Erika called me from outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Ericka and her older adopted brother were doing fine with their adoptive parents until the birth of their siblings created an unspoken split between the children.
In reunion, Erika’s mother was an open book about her experiences as one of the girls who went away, while her adoptive mother was closed to the fact that Erika was actually related to her birth mother, subscribing to the blank slate mentality of the baby scope era.
Connecting with her birth father she found a man who always knew about her but didn’t realize that he missed her until Erika returned.
This is Erika’s journey.
160 - Erika
[00:00:00] Damon: Hey, it's Damon. Just two quick things before today's show. First a quick note of thanks to a Patrion donor, Mike. He recently increased his contribution to the show and it really means a lot. If you're interested in supporting the, who am I really podcast?
You can go to patrion.com/whi really like I've said before, I'm grateful for whatever support you show for this work.
Second, just a reminder that today October 30th is adoptee remembrance day. We all know what a challenge adoption can be on the identity of an adoptee. And some people struggle mightily with carrying on with life.
Adopt, these are four times more likely to commit suicide. And statistics show that rates of incarceration are high among adoptees and many adoptees struggle with mental health throughout their lives. I hope you'll take a moment today to pause and think about the struggle someone else's going through. Just being [00:01:00] adopted.
You can do whatever suits you to commemorate the day, say a prayer, take a moment of silence or reach out to someone you think needs you. You can post your support for the adoptee community on social media, using the hashtag adopt the remembrance day.
It's whatever you want to do to remember those we've lost and acknowledge those who have suffered.
[00:01:26] Erika: she stayed in the hospital for five days.
So she got to see me every day and hold me. She would call for me and they would bring me to her. . So that was something I had just no idea because when my adoptive parents got me. I was like two weeks old. And I think I was in foster care for a very brief time.
But apparently I was at the hospital for at least five days. And then all of a sudden, one day she called for me and I was gone. They did not warn her or anything.
[00:01:55] Damon: [00:02:00] I'm Damon Davis. And today you're going to meet Erica who called me from outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Erica and her older adopted brother, we're doing fine with their adoptive parents until the birth of their siblings created an unspoken split between the children. In reunion. , Eric, his mother was an open book about her experiences as one of the girls who went away.
While her adoptive mother was closed to the fact that Erica was actually related to her birth mother subscribing to the blank slate mentality of the baby scoop era. Connecting with her birth father. She found a man who always knew about her, but didn't realize that he missed her until Erica returned. This is Erica's journey
[00:02:44] Damon: When Erica called, she told me her husband, Barry was sitting with her, listening in supporting his wife. Fun fact, when they met years ago on a blind date, they quickly discovered they are both adoptees. Erica and Barry have been listening [00:03:00] to the, who am I really podcast together identifying with pieces of each adoptees journey.
Barry told me, he'll share his journey with you one day, but today we're going to focus on Erica. She was born in St. Petersburg, Florida in the late 1960s, grew up in Tallahassee and she's basically a Florida girl. Her adoptive parents, a college professor and a stay at home mother had moved from the Midwest where they adopted Erica's older brother a few years before her.
She said her family was just fine through her elementary school years. And the family was moving forward together.
[00:03:36] Erika: and then my adoptive parents had two biological children. So when I was four, they had a daughter.
And then when I was eight, they had a son. And so they were born in 73 and 77. And,, that, that definitely changed the dynamic, I would say in our family, um, my older brother and I kind of just, I don't know how to say it. There was like [00:04:00] an undercurrent. We just kind of knew that. The real kids are the more important kids or something.
, because you know, people would congratulate them on finally having children of their own, you know, a lot of things like that were said and how happy they were, you know, and I'm sure they were, I mean, seriously, if you thought you were in fertile and you adopted a couple of children and then all of a sudden, wow.
Out of the blue you're pregnant that's that was that's pretty exciting. So as a kid, , all those things said innocently enough and, and sincerely enough, I just kind of remember feeling that and that there was a little, there was just a difference between older to younger two.
And, , I am very tall. I have red hair and I was very tall, very young. So I kind of stood out. And my older brother, he was short and stocky with curly hair and I was tall with red hair. And their biological children obviously looked like them. They were a little smaller in stature
[00:05:04] Erika: immediately. I mean, I go with I'm five foot 10 as an adult, and a lot of women are five foot 10, but I was tall, young, you know, I got tall.
I was always a whole head taller than kids in elementary school.
in fourth grade I was five foot two, and by fifth grade I was five foot six. I was so grateful to go to high school where people were all just grown, right?
[00:05:29] Damon: Oh man. Yeah. You were really a standout and, and, uh, kids are not very kind when you're very, very different.
They will let you know. And it's not always very nice
[00:05:41] Erika: And my dad, you know, cause everybody would always ask, where does this height come from? You know, where does this come? Where's the red hair come from? Where does it come from? And my dad would always say, um, you know, he just stuck me in a pile of maneuver and I kept growing.
That was his
[00:06:00] Erika: I know. Well, that's kind of how, there you go. That's what, that's how he is. He speaks in sarcasm, I guess you could say.
[00:06:08] Damon: I was just going to ask if we could go back for a moment, because you said some really interesting things about when the, your parents natural children were born.
And one that stands out to me is that your parents got a lot of sort of praise and congratulations for finally conceiving children on their. And I'm with you. I get it. That's a massive congratulatory moment. There's no question about it.
[00:06:35] Erika: Of course.
[00:06:35] Damon: I also wonder too. There's two pieces to what I'm about to say.
One is it would be magnified because of the intensity of what happened. They couldn't have children and now all of a sudden out of the blue they did, but the other piece is that you weren't there too. And, and could hear and understand the praise that may have coincided with your adoption, right?
Oh, [00:07:00] she's so cute. I'm so I'm so happy for you. I know you've been waiting a long time. Like some of that same praise might have happened that you weren't sort of fully present for. , and again, the intensity of the praise for them having children on their own would have been possibly greater than for your adoption.
So I just wondered how you had you ever thought about that piece of. The fact that people probably congratulated them in a similar way when you were adopted as to what transpired with their natural kids.
[00:07:32] Erika: Yes, absolutely. I think that they were very excited to adopt and, , I mean, there's, you know, lots of you could, you could see there was lots of celebrations and pictures and, you know, I have a cousin 10 days apart in age, , and she, and I've always been really good friends.
And so there was always, I think there was always a little bit of competition between my mom and her sister so they were very happy. Yeah. I think everybody was pretty happy. My grandparents were very happy.
[00:08:00] I also think that my grandmother, my adoptive mother's mother.
She kind of, in my opinion, saw what was going on and just kind of felt that, , extra care for my older brother and me, like, she just could see, I just felt that from her, she kind of treated us special because she realized, maybe it was kind of a lot for us to hear possibly
[00:08:20] Damon: that's really cool that she was astute and sensitive enough to tune into that and sort of warm up to you guys for that reason.
Can you give me examples of how you notice that, that she was more in tune to you guys in that
[00:08:36] Erika: she would say things to me, like she would tell me that, , , all the models were tall and how pretty I was and how smart I was and, you know, things like that. She just kind of, she was really kind of a glam gal, right.
She was always like the jewelry and makeup and dress up grandma. I mean, she was just a lot of fun and my mom is really not like that. She's literally a librarian, you [00:09:00] know, , she doesn't do those things.
