Dirk, from Phoenix, Arizona, was raised as a Hispanic person and his documentation said he was Hispanic, but the world saw him differently. And DNA did too. Dirk found his birth mother, but at two separate times, he was forced to reckon with secondary rejection. Fortunately, he found his birth father acceptance from all, but one of his siblings and the warm feeling inside from knowing He looks the most like their father out of all of his children.
This is dirk’s journey
149 DIrk Uphoff ORIGINAL QUIET
I said, you go at first and , he goes, no, bro, you go in. And I walked in the front of the restaurant and my birth dad was facing away, sitting down , and then he stood up, turned around and looked at me and just put his arms out and gave me a big old hug and a kiss.
, and again, just an immediate connection. That was an amazing, amazing moment
Damon: [00:00:27] I'm Damon Davis and you're about to meet Dirk who called me from Phoenix, Arizona. He was raised as a Hispanic person and his documentation said he was Hispanic, but the world saw him differently. And DNA did too. Dirk found his birth mother, but at two separate times, he was forced to reckon with secondary rejection. Fortunately, he found his birth father acceptance from all, but one of his siblings and the warm feeling inside from knowing He looks the most like their father out of all of his children. [00:01:00] This is dirk's journey
At three weeks old, Dirk was adopted in 1960 in Peoria, Illinois. He has an older brother, not biological to himself, also adopted. And it was thought he might be half Mexican. When Dirk was five years old, his mom got pregnant by surprise and gave birth to one of his sisters. Then two years later, she had another girl. Four kids in the family. When dirk was adopted his parents were hoping to bring home
Dirk: [00:01:33] girl
I always like to kind of joke around and say, well, they wrote a stock because what they did is told my parents, well, we don't have any girls, but we've got this Hispanic boy that we think would go great with your other son. And so my parents went with that and
Damon: [00:01:50] uh, , I thought it'd be a good idea for two Hispanic boys to grow up together.
Dirk: [00:01:57] But I knew very [00:02:00] early on that I was different from everybody else in the family, as far as looks, you know, me and my brother, were both adopted so that wasn't, you know, adoption was just kind of a word, but we'd say now you're Spanish and I'm Mexican or I'm Mexican and you're Spanish. And. That's kind of how we talked about it when we were, when we were little, but even preschool, even before I got into kindergarten I was getting very dark and my hair was much more coarse.
And so I looked very different. My brother looked like he was white in the town that we grew up in was a very small town outside of Peoria, Illinois, and no person of any color in that town. I was the only one all my growing up years and we never really discussed race in my home. Even though I know, you know, again, born in 1960, all this [00:03:00] civil rights stuff was going on at the time, but we never talked about it at home.
And I definitely grew up with that. The color blind mentality was kind of a don't ask. Don't tell. So we never talked about adoption, much. We never talked about race or race differences. And I had a great family, but it was just something we didn't discuss.
Damon: [00:03:22] What's the racial makeup of your adopted parents and your siblings?
Dirk: [00:03:27] they were all white, even though my brother was supposedly was supposed to be part Mexican, but you know, he just looked white and , all the neighbors, I mean, everybody that you came in contact with was white. I mean, even my, you know, my mom would get asked at the grocery store when I was little, when I used to ride in the cart with her or whatever.
And she would get asked all the time of who is that little boy?
Damon: [00:03:52] Again, It was the 1960s and a white couple in the Midwest in an all white community. With two brown [00:04:00] boys stood out. They were pretty rare. As Dirk got older, he felt like he didn't look Hispanic. He knew something was up, but he couldn't get. But he couldn't put a finger on how he was different. Dirk's parents had the paperwork that documented that he was spanish but the facts weren't lining up in his experience
Dirk: [00:04:22] Whenever I would go outside of the neighborhood every once in a while, There'd be situations that would happen.
I'd be on my bike with a buddy of mine and somebody will yell out the car, the N-word yeah, I'd get in a scuffle at school with somebody I knew. And, when one time in particular, I got the better of some kid and we must've been in second grade, but as soon as I let him up and he started walking away, you know, N word comes flying out.
So I had those, those kinds of occasions think it came up, but by and large, for growing up in the sixties and seventies, I didn't have a lot of [00:05:00] bad things happen when, when race would come up, occasionally I would be more embarrassed. I wanted to more hide then I didn't really feel hurt. It was more an embarrassing situation.
I just wanted to kind of. Crawl in the corner and pretend I wasn't there.
Damon: [00:05:17] Yeah. Imagine, let me ask you, when you're growing up with the notion that you are of some type of Hispanic, Latin, X descent, yet people are calling you the N word, which far as I can tell, not too many Latino people are called. It's a mix.
