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237 – Loved From The Moment She Was Conceived

Lynn retains a New York accent, but she called me from North Carolina. As a young girl, Lynn should have been a carefree time in Lynn’s life, but her home was a chaotic place. She said characterizing her home life as having a few challenges will be like saying Noah’s Ark experienced a little rain. Instead of being a carefree kid. Lynn told me that she felt a responsibility for her younger siblings who experienced the same chaos she lived through at home. She was searching for a place where she would matter to someone at a young, vulnerable time in her life.

Pregnant with nowhere to turn, she placed her daughter for adoption, the hardest thing she’s ever been forced to do.

In reunion, Lynn was stunned to receive her daughter’s call out of the blue. She was thankful at how quickly they were able to see each other but is disappointed that the relationship has not gotten deeper.

Lynn is a first mother, and this is her journey.

SURVEY: Preliminary Exploration Into Adoption & Reunion

Who Am I Really?

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Transcript

237 - Loved From The Moment She Was Conceived

[00:00:00]

Cold Cut Intro

[00:00:01] Lynn: It's impossible to imagine what it's like just to Be expected to go back and be the same person, At one time, like six weeks afterwards, I was upset and my father said, well, I guess it's going to take you a little longer to get over this than I thought.

[00:00:19] Lynn: Yeah, like 40, 50 years, right? Yeah, I think it might.

[00:00:24] Damon: I'm Damon Davis and you're about to meet Lynn. She's got a New York accent, but she called me from North Carolina. As a young girl Lynn lived a midst too much chaos in her home. Pregnant with nowhere to turn.

[00:01:04] Damon: She placed her daughter for adoption. The hardest thing she's ever been forced to do. In reunion, Lynn was stunned to receive her. Daughter's call out of the blue. Was thankful at how quickly they were able to see each other, but is disappointed That the relationship has not gotten deeper.

[00:01:21] Damon: Lynn is a first mother and this is her journey.

Opening

[00:01:24] Damon: Lynn was born in Brooklyn, New York. Then her family moved out to long island during what she affectionately called her wonder years. That should have been a carefree time in Lynn's life, but her home was a chaotic place. She said characterizing her home life as having a few challenges will be like saying Noah's Ark experienced a little rain. Instead of being a carefree kid. Lynn told me that she felt a responsibility for her younger siblings who experienced the same chaos she lived through at home. She was searching for a place where she would matter to someone at a young, vulnerable time in her life. And she found herself in a vulnerable situation for a young girl.

[00:01:48] Lynn: You're not pregnant at 14 because, you live in a wonderful life, right? my mother was a, active alcoholic. she actually lost custody of her children. So that kind of throws a [00:02:00] description of what the family life was, right?

[00:02:02] Lynn: Like in, in the seventies, when a woman loses custody of her children, it was a, it was rough, right?

[00:02:07] Damon: How many, may I ask how many of you were there and she lost custody of you and your siblings?

[00:02:15] Lynn: Yeah. Now. It took a while, right? There are four of us, right?

[00:02:19] Lynn: I have an older sister and a younger brother and a sister. My mother didn't lose custody of us until I was already 17. My older sister then was not in the removal, I guess you could say, because she was over 18. My, brother and sister and I, then when we were removed from my mother, we were, we didn't go into the system or anything.

[00:02:42] Lynn: We went to live with my father. So we didn't go into the system but we were still taken from my mother, right? The police come and take you out of your house. It's rather, no matter where you go it leaves an impression on you. So it was turbulent, right? I would imagine that.[00:03:00]

[00:03:00] Lynn: Most of mothers who find themselves in a similar situation, they're not there because they had the love and the attention and the care that they needed, right?

[00:03:13] Damon: Can you describe a little bit of what turbulence looks like for a family whose mother is an alcoholic? What were some of the challenges that you kids faced?

[00:03:26] Lynn: Oh, well, there was a fair amount of putting your hands through the doors, right? I'd be in an argument with somebody and I would close the door and, My father would put his fist through the door saying, don't close the door on me. Police came to the house pretty regularly.

[00:03:43] Lynn: I remember one Christmas that the police were at the house three times on one Christmas day. my older sister she was kind of physically abused by my father. didn't hit me that way but my older sister I would, I would think in [00:04:00] today's climate, my father would have been in significant legal problems.

[00:04:04] Lynn: But things were thrown and hit and I don't want to get in, the gory details, my mother tried to strangle me with a an electrical cord. I mean, those kinds of things. It's, it seems like gory details, but it was turbulent, right? There was a lot of yelling, screaming, pushing, fighting.

[00:04:22] Damon: Yeah, and I don't mean to make you outline every single instance of it. Yeah. I was just trying to get a sense of. What you mean because it's different things for different people. You've outlined violence. Correct. And sometimes people it's verbal abuse more than anything else. Sometimes it's just a complete absence of even being present to care.

[00:04:42] Damon: For the child. And so I, I apologize. I don't mean to make you go through

[00:04:45] Lynn: this. No. And you are right. You are absolutely right. There are lots of ways. to be dysfunctional, right? The, I, I married a Russian, right? And so, Anna coming in and the beginning line is, all happy families are the same and all dysfunctional families are [00:05:00] dysfunctional in their own way.

[00:05:01] Lynn: So you're absolutely right that there are lots of ways to be turbulent. And mine was that there was a certain amount of aggression and there was a certain amount of, the emotional abuse So, but you're right. Everybody's different.

[00:05:17] Damon: As a 14 year old girl, tell me where you were then in 12, 13, 14.

[00:05:22] Damon: What were you doing? Were you seeking? What were you seeking outside of your home, perhaps, to validate your existence? Or tell me a little bit about your mentality and what kinds of things you were into.

[00:05:34] Lynn: Yeah, I was probably looking for somebody to care for me. I was probably looking for somebody who thought I had value.

