Um, and the only thing that we had in common was we had blonde hair and she had green eyes, I had blue. But other than that, like my dad was dark complected. Um, he had straight black hair, you know, and here I was just, and I was chubby too. So I’ve always been kind of a solid, study girl from the get go. And she’s a small, petite woman, so I towered over her. Um, and my dad wasn’t that tall either, so we looked completely like opposites, to be honest. And growing up, I was older and I’d reflect back on our pictures. I went like at one point my hair was curly and that’s the same time when my mom would go and perm her hair and then my hair went through this phase where it started turning brown and she would dye her hair brown and I don’t know if that she did that subconsciously or if she was always trying to make it look like I was hers.

Damon:                       08:29               Lori’s mother loved dresses and really girly stuff, but Lori found herself in jeans and a tee shirt out in the garage with her father and the boys. She was a big tomboy and loved sports, but that didn’t fit the family’s general over emphasis on image. Lori said that was a key difference in her personality from theirs. She’s not interested in striving to look perfect and she describes herself as the kind of person who appreciates people for who they are, not the image they project.

Lori:                            08:56               We’re completely polar opposites in every aspect and it has always been that way. At first I thought, well, maybe I’m trying to be a rebellious kid by trying not to be like her, but it’s like as I learned more about who I was, I’m like, no, that’s just totally been me.

Damon:                       09:10               Yeah. It’s funny when you reach that moment when you realize you need to stop battling against your true self. Right,

Lori:                            09:16               exactly.

Damon:                       09:17               Going back a bit, Lori found out by accident around four or five years old that she was adopted. She said she’s always been observant and inquisitive. So before she knew she was adopted, she detected how her family didn’t look alike, didn’t have the same interests or the same traits like what she witnessed in other families.

Lori:                            09:36               Just the dynamic of how they worked with each other. Like I almost could notice the bonds between other families and it was lacking in our house. And I remember I was watching TV with my brother and I don’t remember what show it was, but one of the kids made one of the jokes, oh well you’re adopted. Ha ha ha. And I didn’t know what that meant. And I was like, well what’s that mean? And my brother is like, well, you’re adopted. So am I. And my mom just kind of sat there like, oh my gosh. And so I asked her, I was like, what does adopted mean? And she explained to me what it meant and I was like, I’m adopted? And she’s like, you know, she hesitated and she finally just said, yeah, you’re adopted. And it’s kind of a blur. But I just remember the overall tone of it. When I started asking questions, she immediately shut them down and it was made really obvious that we shouldn’t talk about it. And I was upset. But at the same time, everything made sense. It kind of validated my observations and how I felt in the family. I’m like, cool. That that’s why. That makes complete sense.

Damon:                       10:46               When Lori got older, her persistence about her adoption would make her mother shut down if she asked too many questions. So she developed a tactic of asking questions here and there, bit by bit over a long time and even through reunion, Lori learned that her adopted mother actually took care of her biological mother when she was pregnant with Lori. When I asked Lori about what made her want to search for her birth mother, she said

Lori:                            11:11               I wanted to search from the day I found out. To be honest, it just, it’s one of those things that just kind of hangs around and especially when someone’s not really giving answers and it makes me feel like, well, there’s something, she’s keeping a secret and I need to know what that is. It’s just, it just hangs around. It doesn’t go away. And it’s like I wanted to know what, who I looked like, where I got all my features from, where I got my personality from. Um, because I was so different from the family, I always felt like, well, maybe there’s something wrong with me. And so finding that I looked like somebody or acted like somebody, I was like, there’s nothing wrong with me, you know, that’s just who I am. It’s part of me. So I always, I don’t know, it was always from the get go. I always wanted to know.

Damon:                       11:59               Gotcha. So when did you take action and what did you do?

Lori:                            12:02               Well, it was more so when I was a teenager, at that point. You know, I was dealing with my self image and not fitting in at home. Um, and it got to a point where, I don’t know if I was being rebellious, but it just got to a point where I’m like, I need to stand up for myself. I can’t, he, I was just going through all this and getting the hurtful words and everything being told by my mom, I just need answers and I need the truth and I deserve it. And I told her, I was like, look, I’m going to either find out on my own or you can be a part of this with me. I would like it if you’re a part of this and you’re honest so I can handle the truth. And she still refused.