You know? So the outside world is seeing you as something that you are not growing up thinking that you are, but you also don't actually know what your heritage is. How did you, when this racial epithet that doesn't actually apply to what you think you are, is coming at you all the time?
Dirk: [00:05:58] Yeah, it was just very, [00:06:00] very hurt And my parents were fantastic, but they didn't prepare me for anything. They just. treated me like a little white kid, like all my friends and so, you know, I would be around my friends and I can remember being so excited. At one point when I was, I don't know, seven or eight that my friends were trying to make their hair curly hair with obviously, you know, blonde and straight.
And I just remember being so excited that they're going to have curly hair like me. And of course, you know, it didn't happen. But I had, you know, just a lot of those kinds of situations, but I just never said anything to my parents. It, it was looking back, you know, again, I didn't have a lot of bad things happen, but a lot of the identity stuff was really mixed up.
Damon: [00:06:51] Yeah. You know, what's fascinating about what you've said so far to me is, you know, a lot of times when we speak about [00:07:00] inter intra-racial adoptions, the person who is adopted doesn't have racial mirrors in their family most of the time.
And you've said that you were adopted into a family with white parents, white siblings in a white community. So you don't have racial mirrors and. Right. You are told that you are of one descent when everybody else who sees you and hurls racial epithets at you is gone. You're yet another race that must have been really, really I don't know if you could even characterize it as unsettling, but like, it must've just been confusing.
Dirk: [00:07:42] It was very confusing. I mean, it, you know, as I got older, I became, you know, somewhat of a decent athlete and, you know, I was kind of hung out with the right crowd. So if somebody who, you know, so I had my safe people and my safe places, so to speak. And if [00:08:00] someone kind of new came in and made some kind of racial comment behind my back, I had all those guys, you know, that had my back, you know, so that they were like, they were like fighting words.
You don't say that about him. Yeah. , but it was, it was very confusing. there's just all kinds of memories that have popped up in the last couple of years that you know, I it's like looking in the mirror and you know what, you see, you see somebody brown or black, right. But mentally you're still white.
You think of yourself as white because that's how you're treated. And you know, it was just, yeah, it was confusing. I guess that's the best way to put it. It was, it was a different,
Damon: [00:08:42] In high school. Dirk's crew was his athletic buddies and they had his back. When anyone tried to come with smart comments, But being buddies with the guys on sports teams is one thing. Trying to date young ladies In his all white town back then was challenging. When you played sports in a [00:09:00] small town you were popular but
Dirk: [00:09:02] I did have this one girlfriend, and that was the first time I heard, you know, so-and-so, can't go out with you anymore because her dad found out.
No, that's your black. And then, you know, then the whole thing comes well, but we told them that you weren't black and blah, blah, blah. You know? And, and so that happened a couple of times it happened in junior high and then in high school where there's, I know this one this one girl basically asked me out for homecoming and then kind of came back and said, her dad wouldn't let her.
And she didn't say why, but I know why, you know, I know why now. So it made it a little difficult. So I dated a little bit in high school, but but not a lot, not till I got to college.
Damon: [00:09:55] Dirk attended university of Wisconsin in Oshkosh with a guy he had [00:10:00] grown up with and they were roommates. Dormitory life was Dirk's first time living around African-American people. There were a few black guys on his floor and everyone got along great, but they didn't really know what to make of Dirk getting to know him. The black guys figured he was probably going to hang out with the white guys because they just didn't have much in common with him. On the outside the world saw dirk as a black man but on the inside he was uncertain of his cultural identitiy.
Dirk: [00:10:31] But my whole cultural background was white, so it was very, very uncomfortable for me. And I felt, you know, like an imposter let's, you know, for the most part, because I just didn't fit in, I didn't know the vernacular. I just, it was very uncomfortable and it took a while that college was, was difficult in that way.
And again, by now, it's, it's, you know, it's late seventies getting into the eighties [00:11:00] and
um, You know, so there's still a lot of stuff going on politically and racially. And so it was very uncomfortable. And I only dated white girls at that, you know, at that time. there was another girl on my floor at college who was mixed half black, half white. And, and I just heard the story from someone else where, you know, she was approached by, I forget what, which side, but she had to make a decision. They said, Hey, you gotta make a decision either you're going to be black or you're going to be white.
Damon: [00:11:31] luckily I was never approached like that, where I had to make that kind of a choice, but it was interesting. Definitely.