So grandma was always a lot of fun. And I think she had a lot of fun with me because I love that stuff,
[00:09:08] Damon: Erica has shared that she had an older brother also adopted since the younger two siblings were paired off as the biological children to their parents. And by age, I figured Erica and her brother were paired off as the adoptees and the older two kids. I was curious how she and her brother got along.
Erica said, unfortunately, he had some mental problems. They started to show themselves in elementary school, in the form of cruelty to animals and other signaling behaviors. But she said they did stick together because the pairings were clear in their family. But Erica and her brother didn't have a close relationship.
He poked a lot of fun at her height when they were younger and they didn't have much of a relationship when they got older. Unfortunately, he had a lot of health problems, too. He got sick with flu, like symptoms in the beginning of this year. [00:10:00] And the man died in January.
Back in their childhood. Erica's parents divorced. But their family had four kids. So the dynamic of a split home must have been really challenging to manage
[00:10:12] Erika: Yeah, that was definitely, the definition of dysfunctional.
I would say, I would say, it was rough, you know, in my adult life. And then kind of my personal studies, I learned a lot about like different family dynamics and maybe like a narcissistic family divorce or the narcissistic family roles or style. And that definitely fit us. It definitely did a lot of competition, a lot of, , smear campaigns, one parent against the other, a lot of, you know, using the kids as pawns and.
Arguing and, you know, the child supports too much. I don't want to pay child support and you know, I'm divorced myself now, you know, but I mean, nothing makes a [00:11:00] kid feel less wanted then I don't want to pay even child support for you.
Wow. That's a good point. So that was,
, that was kind of a, that was when I, you know, even when I met my husband now, cause we're, you know, a second marriage, like I said, I loved the fact that he did not have one negative word to say about supporting his kids and he would have done more and he had them all the time and I just was like, that's a standup guy right there.
That's really awesome because yeah, it did not. It did not go that way. , in the divorce, it was, it was pretty rough. , honestly, and I was really, , I went into a depression, probably late high school, maybe 17, 18 years old. And as much as my parents, you know, would fight about money and things like. , my mom sent me to a therapist and just paid for it.
I don't think it was covered on insurance and paid a lot for it. And, , she did that without a word and it really helped me. It really changed my life, but I did also learn how much [00:12:00] I needed to get out of that house and how much I needed to leave the dynamics. But we lived with my mom full-time and visited dad.
They stayed local to Tallahassee for a while. And then they moved to New York. He got another job in New York and then we would kind of fly back and forth for holidays, but, and he married a woman with three kids and then they had one of their own who's like 20 years younger than me. So there was eight altogether with everyone.
[00:12:28] Damon: Erica felt like she wanted to get out of her mother's home and be on her own, but she kept getting sick in high school with tonsillitis and mano. Erica had a job. She was saving money, but was also in danger of having to repeat her senior year because she was accumulating more than the allowable number of.
She was accumulating more than the allowable number of absences in one year. She decided to withdraw herself from school, took the GED. Used her summer work to stack some cash enrolled [00:13:00] in community college, then transferred into Florida state university. That's a highly motivated young woman taking action toward her future .
[00:13:09] Erika: And the interesting thing is my, I don't know if I would have even thought of that. My therapist actually kind of encouraged me. She said, what? You're smart. What do you care? You can ace this, you know, GED, , go to college, go on with your life.
Don't prolong high school. And I'm thinking like a therapist is telling someone to do this?, but she was great. I mean, she really, she really broke things down for me and helped me sort myself out as an individual like, just because you have this child or this dysfunctional family life growing up.
Doesn't mean that's who you are. You get to be who you wanna be
[00:13:47] Damon: I love that. Wow. And she certainly motivated you to push towards doing that. That's really awesome.
. , , my dad helped me go to college a little bit for maybe, I don't know, maybe a year. I think I was about 19. , I was in New York and, , and my stepmother had told me to get off my high horse. They weren't going to pay tuition or whatever. Cause
she decided to go to law school then while I was in school. And I remember, I don't know if you ever had these moments. But I had so much upset that I had not opened up before. And I remember I looked at him, I was 19 and I guess he was 50. And I said, it is not my fault that you never planned for me to grow up and go to school.
Like you have your PhD, mom has her masters. Like, did you not plan on this? I said, and I looked at him and I said, I'm not an accident. You had, you went out of your way for me. So why are you mad at me that I expected, you know, 50% help or something? And he did not know what to say. That definitely changed our relationship.
But I, then I remember I got on a plane from New York and [00:15:00] I cry. I feel so sorry for whoever was sitting next to my little 19 year old crying on that plane. I cried. I can barely even talk about it.
But then after that, I just, you know, he sent me a check and I just gave it back to him and I said, you know, forget it. And I got student loans and I finished up,
oh my gosh, good for you. Good for you. That's really powerful. You took all the motivation and turned it on yourself, not to try to incite someone else to action.
He said, forget that I'm going to do this. And you made it happen. That's really, really incredible. Wow.
It's funny because he's even brought that up to my kids. Like maybe that, cause we don't have a good relationship now or really any , and I'm thinking I'm not mad about that. I actually, that was such a growth experience for me.
I don't think I would change that. I mean, cause you're, he'll think like I have resentment. Oh, he didn't do these things for me, but I mean that I am not angry about that. It's just how it shook out [00:16:00] and I'm a better person for it.
[00:16:01] Damon: Erica clarified for me, that her upsetting discussion with her father at 19 years old, wasn't about money. It was about him not following through on his initial promise for college assistance. She said the reason she was so upset was because of the promise he reneged on and her feelings of never being considered as a person of value growing up.
It wasn't all about money.
So Erica is self-motivated. She's been a standout For her physical stature and her red hair reminders that she's an adoptee based on her comparative appearance with her family.
I imagined that she probably had to explain being an adoptee quite often. So I wondered what made her begin to search for her natural family. She recalled when her adoptive parents got divorced, she fantasized that her birth parents were going to come knock on the door. Pick her up and take her away with them.
When she was 18 Erica's mom gave her, her non identifying information, which [00:17:00] she found really interesting to read through. She learned she was conceived by high school teenagers, Her birth mother was five foot nine her birth father was six foot
they've had this paper the whole time, are they surprised? And on five 10 seriously.
[00:17:15] Erika: so I always thought about it after that. I remember I used to sit in my room and talk to my sister, my sister, and I shared a room and talked to her and we would think about like, what would they be doing? How old would they be? , and so I started really thinking about it when I was pregnant with my third child.
And I'm not really sure why that was kind of a trigger. You know, my marriage was not in a good situation to my first husband. , and I just remember thinking that I just, I really longed for some family, like different than my adoptive family, , I just, I longed for that. So I reached out to, , the children's home society in Florida, which is where I was, that was my adoption agency.
, and I emailed them and oddly enough, the woman who set me up with my parents was working there again because she had worked there, young, [00:18:00] stopped working to have a family and then went back to work there.
[00:18:03] Damon: That's astonishing.
[00:18:04] Erika: Yeah. , and we used to run into her every once in a while in Tallahassee.
I remember once when I was a little kid, my mom told me who she was and I was like, oh, thanks. You know, Hey and so, wow. And so I emailed back and forth with her a little bit and they had a waiting list at the time. This is a 1999, I think. There was a waiting list of like eight months. And so I went ahead and got on the waiting list and I don't know what my name came up at some point. And the fee was like $800 to search. And I was like, you know what, I'm not doing this right now.