[00:05:40] Lynn: Or who, I was probably looking for love, right? I mean, what do kids need, right? They need to be loved.

[00:05:46] Damon: And so were you hanging out with your friends in the street? Were you just, like It sounds to me, I'm making an assumption here, and I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it sounds to me like I know if I was having that much challenge at home, I would be out there, [00:06:00] and I would be looking for friends, and I would be looking for fun, and I'd be looking for an outlet.

[00:06:04] Damon: Is that kind of what was happening for you?

[00:06:06] Lynn: I would say so. I would say so. I was I was out. Yeah, I was out. I was doing things I wasn't supposed to be doing.

[00:06:12] Damon: And were you, so you got pregnant at 14 years old. Was this a boyfriend, a longterm? Tell me a little bit about the circumstances for your conception.

[00:06:20] Lynn: Well, out of respects to my daughter, I'm gonna, skip that if you don't mind. It wasn't two kids sitting in the back seat. Right. So there, there's a backstory behind that. And out of respects to her I don't think I want to share her story. but what I have shared.

[00:06:35] Lynn: Is that she may not have been conceived in love, but she was loved the minute she was conceived.

[00:06:44] Damon: So what does that mean the minute she was conceived what you tell me what that means?

[00:06:50] Lynn: That means the minute I found out that I was pregnant. I stopped smoking All right, I start I stopped [00:07:00] Smoking all sorts of things. I immediately knew that I wanted to care for her

[00:07:05] Damon: Did you have plans to keep her?

[00:07:07] Lynn: I would've. But 1976, well, I was pregnant in 75. I had her in 76 in, in 1975. I was told directly that she couldn't come home. Right. That I wasn't coming home with a baby. Right. What do you do in you're 14 in 1975 and you're told you can't come home?

[00:07:28] Lynn: I wanted to keep her.

[00:07:31] Damon: Who told you that? I

[00:07:32] Lynn: couldn't. And

[00:07:35] Damon: so what then happened for you? You're now pregnant. You have revealed this to your family. Your father has told you, you cannot come home. With a baby. What happens between conception and delivery? Are you allowed to be in the house? Were you asked to leave the house and don't come back?

[00:07:56] Damon: Tell me what happened.

[00:07:58] Lynn: So, that's kind of [00:08:00] interesting. home for a while. And uh, it was 1975, right? So, abortion had just become legal. Okay? Abortion had just become legal.

[00:08:10] Lynn: I wasn't going to have an abortion, right? I wasn't going to have an abortion. And My parents wanted me to have an abortion, but I loved I loved my daughter, right? I loved my daughter and I wasn't going to have an abortion. So, I was home for a little while.

[00:08:25] Lynn: and the sentiment was, I'm so proud of you to go on upstairs because somebody is coming, you don't want to be seen. So, but then afterwards around I guess I was probably six, seven months pregnant. I was sent away. I was sent away to a family home as opposed to one of the homes, right?

[00:08:44] Lynn: I was, I, one of those maternity homes. I was sent to an individual home and I stayed there until I gave birth. And then. I returned home without a baby.

[00:08:56] Damon: Was this home that you were sent to, was it someone that you [00:09:00] knew? Or was this Oh,

[00:09:02] Lynn: No, it was somebody that, that it was arranged for, right?

[00:09:06] Lynn: So, like many, I went to I went to Catholic Charities. And it was an arrangement that they had.

[00:09:12] Damon: Gotcha.

[00:09:13] Lynn: With the, with family, yeah.

[00:09:14] Damon: Gotcha. So, it sounds like it was almost like a, I don't know if this is the right word, but like a foster home.

[00:09:23] Damon: When a person is born and goes into adoption, there's an interim place that they go that is arranged. So this sounds like a, basically a foster home for birth mothers.

[00:09:32] Lynn: Yes. Wow. Yes, I would say so. I would say so.

[00:09:35] Damon: And how was your experience there? You've been now separated from your family.

[00:09:39] Damon: You're 14, which is a highly emotional time for a young woman anyway, and you're pregnant and you're away from your home. How far did you go from home? And what was it like for you to be in this place by yourself?

[00:09:52] Damon: Yeah.

[00:09:53] Lynn: That's a good question. So I probably yeah, so I, I might've just turned 15 [00:10:00] and it was, I don't know, I never really thought about it like that, to answer that question, it it was almost calm, right? Because I was out of. the tension of my house.

[00:10:12] Damon: Oh, that's fascinating. Wow.

[00:10:14] Lynn: Right? I can't, yeah, that I was out of that turmoil. But I, I remember I, it's kind of weird. The bedroom that I had, when I got into the bedroom that the people gave me, she said, make sure you close your blinds.

[00:10:30] Lynn: I was like, what? She said, make sure you close your blinds when you get changed. It was interesting. I guess she thought that I was going to flash her neighbors or something, I don't know. wayward women, we don't know what we're going to do.

[00:10:44] Damon: Yeah, she had her own preconceived notions about a 14 year old girl just being this loose spirit. Oh, that's interesting. Right, right,

[00:10:52] Lynn: right, yeah.

[00:10:54] Lynn: I've told this to my daughter. When I was away, she was always with me. So I was never alone.[00:11:00]

[00:11:01] Damon: You were together. What did you do to nurture yourself during that time? You said you quit smoking. You obviously, I mean, I assume you were drinking and smoking and hanging out, not getting enough sleep before you got pregnant. Tell me about nurturing yourself when you got pregnant.

[00:11:18] Lynn: I quit smoking and drinking and smoking other things. I, that was,

[00:11:22] Lynn: I don't know what, I don't think I did anything other than that. I mean. Yeah, I understand. Yeah. Yeah. I yeah. In the beginning, I was going to school, right? I was a 14 year old. I was going to ninth grade. Yeah, so it's not much nurturing that a 14 year old does, right? I don't know.

[00:11:44] Lynn: That'd be a hard answer, a hard question for me to answer now.

