022 – I’m Still On This Journey, Using My Experience to Help Others

Marni grew up in Madison, WI in a transracial family that lived a predominantly white community. Everywhere they went, they were stared at for the heterogeneity they brought to the community. The attention their family received was a constant reminder of their own racial diversity, but Marni’s father seemed to have wise and crafty ways to turn the tables to make his own children feel more comfortable. Still, Marni’s family had some internal dysfunction that fed her desire to search for her biological family always wanted to find her biological family.
Initially, she thought things with her biological mother were going to be great, but it turned out that her biological father was the one she had the deepest connection to. Marni makes her living supporting foster youth in the Washington, DC area, pulling from her own experiences as an adoptee to uplift others.

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Marni:                          00:06                Maybe, just maybe all of this has led to a place where I am stable emotionally. I’m okay with talking about everything as it relates to my journey and why not use that as a backbone of strength to give back and help others.

Voices:                         00:27                Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

Damon:                        00:38                This is who am I really a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I’m Damon Davis and today my guest is Marni. She grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, in a transracial family that lived in a predominantly white community, but everywhere they went, they were stared at, the attention their family received was a constant reminder of their racial diversity, but her father seemed to have wise and crafty ways to turn the tables to make his own children feel more comfortable. Still Marni always wanted to find her biological family, so on her 21st birthday, that’s exactly what she began to do. Initially, she thought things with her biological mother, were going to be great. But it turned out that her biological father was the one that she truly had a connection with. I asked Marni to tell me what life was like as an adoptee in her family and in her community. Marni recalls her childhood as one challenged by racial identity. Her family was racially diverse in, in Madison, Wisconsin in the 1970s, the kind of racial diversity and integration that her family showed was far from the norm and their families stood out in their community.

Marni:                          01:53                We had a rainbow coalition, if you will, of a family in the early seventies in Madison, Wisconsin, which wasn’t exactly popular. And although my parents did, I think, everything they could to normalize something that really was not normal by society standards, it was still rough because we would go places and people’s jaws would drop. My family is, um, pretty into outdoor sporting. Um, for example, camping, canoeing, and in Wisconsin there’s lovely lakes and forests and such to hike through in the northern part of the state and in the northern part of the state, there’s no diversity of any kind. And so because that’s something that our family did recreationally, we spent a lot of time in northern Wisconsin in the summers and such. And there’s one particular story that I remember when we went into a restaurant, northern Wisconsin and literally walked in and all of the forks just dropped on the plates and everyone stared at us and it was very uncomfortable.

Marni:                          02:55                I was maybe five years old and I just kept looking at my dad to see how he was responding because it was quite frankly a little scary. And we sat down, my dad reassured us it was fine, and everyone just kept staring. And my dad said, look at their shoes, just stare at people’s shoes. And I thought, okay, if dad says so we’re going to stare at shoes, so we’re all staring at people’s shoes. And one by one, people start kind of out of the corner of their own eyes looking down at their feet. And then we kinda started snickering and, and I, my father never ever said anything about that incident ever again. And it was years later that I realized the brilliance of my father because it was as silly for them to be looking at us as it was silly for us to look at their shoes. And so I use that as an illustrative story because it’s an example of how my parents very pragmatically took on the world because they decided to take on a colorful family.

Damon:                        03:52                that’s fascinating. And that is really brilliant, right in the moment saying, you know what, if they want to stare at us, we’ll stare back at them and we’ll see who feels sillier. Because the honest truth is you guys are in the world, you can’t change it. And, and their, you know, lack of exposure to people of color shouldn’t mean that you guys should feel uncomfortable. That’s, that was pretty brilliant. Their family structure was really complicated amidst the adoptions. There was also divorce. And remarriage, adding step siblings to the mix. Siblings will always have some kind of rivalry with one another, but Marni experienced racism even within the sibling structure.