Damon:                       12:38               When Lori was 21 her adopted father passed away from cancer. She started asking her adopted mother questions, but her mother minimized Lori’s interests and she wouldn’t answer her inquiries.

Lori:                            12:50               I kind of feel bad for this now, but one day she called me and she was completely drunk, completely drunk. And I was like, well, maybe I should ask her now. And I did ask her and I mean she told me everything. She told me first name, last name, she told me I had a brother, she had actually had a picture of my brother and I mean she just hit me everything and I just wrote it all down and from that point I was able to use that information with um, some background information I got from the search angel to match up who my mom was and I just took it from there and went,

Damon:                       13:29               wow. Can you just take me back for a minute and tell me a little bit about that guilt that you feel over getting the information while she was intoxicated?

Lori:                            13:38               Well, I felt like it was, I didn’t intentionally do it as like a, I don’t know, to play a game or to like get my way or anything. I don’t know. I just always have this kind of guilt, like I tricked her. I don’t know. She has this way to make me feel guilty about stuff. And it was just, I kind of feel like i tricked her because you know, a few days later when she was sober and I asked her, she again, she shut down, she wouldn’t talk about it. And I realized that that moment she didn’t realize that she had told me everything.

Damon:                       14:08               Hmm. Interesting. So did she not, she didn’t remember at all that you guys had had that discussion?

Lori:                            14:14               No.

Damon:                       14:15               That’s fascinating. You know, I can’t help but think of the image, you know, if there was a locked door in your house for years and you had to pass by it every day, every day, and you could never look inside and suddenly, like one day you walked by and the door was cracked open, you would look in, you know, and so I can understand why you might feel a little bit guilty for that. But I can also certainly understand why this was an opportunity for you to gain access to information that you probably never would have gotten any other way from her. So it’s a little bit of a catch 22 and I think that I and many other people out there can certainly empathize with your decision to sort of take advantage of a moment in time so I wouldn’t feel too badly about it.

Damon:                       15:03               It’s 2008 and Lori’s living in Georgia. Her search angel gave her a ton of information and it took quite awhile to dig through all of the documents. Amidst the information was a list of phone numbers, so she just started calling them all, but they were all disconnected. Lori didn’t want to send a letter in the mail for fear of revealing this personal journey to a stranger, possibly in her own family digging through the documents she learned she had a brother out there because one of the documents said that she was quote, possibly related to this other boy and then it showed her brothers unique first name. She turned to social media where she found a profile for him, but she hesitated to contact him. She didn’t know if he knew he had a sister. She continued to pursue her birth mother, searching for marriage records.

Lori:                            15:50               I saw a listing for who she was married to before I was born and I totally did not even think that that would be my dad because no one ever mentioned my biological father growing up. And on my non identifying information, it was listed that he was unknown. So I didn’t even think it was him. You know, I’ve heard of all these scenarios, whether it could have been an affair or she could, could’ve been raped. So I had no idea, but I found him on Facebook and so I reached out to him thinking that he might know where her last location was or he might have contact information or know a relative. And when I contacted him, he just like, he almost emailed right back and he was like, oh my God, you’re my daughter.

Damon:                       16:33               Wow.

Lori:                            16:33               Um, he’s like, I was, I was told you were dead.

Damon:                       16:36               Oh, what, how did that make you feel when you heard that?

Lori:                            16:43               It was kind of overwhelming. Because I’ve never mentally prepared myself for contacting my biological father. Like I thought it would eventually happen, but like I said, I’d never heard anything about him. I never found any information on him. So I was under the assumption that she didn’t know who he was and all of a sudden I’m like, oh, did I just opened up a large can of worms? Because at that point I still hadn’t known the circumstances and you know, he’s like, well, I was told you were dead. And in my mind I’m like, well, she must’ve told him that for a good reason. So I kind of tiptoed lightly into that. And I did get his side of it and I’ve learned that his side is very different from her side, but I know the truth. Now.

Damon:                       17:27               What was his side of the story?

