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195 – Filling The Hole From Not Knowing

Brittney, from Connecticut, grew up knowing but not closely connected with her biological mother .

After a bombshell moment where her mom revealed the truth about her paternal parentage, Brittney felt like she was left to clean up the mess of lies.

She was conflicted about searching for her birth father because of her loyalty to her adoptive father. Brittney said she was glad she searched because what she learned filled a hole she didn’t even know was in her.

This is Brittney’s journey.

Who Am I Really?

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195 Filling the Hole From Not Knowing

Cold Cut


[00:00:00] Brittney: that bomb got dropped on me. I had to figure out how to deal with that. Internally. I went back to that place of taking it on myself and feeling like it was all on me to figure out and decipher even though they loved me and tried to take care of me, nobody else had to struggle to know what to do with this.

It was always my, the lack of a better term burden to carry . This was my thing I had to deal with. Nobody else had to, and that's kind of the unfairness of it

[00:00:28] Damon: I'm Damon Davis.

And today you're going to meet Brittney who called me from Connecticut. Brittney grew up knowing, but not closely connected with her biological mother .

After a [00:01:00] bombshell moment where her mom revealed the truth about her paternal parentage, Brittney felt like she was left to clean up the mess of lies.

She was conflicted about searching for her birth father because of her loyalty to her adoptive father, but Brittney was glad she searched because what she learned, filled avoid, she didn't even know was in her.

This is Brittney's, journey


[00:01:20] Damon: Brittney grew up in Connecticut with her mom and dad and two younger sisters. Around 12 years old, their parents divorced in Brittney's father, took the girls to live with him. The girls grew up very dependent on one another with Brittney taking all the unassigned role of mom.

She felt the responsibility to support her father and her caregiving role brought Brittney closer to her dad

[00:01:44] Brittney: My loyalty towards my dad that raised me in that moment, I mean, for several reasons, it's always been an extreme loyalty for me because of what he has done for me.

[00:01:57] Damon: yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

That's [00:02:00] incredible. I love to hear dad's stepping. In big ways as dads. And even though you had to take on a parental role as the oldest, I'm sure that bonded you guys a lot to be a unit in that way. Is that right? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Wow. Maybe you can lead me into how you sort of discovered that your family is not the family you thought it was.

[00:02:25] Brittney: Mm, okay. So so before my mom had left and my parents got divorced my mom. Took me on what I will always call as the ride . Just a ride in the car. And she started briefly telling me this story about this kid. She had met in high school and how she was kicked out of her house and how, you know, they were hanging out for a while.

She went into some vague details about, you know, him being a jock and not, not much just vague details. And then she had mentioned that she [00:03:00] had gotten pregnant and she went to him and said, Hey, I'm pregnant. And he said, what can I do? And she said, I'm already with someone else. I'm all set. I'm okay.

He said, are you sure? And she said, yep. And then never really talked to him again. And that's the only short version of the story that I got. And then she. Looked at me and said, do you know what I'm saying to you? , I'm probably 10 11 at this point. And my heart just immediately sunk in my chest and I felt like Somebody had just taken a baseball bat to my back and, and sucked all the air outta me. cause I knew what she was saying, but I didn't wanna know what she was saying. And I was just like, no. And she said, you know, you have a different father, you know, and this is what his name is. And it's kind of a blur from there because I don't really remember responding to it.

I [00:04:00] just remember hyperventilating and asking her to pull over so that I could call a friend of mine that we're still friends to this day. And just telling her, and I just remember feeling like. My whole life. I had been lied to. Like everybody knew I was in on the joke, so to speak, and everybody knew this thing about me that I didn't know.

And I felt embarrassed and I remember coming home and my dad just was standing there with open arms and hugged me and told me this wouldn't change a thing. He would always be my dad and I cried and he cried. And I think in that moment, that was one of my loyalty moments where I felt like I'm gonna do everything in my power to make sure that, you know, I never even questioned that loyalty to you.

And from that time on, you know, [00:05:00] I did everything to try and make himself and myself. A lie that I told myself that I would never think about it again. And nobody else in my family ever really talked to me about it again either.

[00:05:14] Damon: Wow. That sounds so jarring. And it's crazy to think that a 10 year old hears this news.

It's really wild. So you grew up with your biological mother, but without the knowledge that your dad was not your biological father, correct. Oh, wow. And so did he officially adopt you?

[00:05:41] Brittney: Well, that's actually a crazy story that I didn't know until after my searching either is that I was five when my sister was born and I guess I had a different birth certificate with my mom's maiden name on it, and she didn't want me to know.[00:06:00]

So she called the hospital said, I forgot to put the dad's name on the birth certificate. Can we change the name? And they changed it. And a couple weeks later I had a different birth certificate with my dad's last name on it. Wow. Which later when they got divorced, the, the judge had said, you know, you have no, right.

You know, you don't technically have to be responsible for this child because. I have no idea how you did that with the birth certificate, but it was kind of illegal . Oh, really? Wow. But yeah, you can't just change somebody's name without paternity, yeah. I don't know how they did that, but they did

[00:06:37] Damon: that is wild.

And what a thing for the judge to say, you know, you don't have any obligation to this child it's I can't put thoughts or words into this person's, whatever they were trying to accomplish, but it just seems like a weird thing to say. I don't know. I guess in legal spaces you have to bring up technicalities to make sure everybody understands everything, but it just for a [00:07:00] man who's saying that he's your father to hear these words, you know, you're not obligated to take care of this child.

Like that's my daughter, man. You know, I just, I can't imagine the context in which those words came up.

[00:07:13] Brittney: Yeah. That's exactly how he looked at it too. Was like, it wasn't a question in his mind of. whether he was gonna take care of me or

[00:07:19] Damon: not. Mm-hmm , that's really amazing. Did you, how did this, you took the ride mm-hmm you come home and your dad greets you.

