Amy, from outside of Chicago, grew up looking visibly different than her family in a way that didn’t meet societal stereotypes for her family’s beliefs causing her to have to explain her adoption more than she might’ve liked.
Curious about her ethnicity and background Amy found links to her birth family through DNA.
In her maternal reunion, Amy found her birth mother’s family shares many of her creative traits and they have welcomed her as their daughter and sister.
But her paternal connections only happened once and seems to be blocked by her birth father’s spouse, even though the man should be able to empathize with Amy for himself.
This is amy’s journey
Who Am I Really?
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[00:00:00] Hey, it's Damon. I don't know if you noticed, but the, who am I really podcast? Just pass the milestone 200 episodes. I was really excited to see the number 200 go by with Lori's episode last week and here on episode 201. Amy keeps the adoptee sharing, validating and empathizing going.
There are so many adoptees stories to tell. And I truly wish I could be part of telling them all, but not everyone wants to share on a podcast. Not everybody wants to share on this podcast and some adoptees aren't ready to share it all. To those who have been my guests so far and who have opened up about some of the most intimate, emotional parts of their lives with me, for the benefit of every listener out there. I say, thank you so much. You've helped me learn more than I ever imagined about the adoption experience and the lived experiences of people from every part of this country and different parts of the world. But more importantly, sharing our stories here is helping at least one other person out there [00:01:00] who has felt alone as an adoptee in their community Or whose feelings about their adoption and their attempt at reunion have been invalidated by people who don't quite understand what adoptee life is like. Or who have struggled through adoptee situations and needed to hear someone else's story So they could take a piece of knowledge away for their own use. I love this work and I'm so grateful For every guest and listener. Thank you for being here with me. If the, who am I really podcast has brought something meaningful to your life. I would really appreciate a review on your podcast app. It's quick. Free and an easy way to be supportive. And when the algorithm see that a show is getting positive reviews, it helps other people to find this podcast too.
Okay. I hope you're ready for number 2 0 1. Here we go.
Cold Cut Intro
[00:01:54] Amy: they considered me part of their family as their daughter. that feeling of being wanted [00:02:00] by someone who originally, placed you for adoption was a tremendous feeling for me to have my adopted mom then just kind of crush that. Because it upset her so much. And I understand, how difficult that has to be, but I'm not trying to replace her.
I'm just trying to learn about my family. Mm-hmm. You know, that so many people take for granted
I'm Damon Davis. And you're about to meet Amy who called me from outside of Chicago. Amy grew up looking visibly different than her family in a way that didn't meet societal stereotypes for her family's beliefs causing her to have to explain her adoption more than she might've liked. Curious about her ethnicity and background. Amy found links to her birth family through DNA.
In her maternal reunion, Amy found her birth. Mother's family shares, [00:03:00] many of her creative traits and has welcomed her as their daughter and sister. But her paternal connections only happened once and seems to be blocked by her birth father's spouse. even though the man should be able to Empathize with Amy for himself. This is amy's journey
Amy said she grew up in a typically American family. She doesn't remember a time when she was sat down and told she was adopted. She's just kind of always known that fact about herself. Reflecting on her life. She said she's always felt appreciative and grateful to be adopted. Given the story she was told about her birth family, they were young and they couldn't take care of her back in 1969.
Amy has an older brother also adopted who is not biological to herself. And a sister who is eight years younger than herself and is the biological child of their parents. While amy's family are all white she has blonde hair and blue eyes and they all have dark hair and dark eyes
[00:03:57] Amy: So, Growing up, the one thing I [00:04:00] always wanted to know was just kind of like who I looked like. Yeah. That was like my biggest thing is like you just wanted a picture of, you know, resemblance. But other than that, you know, I never felt adoption was, , a bad thing for me. I felt I was adjusted in it and my adopted parents were always very supportive to say, if you ever wanna, you know, try to search, we would be happy to help you.
I really never had that interest. Mm-hmm. You
[00:04:28] Damon: know, as a child, really secure, there's no, there's no need to be filled. There's no gap. Right. You've got the love, right. You've got family. Everything feels good. So there's no real, there's no desire to search if you're, if things are going well.
(NOISE REDUCTION HERE)
[00:04:44] Amy: Right. Right. And that's how I was my whole life until I decided to search.
[00:04:49] Damon: Yeah. Right. Until I realized, you know what? I do wanna search. It's funny how it hits us. Tell me a little bit about your sibling relationships. You said your parents had a [00:05:00] biological daughter eight years after you were adopted. Tell me about your relationships with your brothers and sisters.
[00:05:08] Amy: So my older brother and I, we were two, we're two years apart.
So growing up, just typical brother sister kind of thing, you know, I would annoy him. We'd play together kind of, you know, just this mm-hmm. What you would expect in a typical sibling relationship. We didn't, really talk about being adopted. It was always known. So that was, you know, just a normal thing.
And then when. Younger sister was born. I honestly, my mom even says this, like, I just love that baby. Like, I was like, oh my gosh, this is my real live baby doll. So we have a really great relationship. Even now, my younger sister, like, we just connected and, you know, I think being eight years older, I went through all those, milestones of getting married, having kids, and then she kinda looked up to me and, you know, I supported her through all of that [00:06:00] too.
So, really good relationship. Yeah. My brother, he struggled, I think a bit more with his adoption as. He got older cuz we did move around a little bit when we were younger. and he doesn't say this, but like looking back on it now, I think that was a big struggle for him, his adoption.
So as we got older, I kind of distanced myself from him because I was wanting to do the right thing. I wanted to get good grades, I wanted to please my parents and he kind of took the opposite route mm-hmm. Of kind of like, I'm gonna go make havoc and do what I wanna do. And that kind of separated us. As we've gotten older, we've talked more about our adoption, and we're still not really close, but we can have good conversations.
