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229 – So Many Blessings in the Darkness

Monica, from outside of Sacramento, California, shares her double story as an adoptee and a birth mother.

When Monica was a kid getting dumped by her adoptive mother sent her down a path of bad-girl attention seeking that, put her in dangerous situations.

In reunion she discovered her heritage is tied to native people of North America and that her instinct to search was well-timed because her passionate drive was matched by someone else very important to Monica who was looking for her too.

As an adoptee, Monica holds a unique perspective that helped her prepare for one of the most pivotal moments in her life.

Trigger warning: Around 20 minutes into the episode Monica discusses a violent act inflicted against her.

This is Monica’s journey.

MonicaHall.com

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Transcript

[00:00:00]

Warning

[00:00:00] Damon: Hey, it's Damon. I'm jumping in here to give you a trigger warning. Right around 20 minutes into this interview, our guest speaks with some detail about a violent act Inflicted against her. If you're not able to listen to that kind of thing, I encourage you to jump ahead. About 30 seconds after you hear her say.

[00:00:18] Monica: They carried guns and knives and switchblades and did crime

[00:00:22] Damon: That is your cue to skip ahead. I hope this was helpful.

Here we go.

Cold Cut Intro

[00:00:29] Monica: it was just, it's like,

as a Catholic. Give it up for adoption. and it was a normalized too in our family because we were both adopted, but that's when I was pregnant is when I really started wondering about my birth mother.

I'd always thought about her, but it's when I really started because I was going to have to give up my only known blood relative, my baby. The only human that looked like me, the only human that was related to me,

[00:01:00]

Show Open

[00:01:24] Damon: I'm Damon Davis. And today you're going to hear the double story of Monica. She lives in the suburbs outside of Sacramento, California. When Monica was a kid getting dumped by her adoptive mother, sent her down a path of bad girl attention, seeking that, put her in dangerous situations in reunion. She discovered her heritage is tied to native people of north America.

And that her instinct to search was well-timed Because her passionate drive was matched by someone else. Very important to Monica who was looking for her too. As an adoptee, Monica holds a unique perspective That helped [00:02:00] her prepare for one of the most pivotal moments in her life. Remember the trigger warning around 20 minutes in. This is Monica's journey.

Opening

[00:02:08] Damon: monica spent her childhood in Anchorage, Alaska. When I asked Monica to tell me about her life growing up in adoption, she said she didn't know anything else. Adoption was just normal. The narrative she grew up with was that her other mother wanted her to have both a mom and a dad. So she's selflessly placed Monica for adoption because she loved her so much. When Monica was three years old, her parents adopted her brother from Canada. She remembers the family going to pick up her little brother and as a three-year-old girl being horrified that this new baby Was in her mom's arms and Monica was not.

[00:02:45] Monica: my mom back in the 90s told me that story and, laughed about it that I was so horror stricken and yeah, it wasn't funny to me. And then I had a memory of it, but I was always very. [00:03:00] Jealous of my little brother, he got all our attention. He was super needy ice appeared strong.

So I kind of got dropped.

[00:03:07] Damon: So what was your life like together? This is a brother. Who's not biological to you. How did you and your brother get along and how did you and your adoptive family get along?

[00:03:17] Monica: That's so funny. Well, he lives with me now, so there's that. And we're recording this on Valentine's Day and he gave me a Valentine's gift, which is a necklace little heart necklace.

So we worked it out. But, if you look back and all the photographs of me. In my mom's lab with my brother, well, next to my brother if you see any picture, you can see my jaw jetting out because I'm jealous and I know I picked on him and you can see pictures of me when he's barely walking that, I have my fist above his head and he's cowering.

The next door neighbor said, I do remember her saying this. Maybe I was four or five. She says, [00:04:00] Mary Monica, someday Timmy is going to be bigger than you and he's going to hit you back. And he never did. My brother's super. super loyal and sensitive and kind and completely opposite of me. And we were both adopted out of Canada in, out of Edmonton, Alberta.

And I do remember growing up, we, we used to laugh about it and tell, our friends, we were adopted, they were like, Ooh, you are, I wish we were too, those types of things. And I didn't think it was a big deal or bad thing. When I was little, although when I got a little older, my early teens, I started really noticing the differences within my family that, and in fact, at 15, I was writing in a journal and I made a note that nobody in my family is related.

My brother's not related to me. We're not related to our parents. We're all just strangers living in a house and we were [00:05:00] nothing alike. Like we were, I was nothing like my parents and I might have, I don't think I really looked like my parents. My brother was very fair. He had blonde hair, saucer, gray eyes, fair skin.

He was very sensitive. I was a little like a little percher on. My dad used to think of me as this little bit horses. That's really strong. I was a tomboy, had dark hair, all of skin. And it was, apparently appeared fearless, but I remember as early as my first memory of wanting to not be embarrassed is When I was probably three or four we were in a living in Alaska and I Was told not to but I stuck my tongue to the fence The metal fence.

I mean I was always good for a dare I was just outside by myself and I got stuck my tongue got stuck. It was a [00:06:00] winter time, of course and I was just horror stricken that the big kids would come home from elementary school and see me stuck there. That was my first memory of how others perceived me and I was always trying to impress my dad, cause he, he favored me.

My mom kind of dropped me and I was strong. My dad favored me. and then I had trouble. I had trouble in first grade with being able to count, write my numbers. And I can still remember. I mean, the first grade sitting at the kitchen table and getting confused between, like, maybe the transitioning from maybe 10 to 11 or, 19 to 20.

And I can still remember how it felt. My frontal lobe would shut down, like, that I was going to lose favor or it was insecurity. And I just couldn't get it. And the more that I tried, the more my frontal lobe shut down. And then I, as a kid, I just, [00:07:00] my mother would get frustrated.

She'd slam her pencil down and push her, chair away from the table. And so I just stopped bringing work home. I mean, I think I probably had some ADD and learning disabilities or something. and then when I was in elementary school, maybe second or third grade I started feeling really good.

I don't know if anybody listening remembers SRA, but they were little boxes of cards for reading, and you would go up a level and you get a different color box of cards to read. And I moved right up in second grade, and I was so proud. And then we had, I think it was a class census. Must have been because there was something, came around and you had to color it in with a black, number two pencil is very important, fill in the dot and it came to me and I couldn't answer this one question.