I have too much going on. And then I also thought since my marriage was not good, I was so worried that I would come off like needy or pathetic. So I thought. I'm not strong enough to do this right now. I don't have enough confidence right now, so I didn't do it. And I literally did not look into it again seriously until, 2013 [00:19:00] and it sat on my desk for, over a year. And then I got into an argument with my adoptive dad because, My dad. And I had words, we had had words a few times because I remarried and I created a step family and he created a step family yet. He was not acknowledging like Barry and his children in my life.
And it was really strange. And I said to him, once I said, you know, Barry's parents don't have a problem. Acknowledging all of us, mom doesn't have a problem acknowledging all of us. And yet you're the only one created a step family and you don't do it. . And he, that, that really called him out and he did not like it.
Our relationship kind of got more, even more adversarial at that point. Then, you know, he would come for visits, you know, a lot of sarcastic comments, you know, and to a degree, I think he's kind of awkward socially and that's maybe how he communicates and he really does believe it's funny. , but I don't think it's very funny.
That manure, I put her in manure, [00:20:00] like, unless you were in a farming environment where that was a common thing. I could see it being a little more, a little better there, but if you weren't farmers who were dealing in manure a lot, that's a fairly offensive thing to say. Well,
actually we did have, we did live at the time five or six acres.
And he had like a quarter of an acre garden. He was very into organic garden.
[00:20:22] Damon: Mm I see. So he made a logical sort of, yeah. He made a logical joke in his mind, but you know, for anybody else though, they're going to be like, okay, what did he just say about his daughter? You know what I mean?
[00:20:34] Erika: Well, I think he's made a few of those comments to that surprise people.
Yeah. But he was, , he was totally a composter, like, so to him that was probably, that comment was so mild to me. I've always kind of thought that one was funny, you know, but he used say just, you know, goofy stuff, call me bird legs, or, you know, whatever.
Cause it was tall and had long legs, but it did make me very self-conscious, you know, as a kid and even today, sometimes I would think that maybe, you know, [00:21:00] maybe that makes me, so I don't know if that's where it comes from, but you know, when I feel self-conscious I wonder.
[00:21:04] Damon: Yeah. Yeah. You at least remember how you felt when he made you feel that way too.
Whether he, whether his comments on the source or not. I hear
[00:21:11] Erika: you. Yeah. I just remember being a kid kind of wishing I could turn invisible. So I just was like, can you just not?
[00:21:17] Damon: Yeah. Right, right. So you can stop talking about me, man. Can you do me a favor just for quick reference? You said that you first reach out to children's home society with your third child, just roughly what age were you around that time?
29. And then you reached out a second time and at that time you downloaded the packet and it sat there for a year. Is that correct? It did. And how old were you that second time? Roughly? That was in 2010
[00:21:44] Erika: That was in 2013. So I think it was 45.
[00:21:48] Damon: Wow. So it has a 15 year span between the first outreach to them and the second one.
Right. Wow. Wow.
[00:21:55] Erika: Yeah, it's weird. How it just, it wasn't a thing. And then all of a sudden it was a thing. [00:22:00] Even my friends that have known me for 20 years, they're like, I never knew you really wanted to do this. And I said, well, I've always wanted to do it, but I just always kind of tucked it away.
Like, it's always going to be an option, but we're getting older now. And you know, you never know.
[00:22:14] Damon: That's right. Because as I sit here 40 something years old, the person who gave birth to me is that much older than me. Right. So,
[00:22:22] Erika: And, I felt so guilty about it. I really did, especially for like my mom, you know, I just, I just felt that guilt, I don't know.
I don't even know if I can describe it. And when I was actually, when I was 29 and I was pregnant with my third, I helped a friend. , cause like I told you, my marriage wasn't very good, but apparently I just kept getting pregnant. I had all these friends on infertility drugs and I was like, I'm sorry. , and so I had this one friend that was looking to adopt and, you know, trying all kinds of things to get pregnant.
And then , they were going through, , adoption agencies and the waiting lists were just years and years then it was one of those situations where somebody knew[00:23:00] somebody who had a daughter that was 15 kicked out of her house because she was pregnant and they were like, she can live with us, we'll adopt the baby.
And so that's what they did. So while I was pregnant with my third, this young woman lived with my friend, my good friend. And they adopted her child. Wow. And I was, I, you know, I really kind of helped talk that, you know, talk to the birth mother and she was kept saying, this baby is going to be so mad at me.
And I said, no, he's not. I said, I'm not mad. I've never been mad. I so accepted you my whole life. They were young. It's a situation, you know, I, I've never felt angry about that. , but it definitely makes you a different gives you a different life and a different upbringing than other people have. But I never really held that against my birth mom or my birth dad.
And she was really worried about that. And, I remember also when she gave birth, because she was so young, the nursing staff was very [00:24:00] unkind to her and I went in there and just. I really kind of gave him the what for. I was very mad. I'm like she deserves the same health care that everyone else gets, who has a baby.
I don't care how old she is. And I was like, you know, two months behind her, you know, big pregnant. And I was very, very annoyed and she got through it. I think it was, you know, it was hard for her, but, she got through it. They, they have always, you know, exchanged pictures and things like that. And you know, of course I'm still friends with this family.
[00:24:29] Damon: really cool and good for you for sticking up for her. You know, there's a lot of stigma and bias in healthcare for a variety of reasons. And this is one of those areas, you know, there's judgment against a person being pregnant, a woman being pregnant at a certain age or, or what have you. And you know, people are judging them.
You don't know their life. You don't know, how much in love she is with this guy? How, what the circumstances are. Fibs. She [00:25:00] was told, you know, to get her into this position, whatever the thing is, it doesn't matter. It's not your business. You're there to serve. He served for just like you serve anybody else.
Right. And, um, I'm glad you did that for her.
[00:25:12] Erika: Well, and it's funny. So the thing that made me start talking about that is when I was looking into searching and I was feeling the guilt. So I called this friend, I'll use her first name. Her name was Melissa. And I called my friend, Melissa. And I said, I am struggling with this.
What do you think about this? And she said, Erica, just get over it, mail the paper in everyone who adopts the kids knows this date is going to come. And if the, and that's your life and, and that's what you need to do. And that she, I said, would you support this? She goes, of course, I keep in touch with the birth mother, you know?
And, and she said, yes, get over it.,
so I said, okay. And so I fill out this paperwork. Oh.
So anyway, so I got in this argument with my dad, he was my adopted dad.
He was going to come down, we had spoken on the phone and I made a comment about, how the [00:26:00] second marriage was hard and it was hard because we both have, you know, X's and, you know, as much as I wanted to get out of, you know, my parents like that narcissistic style divorce, my husband kind of has one of those.
One night I was talking to my dad on the phone and, and I, I just told him that it was, we were having a hard time that it was hard, hard to be in the second marriage, knowing that he was in a second marriage and had step kids and all of that. Well, then I, about two days later, my sister calls me and says, You know, dad said, you and Barry are getting a divorce and you've hired a lawyer.
And I was like, what? Oh my gosh,
[00:26:40] Damon: the lawyer part.
[00:26:41] Erika: Geez. I know I was like, that's unbelief. That is like a huge twist. And um, so I said, no, I said, and you know, I don't know, by the way I was like, and by the way, not productive, I've already been divorced one. I wouldn't hire a lawyer again. So I said, so even if that were true, I [00:27:00] wouldn't do it that way, but it wasn't true.