Yeah. That's really fascinating. I've never really heard that. Ultimatum proposition be posed at somebody before, but
Dirk: [00:11:46] yeah, it struck me as well because I had never heard that either,
Damon: [00:11:51] but that's how cliques sort of operate it's, you know, either you're with us or against this kind of mentality. And [00:12:00] it's, it's interesting to hear that she was placed under that kind of pressure to pick an identity, which I would imagine was incredibly challenging for her because, so my wife is bi-racial, her mother is white Canadian.
Her dad is black from the Caribbean. And you know, she there's, no, you can't check a box because you're in two places. Right. And you can't help that. And so for somebody to come at you and to confront you with, Hey, check one of these boxes, either our box or their box. Had had to be tough and I'm sure I'm sure.
When you heard about her experience, you were like, man, I'm so glad that didn't happen to
Dirk: [00:12:43] me. Yeah. Yeah. I was definitely relieved even though he was trying to find himself racially. Dirk never really thought about searching for his biological family. He was told the adoption agency he was adopted from burned down. So he didn't think he had much [00:13:00] hope of finding anyone. Side note. Have you ever thought about how many adoptee stories? You've heard where someone was told their adoption agency had a fire.
Damon: [00:13:10] Adoption agencies sure. Do burned down a lot. Don't they. Anyway. Dirk met his wife, a Hispanic woman in San Diego, and they moved back to Illinois. . One day in church, a missionary was speaking and Dirk felt the call to the mission field. The family decided they would go do missionary work in a Spanish speaking country.
Dirk realized if he was traveling to another country, it would be helpful if he had some medical information about himself. Since his adoption agency had burned down. . He went to the courthouse to try to get some information. The court staff told Dirk his adoption was closed and he would have to ask the agency where he was adopted To give him some non identifying
Dirk: [00:13:54] . And I said, oh, I, you know, I can't, it burned down. And the woman said, [00:14:00] no, it didn't. It's about a mile up the road. It's called the Florence Crittenton center. And I was shocked, literally shocked.
Got my car, drove up the road a mile on the Florence Crittendon center. And it was a secure building. And I just remember walking up and pressing the buzzer. And I just heard a voice saying, can we help you? And I didn't know what to say. I said you know, I said my name and, and I was adopted her 33 years ago and I just heard, (door buzzer) I'll just never forget that no voice just let me in.
And I was talking to. Top manager there. And he gave me my non identifying information, which I didn't even know what that was an hour before that. And read that. And so that was the first time I'm 33 years old. And I, I see that I get kind of the [00:15:00] script of, of some of the things that happened that might, that my birth mom was white and she was having an affair with my birth dad who was already married and already had kids.
and then even then the narrative said that she, that he was going to get divorced. And but then when he, when he wouldn't, he said, well, I can't I'm I'm Catholic. So I can't get divorced that, that she was surprised at that. And, and it had said for his information that he had Spanish parents.
And so I thought, well, there it is. There's the Spanish part, I guess I am Spanish. after that I just kind of set it aside.
Damon: [00:15:45] With the documented confirmation of Dirk's Spanish heritage, he moved on with his missionary work. He let everything go and just kind of felt like at that time he didn't really care much about the details of his life beyond what he had just confirmed. [00:16:00]The family moved to Mexico And he put the whole thing away until 2003, when his family was back in the states, living in Arizona. When Dirk got into his early forties, he was feeling like he wanted to know who he was and where he came from. He got a confidential intermediary assigned to him and she began the work of finding his birth mother. Within just a few weeks she was calling dirk to share some she said, , I don't have good news for you. Your birth mom says she wants to keep the past in the past. And she said, and by the way, in all the years I've been doing this, I've never spoken to a birth mom that sounded less maternal than your birth mom and yeah. Yeah. So that, that was a tough pill to swallow because I, all these years I had never really thought about my birth dad. I just thought about my birth mom. and so she said, you know, do you want to try finding your birth dad? And I said, no, , let's just forget it.
Dirk: [00:16:59] She's, it's [00:17:00] just suggested I write her a letter on my birth mom. So I wrote my birth mom a letter and, just kind of gave her a rundown of my family. And I said, you know, you know, I've been successful professionally. And so I'm not looking for money. Like I said, I told her about my kids and of course I never got any response after that.
So I, again, I just let it go.
Damon: [00:17:21] , take me through this minute here. This moment where this confidential intermediary has said she wants to leave the past in the past, and that's gotta be the least maternal person I've ever met in the years that I've been doing this.
