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206 – The Phoenix

Rachael, who lives in Dover, Delaware, is a transracial adoptee who endured favoritism toward her brother, microaggressions from her adoptive mother, sexual assault and a physical attack. Rachael went behind her parents’ back to find her birth mother only to have the relationship cut short.

Later, Rachel found her birth father behind bars, but so glad to finally see his little girl again. Rachel calls herself a “Phoenix” for all that she’s endured and the strength she brings to the life she lives today.

This is Rachel’s journey.

Who Am I Really?

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Transcript

[00:00:00]

Intro

[00:00:00] Damon: Hey, it's Damon. I wanted to share something I've been working on with you. You may have heard me say before that I'm doing more writing and this project is a great way to get more adoption focused information out into the world for people outside of the adoption constellation to learn from I was invited to contribute to an app called uptime. The uptime app offers thousands of life lessons extracted from the world's best books, courses, documentaries, and podcasts, like who am I? Really? The knowledge is packed into five minute knowledge hacks. I've started a library of adoptee focused uptime hacks that I'm collecting from themes of adoption that I've learned here, sharing adoptee journeys with you. There are some amazing people delivering content Through uptime, like investing guru, Robert Kiyosaki innovators, like Tim Ferriss and Gary Vaynerchuk and powerful women Like Gloria Steinem and Oprah Winfrey. And now I'm a contributor to I'm enjoying putting these adoption focused uptime hacks [00:01:00] together. And I hope you'll find value in these hacks to Take a minute to look for uptime in your phone's app store. And hopefully you'll find some cool hacks that are meaningful to you. All right. Ready for the show. Here we go

Cold Cut

[00:01:15] Rachel: when I was upset or frustrated with my mom or something, I would go into my closet in my room and scream or cry and wonder why I had to be adopted, why it had to be me.

So seeing her, it brought a little sadness, but I was more overjoyed with being able to realize that my plan was successful And I actually, I'm around people of the same bloodline and it felt really good to see her.

Show Open

[00:01:44] Damon: I'm Damon Davis and you're about to meet Rachel. She lives in Dover, Delaware. Rachel is a transracial adoptee who endured [00:02:00] favoritism toward her brother. Microaggressions from her adoptive mother sexual assault and a physical attack. She went behind her. Parents' back to find her birth mother only to have the relationship cut short.

Later Rachel found her birth father behind bars, but so glad to finally see his little girl again. Rachel calls herself a Phoenix for all that she's endured and the strength she brings to the life she lives today. This is Rachel's journey.

Rachel said her adoption was a combination of good, bad and ugly. Rachel is a transracial adoptee. She's a black woman and her adoptive family is white. So naturally she's always known she was adopted. Rachel's adoptive mother told her that when she was a little girl, And they went into a store together. Rachel would see other black people and try to find out if they were her family. She said when she reached elementary school she was reminded very harshly of her adoptee [00:03:00] status

[00:03:00] Rachel: I was bullied for it.

[00:03:02] Damon: You were bullied for being an adoptee.

[00:03:05] Rachel: Yes. And being in a white family.

[00:03:07] Damon: Really. What did that bullying look like?

[00:03:09] Rachel: The first time I was picked on for it it was in my, I was outside playing with the kids in the neighborhood, and one of the kids just outright said, well, that's why you're not with your real family.

that's when it, it, it started like changing for me how I viewed adoption. And then when I was actually in school, it was hard for me to, Except that my parents were white for a really long time because I was bullied during class about it. That's why your family's white, that's why your parents never loved you.

it was all different types of different things that were being said, and one memory that sticks out a lot. I don't know if this girl still exists in Delaware.[00:04:00] I have no idea. But when I was in ninth grade my early childhood class, we had to do a family background, like a family tree presentation.

And of course at that time I really didn't have much knowledge of my biological family. And right after my presentation basically the girl asked me in front of everybody if I felt like I was normal because I was adopted. Wow. And then like she made it a whole like, laughing thing and so I was just stuck.

I had no idea how to answer that question. So for a while it took me a long time to accept that I was adopted. I was a black woman being adopted, and I was a black woman living in a white family.