And I said, you know, I, I was pretty annoyed with it. So I called my dad and I, and I told him, you know, Hey, why did you, what, what, what is going on? And, and you know, why would you tell the rest of the family. That bearing I were having a hard time. He goes, well, I didn't know it was a secret. I was like, but that's because that's not kind.
I mean, you know, and I'm thinking, I, I think I even told him, you know, is my sort of first, really decent conversation in 20 years and that's what happened. Right. , so I said to him that he was going to come down for Thanksgiving or Christmas or something that year. I said, you know what? Just don't come.
Just, just like, , I need a break. I just don't even come. And, you know, he kinda got sarcastic, a little sing song in his voice. Like, oh, whatever you say, you're the boss. And I was like, that's right. I am the bus, so you're not coming. So that was, that was that. And literally he has placed one phone call to me since then, November of 2014.
[00:27:57] Damon: Wow.
[00:27:58] Erika: Which he [00:28:00] sent like flowers on my birthday or a birthday card and things like that. He sent me a letter once and I wrote him an email back and I kind of, you know, bared my soul to say, here's all the things that I'm upset about. And. And he just didn't respond.
But other than that, we really, we don't have a relationship. But anyway, that was the catalyst. I mean, I remember like, I was like, I'm going to send this letter out because could it be worse? You know, like whatever. So, um, so, so to, for
[00:28:27] Damon: clarity, the catalyst was the tension between you and your adoptive father and your ongoing sort of everlasting desire to search.
And you're with your friend saying, listen, this is your life, live it how you want to live it. I know you're sensitive to your adoptive parents feelings, but go find what you are seeking. Is that roughly right?
[00:28:51] Erika: Yes.
[00:28:52] Damon: In February of 2015, Erica was 46 years old. She sent her letter off into the world, [00:29:00] which was a huge step for her. Unfortunately the fee for the search through children's home society was $1,000, an exorbitant amount for a search for information in their own physical files.
Erica was really annoyed with that cost. She talked herself down from the height of annoyance when she realized they were going to do more than find a file. They were going to try to locate real people and that could take some time and effort. Erica resigned herself to writing the check and waiting for her results. She ordered the book, the girls who went away by Ann Fessler to learn more about the experience of birth mothers in adoption.
But before she could even educate herself. She got a call within a week from a social worker at the children's home society who interviewed her about why she wanted to search. Erica reassured the woman, there was no big burning reason. She had her own life a successful career and a family but she also just wanted to know [00:30:00] more about her origin story
[00:30:02] Erika: So then she tells me after we'd been on the phone for maybe like 45 minutes that she's already found my birth mom.
And I was like, you've got to be kidding me. so then , I was like, so nervous, I got this in the pit of my stomach.
She said, so we've found her, we're going to send her a letter. It's kind of a cryptic letter. It basically says, Hey, you know, were you in St. Petersburg and 19, January, 1969. And if, so we would like to contact you about.
And so they sent this letter out and I just was like, remember they said, I think they sent a letter on it. Like I got that call like on a Monday. And I was thinking, oh my God, what am I, you know, how am I going to even make it through this week and I got a call on a Friday and she said, yes, she got the letter. And she called me and she definitely is interested in communicating with you. That was another [00:31:00] huge, like the letter in the mailbox was huge. The hearing yes. Was huge.
[00:31:05] Damon: What did you feel when you heard her say yes, she wants to speak with you?
[00:31:09] Erika: , I just, I had just total butterflies. I was like, it was so unbelievable to me that this Pandora's box was just about to open. I mean, I did get the gravity of the situation, you know, I was like, wow. Like 10 days total, I mailed it. She called me, she found her immediately. She sent the letter and she responded within five days.
So it went very quickly and I did not anticipate that. I really thought that was going to be a months and months long process.
[00:31:44] Damon: The next step was for Erica to write a letter, introducing herself to her birth mother. The rules of the letter were, she couldn't use names or locations, but she could include pictures. Erica [00:32:00] scanned photos of herself when she was young, some shots of her family and enclose them with the letter. She had written overviewing her life.
She said she was cautious not to share too much in her first contact. She didn't want to be the adoptee that oversharers and scares the birth parent with too much detail. Erica wanted to convey that she is okay. She's a normal person. That she was interested in meeting her birth mother, anticipating the woman must have also been curious about meeting Erica after all these years. In no time, Erica and her birth mother were communicating through written letters.
[00:32:36] Erika: And then I got a picture of what my biological mom looked like, , nothing at all, what I thought, but yet I looked like her.
So she gave me up when she was in high school and then she married at 24. She had two other daughters and, you know, looking at pictures of them, you know, they definitely looked like me as a kid. And, , it was just [00:33:00] amazing. It was amazing. And I, and I had all these pictures and at this time I was sharing with, you know, friends and family and, Even my adopted, you know, younger or my younger brother and sister from my adoptive family, I was sharing these things with them and I somewhat shared them with my mom.
And, was just fascinating. And you know, my birth mom and I were both just sending pictures back and forth and it happened pretty quickly. And then I talked to her on the phone the first time, , on St. Patrick's day to, you know, 2015.
And I remember her saying, I was sitting on the patio. I remember her saying, , well, this is the perfect time for us to speak for the first time, because you are absolutely Irish. And I said, well, I don't think anybody could have ever looked at me and not thought I was Irish. Like, no kidding.
And it's from her, it's actually from, you know, Biological dad's side. And it's funny. She came right out of the shoot. She told me exactly what his name was, you know, high school. She had pictures of them. She had pictures of them at the prom and I'm sitting [00:34:00] there going may, may, June, July, August, September, October, November.
I was like, oh, so I was a prom baby. I was a junior prom baby. Probably.
It's funny how we sit there and do that. You think of your own birth date and you go, all right, what thing could have been happening? Like when was I conceived? I did the exact same thing. And I figured out that I was probably a Superbowl baby,
So she pulled out all of this, all the stops. She was an open book. It sounds like,
oh, she was, I mean, she was completely an open book. Um, we talked, you know, the first time we talked on the phone, it was, it was really long. And I remember afterwards, you know, telling my husband, I'm like, I am so stunned.
I don't even know what we talked about. Like, I don't think I could repeat any of that conversation. It was a state of. , and she told me everything. I asked her every question , like when I helped my friend adopt her son, when I was pregnant with my third, I remember that the birth mother had to name him and then they had to replace the birth certificate.
And that was the first time I had ever heard [00:35:00] that I had another name probably. So that was one of the questions I asked her, " what was my name? Did you name me before?" And she did. She named me, Heather Ann. And that's so amazing to think of yourself with a different name. And my name is actually Erica Ann that my adoptive parents made me.
That's really cool.
[00:35:19] Damon: How interesting, how did you feel when you heard your, your first name, your original name, and then realized there was a correlation between that original name and your, your adopted.
[00:35:31] Erika: Well, I told her right away, I said, did you put an E on the end of an? And she said, no. I said, neither did neither did my parents.
So it was the same middle name. So we both thought that was kind of cool. , and then she told me the experience of, you know, having me, she was actually from Virginia and, , you know, she, you know, 1968 got pregnant and her parents sent her to a Florence Crittendon home in St. Petersburg, Florida. Her grandmother lived in.