He knows what your mom has taken you out to tell you mm-hmm and you come home and you're with him. How was it to walk in and be in his arms and think of what she had just told you. Do you recall that feeling?

[00:07:41] Brittney: Heartbreak is the only word I can describe, like like I said, I just remember feeling like all the air just got sucked out of me, you know, this huge shift in identity, a loss of identity.

And I think that's probably up until this, this whole [00:08:00] journey is really, for me, was about identity and, and how my search has brought me back to that sense of. Identity finding it loss of it. So it's kind of been full circle, this whole thing, but one of the things I kind of wanted mention too is after the ride, I specifically remember her bringing me to Walmart and giving me like a little chapstick that I always hung onto.

I still have it to this day. And, and later on, that will come into play and part of this story too, but I remember just hugging him and not letting go. And he had written me some words, I think I have to this day, too. So it was a very special moment for me.

[00:08:45] Damon: Do you, do you remember, and you know, you may not have the document in front of you, but do you remember some of the messages and the words that he shared with you?

[00:08:52] Brittney: Yeah. To, to the extent of this doesn't change my love for you. I will always be your dad and, [00:09:00] you know, I kind of just sealed the deal cuz I always thought that maybe he would think in the back of his mind that I wasn't his or that I felt now that I wasn't his. as a matter of fact, some people in my family would like say things years later, like, oh, well, you know, like genetically and I'd be like, what?

Like I, I forget, you know, mm-hmm because I just pushed it so far away and they had all my mom, my bio dad, and him had all gone to the same high school. And my dad's picture is in the top right hand corner. And my bio dad's picture is in the bottom left.

[00:09:38] Damon: Wow. Of the yearbook

[00:09:40] Brittney: of the yearbook. Yeah. And I that's the only thing I ever had of him and.

I remember staring at this little two by two black and white picture and just, he kind of looks like me. Could it be, I don't know, you know, questioning, but I would always kind of [00:10:00] sneak it out. Mm-hmm cause I didn't feel like it was something that I should be doing right, right. Nobody made me feel that way.

I just always kind of felt like that test of loyalty and that like, you know, every now and then I'd go and get it and look at it and, you know, bring it out and dissect it and then I'd put it back quickly. Like, oh no, no. You're not supposed to think about that.

[00:10:21] Damon: Yeah. It's hard how we fight the feelings.

There's a loyalty and a love that you feel for the person who's there with you, the adoptive parent, but the curiosity is undeniable. And I've said this before. It just it's so jarring to learn that. The people you love that you are adopted into a family with are one set of people. And that there's a whole other set of people that are your family by virtue of their biological tie to you.

Mm-hmm , it's just, it's a, you can tell yourself until you're blue in the face, I'm not [00:11:00] gonna think about this and you'll drive yourself nuts because it just creeps into your mind. It's, there's no way to fight the curiosity about the identity of somebody else that you're related to out there that you don't know.

Right. I mean, cuz part of what we think of when we think of being related to people is knowing them, knowing some relation to them, having a general idea, like where they are on this planet, what their email address might be and you know, sort of what their general interests are. There's some connectivity to knowing people, right?

Mm-hmm and to just have someone say like there's another person out there that you're related to. That you have quite literally zero information on it's it's just wild and you can't help, but try to wrap your mind around it.

[00:11:44] Brittney: . Yeah. And it really wouldn't bother me until I would see people on TV have like reunion stories.

Right. And then I'd be like, oh yeah, that, that is something that stings a little bit.

[00:11:53] Damon: mm-hmm yeah. tell me about your relation to your sisters. What went through your mind? [00:12:00] You've now gotten this hug and this love, and this reassurance from your father, but there's this other piece, which is you've got younger sisters.

What went through your heart and mind as you sort of looked across your family at your relationships?

[00:12:14] Brittney: I always kind of new, deep down. I didn't look exactly like them. And I remember searching for my birth certificate or some kind of mystery in my story. When I was younger, I went up in my grandma's attic.

My mom's mom. and I remember searching for something like searching for a document or, or picture some kind of secret about me. I don't know why I did that. I, I don't know if I maybe overheard someone's conversation. But part of me, I always knew. And then when that had happened, I was like, oh, okay.

That's why they have light hair. And I have dark hair. That's why they look alike. And I don't [00:13:00] look as much like them. This is why, you know, I have different quirks than they do. It made sense, but it was also heartbreaking at the same time. Mm-hmm

[00:13:10] Damon: yeah, I bet. And it, it's fascinating to hear how you can grow up in a family and never have.

Inkling or be told that you're not biologically related to folks, but you can sense that something is off and, and be in question about it. And that's really interesting to hear, cuz like I said, no one signaled to you that you were any different than your sisters and your father yet you could somehow feel it, even if you couldn't articulate it.

[00:13:40] Brittney: Yeah, but I also didn't find out this is kind of a side thing, but I didn't find out until I was like 23, that there had been another guy in question as far as paternity is concerned. So mm-hmm my dad had gotten with my mom. I think she was probably like seven or eight months pregnant.

He didn't know she was [00:14:00] pregnant. And she said, oh, it's this. and so that's what he went with. He knew that guy also went to the same school and he was involved in my life until I was six months old. And I guess from what I understand is my mom knew the whole time that I was my bio Dadds mm-hmm , but she didn't want to imply that she had been with multiple people to my dad.

So she had this other guy believing that he was my dad until I was six months old. And then there was a paternity test done and, you know, they had come over and gimme presents his whole family thought I belonged to them. And I didn't. So I don't know if I kind of carried that. I mean, at six months, I probably didn't know much, but I don't know if I carried that kind of sense of knowing, from a really young age or if those kind of conversations happened around me.