Marni:                          04:28                One of my older sisters who is also biracial, black, white, but she is much darker complected than I am. She taunted me for my entire childhood and and would often times make comments about the fact that I was so fair complected and make up rhymes and stories and jingles about how fair complected I was, like to the point where I would blend into snow. And it’s interesting because I didn’t really get that racism like the black on black hate race stuff until much later in life. When I went to Howard University and it was, I think that it really came out of the fact that when we would go places as a whole unit, we were obviously different. But if I went some place with my parents, independent of my black siblings, I was treated completely differently and my sister knew that and she saw that, from afar. And you know, like going into restaurants when we were teenagers and my older brother and sister who are darker complected, the host is not even recognizing that they’re with us and wanting to seat them separately as if they’re a couple. And so my sister just resented me so much because I was the other black kid, but yet I got treated differently.

Damon:                        05:41                Mhm. Wow.

Marni:                          05:42                And then honestly I just, I’d have to own and admit that I used that to my advantage.

Damon:                        05:47                In what way?

Marni:                          05:48                because I, well I use it in the advantage of being able to fit in socially growing up because sometimes I just got really sick of the fact that we always had questions and stares and everywhere we went it was always, you know, why is your hair like that? Or is, how can that be your sister? That’s not really your brother. And if I could escape being around the different looking family structure, then I definitely would use it for my advantage to, to hang out with different kinds of peer groups. Like all white

Damon:                        06:17                Yeah. There’s an element of all of us that just wants to fit in and to the extent that you can escape sort of being ostracized for especially something that’s visual to other people and just be and feel normal for a while. I could certainly understand why you would want to, you know, exercise a little escapism and tried to get away from that. So you were probably always in a position of feeling both a, what I assume is a black and a white side and probably trying to identify with two communities. All be it challenge to be identified in the black community, in you know, a predominantly white society. It must have been really hard for you to make that, that navigation back and forth between, you know, two separate cultures while living in a house that had two separate cultures as well.

Marni:                          07:09                It was almost impossible to find any black identity within my upbringing. And it’s interesting because as much as I would try to escape it to fit in into my very white community, I then chose to go to Howard University because when I visited Howard at the age of 18, when I was a senior in high school, I was absolutely bewildered by the fact that there were, there was like an entire University of people just like me. I never even knew that that existed. And I knew that I had to go to Howard in order to have an opportunity to fully submerge myself in a black culture for four years. Okay. It was five years. To be able to get in touch with my black side because I knew if I didn’t take the opportunity then that opportunity would not present itself again in my life.

Damon:                        07:52                And did the racial struggle in your life sort of propel you, was that one of the propellers for wanting to find your biological family?

Marni:                          07:59                It was. It absolutely was. Um, and also I, there was, there were a lot of challenges with my siblings as well. I mean, like I, one of my brothers, um, he spent most of his adult life in and out of prison. Um, because he was so challenged being black, being adopted by a white family in Wisconsin, just not fitting in, just always getting into trouble. I mean he had a lot of psychological damage prior to being adopted and my sister had a tremendous amount of, of psychological problems. She was actually removed from our home in seventh grade and bounced in and out of group homes because my mom couldn’t control her behavior anymore.

Damon:                        08:39                This is the sister that was challenging your racial identity?

Marni:                          08:42                Yes, and I just really felt like, wow, you know, this is a really dysfunctional household and I want to find my real family cause I’m sure they’re completely perfect.

Damon:                        08:52                I wondered with all of the racial in their home, how did Marni’s parents make her feel comfortable as an adoptee? Her mother made sure she never felt like her adoption was an alternative to anything else. And their family tried to connect with other families like themselves.

Marni:                          09:08                Well, I think there’s two things. One is as, as any natural child’s curiosity would, would prompt them to, I would often ask, why did you adopt kids instead of having your own? And My mother would always say, well, why would I have biological children when I have you? And I’d be like, oh, that’s not the right answer! Like I want know, like, why did you really do this? But she would never get into that with me. And I think that that’s interesting because she just wanted to take that out of the equation of, you know, you were like the second choice or the backup plan or something, which is what I think is. But then the other thing is by, my parents were part of something called the Wisconsin Open door society. And, and that was a, I mean that it no longer exists, but they were one of a few chapters around the country, um, have a national chapter called the open door society.

