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232 Birth Mother’s Day 2024

One of the important things to do when sharing adoptee stories is try to empathize with our birth mothers. This is a special presentation of the “Who Am I Really?” podcast for “Birth Mother’s Day”. Working with Ed DiGangi (ep. 130) we highlight the stories of three birth mothers, Yvonne, Sarah, and Laura who share their personal stories of being stigmatized, coerced, and misinformed about their child’s adoption. They share their struggles carrying the memory of the children they placed, the process of mental and physical recovery from giving birth, and the secrecy some held for years about what they had endured as young women.

Birth Mother’s Day is observed on the Saturday before Mother’s Day in order to honor birth mothers’ experiences.

D. Yvonne Rivers – Host of Birth Moms Real Talk podcast

Laura Engel – Author of You’ll Forget This Ever Happened

Sarah Maury Swan – Writer and multiple book author

Ed DiGangi, Adoptee – Author of The Gift Best Given

Who Am I Really?

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[00:00:00] Laura: don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't be a mother.

If that is what you really want to be. There is no greater pain. In my heart, I've ever experienced than leaving my son and I know he went to good people and I thank them every day that they gave him a good life. But at the same time, I know he missed me and I missed him. I wish I could have been his mother had all those 49 years with him.

[00:00:34] Damon: [00:01:00] I'm Damon Davis, and I want to welcome you to a special edition of who am I really?

I am an adoptee in reunion with my birth parents separately. But one of the things that I think is incredibly important in telling adoptee stories on who am I really is acknowledging the birth mother's stories that brought all of us to the lives that we have today. Okay. So what we have is a special presentation for Birth Mother's Day.

Birth Mother's Day, you may not know, is May 11th, 2024, and is a recurring holiday to bring light to the stories of birth mothers, because they have some very real stories to tell. And we have three birth mothers here with us today, who I'm so thankful joined us. so what I want to turn things over really quickly to Ed.

Ed brought the idea of having this birth mothers discussion to me in hopes of helping to elevate some of these birth mom stories. So Ed, if you would tell us a little bit about your work and then we'll turn it over to our lovely ladies to tell us a little bit about themselves. [00:02:00]

[00:02:00] Ed: Sure, Damon, thank you so much for hosting this conversation.

It's great. it's good to talk to you again. When my, I wrote a book called the gift best given, which was published in 2020 and yours was the first podcast that I appeared on. So this is like old home week. the gift best given began very much as being about me and my search for the identity of my birth mother.

And then the surprising discoveries that I made as I searched. But during the process of writing, I developed a very profound appreciation for the strength it must have taken her to make the decision to relinquish me. And then after that, I started to wonder about what she experienced emotionally afterwards.

I'm now working on a follow up to The Gift Best Given, and I hope to see that published by the end of the year. And it records not only my birth mother's travels after she surrendered me, and you might recall she was a celebrity performer in the big ice [00:03:00] skating shows back in the 1940s and 1950s, but it also explores her emotional journey in what does a woman who gives up her baby after carrying him or her for nine months experience.

By the time I learned the identity of my birth mother, she was deceased. So I couldn't question her about the experience. And I began reaching out to interview other women who had relinquished a son or a daughter during the baby scoop era. And that was very fortunate. And I found so many who were open and generous in sharing their stories with me.

And I should probably say very brave in sharing their stories with me. And what I found is the details of how each one of them arrived in the place where they had to give up their child differed, but I typically heard them express the same emotions about, the time after relinquishment. Over and over and over again.

we talk a [00:04:00] lot about the role of the adoptee in the adoption constellation. But with birth mother's day approaching, I thought this would be a good time to discuss birth mother experiences. Laura and Sarah have been kind enough to speak with me in the past. Yvonne is here and I'm sure that each one of them could bring a great deal to the conversation today.

So I thank you for hosting and I thank the ladies for being here.

[00:04:25] Damon: Absolutely. So without further ado, ladies, we are here for you. So I'm going to start in this order as you appear on my screen. If you would introduce yourselves, Yvonne, go first, Sarah, if you'll follow, and then Laura, if you'll bring us home, please.

So Yvonne, go ahead.

[00:04:40] Yvonne: Very good. Thank you, Ed, for that. And I'm really interested in knowing that adoptees do want to know about the stories of birth moms. Thank you again for the statement. Yvonne Rivers. I do host a podcast as I'm about to say, who am I really? No, birth mom's real talk. And again, I, 1973, just paint the [00:05:00] picture.

1973, I placed my son in adoption, come from a dysfunctional family, didn't really have support. The only reason, the only reason, and knew that that was the toughest thing and hardest thing I've ever done in my life. And I've done some hard things. But the butt comes in or I should really say, and I never stopped loving my son.

Never stopped. Did not see him. I heard him, but did not see him. And I saw him for the first time and last time, 12 days after he was born. When I had to, had to, I was, I thought I had signed papers that the law firm is a private adoption through our attorney. And I went to attorney to dress him them.

And I had this yellow plaid blanket. he doesn't remember that. So I was hoping he knew where that blanket was. And I saw him for the first time and the last time [00:06:00] within that 15 minutes of time. And I etched his face in my mind and I held on to that for 45 years. And we met. For the first time in 2018, we've been in reunion for the past six years.

It's been a journey. I wouldn't trade it. It's been a roller coaster. It's thrown me off. It's run me over, but I'll do it all again.

[00:06:25] Damon: Thank you for that. Sarah, would you please.

Um, my baby was born in October of 1964 back in the day where, and I came from, as I told you, I came from Garrett Park, which was a very small community.

[00:06:41] Sarah: Everybody knew everybody and everybody was up in everybody's business. but my neighbors and the people who knew kept it very quiet for me. Which I was very appreciative of. I went to the Florence Crittenton home down at the border of DC and Maryland [00:07:00] down MacArthur Boulevard and they actually set it up for me to go With a family who was going to Maine for the summer so that nobody, I would just have gone away as an au pair, as far as anybody knew.

And I was very grateful to those people. Anyway, bottom line was I ended up having my baby and I thought I couldn't do anything else for him, but I could at least get him christened. Even though I'm not a church goer, I just felt that that would give him a little boost up. And so I did that. And then I gave him up for adoption when he was eight days old.

Fortunately, the woman who was my social worker She happened to go by on her way to work every day. She would go by Garrett Park, the one road in and out of Garrett Park, And she would stop where I was waiting for the bus to go to work. She would stop and give me an update on my son. And that was, that really, she didn't [00:08:00] have to do that. And it really was very special to me that she would do that.

She told me that he was a redhead. I was a redhead. She told, me that the people who were fostering him until six months, which in Maryland was, you had six months to change your mind, that he, that the people who were fostering him really wished that they could adopt him because he was such a good baby.

I had required that they make sure that both parents were educated, that they both had college degrees so that he'd have a better chance of having a good life. You know, who knows whether that would work or not. Anyway, that's the nutshell of my story.

[00:08:43] Damon: Thank you. Laura, how about you?

[00:08:46] Laura: I'm a birth mother.

I gave birth to a son when I was 17 years old. we were in New Orleans, an unwed mother's home there. When I got pregnant, my family was horrified. [00:09:00] They rushed me to an unwed mother's home, put me away, said, my mother said she would take care of the child, I could bring it back with me. It was almost like I was, well, I was coerced into going there.