A couple of the questions didn't apply to me and there was nothing. It was like, are you living with your real parents kind of [00:08:00] question? I live with my real parents, but I knew I had other real parents. And. And I went home, I must've told my mom about it. And my father blew a gasket, but they were trying to, try into our personal life and went to school and made a huge deal out of it with a principal.

And man, I felt like that was, there was something wrong with me. And that is when everything shut down in terms of education. that's the first memory of my real self worth issues.

[00:08:27] Damon: Wow. That's really fascinating, and I'm sorry to hear that. That must have been really rough, because I know that notion of feeling like something's wrong with you can be prevalent among adoptees, and especially when you have a learning challenge of some kind.

Just this general question of, wow, what, why aren't I getting this can be really prevalent. Tough to get through. You mentioned before that you felt like your mom Dropped you what does that mean?

[00:08:56] Monica: Well my mom was very [00:09:00] sensitive and Had a really difficult childhood alcoholism and major codependency And so when my brother came along, he, when we got him, he was gangly.

He was, the lady at the adoption agency was so proud because he was sleeping through the night at three weeks old. Well, I think he had failure to thrive syndrome. He was skinny and gangly. And when we brought him home, he cried constantly. He had food allergies, his blood pressure. Belly button was poking out.

He needed fattening up. He, he cried at any little thing, especially if it involved being mom, having fun. So basically I was not tonight, not today, honey. We don't want to wake your brother. No more playing the piano, no more time with mom. And I resented him and he just needed her and she needed someone to need her.

So it was a perfect storm and I was dropped. At least that's how I [00:10:00] perceived it. And in fact, she passed away four years ago at 94 and he was still living with her.

[00:10:06] Damon: Wow.

[00:10:08] Monica: Never moved out, never launched, ended up with a meth addiction for 15 years. And. When she died he was cleaned by two years by then.

And, he had, she had nowhere to go. He had nowhere to go. And that kid, man, that little boy, he could write you a letter where you had to read in the mirror. He could write with either hand upside down or backwards. He could, he played first violin in seventh grade by ear. He could sit and play any instrument.

He has an eidetic memory. I mean, He's firing all cylinders. He's also super sensitive to energy and people that die come through him and give him messages. It's it's crazy. And I mean that now he's living with me, so he didn't have any place to go. And the last thing in the world I thought was going to happen is my [00:11:00] brother and I would be living together, but mom's been gone.

and we've healed our relationship. He's finally working. He's getting, self esteem's improved. I mean, codependency it was child abuse and it was elder abuse too, she was living in squalor, I was kicked to the curb, I couldn't really get, see my mom because my brother had her in his clutches, it was a mess.

And my father Had I don't know how to put it. He was sexually attracted to me And so I believe there was and I couldn't identify What was up with my mom and me because I loved her so much. She was my mom and she just Was snarky to me and anything I asked for, I felt like I was, unworthy.

Oh, you do you, or you would you? But where my brother was concerned, he didn't have to ask for anything. He didn't even have a car. He drove her car. even as a teenager, and so, I didn't [00:12:00] identify it, in fact, until she passed. It was two years after she passed where I could see it clearer.

I couldn't see it while she was still living, because I loved her. She was my mom, being an adoptee, we, we glom on to anything, anybody, especially Our parent we may not like them but there's this need to be needed or loved and wanted and I couldn't identify it until she was passed and she was jealous of me and she resented me before for my strength for my, I just, I had a lot of trauma, like a lot of trauma in my, especially in the first 16 years.

And, she was, she didn't protect me. But she was so codependent. She was, I don't think she could see things. I don't know. My, my best friend up in Alaska who was with me during my early teen years when [00:13:00] some major stuff went down she's helped me when, while I was writing my memoir and she'd say when I was working through the stuff with my mom just a couple years ago.

Now, mind you, I started writing in 2016. It is today 2024 and it's just getting published and it's because I couldn't it. Finish it until I could see clearly and I couldn't see clearly until she was gone And I remember my friend kelly saying to me Monica, you've always made excuses for your mom

And I think maybe that's an adoptee thing, it's like I just you know, I know my dad The things he did and in his sickness.

He 19. We moved to california when I when I was 16 and so

[00:13:49] Damon: Let me pause you for a quick second. I want you to just keep running. I want to ask a few questions if you don't mind. One of the things that you said was that she was [00:14:00] jealous of you. Well, let's backtrack from that.

Even one of the things that you said was that she dropped you in terms of an emotional connection to you when your brother was adopted, that seems like that's one piece of trauma right there. And then they became codependent with each other. And then. If I heard you correctly, you said that your adoptive father was physically attracted to you, which in my mind would also play out in their own relationship, right?

That his attraction to you would limit his attraction to her, thereby creating the jealousy that you've now identified as something that she. Was snarky about. Is that roughly correct that there were multiple things along those lines that sort of compounded into the challenges of your relationship with your mom?

[00:14:55] Monica: It's multi layered. I mean, that's part of it. in 2020 I went [00:15:00] through EMDR eye movement reprocessing desensitization with a therapist and we went through, and it was over almost a year 11 big T traumas. Wow. So, relinquishment was one of them.

And actually, my mother dumping me, I don't know how else to say it, that's just how it felt,

I don't even know if that was one of the traumas of the 11th, but, and then there was so much gaslighting, and so much, all those were, aren't even considered big T traumas, and they weren't counted, so yes, Yeah, there, my parents relationship was fraught, and they seemed to get along and love each other, but I learned a lot of things, over the years, and I grew up in a really sick household.

[00:15:47] Damon: Yeah, that's the sense I'm getting and I'm so sorry for that. That's so rough for anybody's start. You want to start off with the best possible scenario, and it sounds like yours [00:16:00] was nowhere near that. And that's a really rough way to begin.

Can you tell me a little bit about your teenage years? it sounded like it got pretty rough. You moved away. I would imagine as a teenager, your father's attraction to you probably even worse. Tell me a little bit about your teenage years in your home. Cause it sounded like it was a rebellious time for you.

[00:16:23] Monica: Yeah. Most of the rebellion happened prior to leaving Alaska. So this is the seventies. Alaska was an oil boom town. Oil was discovered in 1968 when I was, I think, 11 or in 6th, 5th grade, I believe. And all of a sudden, we had all these people moving to Alaska. But even prior to that, Alaska's dark in the winter.

It's isolated. People that go to Alaska why are they going up there? A lot of, some were to hide, some Trying to get away from the law. Others wanted a new start. They wanted So you had a whole different type of [00:17:00] person up there. And you also had a lot of crime that started when the oil was discovered.