Marni:                          09:57                And it was, it’s all a white parents who adopted either across racial lines or children with physical or cognitive challenges. And so we would get together with say 50 or 60 other families that look like ours, about four times a year for the weekend we’d, we’d go on camping retreats, things like that, that in some ways normalized our being adopted because at least we had the visual a couple times a year of other people like us. I’m just so grateful that they got themselves involved in this organization and I do have really profound, um, experiences with that group. And, and I think absent of that, I can’t imagine how twisted I may have become.

Damon:                        10:38                Yeah. Yeah. That sounds like they were able to locate and really connect with a community that was something that you all could identify with. Tell me a little bit about how you finally reached a moment where you decided that you were going to seek out your biological relatives. How did that go?

Marni:                          10:55                Well, I always wanted to, since I had conscious thought I was heck been on, I’m finding my biological family. And so I then learned, I was adopted through the state of Wisconsin and the state law was such that you could not search for your parents until you’re the age of 21 so I think on my 21st birthday I fill out the application and sent it in. And then they said to me that it’s about a two year wait to search because they’re just, they’re understaffed and underfunded in that particular office. So I waited the two years and almost two years to the date I got a call and they said, okay, we’re ready to start your search. And it was going to be $100 an hour to do the search. So I at the time was, I’m a senior at Howard University, so you know, $100 was like $1 million.

Marni:                          11:38                But I went through the coat pockets and cushions on the sofa and found, you know, $100, sent it off and then it took two hours of search and then they called me and they said, okay, we’ve got your mother’s name. Cause I only searched for, for my mother at, at first, because it was $100 an hour per search. Um, and I thought, well, if I can find the mother, then hopefully she can tie me to the father. So in Wisconsin, the child always has the right to privacy. And so what happens is the state then goes to the records, they find her, they located her they contacted her, asked her permission to give her contact information to me, um, which she granted, and then it still lies on the child. So if I had received that information and still decided, oh no, I’m, I’m chickening out, I don’t want to find her, I would always be protected. So then the onus is on me to make that call to her.

Damon:                        12:28                So the state representative tells Marni that her biological mother has visited their office and she’s excited to meet Marni. Marni was a senior in college living with several other girls when she got the news.

Marni:                          12:40                and we all gathered in the living room and I said, oh my gosh, you know, they found my mom, what should I do? Write her or call her? And they’re like call her! So right then and there, I called her A little girl, answered the phone and I said, hello, can I speak with Carolyn Tyler? And the little girl said, mom! Phone! And I thought, oh my gosh, I’ve got a little sister who’s like, little little.

Damon:                        13:02                That’s so cute.

Marni:                          13:02                Yeah. So then she got on the phone and I said, Hi Carolyn, this is Marni. And she said, Oh, I’ve been expecting your call, my baby Robin, my baby Robin. And I said, because I knew that she had named me Robin when I was born. And I said, well, yes, but my parents named me Marni, so I’m no longer Robin. Then we talked for a long time, we talked for a few hours.

Damon:                        13:26                How was the connection?

Marni:                          13:26                We’ll, you know, it’s interesting because in the beginning it was really exciting. We seem to have a lot in common. She was very high energy, absolute open book. Told me everything you know shared that she, you know, she’d been waiting for this call for the last 23 years and this was just the crown jewel of, of her life to be able to finally connect me. And she said she just prayed every day that I would come back to her.

Damon:                        13:53                after she graduated from Howard University. Marni returned to Wisconsin to meet her mother and her younger siblings. Her adopted parents even got the chance to have lunch with her mother during a lovely afternoon visit. Her mother arranged for what Marni called

Marni:                          14:07                a wonderful, wonderful reception

Damon:                        14:09                and things were going great, at first.