St Petersburg. And she stayed with her [00:36:00] grandmother until a place in the Florence. Crittendon home opened up for her. And , the whole story, just like the girls who went away. I mean, they, you know, they could go by first name only. No last names.
And she even said, she said, and I was asking kind of what was the purpose of that? And she said, I don't know. I think maybe so we couldn't blackmail each other in life later, like say, oh, I knew her from this place or find each other.
[00:36:25] Damon: Isn't that interesting. I had that angle.
[00:36:29] Erika: I know, but everything had to be kept so secret.
And she speaks of it very matter of fact, not like it was a hardship at all. She said, they took really good care of us. And you know, we did crafts, we got to keep up at high school. They fed us really well. And she said, I was thinner and in better shape after I had you done before.
Wow. And she said, but they also had to keep them right there. We're keeping them marketable for me, you know, like that, that was part of the whole thing preserve. And, you know, we'll make sure you look good and you can go on with your life and just bury this like, [00:37:00] it never happened to you. Um, but she did say that when she went into labor, they took her to the hospital and just left her by herself, 17 years old.
and she said, then they put me in a room and, , I guess I was crying or, you know, complaining enough that they came and said, are you ready? You know, gave her something and you know, back then, I guess they, you know, they knocked women out when they had babies.
And then I was born, but nobody was with her at all. And I had my first child when I was married at 24 years old. And I was terrified. I can't imagine being 17. And by yourself and your mom states away. And you know, I just, I can't imagine. Yeah. So then she had me, she also, she had a hemorrhage, so she stayed in the hospital for five days.
So she got to see me every day and hold me. She would call for me and they would bring me to her. . So that was something I had just no idea because when my adoptive parents got me. I was like two weeks old. And I think I was in foster care [00:38:00] for a very brief time.
But apparently I was at the hospital for at least five days. And then all of a sudden, one day she called for me and I was gone. They did not warn her or anything.
[00:38:10] Damon: It must have been so heartbreaking.
[00:38:12] Erika: I can't, as she said, she, she said, she just, the way she just, she just said, I freaked out. And I called my mom and her mom said, well, you know, that's what was going to happen.
There's nothing you can do about it. I think her mom. The reason why I was adopted. I'm pretty sure it was because of her mother. Cause she did tell me the first time I met her, she said, I want you to know that my dad said I could keep you.
[00:38:33] Damon: So she, what do you want when you heard that?
[00:38:38] Erika: Well, that I thought it was probably, I instantly thought her mother did not want this to happen.
Well, I think they were pretty high society and I don't think they wanted to have a pregnant teenager. Mom was not doing that. I kind of got the feeling they were, just based on the, the job her dad had, you know, and, and they were, they were from the DC area from, , McLean, Virginia.[00:39:00]
So I think that was, that was not cool for mom to have this pregnant teenager. She even said her mother figured out she was pregnant before she did. Really? Yes. I don't know how that went down. I might have to ask her again. I guess she was sick or something and her mom, her mom's figured it out.
That's really crazy. Right.
And so then, you know, she had me, you know, went on with her life and got married and had two other children. And I did learn that her youngest daughter died at 21. Hm. Um, it is very sad. And I'll tell you, like, when I found my biological dad, his youngest child also died in early twenties.
I know, I know isn't that both of them. , but yeah, her youngest died. She had a very late diagnosis of, I think type one diabetes. And she had moved out and was living on her own at 21. And, you know, I don't know if, and she [00:40:00] just, she didn't, I don't think she knew how to take care of her diabetes very well, because it was however this came up in her life, that old to be type one, I don't know.
Right. But it did, I don't know all the stories, you know, I, I don't know all the details
[00:40:14] Damon: and all that. Yeah, of course. Of course. Odd an awful irony that both of them go on with their lives and lose their youngest child at, in their twenties. That's really sad. That's crazy. Yes.
[00:40:28] Erika: Yes.
Erica and her birth mother both figured out that they were in Florida. Her birth mother lives halfway between Erica and her adoptive mother, nearly four hours away. On the phone, they planned a trip to meet halfway, to have lunch together. It ended up being a marathon lunch experience. Then they sat at the bar and talked and shared more pictures. And her birth mother brought some mementos from her time in Ireland where she and her husband had lived for a long time during his military service. [00:41:00]
[00:41:00] Erika: So she gave them to me because she is actually, , Norwegian, and English, maybe I think that's what it is. But the joke is that's a Viking, right? That's you know that there are no Norwegian. And then dad is Irish through and through. I was destined to have red hair,
[00:41:18] Damon: I guess we're not escaping it no matter what you would have tried to do
[00:41:24] Erika: , so yeah. . But we did meet and had this wonderful lunch and, and we just really hit it off.
I mean, she, she just tried to come off of everything like, oh, have I ever had any health problems? And she's telling her about her thyroid, she brought me pictures. She brought me gifts, you know, momentos, not too much though. It was, it was really perfect, you know, and I was thinking, I don't, I didn't bring her anything, , so anyway, that was, that was good. And we, , basically, you know, we, we became friends and we started to build this relationship, which was such a shock to me [00:42:00] because when I started looking, I felt so much like I was violating the adoption.
I'm sure like the baby scoop era, what brainwashing that I was raised with, you know, my husband was raised with our parents. Totally bought it. "You cannot search. Like you are not supposed to do that. It is disloyal to your parents. It is going to ruin someone's life. They gave your way for a reason they do not want you in their life".
So I approached it really hoping I could get maybe the story, a name, a picture, and just learn anything. That's all I expected. And then when I ended up like getting all these letters and pictures and meeting and that, , you know, like her husband knew about me before she married him, you know? So he wasn't, you know, he always knew, and I guess apparently they had looked for me before or started talking about it.
, because I think when she was young and married and having kids, [00:43:00] she really missed, you know, like, or, or regretted not taping me. Cause you know, it's different when you're 17. Then when you're, you know, just a few years later, you're married and you have a baby and you say, wow, I, I might've been able to do that.
I mean you're in your head is, is totally different. And, um, I remember, uh, her husband said to me, he goes, I, I would tell her, maybe we should go search for you. Maybe we should, you know, go do this. So they had thought about it. And that to me was amazing like that they were thinking of me this whole time
[00:43:33] Damon: that's incredible.
It's so welcoming. And so it's heartwarming, you know, to know that you weren't given birth to cast off forgotten about discarded, you know, that there was a real connection. That's really beautiful. Wow.
[00:43:52] Erika: Uh, I can't even remember talking to my mom, my adopted mom, cause I told her I knew it wasn't going to go well.
I told her after I put [00:44:00] the envelope in the mail to the children's home society, I said, I'm doing this. I'm going to search. Do you want to know or not. Like, I don't have to tell you, but, I couldn't lie to save my life. I tell on myself, like if I ever do anything like that, that is not a thing that I can do.
So I had to tell her and I said, you know, and of course she goes like, oh, here we go. You know? Oh. And I said, yes, here we go. It's happened. Like, this is what I'm doing. Do you want to know or not? And she paused. And then she said, yes, she did want to know. So during the time between she and I would talk and she would tell me, she's like, you are going to ruin people's lives.
And I said, why do you think that she goes, well, I'm sure she's married. And she never told her husband. I said, but why do you think that we don't know? I said, but that's her call to make, like, she, she's an adult she's going to hear from us. And that's, that's her call to make. She said, well, babies are given up for a reason.