[00:04:48] Damon: Mm-hmm. may I ask, go ahead. A couple of questions to be bullied for being in a white family.

It sounds like you were in a black community or there was at least several black people around. [00:05:00] Is that

[00:05:00] Rachel: roughly correct? Yeah, but I mean, I think this area is predominantly white, but I was around a lot of it. It was like mixed the first bullying incident was. I would say that the girl was of Latino descent, but it didn't really have a color to it, but majority of the time when I was in school, it was black kids bullying me

[00:05:28] Damon: over it.

Mm-hmm. And may I ask, were you able to talk with your family at all about the bullying that was happening for you as a transracial adoptee?

[00:05:41] Rachel: No. It was very difficult to deal with it because even trying to talk to them, I didn't know how to say it. I didn't, and I didn't wanna make it a scene because I knew at that time my mom, she was one of those, she [00:06:00] would come to the school and just try to, Let 'em know she's she's mama.

So I didn't want that much attention. So I kind of just dealt with it. And then ultimately what I ended up doing was I started hiding places in the school. Mainly I would go to the bathroom or something like that and just try to like de-stress. But no, I really never talked to anybody about what was

[00:06:31] Damon: going on.

Mm-hmm. Is this middle school, elementary school, high school? All three. Wow. So even from a young age in elementary school. Mm-hmm. It sounds like you're saying there was some bullying because you looked different from your parents.

[00:06:48] Rachel: Yes. In third grade, my grandfather came and picked me up from school and the kids, I had to walk past the line.

Of my class and there were kids pointing and [00:07:00] laughing and it was just, to me, it felt embarrassing. So I kept my head down Mm. While I walked with him. Yeah.

[00:07:07] Damon: I'm sorry. That sounds incredibly rough because your childhood is supposed to be a joyful time. Right. And it's supposed to be a time of making sometimes, like your best friends in your life.

And it sounds like you were ostracized from many people. Do, did you find joy at school

[00:07:26] Rachel: at all? Yes, I did. I liked sports. I liked like the extracurricular activities that they would have outside of sports, but I really just isolated myself. I would go to school, come home. I had like two best friends At the time. But it at. At the end of the day when I realized when I got older, a lot of the people that I was around, they weren't really good friends.

[00:07:53] Damon: Why do you say that?

[00:07:54] Rachel: Because there was, I, anytime that I was bullied, I was just bullied and nobody did [00:08:00] anything. Mm-hmm. Or I would just disappear. So, so I don't think that anybody, from my knowledge, I don't think anybody really defended me, especially in front of me when I was getting picked on and stuff.

So, I mean, I enjoyed some parts of school. I think the best part of education and experience that I had throughout it all I think was like college, my college experience was way better than

grade school.

[00:08:36] Damon: At home, Rachel lived with another brother, Josh, Who is also black and therefore also adopted. And two siblings, Scotty and Susan who are biological to their mother. Their mother came to the marriage with two children, and then the couple adopted Rachel and Josh.

Rachel's adoptive father worked for Norfolk Southern a transportation company that had their father on the road and away from home a [00:09:00] lot. Their mom was a stay at home mother. Rachel said her home life. Wasn't what she wanted.

[00:09:06] Rachel: My experience, it was difficult and it was sad. My mom and I, we really don't have the normal mother-daughter relationship that I want or that anyone would expect.

My dad passed in 2021 and I didn't realize how much of a best friend he was to me until he passed. Hmm. I was a lot more closer to my dad than I was with my mom. My mom honestly made me look at being a woman, being a black woman, being adopted differently. she did not raise me and my brother Josh, the same way.

There was definitely favoritism and I felt like the black sheep [00:10:00] compared to him and solely it was because of his medical. Issues. My mom has said a lot of things that are hurtful to me over the years, and I love her. I really do. But she did not make life easy. And then with my parents together in the same house at the same time, I was exposed to a lot of things that I wasn't supposed to or I wouldn't have liked to.

And it, it was a painful journey, I will say

that.

[00:10:37] Damon: Can you elaborate on that? What were you exposed to? If you're comfortable sharing?

