Close this search box.

098 – Trained In Trauma

Dr. Julie Lopez lives and works in Washington, D.C. Julie’s early childhood was happy at home, but it was her circle of friends that made her question just what was wrong with being adopted? When she graduated college, her need for information, for professional reasons, made her stumble across an old document she’d seen before, which impulsively steered her down the path toward reunion. Along hat road she found trauma that she was already prepared to handle and disappointment that she’s also thankful for because the whole experience keeps her grounded.

Dr. Lopez runs the Viva Center –

You can find her book: “Live Empowered: Rewire Your Brain’s Implicit Memory To Thrive In Business, Love, and Life

The post 098 – Trained In Trauma appeared first on Who Am I…Really? Podcast.

Julie (00:05):

Okay. I think behind every adoption there’s usually trauma and then there is the just families don’t give up children without some kind of distress and circumstance. You know, it goes against human nature.

Damon (00:28):

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 Julie. She lives in Washington D C Julie’s early childhood was happy at home, but it was her circle of friends that made her question just what was wrong with being adopted. When she graduated college her need for information, for professional reasons made her stumble across an old document she’d seen before which impulsively steered her down the path toward reunion along that road, she found trauma that she was already prepared to handle and disappointment that she’s also thankful for. This is Julie’s journey. Julie grew up in McLean, Virginia. She said her parents were very loving people who were somewhat open about her adoption from Catholic charities. Julie was the oldest child in their house, followed by a younger sister, adopted from San Antonio, Texas. A few years later, her parents were approved for a third international adoption from Mexico when her mother got pregnant.

Julie (01:48):

And I remembered her asking me, cause at that point I was seven, you know what, what should, what would I like to have happen? And she was pregnant, I’m going to have a child. And we all knew, you know, the adoption had gone through and what should we do. And I said, Oh you know what a both, but they didn’t end up adopting the child from Mexico. And then my parents had another biological child two years after that. So there were four of us, two adopted and then a pretty big gap. And then two more children that were biologically connected to my adoptive parents.

Damon (02:26):

So in their home there were two older adopted girls, a five year gap, then two younger boys who were biological to her parents. That age differential can be challenging. But Julie said she was still close with her younger brothers, almost like a second mother to them while navigating the normal healthy battles that come with having a younger sister closer to her own age, but in her family they didn’t talk about adoption much, at least not as much as they could have. She said she didn’t know enough to be curious and ask questions.

Julie (02:58):

If I brought it up they would would’ve talked about it, but most of it would be their anxiety about me being upset. Right. It was like they definitely wanted to shelter me from that and so it wasn’t really talked about hardly at all unless it was like more factual. Like I had this fact sheet about my biological mother and father had their age and their weight and their height and their interests and their nationalities and stuff like that. I always had that

Damon (03:31):

This fact sheet wasn’t comprehensive at all. It only spoke of her birth parents in generalities far less than what her actual non identifying information would have. Julie’s parents let her see the document and she knew it was in a file if she ever wanted to review it again. What’s interesting is the concept of adoption and its perception among her friends and in the community was the more challenging piece for her growing up.

Julie (03:56):

And so I would say the bigger impact on me as I understood it growing up was in school and the peers and things like that. The idea that I was adopted, I didn’t have to know other people that were adopted. Like there was this one family in our church that had clearly adopted a child because their child was black and they were white. That type of thing, like an international adoption, but, but I didn’t even really know them. I could just see them across like, you know, we were part of a pretty big church so I really, aside from my sister, didn’t know anyone else adopted. Although like looking back there probably were other adopted people. I just didn’t know that. But I definitely knew when we did, well, first of all, every time I went to the doctor and they would ask questions about health history, those types of in jokes like other kids would say about being adopted was basically equated with being unwanted or kind of defective actually. It was like an insult you’d say to someone if I would say I was adopted. Most of my friends didn’t want that to be true. Mostly because they liked today and it’s that like that’s not true. I’m like, no, it is true. They’re all like, no, because, because they, I don’t know, I guess they thought I was normal and nice and kind and that couldn’t be what an adoptee looks like or something. I mean, they never said that, but I just know they didn’t want me to be adopted, so that was, I don’t know. That was hard.