But prior to that, I read an essay that was a 1944 contest essay in Alaska. What's wrong with Anchorage? And the winner noted lack of civic pride and the unchecked spread of prostitution and gambling. So that was in 44. And then it just multiplied when the boom came. So we had, I was on split shift for junior high and high school while they were building.

Our population maybe more than doubled. And we had. The Hells Angels moved, came to town, the mob came to town lots of sex workers, strip clubs everywhere. So it was a real different place to grow up and it's, it was the Wild West. There wasn't a lot of law, there was a lot of [00:18:00] people, making money on the backs of females, literally.

And so I, this was kind of all in conjunction with. Some things that happened with my dad, he he, there was no physical sexual abuse when I was a teenager, but there was some absolute horrific verbal abuse and physical abuse. And it was the. I was about 11 when it first started and then 13 when it just like broke me.

And what I did is I never felt like I fit in with the kids at school. These kids came up from the lower 48. Their fathers were bank managers. They lived in nice fancy houses. My dad was a businessman. He was a real estate guy, but we lived in a, kind of a normal, subdivision wasn't fancy.

And my mom was older. They were, she was 32 when. I was adopted. My dad was 42 and they were really old school. I couldn't have cute clothes. My mom was [00:19:00] overprotective because of the way she'd grown up. And so something clicked with an event with my dad at 13 and I don't know if it was a conscious decision, but I became the baddest kid I could be.

I felt like someone would look up to me if I was bad. And I didn't fit in with the smart kids in school. And I just became a delinquent and with the claim to a virginity, I was named after the Virgin Mary being Mary Monica, major Catholic family, my dad with Madonna complex. My mother, Virgin, when he married her, it was clear in our family.

And I snuck out my window. I broke into houses. I rode in stolen cars. I beat people up. I vandalized. And I put myself in some really scary places. starting from 13 until 15. and so 15 is when My life changed.

[00:19:56] Damon: The rebellious thing feels like a [00:20:00] cry for attention. I'm not clinically trained.

I don't know this, but just the way you've described your home life and the abuse and then the breakup of your mom and you on from her side feels like being a badass was saying, Hey, somebody pay attention to me, please. Right. Am I wrong about that? Okay.

[00:20:20] Monica: No, you're right. Look at me. Look at me. Look at me.

Oh, please look at me. Please look at me.

[00:20:25] Damon: Yeah, and this is, I was reading the book, Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey, What Happened to You? And they talk about the challenge of saying what's wrong with you to a child when it's in fact the things that happened to them that Make them act the ways that they do they've learned from the world certain behaviors or If you don't do it this way Then the world wants you to do it this way and so people just end up acting out and that's it sounds exactly like What you were doing.

So what [00:21:00] happened then in your teenage years? It sounds like you had a big moment

[00:21:03] Monica: Yeah, I snuck out my bedroom window I had a best friend And she had three big brothers who were criminals. I was 13 when I first met them. They were three years older. And then by the time I'm 15, they're 19. And at the beginning they just kind of ignored us, cause we were just kids and, I looked up to them like they were gods.

They carried guns and knives and switchblades and did crime and back then everybody carried a gun, but and I don't, I think they still do. I don't think there's a concealed weapon lot there at all. And so I stuck out my bedroom window one night and I got raped by my friends.

Big Brother's friend, and he was 19. I didn't know at the time that he was a heroin addict. Um, I wasn't attracted to him. I, I dated, well, I didn't date, I was 15, but my crushes were on boys [00:22:00] that were in school, you know, with braces and zits and, you know, this guy looked like Manson. So, um, it was, it was really scary, and I I, I got raped as a virgin and he shamed me and, um, I guess because I was a lousy lay and there was no blood

and I took that to my grave almost, you know, for, I didn't tell anybody.

I, I felt like it was my fault. I shouldn't have done this. I should have screamed. I should have, I didn't have a bloody lip. I, clothes weren't torn, the whole scenario. The chapter is called. I think a lousy lay in my book, actually. And it was devastating because I'd lost my crutch.

My crutch was my virginity. I was a bad ass virgin. Everybody knew me. Everybody was afraid of me. And then it was gone. And then I ended up pregnant and we're Catholics and there's not an option in a Catholic [00:23:00] family. You give away. You're only known blood relative for adoption. It just isn't an option.

[00:23:06] Damon: Wow. That is a lot. I can't even imagine. First of all, let me just say, I'm so sorry to hear that. That's what happened to you here. You were crying for help, acting out and end up in these bad situations and then taken advantage of by someone else and then changed about it too. And so you ended up pregnant with this child.

Yes. And it's

[00:23:30] Monica: interesting. bring that up. I believe I was groomed to not understand what boundaries were, I mean in terms of who to hang out with, I think that my dad groomed me, so I mean, even today, I'm You know, I've been successful, all these outside things, but inside, I've grown a tremendous amount over the years, of course, but there's still that little wounded girl in there.

There's, [00:24:00] she's there, and I don't know, does she attract those still same kind of people? I mean, the people that betray. And it's happened over my, in, in the years, even in business. And, these things, like you said, that happened to us for me, I believe that me being a bad ass virgin, juvenile delinquent was a survival strategy.

[00:24:25] Damon: Yeah, I can imagine. Wow. So you're you're a teenager. You're now pregnant with a baby by this individual who has raped you. Is that correct?

[00:24:39] Monica: Yeah, I ended up pregnant. And then my parents hid me away in the house.

[00:24:45] Damon: And

[00:24:46] Monica: it was during the winter time, very dark. And, they're, from a distance, I've got a lot of distance now from my life and [00:25:00] I mean, yeah, everything that happened to me was, there was a lot of tragedy, but on the other side, it's been my greatest strength, on the other side.

And had I have not gotten locked up, in the house with my very Catholic mother, I'd probably ended up in prison. I couldn't stop breaking into houses. It was my first addiction. And I never got caught. I liked my hair on fire. And so this was a reset. And it did reset me, it's not to say that I didn't, go have problems, after my father died, but man, I got locked in the house with a very Catholic mom, and she became my best friend.

She was nice to me, really nice to me when I was pregnant. And it dawned on me years later that when I was pregnant with the first baby I got to keep, my daughter who's now 39, I You know, I was attractive as a young girl and as a young woman [00:26:00] and, you'd walk down the street Other attractive women wouldn't sneer at you or ignore you and And I noticed that when I became pregnant Everybody was nice Even attractive women normally that I that would have probably snubbed me or it's women are weird Yeah, especially young women but and I realized that I was no longer competition

[00:26:21] Damon: When I was pregnant Oh, that's fascinating

Oh, I see what you're saying. Your adoptive mother also no longer saw you as competition. Right. Right.