[00:10:42] Rachel: God rest his soul. But my dad was not loyal to my mom and that came out and When that came out, everything changed as Child Protective Services got involved at one point in life.

And for [00:11:00] some reason, they just had a nice feeling to keep coming to me and wanting to tell me that I would get taken away. There was abuse in the home. I am a survivor of that. My mom and I, when we would get in arguments and stuff, she would say things that would make me question her love for me.

For example sometimes if I would get in trouble and it involved my brother, it would turn out well, why can't you be more like him? Why do you always gotta be so mean? I never really got the full freedom to express myself or express things that hurt me in a comfortable way without taking the blame for it as well.

And then when I was 15 years old, I was sexually assaulted and I was physically assaulted all in the same year. The physical assault[00:12:00] took place in the beginning of 2010 and yeah, I'm still suffering from it now. Mm-hmm. Because I have nerve damage. And in that moment I had the opportunity to have things taken care of legally and my parents decided to sweep it under the rug, shall I call it.

Hmm. So when I was sexually assaulted when I was 15 over that summer, I didn't tell them they were there when it happened, but I never told them what was going on. And my biggest reason was because I felt like they weren't going to protect me anyways. They let the first guy get away, what makes me believe that they're going to do anything about this guy?

And so I didn't tell anything to anybody. And then when I began ninth grade before I had to turn to homeschooling rest in [00:13:00] peace to my best friend Kiana. But unfortunately her dad was grooming me for several months and it became inappropriate. And I still did not tell my parents. I didn't tell them for two years.

And when it finally came out, they were upset with me, but it was just, I just didn't trust that they were gonna protect me the way that they should. And then with my mom solely, she's really hurt me the most with her words. there's not a derogatory word in the book that my mom hasn't called me before.

Really? Yeah. Racially charged as well.

I'm confused on that part. There have been various conversations. I don't have a card that doesn't say something like, I'm sorry we weren't black enough. I'm sorry we couldn't give you a black family. I'm sorry. You felt like you needed to leave.[00:14:00] So I don't really know.

I don't really know how to take that. For my mom. I really, I still to this day have no idea what I'm supposed to do with that. Like, why would you say something like that to me? And so, as of right now, as an adult, I just feel like

my mom played a part. She loved me a lot at one point, but I don't know if she really likes me.

[00:14:28] Damon: that is a really interesting differentiation is that a person can love you but not actually like you not want to be around you. Not want to care for you. And it could be twofold. I've heard you say that they were aware of abuse, but that you didn't feel like they would defend you.

They may love you as their daughter. But not really like you for how your relationship has developed over time. And so I could see why you would [00:15:00] feel protective of yourself against sharing some of the things that had happened to them if they don't, if you don't feel like they're gonna defend you anyway.

So that like love thing is a really, really interesting. Do you mind, I want to just go back for a moment to a couple of things that I heard. One was, it felt like there were three instances of abuse. There was a sexual abuse, and first, I guess I should say, I'm really sorry that those were things that you had to live through.

That's not appropriate for any child, regardless of whether they're adopted or not. And so that shouldn't be part of your lived experience. And for you to have physical trauma that is still manifesting itself today in nerve damage, it has a reminder of what transpired before is awful. So I'm really sorry for that.

it sounded like your best friend's father was grooming you. Was that the sexual exploitation that you experienced or was [00:16:00] that on its way to being a

[00:16:01] Rachel: third that was on its way to being a third? I understand there was actual a sexual assault that happened the summer of 2010 down here in Delaware.

Well, Dover specifically, before the changes happened in stores and everything, there used to be a Walmart in Dover. And my parents took us there and he basically lied to me and told me that he was introducing me to his uncle. Who was supposed to have been an employee there, and instead I ended up behind the building itself in the middle of rain.

Mm-hmm. Being forced to do a sexual act. Oh, I'm sorry. And you know, I've seen over time how I've responded to it, [00:17:00] but as far as like with my parents, to this day, I don't have no doubt in my mind that my dad loved me. My dad made that extremely clear the last time I saw him alive. And it was really, really, it was a very, very painful journey to experience the parent that wanted.