And I didn't realize it.

[00:14:55] Damon: At the time of "the drive" Brittney's family unit was still together [00:15:00] and her parents had not separated yet. However, the news she received that knocked the wind out of her was the first of several blows. Brittney took as a teenager. Her parents divorce was the second after the shocking news about her dad.

Within three years, there were several other serious family matters that made Brittney's pre-teen years, a confusing blur. After the drive life went back to quote unquote normal and no one raised the issue or questioned the truth.

Of their family's relation to one another. However, because things were moving forward as if nothing had happened. There were no offers to help Brittney find her way through her new reality. No suggestion at all that they might try to find her birth father

[00:15:40] Brittney: It just was like, they dropped a bomb and then expected me to know what to do with it. and I don't know, they did that intentionally. I think it just, for them life went on as normal for me.

Everything had changed.

[00:15:53] Damon: Brittney tried her whole life to fight the feeling of wanting to find her birth father. When the [00:16:00] internet opened information up for the world to discover she started Googling the guy's name, finding YouTube channels and random individuals online.

She dissected their facial features, trying to figure out if she had found the guy based on How much he looked like herself. Then she would push the search out of her mind and come back to it another day. Brittney. Wasn't thinking about her search much until her mother married a man who went to school with her birth father. So it seemed like her opportunity to find the man was approaching.

She found herself curious about her medical history. Her chances of developing chronic diseases and it bothered her that she only knew half of her genetics. In 2018. Brittney's new stepfather provided her birth. Father's sister's phone number. So she texted the woman to introduce herself. Brittney's paternal aunt was very unsure about who this alleged child was appearing out of nowhere. Brittney got the third degree over text. As the woman asked more about who she was, what she claimed had happened.

[00:17:00] We're all of this took place and when it occurred. They agreed to chat by phone and the woman invited her own daughter. Brittney's cousin to be on the line to. Brittney explained everything again, Reinforcing the facts of her story to her paternal aunt and her cousin. Unfortunately, Brittney's aunt was a stranger from her brother. So for this long lost daughter to call out of the blue was a little weird for the woman

[00:17:24] Brittney: I think by the end of that, she was convinced, I, I had told her that my mom actually worked at a store in a mall and I remember going to this store and being put on this bumblebee ride. And I remember that person being significant to me. I, I couldn't have been older than two. I asked my mom about it and she said, yeah, that was your bio dad's grandma.

really so, yeah. And I never knew about that until way later. And I don't know why I remembered that either. I just remember this person is significant to me and I don't know why. And so when I [00:18:00] asked her, she told me apparently. That grandma had never said anything to anyone in the family about my existence, but I brought that up to his sister and she said, no, no, no, no, my, my, my mom never worked there.

I didn't know. Later until later it was actually the grandma. So that's why she was confused, but I had my facts wrong. You know, I didn't have all the facts. I was just gathering information at that time. So mm-hmm, , I never really knew the full truth. So part of the journey is gaining the truth about yourself, which is kind of an odd concept for people who don't go through something like this.

It's like, you already have the facts of your, your personage, if you will, like who you are. This is like, I'm piecing things together about me, something that belongs to me anyway, and it's such an odd feeling. But by the end she believed me and she said, my mom would've loved you and her other daughter was on the phone, although she didn't [00:19:00] say anything.

And she said, I'll call you back tomorrow. And I said, okay, you know, next day she said, we love you, which I thought was kind of an odd thing to say to somebody you don't know. But I was like, all right, you know, mm-hmm and then I never heard from her again.


Yep. She never, she answered my text again.

And I just said, Hey, you know, I'm not trying to ruin every anybody's life. I don't wanna start anything. I just want him to know I exist. Sorry. If anything I said was offensive and I texted her a few times just to reassure her and then I never heard anything. Wow. So I thought that was another dead end.

[00:19:39] Damon: Yeah, really? That's such a fascinating turn. I mean, you, you did a 360, basically. There was, they don't know you exist. You reach out to her and she's super skeptical. You convince her that you are related to her brother and she ends the call with, we love you. And then you [00:20:00] try to be in communications and there's zero communications, which is mm-hmm.

not the best show of love. Mm-hmm wow. That must have been really tough to endure.

[00:20:09] Brittney: Yeah. I felt like this one chance that I have now it's gone.

[00:20:15] Damon: Yep. Gotcha. And then what happened? Did you, did you locate other family members? Did you find cousins? What else happened?

[00:20:23] Brittney: So this is kind of where the story gets a little crazy is what I didn't know about that sister is that her daughter that was on the phone with her, she was 28 and she had passed away from a drug overdose.

And then I didn't find that out till later. And then, you know, I, like I said, I thought my story was kind of done for now. My search was kind of kaput. And then I walked into a local pizza place and I saw a poster for a missing girl. Same last name as my bio Dadd. She looked very similar to me in high school.

And I stared at that picture. Like I stared at [00:21:00] the high school yearbook picture. It was the same kind of like, I know that person, but I don't know if I know that person mm-hmm . . And so I looked up her information and it turns out that she and her boyfriend had taken a boat out and they never found them well.

They found him, they never found her. And when I looked up her information, I also found the name of the sister that I had talked to another sister, my bio dad's name and an uncle, which I didn't know, you know, half of them existed. And it also led me to my grandma's obituary. And as soon as I saw my grandma's obituary, I was like, that's my face.

wow. That's my face. This is, this

[00:21:45] Damon: is the family that's in incredible. . Wow.

[00:21:49] Brittney: So the, her daughter, , had died over drug overdose that same year. .

And then the uncle who was also listed in the obituary was the father [00:22:00] of the missing girl.

She had drowned so I thought, you know, either me coming into the picture now, cuz I came into the picture around the same time is either gonna be devastating for this family or it could be helpful. I wasn't sure.