Like, what did you think of this woman as you thought about, , I'm sure you had ideas about how this could go and now you've found out that she's not interested in, in your shared past, and she's like the least maternal person, this woman who's for all intents and purposes, a relative expert has ever met what went through your mind?
Dirk: [00:17:59] You [00:18:00] know, it was tough. It was tough, but I, I don't think I dealt with it, to be honest. I think I compartmentalize it. I was talking with a friend at the time. who's also adopted, he lives in California and him and I, you know, spoke on the phone quite often and he was adopted and he didn't really care to search for his birth family, but I kind of kept him in the loop with what was going on with me.
And I just started calling him and telling him the story. And he was, he was just like, wow. I mean, he didn't know what to say. And that's kind of how I felt as I, I just, I didn't know what to think. I didn't know what to say. You know, very disheartening after 40 plus years at that point. And you know, like you say, you kind of fantasize about how this conversation could go and what she's like and the millions of questions and adoptee has , about their birth mother or their, their background, and to be shut down like that.
[00:19:00] It was difficult, but to be honest, I think I just tried to stop it and move on. . I think growing up in my, in my, my family where, you know, both my parents are from German backgrounds, not very emotional people, so, you know, I'm sure some of that rubbed off on me, so I just said, well, all right, well, let's, let's move on.
So I didn't really deal with it, Damon. I don't think to be honest,
Damon: [00:19:30] did you speak with your adopted brother about your attempt to find your natural mother at all? And, and did you tell him about what you well did or did not find?
Dirk: [00:19:43] I never did. He and I never, never talk about it. I. In a way. I don't know why and why.
I know why his personality is very different from mine. And I remember when, when I think I was 40, so he was probably [00:20:00] 45 and he was, he was retiring from the Navy and we were all in San Diego and my parents were visiting and my parents, took me and my brother up stairs and, and they offered to give us our adoption papers.
And my brother was like, no, I'm good. And of course I said the same thing. And really at that point I was good, even though I was probably a lot more curious than he was, but he, he was just one of the adoptees that he's never wanted , to know. He's never looked into it. And so we never talk about it.
Damon: [00:20:38] In 2011. Dirk's younger sister contacted him to share that a new law was passed in Illinois offering adoptees new access to their original birth certificate or OBC. Dirk applied for his OBC waited a few months. Then it was sent to him in the mail. But a lot of the information was redacted with black marks. [00:21:00] So he couldn't see his birth mother's name.
Dirk could read the name of the town she was from, which was about 90 minutes from where he grew up in Peoria. As we adoptees, do he put on his investigative hat and started searching online for obituaries of his maternal side?
See when he was a child, Dirk found a document with his original name given to him at birth. So he knew what his last name was to search for. He found his maternal grandfather's obituary online where Dirk read the man had two daughters. One of which had to be his birth mother. Holding his redacted birth certificate up to the light.
There was no mistaking. One of the daughters' names that Dirk saw any obituary online was visible through the blacked out redaction. He found out she lived in Texas, but there wasn't much else he could find about the woman beyond that. A few years later in 2013. Dirk was on a business trip to the Midwest.
So he stayed with his adoptive [00:22:00] mom.
Dirk's adoptive father had passed away. He decided to take a day, borrow his mom's car and drive to the little town where his maternal connections originated. In that small community. Dirk drove to the graveyard to see where his grandparents were buried. Then he stopped at the local high school even though they were probably out for spring break
Dirk: [00:22:22] I drove up to the high school and the parking lot was empty. So I they're definitely on break, but I thought I'm going to give it a shot anyway. So I walked up to the school, the door was unlocked. I walked in and I guess kind of yelled out, Hey, Everybody around here. I hear some voice from around the corner and it was one of the janitors.
And uh, he said, yeah, yeah. How can I help you? And I said, well, do you guys, by any chance, have any old yearbooks from back, like into the fifties? And he goes, oh yeah, I [00:23:00] think we do. And, and he, he walked me back to the library, pointed to the books and said, knock yourself out and walked away. that was amazing.
And so the first, I think I, first one I tried was I think it was 1955 and there she was really, I was able to. Yeah. Yeah. So I saw a picture and, and I saw her sister's photos and the clubs they were in and. And then subsequent yearbooks as well. I saw that she was very active. She was a leader. She was always the head of the president of this, or, you know, vice president of that, or it was very impressive and I took, you know, I got my phone out and took all kinds of pictures and so that was a major connection for me.
That was, that was really cool. I finally, and when I saw our picture, that's my mom really?
Damon: [00:23:54] You saw yourself in her.