So if you haven't put the pieces together yet, Monica is both an adoptee and a birth mother. Monica, an outgoing, super social woman found herself sequestered at home in the dark of winter in Alaska. In the wintertime way up north, it gets bitterly cold and the days get much shorter. So everyone hunkers down. the shortest stretch of daylight and winter only has five hours of sunlight. She said the [00:27:00] experience was absolute torture. To top it off.

When springtime comes around in Alaska, everyone comes, bursting out of their homes, ready to socialize, but Monica still pregnant and intentionally sequestered from the public could not go out and socialize with the others. She was still a kid at 15 years old And all of the frolicking and playing outside, the other kids were doing was off limits to her as a pregnant teenager. As a sophomore in high school, a time when a kid starts finding their groove among an expanded more mature friend group. Monica had been pulled out of school.

[00:27:35] Monica: Right when I was making friends and changing my life.

See, because after the rape, I didn't want to be that juvenile delinquent anymore. I wanted to be a nice girl. I was starting the high school. Sophomores were high school students. Freshmen were junior high there. And I wanted to be different and that's when I found out I was pregnant and got locked up.

And then shortly after I relinquished, we moved here. It was just a rough [00:28:00] teenage years.

[00:28:01] Damon: Was the relinquishment at all your decision or was it entirely your parents decision?

[00:28:07] Monica: It's interesting because when I was working through my memoir and I had a developmental editor and I would write a piece or an essay, many of which I put on my blog as I was writing my book, she would say, okay, so, You need to write the scene of the decision to relinquish.

And I'm like, there wasn't one. There was never a scene. There was never a conversation. It was probably because adoption was normalized in my family. It was also, we were, Very strict Catholic. It would, it was just, we're going to take you to see a nun at Catholic services and she's going to, for the adoption.

And it was just, it's like,

as a Catholic. Give it up for adoption. and it was a normalized too in our family because we were both adopted, but that's [00:29:00] when I was pregnant is when I really started wondering about my birth mother.

I'd always thought about her, but it's when I really started because I was going to have to give up my only known blood relative, my baby. The only human that looked like me, the only human that was related to me, and I remember grooming the nun for her to let me see my baby because the Catholic hospitals didn't let you, and I was basically going to hold her hostage, I'm sorry, unless I get to see her, you don't get her.

I'm not signing. That was my idea and, in the back of my mind, but they, I did get to see her and while I was pregnant, I went to a pregnant girl's school. I mean, I had the option of going away and I wanted to stay in town because my girlfriend said, Oh, you need your friends the most for this time.

Of course, I never showed up. I had very few visitors, but that's just because they were kids, you know, and so I stayed at home and I went to a pregnant girl's school two days a week at the [00:30:00] admin building with a bunch of other knocked up teens. The youngest was 14. I was 15. The oldest was 17.

all of them were planning on relinquishing. I was the only one that relinquished, except for one girl, the 17 year old got an abortion. Everybody else, they weren't at the Catholic hospital, they saw their baby and they kept it. Or their mother wouldn't let them give them up.

[00:30:23] Damon: Wow.

[00:30:23] Monica: So, I mean, I did see my child and I didn't have any power back then.

If you looked at your parent, I mean, first of all, when they were talking to you, you looked right in their eyes. You did not look away. You did not breathe. You never rolled your eyes, never had an attitude or help. You get slapped across the face. My mother was a rager. I was terrified of her. My father didn't, he didn't really punish us except the one wire hanger beating that I got.

But it was just, terrifying You don't defy your parents. [00:31:00] I have a son, he's 29 now, but when I was writing the wire hanger beating and I was really going through it. I mean, because it was so painful. The painful part is I had repressed part of it. The part where my mother turned her back on me and I didn't, that memory didn't come up for 13 years.

And when I was driving down the freeway in California, I mean, I had so many repressed memories thing and it was. It was a, it was the abandonment of my mom who didn't protect me. And, anyway, my son said, I was talking to him about it in the kitchen, and my brother was there, I think somebody else was there, and he goes, Mom, if you or Dad did that to me, I'd have run and told, I would have told somebody right away, it sounds like you had Stockholm Syndrome.

And I'm like yeah, that's harsh, no. I looked it up, abused children can have Stockholm Syndrome.

[00:31:52] Damon: Yeah, I could imagine, right? This is, these are the people. That are caring for you, quote unquote, but they are also are [00:32:00] relatively your captors and abusers. So there's a, I could see how that would be a catch 22 of Stockholm syndrome.

That's really fascinating that he made that insight on you. Wow.

[00:32:10] Monica: Yeah. And you know what the best part about that Damon is that my son saw it. My son was never abused. My son was, I raised healthy kids. That's the beautiful part, right?

[00:32:24] Damon: For a 15 year old girl to give birth to a child is a big deal.

When I asked what Monica's life was like after the relinquishment, she described seeing pictures of herself at her sweet 16 birthday party. She said she was so pretty back then with beautiful, shiny hair and this sweet look of innocence.

[00:32:43] Monica: And that was probably one of the most depressing days of my life. My daughter was under 30 days old. She was already gone. It was grey and drizzly and wet.

July 27th in Alaska. And nobody wanted to go to a movie, with the family or [00:33:00] anything. And there's a picture of me cutting my cake. And I remember being so depressed. And I wrote in my journal. I said, Sweet sixteen and never been kissed.

Ha! super, sarcastic and I remember thinking and I wrote it in my journal my other mother She must be thinking about me It's such a weird feeling thinking that somebody you don't even know is thinking about you and somebody they don't even know is thinking about them And when I was pregnant, the state adoption agency came to pregnant girls school and were, giving the women their options, the girls their options.

And I afterwards stayed back and I told her that I was already making plans through Catholic charities. And I said, but I'm adopted and my parents don't know anything about my family. because I'd never mentioned it. I just assumed nobody knew anything. So I went home and I told my mom and she started to cry and I said mama, what's wrong?

What's [00:34:00] wrong? And she wouldn't tell me and I asked her years later when I was writing my memoir and she goes Oh, honey, I remember she said I was so sad that the years I got with you and got to love you Your birth mother didn't, so being an adoptive parent, I mean, it's so complex, there's this, both sides and my daughter's family, the one I relinquished that is, that has the same played out similar and, it's just a complex mess, it's not natural.