Lori:                            17:28               He pretty much kind of, he tried to blame her on everything. Um, and point the finger, it’s gotten to the point, I don’t honestly talk to him anymore because he just dwells on it. And from what I know now is that he was an abusive alcoholic and he abused her severely and neglected her. And you know, he didn’t really open up about his side at all until I told him what I was told by others and he was like, well, I was an alcoholic. Oh, I’ll admit to that. But he’s like, I never hurt her. I never laid my hand on her, but in all the conversations that we’ve had his very manipulative and it’s just my instinct just tells me that he’s not so truthful. He just, he tried to take no ownership in it and that, not that I wanted him to necessarily, I just wanted my story. I’m like, look, if it’s good or bad, I don’t, I don’t care. I just want, you know, 100% honest facts. I’m not blaming you. I’m not trying to put you in bad light. I’m over that. I’d like to build a relationship with who you are now, but I just want to know my story. And he just, he just couldn’t do that. The last conversation I had with him, he was just like, well, your mother didn’t want you. And it’s her fault.

Damon:                       18:42               Wow. That’s hurtful. Wow.

Lori:                            18:44               Yeah. And it at that moment I was like, you know what, walk, I’m not going to talk to him right now.

Damon:                       18:51               Lori had gotten her birth mother’s name from her adopted mother during that intoxicated call years ago and her birth father confirmed the woman’s identity. He also informed her that she had two brothers and a sister on his side of the family, all of them from his marriage before the one to her birth mother. So they’re older than Lori. The paternal siblings are all in contact. They’ve welcomed Lori in and they’re getting to know one another and they actually have some memories of her biological mother. By 2011, she had figured out her biological mother wasn’t active on social media at all. So the only avenue she had to make contact was to break the seal and reach out to her half brother.

Lori:                            19:29               I messaged him and I pretty much said, hey, I, I didn’t want to reach out to you first because I don’t want to drop a bombshell in case you don’t know about me. Um, but I’m trying to reach, you know, my mom or our mom. Um, if you can give her my contact information and he messaged me that same day and he goes, yes, I know about you. I remember you. I will give her your phone number. But then the next day I had a phone call from her.

Damon:                       19:55               So how was that first call with her?

Lori:                            19:57               It was pretty good. I, I want to say it lasted like two or three hours to be honest. And I’m not really a phone person and neither is she. So it, it lasts a good while. Um, she, she definitely cried. Um, but she was glad I had found her.

Damon:                       20:15               Lori’s birth parents were married before her birth. By her birth mother’s account, her birth father was an abusive alcoholic with addiction problems.

Lori:                            20:24               He nearly killed me when she was pregnant with me by kicking her in the stomach.

Damon:                       20:30               Her birth mother nearly lost Lori. She said their marriage was on the rocks from the beginning, but she had hoped that conceiving a baby would help them smooth things over, but things got worse.

Lori:                            20:42               And at one point he had actually moved her from the house and moved her into like an abandoned farmhouse and she said there was no electricity, no running water. Um, it was her and my oldest brother and um, pretty much they had no food. She was severely malnourished when she was pregnant. And to the point where he would take car parts out of the car, so she couldn’t go anywhere. She was pretty much abandoned in a foreign house and had nowhere to go. She couldn’t escape for the longest time. At that point, that’s when she decided about adoption, if she could get away.

Damon:                       21:25               That’s unbelievable. So did she, did she reveal to you whether she had you in the farmhouse? Like, um, I’m, uh, can’t imagine that she was able to get to, you know, emergency services to get to the hospital.

Lori:                            21:38               when she nearly miscarried me, I was, I was born in September. Um, uh, the incident in july ,is around the 4th of July, is when she nearly miscarried me because he had kicked her in the stomach. Kicked her over a couch essentially. And at that point she was able to kind of reach out for some help. And shortly after that’s when she moved in with my adoptive parents. She saw an ad in the paper and reached out to them and they took her in.

Damon:                       22:09               Oh that’s so interesting. What was the ad in the paper for that? Your parents just need a roommate or?

Lori:                            22:17               no, they were trying to adopt a baby.

Damon:                       22:19               Oh, interesting. And she knew she was pregnant and was going to have a child. This was a perfect scenario for her to get rescued and for you to be adopted?