Mm-hmm. You know? Yeah.
[00:06:51] Damon: Yeah. It's interesting to see how. The effects of adoption manifest themselves in different people at different times. Mm-hmm. Right. It's right. Some folks, it's [00:07:00] from the very earliest age and they can feel the sense of sort of trauma that coincides with having been taken from wherever that was home to where they are now.
Right. And then there's folks who sort of discover the angst in their, middle school and teenage years. Some folks are, it's when they have this moment of discovery that they're a late discovery adoptee. And then there's others who struggle through, you know, early and later adulthood. It's just interesting to think that it can come out at any time, and it's different for different people.
Really wild and triggered by different stuff.
[00:07:35] Amy: Totally. I know. It's bizarre. It really is bizarre. You know, like I said, I think when I reached out to you just kind of telling my story and listening to so many of your podcasts, I was like, wow. Like, you know, thinking of being alone and like starting to struggle with this in my fifties seemed so.
Bizarre to me. Mm-hmm. Like I just thought I have to be just crazy, [00:08:00] like who has these thoughts? And then just hearing other people who could validate it, I was like, okay, yes, this is, you know, this is not totally crazy. This is just something, this is a journey. This is what I need to go through. Yes. This is, you know, a lot of people hit this at different times.
So, you know, that's nice about this adoption community. I feel like so many more people are sharing their stories. Yeah. That just helps each other to feel like, okay, now I understand this.
[00:08:28] Damon: Yeah. This is exactly why I do the show. This is a big part of it is the validation of the feelings that you're having.
But you may not have had someone to actually talk to or hear that from previously. So being able to set up a platform that allows us to validate each other's feelings is really important to me. So I'm glad you said that piece about validation.
[00:08:52] Amy: Yeah. And it is, it's so important because I think a lot of people who aren't adopted and like in my family, you know, I have three [00:09:00] children, my husband, like, they can hear what I'm saying and they can try to empathize with it, but they can't completely understand and validate and Right.
And understand like an adopted person can't. So. Right. That's what's so important.
Blonde haired blue eyed. Amy didn't look like her adoptive family much. And to top things off her family is Jewish. Uh, culture, not classically known for physical features. Like Amy's, she didn't look like a Jewish child.
[00:09:27] Amy: So when people would ask me, you know, around
the holidays, like, where are you doing for Christmas? And I'm like, well, we celebrate Hanukkah. They're like, you don't celebrate Hanukkah.
I was like, yeah, I do. I mean, people would argue with me and I'd be like, well, I'm adopted. So it's like you always had to give that excuse. Well, I'm adopted. And then it was always like, oh yeah. You know, interesting. So, you know, and I never really thought that affected me so much until I look back at it and like thinking about how many times I had to justify that, how do you have blonde hair and blue eyes?
Your parents have brown eyes and dark hair, you know, [00:10:00] you don't look Jewish. You, and it was always, well, I'm adopted, you know? Yeah. So
[00:10:05] Damon: that's really fascinating. I was thinking about, you know, what has really stuck with me, what one of my other guests said, she was a woman of color raised in a white family, and she said, you know, I always had to live my adoption out in public.
And that is a very private thing for me. And you were raising yet another example of it that I had never thought of before is that there are some sort of stereotypical things that we think about certain religions and certain Right. You know, cultures and you, you just automatically think, oh, that person looks this way.
Right, right. If I said, you know, Ethiopian, you could probably pull a couple of stereotypes together of what you think that kind of person looks like. Exactly. And, and if I said Muslim, you could probably pull some stereotypes together of what that person probably looks like in your mind. So for someone to say, I'm Jewish, and your image not [00:11:00] meet their stereotypical expectation is another example of that.
I, I'm glad you said that. I've never really contemplated that before. Fascinating, right?
[00:11:08] Amy: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But it's so true what people put, you know mm-hmm. In their mind of what someone should look like or be like mm-hmm. Based on, you know, just their appearance, not really understanding the
[00:11:20] Damon: background. Yeah, that's exactly right.
And, and yet again, you have. Legitimize yourself. And you probably, as you've said, you didn't even realize that you had to do it or that you were doing it, but it sounds like over time, like this stack of needles, you know, was piling up and then eventually it feels like it kind of poked you, right?
[00:11:41] Amy: Oh, yeah.
Amy was born in Indiana, where her family lived for a few years. Then they moved to New York, New Jersey, and then landed in Chicago. Amy met the man. She would eventually marry when she was in high school. They attended Marquette university and got married after they graduated.
When [00:12:00] Amy's kids were born, she stayed at home to raise them all. I asked her what it was like when her kids were born and she could suddenly see people who looked like herself
[00:12:10] Amy: That probably was one of the most amazing things is, you know, when you have your first child I mean, that's like your first biological relative that you get to see. So having the resemblance and you know, my kids do resemble me and I mean my husband, but that was just very cool to see that.
And I think that kind of got me where, I knew the situation from the UN identifying information I received that, you know, my parents were young, they weren't married. And I was like, I can understand that that would be really hard to raise a child, you know, on your own if you're not married and you don't have support outside, And then when I had my son, who's my oldest, I was like, oh my gosh, I can't, I don't know how anyone's able to, you know, relinquish a child. [00:13:00] Mm-hmm. I just wanted to hold him. You know, when people would come over and wanna see the baby, I would be like, okay, here he is, but you know, I wanna hold him. So. Right.
Could you please give him
[00:13:10] Damon: back pretty quickly?
[00:13:12] Amy: Yeah. I just like soaked in every moment with my kids, just, just looking at them and in awe that they were, you my kids. Mm-hmm. And I'm sure that's the same for a lot of people, but I just think there's a little extra layer of, you know, going through the process of pregnancy and giving birth and then just realizing like what a birth mother must go through and how, how hard that has to be for them to do that.