[00:11:48] Damon: Yeah, I guess, this is a question that comes out of, today. We are so much more conscious of health related Care, like just, I mean, we think about [00:12:00] diet and supplements and exercise and and mental health and it's just a different environment from the 70s.

[00:12:04] Damon: So I guess it's not really a fair question for a 15 year old of the 70s to think, right. So I wonder, you mentioned, you were in the ninth grade. Did you tell your friends you were pregnant and what did they say? Oh

[00:12:16] Lynn: no. I had one friend who knew I was pregnant, but. But that was it.

[00:12:20] Lynn: No you didn't say anything. I didn't say anything. Wow. I and when I left I left school, I was sent away as soon as I began to show, right? As soon as I began to show, I was sent away and the school was told that I had Mononucleosis, right? Because that's a long term illness, right?

[00:12:39] Lynn: Who knows who believes it and who doesn't believe it, right? Yeah, you didn't say anything. Are you kidding me? Did I tell my friends? No, you don't tell anybody.

[00:12:48] Damon: No, that's wild.

[00:12:49] Lynn: i've told the story before. Yeah, I have a my younger brother is seven years younger than me when I was reunited with my daughter I called up my brother and I said do you know that I [00:13:00] had a baby when I was 15?

[00:13:01] Lynn: I mean, you don't tell anybody

[00:13:04] Damon: Really? So you didn't reveal to him? Oh my gosh, until reunion, that's unbelievable.

[00:13:10] Lynn: Yeah, I mean, because I was sent away, right? And he was, he's seven. What does he know? I'm sure they said, oh, your sister's sick, right? Right. So, I, right?

[00:13:20] Lynn: And so, I didn't tell my brother.

[00:13:22] Damon: And he would have been navigating his own challenges in the family. Tumultuous family that you've described also so he would not have been paying acute attention to everything that you were going through either Yeah,

[00:13:34] Lynn: absolutely. And you say, can I describe my turmoil, he has his own turmoil that, yeah.

[00:13:39] Lynn: So we were all going through our own stuff. Nobody would have noticed.

[00:13:42] Damon: At 15 years old, Lynn was pregnant and sent away to conceal her status and to give birth to her daughter in secret, away from her community. During her time at the home, She was given some prenatal vitamins for her health, but no additional information was provided about what she might experience when [00:14:00] she gave birth. There was no expectation setting for what it would be like to be in labor. No female mentor to walk her through the possibilities for her birthing experience, no structured learning like in Lamaze class. Lynn had no idea what was going on around her. She was left to her own ignorance about the process and her fears about what was to come. When it was time for her to deliver. Lynn was taken to the hospital and dropped off. She was 15. A minor. Alone. With only her unborn daughter in her belly. Lynn was left in the hospital hallway. She knows now that the hospital she was taken to was a teaching hospital. So there was a combination of doctors and interns learning to be doctors, a parade of strangers, checking to see how dilated she was.

[00:14:49] Damon: This repetitive stream of unknown people were asking her questions about the most private parts of herself.

[00:14:56] Lynn: And

[00:14:56] Lynn: these guys are coming up to say, oh, so how dilated [00:15:00] are you? I don't even know what the word dilated means, kind of deal. So I eventually Go into labor. I, again I don't know what's going on. So, I'm telling all these people, I got to go to the bathroom.

[00:15:11] Lynn: I got to go to the bathroom. You have to let me go to the bathroom. And they're like, no, you don't have to go to the bathroom. I was like, yeah, I know what it feels like to have to go to the bathroom. I got to go to the bathroom. And I actually, I guess I complained so much that they let me sit on the toilet, but of course I didn't have to go to the bathroom. My daughter was sitting on my my bladder. But anyway, so I, I gave birth and then I was taken off the maternity ward, right? So I didn't get to hold her, right? They took her away and I was sent off to another part of the hospital because the maternity ward is for people who are.

[00:15:47] Lynn: Who are mothers, right? Who, right? and so afterwards I go to the maternity ward to try to see my daughter and they won't let me. They won't let me see her. So I kind of go back to my room.

[00:15:58] Lynn: My father does come to [00:16:00] see me afterwards. And I told him that they wouldn't let me see my daughter and he actually arranged it. So I was able to go and see my daughter on the outside through the glass. I got to see her. and I saw her, when my, my family came.

[00:16:13] Lynn: With my father. So I saw her then and I once snuck back and saw her again by myself. It was like, so I got to see her twice and I saw her, right? She was amazing. She had my face. She had my lips. She didn't have my hair but she had my face.

[00:16:31] Lynn: I didn't get a picture. My I, I wasn't allowed to have a picture of her, but but I had her in my mind's eye. I carried her in my mind's eye and I remember the first time I saw. The first time one of my friends had a baby, I was, full of all sorts of emotion.

[00:16:47] Lynn: Full of all sorts of emotion and cause you're like, oh, well I know the difference, right? Do all babies look alike or something along that line, who knows what you think. But I knew what my daughter looked like.

[00:16:59] Lynn: And the [00:17:00] minute I saw my daughter, I knew she was my daughter. I know.

[00:17:05] Lynn: I could imagine. It must have been so emotional. It must have been so emotional too, to Have been denied access to her, right? You have to carry this child in your body for months, endured all kinds of discomfort and tried to care for yourself so that she can come out healthy.

[00:17:23] Lynn: And then the moment she arrives in this world, you're separated. No contact. That must've been horrible.

[00:17:30] Lynn: it's,

[00:17:31] Lynn: it's evil. What happened? What happened was evil.

[00:17:39] Lynn: There's a sacred bond. And it was broken. And it shouldn't have been.

[00:17:45] Lynn: I agree. What did you think of your father advocating for you to see your daughter? This is someone who you had been cast out by. Who has cast his share of abuses towards your siblings. Yet in that moment, he came [00:18:00] to see you, one. And two, he advocated for you to see your daughter. What did you think of him in that time?