Lori:                            22:29               Correct.

Damon:                       22:30               Wow. Wow. so what did you think when you heard this story now? You heard your father’s version first.

Lori:                            22:38               again, it was like one of those moments where it kind of all made sense again. Like I never, even though I was confused as you know, young child about being adopted, um, I had a hard time understanding how a mom could give up a child cause I knew that had to be like one of the hardest things someone could do. So I never understood that part. And you know, growing up my, my family had money. You know, we had, we never had to go through difficult times, so I didn’t process the fact that someone could go through something difficult and that’s why they do it. So it was kind of like an eye opening experience for me, but I understood it. And even though like now I wish that the adoption didn’t happen. I don’t think it needed to have happened, but I understand that where she was coming from and how she may have felt that that was the only choice.

Damon:                       23:30               Yeah. It’s this, it’s this weird tension between feeling ultimate desperation for, you know, the down spiral of your life. I mean, she’s there in a farmhouse, abandoned, can’t leave malnourished, with your brother and she’s bringing another child into the world. I can certainly imagine how she would have come to the conclusion that things would be better for you and for her if she could break free. And if you could have the opportunity for a different life, I can understand. Um, I, I know, but I’m with you. I understand too, how you wish potentially that this adoption never happened given all that you experienced.

Lori:                            24:13               Oh Wow. Like I’ve never angry or resentful for that. I probably would have done the same thing if I was in the same shoes. I don’t blame any of that on her. And there’s no way for her to know that, you know, my outcome didn’t necessarily, it wasn’t necessarily positive.

Damon:                       24:31               I was so intrigued by the fact that Lori’s birth mother boarded with her adopted parents before she gave birth and transferred custody of her daughter to them. Lori said her birth mother actually maintained contact with them for many years after she gave birth.

Lori:                            24:45               She wrote letters and cards. I guess I never saw them. They got destroyed. I mean she’d make blankets and send them. Yeah.

Damon:                       24:53               And you never got them?

Lori:                            24:54               No. That was one of the questions I asked a lot was, you know, because I was a kid I wanted to know. Did she think about me? You know, cause I thought about her. I’m like, she had to have thought about me. Um, you know, especially on my birthday, holidays and stuff like that is always kind of sad for me on those days. And it’s just something I never told my family that I thought about. But that’s all I thought about on those days is like wondering what she’s doing. Wonder if she’s sad and knowing as a kid if I were to have those letters or cards or like the little things, I think it would have kind of eased my mind a little bit.

Damon:                       25:29               Yeah, right. Just that small bit of comfort and instead you were robbed of it because they took the evidence of her thinking of you and got rid of it. That’s, that’s really awful. Wow.

Lori:                            25:43               Yeah. And you know, and I understand and I understood too, you know, my adopted mom was scared of losing me and whatnot, but at the same time she told me that. But at the same time in my mind I think, well, if your’e so scared of losing me. Why don’t you treat me better? Cause when I was a teenager it actually did become physically abusive for me to the point where I’d have to call the cops and because I was overseas I couldn’t just run away. I couldn’t just leave the country.

Damon:                       26:12               Lori’s family was living abroad on a military base. She was trapped in abuse the same way that her birth mother had been before she was born. During those years, Lori’s adopted mother resorted to reminding her just how good she had it in her life. They lived in a nice house and Lori had braces on her teeth. Those braces were a frequent talking point for her mom to remind Lori of the privilege she lived with.

Lori:                            26:36               To me, it never mattered how nice the house was. I didn’t care if I had crooked teeth, you know, I wanted to be able to have a connection with somebody that loved me unconditionally and supported my goals and things like that and I didn’t get that with my family.

Damon:                       26:51               I wondered about Lori’s relationship with her biological mother. They haven’t met because money was tight and at the time of our interview they lived on opposite coasts, but they have a pretty close relationship with lots of texts and conversations.

Lori:                            27:04               We’ve had long conversations and it’s kind of strange to me. It’s just the last what, six years, seven years. I’m a lot closer to my biological mom than I’ve ever been with my adopted family.

Damon:                       27:17               Wow. That’s fascinating. Hmm. I’m glad to hear that though.

