075 – I’m Good On My Own, I Know Who I Am

In her adopted family Tameko’s parents just assumed that as an adoptee, she was misbehaving, but when her older adopted brother showed up he actually started framing her for terrible things, trying force her out. Even worse, he abused her.  On her search, she read a description of her birthmother that humanized her, but the first pictures Tameko saw online documented the hardening of a once beautiful woman.
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Tameko:                       00:05                this is turning her into a real person and I’m like, I’ve never, I’ve never looked at my mom like that. It’s always somebody was always trying to make her seem like a bad person, so it seemed like my adoption was like this a great thing, which it was, but it’s like don’t make her look like a monster.

Damon:                        00:41                Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who amq I? 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 on., today’s show is Tameko. She called me from Seattle, Washington in her adopted family Tameko. Parents just assumed that as an adoptee she was misbehaving. But when her older adopted brother showed up, he actually started framing her for terrible things, trying to force her out even worse. He abused her. On her search. She read a description of her birth mother that humanized her, but the first pictures Tameko saw documented the hardening of a once beautiful woman. This is Tameko journey. Tamika was in foster care until she was adopted at about three years old.

Tameko:                       01:36                One day in the foster home I was in. I was like three , they were like oh, someone’s gonna come and take a look at you and I’m fine. they might want to adopt you and I was like, all right, cool, So they were like go take a nap. And I was like, wow. Now I’m excited. I went up to my room in my room and I, you know, and I’m kind of peeking around the corner and you know, finally, uh, someone knocks on the door and this, and they opened the door and this woman, this black woman, and I’m like, mom, because I’m, well, I’m black, but I’m that. I knew of at the time. So I was like, oh. And I was living in a foster home that a lot of white people, and it was Mormon.

Damon:                        02:26                You said you were living in a foster home that was predominantly white and it was Mormon, is that what you said?

Tameko:                       02:31                No, it was Mormon. Yes. So this was in uh a Utah Salt Lake City. I left that detail out. Gotcha. So, yeah, so me not seeing people of color day to day was kind of like, okay. And like the only person here. So when this woman comes to the door, who’s black? I’m like, “mom,” I’m thinking in my head, that’s the first thing that came to head. I had was this is my mother like, and I think that’s why it’s like embedded in my mind. I was like, oh my God, this woman, are you coming to get me? Like I’ve always, you know, dreamt, you were going to come, you know? And I thought that this woman was my mother. So of course my mother now is like, yeah, I couldn’t deny you at that point I have to take you home.

Damon:                        03:16                Tameko remembers the day they left the foster home in Salt Lake City to drive to Seattle in the car where her younger brother Kevin, who was about a year old and her older sister, Kendra, who was about nine years old, they’re biological children to to goes mother, who decided to adopt because she wanted another child. And she knew that not many black children were being adopted in those days, especially in that part of the country. After two years in foster homes. I asked what she felt like going to this new home.

Tameko:                       03:50                I felt as if like this is where I was supposed to be like this was it. You know. and um, everything seemed cool.

Damon:                        03:57                She said she didn’t remember having behavioral issues per se, noting she probably had some of the same issues. Any kid has it around that age. You’ve got a toy. There’s only one of them and I want it, but her mother tells a different tale, like the time Tameko allegedly tried to push her brother out of the window, which she says is not true.

Tameko:                       04:17                My mom knew from the paperwork, I think she was Kinda like, prejudging me, you know. She’s going to do this, so I gotta be on the watch out for like what she’s going to do. There’s also information in there that said that my mom, was paranoid schizophrenic my biological mom, she was on guard, yeah, I totally get it. I mean I’m a mom now, so I get it, but it’s like giving me a chance.

Damon:                        04:50                Sounds like you felt like you were prejudged as guilty or assumed. I assumed guilty before, you know, assumed innocent. Right, and did that happened a lot throughout your life there.

Tameko:                       05:06                It did and it affected my mom and my, Our relationship

Damon:                        05:07                in what way?