[00:22:13] Damon: Brittney's paternal family had suffered several losses and there she was identifying herself as part of their family around the same time. We agreed. It was probable that the timing of Brittney introducing herself wasn't optimal for all of the emotions they were navigating. So her attempt to connect got put on the back burner for everyone.

Brittney got the names of some of her birth fathers, other siblings from the obituary she found online. She had called phone numbers for her birth father and her uncles, but none of them worked. Social media had not returned anything meaningful either.

Brittney sisters knew she was heartbroken over her communications being blocked. So they got her an ancestry DNA kit. Brittney said she cried over their thoughtfulness To try to help her [00:23:00] reunion along. It was exciting to think that she could at least learn more about her heritage, even if it might not link her to her family.

But it did. Ancestry connected Brittney to the paternal uncle whose daughter had tragically drowned.

[00:23:14] Brittney: He accepted it right away. Almost like he knew. Wow. I guess there had been rumors in high school about my bio dad having a kid, but nobody really ever knew he did the same thing.

Who, what, where, when, why? He kind of established a relationship with me first because he is also estranged from my bio Dadd. So I think he really wanted to make sure before he reached out to him so we kind of established a relationship and, and plus he had just lost his daughter, so right.

That was. Special. I think for both of us, I, I was able to kind of comfort him in a way he was able to comfort me in a way. And he reached out to my bio dad said, Hey, you have a daughter. This is not a joke. Her name's, Brittney reached out to her, [00:24:00] gave in my number and that was all they really said to each other about


Wow. So did your buyer father end up reaching out? He did. Yeah. Wow. Really?

Yeah. Yep. He ended up calling me a few weeks later, but before that I had, I had called my dad that raised me and I said, Hey dad, I have this opportunity. I, I never really even thought about this before, but if you told me no today, I, I, out of respect for you, I, I won't.

And he said, Hey, you know, if this is something you feel like you have to do, then you should do it. And I just said, okay. You know, so I needed his permission first, which I probably didn't, but I felt like out of respect that I should let him know that I was doing that. so I didn't have to carry any guilt.

[00:24:47] Damon: Absolutely.

I agree. I think that was great that you did that. And it's a powerful show of trust that you brought this to him to say, I just [00:25:00] wanted you to know versus, you know, you could have just done it behind his back and mm-hmm, felt guilty about it, but also like it could have damaged your relationship.

So the giving him the opportunity to show his support and be an open supporter is really valuable. And I'm sure he appreciates that. And I, I just think you did the right thing. That was smart.

[00:25:22] Brittney: Thank you. Yeah, appreciate that.

[00:25:24] Damon: So how did it go when you, he calls you. Is that correct? Mm-hmm mm-hmm how was it to get this call from this man that you've thought about and pursued, but never had a chance to speak with before?

[00:25:36] Brittney: Oh, it's like a lump in your throat. it's so surreal. I think I just wrote down every factoid. I could get every, you know, where he lived, what he, you know, all these little things. Funny thing was is that he shared with me that I had moved to Maine, I think 2004. [00:26:00] And he had moved there at the same time from Connecticut to Maine, really the same exact time he lived about 30 minutes away from me.

wow. And even when I was here in Connecticut, where I had grown up, initially he was five minutes down, down the road.

[00:26:17] Damon: Is that right? Are you serious? Oh, wow. That's crazy. Yeah. Well, yeah, I guess that makes sense though. You know, when we tend to stay near the communities where we grew up, you know, and for your mother to have gotten pregnant by him, presumably in that town where you grew up, it makes sense that he would be nearby, but that's still fascinating when you think, you know, you've been wondering about this dude and he was right around the corner, really crazy.

[00:26:43] Brittney: Yep. The whole time, even in Maine, I mean, we were five hours from where I live now. Like that's a long way. And like when I lived there, I didn't have any family. I kind of moved out at a young age and I moved there and I really kind of needed that family. So that was kinda heartbreaking, I guess, [00:27:00] to, to know that like I could, you know, and we recently went on a trip there and just seeing how close he was and how much I love that place still and how much he loved that place.

It was like, Ugh, like knife to the task, kind of, but I'm happy we get the, know that at. Now, but the woulda should have sometimes get you.


[00:27:20] Damon: Unreal. Yeah. So what ends up happening do you, well, tell me about the rest of that phone call. how, how was your phone call with him?

[00:27:29] Brittney: He told me he now lived in Florida.

He told me he had never had children. He was asking me questions about when I was born and where I was born and circumstances. And if I had had a good life, if I was taken care of he also shared with me his friends, like who, his friends, like they had just came back from a trip from Connecticut, visiting some of their friends and their best friends.

Or , I don't know how to explain this in a not [00:28:00] complicated way, but the best friend that I was with when I reached out to my uncle on ancestry is the sister of his best friend for real, are you seriously? Not even joking. So when he said the name, I was like, wait a minute. Your best friend is who? And my son had swam in their pool the year before, like, oh my gosh.

I mean, he could have seen his own grandson and not ever even known it was his grandson, you know, ,

[00:28:28] Damon: that is crazy. These like close brushes of proximity are so fascinating to me it's is really unbelievable. Wow. And these. Minimal degrees of separation as well. You could name one person and be like, holy crap.

You know them too, you know? yeah. It's unbeliev. Wow. That's really amazing.

So did tell me, did you guys end up meeting? What was it like? Yeah,

[00:28:55] Brittney: so we, you know, we had talked for about three or four months. I think he [00:29:00] was the day he, after he talked to me, he was like, in his mind, already on a plane up here and his wife was like, Hey, Hey, let's just, you know, see what this chick's about, you know, , which was the course of exactly, which was the course of wisdom on her part, because I had had things happen when I was younger, that made it very difficult for me to have someone rush at me, you know, like, and I think we were in the same tree, just different tree branches.