Marni:                          14:12                So as time went on, things got a little bit peculiar with, with my relationship with her and the, the highlights of that are when I became pregnant with my first son and she, I should back up and say that I had several miscarriages before a pregnancy that went to full term. And I shared that with her because we spoke a lot. She was, we became close over. This was now a two year period of time that we became very close. So at the, my son was born in February, that Christmas before I got a Christmas card from her with a picture of a baby on it dressed up in an angel costume and it just said, um, like, Just what you’ve always wanted. Merry Christmas. Okay, fine. I thought nothing of it. I thought, because she knew I was pregnant. I was toward the end of the pregnancy, you know, we’re thinking it’s a green light this time. And yeah, I’ve always wanted a baby. So, yay. She calls me a few days later and said, did you get my card? And I said yes. And she said, oh, well, well what do you think about your baby brother? I about dropped the phone. I said that you, you had a baby? And she said, yes. So we were pregnant at the same time. She never tells me this. She’s 30 years older than I am. And she said, yeah, well I know you’ve always wanted a full biological sibling. Now you have one. I said, wait you, you’re with my father. And she said, no, but, but I met a man who looks a lot like how your father looked when we were together. And I thought, MMM, okay, that doesn’t make this child my biological sibling. Oh. And by the way, I never said that I wanted a biological sibling. As I said earlier, I’ve had enough siblings in my life. That’s one thing I don’t need more of.

Damon:                        15:55                She thought she was gifting you another, another sibling?

Marni:                          15:59                Yeah. And I thought, okay, this is terribly strange.

Damon:                        16:04                So..I’m sorry. Let me pause you for a minute, did you get the impression that she did this for you?

Marni:                          16:10                Yes, absolutely.

Damon:                        16:12                She went out and got pregnant in order to give you another biological, or at least half biological sibling.

Marni:                          16:20                Her words were that she found a man who looked a lot like my father looked when they were together and the man that impregnated her also was significantly younger. So he was about, he was in his twenties and

Damon:                        16:33                And shes 20 years older than you. Wow.

Marni:                          16:35                Thank you. Exactly. So I just thought, oh, okay, this is really, really weird. There’s three things I’m going to say about her. And then you can see that this just ended up to be a disaster. But the day that I came home from the hospital with my son, I got a call from my biological mother’s first husband. And I thought, okay, that’s kind of a leap and strange. Have someone to call and congratulate me. But okay. I remember I had met him one time and he didn’t even know that I had a baby. That wasn’t the reason for his call. He called me to say that he thinks that he’s my father. And I thought, well, okay, hold on a minute. I’ve always been told that my father is a black creole man from Louisiana and fits like all these other demographics and now this man is Puerto Rican.

Marni:                          17:27                And I said, so now you’re telling me that you’re my father. So all along I’m not, not even black, I’m Puerto Rican? And now I’ve just had a baby and I don’t even know what it is. And so I, I just, I thought, oh my God, this is crazy. Like I’ve, I’m obviously a whole hormonal wreck. I just had a baby and I’m freaking out because my whole life, I thought I was black. I went to Howard, for crying out loud, to try to get in touch with my blackness and now I’m Puerto Rican. This is just too much. I’m like, I cannot even deal with it. So I like, I know, so then I call her and I’m like, do you know that your ex husband just called me and saying that he’s my father and she went on this long tirade and and said, oh no, he’s just trying to get back at me cause you know, he knows that you’re the one thing that, you know, means so much and he’s trying to drive a wedge. And I said, Carolyn, I don’t know what your deal is, what your problems are with your ex’s, etc. I have a new child. I just started a family. Do not contact me ever again. I’m done with you. Done

Damon:                        18:28                and she brought nothing but drama it sounds like.

Marni:                          18:31                Yeah, there’s a little bit more though.

Damon:                        18:33                Yeah you said you were going to say three things about her.

Marni:                          18:36                Yep. So I did not have any communication with her for three years and then she called and said that she found my father and I said, which one? And she said, no, no, no, I, I really found your father. And I said, fine, give me his name and number. She played a bunch of games. Finally she said, well, I’ll send you a photo of him. Okay.

Damon:                        18:56                Marni saw a man that looked like he could be her father. She also noticed some identifying information in that photo and since her mother had told Marni what state her biological father was living in, Marni had an idea of what she could do next.

Marni:                          19:09                He really looked a lot like he could be my father, on his shirt, it said Clayton homes and I knew that at the time he was living in Lafayette, Louisiana because she told me so. So I called four, one, one for Lafayette, Louisiana. Called the the Clayton homes. Hi, can I speak to Robert? Speaking. I said, oh my goodness. I said, hi, um, this is a little bit out of the blue, but I think I’m your daughter.