Damon (05:29):

In fifth grade, Julie had one special best friend. They were both little tomboys and they played all kinds of sports together. Usually the only two girls in the mix with the boys. At school, the kids were learning about dominant and recessive traits. Their assignment was to note their mother’s eye color, their father’s eye color, and the kids were supposed to use a chart to pick the probability of their own eye color.

Julie (05:54):

And the teacher picked mine as an example. Like she was like, let me have one as an example. She showed what I had written. Well of course I guess I had that fact sheet, but at that age I didn’t, I don’t know. I didn’t know that info. So I just put down my adoptive parents info and my friend, so this is in front of all class, that’s the whole thing. And she was just being like scientific, I guess, you know. She was like, what? Wait a second. That’s not relevant. This whole discussion is not relevant because this is not her biological line. And I remember just feeling so embarrassed that she said that even though it wasn’t mean hearted, it was like more trying to understand the truth or factual piece that the teacher was trying to teach. But I was like, Oh my gosh, like kind of horrified. I didn’t keep it secret from people, but I wouldn’t have announced it like that in front of, you know, 25 kids.

Damon (06:50):

When Julie finished college at 22 she was traveling a lot for work as a consultant in systems engineering and she needed documentation to update her passport. She left her home in Washington DC to visit her parents in McLean, Virginia to pick up the info. The info she needed was stored in the same file as her adoption documentation.

Julie (07:10):

Yeah, I dunno. I guess, my life was feeling more settled. Like I had a job, I was an adult. Maybe I had a little more bandwidth for it, but when I opened that file I was like, huh. And it was on a letterhead and it said Catholic charities and had the address and phone number and just like that without thinking at all. I called the number, I guess I was, if you’ve read any of the adoption literature, like I was the quote unquote good adoptee, right? Like I performed really well at everything. It was super anxiety driven. Right? I think somewhere in my mind I thought I’m like perfect and do everything well and don’t bother anyone and people like me, then I won’t be given up again. And so I was that kid and my sister, you know, although she didn’t like become a drug addict or anything was like much more volatile. And would do kind of volatile things. And she was like difficult, although you know, she went to college and all that stuff, but she was just a lot more challenging and combative and with some regularity. She would scream at my parents you are not my real parents are like, I’m going to leave or stuff like that where I would, I even remember as a kid saying I’m like her, she can’t say stuff like that. Don’t you realize what they’re doing for us, because I really felt like a charity case. Like they’re feeding us they’re clothing us. I know my parents didn’t think that, but I obviously was like acutely aware that I was a visitor kind of thing. And so yeah, just like that, I had never thought about finding my biological parents. I had never thought about doing anything like that. I thought that would upset my adoptive parents. And so I just called.

Damon (08:48):

On that impulsive call. Julie had no idea what to say. So she just started sharing that she was adopted through charities several years ago the woman invited Julie to make an appointment with a social worker who gave her more non identifying information.

Julie (09:04):

It was very emotional because there I am at agency and I feel like that was kind of, it was just an interesting moment for me. Not so conscious of the whole bigger thing. But um, I could, you know, obviously like hold up a lot of feeling

Damon (09:23):

Right after Julie started talking about her feelings, I realized she expressed another set of feelings that she really hadn’t explained. Take me back a little bit to your teenage years because you said something really interesting. You said, I was acutely aware that I was a visitor and I didn’t get the impression that your family made you feel that way. Like you haven’t said anything that you, that has indicated that you felt othered or like an outsider or anything like that. So how did you arrive at this feeling of, of being a visitor in your home?

Julie (10:01):

No, to be honest I think like I look back on that moment because I know that I was, I told my sister that like I know that those words came out of my mouth. Like that kind of idea like that, that, that the food and the shelter and all that stuff was like a charity. But I think it comes from a bigger, yeah, I don’t think it was what my parents were doing. I think it comes from the bigger cultural context of what it means to be orphaned and then taken in by someone else and cause the dominant I, that’s what I, that’s all I can conclude. Cause no one overtly said that to me. It was more the other types of things that I, I’m mentioning to you about like the other kids not wanting that to be true because it meant something.