Right. Mm-hmm so like I was, you know, at, you know, when you have something as. Traumatic as the truth about who your very person is, it's hard to know who to trust and then add compounding factors onto that. So I didn't really realize until that moment, how traumatic that finding out was for me. And then it kind of opened this floodgate of trauma for me that I was not prepared for.

I thought I would get my medical [00:30:00] information. I might get a picture. I didn't realize I'm meeting an actual person that has feelings and a background and a story. And all of the things that had happened to me when I was younger, although I had a very good childhood, there was, like I said, those three years or four years of like hits that I had to kind of relive and face.

So after we had talked, there was three or four years where of extreme anxiety for me of, oh my gosh, this is a real person. And I have struggles that I didn't know, I had. because of all this and having to know what to do with

[00:30:37] Damon: that. Yeah. It's funny how this journey has the part that you can conceptualize in your mind and then the real tangible piece.

Once you come face to face with an actual person, like you're on this journey, even though you've spoken with them by phone, maybe seeing them, you know, on video chat or what have you, you've [00:31:00] emailed. Like, you feel like you're getting to know them, but when you actually get to meet this person and they are quite literally personified for you, they're no longer this existence out in the distance.

It is so mind blowing and like shocking to your heart to actually put a physical presence to this identity that you have sort of conjured in your mind. It's really wild.

[00:31:27] Brittney: Absolutely. Absolutely. I always pictured him as still being in high school.

[00:31:31] Damon: yeah, we do tend to do that. It's it's, that's a really interesting thing too, but you've also said that like, there it jarred traumas for you.

Can you tell me a little bit about what kinds of things you thought about as you've made this personal connection to this guy?

[00:31:49] Brittney: Yeah, I guess, I guess it's like no small thing that you try to push something out for so long. You know, why does one do that? You know, why does someone try to [00:32:00] forget that piece?

Why was it hard for me to connect to this person trying to connect to me? Why do I have such a hard time trusting people? Why am I so nervous? like, he's been nothing, but kind to me, what I gotta start looking at these things.

Like I said, that bomb got dropped on me. I had to figure out how to deal with that. Internally. I went back to that place of taking it on myself and feeling like it was all on me to figure out and decipher even though they loved me and tried to take care of me, nobody else had to struggle to know what to do with this.

It was always my, the lack of a better term burden to carry . This was my thing I had to deal with. Nobody else had to, and that's kind of the unfairness of it. Really. I felt injustice, a large sense of injustice, even though my dad was wonderful and did everything he could to help me [00:33:00] have a normal, great childhood.

And he did. but there is an injustice about it. Mm-hmm

[00:33:07] Damon: yeah. Cause there's a secret that's been kept that you weren't let in on. And what I think the adults in these situations, miss is the longer, the secret goes on the deeper, the mistrust feels mm-hmm mm-hmm right. And it's, you know, I grew up knowing I was adopted, so I was able to get comfortable with it from a very early age.

But when you are, you're jarred out of your reality into being informed that there's an alternative reality. That is actually true. that'll mess you up and you're right. Yeah. You're the only one that has to deal with it and it can feel like an injustice.

It's crazy.

Brittney was struggling a bit because it was her outreach to this guy to connect with him that brought them together, but she found herself needing to slow things down. She struggled with [00:34:00] feeling badly about launching herself into his life, out of the blue, but needing him to take it easy.

luckily Brittney is so close to one of her sisters that she was able to entrust her with taking the reins. So her sister managed the planning to set up the father daughter reunion At a restaurant in a private room now. The you remember Brittney said that after the drive her mom took her to the store and they bought chapstick that she held on to for years

[00:34:26] Brittney: He wanted my eyes to be closed and he came in, my sister was closing my eyes. He came in and he grabbed my hand and said a few words and then put a new chapstick in my hand and said, this is your new chapstick moment

[00:34:44] Damon: for real.

[00:34:45] Brittney: Yeah. And then his wife did the same thing and she gave me a chapstick too. And it was really sweet. I had told him about the chapstick that I had still hung onto from the day I found out about him. So he tied that in. [00:35:00]

[00:35:00] Damon: Oh my God. That guy's incredible.

yeah, I know. It's amazing. Wow. That's so cool. Yeah, that must have just really warmed your heart.

[00:35:11] Brittney: It did. I, I was so nervous. Like, , I don't know if I even really, you know, we all ate him, his wife, my, my two sisters. And I don't know if I even looked at him the whole time, because I was so nervous. And I, when I did look at him though, I was like, holy moly.

That is my face on someone else. This is wild. Wild.

[00:35:35] Damon: Yeah. That's a crazy feeling. It's looking in the mirror, but not actually the mirror. Just like seeing your image in a different format is just, it is so mind blowing. I've been there. I, I know it. Believe me. It's crazy.

[00:35:49] Brittney: Absolutely. It's, it's weird. It's like, you know, you are supposed to feel like it's such a deep level of knowing this person, but you don't know this person at all.

[00:35:58] Damon: Yeah, that's [00:36:00] right. Yeah. It's crazy. It is. So how was your, how was your relationship after that reunion? Did things go well?

[00:36:08] Brittney: Yeah, so we had stayed in communication after that he had written me some words in a book, you know, his part of the story of him and my mom, from what he can recall. And you know, he had shared with me parts of my story.

I never got like, when my mom told SIM that she was pregnant, she said, I don't know who the dad is, but I'm okay. She was with my bio dad already, or she was with my dad who raised me already at the time. So she said, I'm I'm okay. I'm taking care of that's the version of the story I got, he told me. She had said that to him, but he had called his mom.