To love me unconditionally is gone versus the one that I don't even know if they even care for me.

[00:17:29] Damon: Rachel said she's in an interesting space with her adoptive mother. She used to call home all the time Before her adoptive father passed away. Since his death, Rachel calls less often and doesn't stay on the phone too long to avoid the inevitable conflict that arises between them.

When Rachel stays away too long, her adoptive mother starts looking for her through everyone. They know. They're not as strange. Their relationship is strained. We circled back to Josh and his medical fragility And the favoritism, her mother showed him. [00:18:00] Rachel said when she first entered the family, When she was two days old. Josh saw that she had brown features like himself. And wanted to keep Rachel, so there would be another person of color in their home. She said they used to be two peas in a pod, practically best friends. Josh lives with asthma and is allergic to a wide array of things. so he was homeschooled.

Home bound to use her term. And there was a lot of attention placed on him because he nearly died during an asthma attack. Rachel said she can hear how her mother's voice changes to a babying nurturing favorites his Tone when she speaks of josh

[00:18:37] Rachel:

I've experienced the favoritism. I've been at the house, and she's wanted me to change who I am and how I, move around and body language.

She wanted me to change for them. Well, not well them being Josh and his girlfriend Lauren. They live with my mom now. And so,[00:19:00]

[00:19:00] Damon: What, what does that mean? Why would you change in the presence of other people? What would her desire be to get you to alter yourself for them?

I

[00:19:11] Rachel: wish I knew the answer to that because I've asked her myself why do I have to stop stifle whatever I say or react a certain way because of them?

And normally it's just I don't want any questions being asked. Mm-hmm. Well, what questions are being asked? I'm your daughter. That's your son. What you do for me, you do for him. It's just that simple. But there's always been that division. My brother was spoiled. Mm-hmm. Completely spoiled. He got whatever he wanted.

Me, I begged for things. I pleaded for things. We weren't raised equally. He got extremely whatever he wanted, and even though I threw a [00:20:00] fit about it, it still didn't change anything. So at one point in time, I purposely started trying to do things to get him in trouble or just to see if they would actually discipline him differently from me or if they would do it the same way.

But majority of my time spent was around my mom and Josh at the same time while dad was gone. He really couldn't tell what was going on. We can't just call him because he was on the train and he's working. So it was a fight. it was a fight to feel equal. And then if I were to.

Complaining about something I would get in trouble.

there there's been so much childhood trauma that.

It's really hard for me to have thorough memory for everything. There's like a part in my youth that I don't know who I was, what I was doing, what was I like, [00:21:00] I have, I, I have to ask others what was it like, what was I doing? Because I just can, can't really remember. And then I have a lot more bad memories that stick with me than, than good.

And majority of the best memories with my family. I was going to my grandparents' house, or we were going on vacation, or I was going on my father-daughter dates with my dad. Mm-hmm. When he was off on the weekend. Mm-hmm.

[00:21:31] Damon: It's interesting that. We can block out periods in our lives, especially if there are experiences at the extremes, right?

If you think of a sort of a bell curve, you know, there's the extreme bad stuff on the left side as I'm envisioning it. There's just general life in the middle, at the top of the bell curve, right? And then there's the extreme awesome stuff on the right, and you can very easily remember [00:22:00] the great stuff and the terrible stuff and when either one of those two extremes has more in it than it normally would for another person.

So in your instance, your poor experiences sound like they were, they were more numerous than they are for other people. It's blocked out a lot of the very common everyday stuff in your memory. That's in the center of that bell curve, if that makes sense. You know, that just what happened to you has overburdened your memory and you've, you've not got enough space to sort of hold on to just generally who I was at that time, because so much of what you were doing was surviving and it was in the extreme bad life experience place.

That's really, really fascinating.

[00:22:44] Rachel: Exactly.