Damon (10:51):

Uh, so this was a collective feeling over time

Julie (10:56):

Yeah I think it was more of a cultural thing than about what it means to be adopted. And that’s the way I internalized it. You know, there I was born into unfortunate circumstances and it’s interesting, but an adult person who has been pretty active in the adoptee community for a couple of decades that the dominant narrative isn’t, you know, look how lucky these people are that were infertile and wanted and have a baby. The dominant narrative I think had a lot to do with the way I had internalized my position in our culture. It wasn’t my parents.

Damon (11:34):

Julie petitioned to the courts to open her records, paid a private investigator to locate her birth mother and they found her right away. The process continued with Julie’s introductory letter being mailed to the woman’s confirmed address. Then the rest was up to her birth mother. Julie included her phone number in the letter and she can remember the moment her birth mother called her in Florida 26 years ago

Julie (11:58):

And we had a nice talk. She’s super cool. I like, she was like really open and um, I didn’t know at that moment like how lucky I was in that regard. Just having had so many friends, adoptee friends work this reunion thing and have really, you know, challenging or no relationship with their biological mom or dad for various different complicated reasons. But yeah, she was really cool. She was super open. Just like so, Damon the reason I stopped is because I think I mentioned it to you, she passed away this summer.

Damon (12:47):


Julie (12:50):

Yeah. So it’s like kind of remembering all this stuff. It’s like a little bit hard because you know, she’s, she was a super cool person and really strong. She went through a lot and uh, yeah, I feel lucky about that. But like also sad that she passed away just last month actually.

Damon (13:14):

Yeah. I’m sorry. I meant that I forgot to how recent her passing was and that’s really sad.

Julie (13:28):

Yeah.It was like a week or two after we were supposed to talk for the first time

Damon (13:29):

Wow. Her mother’s death is a complicated story. Julie recalls that about a month prior, her birth mother was on the phone with Kelsey. Julie’s maternal sister on that call. She said her mother felt tired and her voice sounded weak. They rushed her to the hospital where the medical team diagnosed her with walking pneumonia, a lung infection, and a variety of other problems. The clinical staff put her into a medically induced coma and they corrected many of the major issues their mother was having. When the team brought her back from the coma, she didn’t fully recover.

Julie (14:05):

She had come to right away, but she was starting to show progress to the point where like responding, not really talking, but like can using her eyes and staff that was saying that was responding correctly to questions and things like that. And so they were, they moved her to kind of a rehab facility because they expected her to just come online gradually but didn’t need the hospital care. And the day they moved her, she died.

Damon (14:31):

Oh boy.

Julie (14:33):

So what I was going to say is that my theory is that pretty much everything surrounding my conception and her and the relinquishment, she was 15 and then 16 when, when she had me, um, was super traumatic. It’s totally took her off course of her life.

Damon (14:54):

Julie explained that after relinquishing her as a teenager, her birth mother had a bit of a drug problem for many years when she settled down. Julie’s younger sisters more than 20 years, her junior were born.

Julie (15:07):

So I think like those health complications are results of a lot of trauma that happened surrounding like my birth and then giving me up and a lot of her life. And after that actually annoyance and that bothered me when I was first in reunion was that I felt like she wasn’t, she was always taking people in off the street, like people who, not just anyone but people, she got to know that were in a really hard position and needed how open, like were struggling with like, you know, criminal stuff or drug stuff. I think she could relate to feeling really lost and wanting someone to like support her and like be there for her. And so she was always bringing these people in. And at her funeral though, I mean there were so many people there that were like, she was so generous, she always believed in me. She was like helping with a turning point in my life and stuff, but I was so worried about my sisters. I was like, this is not a good environment for a little kid. She’s not protecting them. But I think it was all tied up in her own trauma around giving me up, which was forced for her. She was a minor and her father like forced it. It wasn’t something she wanted. So anyway, it was just complicated.

Damon (16:28):

Yeah, it sounds like that traumatic start with you and then it sounds like she just one struggled and therefore turn to illicit substances and then two sounds like she also just tried to give back so much to so many people as a way to recover from having lost you in the first place. That’s just a guess, but that’s, that’s what it feels like to me. When you say she was taking in people, I’m sure she just generally had a big heart, but it, it feels like she was trying to claw back at you and the loss.