And you know, you are not supposed to do this. And I said, but that's her. She can still say no [00:45:00] that, you know, to the children's home society person. And, and I can go. But she really, you know, was convinced and she kept on saying, you are going to really turn some lives upside down. And she probably has other kids.
It's not fair to them. And this, you know, how all these, these lives and this, this intrusive, , thing I was doing to them. And I said, and I said, you know, if she's married and her husband doesn't know about me, that's on her lying ass, not me . And I even said, it just like, that's my mom, my mom's pretty proper too.
So I know she doesn't like that. But so, and I said, that is not on me. And, and I'm privately communicating with her. I'm not showing up at her, you know, at her daughter's birthday or wedding or something and announcing myself so she can say, no, she can do what she wants, but she kept kind of telling me things like, um, and even once I did find her and I started talking about it, my mom would say like, well, you have to respect her daughter.
That's her daughter. And I was like, I know, and it was even interesting because since my. Biological mom's [00:46:00] husband. He was military and you know, and they, so they have like USA, a, uh, USA membership and you have to be connected to somebody in the military and just with my work and things, I've run into it a lot.
And I thought, Ooh, I wonder if they could get me into USA, you know, after we knew each other for a little while, and then I, um, and she did, she goes, oh, sure. And, um, and then when I said something to my adoptive mom about this happening, she said, oh, I could never, I was raised to be way too honest. I could never do something like that.
And I said, what do you mean? She says, you're like, what? At like, I was totally crazy. She said, you are not related to her. And I thought, what do you, like she said, you're representing as if you're related to her to join this membership and you have to be familiar, but you're not. And I was like, but I am.
And so then that made me feel really weird. And so I went back to the lady at the children's home society. I said, is this a wrong thing? Am I wrong? And she said, no, here, I'm going to give you your final judgment of [00:47:00] adoption. If you ever need a piece of paper. And I said, okay. And so I did it, but I'm serious.
That, that's what I think that's what the baby scoop era time was that when that piece of paper was signed over, it literally chopped off your biology.
[00:47:16] Damon: That is so bizarre. I cannot believe you said that that's so heartedly,
[00:47:21] Erika: like, yes. I mean, and almost laugh at me for believing I was related to these people.
[00:47:29] Damon: Absolutely astonishing. I've never heard anybody say that before. That's really, uh, it was,
[00:47:33] Erika: it was, it was, yeah, it was, you know, and then that's what really got me started reading about the baby scoop era. Like why does she think this? But it's there their program, like my mom has this book from night. It was published in 1965 in this called the adopted family.
And it's got a children's book in it and it's got a parent's book, like how to be adoptive parents. And it really does preach this is a blank slate. This baby knows nothing that this other person is just erased. And even the [00:48:00] child's book that you're supposed to read to your, your little adopted kid says like the lady and the man, it's very, like, they're not your parents.
It's, it's pretty
[00:48:09] Damon: wild. It's, it's, , almost it's not dehumanizing, but it's very, it's detaching. it's creating them as, strangers, you know?
[00:48:19] Erika: Wow. To, to adopt babies the way they were. And my mom told me when they were living in Ohio and I adopted my older brother that there were ads on TV to adopt children in the sixties.
[00:48:32] Damon: wow. That's an indication of a market right there. When you're advertising something on television, there's a market place that you are actively participating in. That's really why. Right.
[00:48:42] Erika: And you know, and they're not, obviously, they're like, even when you know, my birth mother was in the Florence Crittendon home, when she started kind of waffling of course, they wouldn't let you know, my biological dad couldn't even write her a letter.
I mean, it was like, you know, no contact, keep all that separate. Cause she said, he asked [00:49:00] to marry me and then she stopped herself. She said, no, he offered to marry me. And that's how she put it. She goes, I knew he didn't really want to marry me. But then when I met him, he said he did really want to marry her.
[00:49:10] Damon: that's really fascinating.
[00:49:11] Erika: Huh? Yeah. So, , and they wouldn't let any letters in or anything like that. So. When she, you know, you know, you, as you think through what, and kind of start to waffle and ask the question, they're like, well, you are going to have to pay $3,000 and, you know, whatever and do all this, , paying back the Florence, Crittenton home, and your parents have paid this for you.
And you're 17, what are you going to do? So, and even from her hemorrhage, what, from her hemorrhage in the hospital, she was so afraid of, uh, her parents getting a hospital bill, her brother in the military came and brought his friends and donated blood to the hospital. Oh
[00:49:44] Damon: Erika'sbiological mother was very open about the details of her pregnancy. She even helped Erica understand that she really looked like her birth father. [00:50:00] So I wondered how Erica went about trying to locate him. When she filled out the forms to initiate her search through children's home society, she indicated she wanted to find both people.
Her birth father had a pretty common name for an Irish man. And without his middle initial and date of birth to distinguish him from other men. It was a challenging search. They sent 41 letters to men with his name and a lot of guys called back to see if perhaps Erica was their daughter. But she reminded the social worker that the man knows he had a child and knows the baby was a girl. So whoever calls back shouldn't sound surprised about this outreach. Erica was searching for the man on her own. And her birth mother was looking to. For a year, nothing turned up. Then Erika'sbirth mother focused in on the man's best friend in high school, whom she used to go on double dates with, with Erika's birth father.
When she found him online, he was a cardiologist [00:51:00] in the south and his website had a photo of him. Erika's birth mother could plainly see? That was definitely their old friend. Her birth mother suggested Erica should call the guy, but Erika said no way. I'll write him a letter. In her missive. She tried to paint herself as a normal person with a regular life and reminded the guy that he used to know her birth parents in high school.
. She reminded him that the young couple had produced a child who was placed for adoption. Then she described herself as a tall red headed woman, making the visual relation to her birth fathers, similar appearance. After Eric has husband and friends approved of her letter. It was time to drop it in the mail
[00:51:43] Erika: And so I sent it and, , within five days, I think I had a text with a picture of my dad on my phone. Wow. From him, they're still in touch. And actually they had, it was a picture of my dad with his mother at [00:52:00] his, not his mother's 90th birthday.
And he texted it to me and I sent him back a picture of me and then he sent it to, you know, my dad, my birth dad, . And I remember he told me later when I was talking to him, he goes, you know, I've, I've thought about your whole life. He goes, but it was just kind of an empty, like, I don't know anything he said in the moment I saw your picture.
I missed you.
Now he's a softie. That's for sure.
[00:52:28] Damon: Oh man. He just melted my heart. What an awesome thing to say.
[00:52:33] Erika: I know so I got that picture. It was funny.
I was in a meeting with like this, this executive level meeting, you know, on like a video thing. And I got this on my phone and I remember I kind of, I called my boss back later. I said, I really checked out. I don't know what was said because I got this. And I kind of told him a little bit about the story.
And he was like, are you kidding me? And you know, it was about, everybody gets sucked into the story. Once when I was getting my hair done, I was telling the story and you could've heard a pin drop in there, like everyone's listening. They're so intrigued by, [00:53:00] you know, adopted people, finding their, their biological parents.
so, and I was just, you know, spinning again. And I was saying, I was telling my birth mother, this had happened. And, , and I knew my husband was on his way home. And when he got home, I start telling him this story. I'm reading him these texts and showing him this picture. He was sitting on the floor of my home office.