And of course, once I got there, my father told me, No, you're not going to keep this child. You're too young and you can't let your mother raise him. She was already having issues with all of us kids. I had three younger brothers. Long story short, I gave birth to my son and I was told to never look for him.

Everything was such a secret at the mother's home. They wanted us to change our names. We couldn't mail anything to anyone. It was like we were criminals and we'd done the worst thing in the world. We were, in reality, we weren't bad girls. We were just girls. And so I went on with my life and moved to California within a year and a half.

[00:10:00] It was like the summer of love in 1967, but I didn't experience that at all. I experienced a totally different type of life at that time. I was so full of grief and anger and sadness were what had happened to me. And for 49 years, I kept that secret inside of me. I never told my other children, I didn't tell my friends in California, because of course I came here creating a whole different life for myself.

And I look back now and I realize I was so ashamed of that girl and what had happened. Because I loved that child. I wanted that child so badly. And I felt like I had done the worst thing in the world by leaving him. And by not fighting harder to keep him. I was just a kid though, when I looked back and realized that, but all those years, and he did reunite with me and like 2016, it was the best thing that ever happened.

We had a beautiful [00:11:00] reunion and that lasted for four and a half years. And three years ago, my son took his life and that was losing him a second and final time. And since then, I've learned so much from adoptees. And I'm so happy to know adopteeswho have told me what they go through and what they went through.

And, you know, even the ones with the great experiences have taught me things. I wish I'd known during our reunion, but I'm so grateful that we had those four and a half years. And I got to know the man that he had become.

[00:11:35] Damon: Wow. Thank you. And thanks to all of you for sharing just even these small pieces of your stories.

I know that they are not anywhere near what the complexity of your journey has been. So Ed, I'm going to start us off with the first question that I had, which is sort of staying with this theme the shame that you were exposed to and were forced to feel. I'm interested to know a little bit [00:12:00] about what I will loosely call the choice to either placeor relinquish your I'm interested in your choice of language here as well.

But you kno any opportunity to make s decision about adoption? what you were getting int a little bit more about t that you, some of you hav felt. And maybe Laura, I to start with you.

[00:12:26] Laura: A There was no decision making on my part. I was so young as a senior in high school. And in those days, the senior in high school, a 17 year old was not like the 17 year olds, you know, that my Children became and that my grandchildren have become.

We pretty much did what we were told. I had never worked except, you know, babysat maybe for my little brothers or for a neighbor. I had no means, even though I wanted to keep my child I had [00:13:00] a boyfriend who turned his back on me. I had parents who did not want to support the fact I wanted to keep my child.

And I felt I had nowhere to go. There was no services like are available now. And a young woman at that time could not even rent an apartment, even if I'd had the money and a job on her own. She had to have a husband. you know, I couldn't have a bank account. I couldn't, I didn't have any money.

Nowhere to go. No, I was never even asked pretty much once they made that decision that this was, had to be hidden. This was so bad what I'd done, what had I done to the family was the, pretty much the gist of it. And I look back now and I, I realized when I was writing my memoir, I revisited that time as an older, wiser woman as a grandmother.

And I realized that that girl didn't have much to do with this except go along with whatever was told to me. [00:14:00] And all those years I held that anger and shame of what I had done inside of me, and I was not happy with who I really was, and I couldn't even talk about it. I couldn't read about other adoptee stories or birth mother stories.

I bought The Girls Who Went Away and put it in a bookshelf and never opened it because it was too hurtful. So no, there was no choice on my part at all.

[00:14:26] Damon: And I heard you say That you were basically tricked. It sounds like your mother told you that if you go to this home, you can go there and have this baby and bring the baby home.

But in essence, they were trying to get you to the home and then the trick was there.

[00:14:41] Laura: That was what was said to me because in those days that did happen quite a bit. Mothers would raise their daughters, children, and like they were the mother. And of course that causes all kinds of issues. Plus my mother had.

Many issues. And you know, God bless her. She had, you know, she had enough going [00:15:00] on with her problems and then having four Children. So my father was wise and not wanting her to go through even more. And I know that my parents were very hurt by all this. I know that as a mother, as a grandmother, and I know how I felt when I first had my first grandchild and this was their first grandchild, That they were pretty much saying, you will leave this child here and I was told over and over again by the home by you know, the staff there because we all worked and I got to know I worked in the nursery.

I held the babies and fed them and I think back to that and I think how sick is that? You know, I mean, I'm leaving my baby and I'm having to, I mean, I love that though. I love those babies. I love them and I, I prayed that somebody would. Watch my child the way I watched over them. But [00:16:00] when I look back and I realized that we were put in these positions and we were told never search for this child.

It's closed adoption. There was no such thing as an open adoption. We would never know. I had no choice in who was going to adopt my child. I only knew it would probably be it was a Methodist home. So it would be a Methodist person more likely than anything. And it would be people who they approved of.

And I knew that most of the adoptive parents were from Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. So I always knew my son was probably back there, which he was. He was in Louisiana. And all those years when I would go back and visit, look for him in the crowds, in the airport in New Orleans.

I just had a feeling he was there somewhere.

[00:16:45] Speaker 19: that

[00:16:47] Laura: was a terrible time.

[00:16:50] Damon: I'm sorry you had to endure that. Sarah, tell me a little bit about your experience. Did you have any kind of information informed choice or [00:17:00] were you also and similarly coerced pressured out of keeping your son?

[00:17:05] Sarah: Now, I suppose you could only say the only pressure I had was the times this was in 64.

so society just said I was a bad person because I had done this. What really is always me is that the men weren't ever made to be bad people. It was just, oh, well, but I chose not to tell the birth father that he had a son because first of all, he was a scumbag. And I was, the only reason I got connected with him is that

I'd got broken up or he had broken up with the guy I thought I was going to marry. And he had led me to believe that. And then he shows up one Christmas with his now wife.

[00:17:49] Damon: Oh wow.

[00:17:49] Sarah: And yeah, yeah. So I'm not fond of that fellow. And as far as I'm concerned, he's a coward. That he couldn't at least come and say to me, [00:18:00] Hey, and he, I didn't realize that he knew, well, at that time he didn't know I had a child because I hadn't had it yet.

But he told my brother that he was bringing his, the woman he was going to marry, home for Christmas. And Bill was, my brother was the one who told me. And I'm so glad I didn't marry that man because he was an SOB. So anyway, bottom line is that I was feeling sorry for myself and I didn't think anybody liked me and that I would never have a husband and so on and so, and this guy was paying attention to me.

Plus he liked horses. Well, I'm a big horse fan. So, anyway, I just ended up A one night stand and I ended up pregnant was the right timing, I guess. Anyway. So I didn't tell my mother, I did tell my the mother of the guy I would thought I was going to marry because her daughter, my she was my [00:19:00] best friend.

And she helped me find Florence Crittenton. She helped me. with all of it, and was very supportive. then I had the baby. I, he was born early, so he was underweight, so I wasn't allowed to feed him, which made, of course, all the other young girls in the orphanage, or the, whatever. Jealous because they weren't allowed to hold their babies and I was able to feed my baby And I can understand why that would make them jealous.