Julie (17:03):

Yeah, I think that’s right. And I think, I think behind every adoption is usually trauma. I mean there is, you just don’t give up children without some kind of distressing circumstance, you know it goes again, human nature,

Damon (17:22):

Like Julie said, her birth mother passed away earlier this summer of 2019 they were in reunion for 26 years. Going back to that time in their lives. Julie told me she met her birth mother almost immediately when they spoke by phone. Her birth mother said she just needed a little bit of time to tell everyone in her family about what was about to happen with their plans to meet Julie’s birth mother had a common law husband who didn’t know she had another daughter out there in the world, so she needed to catch him up on that untold part of her personal history. Working as a consultant in the 1990s Julie’s company would fly her home every weekend or wherever she wanted, as long as the airfare was the same price or cheaper than going home. So Julie flew out to Northern California near San Francisco.

Julie (18:12):

It’s kind of crazy, but I, cause I didn’t know them at all, but I stayed with them. I stayed with them for the weekend. Um, you know it was nice, a bunch of other family came that, you know, it was one of the things that was a little complicated was she was like, yeah, of course I’d love to meet you. And she was like so full of shame and she was like, I hope you don’t hate me. Or like I’ve always worried you’d be mad at me or that kind of thing. And um, which I didn’t really feel. Uh, I definitely was like still drinking the Kool aid of like it was better. It was better for you. It was better for my parents. It was better for me. And in some, some cases that’s true. I mean in some ways that was true, but it wasn’t the full story. It was more complex than that. And so she said, well, you know, I never told anyone. The only people that knew that I had a baby were my parents. And then my brother, who was the next in line, cause she was the oldest in her family, so he knew and no one else, like even her best friend thought she just went to study for a year in California. My birthday’s in may and she went back to school to high school in September as if nothing had happened.

Damon (19:27):

So she had you in California?

Julie (19:30):

No, that was just the story. , she had me in D.C, You know, like home for unwed mother that was, you know, funded by Catholic charities.

Damon (19:43):

Julie said it was a surreal experience to be amongst her biological relatives. She also recognizes how oblivious she was to what adoption means and what it meant to her then as opposed to what it means to her now.

Julie (19:58):

And I also was like, I don’t know, I was so unconscious of what was going on. I was like, sure, whatever. I’ll just go out there. And everyone was nice and it was wild to have everyone kind of look like me and all be staring at me. So that’s like a weird experience. But I was, uh, I was pretty shut down as a person at that moment in my life and so I was just like, it’s fine. Whatever. Hi, nice to meet you, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Damon (20:26):

How do you mean shutdown?

Julie (20:30):

I just wasn’t as acute. I’ll, I’ll talk more about that when I talk about like having my own children, but I just wasn’t aware of all of the loss or like all of the backstory or, or my own loss. Not growing up with any of my biological relatives or I just wasn’t aware. I was like, you know, I was like adoption with a nice, neat story. It was like a trifecta of people in need, right? It was like birth family, not capable or like whatever parents who are infertile and baby who doesn’t have like care. So it was like the perfect solution and that’s all I knew. I was like, it’s easy. It was simple, you know, it was just like a great thing adoption is a great then yeah, I still think that was true for me, but it’s much more complicated because it’s riddled with loss.

Damon (21:25):

Julie referred to herself as shutdown, meaning she wasn’t fully aware of what it means to give birth to and relinquish a child. Fast forward 10 years after her reunion with her biological mother to when Julie had her first daughter, she asked her adoptive parents to send her own christening gown from her childhood because it was special to her and she wanted to use it for her daughter’s baptism.