[00:18:05] Lynn: My father, there were a lot of complications, right? There was a lot of complications and said that my father did abuse my older sister he I don't want to, I don't want to paint him as an, as, a villain, right? He wasn't a villain. I think he was a product of his time, right?

[00:18:24] Lynn: And I think he thought he was doing what was right kind of deal, right? I mean, it's hard to judge a person from yesterday using today's standards. Does that make sense?

[00:18:33] Lynn: It absolutely does.

[00:18:34] Lynn: I, I think he was, I think he was doing what he could, at the time.

[00:18:39] Lynn: But he did he made sure that I got to see her and if he hadn't, I wouldn't have, if he hadn't, if he hadn't intervened, I would have never seen her.

[00:18:50] Damon: When I asked Lynn about who picked her up from the hospital. Her transition home and her re-entry into her former life. She chuckled nervously and reminded [00:19:00] me that she had just endured a very traumatizing experience.

[00:19:04] Lynn: Who remembers that stuff?

[00:19:09] Lynn: I've blocked all of that out, right? I the mind is amazing thing and it doesn't allow you to remember what you can't handle. And so I don't have much.

[00:19:20] Lynn: Recollection of coming back into my life. It's very shoddy. The information that's there.

[00:19:27] Damon: I'm

[00:19:27] Damon: glad you said that though, the, the notion that a traumatized brain will block out things, because this is one of the challenges that adoptees have in, Trying to accumulate facts from the stories of our birth mothers is, many times by the time we find you, we have done such an exhaustive investigation and try to learn as many details as possible that our assumption can be, we have accumulated the facts.

[00:19:54] Damon: Why can't you recall them? And there's a bit of an [00:20:00] admitted lack of empathy sometimes. Not by all, but every once in a while, an adoptee will feel like, Why can't she remember this? Why can't she tell me this? But what you've outlined is that the traumatized brain, in order to cope, will, in fact, block out stuff in order to try to get by.

[00:20:18] Damon: It's a, it's literally a mechanism for survival. And you've absolutely outlined that. So while you kind of chuckled at the fact that You couldn't remember. It's actually an important part of the trauma that you two went through. And we often in the adoptive community talk about adoption as trauma.

[00:20:35] Damon: I have to remind people, don't forget that. Adoption never starts from an awesome place. I've never ever spoken to an adoptee and nor any birth mother that said, listen, life was really good. Actually. I was just, I was doing fine. And I just woke up one day and decided, you know what? I think I'm just going to put this baby for adoption.

[00:20:51] Damon: It never goes that way. It's always, there's a backstory. That has some level of a trauma associated with it and you've absolutely [00:21:00] outlined that so I just wanted to make sure to underscore that your inability to remember that transition back to your life is not born out of your desire to forget as much as your to survive yourself and get on with your life.

[00:21:16] Damon: So

[00:21:17] Lynn: yeah,

[00:21:18] Lynn: and yeah. And I, and you said I chuckled. Yeah. Cause chuckle or you cry and So, so I wasn't laughing because it was funny. I was laughing because it's absurd to think what we went through and we were just supposed to go back and, and live our lives again.

[00:21:39] Lynn: I was supposed to go back to 10th grade. I was supposed to worry about, I was about to say biology, and then I decided I wanted to use a different subject, right? You know, I'm supposed to go back to, to be worried about, world history. Are you kidding me? impossible.

[00:21:53] Lynn: it's impossible to imagine what what you did. It's a, It's [00:22:00] impossible to imagine what it's like just to Be expected to go back and be the same person, right? , I've said this before, my father, and again, I there, there are mixed feelings and all that kind of stuff, but, At one time, like six weeks afterwards, I was upset and my father said, well, I guess it's going to take you a little longer to get over this than I thought.

[00:22:27] Lynn: Yeah, like 40, 50 years, right? I guess it's going to take you a little longer to get over this. Yeah, I think it might. I think it might take a little bit longer. And I do want to, I kind of started off before we kind of probably hit the record button. I'm my daughter's mother, right? I'm her first mother. The term birth mother, I think, denies my role in her life, I didn't just give birth to her, but I mothered her, right? I was her first mother and [00:23:00] I cared for her as much as I could. And I think language also sets a mindset, right? And I think First Mother, it kind of honors my role. And also, It makes sense, right? There's a first mother and a second mother, right?

[00:23:15] Lynn: The adoptive parents are really kind of like this, the second parents. When I married my husband, his first wife I am his second wife. And when I understand that, and I allow my husband to talk about his first wife, about his first wife, Then I support him more, right?

[00:23:39] Lynn: And I know that there are times that he wishes his first wife was here, right? I have a stepdaughter, so when she got married, he would have liked his first wife to be there, When she had kids, he would have liked his first wife to be there. And if I can support that, if I can support him wanting to have a relationship with his [00:24:00] first wife, I think it supports him better, and it makes our relationship stronger also, right?

[00:24:05] Lynn: So, if adoptive parents could allow their adoptive child, right, their child to be mournful of losing their first mother, don't you think that would be healthier? Right? Wouldn't it be nice for adoptive parents to say, I bet you wish your first mother was here to see you graduate from high school?

[00:24:26] Lynn: Just that acknowledgment, I think it would go a long way to help ease some of the tension. that adoptees have with this duality of first mother and second mother and so on.

[00:24:43] Lynn: This is a wonderful point.

[00:24:44] Lynn: And I'm really glad that you raised that because. language is important. The way we express ourselves and how we articulate the things that we're going through and the roles of people in our lives is incredibly valuable and it can [00:25:00] be an indicator of how you feel about a person. And so for the adopted person who knows that their

[00:25:07] Lynn: first mother did not necessarily want to be a mother. They may choose to refer to that person as a birth mother because that person's role, all they really wanted to do was give birth to the child and be done. But what you've indicated is that you Wanted to keep your child. You were just not allowed to do so.