I mean,

[00:19:33] Damon: yeah,

[00:19:34] Sarah: it was a little but anyway I walked him out and gave him up for adoption when he was eight days old I thought about him all the time, but I have never really tried to find him. I just fantasized that he's now about to be 60, and he's got grandchildren that he's playing with.

[00:19:53] Damon: So you are not in reunion with your son.

[00:19:56] Sarah: Correct. Yes.

[00:19:58] Damon: I see.

[00:19:59] Sarah: I did say [00:20:00] earlier that or my stepdaughter Michelle is a singer songwriter and she wrote a song called Mark Aaron was cause that was the name that I gave him and it was about my maybe having seen him in a, in a grocery store.

[00:20:15] Damon: Oh, wow.

[00:20:17] Sarah: Yeah.

So every time she sings that song, somebody will come up to her and say, boy, I'm adopted. Do you suppose that's my mother?

[00:20:29] Damon: Wow. So I think that's


Yvonne, tell me about your experience. did you have any good information? Were you coerced? Were, did you make the decision on your own? Tell me about your situation.

I was looking for choices. And what I mean by that, when I found out that I was pregnant, I went to first my mother and then my father and says, I'm pregnant and I got no response. When I say no response, [00:21:00] I mean like I'm looking at all four of you now. It's like I say something to you and you just don't respond.

[00:21:06] Speaker: You just look me and that's what I got. So I had to figure all this out myself. It's like, okay. I had a mentor in my life. We've been my mentor since I was like 16 years old. I was pre med, headed to medical school and he was my doctor and whatever. So I went to him. Cause when I found out, cause I really went to him and he told me I was pregnant and, and his first question, what are you going to do?

I don't know. Let me talk to my parents and got no response. Went back to him and says, I didn't get a response, but let me try one more time. And really. The choices I was looking for number one was to get support from my family to number one, be able to stay in the house, be able just to stay in the house and have to have my baby and raise my baby and got no even even commitment or whatever that I could stay there.[00:22:00]

So it was like, it was like the choices I was looking for choices. I didn't get it. I didn't have a choice. I didn't have a choice. I knew that number one, I just really finished all my coursework at my university and will be getting my degree like six months later. And did I have a job? Will be getting a job.

So when we talk about it, I heard someone said about six months or whatever. Six months would have made the difference for me. It would have made a difference for me because I would have been able to get a job and a degree and take care of my son. So with my mentor, who was also my doctor and he says to me that he knew of a family who had been trying to have a child for a number of years and had not.

And he has, he's like, say, know me since I was 16. He said, they'll give your child a good home. And so I went that direction. I, I said, and came back and told my parents. You know, I was like I was talking, keeping them up to date, still not getting a response. Oh, I'm going to have my child. I don't think I [00:23:00] even said I was placing for adoption.

And then when Ford's estate went back into the house, so I was in the house. No one went by the home. Remember now, in 1973, And in case you don't know, I'm black. All right. And so there were no admittance into birth mother's home. I just out of five years in high school, desegregation, 1964 civil rights act, whatever.

So it, well, a lot of things were not available to me. And so that being said, I stayed at home through the whole pregnancy. Went to the hospital, had my child. No one visited me. No one even asked to have a boy or girl. I came back home and announced I have a son. I have a son. So I always acknowledged I had the son.

Nothing was ever said or asked or whatever. My parents are how I passed for a number of years. My oldest brother passed away two years ago to all of them. The one other brother who's surviving. They have not spoke of that [00:24:00] since 1917.

[00:24:01] Damon: Unreal. folks feel like if they don't talk about something, it doesn't exist.

[00:24:06] Speaker: Right. You're

[00:24:07] Damon: talking about a whole human.

[00:24:09] Speaker: Yes. Right. Their first and only grandson with my parents. You know, so it was like, I mean, really, literally, a lot of people, and I tell my stories like they said, no, they ain't say nothing. They said, no, they ain't say nothing.

[00:24:24] Damon: Ed I'm going to turn it over to you. I hope you have the next question that we wanted to ask available. Well,

[00:24:29] Ed: I think the three of you have had obviously the same experience, but quite differently. And I guess I would ask you, can you, talk a little bit about the, who helped with the facilitating your child's adoption?

And did you have any role in selecting or, or choosing where and when that child went?

[00:24:55] Yvonne: Well, as you heard me say that my mentor, my doctor. Was the [00:25:00] one who recommended this couple. and he was my help. I called him my angel. Unfortunately he passed away last July at the age of nine five, but in the period of time we've been in, and I found him again.

So we were in reunion with him for the last five years. And so by him suggesting this family, that was really what I had. I trusted him. And he provided that opportunity, even though that was secondary for me, because that's not what I wanted, and just, I mean, back up that the birth father was, had just come back from Vietnam, not the way he went.

So he was not capable of really helping with anything. So first of all, I went to my parents, first, my mother, then my father and then I went to him and he was not in a position or whatever struggling with his own issues, with his own issues. So he was not part of the picture. What have to be able to help with that.[00:26:00]

But along with it, when the suggestion of this family that I considered being vetted or whatever by my doctor, it was like, okay, okay. Quite frankly, my doctor was the agent that facilitated and got the attorney and whatever he, he was, he was my support there because without him helping me with all of that, I don't know what, cause number one, I'm looking at, I'm pregnant.

My parents are not telling me I can stay there, then I can help me and whatever. So I'm like wondering what I'm going to do, where I'm going to go or where, how I was going to be. And that's why I called him to his, to his face until he passed away. You are my angel.

[00:26:41] Ed: And, and when he directed you toward that other family, were you happy and trusting to accept his direction at that point?


[00:26:48] Yvonne: absolutely. Yeah. He was my mentor for a number of years. He's known me since I was 13, 14, 15 years old. And by him saying that, and what I felt. Found out later. I didn't know at that time. I didn't find [00:27:00] out until after I found my son in 2018. So shortly after that, I started looking for him. I knew he'd be older, whatever.

And I found him. And so we saw him. We would have meetings. He would send me flowers on Mother's Day and what he shared with me. He had grew up in a foster home. I did not know that until recent times. And he would say to me, he would say to me, I know what you're going through. I know what you're going through.

And sure enough, as I say, he would send me flowers on Valentine's day. And Mother's Day, the years that we were in the union before he passed away.

[00:27:36] Ed: Wow, that's great. Thank you. Laura, do you want to talk a little bit about that? I know you were coerced into that home. Once you were there, did you have any agency in, in where your, your son would ultimately wind up?

[00:27:51] Laura: Yes. No the way it happened was, my mother, I didn't tell anyone. And, and, because I had this. I was, you know, naive. [00:28:00] I kept thinking, I told the father who wanted, he was joining the army. He was leaving college to join the army because he wanted to impress his father. He, his father and him were always at odds.

And I always think to myself, you'd rather join the army and go to Vietnam than marry me. and help take care of this child. so that made me feel even worse, because not only have I done this with this person that wants nothing to do with me, but then now I have to deal with it alone. So I didn't tell anyone.