Damon:                        19:33                What! You just came out with it?

Marni:                          19:34                Sure. Oh my gosh. After all that drama, she put me through. I’m like, yeah, well we’ll see. And he said, Um okay. And I said, look, I’m not trying to cause any trouble in your life. You know, do you know Carolyn? Yes. And he said, excuse me, I’m sorry Carolyn has been in touch with me, but she told me that you were a boy.

Marni:                          19:53                I said, no, I, I can very much assure you I am a woman and I’ve always been female. So no, that was a lie. I said, I don’t know how much contact you’ve had with her, but I think she’s a little off. And I don’t know why she would tell you that, but I’m very much a woman. So anyway, then I went on to say, well, you know, I just wanted you to know I was adopted by a good family and I had a good life and you know, there’s no real drama to share. And he said, woah woah, when were you adopted? And I said, when I was six weeks. And he said, Carolyn told me she raised you. I said, no, I just met her three years ago. Needless to say, I don’t have a relationship with my biological mother, but I have a wonderful relationship with my father.

Damon:                        20:32                That’s amazing. So this was the guy,

Marni:                          20:35                this was the guy.

Damon:                        20:37                Wow. He corroborated all kinds of sort of backstory detail kinds of things. Did you do a DNA test? Like how do you know?

Marni:                          20:44                Well, we did do a DNA test. Um, not that we needed it because we look so similar. I’m the absolute female version of him. Our mannerisms are the same. Like it’s creepy how much I look like him. But we did do a DNA test. Um, I have three half siblings. One of them, she and I look like we’re twins. They’re, they’re a great addition to my family.

Damon:                        21:05                That’s amazing. Marni says she only had a little bit of a relationship with her maternal half siblings. She tried to get some family medical history to help one of her own sons. So Marni had a conversation with one of her brothers. He told her that he was as shocked as she was to learn that their mother had had a baby and that her erratic behavior likely due to some undiagnosed mental illness also prevents his family from having a relationship with their mother.

Marni:                          21:32                You know, I just said, Ian, tell me what is going on with her. I mean, she just seems nuts. And he’s like, yeah, she is. I mean, she’s probably got some schizophrenia, bipolar stuff going on, you know, I said, tell me about the baby that she had. I mean, and he said, Oh, you think you were shocked. I didn’t even know that she was pregnant because her weight fluctuates so much. He said that he got a call to pick her up at the hospital. He said, are you okay? She said, I’m fine. Just pick me up. She, they roll her out in a wheelchair with a baby in her arms. And she’s like, yeah, meet your new brother. And he’s like, what? Okay. You know? And then the wife at that point chimed in and she’s like, oh yeah, like she can’t really be part of our life. She’s, she’s really unpredictable. The kids are getting older, you know, they would expect and recognize that if grandma’s, you know, invited to my birthday party, she’ll come and then she won’t. Or she’ll be very bizarre when she’s there to the point where it makes everyone uncomfortable. So they don’t really have a relationship with her and they all live in Milwaukee. Yeah,

Damon:                        22:32                I can really relate to that in my, my adoptive mother is actually the one who suffers from mental illness right now. And you know, she lives in a completely alternate reality from the one that you and I live in. And it can be really challenging to, um, see this woman who was an amazing mother growing up for me, just live in this reality that doesn’t coincide with what you and I know and I just have to try to respect her for who she was to me because the woman she is now is totally different. So it must’ve been really hard for you. You, I assume you had some, you know, expectations and feelings about wanting to meet this woman and for it to start off so positively and turn ,um, so bizarre. Must’ve been really hard for you.

Marni:                          23:16                It was terribly hard.

Damon:                        23:18                I asked Marni how she shared her search for her biological parents with her adopted parents. She reminded me that she had always wanted to search and her parents absolutely knew that she would one day, but that doesn’t mean that no one’s feelings were hurt during the process.