[00:13:37] Damon: sure. Yeah. Mm-hmm. And you know, I've often said, you know, the birth of my son Seth, was a, like a momentous occasion for us for a variety of reasons we had adopted. Two older children and my kids were sort of moving along through life, and here we were trying to conceive, we were challenged to conceive.
Mm-hmm. And then this guy, mm-hmm. Is conceived naturally and he's my first biological [00:14:00] relative and I'm the guy, like, I didn't even carry him. Right. I can't even imagine how much more intense it is for a female adoptee to have conceived her own child and be carrying this person that you get to birth and meet for the first time.
It must be just as you said before, just another layer of what it's like to be an adoptee on top of that well-known situation for so many women around the world.
[00:14:26] Amy: Right. Wow. Yeah. No, incredible. But yeah, true. I mean that, I think about that too for fathers, you know, I mean, that's amazing, your story and I mean, I know my husband is just as in love with our kids as I am, but there is a different connection, but I have to imagine.
As an adopted person, just seeing that like you're looking at this little creature you created, I know that, you know, has your biology in them and that's just an amazing thing Yeah. That, you know, most people take for granted because they see it in their families and their, siblings, mother, father if they're not adopted.
[00:14:59] Damon: Yeah. [00:15:00] And, and the whole thing that you do where you pick the child apart and you're like, oh, he is got my toes and those are my cheeks. Right. And it looks like your nose and you know, you try to assign every. And every personality trait like that also is just a little bit more intense with an adopted person because you've not had it before.
Like you couldn't look at your brother or your sister and think, oh, you know, we kind of have the same hands. Like, no, you don't. You know what I mean? Right. Yeah, exactly.
Amy's kids are in their twenties. So the internet was just beginning to offer reunion options for adopted people when they were young. Amy placed her name in certain reunion, registries, hoping to match with a birth parent. She never really told anyone she had registered to be found and nothing ever came of her registration.
Then in 2017 Amy's family would frequently watch the show long lost family where reunions were unfolding for strangers on the screen.
Repeatedly, the touching reunions brought tears to Amy's eyes because the moment of finding family was so moving to her in ways she [00:16:00] couldn't imagine for herself. Later when ancestry dna had a sale on their kits amy's kids convinced her to submit a sample
[00:16:08] Amy: My husband says to me, are you sure you wanna do that? And I was like, you know, I really just wanna know what my. Background is like, what's my ethnicity? What's, you know, what are my origins? That's kind of really like, when I say that out loud, I think, did I have an ulterior motive to connect with biological family?
I really don't think I did back then. I really just think I wanted to know what my origins were. So I did that, and when I got the results back, honestly the first thing I looked at was my D n A, your ethnicity, right? Mm-hmm. Or your heritage to, to find out what I was.
And it was the coolest thing to find out. I had some English background, German background, Scottish background, and really just like, I read every single thing in depth. Like, oh my gosh, this is where my family came from, you know? [00:17:00] And then they moved to the States and this is where they were in the states.
And I thought that was the most amazing thing. And then the next thing I did was I clicked on relatives and it was my birth father that I matched with, and I, wow. I mean, that just like knocked me off my seat. Whoa. What happened? It wasn't his name. It was a username, but it basically said, this is your father.
So once that happened, I was like, wait a second. Now this is in my lap. I have to investigate, I have to figure out where I'm going with this, right?
[00:17:36] Damon: Amy's first job was to try to figure out her birth father's identity. She tried to message the username for her birth father, but no one replied. Amy reached out to a cousin on her maternal side who did reply and granted Amy access to her extensive family tree online. Using the non identified information. She had Amy figured out a possible identity for her birth mother.
Mm. and she confirmed that for me. She's like, yep, those are the people. And they had one daughter and from there kept searching and I found her married name. And then we went to Facebook.
[00:18:16] Damon: Of course, the next step on the search,
[00:18:20] Amy: the next step on the search was Facebook. And Lo and behold, found her Facebook.
And I messaged her. It took a little bit of time, but she ultimately reached back and she was thrilled that I had, found her and was so excited. So we, met up like in 2018 for the first time, and it was amazing. Yeah, it's
[00:18:48] Damon: incredible. Tell me, really great, how did your, how did your connection go?
So you messaged back and forth on Facebook, then when did you, did you email? Did you call, tell me about how you [00:19:00] led up to meeting and what was it like to actually speak with her? Her.
[00:19:04] Amy: So it was crazy. So it really was that day she reached back out to me and was like, call me anytime. And I was like, okay, man.
Of course my family is like, do it call right now. And I'm like, I need to breathe right. You're gonna
[00:19:18] Damon: need to gimme a minute.
[00:19:21] Amy: So, but ultimately that night I did, I picked up the phone and I called her and it was, it was really incredible to just hear her voice and to you know, her, for her to be so happy that I had, you know, contacted her.
she's married but not to my birth father and they have three daughters. So I have three sisters and they had all known about me, so she had told her family and I think that is what made it such an easy. thing for her because it wasn't like she was hiding anything. And then there I was, [00:20:00] she had shared just with her, husband and daughters that I was out there somewhere.
So when I reached out to her I mean, she was surprised cuz she said, we always thought about, you know, how could we, and I guess one of my sisters had always said, how do we find her? How do we find her? And you know, my birth mom was like, it's really not on us because I don't feel like we can go find her.
Like, this was a choice that was made. We can't intrude. And so when I was able to find her, she was very excited. And so we're my three sisters. So
[00:20:34] Damon: that's really incredible. Wow. Mm-hmm. It's good that she had opened up about that ahead of time because this is Yes. It's a lot like. The you know, when a late discovery adoptee finds out they're adopted, one of their first reactions is like, what the hell?