She drove him home over to my grandma's house and he went to the door, knocked on the door to try to take responsibility. And my grandma [00:37:00] said, we know who you are. We're all set, basically shut the door in his face. And he kind of got turned away at the door and he said that was his dead end. And then eight years later, he had worked in a hospital and my mom had come in for one reason or another.

And she saw him there and she said, I have a daughter. She kind of looks like you. And he was like, what? Like you tell me to stay away. I got the door shut in my face. And then you're at my place of employment saying I have a daughter. She kind of looks like Yeah. So he didn't. Trust her. And he wasn't about to ruin his life over somebody that wasn't truthful from the get go.

And so he turned around, he walked away and I had always kind of thought that added to my apprehension of his truthfulness of him wanting to really [00:38:00] get to know me or having always wanted a daughter, I thought for a long time. And I think this was part of me trying to keep my distance too. Was that narrative that, well, he didn't really want you anyway.

But I, I don't know that that's true now. I think it was kind of something I was trying to tell myself to kind of protect my heart from feeling this connection with this person that that sense of disloyalty was coming into play. I was really scared and I think that's why this podcast for me was particularly important.

I wanted to share because when I was going through this struggle, I felt very alone. Like I did when I was, I had found out, I felt very alone. Don't have anybody to say like, Hey, how was it when you met your bio dad? not many people to ask out there and I had found your podcast. And I was like, I never considered myself to be quote unquote adopted, but I guess I kind of was.

And when I found your podcast, I was like, these people

[00:38:58] Damon: get it. They know they get [00:39:00] me. yeah, yeah, yeah. And I've said before, you know, that adoption takes so many forms, you know, that it's, we sometimes think of it in, for lack of better words, very traditional ways, but it can be sliced in so many different shapes.

from kinship adoptions that are totally unofficial to, you know, transnational, transracial adoptions that are very obvious to the eye to things like what you're talking about growing up in a family where there's, what is ends up being a misattributed parentage, or the, the hiding of the truth mm-hmm, in parenting and then revealing it like it just, and your father quite literally did adopt you.

So mm-hmm, it just adoption comes in so many different forms. I appreciate you stepping forward and saying I'm an adoptee too, because in fact you are. And I think that [00:40:00] there's. Nuance to how people think of adoption, that you are separated from your biological parents, both, but you can still be adopted by just one person.

And right. We as a community, need to accept adoption as all in all of its forms, because this you've, as you've said, you feel the same things that someone like myself who went through a different kind of adoption feels, and you went through reunion, you went through self-discovery, you went through, you know, the challenges of trying to find acceptance with this, person like hoping that they will accept you.

Mm-hmm I wanted to dig in on something that you said you pointed out that you had some hesitation meeting your biological father, because you thought that he didn't want to be involved with you and mm-hmm and you were sort of protecting yourself, but I would also argue that you only went with what was in your story that you were told, right?

Mm-hmm your biological mother said. That she [00:41:00] approached him with the news and he walked away.

[00:41:02] Brittney: Absolutely.

[00:41:02] Damon: But it wasn't until you got to hear his side of the story where he said, she came at me after multiple years at my job after I had been rejected at her door, when I came to try to be responsible, like those missing pieces, you didn't have mm-hmm so it's just interesting to hear you sort of say I was protecting myself, but you were also only acting with the information that was presented to you in the context that it was presented to you.

And now you've got the additional context. So I'm glad you did push forward with trying to meet him despite the possibility that he might not have wanted to know you still, you learned mm-hmm that he actually did, which is fantastic.

[00:41:46] Brittney: Yeah, absolutely. And I heard somebody else say you prepare for the worst hope for the best, which is so true.

I think it's also equally as difficult when you prepare for the worst, but you get [00:42:00] the best because you don't know what to do with at least I didn't know what to do with it. That's what you hope for. Right. But I'm, I'm the only child of a man who wanted me the whole time. And to me, I was like, wait a minute, how do I even, how do I acclimate?

And like I said, I think that was the biggest thing for me to share in this story was that, that loss of identity , that was normal. How do I acclimate to a life that I, I should have been involved with this whole time, the questioning and, and the struggle that you can have? I really felt like I was a bad person for having this struggle, but I think that that's more normal than I, think or, or had known at the time.

And like, I looked at my childhood pictures and I didn't see the same person anymore. That's. very disorienting.

[00:42:47] Damon: yeah. I interesting. Tell me more, what does that mean? That you didn't see the same person?

[00:42:53] Brittney: I mean, I didn't really look like my mom and I didn't look like my sisters. I didn't like my dad obviously.

[00:43:00] So I always kind of just look like me and now I look like this other person.

[00:43:05] Damon: Mm. Yeah.

[00:43:08] Brittney: So my pictures is kind of like, not rewriting the past, obviously, but it was like, you know, I looking at a person who didn't even know who they were or who that face belonged to.

[00:43:24] Damon: Yeah. I get it. And it's weird. Yeah, no, I understand what you're saying.

That's really fascinating that you can look back on pictures of yourself with the clarity. Of your newly found identity and now see that identity in those pictures where it was missing previously. And you probably couldn't have even said so prior to this reunion experience, that's really, really unbelievable.


[00:43:49] Brittney: Yeah. . Yeah. So I guess it just like, there's so many facets to it that I guess I just wanted to share that if a person does reach out to their biological parent and they have a [00:44:00] struggle to not feel bad about it, you're not a bad person. You haven't done anything wrong. It, it's not a natural thing for you to have to try to figure out it's.

So if you are struggling with it, I guess just don't feel bad. Take your time, get a therapist. That's also a suggestion.

[00:44:17] Damon: agreed. Yeah.

[00:44:19] Brittney: yeah. I wish I had done that before, but I didn't really realize until like, you know, a year in that, like, I, I need to get some help with this.