[00:22:45] Damon: When Rachel was very young, she tried to identify Other black people in public places who could be her birth family. So of course, when she got older, She wanted to search for them in earnest. Rachel told me she got tired of not having answers [00:23:00] that she wanted About who her biological family were, where they were and more. All she was ever told was that her family wanted what was best for her. And there were drugs involved in her adoption story. Fortunately Rachel's adoptive mother Gave her her birth family's last names. So she had clues on who to search for. In 2010 when she was 15 years old. Rachel went behind her parents' backs and started searching Facebook for her relatives. Rachel located her brother, Dominique and her sister Katrina. Then she found her biological mother whom she calls mama, Lucy.

She learned her biological father was incarcerated. So connecting with him would have to wait. Rachel sent mama Lucy, a Facebook message, and very quickly they were making plans to meet. Not wanting to meet her birth mother alone. Rachel took her best friend Dasia along. The girls said they were going to hang out at the mall but that wasn't the mission that they had planned at all

[00:23:57] Rachel: I was meeting[00:24:00] my biological family.

When I met them, it was in secret for the first time. And I met My brother Dominique, I met my sister miss T, and my other sister Kat, my biological mom. My niece Nadira, my nephew Sincere, and then my cousin Quay, but he has passed away.

Mm-hmm. Rest in peace to him. But it was, it was an exciting, like adrenaline running type of experience. And I look exactly like my sister. Wow. My face is her face. And so I was excited about that. We had a few visits and then eventually I did come out and I told my parents that what I had done they were not happy, but especially my mom.

My mom was very, very threatened. She did not approve of it. I was called a disgrace to the family and disrespectful. So the meetings had to end. So I [00:25:00] only got to see them over the summer of 2010 for a little bit. And then just recently I reconnected with them.

[00:25:09] Damon: So you have basically created a ruse that you were going to the mall with your best friend, but really you were going to the mall to meet your biological family for the first time. Did Yes. Can you tell me what was the emotion like going into that meeting? You're, you're leaving with one story in mind, but in your heart and mind is one story that you have told everybody else, but in your heart and mind, you know what you're going to do.

What was it like to go to the mall with this purpose of, of meeting your maternal family?

[00:25:40] Rachel: So I was nervous. I was excited. I didn't wanna get in trouble. I didn't wanna get caught, so The nervousness was for not getting caught and then just meeting them and then it, it feels unreal. Like I never [00:26:00] thought that I would experience something like that.

I'm literally facing the woman that birthed me. Like it just felt unreal, but it felt comfortable.

[00:26:11] Damon: Hmm. What was it like to see her when you, when you approached her?

[00:26:15] Rachel: kind of like when you're starstruck by something, like you're just, you can't believe like this is really happening. It kind of felt like a dream because I never really knew if I actually would find them or not, or if I would be able to know where they were, know who they are. So when I looked at her, I mean, it just was like, wow, I, I'm amazed But then I also had the part where I was a little sad because growing up, sometimes when I was upset or frustrated with my mom or something, I would go into my closet in my room and scream or cry and wonder why I had to be adopted, why it had to be me.

So seeing her, it brought a [00:27:00] little sadness, but I was more overjoyed with being able to realize that my plan was successful And I actually, I'm around people of the same bloodline and it felt really good to see her.

[00:27:13] Damon: I'm thinking about how your youth felt like things were being done to you.

You were adopted, but into a transracial adoption and you were bullied and that was out of your control, and unfortunately you suffered some traumas and abuses that you didn't neither deserve nor want and are inappropriate. And, and, and further our, I guess my point is, out of your control, did it feel good to have taken control to go and locate your maternal family and try to, you know, get to know them finally having something that you were doing for yourself?

[00:27:53] Rachel: It felt good, but it was very short-lived. I lost the control as soon as I got it. Like, [00:28:00] once I started , like making a relationship and trying to spend time with them, that's when the. Cutoff happened soon as visitations were being planned with my parents, because when they met my mom, my biological mom and my adopted mom, they had an argument in the parking lot right in front of me, over me.

Wow. So it was very, very uncomfortable and it felt good in the moment, but I just knew it wasn't gonna last long, as long as I was still under her control and under her say. So it wasn't going to last long. I just didn't know exactly when it would actually end, but it didn't end too far off. By the end of the summer, I was no longer allowed to have contact with them.

Wow.