My mother finally confronted me. And I think I was like about three and a half months pregnant and she confronted me. and told me immediately I could not go to school anymore because back then you could not go to school pregnant. That was like unheard of. And I never even saw a pregnant teacher at my school.

So I know that that was everything was hush hush about pregnancy and we were very naive about it. All of the girls that were at the home were very naive about there [00:29:00] was no classes. We didn't know what was going on unless we tried to research ourselves, what was going on. But what happened was my father's minister told him about this home in New Orleans.

And so that is how I got there. And then once I was there, I pretty much was just another cog in the machine, girls going through the process. I do not remember a social worker. I do not remember ever talking to a therapist or a counselor. I don't think there was such a thing there.

And we just kind of waited our time out. We did different jobs. like I said, I, working in the nursery actually was one of the better jobs. So I was happy I had that job. But the point was, I was never allowed to even question what kind of family my son would go to. I do remember being told by the lady who admitted us what a wonderful thing I was doing because by that time I was hysterical because I realized here I am being, you know, put in this place.[00:30:00]

And she said, I'm doing a wonderful thing because they were going to put this child with a Christian family And they were going to be good people. And all I could think of was we were good people, you know, our family, we were not bad people and I was not a bad person. And it was like an insulting thing to say, we're taking this trial and putting in a much better place than, you know, and that's how I perceived it as a young woman.

So, no, there was no choice at all. And nobody ever, you know, the records were sealed up until I think it was like two years ago. And you don't know what happened to your child. Your child doesn't know who you are. And it's you are connected. I, I don't care what anyone says. There is that connection.

And to be told you'll forget this, how can you tell a woman who's going to give birth that you'll forget this? I saw my son three times [00:31:00] after. He was born and the third time I snuck over to the home with my brother driving me, he was 16 and he drove me over to New Orleans. It was a two hour drive.

I knew my parents would be furious if they knew. I was lucky I worked in the nursery because the nurse who I worked with was on duty. It was a Sunday afternoon. She allowed me to hold my son. It was the most incredible thing. I remember it to this day, and when I left, something inside of me changed, and I realized he was three weeks old, and I realized that this would be the last time I'd probably ever see him.

And I took his little birth card off of the bassinet and put it in my pocket. It happened all those years. I would take it out on his birthday, and this little thing, ritual I did privately. My husband knew, thank God, my husband knew, because when he found me, that would have been a huge [00:32:00] surprise, my husband, but it was just, that birth card kept me going.

Because I would sometimes even think as the years went by, did it, did that really happen? You know, did it really happen? And I would look at his card, and just hold it like it was a piece of him, because it was. It was my. My salvation, that little piece of card. It just had his birth name, his crib name on it.


[00:32:28] Ed: Thank you. Sarah, what about you? Did you have any, any support or any opportunity to, to provide input as to where you would like to see your son land? Yeah, per se. I know you said you, you wanted him christened and was there, is there anything more than that?

[00:32:48] Sarah: Yeah, as I said, the the woman who is.

My caseworker, would stop by on her way to work as I was waiting for the bus and she would give me updates on him. I was able to [00:33:00] say that I wanted him to go to a family that had both parents had gone to college. And yeah, I, I was able to give quite a bit of input into where Mark went. but it doesn't make it any easier.

I mean, because, and I have had no contact with him. So he just appeared in my, from my life, but I also had support in the neighborhood because I'm sure there were a number of people who knew that I was pregnant and that that was why I'd gone off as an au pair to Maine for the summer, that kind of thing.

They just very politely didn't say anything. But when I was I went, went into the Peace Corps when I was in my late twenties and they sent a couple of FBI guys around the neighborhood and they went up to one woman and asked her if they knew anything about my sex life and the woman looked at him and said, I don't know my children.

I should know my [00:34:00] neighbor.

And then they went to another neighbor and the other neighbor said, out, you get out of my house right now. And that was it. So I had a lot of support in my neighborhood.

[00:34:12] Ed: That was great. You're very fortunate. I think.

[00:34:14] Sarah: Very

[00:34:15] Damon: unreal,

[00:34:17] Sarah: but I do miss him.

[00:34:19] Speaker 22: Sarah, could I ask you, you know, you said your stepdaughter has, has written a song about him and I guess it, it maybe that answers the question.

How frequently do you think back and think about him? You know, it's been all these years you've had no contact whatsoever, but you know, how, how often does that reminder raise up to you?

[00:34:40] Sarah: I don't know, about once a month or so, he'll surface up into my mind. Okay. Yeah, but what kind of what kind of

[00:34:49] Speaker 22: things trigger those thoughts?

[00:34:52] Sarah: father with his child or a mother with his or with his son something like that. Now, I grew [00:35:00] up, my father was killed in the second world war, so I grew up in a household without a father figure, although my, my mother's brother would try to fill in the void, but he was He was an army officer and so he wasn't around that often.

So anyway, my mother, I thought she would just be hysterical. And I told her the news and I said, I need you to sit down while I tell you this news. Now I was older than you two ladies. I was in my twenties. So, I had a little more grownup stability than you did. And I, sat her down and I said, And she said, Oh my God, she said, you always tell me that you've got something serious to say, and it's not serious.

But that was it. And then she said, okay, now we have to go and get pregnancy clothes and stuff like that. And just went on from there. So she was very supportive. She used to come pick me up from the hospital. [00:36:00] facility on the weekends and take me for a country drive. So again, she was very supportive.

[00:36:08] Ed: Yvonne, could I ask the same thing? You went for 40 odd years without any contact with your son. how frequently did his face come up in your, in your dreams?

[00:36:19] Yvonne: Can I tell you something that I stink? I think about him every day up to this day, up to this day. There's a picture of him and I here on my desk.

I think of him one way or another every day of my life whether it's, I see the picture and I think back to the the day we took the picture he's got kids now and no, whatever the season is, his son plays football. So I'll think of, okay, does does he have camp? Is he playing football or whatever else he's he's in business?

Just like I am. He does the same thing or whatever. So it's one form or another every day, every day of my life. So it's. October 11, [00:37:00] 1973.

[00:37:01] Ed: Thank you, Laura. I

[00:37:02] Laura: think of my son every day. I always have. And one thing that really touched me and made me aware of what adoptees go through is I did a podcast about a year, before my book was published and it was about family secrets and I'd never done a podcast.

It was Danny Shapiro. And when I did that podcast, I didn't even know much about podcasts. It was like in 2019. And within probably two days, I must have had over a hundred emails. It blew my mind. It came through that my very new website, which I just had created. And the question that I was asked over and over was, is it true you thought of your child every day?

And [00:38:00] it made me think, oh my God, I never thought he was thinking about me. I always thought here I am thinking about him. And once we did reunite, he said to me, I didn't really want to find you because I, I really didn't have a need to find you. And it hurt my feelings at first, but I just swallowed it and thought, it's okay.

We found each other. That's all that matters now. As time went on, we became very honest with each other and we didn't walk on eggshells anymore. And he said, I thought about you every day. And he said, and I wondered where you were, who you were. He had been told I was 14 when I had him.

The records were wrong. he thought I had been raped or something horrible had happened for me to become pregnant at such a young age. And I assured him I was, you know, very compliant. I was a 17 year old with a boyfriend. It was not like [00:39:00] rape. And I said, I, you were, I was in love with my boyfriend and I thought we would love you and it had nothing to do with, with any of that.