[00:44:27] Damon: Yeah. It does take getting help.

And sometimes people get the help from podcasts. They get the help from the community online and Facebook groups, but sometimes you need a pro you know, mm-hmm, someone who's trained in understanding how our psychological processes work, how our emotions work and who has been trained to give people tools, to cope with situations that professional help can be really, really valuable in ways that you don't expect.

And I think in some ways we [00:45:00] underappreciate how much mental health professionals can be valued in our own healing processes. So I'm glad you said that there's a lot, there's a lot of work that people need to do out there. And the professionals can certainly help. Can I, for sure.

[00:45:14] Brittney: And I, I had been fortunate enough to get a therapist who.

also didn't meet her bio dad until she was a teenager. So, I mean, that was a coincidence. Wow. But it was a perfect person for me to be talking to.

[00:45:26] Damon: Before she found her birth father, Brittney informed her adoptive father that she was going on this voyage of discovery. Once they had met and connected, Brittney didn't say much to her adoptive father about her experience. Her whole life. The secret had been a don't ask don't tell sort of situation.

It's tough for an adoptive parent who loves their child so much to feel like they could be replaced by their adopted child's reconnection to a birth parent. But many adoptees will tell you, there is no replacement for the person who showed up, loved them and performed all of the parental duties. [00:46:00] And that's the sense I got from Brittney that her adoptive father is her dad.

Still. The whole situation is sensitive so they don't talk about things much

[00:46:10] Brittney: There's also that feeling for him that like, and I can't speak for him, but I think like you know, you don't wanna challenge the fact that I'm his right?

So like that's a odd concept, but when I was struggling, I had gone to him and talked to him about. That. And he said, you know, we always kind of felt like this may be a struggle for you when you got older. And he was very mature about it and talked to me about it. And we had a heart to heart and he just was so mature in the way that I needed his, approval that I need you to know.

There was no hole in my life. I didn't have a hole. I think maybe there's that wasn't completely truthful. I, I didn't really realize that there was a hole until it's been filled in a certain regard, but it wasn't a hole from not [00:47:00] having a father figure. It was a hole from not knowing my whole story.

Mm-hmm. And

[00:47:08] Damon: I didn't that feeling of not understanding, there were little pieces that were probably poking at you. The not necessarily looking like anybody in the family mm-hmm, like your sisters and whatever. it, it's funny. I think that a lot of adopted people who have not started their search yet are in the place that you just described.

Don't know there's a hole until they realize there's a there's information out there. And then they realize that getting that information is filling a hole that they didn't realize was present. It's it's a wild experience to go through this and feel whole in a new way. W H O L E right. feel like you've been completed when you felt complete in the first place and didn't realize they were, they were missing pieces.

Is that fairly accurate? Mm-hmm

[00:47:59] Brittney: absolutely. [00:48:00] Where did that? A hundred percent correct? Yeah.

[00:48:02] Damon: That's a really, really wild. Can I change focus for a minute then to your mom? We haven't really talked about her. Mm-hmm and I was curious, I'm curious about two things, how you got along with her after the divorce, and second, how you shared this reunion with her.

So do me a favor, just take me back to your childhood and I apologize for making you rewind, but oh, no, you're fine. After the, after the drive, after the divorce, and you've now moved in with your father and your sisters. How was your relationship with your mom as a kid?

[00:48:41] Brittney: Well, she had lived, we had all lived in the same house together, so she left and we stayed and she made.

a lot of choices that made it difficult for me to connect with her, to trust her to for multiple reasons. She [00:49:00] has the personality disorder. So she at times makes decisions that are motherly if you will. So mm-hmm , I didn't really have that typical mother-daughter relationship with her.

Number one, because I was her buddy. We were very close in age. She was 16 when she got pregnant with me. So I think it was, she had this idea that I was there to, we were there to take care of each other, not I'm here to take care of you. And that kind of played a part in me, feeling responsible for my sisters, played a part in me being parentified.

And so our relationship has been Rocky and it was still Rocky up until the point of me reaching out. So she really wasn't a part of that. Journey, plus I'm super protective over that. I've always been super protective over my relationship with my dad when it comes to her. If she was to say anything to my dad or, or derogatory or anything like that, I'd be the first to, to call her out.

[00:50:00] But also I'm, I'm equally as protective of my relationship with my bio Dad. And I, it's two relationships that I wanna protect at all costs.

[00:50:09] Damon: Yeah. I can imagine that makes a whole lot of sense. And I wanna just make sure to underscore something that you said, cuz it's important for the adoptee community to hear what you just conveyed that mm-hmm you grew up knowing your biological mother mm-hmm

But that she was not necessarily the maternal figure that you needed and you sound like you. were somewhat connected with her, but like, didn't have the strongest relationship. And obviously that some of her choices probably pushed you guys apart in many ways. Mm-hmm and I underscore that because I think going into this discussion at the beginning, I'm sure there were people out there that thought to themselves, oh, well she grew up with her mom.

So this isn't gonna be a real adoption story. Right? Mm-hmm but that your [00:51:00] story and journey do parallel what other people think of as a more traditional adoption story in that sometimes adoptive people are placed with parents that they don't connect with, get along with, or or who have personality and psychological disorders and challenges that make the life.

more difficult than it needed to be. There's less connection than there should have been. Mm-hmm and you experienced that even growing up with your biological mother in your life. So I just wanted to make sure people hear that just because you didn't grow up with your biological mother in adoption doesn't mean that people who did have it that much better, it doesn't sound like it was.

[00:51:45] Brittney: Yeah, absolutely. And I try to connect with her as best as I can, but also protect myself and how much information I give

[00:51:51] Damon: mm-hmm . Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So did you share with her at all that you had found your biological father?