Didn't you tell me this before? Right, right. And I could see that the same could be true in a birth parent's family, right? Wait, oh yeah, you have a [00:21:00] sibling out there. Why the hell didn't you told me this before. Right? Right. So the fact that she had preempted your return with that information, removed the shock, and introduced curiosity, and then when you did show up, the curiosity satisfied versus you showing up and the shock being the first thing that happened.
Right. That's really powerful. And I think that's an important lesson for people to learn in this reunion journey is if you got something to share, like go ahead and start letting it out there and you know, you'll live, you will be just fine. Right. Everybody will get over. But it's important to get the, that information out there because the shock is, is much more challenging to deal with in the moment.
[00:21:42] Amy: Right. Yeah, I would imagine. And her husband, you know, he's wonderful cuz I, I say this cuz my birth father is a different story, but he is so supportive of our relationship and I think without that it would make it very difficult. [00:22:00] Mm-hmm. You know, because he, I mean, he welcomed me with open arms.
He now says he's got four daughters. You know, he's taken on a, you know, grandpa role to my kids. And, you know, it's just amazing. It's just truly amazing to have that in my life, you know, , and be able to see, you know, genetically who I look like some common, things between my sisters and my mom.
That, you know, growing up I feel like now looking back how much I missed that. Mm-hmm. You know, not having that and how cool it is to be able to get it now.
[00:22:38] Damon: Yeah. This continues the theme of you don't know what's missing until you see it, and then you're like, oh, wow. Yeah.
And, and is not looking like thing is something you can easily push down. You, you were in a loving tribe. Your family Yes. Loved each other, so there was no real need to focus on it. Whereas right when there are so many other [00:23:00] factors in your relationship that are potentially pushing you apart, you will then focus on things like, and we don't look alike.
You know what I mean? It'll, right. Like, here's another thing I'm gonna stick in here that, you know, irritates me versus like the idea that you can push it away because it's not important to you because your family loves you and you love them, and then you see mm-hmm. These other people that you look like and, and you feel this love and connection and things like that.
And it's just like, oh, whoa, this is way more than I thought it was gonna be. You know what I mean? It's, yes. I, I can, it's almost like when you I don't know if you've ever tried to, like, I know women love shoes, for example. You try to find the perfect shoe and then when you finally find it, you're like, this is the one I've been looking for.
Right? And it feels so good after all of these previous attempts and you've sort of pushed it away like, ah, it doesn't really matter that much. It's, it's like that when you make that perfect find, you didn't realize how perfect it needed to be until you got the right thing. And that's [00:24:00] kind of what this feels like to me.
[00:24:02] Amy: Yes. Yes, definitely. I mean, because, you know, even my best friend that I've known since high school was like, I can't believe you're doing this. Like, I mean, she was very supportive, but she's like, your whole life you never said you cared. Mm-hmm. And I'm like, I don't really think I cared. You know what I mean?
But then once, once I. Was able to meet and I thought, gosh, my whole life, this is kind of what I was hoping for one day, you know? Yeah. But just I think never thinking it was possible, you know? It's just something that I just never really thought was
[00:24:37] Damon: possible. Yeah. And I want to go back to something you said earlier, which was you started to search, but you didn't really tell anybody.
And I think this happens way more than most people realize it does, cuz it's the kind of thing that you'll do in the middle of the night. You're laying in bed, you can't sleep, you pick up your phone and you look at something [00:25:00] and you go, oh, I wonder if there's an adoption registry. And you, it's nothing that you sort of preemptively had a conversation with anybody about.
It's just the curiosity strikes you in the. And you go for it. Right? Right. And then, you know, you find something interesting like, oh, what is this registry? I'm gonna go to sleep. I'll pick this up another time. And then two days later, yeah, this curiosity strikes you and now you find yourself in a search or however, yes.
Your curiosity overcomes you. I think there's a lot, lot of that out there that I didn't realize that I wanted to search . Until I sort of started searching and then I realized I wanted to search, so. Right.
[00:25:36] Amy: Yeah. Well, and I think the searching too is also a hard thing because I know I didn't wanna upset anyone in my adopted family.
I didn't want them to feel like, I needed something else because, I was well cared for. I was loved. We had a a good family, I had a good upbringing, and, you know, maybe I had more opportunities, which is all great, so it's almost like you [00:26:00] didn't wanna tell people because you didn't want them to think badly of you.
You know, why are they searching? Why would they do that? They have everything they need here, you know? I mean, that's kind of how I thought about it back then. Mm-hmm. Like, we'll just see what comes of it. You know, if something matches, that'll be great, but if it doesn't, oh, well, I'm fine.
[00:26:20] Damon: Yeah. And that's a, that's an interesting point too, Amy, is that when we decide we want to search people, Often associate it with, because something like love is missing.
Right. And it diminishes like the, just the genuine curiosity about the things that you've raised. I look like somebody else. Right. And, and that is a curiosity that you can't look away from in the mirror or when someone says, you don't look Jewish, so. Right. It just, you know, these curiosities are sparked sometimes unintentionally, and you don't realize mm-hmm.
That you're curious or that you do care [00:27:00] until it starts to reveal itself.
[00:27:02] Amy: right. Oh, totally.
[00:27:03] Damon: As we chatted, Amy told me about conversations she had with some of the younger adoptees in her extended family. Some of them are international adoptees who have expressed concerns about potential hidden health issues.
Curiosity about whether they will ever be able to find their biological families and generally questioning who they are. Amy encouraged their curiosity because for her it seems better to think about those questions at a young age than to be confronting those issues later in life like she has.