Marni:                          23:34                Well, I always told them that I was going to find them. So it should not have come to any, you know, as a surprise to any of them. I mean that, like I said, since I could talk, I was talking about finding them. I used to make up lots of stories about who they were and, and fantasize about who they were and they were going to be so wonderful and they just smile and nod. So when the day came, my mother was very, very hurt and upset. My father was very supportive though and it really hurt me that my adoptive mother was so upset by it because A, I told her all along I was going to find them and B, it wasn’t ever to replace her. It was a natural curiosity that is my right to be able to search and find out where I came from and I don’t think there’s anything unnatural about someone being curious and wanting to know and so my mother was very difficult about it and it, it didn’t make the process easier or more comfortable in in a process that’s already has a lot of emotion associated with it and she added to a lot of anxiety that I really didn’t appreciate.

Damon:                        24:39                I want to just push on that for a quick second because the way you expressed it to me a moment ago, and I’m not sure if you intended it this way, but you actually sounded like there was a little bit of, when I find them they are going to be better than you, in your voice. The way you just said it and I don’t know if you intended that, but it came out when you just said it, like, when I find them they’re going to be so awesome and I could see how if you said that as, when you were younger that they could start to feel hurt by that when it finally happened. Did that, did you say that accurately?

Marni:                          25:08                Oh yeah. I mean, my, my household was upside down. I mean, my siblings were crazy and in and out of the house, my parents divorced my, my mother, you know, she, she remarried a lovely man, but prior to her getting remarried, she was putting herself through law school, dealing with difficult children. There was a chunk of my childhood that was a really, really hard time. I see. My father moved away to New York and I, I just adore my father when he, when he moved to New York, it was very, very painful. My mother and father have not spoken since they divorced in 1979 that was always a, a contentious thing. And so absolutely, I was like, I’m outta here. This is nuts. And it may have been hurtful to them, but at the same time, there was a lot of stuff that was pretty unstable in my household for a long period of time and I was desperate to find an escape valve.

Damon:                        26:01                This was a long challenging road for Marni and she learned a lot along the way. I asked her how she was, knowing that mental illness is hereditary and what she’s learned about herself.

Marni:                          26:14                So the first part, do I worry about mental illness or physical illness, etc? No, because I feel like if it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen. Whether I know it runs in my family or not, because after all, it’s already happened with my son being diagnosed with something called crones disease, which is a hereditary, um, autoimmune disease. And so who gave it to him, and what genetic strand doesn’t matter, he’s got it and we have to deal with it. But where I really overall am with it now is I’ve been able, oh, I run my own company and we among many things provide social services in the, in Washington DC. And I have been able to take my personal life journey with adoption and actually turn it into a business where I’m now supporting foster youth. So one of the things that we do is we provide tutors for the foster youth of the district.

Marni:                          27:05                And we also, um, we hire, we’ve got about 55 employees and we hire and train people with a deliberate system of strategies to specifically target, um, our understanding of working with youth who have faced various levels of trauma. And then I also serve as an advisor to the congressional caucus on foster youth. So the experiences that we’re, um, that I’ve, I’ve had with the business as well as my personal experience, I’ve been able to share those stories with members of Congress on a monthly basis in an effort for them to inform different legislative practices as it relates to foster youth and adoptees. And then of course, you know, being a board member of the gift of adoption fund is also a way that I’ve been able to take these experiences and give back in, in, in that way, a more philanthropic way. But it’s, I didn’t necessarily go out and seek these contract opportunities or seek being a board member on gift of adoption fund, but it kind of just fell into my space and I thought, wow, this is not an accident. And maybe just maybe all of this has led to a place where I am stable emotionally. I am okay with talking about everything as it relates to my journey and why not use that as a backbone of strength to give back and help others.

Damon:                        28:20                That’s an amazing stance to be able to take at the end. Cause you know this could have gone a different direction. You could have crumbled under the notion that your mother potentially is mentally ill and you know these all these sort of lies or you know, misdirections could have really been traumatic for you. So it’s great that you were able to turn it into something positive. I’m, I’m really impressed with that. I guess I’ll just ask, what would you have done differently in your journey or what do you wish might have been different?