[00:28:56] Damon: So as soon as you had found them, you [00:29:00] were demanded to cut co ties with them. Yes. God, that's

[00:29:04] Rachel: unreal. My mom has always felt threatened. By other women, other mother figures. so anytime a mom would get involved, that involves me, she would feel some type of way about it, and she wouldn't be shy about it either.

She would make it very clear that I don't like it. She, we, she even went as far as to tell the family that I moved out to go find a black woman to be my mother. Wow. Which was not the truth, but she knows exactly where I was. She knows exactly who I was with. And so my mom loves to have control and something that benefits her is the better option.

If it's something that she doesn't like, you'll know about it. And I, and I caught it, and so I had to [00:30:00] completely disconnect.

[00:30:02] Damon: Rachel's reunion with mama Lucy at 15 years old Was so brief. She didn't even get to hear the story of her adoption. Her adoptive mother cut things off so quickly. Among her cherished belongings, Rachel always had a picture of a man. She didn't know.

With a young woman standing behind him. She had no idea. The photo was a picture of her birth father and a half sister. Rachel learned to the man's name was Charles, but she wasn't positive. He was her birth father. When Rachel was in school at the age of 18, she had a burning desire to know of Charles incarcerated at the time was indeed her biological father. So she wrote him a letter introducing herself.

At birth Rachel's name was Brittany. So she introduced herself with both names in her letter. She apologized for disturbing Charles hoping he was the right man, but acknowledging he might not be the right guy. Rachel said if he was the right man, she would like to connect with him and [00:31:00] go for a visit.

Rachel mailed her introductory letter off to the prison where Charles was detained.

[00:31:06] Rachel: I think within like a week I had a three page letter letting me know that that was my dad and he had been looking for me for so long. And after that we planned a visit and I took two of my best friends with me to the visits that I started having with him.

And the very first time we went, I remember I didn't even wanna put my head up. I was so scared. I was already nervous to go through a prison. And then on top of that, I'm about to meet my dad. So I had my head on the table and my friends, they were looking, they were like, your dad just came in here, he, you look exactly like him.

Mm. And when I looked up, yep, this high yellow man, he gave me my face. And so I just started smiling real big and I gave him a big hug and it, just was amazing. It was like, I got another [00:32:00] dad. I got another guy that is choosing me, is loving me. And it was the greatest feeling as well. I was already a daddy's girl primarily, so it just added to it.

So it was really, really, really great.

[00:32:16] Damon: Later in 2021, Rachel moved to Philadelphia with one of her friends and she lost touch with Charles. Close to new year's Eve. Rachel was trying to end one year and start the new year by finding Charles again. Trying to figure out how she was going to find him to reconnect. Rachel realized that some of his old letters had listed the names of his siblings.

Rachel began calling her aunts and uncles, but no one was answering their phones. One of her uncles voicemails picked up so she left a message inquiring about charles whereabouts

[00:32:49] Rachel: like a day I get a call from my dad and he was like, so what are you doing? calling my brother looking for me. And it was all jokes. And then we just [00:33:00] reconnected. And so he told me that I made his New Year's Eve because he's been looking for me for so long.

Wow. And at one point he had told me that he hired a private investigator to find me, but they couldn't come up with anything. They,

[00:33:17] Damon: God. That's crazy. do you mind, can I go back for a moment? I just, we threw, we flew right through the prison experience, and I want to go back to that for a moment.

So he's in prison, he's incarcerated. Did you get to hug him? tell me about the, the moment that you actually get to meet him and, and then how were you guys after? How did you correspond?

[00:33:35] Rachel: Yes. So when I finally made eye contact with him, he already had a big behind grin on his face and I stood up and I was able to hug him and it felt so like a weight off on my shoulders because for a really long time I just was in the dark.

I did not know anything. And so it [00:34:00] finally felt like pieces of the puzzle were coming together. And so we had, I think, If not an hour, at least 45 minutes of a visit. And he wanted to get pictures taken. So there was a scheduled photographer there, so we took pictures as well. Oh wow. And we held hands and then we just talked and learned more about each other.

And then he told me about his side of the story as far as like how he knew about me being born into this world where he was. And he was, both of them have been very honest, especially him. He was very honest about the addictions and the reason behind why I was being put up for adoption. They really wanted me to be raised in a better situation than what they were currently in.