[00:27:34] Amy: I feel like why is this coming up now in my fifties?
Right. You know, where I think the younger maybe just. Younger generation because they have so many more things through social media, the internet, they have access to so many, so much more that they can research and try to figure out on their own. Mm-hmm. That I think, you know, it's like this split. I feel like there's so many people who are older kind of [00:28:00] realizing some of this adoption stuff and then there's a whole nother group of really young adults kind of come into realization and having questions and wanting to know things.
Yeah. Which is just very interesting cuz you know, five years ago, I don't think I ever would've thought. I would have these kind of questions and feelings about, you know, missing out on knowing my origins and, and that kind of stuff. Where now I get mad a little bit, you know, when I'm like, wait, why wasn't I given this information?
Which is good for my nephews and my niece because their mom kinda gets it, like knows the importance of, sharing their origin and talking about it. Where I never felt like I had that platform to talk about it as a child. Mm-hmm. And it was never asked of me. Yeah. So, yeah. You know, I think if I had that a little bit earlier on, it probably would've made this little transition of, you know, meeting biological family a little bit easier.
Mm-hmm. [00:29:00] To feel, Like it was Okay. Yeah. Like, you know, in a way I still have that feeling like, am I hurting someone? because I know my adopted mom, I don't think she as supportive as she is and says she is. I don't a hundred percent think she's comfortable with the whole situation right now.
Mm-hmm. So, you know, it's just a hard thing. Yeah. And as an adoptee, you're trying to navigate like, here's this new and exciting connection, that I'm just over the moon about, and then I have my adopted family here, and I'm like, I don't want them to feel slighted or put to the side. I want them to be able to share in it.
And that's a really hard thing to navigate, right?
[00:29:41] Damon: Yeah. It really is. It's, it's tough. You want, to be able to share. But they also have to be in a real strong position of empathetic understanding and Right. That can be challenging to reach, as we've said, because you're not in it, you don't [00:30:00] know the experience.
So it's hard to Yes. To share in the experience when you don't actually understand it that well to begin with. Yeah. That's really interesting. Let me ask you, Amy, you're, I just realized I want to get to this point where you meet your birth mother, but I want to just go back for a quick moment because you said your first connection was to information about your birth father.
How come you didn't pursue him first? How, why did you go after knowing your birth mother
[00:30:28] Amy: first? Well, so I didn't know his name. When we matched, it was a username and the only way I could connect was through the portal on Ancestry. Mm-hmm. And I never got anything back from him, like no response at all.
So Once I was able to get in touch with my birth mom, she was able to gimme his name. And so from there I actually did reach out to him through a letter I sent him in the mail. And he did get [00:31:00] the letter and he actually called me the day he got it. And he's also adopted, which I find. Kind of crazy.
Mm-hmm. That our relationship hasn't gone forward at all. But when we first spoke, he was a little standoffish and one of the first things he said to me was, I can't believe how easy it was for you to find me. And I was like, whoa. You know? I was like, well, you did ancestry you, you did dna. And I just thought
[00:31:30] Damon: that was like, I didn't understand what you were doing, but
[00:31:33] Amy: Right.
So I thought that was bizarre. And then he kind of just rattled off some like, you know, health issues that he had, you know, gone through. And slowly he warmed up a. which was great. And, and we started having like, you know, a couple phone calls, a couple text messages and then we did meet one time with his wife [00:32:00] who I don't think she was very supportive to him.
Like, as much as like, my birth mom's husband is supportive, I think she goes the opposite. So the first meeting we had, I was like, well, could I get a picture? And she said, I don't wanna see that on Facebook. So I was like, okay. So our relationship hasn't progressed at all. I do have a brother, a half-brother, who does not wanna have contact with me either, so that's.
You know, hard as it is. Mm-hmm. I've since just reached out to my birth father, you know, recently and just said basically, I'm really glad I got the chance to meet. You would love to, you know, develop a friendship, get to know more about you and your family. The doors opened. Feel free to reach out to me when you're ready, if you ever are so, mm-hmm.
But I haven't heard back, so that was, that's difficult. And [00:33:00] the difficult part is that he's adopted, so I kind of feel like he probably has some of these same similar feelings, thoughts that I'm going through. And it's, sad that he doesn't wanna connect. Cuz I, I mean, I feel like people for some reason think that adoptees wanting to connect.
We want something like there's a grander picture out there. Right. And really all we wanna do is get to know the people we were born from. Yeah. You know, I wanna know about his personality, I wanna know about his life. That's all you know. And so it is sad because you think, what about me? Doesn't he wanna know?
And, and that, that hurts. But
[00:33:39] Damon: Yeah. You know, it sucks because you end up owning the rejection when it's really on them. Right. Right. You're a good person, you've got a good heart. You don't have any ulterior motive. You just want know them. Right. Like, literally. Can we see each other in, like, can, can we kind of talk, there's some questions I have and I'd love to hear about Right.
Your [00:34:00] life. And it's not really intended to be this pressure situation, but they make it one with Their. Desire not to be connected to you. And so it becomes a question of like, well, what's wrong with me? And it's actually not anything wrong with you, it's that they've got issues that they haven't dealt with.
And it's important, right, to just keep that ownership of the issue over there and try to be good with yourself and recognize that they've gotta come around to it.
[00:34:29] Amy: Right? Yeah. And, and, you know, and it could be his wife is not thrilled with it, and I get it. Like, if you've gotta keep peace in your house, then I'm guess you have to keep peace in your house, right?