I never had a hard feeling towards you, even if that had been the case, you were my child I was still a child, but you were my child I loved you from the beginning. And I did think of you every day. I would wake up just like I think of my other sons every day. And he was my secret son is who he was. it touched me to think to learn because here I was so naive about that side of the story. I only thought about my side of the story. And how hurt I was and how damaged I was over this. I had no self esteem after that happened. I went from a normal teenager with good grades and a great high school experience.

And all of a sudden I felt like I was less than everyone else. And that is a feeling that I carried for [00:40:00] many years. And so I thought, this is what's happening to me. And then to learn that that was happening to him and other people who had been adopted. whether they had a good experience or not. They wondered who was this woman, gave birth to me and why did she leave me?

[00:40:18] Damon: Yeah, Laura, you queued up exactly what I wanted to get to next, which is the recovery of a birth mother. You have gone from being not a mother and a young woman. And I'm saying you in the Royal, you, you, Yvonne, Sarah, and Laura, you've gone from a moment in time of not being a mother to suddenly you are pregnant Going through this transitional process of, carrying this child, nurturing yourself and the child, giving birth, and then the child is gone and you're made to feel like a bad girl.

You've been coerced and put under pressure. You've had no information about where this child is [00:41:00] going. I mean, I can't even imagine the mental anguish, let alone the physical changes that a woman's body goes through in order to bring a child into the world. I'm curious from each of you, if you would tell me a little bit about what your recovery like, because Laura, as you started to say, there was a lot of mental anguish and I would love if, would you mind just elaborating a little bit on that for us, please?

[00:41:26] Laura: Oh, not at all. What happened was my parents. Just like Yvonne, my parents would not talk to me about it. So they took me home two days after my son was born. And here I am going through all the anguish of leaving him. I'm begging them at this point to turn the car around. I'm telling them I will live at the home and take care of this.

That's how naive I was. I thought I could just keep my job, you know, but I

[00:41:54] Speaker 19: couldn't.

[00:41:54] Laura: But I wanted to stay there with him. And I was afraid he [00:42:00] wouldn't be adopted. So I had this mental anguish about, I don't know why I worried about him not being adopted right away. I think it's because I had seen other babies stay longer, and then I'd seen some be adopted quickly.

And I didn't know what I wanted. Did I want him to be adopted right away? So that I would for sure not be able to see him. Nobody told you you could change your mind. There was nobody that said to me, Oh, you know, this is, you can change your mind as I signed the papers. Nobody counseled us on that. And I learned years and years later, there was this, this grace period that you could, you know, go back, but my parents wouldn't go back.

So I was mentally going through so much emotionally, my body. I went through a lot of problems with my body because I had a very hard birth and and I didn't even realize it at the time. And I, I just recently saw some paperwork that my son's wife sent to me. [00:43:00] She sent me a bunch of stuff since, you know, he's passed away.

I've gotten quite a few things from her. And one of them were, was paperwork his parents had. And it said birth normal. It was not normal. I've had other children. It was not a normal birth. And the thing is, everything was so crazy back then that we were, We couldn't even express ourselves, at least in my house, because they wouldn't talk about it.

They'd change the subject, they'd turn away from me, they would tell, get angry with me. I couldn't even talk to my grandmother about it, who lived next door. I couldn't talk, there wasn't, I never had a counselor or therapist. And, so, I was going through physical, mental, and emotional problems that I had to work out on my own.

Which I think that was very typical at that time. Even though I went on to have really good things happen in my life, I had a lot of hard things too, but nothing as hard as that. Like Yvonne said, that is like, that is up there with the most traumatic, horrible [00:44:00] thing that I ever had to live through. And it's right up there again after losing him a second time.

But. I had to push through that by myself. And I think so many of us young women did back then that we could either like, just let it define us forever, or just kind of shove it down inside. I was so secretive that years later, when I went to therapy with my first marriage you know, couples therapy, I never told the therapist that it happened to me.

I didn't even tell when I went to with one of my sons therapy, With a teenager type thing, parent child type thing. I would never ever tell anyone what I went through. I went through a grief counseling after my parents both died. And never told a grief counselor that I lived through that.

I carried it inside of me like a stone in my heart. My husband knew, thank God, he was like a rock. I could talk to him about it, [00:45:00] my second husband. But I couldn't tell anyone. I feel bad for, for women who went through that because I know how hard it was. Once my son discovered me, I went immediately from holding that down to wanting to say to the world, we have a son, he's found me.

And I was so overjoyed. I was manic about it. It was like this son he's here with me now. And it was just, it was a beautiful, beautiful thing because I realized how much it had hurt me. And it affected me all my life.

[00:45:34] Damon: What happened to the stone in your heart when you found him?

[00:45:37] Laura: Oh, it was lifted. It was, I can't even put it into words.

I'm supposed to be able to, I'm a writer. I'm supposed to be able to tell you, but it was glorious feeling. You know what it felt like? Felt like when you bring your baby home, I felt this with all of my sons. I mean, it's like you bring that baby [00:46:00] home and you hold him, you count his little fingers and toes.

And you feel like, this is my son. I, my child is part of me. He's, you know, I, I created him inside of me. You know, this is, it's just, there's nothing like that feeling There's nothing like that feeling. And I felt it again, but here was the greatest part. He was a grown man. He was 49 years old. I got to see what happened here's what happened to that son. he was so much like me. All those years. I thought he was like his father. I would visualize a blonde haired man with blue eyes come, you know, driving up to my parents house. I always had this fantasy and he would ask for me at the door. It would, then my fantasy went away.

And I remember when Katrina hit, my parents lost their home. They lost everything on the Gulf coast. And I remember thinking one of the first things I thought was, well, he'll never drive up to that house. Cause [00:47:00] that house is gone. You know, and I thought, well, maybe this means I'll never find him. In actuality, he looked like me and he, he was the one who found me on the internet who could have ever dreamed of such a thing in 1967.

[00:47:16] Damon: Right. Right. Wow. Sarah, how about for you? Tell me about your recovery in the aftermath, both mentally and physically, your, what were some of your challenges and how did you overcome them?

[00:47:30] Sarah: Okay. As I said, compared to the other two ladies in a way, mine was, I was supported all along as far as physically, because I've always been slim and always been athletic.

and Mark was born underweight and a month early, so I really didn't have much pregnancy fat to lose. But I did start out by doing my exercises every [00:48:00] day while I was, even when I was still in the facility, so I could wear my favorite dress home. And that, I suppose, was in a way because people then wouldn't know.

I'm sure most of Garrett Park knew that I'd had a baby, but they just were being very polite and not making any mention of it.

As, like Laura and Yvonne, I've missed my son all these years, and I've made up stories about what he's doing, like envisioning him now with his grandchildren and that he's had a good career, whatever he did. I'm a writer, like Laura, and I've got a lot of writers in my family. so I expect that Mark has some kind of uh, artistic bent. Or at least I like to fantasize with that. And he may also be athletic because a lot of people in my family were athletic.

I finally, thanks to my [00:49:00] husband, have gotten over the fact that I'm a bad girl.