Julie (21:50):

They sent it to me. It was super sweet with the little bonnet and the little shoes and that was a nice note and inside of it was a picture of me and it was a picture of the day that they picked me up from Catholic charity and it was a picture I had seen in my whole life that was in my baby album. And along with other pictures and my mom, you know on the back of every picture wrote the date and what had happened and all that stuff with every picture. So I flipped it over. Keep in mind this had been in an album and it had the date and the date was well over two months after I had been born. And it was like the best day of our lives. We picked Julie up from Catholic charities and then it had the date on it and I couldn’t even stay standing. I literally like fell onto the chair in my daughter’s room because by then I then I kind of knew what it meant to like not have a parent like I had just spent all the time, hour by hour, like moment by moment learning about how to bond with my child and all this time like morning, noon and night feeding, her caring for her, like all this just important stuff that my, you know, my lactation consultant and the doula and every other person had said was so important around brain development and around relationship and attachment and all this stuff and then here’s this picture that’s like yay. And we picked her up. She’s two and a half months old. I was like, Whoa. I compared it to what it had been like to have my daughter and what we have done in the first two and a half months together. Picturing myself as a baby being at that time I didn’t know where I was and now I know I was in a room with, you know, 20 other babies being cared for by lots of very nice women, but not one single person And you know, with my names, we’re one of many among many. Right. And so it’s just a far cry from what had happened with my daughter and it made it come to life in a way that was very different than the story when I was a child. Babies are just like a little blob in a blanket. Right? They don’t, I don’t know. There’s not much to me like it’s like you get a baby and the baby’s just there and it doesn’t, you know, any of that in some psychology or infant development was not something that was in my mind or that I was aware of. And so because I had just lived it with my daughter and because I’m also a student of psychology and hot worked in trauma as a clinician because I went on and got my master’s and my PhD in social work after that kind of engineering and working for a couple of years, and so you know, it was just very, I don’t know, it just came to life in a much different way and more importantly in a, in a sensory way. I was like, Whoa. Like it just hit me so hard.

Damon (24:56):

Early in her clinical career, Julie worked at a rape crisis center here in Washington, D C she worked heavily with sexual assault and abuse, so it hit her that perhaps she should tread lightly when asking her birth mother how she was conceived. Julie knew that back then her birth father was a hot guy from another school that her mother dated only briefly one summer. She also knew that her birth mother pretty much hated her birth father and he didn’t know Julie existed.

Julie (25:26):

I remember that. Yeah, we had this one conversation. She basically said that she was like, well I was a Virgin and put it this way, like after we have sex, I never talked to him again. So she said it in like an ownership type way. And I was like, was that something that you wanted to have happen? And she was like, no. And so I said, I said, Oh, so you were raped. And she’s like, well I wouldn’t put it that way cause I liked him and we weren’t dated and stuff like that. But she was, I mean she was date raped basically. But nonetheless I wanted to, it was more recent. It was like in the last five years I wanted to find my father because first of all, things are complicated. And just because that happened doesn’t mean he was like a full on monster. Right. I mean there are lots of messages that go out to boys about no means yes. And what it means to be a man and like how things get negotiated around sex that aren’t healthy but are real. And sometimes there are circumstances where a woman is forced to have sex that they don’t want to have, but the guy just thinks they’re doing what is the way things go because they’re dumb too and they’re young.

Damon (26:44):

She went on to say that she didn’t even realize it until she found her paternal side. Even after knowing her maternal relatives that there’s a whole package of people that comes with reunion. Julie pointed out that even if a person’s mother or father isn’t doing very well in life, there’s still an entire tribe of people that an adoptee might get to meet as reunions continue. Julie credits her birth mother with being instrumental in helping her find her birth father

Julie (27:13):

and she was so courageous because I knew when we were talking she was triggered like back to this trauma that she never dealt with or never processed and but she would still give me first name, last name, address, whatever I need it.

Damon (27:27):

But Julie had a hard time looking for the man. She characterized her demeanor then as ambivalent about the whole thing. So she recruited her husband to help her carry on the search to get her across the finish line. She asked for that final bit of leg work as her birthday gift one year, and that’s exactly what he gave her. She’s been in reunion with her paternal side for five years, but listen to this,

Julie (27:52):

I have met my father, but he didn’t know it was me and that’s a whole complicated story.