But then again, I'm thinking, come on, be a stronger person, and if you're interested in knowing about me, do it. That's right. But yeah, I didn't wanna close the door on it, and honestly, it was a great thing. Like, after we met, I was excited to be there. I was nervous to be there when I left. I was an emotional wreck [00:35:00] because I mean, I probably had a feeling like this is gonna be the only time I see him. Mm-hmm. But then again, it was like, what an opportunity that, this is something I never thought would ever happen. Right. So how lucky am I that I was able to at least meet him in person one time?
[00:35:14] Damon: Absolutely. You know? Yeah, you could, it could have been zero. Zero. She could have shut that down before he even left the house. She could have shut it down in first phone call. So that is very fortunate. But you Right, you met him second?
[00:35:27] Amy: Yes. Yeah, I met her in February of 2018. I met him in July of 2018.
[00:35:32] Damon: Switching to Amy's birth mother. They had spoken on the phone in January, 2018, and then they messaged back and forth. Amy found out she had a sister in Chicago whom she also spoke with. Her sister's family was planning a trip to see their mother in February. So everyone planned to meet up. Amy's husband accompanied her.
Her birth mother and her husband and amy's half sister and her husband all gathered at a restaurant
[00:35:58] Amy: I mean it was so [00:36:00] exciting. It was funny though, cuz as we were getting ready to walk out the door my husband just looked at me and I just literally, Broke down and he was like, what can I do? I'm like, oh my gosh, my makeup. I just like yelled at him pretty much.
And it was like, go to the car. I'll be out in a minute. Don't talk to me. And then we drove there literally in silence. Because I thought if he says one word, I'm just gonna be an emotional wreck where I thought I was so strong and I was going to take this on, it was gonna be fine. And then we got there and he goes, I'll handle it.
I'll walk in, I'll find him. I followed him. We walked around the corner and there they were. And it was just amazing to see her Oh. And hug her and, to see resemble it was just really cool. Mm-hmm. I mean, I saw pictures before, but just to like have a hug from her was amazing. Yeah.
[00:36:50] Damon: Wow. You know?
That's incredible. It's so funny. And you were on eggshells and you're like, the best way for you to support me is to just shut up. I
[00:37:02] Damon: at me. That's so funny. Wow. So, and I, so you get to see her. Do you see resemblance? Did you see resemblance of yourself in the pictures and, and with her in person?
[00:37:13] Amy: Yes. Yes. And it was funny cuz once we found her, my daughter and I, we were like, you know, screenshotting pictures and showing it to family and they're like, oh my gosh, There's no denying it. So yeah, there is a lot of resemblance with us and you know, my sisters, so it's so cool.
[00:37:30] Damon: really awesome.
[00:37:32] Amy: and then that year, I'm thinking it was the day after Thanksgiving, everyone had gone to Indiana. So I have a sister in Colorado, a sister in Indiana, a sister in Chicago.
So they were all planning to be in Indiana for Thanksgiving. So the day after Thanksgiving, my family went there and we had like a first time meeting of everybody. So all. The sisters, their husbands, their kids, my kids. We all just hung [00:38:00] out and had a great first meeting and just kind of getting to know each other, which was amazing.
[00:38:05] Damon: Amy said all of her three kids look very much alike, But she and her sisters, don't all look alike. You can pick out features between them and similar characteristics, like their face shape And Amy says she sees that they have similar smiles.
Between the sisters, they have some shared interest as they're crafty gardeners, and hands-on kind of women. Amy said she was crafty growing up, but her adoptive mother was nothing of the sort. So it's super interesting to see that her half siblings share inherited creativity traits.
It never ceases to amaze me, which pieces of ourselves are learned through nurture versus what we inherit through nature. I was interested to learn more about how things have been with amy's adoptive
My adoptive father was supportive. He has since passed, so he's not involved obviously with what's going on now. Mm-hmm. My sister who's my parents' biological daughter, she's very supportive she can understand like how I feel my adopted mom. Like to this day she still says how much she supports this, but yet when I have a conversation, you know, like, oh, who's gonna, who's going?
Or who's coming to dinner? Cuz they've come to my house for my kids' graduation parties and then so both sets of family is there and my adopted mom gets upset about it. You know, you can just tell in her tone in a way. I'm trying to think, I think it was my daughter's high school graduation.
I had. One of my sisters there, my birth mom and her husband were there, and my [00:40:00] birth mom's husband was talking to my adopted mom. And she's like, oh, so where are your, you know, just like, you know, small talk. Where are your girls at? You know, where are your kids live? And he's like, yeah, well we have two in Chicago, one in Indiana, one in Colorado.
And my mom said two in Chicago. And he said, yeah, Amy. And, and that made my mom so upset. Oh my God. She's like, they called you their daughter. And she asked my sister to take her home from the party, which was so upsetting to me. Number one, it was embarrassing because it was like, where did she go? And. So upsetting that she couldn't feel like that was like joy to me.
That they considered me part of their family as their daughter. that feeling of being wanted by someone who originally, placed you for adoption was a tremendous feeling for me to have my adopted mom then just kind of crush that. Because [00:41:00] it upset her so much. And I understand, how difficult that has to be, but I'm not trying to replace her.
I'm just trying to learn about my family. Mm-hmm. You know, that so many people take for granted that they, Just get that by being born into their family. Yeah. So that's, very difficult. We're still working on it. The empathy part on hers is not that great. I'm still just trying to be open and share with her the importance of it to me.
Mm-hmm. And just hoping that she will either come around or, you know, I don't know. I, I put this on me, that my children, you know, they're, they're adults. They make choices. I might not agree with all their choices, but if it brings them happiness and they're not hurting someone, and it, , it is, you know, making their lives better for them, I'm happy for them.
I'm supportive. I wanna hear about it. [00:42:00] And I just feel like I don't get that from my adopted mom in this situation, which is to me, a monumental, like, huge thing in someone's life who was adopted. Right.