And then as we're talking, this email pops up on my personal laptop with, you know, biological dad's name on it. And I was like, oh my God. So I start reading this email and I was just reading and I read it out loud when I read it the first time. And I look over and my husband was like crying. He was like, oh my God, like, who can even write like that?
Like, it was the warmest, nicest thing ever. and then we ended up talking on the phone that night, but it was really interesting because that email let's see how old was my daughter. Um, my oldest was probably [00:54:00] 23 at the time I sent her this email and she read it and she called me back in tears and she said, mom, he loves you.
She said, not like man on grandpa, but he loves you the way you love us.
[00:54:18] Damon: Oh, my gosh.
[00:54:20] Erika: I was like, that was astounding to me. And I remember telling, you know, even telling my husband, I said, even so the kids know, like, it feels different, you know? And, and that's what he's, that's what she said. And I will never forget it just from that, just from that email.
And then he and I talked that night and, , you know, he's, you know, big, tall guy, he lives in Texas. , you know, he's a Harley man. He has a Harley fat boy. He's always had Harley Davidsons, like his whole adult life. And I was kind of like, well, that explains a lot about me. Thanks for that. You know?
Oh, because I was a little, I wasn't like a super wild teenager or young adult, but I definitely liked the [00:55:00] motorcycles.
My ex-husband, um, he got, he had a motorcycle for a period of time and, um, You know, when I was single and my thirties, you know, I, I, I, I dated a little bit and there was this one, man that had a, like a BMW motorcycle and it was really fun. I mean, I wasn't a biker chick, but I always had a good time, you know, I always had fun.
So I kind of laughed about that.
[00:55:28] Damon: Erica learns that her birth father had been in Catholic school, but as a bit of a troublemaker, he got kicked out. That put him in the same school as Erika birth mother. As far as Erica could tell, they were kind of wild teenagers and they had some stories to tell from their younger days.
Turns out the best friend, the cardiologist also has adopted daughters. So Erika'sreunion. Story is really meaningful to him too. Erica made contact with her birth father in April of 2016. Then they [00:56:00] met in person in July. Believe it or not his brother, Erika's uncle lives only 10 miles up the road from her in the Fort Lauderdale area.
It turns out. Erica has a lot of maternal and paternal family in Florida.
She went to Florida state university at the same time, one of her cousins was at the school. We agreed. This is one of the many reasons adopt these need to know whom we are related to because there are so many overlapping life journeys with just a few degrees of separation from people we should know.
It's not fair to not know who our people are. Recall Erika's birth father went on to have more children. The youngest of them died in his twenties. Sadly. She sensitive to the family's loss. So she doesn't ask about him
and accidentally resurrect their pain. But Erica did meet her other two brothers whom she said were taken aback by the fact that they had an older sister. After those reunions several years ago, [00:57:00] I wondered how things were going for everyone now.
[00:57:02] Erika: , they're pretty good. I went through, um, a rough patch with my birth mother and that really started, I mean, we had that one really great year, although it was feeling a little bit like, I don't, I don't even know what the words are kind of, , like I was just like, maybe she had dropped me off for a while and picked me up and I was like, back, like I was her kid.
You know, she was just kind of like, oh, this is my daughter. She was gone for a while now she's back. And it was just like, she was my mom and I was just in the family and . It just felt weird. And I don't, maybe she meant that as a kindness, you know, to be welcoming, , , but it felt kind of strange.
And then when I found my dad that really threw her for a loop, I think she had it that for him. And I think it really ripped off the bandaid for a very hard time in her life. And I think it was hard for her and it was hard for her [00:58:00] to deal with, like they had this child together, even though it was 47 at this point, and they didn't know each other, they hadn't seen each other for years.
And, and she would, I mean, she kind of wanted to have a situation where they, they met up again or they saw each other, or she could meet his brother that lives close to me or something like that. And I just said, I just, I don't feel I should facilitate that. I don't know. I feel really strange about that.
And, and she didn't really have anybody to talk to about it. And so she talked to me a lot about. And her feelings about it. And I just, I did not know what to say. Cause she, you could tell she was mad at him. Like she went through the hard part and I don't know, it was hard because for awhile there were like these email loops where all three of us were in an email, like right when we found him and everybody was kind of, you know, making contact and, and sometimes I was kind of like, you guys can cut me out of this conversation.
I don't think I need to know everything, but, um, you know, right. But [00:59:00] I think it was hard for her. And I think she got a little like, and he and I, , developed a pretty decent relationship pretty quick. And I think that made her feel, that, , like I'm the mom, like I had her, I did all the work, you know, you know what I'm saying?
And it just felt kind of, and she even realized what she was saying. She goes, if I feel this way, imagine how your mom who raised you for you. So it was, it was just complicated. And we, we went through a period. That was, it was, it was a rough patch , , we're coming back around, we're coming back around and another here's the advice I would give to adoptees that do this, do not put everybody on your social media right away, because people use social media differently.
And some people are very comfortable having this like stream of consciousness, dialogue, even if it's kind of an argument on Facebook comments and I am not. And, , I can't even describe how it made me feel. I just was like, oh gosh, I don't know if I'm ready for this to be all out there.
[01:00:00] And you know, my, my mom, my adoptive mom is on Facebook and she sees and You know, like, and my birth mom would say like, oh, you look like your daddy in this picture. And I was like, oh gosh, you know, people don't even know I'm adopted. And there was probably like, what is happening here? Who are these people?
And, you know, people just use it. And she thought, I know she thought nothing of it. And I was even thinking to myself, like, I'm talking to my husband, like, okay, she's this is a woman in her sixties. And she uses a social media as such the platform for a lot of communication. And I just am not comfortable with it.
I'll put pictures of my dog on there. If we go on vacation or her, the kids throw a touchdown pass in high school, you know, but I just, I kind of don't do more than that. And so people just use it differently. People are comfortable differently, and she was comfortable in a way that I was not. And that was a problem because at one point I did kick her off my Facebook and that was a serious problem.
[01:00:50] Damon: She did not take that. Well. Yeah. I can imagine. That's really good advice too. I'm glad you're back. That's awesome. And, and it's, it's a really sound advice and you're absolutely right [01:01:00] based on, you know, just general experience with people's social media, let alone. Those of us who are adoptees, who are in a much deeper, emotional connection with only certain people on social media and, and trying to figure out how to navigate the messaging and , what we express, you know, online.
It's, it's tough. And, and I'm, I'm glad that you said that because there are a lot of folks who open all the way up without any sort of preemptive, you know, this is what my journey is like right now, you know, and sort of leading people into the things that are coming there. Sometimes it's almost like an emotional dump truck pulls up to social media and to people just, you know, lay it out and you have to be careful as to how you share your story, because it can be hard to navigate other people's feelings in that public forum, certain things that perhaps should be.[01:02:00]
The direct message to a small group or now broadcast to a large group. And it's not necessarily, , received well by all, shall we say? Yeah.
[01:02:10] Erika: Right. And things like if I travel too, I said, you know, she lives between where I live and where my mother lives. And so if I travel there and I put something on Facebook, she knows, I drove past her to get there, you know?
And like, and I know lots of people would be sensitive to that. So I put, you know, post less. And she, and, and she we're back friends on Facebook now, and she definitely posts a lot less. She was much more active. , I don't, I know she didn't mean anything by it, but I, I just, I don't know. I think that through the adoption journey also, I have, you know, cause I've told you that my husband's adopted and he has found his birth mother and I just remember telling him , sometimes you just have to press pause. You just [01:03:00] have to make it stop for just like you just need a week to absorb it because you feel so much and it's so fast and it does feel like a rollercoaster.