Dirk: [00:23:56] Oh, totally. And, and as you know, as an [00:24:00] adoptee, I mean, I think that's the biggest thing is seeing somebody that you look like is the most amazing thing in the world to me still. And when I saw that picture, it just was unbelievable.
Yeah, like I said, that was about 2013 and then a year later I took the ancestry DNA test and then I thought I can finally find out what, what I am and came back and found out that yes, my birth mom was white and my dad was black.
so it's, it's what I had always suspected, but I never really thought it through. And so that took, that took a while to process.
Damon: [00:24:45] tell me about that processing. Cause it's interesting, as we've already said, you know, you've got people. Calling you racially charged names that suggests they think they see you as black.
And, [00:25:00] but you know, whether you fully believed it or not, you had identified with this Latin X, Hispanic heritage. So to see that this black guy is your dad must have been a little bit weird, like, oh, huh. Like you could feel it, but it, but now like all of the Latin, Hispanic thing that I thought I might be able to try to identify with as like gone out the window, you know what I mean?
Dirk: [00:25:29] Yeah. No, it was, it was a definite shock to the system. Because I, you know, my wife is Hispanic, her all at her family obviously, and, and living in Mexico and learning the language and. Loving the food and you know, all my life I've, I've, I've been asked that what are you, you know, even as much as less than six months ago, somebody asked me that.
And, and since now that I know that I'm mixed [00:26:00] black and white the people that I've told it's it's, I would say two thirds said, that's what we thought. And then about another third were like, no, I thought, I really thought you were Hispanic. And so I'm still getting both, you know, and you know, my wife thought she was marrying a Hispanic guy, so it took a while for that all to sink in physically, culturally, mentally, that was a odd time.
It's really hard to put into words how I processed it. It took me about a year to really start to deal and think about that to be told you're one thing and I'm kind of a literal person and I saw it in black and white in my adoption paperwork. And, you know, obviously coming to find out that , I was a difficult to place child.
So I don't know if it was my birth mom or the Florence Crittenton folks, or combination of both that said, okay, well we need to make up a story. So this kid gets [00:27:00] adopted. And then in retrospect, finding out from my, my mom, my adopted mom, that when they adopted my brother, they went house visits and all this paperwork and everything.
And with me, it was like, she goes, I was really surprised. We didn't have to do anything. They just said, here he is. so yeah I was kind of the hot potato, 1960, you know, what do you, what do you do with this kid?
Damon: [00:27:27] Dirk started thinking about his birth father, a mystery man. He hadn't identified. A few years later in 2016, he got a first cousin match on ancestry DNA. Then another and another and all from his paternal connections. One of the cousins started communicating with Dirk and she decided they were going to find his birth father and she made it her mission.
Dirk was a little hesitant, concerned about messing up strangers' lives as a secret child who was about to return from his birth father's past. [00:28:00] but Dirk's cousin said no. You have a right to know who your birth father is and she pressed .
Dirk: [00:28:06] She was fantastic.
So she kind of narrowed it down to three men who she thought would be my birth dad. And she had me text over a photo of myself she texted back right away and she said , you're, you're one of us. And then she spliced my photo with a photo of one of her uncles and sent it back to me and , she said, this might be your dad.
And I looked at that and again, look looked like him and it was, earth shattering for me. And then this cousin reached out to her cousin who was the daughter of this man. And about a week later, I got a call out of the blue from a woman that said, you know, you might be, might half brother. .
Damon: [00:28:56] Wow.
Dirk: [00:28:57] . And we talked on the phone [00:29:00] for about an hour or there just an immediate connection. And so I said, well, Hey, you know, we should find out about this, you know, for sure.
Damon: [00:29:11] At the time Dirk's corporate office was in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a few times a year, he would have to fly in for managers meetings. He was flying into his paternal birth family's hometown. It was perfect. Dirk and his half sister made dinner plans for when he was in town. The first half sister brought her sister dirks second sister
Dirk: [00:29:33] we're having dinner together. And there are, you know, they're just, you know, giving me the eye, you know, across from the table, like, who is this guy? You know? so it was a little tense at first. And I just remember getting up to go, go to the restroom and I, and I came back and then we, we kept talking and next thing I knew they're leaning the two women that might've been, my sisters were leaning into each [00:30:00] other's shoulders and just laughing.
And I'm finally, I'm like, Hey, what's the deal? And the older sister said, you know, when you got up and walked away and now that you know, we're talking to you, every move you make is our dad. Really? Yeah. Yeah. They said you look more like our dad.
Yeah. And so that was an amazing evening.
Damon: [00:30:32] How did that hit you when you heard that?