[00:49:03] Damon: Hmm. How did he help you with that?

[00:49:06] Sarah: Because he supported me. He just always has said that I'm a good person. And when somebody, and my stepchildren all say I'm a good person. I mean, after they got out of their teenage years, and then nobody's a good person.

[00:49:22] Damon: But, but you said your husband finally helped you. How long did that take?

[00:49:28] Sarah: You know, that's a hard question to ask. I'm almost 83. So, from the time I was I think I was 24 when I got pregnant. That's a long time that you just, You just go about your life and what when I met Dale and he announced that he had four children I thought, well, you know what, that's a good thing because I always wanted to have children.

And somehow I think it helped me a lot that I had four wounded stepchildren to take care of. [00:50:00]

[00:50:00] Speaker 21: And,

[00:50:01] Damon: you. What was your mental and physical recovery like? Because if I recall correctly, you said you were taken to the hospital. Nobody came to see you?

[00:50:13] Yvonne: I drove myself to the hospital. I drove myself to the hospital.

That's right.

[00:50:17] Damon: You did say you drove yourself to the hospital. I

[00:50:20] Speaker: drove myself to the hospital. No one came to visit. They came to pick the car up at the emergency room.

And recovery. Let me preface this too. Even before becoming pregnant with my son, I knew I was in a dysfunctional family. And that not being validated was there probably since the time I was 10 or 11. And so I recognize that I didn't have the word for it. I didn't know what it was, but I just knew this is not right.

And so it was nothing new that my family abandoned or wasn't speaking. That was just a norm. And so when I went to my parents and he didn't really [00:51:00] respond. And so my recovery after leaving the hospital, as I say that day really turning him over to a stranger from a law firm. And if you call this Damon, is that I knew I wanted my son to know who I was and why, because I knew whoever, of him knowing and knowing and understanding to what my doctor being personal, knowing me and being my doctor it's only so much he could share.

So like he shared for his who the family was not, not who the family was, but it was a family who would want it. So I trust him on that. Likewise. And I say, and I think I said it in the podcast, you recorded David, is that doing the signing of the papers in the law firm, probably about two weeks after. He was born and I'll make this note.

I left the hospital not only just without my son. I left the hospital without any record. He was even [00:52:00] born. I never had his certificate.

[00:52:03] Speaker 21: Those adoptions

[00:52:03] Speaker: state of Virginia. I testified in general assembly this year, trying to open these birth certificates. I'd have no record that I had him. And so knowing that and knowing that I wanted him to know the story, wanted him to know the story.

And I'd say back in the day, they had, they had phone books. So while I'm in that law firm, that a paralegal, and I call it, it was a guy thing, nothing but a guy thing. Paralegal leaves that office, leaves that conference room, and there's a yellow Manawa envelope on the table, and it had a last name. That name was etched in my mind.

I just remembered that. And so I, I, after coming home back to my family's home and working on a farm. So that's what I came back to. And I looked in the phone book and wrote a letter to every person with that last name and just explaining who I was. And I had placed my son and I want you to let him know that I loved him.

It [00:53:00] wasn't because I didn't want him and whatever, and had put the phone number. of my parents house and the doctor mom called me before 30 days. Before within 30 days, the mother called and the first thing she asked was, do you want him back? And I said, I wish I could. I simply wrote that to let you know the circumstance.

And I want you to share it with him, please. To let him know he was not, he was loved. He was not abandoned or whatever. Unfortunately. They didn't tell him. He found out he was adopted when he was 13 years old. they ended up having two other biological sons after they adopted him. And apparently they're just, I guess his kids will sit looking up on the bed or whatever.

He found this piece of paper that had my full name on it. He went to his parents and says, what is this? Cause I didn't [00:54:00] name my son. It was baby boy rivers. So he saw this. And obviously maybe he had his birthday on it. So he knew it related to him, went to his parents and said, well, what is this? You are adopted.

Those three words that he related all this to me after we met each other in reunion.

[00:54:18] Speaker 19: I

[00:54:19] Speaker: said, do you ever say anything else? Never spoke of it. Never gave him any information.

[00:54:25] Damon: So what was your, time after his birth? Like You've signed these papers, legally signing him over to other parents, you've taken the steps to actually remember this name you've seen at the law office, etch it in your mind, write letters to everybody in the phone book, and you have spoken with this person, and you have gotten off your chest what you needed to say.

Yes. I want you to tell him he was loved, he was not abandoned. Yes. But you still are a young woman less than 30 days out from this pregnancy that you just delivered and you've now lived a [00:55:00] full life. Tell me what was the recovery like? In the aftermath, physically, mentally, what did you go through in these?

Let's talk

[00:55:07] Speaker: about physically, because I think a lot of times it's not even addressed. Number one, by my mom not being, being verbal, you know, she'd be in the room, you wouldn't know she's there. I didn't know what was happening to my body. You know, because it was like when I drove myself first, my older brother took me to the hospital and said, I think I'm in, I think I'm in labor.

I don't even know. So the first time he went there and said it wasn't time. So he left the house after he had brought me back home. So when the pains really did start, that's when I had to drive myself. And so here I am number one, recovering from birth, from having a birth, you know, and I I never had other children.

Got married, but never had two other miscarriages, never had other Children. And so number one, the recovery physically. Then mentally that was October of 1973. So here was I finished my coursework. So here I'm back at home knowing that I'm going to finish the [00:56:00] next May and get my degree and really be looking for work to get out of that house because that was the whole thing.

Even back in high school, I knew I had to get away even before coming pregnant because that environment was, I knew I had to get out of that. So likewise, Soon as I could, as soon as I could got my own place. So that's why I make the statement that six months, if my parents had said, well, you got six months, you can stay here.

My son would not have been adopted. Would have not.

[00:56:33] Speaker 19: So

[00:56:33] Speaker: during that period of time, first of all, of that, and really going out into the world, getting a job, I would have never forgot about it. Never forgot about it. And I would have conversations, and I would share when the topic would come up. So I didn't stuff it like a lot of birth moms did.

I always acknowledge and a couple of certain things, coworker and whatever thinks she was a family adoption. She mentioned that [00:57:00] she just had found her mother or father and her mother and made a comment to me while we're driving is like, I don't understand why a mother would just give me up or get placed me in adoption or whatever.

And I said, I do because I've had a child. And I told her story. So when the opportunity exists, I will share about it. So I really, I have to say, boys, maybe I'm a little different than some other birth moms. I got, I refused to accept the shame during the time I was growing up because I got that rejection from my family even before giving birth, even before getting pregnant.

And I fought against that because I knew And I never called myself a bad girl, never called myself a bad girl because I knew I was worthy because what I said in that letter I said for is if I talked about the birth father, he just come back from Vietnam. He was really struggling himself. He wasn't able to help.

I finished college in three years pre med. [00:58:00] Separate to medical school. So I'm like going, and this is what I put in a letter to let the adoptive parents know I'm not just some floozy over here. I'm not just one night stand or whatever. This is who I am. And along with it, when I said that, because my son has my DNA.

So I'm like speaking existence to who he is. And the beauty of all this reunion, the past six years, he is so much like me. So much like me. We last had a conversation probably about a month ago, and I get a little deep in time. One thing he brought up, Mark Twain. He says to me, he said, the two most important days of your life is the day you're born and the day you realize why.