Marni:                          28:50                I don’t know that I have a wish of something that was different. I will say that, you know, I’m still on this journey and I’m not done yet with being able to take my story and, and spin it into something positive for others. And there’s another kind of side to my childhood that I haven’t yet spoken of. And then that is as it relates to my adoptive family on my father’s side, my grandfather was the US secretary of education under Eisenhower. And prior to that he was the general counsel for the Pillsbury Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And so I’ve got a lot of family ties to Minneapolis as well as presidential politics in Washington and so and so there’s, there’s offshoots of that strand of my adoptive family that have done some really impressive things. And I also got that, that I into wealth. I get that I into power and being seated at the table, be at not my own mom and dad’s family table, but going to family functions, seeing this whole other side of like deep, deep pockets and deep, deep power was also this other part that made up who I am.

Marni:                          30:06                And I always felt intrinsically responsible to do something with not only with my very humble beginnings of being like a throwaway child to the welfare department of Wisconsin, to then being thrust into this family that yeah, we have our own in our house dynamics that were dysfunctional with the siblings in this experiment. My parents tried and it didn’t go, I think the way they wanted, but then this other side of, but my family I can’t deny is also like pretty powerful people. So what can I do to bring all of this together? And like my cousins, they done like really big stuff but none of them have ever taken all of our experiences and put it back into social service work. And I just felt like maybe that is my role in this because I’m the one that came out of social services. And so I really feel like I am the carrier of the torch of a lot of things that my grandfather did. And so there’s that whole piece of my history that is so important to me. And so that to me is why I don’t feel like my, this journey is done. I feel like I’m just getting started and being able to do some, uh, you know, I have big, big hopes and dreams of, of doing big stuff with, with helping people that have had a similar walk of life is mine.

Damon:                        31:24                That’s really amazing. And to be able to recognize what ends up being a project in a trajectory of passion for you, which it may not be for them, but this is how you came into this world through social services, through the option, through sort of, you know, the hands of others. Taking on a child who needed love and support. It translates into your own passion to help other people in it. I could see how you would want to really sort of coalesce the resources of your family, the influence of your family, the experiences that you’ve had to be impactful and some of the ways that it sounds like you’re trying to do in DC. So I congratulate you for recognizing that you have an opportunity to do something amazing that’s going to help you know, thousands if not hundreds of thousands, potentially millions of kids, um, by, by really sort of digging deep and trying to provide services.

Damon:                        32:17                So props and congratulations for really figuring out a niche in a direction that can be beneficial to all based on your own experiences.

Marni:                          32:26                Thank you.

Damon:                        32:26                No, of course. Well, this has been amazing. I was really excited to hear your story and you know, I was, I was listening intently as you shared it during the gift of adoption fond event that you hosted here in DC. I was glad to finally get the full details from you. So thank you for taking time, Marni.

Marni:                          32:44                Absolutely. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity.

Damon:                        32:47                Of course. Take care. I’ll see you soon.

Damon:                        32:55                Hey, it’s me. Marni recalls her childhood is one challenged biracial identity as she grew up, her community was still trying to get used to the idea of transracial families. She experienced racial tension within her own family with one of her other siblings in her own biracial heritage seem to compound her internal desire to truly identify with her own biological family. Her story really exemplifies that you just never know what you’re going to get when you start to search. Marni initially thought she was going to have an excellent connection with her biological mother only to find out that mental illness was blocking a true connection. Fortunately, she was able to get information about her biological father to make an even deeper connection with him. I really liked that Marni said that she was still on this journey and she’s trying to turn her experiences as an adoptee into something where she can be influential for others in foster care and adoption, nationwide. I’m Damon Davis and I hope you’ll find something in Marni’s journey that inspires you, validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn, who am I really? If you would like to share your story of locating and connecting to your biological family visit, WhoAmIreallypodcast.com/share you can also find this show on Facebook or follow me on Twitter at WAIreally.

 

1 Comment

  1. Marni Hall on 08/24/2017 at 5:11 PM

    Oh my gosh. Another Marni that was adopted. I was adopted in Ohio in 1967. I’m not sure I’ve met another Marni spelled the same way. I also shared my story on Adoptee On this past June. And my b-mom’s name is Karen, though she is well mentally and we have a heathy reunion.

    Thanks for sharing your story and for paying it forward.

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