Yeah. Adoption isn't natural.

[00:34:31] Damon: No.

[00:34:32] Monica: And we make the best of it,

but yes.

[00:34:36] Damon: Wow. So you lived in depression. That following year, I would imagine it followed you for a long time too. Is that right?

[00:34:45] Monica: I don't, I'm not a depressed person. I have had situational depression. And I think that, God made me strong so that I could survive all this because Yeah, because I did, I just and how I did is I pushed it down [00:35:00] and when I left the hospital after seeing her and we were there for three days, I just, I said to myself, I just won't think about it right now.

I just won't think about it right now as we're driving away, from my daughter. I just won't think about it right now. And so I'd push it down. But that 16th birthday was so depressing and yeah, I, once I got back to school I tried to get back in the swing of things. I thought I, things will be more normal.

They weren't, I had body issues, insecurity. I had a little stretch marks around my tummy and, just, I, I wasn't going to be able to, look normal like the other girls. And so, yeah life was different, but one thing that I might add really quick when I mentioned that to my mom, she said, well, there's some papers in the safe box with your mother's name and your name on it.

I'm like, what? And so I had to act like I wasn't super excited because I didn't want to hurt her. And she, I got to see them and I, my mother, what my mother named me, her name was not on [00:36:00] it, non identifying information. And I named my daughter after me, hoping that, It would be easier her to find me when she turned 18.

[00:36:09] Damon: When Monica was 23 years old, back in 1980, her daughter was seven years old. One day, she read an article about Alma, the adoptee Liberty movement association, focused on adoptee rights to know the truth about our origins and an organization That held one of the early adoption reunion registries. Monica decided to drive to San Jose, California to attend an Alma meeting. Those were the early days of the group where Monica got to listen to the impassion speech of Florence Fisher, the woman who founded Alma. The organization helped Monica set up a search finder to create a plan For her attempt at adoption search and reunion. There was no internet back then. So the plan was made up of a letter campaign. One missive Monica drafted was addressed to Pierre Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, where [00:37:00] Monica was born. Eventually the name of her birth mother revealed from the documents in the safe deposit box, led Monica to her biological uncle. She had not told the man who she was on her first contact as she pretended like she was not looking for her birth mother. To prevent her maternal family from putting up barriers to block the reunion. and I found out that my birth mother had passed away and she died when I was seven.

[00:37:25] Monica: So she'd already been gone a number of years when I thought I could feel her thinking about me on my 16th birthday. And when I wrote in my journal, I need her to show me how to do this. she was selfless. And so good by giving me a better home, then how could I Not do the same, I didn't know this at the time But I had a core of unworthiness but if I didn't do what my wonderful birth mother did then how could I You know, I might be able to get my words back.

I don't know. It's so complex.

[00:37:59] Damon: [00:38:00] Yeah I'm trying to piece it together. That's a rough one. Huh? Wow that I don't even know what to say That just sounds like it's so complex to try to contemplate your own forced action and the attempt to try to find your biological mother only to find that she was deceased But feeling like you felt her.

I mean there was a lot in there. Wow, monica. So your informed that she was deceased for many years.

Did you end up meeting any of your maternal family at all?

[00:38:37] Monica: Absolutely. So my. Uncle knew my birth father and my birth father came to Sacramento on a plane with his wife to meet me and Channel 40 was doing a four part series on adult adoption through Alma and they came to the airport and filmed our reunion and then came to my house and wired me up and interviewed us [00:39:00] and I was I have actually the videos on my website.

And it's scratchy VHS, but I'm 23 and my father was indigenous. And so was my birth mother. And so I didn't know that growing up. I always, you know, it's all of skin, straight hair, dark hair. But I had, hazel eyes, my mother was blue eyed, father was Irish, her mother was Indigenous, and my father was Indigenous.

Plains Cree. And so, he got off the plane apologizing for his color. And I've never understood, or I've never experienced prejudice. I'm privileged. White. Transcription by CastingWords pretty never experienced that, but in Canada, being indigenous is real low on the totem pole in terms of, social status, and he was shamed all growing up.

In fact, I didn't know that he could speak fluent Cree [00:40:00] for decades, I've been back and forth to Canada multiple times. I have three siblings from my birth mother, four siblings from my birth father. And on the property where both sides of my family settled around Lac Saint Anne in Alberta, which is where a lot of the Native people settled, they have a pilgrimage right next to my father's property, where 30, 000 Indigenous people come across from North America for the healing waters.

contained in the lake, which is now a Catholic, but it used to be Lake of the Spirit, Manitou Sakahiga, I believe is how it's pronounced. So yeah, that was a whole new experience.

[00:40:39] Damon: That is fascinating. Tell me what you thought you were ethnically. And then, was it a revelation to realize that you were directly descendant from indigenous people?

[00:40:49] Monica: So, growing up in Alaska, in the 70s, Half Breed, you know, by Cher, and Cherokee People, that song, and Billy [00:41:00] Jack was a movie, and it was cool to be Indian, And I wanted to be Indian, and my best friends, my other little hoodlum friends were, they said they were part indigenous. Cree blood, and the other said she had Nez Perce blood.

And so I wanted to be too, and I'd always felt drawn that way. but I had no idea. And then on the papers that I saw when I was pregnant with the baby, I relinquished, it said that my father was French and my mother was Irish. Well, they left it off because I would have been hard to place. And I was born, I found later with a full head of dark hair.

But when I was, Adopted out of the foster home at four months. I was bald. It had all fallen out. So I looked white So when I found out I was indigenous, it would just felt like no kidding Right. I felt it. It wasn't a surprise and I just there's a Article, I just got my hands on about Victoria Belcourt Callahoo.[00:42:00]

She was an historian In, around Lac Saint Anne, when I was, where I was born, about how, her mother she went on buffalo hunts, and her mother was a medicine woman, and so she would be my great aunt, and her mother would be my great grandmother, and I've been an herbalist, aromatherapist, I've made poulticists, I've, I mean, For years, I've been like the healing lady everybody came to and I started a company, a body care company back in the mid nineties, that's now in 64 countries today.

I don't know it anymore, but I've always formulated and created and it's like no kidding. My great grandma was a medicine woman, right?

[00:42:40] Damon: Wow. What a crazy, that's such an interesting tie back to your lineage that you would formulate a company and I've always been the healing person. And that was directly descended from someone who was.