That's our conversation. Because recognizing his birthday as an adoptee is Thoughts about his birth and I tell him his birthday is my mother's day because the day he was born was the day I became a mother.

[00:58:55] Damon: Yeah

[00:58:57] Speaker: Parent with him open honest [00:59:00] and let him know that birth bond. We had nearly 51 years ago That's still there.

He is of my dna. He will say that I am of your dna To no one

[00:59:13] Speaker 22: Yeah, I guess the question is what progress have we made over the years? You know, all, all of you, myself included, Damon included, are, you know, we're, we're not out of the 1990s or out of the 40s and 60s and 70s. And to what degree have, you know, have social attitudes been, I guess, influenced by, you know, those old baby scoop era perceptions and to what degree have they changed?

[00:59:40] Speaker: Not much. If you ask me, can I say that? Cause you heard me mention about Virginia. My son was born in Virginia and Virginia is still a closed state. I testified in front of the Senate and the general assembly virtually to open up the birth certificate. It got further this year than it ever has. It got out of the committee and got to the Senate, past the house and [01:00:00] then to the Senate.

And I'm testifying. And a senator says to me, well, children born out of wedlock are illegitimate. If I could have come through that computer, I would have come through that computer. Because that's societal. This is 2024.

[01:00:17] Speaker 22: Goes back to the shame and the secrecy again.

[01:00:20] Speaker: Yep.

[01:00:21] Speaker 22: It's also stigma and

[01:00:22] Damon: bias though, right?

This is the perception of somebody else

[01:00:26] Speaker 22: because

[01:00:27] Damon: of what he learned, what he has perpetuated and therefore just holds on to without giving any kind of true consideration to what a human life is, Regardless of whether it was conceived in marriage or outside, still a person. Yeah, I'm sorry, Sarah, you were going to say something.

[01:00:48] Sarah: the first thing I was going to say was that because now we've gotten Roe v. way, then we're getting all these states they're going back to before Roe v. Wade, as far as I can see in these [01:01:00] states.

There is a good chance that the stigma of having a child out of wedlock will come back, at least in my view. And I just find that reprehensible. But the other thing is that I don't know that they do it now, but back when I gave markup for adoption, I don't remember being asked about health issues that the child might inherit and never know about and all of a sudden have a heart attack or come out with diabetes or whatever.

And I think it's very important that we make sure that the people involved in giving up children. Let the adoptive parents know about the health issues.

[01:01:46] Damon: Laura, how about you?

[01:01:48] Laura: I agree with Yvonne. I, I don't think it's changed as much as I thought it had. The more I've gotten involved with different organizations. Like last [01:02:00] year, I was at that retreat and I heard so many young birth mothers who had been treated badly. Because they were pregnant. I mean, these are young women.

They're in their 20s. This is happening now who were coerced, told they weren't good enough, in so many words, to be a mother right now, that their child should be given to a family. They were told a lot of the same things I was told. I was in shock. I don't I'm not saying that there should not be adoption because I know there's a place for adoption, but I feel like women still aren't being given the choice that they need to be able to say this is what I want and to have organizations that will help them.

And there are some now, thank goodness there aren't enough, but there are some that if a woman wants to be a mother, she should be allowed to be a mother. I believe women should be allowed to make [01:03:00] that choice themselves. And I do agree with Sarah too, that We're going backwards in some ways. I've never had an abortion, but I feel like if a woman wants to have an abortion, she has that right to make that decision.

And if we're going to take away that, if we're going to take away birth control, and that could be the next step. That is so to me, that is so archaic. I know what it feels like to not have a choice. I know what it did to me and I know what it did to my son. at the same time, it's very complicated because I did go on to have my other sons who.

You know, God forbid, I can't imagine not having them. it changed the direction of my life, having that child and not being able to take care of him. I married the wrong person because I, like Sarah, thought I was damaged, that nobody wanted me. And along comes the wrong person looking for the wrong, looking for love in the wrong places.

I'm looking for love in the wrong places. So we end up together [01:04:00] and have these three beautiful sons and a terrible marriage. Thankfully, I got to keep the sons, because he disappears, and went on to have, meet the love of my life, who had two children, and together we raised five. So, I've had a really good life, and I know the direction would have been different.

I probably would have stayed in Mississippi if I had been able to keep my son. I'm sure I probably would have still been there right now, and had a totally different life. So, it's very complicated, but at the same time, I know I was a good mother. Because only 15 months later I had my second son and I was a good mother to him and I was not that much older.

So I feel like women deserve that chance and I don't think that the changes are what I thought they were. Before I once, once I started talking to other birth mothers. Once I opened up and they, you know, told me their feelings and then we start talking about how we didn't have a choice. And then I meet these young birth mothers last October.

And I'm thinking that I thought [01:05:00] that world was gone and it's not, and I felt bad for them.

[01:05:06] Damon: You're hearing the same things should change. You're hearing the same things that you heard 50 odd years ago. Still today in the same form. It's, it is really disheartening.

[01:05:16] Speaker: And adding to that, some of the opposition of opening up the OBCs is actually was said, back again, back to societal, is that birth moms didn't, never wanted to meet their children.

I never signed anything that said that. They, they decided, and I use they, whoever they is, they decided, of course, with the shame or whatever you wouldn't dare want. No, you lie. I never said that. And they've put that on birth moms of why they've got these closed records and they don't want to open them because one, one Senator even said, well, what if, what happened if we open them up and then actually an adoptee want to meet the mom and then it's open [01:06:00] and then.

Then the mom will sue the state. It's like you're looking for litigation and I will make this state. I'll stand on this state, whether an adoptee searches or not. And this is a question to you, you, Damon, you and Ed, whether they search or not something, sometimes most of the time, most of the time, I want to say 100 percent most of the time that adoptee thinks of their birth parents, whether they're going to search or not is a different story.

But they think of it because back again with mirroring, who am I really? When you look in the mirror, who do I look?

[01:06:35] Speaker 21: Yeah.

[01:06:35] Speaker: Looking for some sense of where did this come from? Where did that come from? To me, that's a natural thing.

[01:06:42] Damon: reply there in terms of us thinking about our birth parents?

[01:06:47] Speaker 22: Well, you know, I've always been the one to say, I did not every day think about who my mother might've been. I can tell you very honestly, I virtually never thought of who my dad might've been when, when all the searching went [01:07:00] on, I found out my dad probably never knew that he had a son. So, so that was all right, but you know, but I, I did think of her and, and I think also when it came time to, to finally search as late as it was, I really sat down and thought, now how do I go in and approach this woman if I found her alive?

You know, and, and when I didn't, I guess, yeah, I, I was terribly disappointed because really my, my desire to meet my birth mother was to tell her she had done a good thing and that everything she wanted for me, she got back 110%. Mm-Hmm. . Okay. And yes. Sadly, that didn't happen. But yeah, I, having thought how I could delicately approach her, I just went storming through the door when I met my half brother, you know, and he's still, his head is still spinning thinking mama didn't tell me, and I, I know she would have, but that, that didn't happen.