[00:25:28] Lynn: So you nurtured your body and yourself in order to give her the birth that would make her healthy. And in that role, you very much are her first mother, that you had every intention of making her life good and that you set yourself up and her to be as healthy as possible. And so you think of yourself as a mother and I'm with you a hundred percent.

[00:25:50] Lynn: I don't want to say too much. You nailed it, but I really appreciate how you made the analogy of a first wife. There's a lot of firsts in our [00:26:00] lives. And you're absolutely right that it's an opportunity to acknowledge the role of the person who brought us into the world.

[00:26:07] Lynn: Right, and it doesn't take away, like I don't feel less loved by my husband because I'm his second wife.

[00:26:14] Lynn: Right, right, right.

[00:26:15] Lynn: It's we have our first loves, right? That doesn't take away, that doesn't mean that we can only have our first love and then that's it, right? Otherwise, we'd all be married when we were 12, right?

[00:26:24] Lynn: Right? So, so we move on. There's a lot of firsts. But that doesn't take away from who we are,

[00:26:30] Lynn: right? Have to be comfortable. Sometimes my husband will say something like, well, my wife and I went to X, Y, or Z. And, the, the little insecure part of me says, oh, I don't remember going there.

[00:26:44] Lynn: But, The secure part of me says, well, tell me about, what, did you like it? Did you have fun? You know what I mean? It's just You know, I have to be able to I hear that to be able to support my husband.

[00:26:56] Lynn: Afterwards, you know after I [00:27:00] lost my daughter, right?

[00:27:01] Lynn: I still cared for her right and what could I do to care for her? Right. I was on the organ donation list, right? Because she might one day need my organs, right? She wouldn't need anything else from me, but one day she might need my kidney, right? So, so I put my name on the organ.

[00:27:15] Lynn: I sent off her for, at the time it was, you swapped yourself or something and you got on the list. And, I prayed for her. I prayed for her adoptive mother that she could be the best mother that she could for her. So, you know, it's, it's not quite as simple as that.

[00:27:30] Lynn: As one and done, right? There's a lot of emotion in it.

[00:27:35] Damon: Yeah,

[00:27:35] Damon: I'll say one final thing on this for me, which is, one of the adoptees that I interviewed, made this wonderful point that they were speaking to their

[00:27:44] Damon: Adoptive parents who had ended up having biological children as well themselves as a couple And they

[00:27:53] Damon: said to their parents, you know If you're not comfortable with me finding my first [00:28:00] mother then let me ask you this

[00:28:02] Damon: when you had you know,

[00:28:03] Damon: the name of the first child that they gave birth to, why didn't you stop there?

[00:28:07] Damon: You've got enough love that you wanted to have another child. The same thing is true for me. I can have had you as my parents and love you and have enough Love in my heart to go back and try to locate the first mother that brought me into this world. And so, there's a complimentary adopting component to the, the moniker of being first.

[00:28:30] Damon: Leaving Lynn's teenage years. I was very curious about her mentality as she went on with her life. Many adoptees are very curious about whether we were remembered or forgotten. Loved or loathed. Cherished or trashed. I asked Lynn how she thought about her daughter over the years.

[00:28:49] Lynn: I've

[00:28:49] Lynn: always thought about her. she Was always on my mind. She was always. Whenever there was a lull, whenever I wasn't doing anything. So, I ended [00:29:00] up. I ended up kind of don't want to, I don't want to brag, right, but I ended up getting a PhD, right, And, why did I end up getting a PhD? Because I could never stop, right, because I always, I was always looking for something else. I, I was always moving forward.

[00:29:15] Lynn: my feet couldn't stay still, so I was always driven to do something, right? Whenever I stopped, she was there. I've used this analogy before. I was an amputee, right? It was like I'd lost, I lost a leg, right? But I had a, prosthetic and I worked that prosthetic, right? But I had pants on, so nobody knew that I had a prosthetic and I worked it.

[00:29:36] Lynn: But at night, when I went to bed, I had to take my pants off, right? She was always part of my life. I baked for her birthday every year, right? I had a I'm Catholic and I've I have a permanent candle in my church for her. I always thought of her. I'm always amazed.

[00:29:52] Lynn: I, I've heard Adoptee saying, did she think of me? I have stretch marks. I have stretch marks. Every [00:30:00] time I take a shower, She's there. I couldn't take a shower. Without seeing the physical reminders that she was with me.

[00:30:09] Damon: Yeah,

[00:30:10] Damon: same is true for my yeah, I was born via cesarean section So my birth mother had a scar on her body same as the stretch marks on your own. There's a physical representation that you Have an appendage that was clipped from your life.

[00:30:25] Damon: And, and it's interesting to hear too, I understand that you were not trying to brag, but I also understand what you were trying to convey, that if you had stood still too long, it would have just washed over you, and so you just, it sounds like you were just trying to achieve and go and keep moving, occupy your mind, fill your heart with other things so that in some way you could continue to get by.

[00:30:44] Damon: Lynn earned a position teaching at a university and near the end of the school year, she was closing out her work and cleaning up her office. As she sat at her desk at 2:00 PM on the Thursday afternoon. Lynn was looking forward to getting out of the office and heading [00:31:00] home. As if she needed one more thing to do her phone rang. Annoyed that someone was probably adding something to her to do list. Lynn answered, barely paying attention to the c distracted by her desire to hit the road. The voice on the other end was being cryptic When they asked to verify Lynn's home address. Confused Lynn asked what the color was inquiring about. The caller said they wanted to mail her a letter and they just wanted to make sure they had the correct mailing address. Lynn asked what this odd call was about.

[00:31:33] Damon: But the person said their interests were personal in nature.