Oh, so funny. Like when I found my biological dad , , he said, yeah, it's definitely a rollercoaster. He says, it's really hard to sleep on a rollercoaster to.
[01:03:21] Damon: Yeah, that's pretty funny. It's funny because it's true.
[01:03:31] Erika: Right, right. Yeah. And so he was dealing with a lot because I think his boys were really, um, upset and not upset, but they were kind of like, you know, kinda like dad, I thought a new, you, you have another kid, like at what point did you not think of telling us this?
And they were kind of mad at him and I, and his wife's ex wife's significant other, I don't [01:04:00] think they were separated when I found him and now, you know, and now they are living together, but I, I think it really worked out that they were separated because she was not a fan of me, you know, coming into his life and he was, and he handled it, you know?
Yeah. He handled it and he, boy, he was like the standup path of boy, as soon as. We made contact, he like booked a flight. He went to North Carolina and he told his 93 year old mom about me face to face. And I was kind of like scared, like, don't kill grandma over this. Right, please. and she was, not terribly happy, but she got used to the idea.
She even wrote me. I didn't meet her before she died. She wrote me a letter once. And I kind of like, never believed it. You know what I mean? , , that she would be happy about me. And she wrote in this letter, she wrote, when he told me, you know, he had a daughter, I thought it was too good to be true, but, and then, but it's true.
And she said, I definitely look like an [01:05:00] Irish beauty. And I looked like one of their family.
[01:05:02] Damon: Gosh, they say the best stuff. Oh my gosh, they are really awesome with their words and expressing their emotions.
[01:05:11] Erika: They, they are, it is uncanny.
[01:05:13] Damon: I want to go back to one thing you said real quick, and then we, we probably ought to go, you know, you talked a little bit about, , your birth father revealing to his children, that he had another child out there and it, and it struck me.
I'm just going to think in a stream of consciousness for a moment. Cause I haven't really thought this through, but I realized that for a birth parent to not tell their following children, the children they've had after relinquishing your child into adoption, I could see how you wouldn't necessarily share that because the words that comes from the kids, you didn't tell us that you have another child.
I don't have that [01:06:00] child, right. That child is, is out there somewhere. And it has always been known to me that I don't have that child. So I could see how a birth parent. Might not tell their following children that they have a child because cause they don't have that child, especially I'm thinking, especially for a father it's different for a mother because of mother clearly gave birth to that child in has an attachment, knows that child is out there and has, , given birth to them.
It's different. I think a little bit for a father because they, if they weren't involved and didn't see the child and the child was relinquished either against their will or what have you. Like, they just, there's just a difference in how attached a birth father can be to a child that they've never even seen.
They just know is out there. So I could understand how a birth father might not share that news with their kids, because it just doesn't feel like it's really your child [01:07:00] until this person shows up and makes themselves known and makes themselves available. And then there, and then you're like, oh my God, Uh, it was probably a moment of realization for him.
Like he said, when I got your letter, then I missed you. Like, that's an kind of an, a corroboration of what I'm trying to express does. How does
[01:07:17] Erika: that, right? It does. It sounds exactly right. And I know my birth mother did tell her girls about me, but I kind of think that was one of these. Don't let this happen to you.
This is a birth control conversation. And for the other daughter who, you know, she has another daughter that is, you know, in her forties. And, um, and I remember when she told her about me, she said, I told her about you when you know, the kids were teenagers, but I kind of wish I had reminded her every year, because I guess she kind of forgot or never thought this will come up.
And I think she struggled with it somewhat, and I really don't have a relationship with her. , but when I talked to one of [01:08:00] the brothers on my dad's side, I remember talking to him and he was, he was expressing to me, that's when he was telling the story like, Hey dad, you have this other kid. I didn't even know.
And how shocking it was. And I said to him, I said, I can understand him not telling you that because it's also him respecting the adoption, right. Him saying, I was relinquished. And if he told you and your brothers, maybe as kids, you would want to find me, or you would want to, you know, to, to reach out.
And I, and back then, and, and even now, I mean, when you would give up a child for adoption, there is , a line, right. Anybody, and everybody's, shouldn't go crossing it. It really should be up to the adoptee in my opinion. Yeah.
[01:08:48] Damon: Those are really good points.
[01:08:49] Erika: I said, I think he was always waiting for me if that ever happened. And I guess he and this, you know, my dad and this friend of his from high school, they had had [01:09:00] conversations, like he said, every time they would talk, he would say, have you ever heard from, you know, this, this girl? Wow. And he would just tell him no, but they would check in and kind of talk about it when they would talk.
[01:09:12] Damon: Wow. That's really cool. Well, Erica, this was amazing. I really appreciate you opening up and sort of sharing the depths of what you've been through, both from sort of being this, you know, awkwardly tall redheaded child of adoption to, you know, finding out that you look a lot, like your birth parents and finding, you know, meaningful relationships with them.
Is really special. Not everybody gets that. And like I said, your paternal connections just have a magical way with words that is just really awesome. And I'm so glad that you've gotten to connect with them. Cause it sounds really warm and I'm especially obviously happy for you for connecting with, and staying in touch with him and being, you know, sort of in a relationship with your birth [01:10:00] mother.
Cause that's, you know, she missed you after those five days together and it must be so great to have you back. So that's really cool.
[01:10:08] Erika: It is. And I, and I, I know I am very fortunate and the thing is it could not have surprised me more. I prepared myself for rejection. I prepared myself for being excited to just get any little piece of information, but I never prepared myself for acceptance and it really overwhelmed me a lot.
And it's, it's been very good. And even when there were times that were hard, I might, you know, my husband, I've talked about this and we've been on this journey with each other. And I've said, you know, these are relationships that I want, even if they are, are not close, I do not want to, to just drift away and have nothing.
I would like to maintain these relationships. They really are meaningful to me and not everyone gets what I have gotten. And, , I even told him when he searched, I said, maybe I've sucked up all the luck for, for our family. [01:11:00] And no, I didn't. So he's got a great story, too.
[01:11:03] Damon: Awesome. Lead into Barry's episode of the future.
Well done. I couldn't have scripted. That would better myself. That was awesome. All right, Erica, you take care. You guys have a great weekend, Barry. I'm looking forward to talking to you one day, man. All the best to you, both. Likewise. And it will happen. All right. Very good. Take care of you guys. Good night.
[01:11:26] Erika: Bye
[01:11:26] Damon: Hey, it's me. Erica grew up looking like she didn't fit in with her adoptive family. Even in a homogenous racial family in her case, white parents with white kids. And adoptee can still look inexplicably different than their parents like she did as a tall Irish red head.
It was rough to hear that her birth mother got to see Erica every day after she was born. Only to have her vanish into adoption with no announcement that that day [01:12:00] was coming. That had to be really traumatic for her at such a young age, but it must have been healing to have Erica find her and reunite.
. Reunion relationships are hard and it can be tough to navigate close relationships with one birth parent over another. With birth parents versus adoptive parents and getting to know biological siblings who didn't know you existed. Erica said she's been really fortunate that all of her relationships have worked out and I couldn't agree more about her good fortune. I'm Damon Davis, and I hope you found something in Erika's journey that inspired you. Validated your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn who am i really