Lori:                            27:21               It just clicked. It just kind of clicked. So it was my siblings as well. I have met my half sister on my dad’s side, um, because she too her husband was stationed out. Um in South Carolina and funny story, when the hurricane came through and we had to evacuate, we went up to her place and that’s when I met her

Damon:                       27:42               is that right? Oh my goodness. That’s so crazy.

Lori:                            27:46               So, I got to meet her during a hurricane evacuation. The great thing about it to me is in my adoptive family, I was close to some people like my grandparents, but they all died when I was really young. So I pretty much just had my mom in my adopted family and coming in contact with my biological family. It’s like I’m having opportunity now to still have a grandmother, to have a great aunt, to have siblings, to have everything I’ve lost and, and not only that, but my kids are allowed to have memories with grandparents that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Damon:                       28:24               On the other hand, Lori;s relationship with her adoptive mother is rocky to use her words, Lori moved out of her home when she was 18 years old and was on her own, but she’s learned that she and her mother get along better when they don’t live together. Her mother was still overseas when Lori moved back to the United States and Lori continues to move around the country.

Lori:                            28:45               She was still overseas when I moved back to the states and I’ve moved kind of all over the states since then and you know, now she’s a few states away and I’ll go and visit every once in a while. I’m still a daughter. That’s despite the fact that, you know, she’s not exactly the nicest person at times and can be very hurtful. I’m still, you know, I promised myself that I won’t treat family that way. So as a promise to myself, I still, you know, I’m still a daughter. If she needs help I’ll go help her. Like when my dad died, I had moved across the country to go be with her and help her move and get settled into a new place and kind of grieve that and do all that. And then, you know, when she remarried and her second husband passed away, I went there, helped her with that because you know, I promised them we’re going to be that family member for other people. Just kind of turn something negative into something positive. So I just have to kind of keep our distance and not bring up my biological family at all. Like I live two different lives.

Damon:                       29:47               Yeah, it’s funny, Huh? Sometimes you have to separate the two in order to maintain basically everybody’s sanity. Your adopted mother’s and your own. Lori said that now at 31 she’s setting goals for herself and she feels blessed to have an awesome husband and kids. For Lori having children was really something that she waited for and that has proven to be an amazing component of reunion for her.

Lori:                            30:13               The crazy part about that was too is I was dealing with infertility before I came in contact with my biological family. And one of the things I always said was I wanted to wait to have kids until I found them cause you know, I wanted, you know, medical history and whatnot. Well shortly after I got that phone call from my biological mom, I found out I was pregnant like a month later, after trying for like six years. Yeah. So it was just kind of like perfect timing and you know, we’ve bonded a lot through that too. She, she made blankets and baby clothes and she’s been able to, you know, get pictures of her grandkids and do all that stuff. So

Damon:                       30:56               that’s so interesting. You know, that’s a, feels like it’s in some ways come full circle the things that she tried to bestow upon you in your family when you were growing up. She now gets to do for your child, her grandchildren, the the blanket making, gift delivering. That’s really awesome.

Lori:                            31:13               Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s Kinda cool. Like at first when we came in contact, I didn’t really talk about the abuse in my adopted family or you know, what happened because I was so scared that she’d feel guilty. She deals with a lot of anxiety and depression. Um, I’ll say she’s suffered the past 31 years. Um, she’s definitely battled with it. Um, and it’s something that she’s been very hard on herself for. So I was really hesitant about telling her that. So it’s like whenever she brought up, you know, kind of my adopted family, I was like Kinda, same thing. I’ve kind of beat around the Bush and just like oh, it’s good. And try to change the subject or come up with a different question. But this past year, I’ve just kind of doing a lot of self reflecting and just kind of, I don’t know, talking about adoptee rights and just kind of, this is my healing.