They weren't in the right mindset. To raise another [00:35:00] baby. And then not only that, my brother, Dominique, Kat, and I, where Kat and Dom are eight months apart, I'm nine months apart from Katrina. So we're like back to back of each other. Wow. So when I was born, it just wasn't the right time, which was understandable.

All I wanted was the truth. And so in the discovery of the story, the truth has come out I shall say.

And how do you mean that?

So my adopted mom randomly told me this one time while we were together. She had told me that I was the product of a failed abortion, was not true.

And like the time of birth and all that, that wasn't the same. I literally have my first birth certificate on me now. So now I don't really know other than what I'm discovering now. The truth is my adopted mom really did not tell me anything about them. So I [00:36:00] felt weird asking them about the addiction and everything, but he was so open and my biological mom was so open to tell me, I was glad that they, that they did that.

[00:36:10] Damon: Yeah. I can imagine. Wow. What was it like to see your original birth certificate? A lot of people don't get that, don't receive it. Tell me what you felt in receiving your original birth certificate.

[00:36:21] Rachel: I got my original birth certificate maybe like a month ago,

really?

So I don't know how to feel other than I'm just, I'm shocked. I didn't think I was going to ever see it. I knew of the name, I knew my name was changed, but I didn't think that when looking at it, seeing what time I was born and all of that, all of that changed a lot of what I was told. Mm-hmm. Growing up.

And so looking at proof that what my adopted mom said is not the truth, it's like I don't know how to feel about it. I was, I was just kind of curious. You know, one of the [00:37:00] challenges that I think we have with believing our adoption narrative from our adoptive parents is it could be that she made up the story of why you were placed for adoption, and it could be that that's what she was told.

[00:37:14] Damon: Mm-hmm. So sometimes I think we get a little bit irritated with our adoptive parents for giving us false information, but I'm always cautious of being too irritated with them because we don't know whether it's a narrative that they created or if it's a narrative that was fed to them that they simply fed forward.

Like, we only know what we're told about our adoptions, and they only know what they're told about our adoptions. So I'm hopeful that she didn't sort of make up a story. Because it's entirely possible that she could have been given the story of your adoption and it was simply to you.

So, wow. Really fascinating. Wow. You have been through so much, Rachel. It's really fascinating to sort of [00:38:00] reflect on everything that you've been through. I'm looking at the notes that you shared with me before we talked today, and one of the lines that you wrote really stuck out to me. You said, I call myself the Phoenix because I've survived for so long, and for what my life was like, I should have been dead by now.

Tell me more about that sentiment from you. What does that mean?

[00:38:23] Rachel: I just feel, I call myself the phoenix. I like the Phoenix. They rise up again from every tragedy. That they've had. I've had so many tragedies, I really should have been dead by now. The assault that I had behind the Walmart, there was a gun involved. He could have killed me right then and there. There were countless of times where I tried to commit suicide while I was younger.

It, there was just various things that have happened where I really should not be [00:39:00] here. And I mean, by the grace of God, he got me here. And then just by my own strength, really held on even at times where I really did not want to anymore.

[00:39:14] Damon: How did you do that? Because not everybody is able to do so, and I'm always in deep admiration of people who are able to pull themselves up from all that you've been through to stand here.

I mean, as I listen to you, Rachel, You sound like a pretty confident woman, you know, who has been through a lot, but I, I don't get a sense of any victimization, like any victim mentality. I don't get a sense that you were sort of mad at the world. Like tell me a little bit about how you got through all of this stuff.

With that inner strength,

[00:39:48] Rachel: I always knew that love didn't feel the way that it was being given. And I always, I mean, the golden rule was instilled in me, treat others how you want to be treated. [00:40:00] So the way that my parents raised me. I didn't wanna be like my mom, so I did whatever I could to not be like her, or I did whatever I could academically or professionally to.

Make sure that I was not the same. So really my survival was all wrapped around school professionalism. I really love kids, so I went to school to become a teacher. Mm-hmm. And I really was intrigued by trying to make a difference for somebody else because I never wanted someone to experience what I experienced.