[00:31:36] Lynn: And

[00:31:37] Lynn: she starts to talk, and I'm not paying any attention, until she says, I was born on such and such date. And I said,

[00:31:46] Lynn: And she said, the date. And I was like, what date? And she said the date. And I just, the tears started fall. And I started to try to explain my life [00:32:00] and, and what happened, and I, I once talked to my daughter about this conversation, and she said you were like a kid who got their hands caught in the cookie jar, because I guess I was trying to apologize, and explain and all of these kinds of issues about what was going on and I, Probably rambled for five minutes and then I stopped and I said well You've probably been thinking about this for a while I'm gonna stop and let you talk and she said well, I was just going to mail you this letter And she was like, I could read you the letter and I was like, okay, that sounds like a good idea and so we talked and During the conversation.

[00:32:38] Lynn: I asked if I could meet her You And she said, yes. And I, I was like, well, so what are you doing tomorrow? I'll come up tomorrow. And she was like busy. And I said, what are you doing the next day, which was Saturday? And she's busy. And what are you doing Sunday? She's busy.

[00:32:52] Lynn: And so I said, well, what are you doing tonight for dinner? And we met that night. She lives an eight hour drive [00:33:00] from me now. And so we met at a hotel four hours in between the two of us. so we met and it was amazing. The same

[00:33:09] Lynn: day she called you, you met her that night.

[00:33:13] Lynn: I couldn't get that

[00:33:13] Lynn: fast enough.

[00:33:15] Lynn: So what was it like? Tell me about the moment that you go to this hotel. Tell me about your drive. You've got a four hour drive. Did you go by yourself? And what was your mindset? Yeah.

[00:33:24] Lynn: Yeah, so I did go by myself. I Came back to my house and, put some things together and my husband asked me do you want me to go with you?

[00:33:33] Lynn: And I was like, no. at the time, my mother in law was living with me, and now my husband, so let me just say, my husband had known about my daughter, but nobody else did, right? I had, I have two other children and he has I have a stepdaughter and nobody else knew about my daughter and so, my husband said, should I, tell, my mother and I was like no.

[00:33:56] Lynn: I said we're not telling the words exactly were along the line [00:34:00] of I need to know what she wants first, If she doesn't want to have a relationship with me, then we go back to status quo, right? if she didn't want this, if she was just looking for an answer or two and I told him that, I needed to do this by myself. so, she got to the hotel before me and when I got there I called her to say that I was here and she came out of her room and we met in the hallway and

[00:34:26] Lynn: when I hugged her,

[00:34:27] Lynn: I was hugging my, I was hugging my baby, right? My, my whole body responded. It's really kind of, it's really kind of amazing when you think about it. I mean, it was as if. I was that 15 year old, and somebody finally put her baby in her arms, The emotion that came over me, it was amazing.

[00:34:51] Lynn: And it was a physical reaction. It was a physical reaction. It really was as if, I [00:35:00] was 15 and I was able to hold my child. I was, I was in my 50s, right? When this all happened, right? When I got reconnected, I've held a lot of people, right?

[00:35:11] Lynn: I've touched a lot of people, I, but this touch was like nobody else's, right? It, it was a physical and a spiritual connection. No other, right? It's I really it was the reconnection of the bond.

[00:35:31] Lynn: God, that sounds like an unbelievable moment. I'm a mess over here right now.

[00:35:35] Lynn: Yeah it, yeah, was amazing, right? It was a completion, right?

[00:35:41] Lynn: It was.

[00:35:44] Lynn: Is a reconnection. I mean, literally, it's a reconnection.

[00:35:48] Lynn: Reattachment. Yeah it's, it's like the, it's like the rubber band kind of came back together. Right? Like the bond is always there.

[00:35:54] Lynn: You think the bond is a rubber band it stretched really far, but the minute. Let go of those [00:36:00] other ends, it comes back, right?

[00:36:02] Lynn: Right. That's a good analogy. Wow. It just snapped back.

[00:36:06] Lynn: So what did you all do that night? What, and tell me what you saw. This is a person whom you saw her as an infant, and you saw elements of your own looks on her at that time.

[00:36:19] Lynn: But now this is the full grown version of the person that you gave birth to. So many years ago, what did you see in her, and what did you guys do for the rest of the night?

[00:36:28] Lynn: What did I see in her? That's a good question. I mean, I've said this before, just knew her, the way a mother knows her children. I just knew her. There was a comfort there. We talked all night, right? We talked all night and I never, it's three o'clock in the morning and she's I gotta go to sleep and I'm like no, I don't want to leave.

[00:36:52] Lynn: I just want to, I actually said this to her. I'll just watch you sleep. You go to sleep. I'll just watch you sleep. And she's no, that's, no, you don't have to do that. [00:37:00] You can go back to your room because, it was just a little bit creepy for somebody to say, I just want to watch you sleep.

[00:37:06] Lynn: But it was just, we just talked and there was a, for me anyhow, and I hope for her there was just a sense of, Of knowing her. Right. I, I don't have details. Right. I don't, yeah. I don't know some details, but I know her, right?

[00:37:21] Lynn: I'm, You know what? 'cause she's of me, right? I mean, she's me. I know what she's thinking because. Because that's what I'm thinking. Right? Right? I, I can, I know that there's a lot of discussion about this issue about this idea about unconditional love and all that kind of stuff.

[00:37:37] Lynn: I know how to love my daughter better than anybody else. because I'm her first mother. Right? And I, Nobody can love you the way your first mother can love you.

[00:37:47] Lynn: That is true. And I want to go back to something you said. You said you want to just watch her sleep and you said it felt creepy, but this is two adults.

[00:37:57] Lynn: And I think the thing that I want to help people realize, [00:38:00] what you were probably feeling in that moment is for anybody out there, who's ever had a child, that's what you do. When that baby is sleeping, you stand there over the crib and you marvel over this child. And you watch them sleep and they're so stupid cute and you can't get over it.