[00:42:12] Damon: Can I ask if you're honest with yourself, did you do a good job of reminding her that you're not trying to replace her?
How do you feel like you did in that particular piece?
[00:42:24] Amy: Yes. I mean, I have told her over and over mm-hmm. That. I am grateful for being in the family, for her, being my mom, for being well cared for, for love, being loved that it's not a replacement, but that it's just having a connection to you know, your genetics.
And, and it was funny cuz we were having this conversation, I don't know, maybe a year ago, and I was at her house and she has a photo of her grandfather, her great-grandfather, and [00:43:00] some uncles, like an old photo from, you know, like early 19 hundreds or maybe late 18 hundreds. And I said, that picture is so cool.
And she's like, yeah, you know, blah, blah, blah. I said, but I don't know any of that. Like, I, that is something I am still trying to find out and learn. And she said, yeah, but you know your birth mom now, so it's good. It's like, but it's not like, it's not like a one time thing. Whoop, you met, you got it, you're done.
You know, it's an experience. It's, it's talking, it's learning. It's meeting more people that are gonna bring me to that sense of, wow, that's my family. Those are my origins. which I'm still trying to get, because, you know, 50 some years apart, it's not really easy to, put everything in, one paragraph and feel like you know everything.
You know, this, this image
[00:43:52] Damon: came to my mind as you were saying when you said your adoptive mother said, well, you know your birth mother now. So basically check. Right. [00:44:00] It's, you should be good. Right? Check Doug. Yep. I had this image of a person walking up to a house that they've never been in before, and just because mm-hmm.
The door was open and unlocked and you could open it and see. That doesn't mean you now know this house. Right. You Exactly. There's so many rooms inside. Some of them are gonna be gorgeous and other ones are gonna be kind of ugly. But you can't yeah. Know any of that until you literally step through the door and explore the house and, and Right.
And you're gonna see, you know, does this kitchen work for me and does this basement work for me? And how are the kids' rooms? Like, there's so many things to explore. And the same is true for an adoption story is that it's, it doesn't check the box to just meet a biological relative. And, and now you know them.
There's right history, as you've said. There's stories that coincide with that history. It's not just, you know, that my uncle, you know, came to the United States from overseas, but what else, what did he do? Was he sort of handsy and [00:45:00] crafty like me? And, and who did he meet and, and who were his children and where did they move to?
And all of the sort of, verbal history that coincides with a family is also really important. It fills in around the skeleton of just like going through the family tree online and saying, okay, the next person in line is that one, and the next person in line is that one. Right. Who are the stories?
What are the stories that coincide with each of those faces on the tree? That's the filling out piece that I think she probably is underestimating the importance of.
[00:45:31] Amy: Exactly, and, and you know, like even just meeting your biological family, you kind of navigate that in a way that's comfortable for everyone.
You know, it's not like you come in there and you go, tell me about this. Tell me about this. Tell me about this. Mm-hmm. You know? Mm-hmm. Yeah. It's like as you build on your relationship, I feel. That also makes them say, okay, yeah, this person, really wants to know more. Like, you know, they're just not here to check the box.
Mm-hmm. You know? Mm-hmm. [00:46:00] It's more about developing the connections and developing the relationships that, doesn't happen overnight at all. Yeah. You know, as, as amazing as it is to have that connection the journey to really feel as if you fit in and you connect and, you know, some of the history, like I would say I'm just at the beginning of that stage and it's almost been, you know, five years that, I'm still learning.
I'm still trying to find out more information And navigate it, you know, where I don't seem like I'm pushy and I don't seem like, you know, you, I feel like we have to walk this fine line too, of not inserting yourself to an uncomfortable place for them. Yeah,
[00:46:42] Damon: that's a really good point as well.
Right. May I ask, so I wanna go back to your birth mom for a moment. Sure. What did she tell you about her experience with conceiving you in your adoption? What did you learn?
Never had the intention of getting married. Just knew that that wasn't what they wanted. She did not tell anyone until her mom found out. I think she was about seven months pregnant. And from that point on, her mom, took her to her appointments. She planned to place me for adoption cuz that was the only choice that was given to her.
She knew she couldn't take care of me on her own. She said she loved being pregnant. She thought it was really cool. When she did go into the hospital, her mom took her to the hospital to deliver and when it got close to the time of delivery, she said that they did give her medication to sedate her so she doesn't actually [00:48:00] remember.
me being born, and she never saw me. She never held me. It was just basically the baby was there and gone. She went back to school to finish. She graduated in May. I was born in March and she graduated and she moved to California to um, start her career. So kind of, you know, her, her mom never wanted to talk about it again.
She said, this is, it's over. It's done. You have the baby, we're moving on. And they never ever talked about it. Her dad never talked to her about it once I guess one time they were fighting and he said, what are y'all yelling about? And she goes, I'm pregnant. And then he got silent and that was the only time she had ever said something to her dad about it.
[00:48:45] Damon: That is crazy. So.
[00:48:47] Amy: Mm-hmm. And then she ultimately moved back to Indiana and then, you know, met her husband and they've lived there ever
[00:48:54] Damon: since. Mm. Really wild, What was it like to hear that story?
Did she hold me? That was really hard to know that you weren't held. But also I, I also think of how having gone through delivering a baby, how difficult for her that had to be, you know, and to have absolutely no support. It was basically you had your baby, we're moving on. You will forget that ever happened.
And yeah, I, I, I really can't imagine going through something like that and you know, I just, when I hear that and then I start to wonder, I think, gosh, you know, then you wonder where was I for, I know I was in the hospital for about seven days. I knew I went to foster care for another seven days, but it's just like one of those things you're like, okay, there's like two weeks.