Damon (27:57):

Julie’s husband was a sleuth feeding her people to connect with on Facebook. She finally connected to a cousin who doesn’t live far from her birth father, who is incredibly reclusive. He’s also been an alcoholic for decades and isn’t a very functional man, but this cousin lived near him, so she would go to his house and ask him questions. When the cousin asked if he remembered Julie’s birth mother, he said yes, but he didn’t know that he’d gotten her pregnant. Julie said one of the ways they were able to track him down at all was because of his long string of missed court appearances for child support hearings with multiple mothers. It’s rumored that he has up to 11 children, but Julie has only found five paternal siblings so far. Anyway, Julie flew down to Texas with the hopes of meeting the reclusive man and other relatives,

Julie (28:51):

and then I hoped he would see me, but he said he didn’t want to meet me. And likewise, my grandmother did not want to meet me. Neither one of them were interested, which was a very disappointing.

Damon (29:02):

About a year later, Julie’s paternal grandmother passed away. One of her paternal brothers who lives here in our area, was making the trip down to Texas. So Julie decided to go to

Julie (29:14):

After consulting a lot of my adoptee friends who were really supportive and were trying to help me figure out what was right for me. So I went down to the funeral because I thought I still wanted to meet my dad and, and I knew he would be there. I knew it. And so I went down that I asked everyone to please help me be anonymous, like not say who I was and just be there and so, yeah, so I him first, while he was very drunk the night before, like there was a viewing the day before and I got there right. You know, like an hour before the viewing was ending and like when my flight got in and all that and I was surrounded by a couple of cousins, my brother just people kind of like taking care of me in a way just emotionally. And he, it was kind of gross actually. He came up to me in a like gross way. Like he was eyeing me up and down and like, I don’t know, he was drunk and being gross. So I just, I didn’t even talk to him. I just kind of was like ugh. And I kind of like stayed away from him and everyone was annoyed cause he was so drunk and all this stuff. Well, the next morning he was one of the pallbearers l. There has been. So I saw him sober and I was sharing a hotel room with my brother. And so we came in together and, and he was also a pallbearer there, so he said hi, but he just thought I was a guest there. He was like, Oh, hi. And he was more normal and I watched him also in the funeral because he was, he was a mess because he couldn’t stay through half of it. He had to walk out. And when the, like emotional, he’s just looked like a little kid who was so lost, um, kind of a mess. And he also, during the funeral, he, uh, not the funeral, the or they put the body into the ground, that part of it later he couldn’t be with everyone. He was watching that. He was like far away, like 50 yards away, watching everything. Um, and so then I felt more like, Oh, he’s so vulnerable. He’s just a mess. Like I’m messed up, traumatized and messed up person. So that’s pretty much it with my birth father. And I’ve maintained relationships with cousins. And siblings and all that stuff.

Damon (31:32):

Hmm. How was it? Did you, do you, you know, sometimes you’re glad you did something, sometimes you kind of wish you hadn’t. Where do you lie? Where does it lie with you that you’ve met him?

Julie (31:48):

I am glad about all of it.

Damon (31:48):


Julie (31:48):

I mean it’s just so grounding for me. I feel like, you know, of course this like relationship that I have with my maternal sisters is great. And my, I have some siblings on my paternal side that I don’t really care for that much. We don’t really click, but the, the two that are here locally, I really like a lot, but there’s a social thing we’re going to go to in a couple of weeks that we always do each year together and I dunno, it’s really nice, but also even the bad part, you know, the, the trauma stuff or the parts that I wished weren’t there or the qualities in certain people that I wish weren’t there, like it all helps me feel more settled. Like I’m on the planet. Like these are people that I’m, this is my story, you know, and even the bad parts or the parts that are hard to digest helped me feel more grounded.

Damon (32:44):

Today, Julie’s work is focused on psychology and clinical practice. Basically developing an expertise in trauma, what it does to us and how it shows up in our lives. She said her tolerance for trauma in her life is higher because of her experiences and expertise. She pointed out that choosing the rape crisis center for employment, the lowest paying least glamorous of the offers she had at the time is something she’s so glad she chose to do because it prepared her for part of her own story. So I asked Julie to tell me a bit more about her work these days. Since 2010 Dr. Julie Lopez has run the Viva center focusing on mental health. You may have heard her present as part of the healing series on another podcast. Adoptees on with Haley Radke.