Part of your indigenous family. That's really amazing. Wow. So then, how was your relationship with your [00:43:00] biological father? You've told me that he sort of apologized for his color. I get the impression that he was playing to the discrimination that a lot of people have against people like himself, who I assume looked more indigenous than you do.

What was your relationship with him after your reunion?

[00:43:18] Monica: Oh, he was so proud. He had a white daughter. So proud. When I went to the pilgrimage I went to a number of them. They happened to follow my birthday and their three day event. And all my family, both sides, there's thousands of people.

And I took the daughter that I relinquished, who was pregnant at the time with my granddaughter, my other daughter and my son, and we all, went, I took my daughter to the land of her people, right? And I remember my father standing there and, my son looks, he's part Japanese, so he's a little darker hair and stuff, but the rest of us, we've all got bleach blonde hair, my daughters, and he spreads his arm out and he goes, This is my daughter [00:44:00] Monica and her offspring, like so proud right and even in the interview in my living room It was like, I just didn't you know, I just you know, the color so different I will you know, I couldn't believe she was my daughter, and so He was the sweetest, humble, kind, quiet, reserved, complete polar opposite of me.

[00:44:23] Damon: Oh, that's really funny.

[00:44:25] Monica: My mother's, my birth mother's father was an Irish, or I think he was English and Irish drunk. With a high forehead, with a gift for gab, could sell ice to Eskimos. I got that gene. With the alcoholism, too.

[00:44:41] Damon: it's interesting you talked about how he said. He was proud for having a white daughter. He's an indigenous guy. And, presumably there's a lot of pride in being indigenous, part of the culture, part of the community, but there's a heritage that is attached to both [00:45:00] the people and the land yet.

My sense is that years of trauma from, basically, colonizers, has made it such that people feel that white is right, right. That they've been oppressed. And so it must be better to be white. And so it's just, it was just interesting to me to hear him make a comment that. almost echoed years and years of trauma that would have been inflicted upon indigenous people.

Am I wrong about that?

[00:45:32] Monica: Not at all. You're right on so the He was ashamed of his color. He was ashamed. He didn't want anybody to know especially me that he spoke cree even my siblings on my dad's side. They're all dark They've had lots of prejudice issues You at one point, the Cree and the indigenous were very proud and self sustaining, and all that was stripped with colonization, and many of them lost their status, which we did, we were actually [00:46:00] considered Métis, which is half breed.

So you're no one. You're not white and you're not indigenous. You're not a no man. And that's who settled around the lake is of the people that mostly took script which was the government gave the indigenous people a little bit of land, a little bit of money to not be Indian anymore. And so it's, it was a genocide.

And my, my aunties, Daughter is missing like they'd come in and they would just take you could hear across the lake the whistle blow that meant The government was coming to cake your kids And they'd hide their kids so You know, Canada, they just recently, there was, hundreds of graves of Indigenous children found buried, no name, up in Canada, and in fact, two years ago on my birthday, the Pope came to Lac Saint [00:47:00] Anne, the land where my people are, right next to my dad's property, and apologized.

He apologized. we don't hear a lot about what, in the U. S., about what happened up in Canada with the Indigenous people. Like, I was part of the Sixties Scoop. That was different. They took Indigenous babies out of homes and put them in white families. They were trying to get rid of them.

[00:47:21] Damon: They're trying to stop

[00:47:22] Monica: the growth of the

[00:47:23] Damon: population by removing the kids. There's no offspring to grow up into the next generation of native people. That's really awful. I'm sorry to hear that.

[00:47:32] Damon: To this point, Monica has found her maternal connections and learned that her birth mother was deceased. Got to meet her birth father to explore her indigenous heritage and has reconnected with her family tree roots through her research, into her Cree first nation ancestry. But that's all Monica's story as an adoptee. Remember, she's also a birth mother. Monica said that she could not wait until her daughter turned 18 [00:48:00] counting down the years until she could search for her child. But as she expressed her desire to search with other people over time. They pushed back on her search and reunion goals, inserting doubt as to whether her daughter was ready to be found. the people who were opposed to Monica search

Suggested, maybe she should just wait.

[00:48:17] Monica: I'm like, hell no, I'm not waiting. I mean, I was so angry at those people, and I knew she'd want to find me. She'd be just like me. I just knew it.

[00:48:25] Damon: Monica was living in California, but her daughter was relinquished in Alaska. So six months before her daughter's 18th birthday, she called the adoption agency. Alaska is a state where adoption records are open. One of very few states with that status back in 1991. The agency asked Monica to write an introductory letter That they would share with her daughters adoptive parents. If her adoptive parents were open to communication, the agency would facilitate their connection. Monica had deep, mixed emotions about writing her heartfelt [00:49:00] message to her daughter.

[00:49:01] Monica: plus I still had shame. I had so much shame, relinquishing. We're supposed to, birth mothers are supposed to shrink back from the shame from which we came. That was how we felt, and so at least many of them that I know, and so I was going to have to wait the six months.

I was sitting at my desk at work, and the phone rang, and it was Catholic Social Services, and I'm, we're sorry it's taken so long to get back to you, and I'm, Like, okay, I wasn't expecting you to what, well, we have a picture here. I'm like a picture of who of your daughter, she and her mother had called within a week or two of my call six months early because she couldn't wait.

[00:49:41] Damon: Wow. So the same way you couldn't wait, she couldn't wait. Right. That is amazing.

[00:49:47] Monica: s Just like me, too. Looks like me, walks like me, talks like me. I mean, we both have, we're both really untraditional in any way, shape, or form. We're kind [00:50:00] of beat, dance to the beat of our own drum. We both like to decorate. We both have the same clothes in our closet.

We have the same interests.

[00:50:07] Damon: so before you get too far, you've gotten a call that social services has a picture of your daughter. What did that feel like?

[00:50:16] Monica: It was so I had stuffed the emotion because I couldn't think about it because it was too painful.

It felt like I was gonna die, and so I never cried. I tried to cry. I got, I ended up an alcoholic at 19 after my father died. And then I got sober in 1984, and then I realized, my goodness, I should have cried. And I tried to read my journal, my mom's journal, and I couldn't access it. But when I got that phone call, it all came at one time.

I couldn't see to hang up the phone. I couldn't speak. I was speechless for the first time in my life. My co workers rushed to my cubicle. What's wrong? Who died? I just, it all came. [00:51:00]

[00:51:00] Damon: Oh my gosh. I can't even imagine. what you've just talked about evokes this image of emotional floodgates opening, right?