Dirk: [00:30:35] Almost tears. I mean, there was some Damon that, that in a certain moment in that conversation, it dawned on me that these are my two sisters.
I just knew there was, at that point, there was, there was no doubt. There's some kind of connection and feeling I had and, and I got a little choked up. And the whole rest of the night, they just kept telling me how [00:31:00] much I looked like and all my mannerisms. And I remember walking back into the, you know, they dropped me off at my hotel and I was, I was walking into the hotel and it was just so funny that one sister said, what size shoes do you wear?
And I told her, and she says, just like, daddy, I just thought that was hilarious.
Do they look more black than you do?
Yes. They're, they're darker skinned and I I'm, I guess, light light-skinned for a black person, right. Dark for definitely dark for a white person. And my hair is kind of the in-between hair, which that's a whole other story too. My mom had no idea what to do with my hair growing up. I always tell people, you know, some people have bad hair days.
I had two bad hair decades. So so that's when I, you know, I bought a ancestry test for [00:32:00] one of my sisters. So she could take that so we could see if this was, you know, kind of seal the deal. And she took that and sure enough came back. We knew we were all related. But we were going to just keep it with us because my birth dad had five kids and I knew of the two and they said, well, we, we're not going to tell my sisters.
My new sisters said, we're not going to tell the other three. Well, that didn't last, very long word got out and they thought maybe the youngest sister and the brother might not like the situation, but it was just really the opposite. About six months later, I met my, my new brother and the youngest sister and my birth dad.
We all met at a Mexican restaurant when I was there again for work. I still remember walking into that restaurant, scared to death, almost shaking. Cause I know my, my birth dad is in there [00:33:00] waiting and I walked in. Yeah. I was like, I was telling my new brother who I just met an hour before, who I connected with immediately.
I said, you go at first and , he goes, no, bro, you go in. And I walked in the front of the restaurant and my birth dad was facing away, sitting down , and then he stood up, turned around and looked at me and just put his arms out and gave me a big old hug and a kiss.
, and again, just an immediate connection. That was an amazing, amazing moment. I kept finding myself touching him. It was just really weird. I just couldn't stop, you know, just because I was like, I knew I would, this was my dad, this, this, he looks like he's built exactly like me. He, you know, he laughs like me.
It was just the most amazing thing. And of course all my new siblings are just staring at us, you know? [00:34:00] So that, that was, that was fantastic.
Damon: [00:34:04] Dirk is in a relationship now with his birth dad and three of the four sisters, the one sister just isn't ready yet. When I asked about her Dirk said, she's the one that's only five months apart from him in the birth order. . And that probably has a lot to do with their disconnect.
Dirk's birth father's wife and Dirk's birth mother were pregnant at the same time. But it was nice to hear that his birth father and the other siblings were receptive because the challenge for an adoptee is we didn't create the situation. We find ourselves in when reunion happens like this.
And Dirk. And I agreed if she took a moment to get to know him, his sister would realize he's a pretty decent dude. . He said he texts with at least one of his siblings, at least once a week. They call him Jr. Because he looks so much like their dad. Dirk told me he's done a deep dive into black history adoption and [00:35:00] the exploration of the reality of his own new identity.
Through listening to podcasts, like who am I really? . And digging into other resources for adoptees, Dirk learned about the services provided by search angels. He found a phenomenal guy named dan who found Dirk's birth mother and her phone number
Dirk: [00:35:19] I finally got up the courage and I called her this past Saturday. Wow. And the phone call lasted a minute. She acknowledged who she was and she knowledged who I was that, you know, she knew who I was.
And she just simply said, I made a very difficult decision back then in 1960. And I would appreciate it if you don't reach out to me again and then she hung up. So that was, that secondary rejection was , really tough.
My birth mom's side, you know, just no connection whatsoever. I don't think they want to have any [00:36:00] idea who I am my birth dad's side, for the most part has just embraced me like crazy.
Damon: [00:36:05] Yeah. That is so tough. I'm so sorry. That's that's really hard. there's a small slice of solace in the fact that she acknowledged you, you know?
Dirk: [00:36:16] Exactly, exactly. And it's small
Know, no, but it, you know, it's funny. I mean, I sat there kind of dumbfounded for about an hour after that phone call. And then I thought, you know, that does give me a lit little bit of closure because she actually, she didn't just hang up. She actually acknowledged who I was, you know?
And that's that she was my birth mom, even though it was not good, you know, she didn't want to have any discussion with me. Cause I just said, I just have a few questions for you and I told you her response, you know? but it, it still is a little bit of closure for me.