Julie (33:33):

We specialize completely in nonverbal therapies, so everyone’s master’s, PhD level licensed practitioners. But our niche and what we’re known for is all of these clinicians that have done postgraduate training in body or brain based therapies. And it’s been really beautiful and I feel like a lot of it is tied into my personal story as an adoptee and my own personal therapeutic journey to move symptoms that I now feel are totally related to my experience of being adopted. I just didn’t know it at the time, like in my early twenties and so on. But it’s what it’s what introduced me to brain-based work and it’s all that stuff. You know, I said it hit me so far what my two and a half months might have looked like as different than my daughter’s two and a half months. How that might’ve influenced me because I struggled with vertigo, like debilitating vertigo, which cleared up in one session cause I was doing one of these brain based therapies like I was having it done for me. Um, it had kind of been introduced into my life and and some other like major relationship struggles I’ve had, like not trusting other people, pushing people away, like pretty much being the lone ranger, that type of thing and self-esteem things like really working to follow my own path. But that move was so hard for me to go back to school and do a different type of profession that wasn’t as like revered or cherished in our culture and you know, but it was right for me like some of those types of things where I was pulling the control back into myself instead of always standing for other people and making sure it was right for them. I mean you could call it codependency or that type of thing. There’s clinical term for it too, that having an external locus of control, that’s been my therapeutic journey. And then now I have the center where it’s really focused on the very type of therapies that really do amazing work with injuries that happened before we’re conscious with as the age of three. That’s when I could get really nerdy right now. But for the purposes of the story, there’s something in your brain that develops at that point, which makes memories more conscious. It’s typically around age of three, but anything that happens before that still affects your human system, but there’s no conscious memory of it, so it’s why a lot of times people who have early trauma feel broken or they just feel like they are defective and they don’t realize there’s actually experiences, but they may have had that has created mapping in their system. Right. That’s still affecting them today. Yeah, absolutely. Hey, I’m going up to, have you ever been to one of the AAC conferences or no?

Damon (36:24):

No, I haven’t been

Julie (36:27):

Yeah, well there’s the next year and in San Diego I’m going to be one of the keynote.

Damon (36:32):

Oh, that’s awesome.

Julie (36:35):

That’ll be fun.

Damon (36:36):

I thank you Julie so much for taking time this morning. This has been amazing. I really liked hearing the fact that you’ve sort of identified not only with your own journey, but how you need to personally and professionally sort of invest in the kinds of therapies that are going to be beneficial both to yourself and to other people. So thank you for your work and thank you for your time today.

Julie (37:00):

Yeah, no problem. It was great to be on here and thanks for having me.

Damon (37:03):

Oh, of course. My pleasure and wish you all the best.

Julie (37:06):

Thanks. Have a good day. Take care

Damon (37:08):

No problem. All the best. Bye. Bye.

Julie (37:09):


Damon (37:14):

Hey, it’s me. Julie’s story was fascinating, partially because her work in a rape crisis center prepared her for how to navigate her birth, mother’s prior trauma at the hands of her birth father, and later when she had to relinquish Julie, it kind of reminded me of Jenni’s AKA Cami’s volunteer work, which prepared her to meet her birth father when she found him homeless and drug addicted. It’s really interesting that our lives sometimes prepare us for experiences we’re going to have later. I was struck by the moment when Julie received her own christening gown and saw a picture of herself months after her birth. She had one of those deeply impactful moments when an adoptee sometimes realizes that they were at one early point in between somewhere, not with their birth mother and not with their adoptive parents. Yet. They were just out there alone for a while. You should check out the Viva center where you can learn about the practitioners, their training programs and commitment to changing the face of what mental health looks like in the community. You can also check out Julie’s book live empowered on

Julie (38:23):

It’s really about performing at your best, whether it’s in work, in relationships, or in your own life, and that there’s this great way to really move through obstacles.

Damon (38:36):

I’m Damon Davis and to hope you’ll find something in Julie’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? And Hey, don’t forget to leave a rating for the show wherever you get your podcasts. They mean a lot to me and those ratings can help others define the podcast. Thanks for listening. If you’re interested, you can find who am I really and adoptee memoir on and like I always say, I hope you’ll find something in my story that inspires you, validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn who am I really.

Leave a Comment