That it's been behind the wall of the dam and someone just calls with this notion, this information that they've got a picture of your daughter and the dam just opened. Unreal. Wow. So what happens then? You get this call. What do they tell you is the next step and how do you go about meeting your daughter?

[00:51:31] Monica: I write a letter. I send it to Catholic Social Services. She tells me that my daughter is in, now in the Midwest. so, I'm like, this is like a, I've got to send letters to Alaska, then they send it somewhere in the Midwest and then the Midwest sends it back to Alaska to the adoption agency and back down to me.

I was using Federal Express and fax machines. Couldn't wait. So I wrote a letter to her parents. [00:52:00] They responded. My daughter wrote, I wrote a letter to my daughter. She responded. I have all the letters. In fact, they're in my manuscript, in my book. It was surreal. And then she finally, they gave her my number, but in the interim, I had to, I knew she was going to say, who's my daddy?

And what was I going to tell her? she's going to want to know who he is. And so that was a whole nother really fascinating turn of events. But she called me and We get on the phone I had stuff my feelings for so long and I would never watch sad movies about loss, someone dying nothing sad.

And I went out to blockbuster and I got all the sad movies and I sat on the couch for a couple of weeks with lots of Kleenex. And leaned into the pain and got all my tears out so that when we talked, it wouldn't be about me. It would be about her. I knew what she wanted. I knew [00:53:00] what she was feeling because I felt it.

Those things I wanted to ask my mom that I never got to ask her. And we talked for two hours and she later told me, she goes, you, I didn't have to ask you anything. You just gave it all. Everything I wanted to know.

[00:53:14] Damon: I love that you went ahead and prepared yourself emotionally. To not make it about you, and I'm not saying that none of it should have been about you, but the fact that you had the foresight to recognize.

I need to pre deal with some of this stuff is really powerful. I think a lot of people, one, we don't necessarily get the opportunity, right? Sometimes reunion just happens fast and you're like, Oh shit, here it comes. Right. And you just kind of dive in. But the fact that you were able to sort of make and take time to get some of your own emotions out of the way so that you could be really present and.

Grant space for her is pretty impressive. I find

[00:53:59] Monica: well, [00:54:00] I've been in recovery for a while so I was pretty self aware been doing a lot of work on myself and it's also I was adopted I knew different than somebody else would you know? I had the perspective of being that relinquished person wanting to know and wanting, it to be healthy and good for her You know, so that I think that layer made it different,

[00:54:26] Damon: absolutely.

It was intuitive. Yeah. It was both intuitive and you had the unique perspective of the same lived experience, , and therefore you could. Empathize accurately versus attempting to empathize. There's a huge difference. That's really awesome So tell me a little bit about what your reunion was like.

How did it go?

[00:54:49] Monica: So they flew her out. She lives in michigan and they flew her out for her 18th birthday Two days early and this [00:55:00] was back when you can go to the gate at the airport. It was with my father's the same and my my boyfriend at the time held the camcorder and we have it on video. I haven't put it out yet, but it was, you could see me standing at the window.

It's dark and, the planes are coming through, but you can't see anything. All just the reflection. I'm staring at this reflection looking for her plane and I'm tapping my foot. I'm so nervous. I'm taking deep breaths. I'm pacing back and forth and I'm not generally a nervous person, but I mean, this was the biggest deal of my life.

This was it. And I'm waiting for her to come up.

The entrance, from the tunnel from the plane, and I'm watching these people come up and I think part of it too is like I never got that with my birth mother, this is what I visioned with her and she's coming up and all of a sudden I [00:56:00] see the top of her head and she's got dark hair and it's pulled back in a headband and she's got these enormous stuffed animals and she's You know, she comes up and it's surreal.

I don't remember it. I can see it on video and we hug and brace and she's got tears and I'm got tears and we pull apart and look at each other in tears. You can see her face and then we hug again. And and then my daughter, The first baby I got to keep, Becca, she hands her a bouquet and she wipes her tears.

I mean, it was super, super emotional. It was super emotional. And my mom was there and my brother was there and I had a few friends there. And it was like, I don't know the top of the heap, it doesn't get better than that.

[00:56:46] Damon: Yeah. I can't even imagine that scene just. Eager anticipation, sort of your eyeballs starving out the window looking for somebody, looking for the plane, and then just to see her coming out of that [00:57:00] tunnel must have been absolutely unreal.

Wow. So what did you do? You obviously didn't just stand at the airport. What did you guys do after you sort of greeted each other there? Well,

[00:57:12] Monica: we compared. we look so much alike.

In fact, I had an 18th birthday party for her in a reunion party. And in my backyard I had, gotten my act together. I had a little girl. It was a single mom had my own home and and we dressed. And the same clothes, they were vivid purple and green. The same colors I painted my bedroom right after she was born, like trying to wipe out all that darkness is funny.

It was a full circle, the same colors were back in style. And then I also dressed my young daughter and we all looked so similar. And everybody at the reunion party was like they commented, Oh, you guys could be twins. Oh I can't believe it. I mean, we walk like each other. We talk like each other. You [00:58:00] don't people were getting us mixed up.

And I look probably because I'm indigenous, at least 10 years younger than I am. And she Yeah, we just look so much alike and we're only 15 years apart too. So

[00:58:12] Damon: it was it's not a huge difference That's a good point. Wow, that must have been crazy. And you know, you said you've got videos on your website I went to your site It's MonicaHall.Com for anybody listening and I went to your site and I went to this videos section and I can see this video reuniting with the daughter I relinquished for adoption in 1973 And as you two are sitting there next to each other in the still that captures the video I can absolutely see how much you guys look alike.

It is Uncanny really amazing. Wow. So how I was

[00:58:48] Monica: pregnant in that video with my son. We were interviewed You She had come back, she's been back and forth a number of times i've been out there in michigan I went out for her 50th birthday in june My [00:59:00] granddaughter's graduation party from high school.

[00:59:04] Damon: That's amazing.

[00:59:04] Monica: It's not perfect it's not perfect.

[00:59:07] Damon: Sure,

[00:59:07] Monica: I miss so much my daughter and seeing my granddaughters grow up and missing all their Events and I so much miss all the stuff that's going on in canada, like my family do Even though some of them are in Vancouver now and some of them are in Alberta they still get together for reunions.