[00:38:16] Lynn: And this is, I just want to make sure people recognize that this is something that you've never got with her. So while it might sound creepy as adults in this first moment of reunion, quite literally you've already said, I felt like that 15 year old girl again, in which case, of course, you would have had these feelings of wanting to get back some of the things that you never got to do with her, whether you even could have articulated it or not.

[00:38:39] Lynn: So, I'm with you 100 percent on that. Yeah.

[00:38:43] Lynn: And I think that in lies some of the problems that existed, after, I think that for me, I was like that new mother who just wanted to be with her baby, right? so I think that I was, Maybe too [00:39:00] present, right?

[00:39:00] Lynn: Right? Because I just, I didn't want to let go, right? I just didn't want to let go. I just I found her or she found me. And I came up with this thought the other day that, if somebody stole a thousand dollars from you, And then they said, oh look, we found your money here. You can have it back, but we're only going to give you five hundred dollars of it You would be like, no, I want it all. Right? I want it all. I just don't want part. And I think that's, that's, that's, Kind of happened, right? She was taken from me, And then when she was returned, I couldn't get the whole thing back. Does that make sense? It

[00:39:39] Lynn: absolutely does.

[00:39:40] Lynn: I'm looking for all my money back, right?

[00:39:42] Lynn: I'm looking for all of it back. I didn't want you to take it in the first place. And so when I get it back, I want it all back. But unfortunately, you can't get it all back. I think early on I didn't understand that. I think I, I just wanted it all back because in my mind, [00:40:00] it's yours.

[00:40:00] Lynn: At one time, kind of early in the reunion I asked my daughter, what does she want went out of our relationship. And, and she said X, Y, or Z. And I said, well, that sounds like a friend. I'm not looking for a friend. I'm looking for my daughter, right?

[00:40:15] Lynn: And so I think that I think I could have overwhelmed her at first, And still some, right? And still some. So. I'm sorry I don't know where that came from. That, that, you must have said something that triggered that discussion.

[00:40:28] Lynn: That's okay. That's perfectly fine. This is not, we don't have a structure here.

[00:40:32] Lynn: This is whatever you want to say and how you want to express it, so.

[00:40:35] Lynn: Yeah. I want to

[00:40:36] Lynn: just ask you two final questions. The first is, how is your relationship now?

[00:40:42] Lynn: there's, there's a reduction of interaction on our part, I guess you could say. I don't know. so in the beginning it was very intense, right? In the beginning it was very intense and and there's been some pulling back, There's, no doors have been shut. We we still are in communication periodically. [00:41:00] We spoke, She called me before EASTER. And we had a conversation. And, so there, there is interaction. It's not.

[00:41:07] Lynn: It's not where I want it to be, let's just put it that way. But I know some, where there isn't any communication at all, so I am, fortunate, That, she still wants to communicate with me.

[00:41:19] Lynn: So. Yeah. That's true. Yeah.

[00:41:22] Lynn: And the same thing is true for adoptees, right?

[00:41:24] Lynn: We sometimes feel fortunate as well that our biological family members still want to communicate with us. It can be really easy to just go back to your regular life, check the box, met the person, saw if I look like him or not. And then just, it's an easy path to just return to what you knew before reunion.

[00:41:42] Lynn: But as with any relationship, it takes work. And so it's important when we do feel that someone is thinking about us and reaches out and stuff.

[00:41:51] Lynn: Yeah. And I think there's an awful lot of pain going around in, on both sides, and in all sides, my two younger daughters, I [00:42:00] think that they have pain because of everything that they've missed, I think that there's a lot of pain and sometimes the easiest way is, just to go back to the way it was.

[00:42:11] Lynn: Yeah, I understand. The other thing I want to ask you about is your current body of work. You are doing a survey about the adoption experience. Can you just share for folks what your is, what the intent is, and how people can find it so that they can be participants in your work?

[00:42:31] Lynn: That was great. I was hoping we'd get to this part. So,

[00:42:34] Lynn: when my interaction with my daughter started to slow down, started to pull back I started to Say, I wonder why , right. And I had some questions, And so I created, and so as I mentioned earlier, I did get a PhD, So I'm a university professor and I went to what do we do, right?

[00:42:56] Lynn: We go to look at the research to see what the research says. [00:43:00] And I was amazed at. I didn't find and how little research is out there and the research that's out there is the end size the number of subjects per study is so small that how do you make this? generalization On it, right? There's a lot of anecdotal and advice out there but nothing that says that If you do this, this is going to happen.

[00:43:27] Lynn: And if you do that, that's going to happen. So, I created this survey and the survey is called Preliminary Exploration into Adoption Reunions. And my goal of this survey was kind of to see if we can't come up with a roadmap about how to do these things, right? What should be done and what shouldn't be done.

[00:43:51] Lynn: When I first was reunited with my daughter, I read stuff and it said to go slow, But nobody told me what slow looks like. nobody [00:44:00] told me why I should go slow, right? They just said go slow without anything, right? And so I wanted to find some answers, and I put together a survey that has grown in its scope, Originally, I was only looking at the mother child reunion experience. Thanks to speaking to other people, and you in particular it grew, right? And it grew to talk about the relationships between including first fathers and I think, what's going to come out of this survey, one of the most significant issues, is going to talk about unhealthy behaviors that we have.

[00:44:45] Lynn: And that does come directly from you. We had a conversation and I said, I was looking at the longevity of Right? Because from what I hear from other people and what I've noticed is that [00:45:00] death rate of birth moms tend to be much lower than the average population. and we looked at the survey and I had a question there about whether or not your mother was alive or not. And you're like, who cares? Right. And I said we talked and I said that I had the sense that birth mothers or first mothers die at an earlier rate.

[00:45:22] Lynn: And out of our conversation I saw it, it came out of well, why are they dying earlier? Right. And so I added a section some questions on both the adoptee and the first mom side that says kind of, Did you develop unhealthy behaviors? And I had and I listed these unhealthy behaviors that you could have.