Who was I with? Who was holding you? You know, who was feeding you? I just, it's just one of those things that blows your mind. [00:50:00] Yeah. It's
[00:50:00] Damon: a hard thing for others to conceptualize too, this missing piece of history. Right, right. It seems like it shouldn't be consequential. You were a child and you, you didn't remember it anyway.
Like you wouldn't even have known who, who the people were in your. And that's not the point, right? The point is, right. If I walked up to you right now and just subtracted, you know, a week, three months from your life and just said, right, that's gone. You know, you don't get those memories anymore. Yeah. You don't get that piece of your history.
You'd be like, wait, wait, wait. What are you doing? You can't just take a piece of my history and remove it from my life. Yet somehow an adopted person is expected to live with the fact that they're not going to know in some cases where they were in foster care, right? Or what have you, and just be okay with it.
I think we need to help people get over the idea that that is. An acceptable norm in adoption. It shouldn't be
[00:50:55] Amy: it, it shouldn't be, right. No. No, and that's, you know, like part of [00:51:00] what I would like to, you know, get the word out and like help be helpful about it, is that that shouldn't be a scary thing for an adopted family to explain to their, their adopted child, right?
Mm-hmm. I, I just feel like the secrets make it worse and it's really just curiosity of a child and the more information that you can give an adopted child about where they came from and you know, what their parents look like, and just to me, seems. The better way to go, you know? Yep. It's, it's just like, give this adopted child all the tools that they can, you know, feel comfortable in their skin and know where they've come from.
Mm-hmm. And I know it's, it's probably very hard for an adopted parent in a way to, you know, think, oh my gosh, what if one day they just wanna go there? Which I get. But again, I think not having that secret just, and that open communication is [00:52:00] going to make it so much easier on both parties.
[00:52:03] Damon: Yep. You know, I agree 100%. And if you think about it, I mean, there's so many choices as you've said, that our ch our kids make that you're just like, God, I wish they wouldn't do that. But you have to live through it, like, right. It's, it's something they have to experience. It's their voyage of exploration, it's their life.
And you're not gonna squash that curiosity by telling them, that they shouldn't do it. So in some ways, right, you just have to embrace it and say, all right, let's go on this journey and see, how it comes out, right. And be like strong enough in yourself to recognize I loved this child as much as I possibly could, and I still do.
And this child has said that they need this, even though the child is now a full grown adult with three, three kids. I know this person needs this and, and I need to be supportive of it. If you push it away, what ends up happening is you can get cut out of stuff because you're not supportive. It's actually more [00:53:00] stressful to involve you because you're not a participant who is trying to be supportive.
And so it's like, it's just easier to cut you out. And that's not where our parents want to.
[00:53:10] Amy: No, that's so true the way you just explained that about it being more stressful to include because you don't know what's going to happen when you do. Mm-hmm. Include, you know, and it's true. Sometimes it's easier just not to mm-hmm.
And not to share because the emotions won't be there and you don't have to worry about what kind of, you know, confrontation there may be because of their feelings or whatnot. You know? It, it is, it's very stressful. Mm-hmm. So you put that a really good way. I never thought about it that
[00:53:42] Damon: way. Yeah. it's, it's wild to think of things that, you know, that other people's, it, it's interesting as I'm saying this, I'm realizing we adoptees end up empathizing with everybody else, right. But everybody else has a challenge to empathize with us. I never really thought about it that way, but that. It [00:54:00] feels
[00:54:00] Amy: right.
It's so true. Right. Yeah. Oh my goodness. Wow. So true. Wow. Wow.
[00:54:05] Damon: Amy, it's been wonderful talking to you. I'm so glad to hear that your reunion with your birth mother went well. I'm sorry to hear about your birth father, but you know, I always am hopeful for people that time will change things and people will come around.
Age and mortality and all kinds of things can be very sobering for folks and Exactly. And I'm hopeful that he will come around and perhaps your brother on your your brother on his side will too. So we'll see. Yeah,
[00:54:32] Amy: yeah. I'll let you know. All right. No, it was wonderful talking to you too. I appreciate the opportunity.
[00:54:38] Damon: Of course. My pleasure. All the best to you, Amy. Take care. Okay,
[00:54:42] Amy: thanks. Okay. All right. Bye bye-Bye.
[00:54:44] Damon: Hey, it's me. Amy grew up loved in her adopted family, but lacking the mirroring that can be grounding for a person. She was a blue eyed blonde in a family of dark hair, dark eyed [00:55:00] people. When Amy reflected on her life in a Jewish family without classically Jewish features.
She realized how many times over her life she had to justify her Judaism and explained that she was adopted. Finding her birth parents. She learned that some of her crafty hands-on nature came from her birth mother and is shared by her sisters. But her paternal connection has fallen flat as her birth father's wife seems to have put pressure on him not to be in contact with Amy.
Even though he's also an adoptee and should be able to empathize with Amy's desire to connect. I want to circle back to something we said at the end. One of which was that adoptees frequently feel forced Into empathizing with the people around us As we navigate adoption reunion Yet the empathy isn't always reciprocated. A lot of family and friends of adoptees would do well to truly put themselves in the shoes of the adoptee. Who has been separated from their family of origin. It can be hard to build that empathy, but it's necessary [00:56:00] to be supportive of the adoptive person.
Secondly, a lot of times in our lives, we make the decision not to include someone in something big in our lives, because the stress of including them diminishes the value of their inclusion. Said a different way. Their inclusion can be penalizing for you. This is true for adoptive parents supporting their adoptees in reunion.
As Amy said, we know it's hard to watch your adopted child reconnect with their birth family, but it's not something we just kind of want. Reconnection can be something we need very much. And if you're not supportive, you'll find yourself not being included at all. I'm Damon Davis, and I hope you found something in Amy'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