It sounds like while it wasn't the response you wanted, it also sounds like it wasn't a rude dismissal. It was, I would appreciate if you would not, which is very different right then.
Dirk: [00:37:20] Yeah. And she w she wasn't mean it was very measured, very disciplined. Kind of a tenor in her voice. So yeah, so clearly that happened less than a week ago, so I'm still trying to get my mind around that, but I'm sure it's definitely helps hearing all the stories on your podcast and other podcasts.
And just getting involved in this, in the adoption community is, has been phenomenal. I've gotten involved with adoptees connect and it's really been [00:38:00] neat. Getting to know other adoptees and just seeing how many similarities that we all share.
Damon: [00:38:07] Yes, absolutely.
I was curious to hear Dirk's birth father's version of events. He told Dirk, he met his birth mother at a club and they saw one another on and off for a while. His birth mother was in college. His birth father had a job and a young family. When she got pregnant, the relationship grinded to a halt.
His family moved. She went to college in a different state. And dirk's birth father was told his birth mother had lost the baby
Dirk: [00:38:36] . I think my birth mom had said that she'd lost the baby to a mutual friend who relayed that to him. So when I did find it, he said, I wasn't surprised that he didn't know I existed, that he was always kind of curious. Wow. Yeah.
Damon: [00:38:52] That's crazy. I, I often think about these stories [00:39:00] of the babies who were quote, unquote lost. They know, died in childbirth or, you know, whatever the awful scenario is that is portrayed as to how that child turned out for lack of better word. And then this adult shows up who is that child? I mean, that's gotta be so jarring for a natural mother who is told that their child died for a natural father who was told that the child was lost.
I mean, this, you know, giant person walks in and looks exactly like him. And is the, is that kid, I mean, it's the same way, but you were reaching out to touch him to make it real for yourself. He must've been kind of blown away too.
You know, I was speaking with him on the phone the other day and he's been having some health issues. he asked me what my blood type was. So I told him, and, you know, he had the same blood type and he just started laughing. He goes, he goes, I'm you and you're me. And uh, it's just, those are fun, fun conversations for me.
I, again, never having any kind of physical connection with anybody. And then now I I've got this, you know, and even though, you know, I just turned 60 and he's, you know, 82 we have we have a great relationship, I would say. And we probably talk on the phone twice, a couple of times a month, probably every other week or so we'd talk in the phone.
That's amazing. So yeah, that's, that's [00:41:00] been, that's been really neat, but that must have been yeah, very jarring for him as well.
Damon: [00:41:06] How did you share your journey at all with your adoptive mother and her natural children, your, your siblings? Did you tell them about it? Was it a surprise when you were like, guess what I found, tell me how that went.
Dirk: [00:41:21] That was really difficult. And it's one thing that I've seen that the adoptees kind of deal with because you want to protect your adopted family. I want to, you know, I just have this deep desire to protect my mom. And I knew again, growing up, we never really talked much about it. But I knew that she would, she wouldn't be upset, but I know her and I knew deep down she would be upset.
So it took me a while to get the courage, to tell her, I told my sister first [00:42:00] and my other siblings which those were all hard conversations as well. But when I told my, my mom yeah, I th I think it was. It was difficult for her. So we've maybe brought it up maybe one other time since I told her.
And I, and I think I told her maybe two years ago and she's 90 now 90 and doing great. I, I just, I just want to be careful. I, you know, I know kind of who she is and she's a great mom. I just love her to death and I just don't want to rock her world too much, especially difficult. Right. But it is amazing.
I think that, you know, I, I love my new siblings, but it doesn't take anything away from the siblings I grew up with. you know, you can have both there's, there's no competition there in my mind. But it, it is, it's a, [00:43:00] that's still kind of a tough one.
Damon: [00:43:02] I can imagine. it's hard for us to figure out how to, in any way, weave these two worlds together because they are very separate, you know, these people are not friends, they don't need to know each other, or honestly, the only thing that brings them together is you and know,
Dirk: [00:43:30] sometimes it's like talk about, you know, introducing their birth parents to their adoptive parents.
And that just blows my mind. I could never entertain that thought. I can't imagine that And I don't know how other adoptees feel, but I know I've talked to several that have done that and I'm like, wow, that's bold. I'm sure it's healthy. Yeah, there's a [00:44:00] piece I'm not
Damon: [00:44:00] there yet. Yeah, I can imagine. I can imagine there's a piece of it.
You know, I did it, , but for me it was different because I introduced my natural mother to my adoptive father. I didn't introduce mother to mother nor father to father. Right. So you, weren't bringing someone into face-to-face contact with another person who basically could have had their role, you know?