I mean, their family, like my family wasn't like that. Nobody came to our house. Nobody wanted to be around my parents. Nobody really, we didn't have relatives. And, I'm like my family, I want my kids to have, they come to my house, their friends all came over, it was an open house, they were always welcome here.

And that's how I would have grown up.

[00:59:47] Damon: So you got to see rendition of the life that you would have gotten.

[00:59:54] Monica: Yeah. And it's sad. I see, the pilgrimage pictures and pictures [01:00:00] around, the fire pit at my. My birth father's cottage. I mean, he just deceased now. And my family in Vancouver getting together for hockey games or concerts, I mean, people travel to see each other and I'm missing.

My sister right now is on this big walk. She's got a group text going, pictures of her in Vancouver, walking with all these women. Like, I don't even know what it is exactly, but something she's doing there. That's And I miss it. I missed it all, but I'm not going to move to Michigan and I'm not going to move to Canada.

I have kids here and grandparents and my grandchild and my brother and a life here. And it's just, I'm so fractured.

[01:00:38] Damon: And that's one of the interesting challenges of reunion. I got super lucky. My birth mother lived right around the corner from me and she worked around the corner from me. So I got incredibly lucky to be able to see her and easily build memories.

But what you're describing is this geographic separation from everybody that won't allow for you guys to easily make memories. Also [01:01:00] because each of you has a life. You've got your own children, your own family. She has her own children and family. And As much as you want it to just come right back together, be parallel and aligned and fit neatly, unfortunately it can't because we've all grown up and developed our own lives.

It's, I feel what you're saying.

You have been through so much. How are you doing now? I mean, you've talked about trauma from childhood, being broken up with from your adoptive mother. Sort of the challenge of their co dependence, your brother and your mom, your father, and the challenges he presented in terms of, you You've talked about lashing out, and trying to be the baddest girl possible, and unfortunately you've talked about that going terribly wrong.

You've been adopted, and you're a birth mom. And I don't even, this is only the stuff you've told me, in the time that we've been here, and I [01:02:00] know the story is far deeper than this. How are you today?

[01:02:05] Monica: I'm good. I just, the last, since 2016, so it's been almost eight years of writing this memoir.

Some of that time was really dark. And I thought, what am I doing? I shouldn't be doing this. Cause I was digging up memories that I'd stuffed and finding out, what the reoccurring dreams were about and there's different things that happened. And I almost stopped. And when I first started writing, it was cause my daughter, wanted me to, not the one I relinquished, but the one that's 39 now.

And she said, mom, I think you should write a memoir. He's such so interesting, or adopted and you found Mary and you found your family. And I started writing cause now kids had moved out and such, but it got so dark cause I still felt guilty for the rape at 60 still. And I had to get through all of that.

And I, Almost stopped. But then I [01:03:00] realized, I was healing. I began healing, really healing. And then I got, I was posting essays on my blog or on my website. And I got so much feedback. Like people would call me and tell me there they'd email, they would write their darkest secrets to me, men.

Even, things that aren't really, one guy said, I'm not adopted. I wasn't raped. I'm a man, but I had a dysfunctional family. I feel so much. Your writings helped me so much. And so then I kept going because I knew it wasn't just for me. It wasn't just for me. It was bigger than that. And so, I'm good.

It's being published But at the same time, I heard a podcaster guy. He's a indigenous Scholar that wrote his memoir up in canada And I heard him on a podcast and he said oh, you must feel great now. It's done He's i'm doing book clubs and podcast interviews and i've got to regurgitate it again and it [01:04:00] doesn't go away It's not if I want to help others I have to just keep regurgitating it.

Like I got emotional when I thought of my daughter. Well, I mean, I've gotten emotional a number of times recounting my story. Like, it just, it is what it is. This was my destiny. This is, I'm accepting it. And I'm grateful that I'm here and then I'm present and then I'm sober and that I was a good mom and that I've healed.

And there's just so many blessings in the darkness.

[01:04:33] Damon: I love that. Blessings in the darkness, wow. I heard, I didn't actually hear her make this quote, but Brene Brown, I believe, has a quote similar to this, that we never really get over our traumas, we learn to dance with them. It's something of that, to that effect, right? It doesn't go away. You just learned to sort of navigate around them and with them, and similar [01:05:00] to yourself, I've told my story multiple times.

And some, when I shoot out the elevator version, the quick hit that lacks emotion, I'm fine. But if I sit here as you have done and tell the, super long version, I definitely still get emotional. And I've been in reunion for, the longest time you've been in reunion longer than me.

And. You got emotional, recounting that moment of seeing your daughter, whom you had relinquished years before. So, I think it's important for people to recognize that this stuff doesn't just go away. Just because I'm smiling and happy and I'm going about the rest of my life doesn't mean I don't think about all of the things that coincide with being an adoptee and that sounds like that's what you're saying is having been an adoptee, a birth mother, having been through some dark times.

It never goes away, but it sounds like you've done some real Taken some real steps to your own healing and that's amazing. And I hope others are motivated by it.

[01:05:59] Monica: [01:06:00] Thanks. Thanks, Damon

[01:06:01] Damon: For sure. Thank you. Monica for being here. I appreciate it very much this was really fascinating and i'm inspired by your strength So thank you so much for everything you shared.

Okay,

[01:06:13] Monica: my pleasure.

[01:06:15] Damon: You take care all the best to you.

[01:06:16] Monica: All right. Thank you

Closing

[01:06:18] Damon: Hey, it's me. Monica has the unique experience of being an adopted person and a birth mother. I think that gave her a unique perspective on what it was going to be like to reunite with her daughter. Not only could she sense that her daughter was going to be just like her and want to find her when she turned 18, but she was right about their striking similarities between each other. I loved hearing about her birth.

Father's pride for his daughter And the extended family she had created. And I was really emotional as Monica described that anticipation. She felt for seeing her child walked down the jetway to meet her again for the first [01:07:00] time. But I want to draw your attention to the language. Monica used to describe her children. Naturally, she referred to her daughter with whom she experienced reunion as the one she relinquished.

But did you notice How she referred to her other daughter. She called her the first child. She got to keep. That is a powerful framing for what adoption means for a birth mother and their respective children. Some they are forced to relinquish others. They are allowed to keep. I'm Damon Davis, and I hope you found something in Monica's journey that inspired you. Validate your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have this 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. And please, if you like the show [01:08:00] and it's meaningful to you, take a moment to leave a five star review in your podcast app or wherever you get your podcasts by doing so you're helping to teach the algorithms.

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