[00:45:43] Lynn: Drug abuse, and alcohol abuse, and physical, self harm, and hypersexuality. And I listed attempted suicide. And, I know that the prevailing rate that people talk about, right, is that adoptees are four times more [00:46:00] likely to attempt suicide, right? You've heard that, right? That's the prevailing sentiment.

[00:46:05] Lynn: Well, I could go into that. Now I'm going to kind of go into my research mind, right? So, I went and I looked to find out where this four times more likely, where this number came from. And this number came from a study that was done where the team asked about 600 adoptees and 600 non adoptees.

[00:46:27] Lynn: But they didn't ask the adopting. They had asked the parents. Or children of the adoptees, whether or not they had attempted suicide or not. And they did the same for those who are non adopted. And that's where they get the four times more likely, asking the loved ones of somebody.

[00:46:48] Lynn: Did your loved one attempt suicide or not, I actually asked the adoptee, did they attempt suicide? And I don't want to give you the exact numbers because I'm still collecting data but the [00:47:00] number is going to blow you away. It's not four times. It's not even four times, four times, It's going to be unbelievable.

[00:47:09] Lynn: And for first mothers. Well,

[00:47:15] Lynn: I appreciate that you're doing this research work. I want to make sure that people know where it is that they get into your survey so that they can offer their contribution directly from their own experience. So tell people, how do they find your survey?

[00:47:29] Lynn: Okay, the survey has a Facebook page, and the Facebook page is called Preliminary Exploration Survey.

[00:47:37] Lynn: Into adoption reunions, Let me say it again. Preliminary Exploration Into Adoption Reunions. And on that facebook page. There is a link that will take you to the survey. Now this is a research study right. So it's been done. Through the institutional IRB, which is the institution review board.

[00:47:58] Lynn: So, it's a [00:48:00] sanction study. It's not just a it's not a go pull me kind of study it, it follows the standards for pure empirical results. . And if you go to that page, you'll find out more. About study and you can read on it and I have periodically put updates of, where we stand right now.

[00:48:19] Lynn: Okay. And it's not, and as I said, it it's grown in scope. So it's not purely about adoption reunions anymore. I certainly ask a wide variety of questions that go above and beyond, people being in the Union. So, if you are either, a first parents, or an adoptee, please let your voice be heard.

[00:48:40] Lynn: Because other people are creating our narratives, and having real numbers will help in your life. Provide society with a real understanding of the complications

[00:48:53] Lynn: and the

[00:48:53] Lynn: aftermath.

[00:48:54] Damon: Yeah,

[00:48:54] Lynn: Lynn, I appreciate the fact that you're putting research rigor behind this, because you're absolutely right. We get [00:49:00] these anecdotal stories told about us for us The narrative is created by other people who are not necessarily living these experiences and you're absolutely right that we have to tell our own stories And so I just want to thank you one for The research that you're doing to bring light to the reality of the adoption experience.

[00:49:19] Lynn: But I also want to thank you secondly for being here with me and sharing your own story because I think it's important that you have stepped in as a first mother into an adoptee space to tell your story. I'm always talking about how we need to empathize with one another and it's important for first mothers to share their stories for us so that adoptees can hear it. first hand so we're not making assumptions about what you think. So thank you so much, Lynn, for being here. I appreciate you so much.

[00:49:46] Lynn: And I appreciate you. I really think that your input made the survey made this so much better. Excellent. I'm glad to hear it. And I really think that the mental health.

[00:49:57] Lynn: Issue. I don't think I would have asked those [00:50:00] questions if you hadn't pushed me. So, so thank you. No, I'm just glad to work with you on it. Yeah. Great. Make sure

[00:50:06] Lynn: to send me some links to the survey. Okay. So when you're so we make sure that people get involved. All right.

[00:50:10] Lynn: Sure. Sure. I'll send it out to you.

[00:50:12] Lynn: Sounds good, Lynn. Thanks so much. Take care. All the best to you. Okay.

[00:50:15] Lynn: Bye bye.

[00:50:15] Lynn: You too. Bye bye.

Closing

[00:50:21] Lynn: Hey, it's me. Lynn grew up in a chaotic home with alcoholism and abuse, Which left her free to be in the streets and open to opportunities and challenges that come with too much freedom at a young age. She described the harrowing experience of being dropped off at the hospital, left alone with no information About what was going to happen when she gave birth. Lynn said she never forgot about her daughter, but she kept busy with achievements To ensure the quiet moments were filled in the marks on her body had less space to take over her emotions. I appreciated the perspective Lynn gave us about seeing herself as a [00:51:00] first mother in honor of the responsibility she took in the job she did at 15 to bring her daughter into this world. Lynn was so lucky to be able to meet her daughter the same night of their first conversation. But I'm sorry, there isn't as tight of a relationship as what Lynn would like. I have to admit, I hope her daughter will hear this one day. Empathize with Lynn's heartfelt desire to have a closer relationship And give things another try. I also hope that all of you out there with direct experience with adoption will submit your answers to the preliminary exploration into adoption reunion survey. That Lynn has put together. It has been said that you cannot track what you have not measured and surveys are a wonderful way to make sure your voice is heard regarding your experience with adoption. Again, you can find links to the survey on Facebook. The name of the survey is preliminary exploration into adoption reunions. [00:52:00] I'm Damon Davis.

[00:52:00] Lynn: And to hope you've found something in Lynn's journey that inspired you. Validates 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 and your attempt to connect with your biological family, please visit who am I? Really? podcast.com/share. Also Quick reminder to sign up, to receive updates about my second book. The work in progress is going nicely.

[00:52:28] Lynn: And I can't wait to share it with you. To learn more, go to who am I? Really? podcast.com/book to. That's book and the number two.

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