And I don't think that they would necessarily articulate it as such, but it. It feels like you're introducing almost to competitors, you know, competitors for a space in your heart. And you know, our hearts are big enough to let everybody in, but it's probably hard for them to conceptualize that, especially when you are biologically attached and descended [00:45:00] from another person, that's an undisputable fact that links you together, that I can see how it is challenging for adoptive parents who have given their heart and soul into raising you and bringing you to be the person that you are with the influence that they had given.
You know, what we now know is a lot of nature that's within us. It's gotta be tough, you know, to, to see, you know, this other person that. You look like you identify with, it's, it's, . It's gotta be challenging.
Dirk: [00:45:33] Yeah. Th th the whole nature nurture thing is just a fascinating cop, because if you would've asked me 10 years ago, I would have said you know, nurture, it's all about nurture.
And you asked me today and it's like, wow, so much nature in there that you can't describe, or you can't even, you know, you can't put your finger on it, but the nature part of it is, is really strong. [00:46:00] Yeah. That's exactly right. Yeah.
Damon: [00:46:04] Well, Dirk, this is unreal. I'm really sorry for how things went with your, with your natural mother.
I hope that one day she'll want to know you, but I mean, it sounds like it's been years in between , your outreach and she sounds pretty steadfast and letting the past be the past, especially given. Probably , how she felt about your dad and how things turned out. But the welcome you've got at home with your dad's family is just unbelievable.
And I'm so happy for you for that. That's really cool.
Dirk: [00:46:37] Yeah, that, that part is definitely been fantastic. And, and yeah, I look forward to the future of hanging out with them and you know, my brother and I took a trip together to New York and that was just a great time. Yeah. That's awesome. Yeah. So it's all been very, very cool.
So yeah, [00:47:00] just trying to process the good with the bad and, and keep going forward.
Damon: [00:47:05] Very cool, man. Thanks for opening up to share your story. This has been amazing to hear. Thanks so much.
Dirk: [00:47:10] Well, thank you, Damon. I love, love, love your show. Great
Damon: [00:47:14] job. Thanks, man. I appreciate that very much. Dirk. You take care.
Have a great evening, man. All the best. All right.
Dirk: [00:47:20] All right. You too. Bye-bye. Bye. Bye.
Show CloseHey it's me,
Dirk's is a story of identity in my mind.
There's the kid that grows up being told he is descendent of one culture, but feeling and hearing from the outside world that he might be something else.
Part of our identity is the connection we hope to feel from our biological relatives.
While his birth mother [00:48:00] couldn't bring herself to speak with Dirk when he found her ther first time, I was glad he gathered his courage to call her, hear her voice, and at least be acknowledged the second time.
They may not have a relationship, but at least Dirk got some small measure of closure when she admitted 1960 was a tough year, acknowledging his identity in her life.
It was great to hear that Dirk's paternal connections are accepting, positive, and loving.
I'm sure it's hard for his sister to reconcile Dirk's birth in close proximity to her own, but neither of the kids planned their sibling relationship.
I hope she's able to reconcile with her father, and with Dirk.
His other paternal siblings have accepted the past, and if Dirk and his sister aren't able to come togheter, they're going to miss out on the great people one another are.
I'm Damon [00:49:00] Davis and I hope you found something in Dirk's journey that inspires you, validates your feelings about wanting to search, or motivates you to ahve the strength along your journey to learn, Who Am I Really?
Damon: [00:49:14] Hey, it's me. Dirks is a story of identity in my mind. There's the kid that grows up being told he's descendant of one culture, but feeling and hearing from the outside world that he might be something else. Part of our identity is the connection we hope to feel from our biological relatives. When his birth mother couldn't bring herself to speak with Dirk when he found her the first time, I was glad he gathered his courage to call her, hear her voice, and at least be acknowledged the second time.
They may not have a relationship, but at least Dirk got some small measure of closure. When she admitted 1960 was a tough year, acknowledging his identity in her life. It was. It [00:50:00] was great to hear that Dirk's paternal connections are accepting positive and loving. I'm sure it's hard for his sister to reconcile Dirk's birth in close proximity to her own, but neither of the kids planned their sibling relationship. I hope she's able to reconcile with her father and with Dirk, his other paternal siblings have accepted the past. And if Dirk and his sister aren't able to come together, they're going to miss out on the great people. One another are.
I'm Damon Davis. And to hope you'll find something in Dirk's journey that inspires you. Validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have this strength along your journey to learn. Who am i