Mm-hmm. And so I always thought that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it's just going to take me time to get there. But I am glad that nothing actually did shorten my life, even though it should have. I'm glad it didn't because I wouldn't have been able to be in the place[00:41:00] that I am now to share the story.

I.

[00:41:02] Damon: I agree. I agree 100%. you've gone from this position of people controlling your life to, it sounds like a position of taking control of your own life. Mm-hmm. And I'm really glad you're here to do it. I'm glad you're here to tell the story. These stories are so important for other people to hear because someone else is or has gone through what you're going through, and they might not have the strength that you're holding right now.

And I'm just super impressed with the fact that you've chosen to step forward, be transparent about what you've been through, but also share that strength. So I thank you so much for being here, Rachel, go ahead.

[00:41:41] Rachel: Of course. Not only that, it's just I never was raised around anybody else that was adopted other than my brother, and we didn't share the same adoption story.

We weren't raised exactly alike, so I just knew that I couldn't have been the only one. And I just knew [00:42:00] that one day somebody's gonna hear about this and probably think that it's a fairytale or some crazy thing. I can't believe it happened. But no, this really does happen. Not everybody gets the fairytale family that they think an adoptee would.

Adoption comes in any shape or form, and I knew from my side of the tracks, I wanted to get my story out to let others know that these type of parents exist, these type of situations exist. This is what happens to some adoptees. I unfortunately had to be one of them that experienced it, but it gave me also a different type of viewpoint.

On how to interact with people, how to love someone, how to care for someone, how to treat someone. Mm-hmm. And I'm thankful that it happened as well, because I don't know what life would've looked like differently. I don't know if I would've been the same person [00:43:00] or as strong as I am now, but I'm, I'm a fighter.

And I'll never not be a fighter. So unless a freak accident happens to take me off of this earth, that's the only way. Mm-hmm.

[00:43:13] Damon: I love that. I love that. You're right. I reflect on how adversity makes some people stronger, and it sounds like that's exactly what has happened is this set of traumas has turned you into a much power, more powerful person than you perhaps might have been.

Had you not unfortunately experienced some of these things, it sucks that it takes trauma and tragedy to build strength and mm-hmm. But it's, it's great when people are able to identify that something awful has happened and they will do everything in their power to never let it happen to them or other people again.

And you sound like you're one of those people that's building on that strength, and I'm so thankful for it. So well done, Rachel. Good job. Thanks. Of course. You take care. It was really wonderful to be here with you today. [00:44:00] Thank you again for sharing your story. Okay, Uhhuh. All right. All the best, Rachel.

Bye-bye. Bye-bye.

Closing

[00:44:05] Damon: Hey, it's me. I'm so glad that Rachel has found strength and purpose out of her adverse experiences in adoption. To hear the verbal abuse as she suffered as a child, the physical attacks and the life of aggressions Inflicted upon her by her adoptive mother. We're disheartening.

And it's sad to know that Rachel is only one of many stories like hers in the lived experiences of some adoptees. but it may be realize how some people can take the most challenging circumstances and turn them into triumph over whatever life can throw at them. I loved hearing about her joy for her maternal reunion at the mall And her paternal reunion with her biological father while he was in prison. Rachel finally got the opportunity to take control over the relationships that she wanted to have, which is all, most of us really want. [00:45:00] If you've lived through abuse, I hope you're able to look yourself in the mirror and realize you are worth being here.

That what has been done to you does not define who you are. And that you're able to rise up like a Phoenix To fight another day. I'm Damon Davis, and I hope you found something in Rachel'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. If you would like to share your story of adoption in your attempt to connect with your biological family, please visit who am I really? podcast.com/share. You can follow me on Instagram at Damon L Davis and follow the podcast at w AI really.

If you liked the show, please take a moment to leave a five star review in your podcast app or wherever you get your podcasts. And don't forget to look for the uptime app in your app store and search for my name. Damon Davis or who am I really, it would be great to [00:46:00] hear from you what adoption subjects you'd like to see the world learn about through these snippets or uptime hacks.

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