[00:51:58] Brittney: I did. I don't know if I [00:52:00] shared with her in real time. I think it had happened after we kind of reconnected maybe like a year later.

And I had told her a little bit about it. She was happy for me. And then she , went into like sharing some things with me. She had never shared before, like that. She really knew the whole time. It, you know, I think what was difficult for me was the day before I was supposed to meet with my biological dad, she had a breakdown and called me at work and kind of, for lack of a better term, kind of making it about herself.

And I thought, no, , you're not gonna steal this from me. Mm-hmm no, this is my moment. I've had those moments kind of stolen from me my whole life, because of the lies that you have spun. Whe I give people forgiveness for being 16 and immature, I can only forgive. I don't hang onto, but I'm protective. You don't get to take this one from me.

So as [00:53:00] difficult as it is for you to know that I'm doing this, like you don't get to steal that moment from me and I, I, you. I kind of didn't share much about my story with her after that had happened, because, because

of that

[00:53:15] Damon: good for you. That's great that you were able to recognize that you needed to protect this space.

That was going to be yours. Mm-hmm right. And you're right. People do tend to turn things around onto themselves when they get under stress mm-hmm so that's good that you were able to put up some barriers to make sure that you, you know, protected yourself. That's great. Thank you. Wow, Brittney just . Oh my goodness.

oh my goodness. It's so it it's always so interesting to me to hear the variations of how adoption unfolds for people. And you've brought, yet another kind of journey , of basically being a late [00:54:00] discovery adoptee within your own family. This is a nuance to adoption that, you know, I can't say that I've heard a lot of, and I'm so grateful to you for bringing this forward because I think we pulled out some pieces of your journey that are gonna be helpful for other folks.

And I, I think it's, I'm glad that you've identified yourself in this community because we are your people and you are one of us too.

[00:54:22] Brittney: so thank you. I, that, that was my whole hope in doing this was just like, if I could make somebody not feel as alone as I felt on my journey and the struggle that I had, like internally You know, I just wanna make somebody you're you're completely normal.

This is okay. This is a weird concept to try to find, you know, I was 34 when I reached out. So I had a lifetime of preparing myself for this. He had a couple months, like I have a daughter, I have, you know? Yeah. So he's gung ho and I'm like, whoa, there's a 34 year backstory here,

[00:54:53] Damon: buddy. Like, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Let's pump our breaks just a little bit around this turn, right? Yeah.

[00:54:58] Brittney: Yeah. So to give yourself [00:55:00] like patience and, and grace and time, if you need it. And I only count myself so fortunate that I had somebody that was willing to wait for that, because I imagine. Not every circumstance is the same, right? Like I, you know, some people reach out and they get a completely different experience for the person.

Not only was, is kind like, you know, could take it or leave it or, or whatever. I would imagine it'd be hard for a lot of people to be patient with somebody that they don't really know in a lot of that circumstances. And I am so fortunate that I got somebody that was so, so patient, so kind, and at the end of it now, you know, three years later we have a beautiful relationship and, and sometimes I still struggle internally with my feelings of loyalty or, but on both sides, whether my dad who raised me and with him, neither one of them had made, have made me question that that's all on me.

And that's something that I still have to, [00:56:00] to learn to navigate, but allowing myself to have this relationship without that feeling of betrayal or without that allowing myself to be angry sometimes to be sad, to be happy the loss of what could have been all the, all of the things that all takes time.

And I guess I've learned to just be patient with myself and I'm just so grateful. I have people in my life that love me and support me. And I'm so thankful for that. So even with this podcast, it's a support for people who, feel very alone in their, their struggle at times and, and feeling normal.

And I'm so thankful that I found that as well. You, you were a lifeline to me when I was struggling

[00:56:48] Damon: for sure. Oh my God. That's amazing. I love to hear that. Thank you so much for sharing that. And I'm so glad that you found this space. This is mm-hmm . I do this for that reason so that [00:57:00] your story's gonna touch someone else today and someone else has touched you at a prior day.

And that's what I love about this. So Brittney, thank you so much for being here. This was really awesome. Absolutely.

[00:57:11] Brittney: Thank you so much. I'm so glad I finally got to talk to you

[00:57:14] Damon: ha ha. me too. Take care. Have a great day. All the best to you. Okay.

[00:57:18] Brittney: Thank you so much. Have a good day. You too. Bye. Bye

[00:57:21] Damon: Hey, it's me. Brittney grew up in what she thought was her biological family only to learn her dad was her adoptive dad. While she grew up knowing her mother, the bomb that was dropped on the drive, her parents' divorce and her mother's mental health challenges reminded me a lot of what adopted people share with me about growing up in adoptive families.

I loved what she said about her adoptive father showing up in the mature, supportive way that she needed when she shared with him that she was seeking reunion with her biological father.

That's exactly [00:58:00] what adopted people need from our adoptive families support along the whole journey as mature adults confident in the relationship we have with you, our parents. Brittney told me that even if people's outcome, isn't finding a person with patience and understanding like her birth father has for her. It's still worth the journey to know the parts of your story that have belonged to you the whole time.

Well, this was my last show for season 11 of the, who am I really podcast. I'm going to force myself to take a break, to focus on some other things related to adoption and some projects away from the community.

I'll be spending time with a few adoptee connects groups. With a few adoptees connect groups online and I'm planning to attend the untangling, our roots conference in March of 2023 You can get tickets at untangling, our I plan to do some more writing and working on some real estate investments and wealth building to avoid some of the hard lessons I learned from my parents at the end of their lives.

[00:59:00] So happy holidays to you. I hope you're ready for a fantastic start to 2023. And I only have one more thing to say. I'm Damon Davis and, I, hope you found something in Brittney's journey that inspired you. Validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn. Who am i really

take care of everyone and i'll see you in the spring of 2023.

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