Lori:                            32:06               I’m now talking about it. I’m now, you know, kind of talking to people who don’t know about different sides of adoption and things like that, or the laws that restrict us from our records and just being in like adoptee support groups. I’m at this point now where I’m not hesitant to talk about it, so I just, you know, one day and just decided to kind of like ease her into it and let her know that, look, I don’t want to upset you. I don’t want you to feel guilty. But my family life wasn’t good. And it’s not your fault. It’s not anyone’s fault. There was no way for you to know. But out of all this, I’m glad that I was kind of strong through it and I, I made it through it and things are good for me now and she’s happy that things are good for me now. And she said all she wanted for me was, you know, she wanted me to have a husband and kids and to be happy and have my own family. I’m like, well I have that now.

Damon:                       33:02               That’s really cool. Wow. You sound like you took a really thoughtful approach too in trying to protect her from further guilt. She had probably tortured herself, as you said, for 31 years. That was really, you did, you did a special thing and trying to help her understand that you’ve reached the point of being in a good place now, but it took you awhile to get there and it’s not her fault that was really kind of you to do

Lori:                            33:29               well. Yeah. And it was kind of something I learned being a part of adoptee support groups and just honestly kind of sitting back and watching other people’s stories and experiences, you know? And there’s some people that are gung ho about it that can just be like, Hey, I know I’m a secret, but here I am and it works out for them. Sometimes it doesn’t. So just kind of taking other people’s experiences, I had an opportunity to think about how I would approach it and when would be a good time to approach it. So that helped me a lot.

Damon:                       33:59               Yeah, I’ll bet it did. Well, I’m glad the community got you to a place where you felt like you had a solid approach and a pathway forward. That’s really amazing. And it sounds like you’re trying to help other adoptees too, so thank you for your support to other people.

Lori:                            34:12               Yeah, I feel like it’s, it’s kind of important and I, you know, like I said, growing up, I didn’t get to talk about, it was a big hush hush secret. You don’t talk about it. And that did more harm than good for me, I think. And we can’t fix all the negative sides of adoption right away. But just even talking about it or just validating other people’s experiences, I think is important. Whether there good or bad.

Damon:                       34:36               That’s right. Well, very good. Lori, thanks so much for sharing your story. This has been really interesting to hear how you can go from, you know, being in an adoptive family that sounded like it had the best of intentions to just a total deterioration. Um, but the fact that you were able to find your biological mother, you know, right at time when you found out you’re pregnant. It’s funny how things just align and I’m really happy for you that you were able to get some of the things that you ultimately wanted. Having a child at a time when you could get medical information and getting, you know, two sides of the story and learning for yourself which one you felt was the truth. Um, that’s hugely important. So I’m glad you’ve reached this place. That’s really cool and thanks for sharing your story.

Lori:                            35:21               Thank you.

Damon:                       35:21               All right, Lori, all the best to you. Take care and take care of that little one. Ha Ha. What is it a boy or girl?

Lori:                            35:26               Boy. I have two boys.

Damon:                       35:29               Yeah. Take care of those little dudes.

Lori:                            35:32               All right, thank you.

Damon:                       35:32               take care. I’ll talk to you later. Bye Bye.

Lori:                            35:34               Bye

Damon:                       35:38               Hey, it’s me. Lori’s life started out well, but it took a real turn when her adopted brother began acting out, which stressed her parents and gave her mother an avenue to alcohol consumption and abuse. So it was really interesting to learn that she was conceived by a man who was also an addict and abusive. We’re often curious what life would been like with our biological families instead of our adopted ones, but I can’t help thinking things would have been really tough with her biological mother living in the shadow of her biological father’s aggression. I loved hearing that Lori found out she was pregnant right when she found her birth mother and was able to share her own maternity with the woman who wasn’t able to do so at the time of her birth. I’m Damon Davis and I hope you’ll find something in Lori’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?

Damon:                       36:34               And Hey, quick side note, I recently finished my book also called, Who Am I Really? And it’s available now for preorder. Go to then click, shop, where you’ll be redirected to the publisher’s bookstore. Thanks for adding my story to your reading list. 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 choose to share your whole story, maintain some privacy about parts of your journey or share completely anonymously. You can find the show at, or follow me on Twitter at WAIReally, and please, if you like the show, you can support me at, you can subscribe to Who Am I Really? On apple podcasts, Google play or wherever you get your podcasts, and while you’re there it would mean so much to me. If you would take a moment to share a rating or leave a comment, those ratings can help others to find the podcast too.


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