He's finally convinced that, we are brothers, but [01:08:00]

[01:08:00] Damon: that's incredible. I guess for me, similar to Ed. I didn't think about my birth mother early. But I think I can speak for a lot of adoptees in that that doesn't mean that she wasn't on my mind.

And what I mean by that is when you know that you're adopted, you, you can't really escape.

It's like, it's a thing you can't unsee. You can't unhear it. And, and I want to like, and I think many adoptee experiences to what many birth mother experiences is you push it down, right? If you're not ready to address it, You're going to go on with your life and I will deal with that later, right? When things slow down, when I get more money to search, when I feel like I've got an opportunity to really dig into this, where am I emotionally?

When you are able to get through some of those elements of your life, then you will start to dig in. And a lot of adoptees, they jump in and they go hard. But what I'm trying to tell you is that there's a lot of adoptees out there that I believe [01:09:00] are also pushing down their adoption the same way that birth mothers feel they need to push down the fact that they have given birth and don't know where their child is.

So I want to make sure you guys hear me clearly. Just because an adoptee says I didn't think about you every day doesn't mean we're not thinking about you. We're probably pushing it down in a way that we're not able to acknowledge until we're ready to acknowledge it. Do you see what I'm saying? So the other thing to is the converse of the birth mother experiences.

When you give birth to us, you are that much older than us. You have the cognitive ability to think back. I had that experience, right, Laura? You're able to sit there and look at that card and wonder, did that really happen to me? And you are able to have those memories, whereas the memories that we are often born into are the ones that come from.

everything we can remember after we were adopted, [01:10:00] right? So we don't have that recollection of remember that day I was born and then I didn't get to see my birth mom again. You don't have that as an infant. And so it takes time for us to build up the cognitive recognition of what adoption actually means that I was raised in this family, but I was actually born over here by these two people.

There's some serious contemplation that has to come from a person in order to get to a place of recognizing what adoption is and then diving into to hope to, you know, trying to find just

[01:10:32] Yvonne: as I said that my son found out when he was 13, From 13, it was, he was 42 when I found him, it took him three years in the time of me finding him.

And I didn't know at this time, he knew who I was when I reached out on social media, but it took him three years to then call me back and says he was ready.

[01:10:56] Damon: That's right. There you go. This has been a [01:11:00] wonderful conversation. I'm going to leave the final comments to you ladies. If you would think about what advice you would give to any young woman who might hear your voice today, speaking to basically your younger self in her version, what would you say to her?

Sarah, I'm going to start with you. What would you tell a younger woman today who finds herself pregnant and is considering adoption or is being coerced into adoption? Perhaps I should say,

[01:11:26] Sarah: that's a hard question to answer. I think that what I would say, though, is if you're in a position financially and emotionally capable of raising a son or a daughter by yourself, then go for it.

Keep the child. Otherwise, one of the reasons I gave my son up for adoption was that I wasn't ready. And I didn't have, I wasn't even through with college and I didn't have the money to support a child. I [01:12:00] thought I, he would be better off with a family who could support him and give him the love of music and other stuff that I love.

that's what I would tell pregnant girl now And also don't feel that you're evil. You got yourself into a situation that you got yourself into, but does not make you evil.

[01:12:23] Damon: I love that. Laura, how about for you?

[01:12:27] Laura: I would tell a young woman who is pregnant and afraid to not be afraid that if they really want to be a mother, they can be a mother in this day and age.

There are organizations that will help you, will support you and help you find a job, finish your education. You just have to find those and they are there. met a few when I was at a couple of different events with different birth mother events. And I know [01:13:00] that you're afraid, but don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't be a mother.

If that is what you really want to be. There is no greater pain. In my heart, I've ever experienced than leaving my son and I know he went to good people and I thank them every day that they gave him a good life. But at the same time, I know he missed me and I missed him. I wish I could have been his mother had all those 49 years with him.

[01:13:35] Sarah: Could I add one more thing?

[01:13:38] Laura: Of course.

[01:13:38] Sarah: I think one of the things that made my healing easier was when I met my husband, he said, I have four children. And I thought, hot damn, I've always wanted to have a family. So I was thrilled to have a family to raise.

[01:13:56] Damon: Yeah, that's amazing. Yvonne, how about for [01:14:00] you?

[01:14:00] Speaker: Number one, know your worth, even before you may become pregnant. And I, I'm, I stand on my faith. Whatever happens to you or with you or part of your life, that's meant to be called a divine destiny or whatever you choose to be. It's come for a reason. And number two, do your work as best as you can. And I say as best as you can, because some moms and I've had them on the podcast and they'll speak about that just as long as that they won't deal with it because they're so afraid.

Doing your work simply means spending time with yourself to learn, to love yourself

[01:14:43] Speaker 19: because

[01:14:43] Speaker: you can't love anyone else until you love yourself. And I'll speak about reunion. It pains me sometimes because I talked to a lot of birth moms that it's hard. Reunion is hard. Let's be straight with that. It's just hard, [01:15:00] but there is nothing, nothing ever will deter me from my son.

I have this unconditional love and I have this birth bond and I can do that. And really, and I say, be the mother, be the adult. If the child doesn't respond to you when you say, well, I've sent these messages, they don't respond. I don't know. I'm gonna drop. I will never drop my son. And I want to encourage and empower other birth moms that it is, it is challenging.

So be ready for it. This is not easy and it's not easy because our love is so deep. That's why it's not easy, but it's worth it. It's been a rollercoaster for me, Damien, for, and him, and I'm being honest and transparent because I say that by coming from a dysfunctional family, and I was so clear, and I said to him, and he knows my story of a dysfunctional family, I said, with me, honest, transparent, I call it HOT, honest, open, and transparent, H O T, if we're there, [01:16:00] no more secrets.

That's why the podcast we're pulling off the covers of the secrets when you talk honestly Nobody's got anything to bring back to you because you've said it all you've said it all none of this thing But keeping you in the house when you're pregnant don't let the neighbors know. I don't care But what anybody knows, because that's my life,

[01:16:21] Damon: I love it very much.

Thank you all, Laura, Sarah, Yvonne. Thank you all very much on behalf of Ed. This has been an amazing conversation. I'm so grateful to you, Ed, for bringing this idea forward. And again, to you ladies for your. open honesty, your candor and I want to apologize for everything that you guys have endured.

This is it's a long life of pain and this is not something that most people can even fathom. And so for you to openly express what it is that you've been through, you know, especially as a message to adopt these it's really powerful and I'm sincerely grateful to each of you for being here.

[01:17:00] So National Birth Mother's Day is on the Saturday before Mother's Day. This is meant to honor all of the birth mothers and lift you all up and acknowledge everything that you've been through and be a day of support for you. So

[01:17:13] Speaker: can I have one last thing?

[01:17:15] Damon: Yeah, please.

[01:17:17] Speaker: I don't celebrate birth Mother's Day and the only reason why back again, feeling worthy.

Celebrate me on Mother's Day. That's

[01:17:28] Damon: very good. You all celebrate whatever day you choose, but the ultimate desire is to make sure that we acknowledge everything that we've been through. So thank you so much for being here. We appreciate it. All right. Thank you for having us. Y'all take care.

[01:17:41] Sarah: Take care.

Thank you for inviting us.

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