Tameko:                       05:08                A lot. She would believe the other kids before she would believe me and a lot of the time like she didn’t know because she, she assumed that I had all of these issues, like so many issues and I was like, I really don’t like I’m a kid. And I was, you know, like kids coming from foster care are gonna have issues and she did put me in therapy and stuff and um, I felt that it did help. I, you know, not all the time, especially if I wasn’t the one, if I didn’t actually do the crime, you know, I’m like, I’m not going to fess up to doing something I didn’t do

Damon:                        05:47                you know how kids are when they know someone is kind of the default guilty party sometimes they use that to their advantage. Tameko said her first two siblings never did that. But her older brother, whom they adopted when she was nine was a different story. He was 12 years old and his name was Nathan. The kids were first introduced to Nathan via videos they saw of him while her parents were working on his adoption. Then the family hopped in the car together for the long drive to Oregon to meet him for the first time.

Tameko:                       06:19                So he seemed really cool at first. And I was like yeah we’ve got something in common. We’re both adopted. man, we’re about to be tight. Yea, that didn’t turn out that way. He basically Took my little brother away from me, he was like, yeah, you know, we’re going to be cool and you and your sister aren’t going to be cool. And so I was like, alright. This is not cool. From the first day that he met me. You could see like in his eyes like, yeah, what you thought you had. I’m about to ruin everything. He, I could just see it in the face. Like, I mean, like he, I just remember the instance where he had put his arm around like we were at like some arcade, like my parents said this a cool place, we could go play and get to know him, you know? And I think know, I think the parents, like the, the grownups were, were chillin and kind of talking about the situation with somebody else, maybe the foster parent or whatever. And so we were out, you know, on our own kickin it. Well, I just remember him turning around and having his arm over my brother and my little brother’s shoulder and turning around and looking at me like, yeah, it’s not what you think is going to be cause I’m not going to be your friend. I’m basically out to get you

Damon:                        07:41                Tameko had that sinking feeling on day one. She thought she and Nathan were going to be cool so she gave him the benefit of the doubt and assumed he was having an off day. Her parents moved the family to a larger home in a nice neighborhood in anticipation of their larger family and the boy joined their home sometime later.

Tameko:                       08:01                This changed my entire life. Because my parents never believed me after this point when he moved in because he would set me up, he would tear things up and blame it on me. Like he would tear up posters of my brother’s. He would even destroy his own things and blame it on me and they believed him. I’m mother like straight up, like I don’t know what kind of hold this kid had on her. I don’t know if it was his story, but she definitely like just everything was like, oh yeah, no like we, you know, cause she’s been naughty in the past, we’re going to go ahead and blame it on her. So I was like, okay, I don’t know if I can win, you know, I’m trying to be cool with this dude. Like I’m going to be cool with you. So he says I’m doing this to me cause I don’t even know why you’re doing this to me. And then he started molesting me and then that was it. Me trying to be cool with him was like over and now I was more, I was just scared of him. So like from nine to, so a little after nine, my behavior quote unquote, which was not really my behavior, got worse

Damon:                        09:11                blindly thinking that her quote unquote behavior was getting worse Tameko parents, sent her to boarding school, not realizing the offending party was still living in their house. She went to Intermountain children’s home in Montana from just after her ninth birthday to shortly after her 10th birthday. At first she was thankful to be out of the abusive situation, but of course she missed her parents and her other siblings Tameko said the school had a variety of indoor and outdoor activities mixed with play therapy. It was an okay place because it offered counseling and therapy and she worked on herself. At Christmas. The entire family visited Tameko at school. During the visit, the family was in a lodge where the school held therapy sessions.

Tameko:                       10:00                And so my parents were meeting with one therapist in one room, I was meeting with my play therapist and I went out to use the restroom and this guy is sitting, Nathan is sitting in the lobby and he’s trying to get me to go into another room and I’m like, are you serious right now? Im’ at my boarding school! Have you lost your mind? And uh, and I was like, no, what are you talking about? Like other went back in there. It was my therapist. I’m like, I just didn’t, yeah, I didn’t even believe it. I’m like, I’m here because of all the stuff that you’re doing and then you want to bring this here. And like, I was just like, okay. So I finished up the program. I can’t remember when I left or how I felt. I just knew that I was going back to the same situation

Damon:                        10:53                and before that I left. Before you tell me more about going back, just can you tell me a little bit about when you got there you felt the sense of relief, you’ve escaped the situation for the moment and you’re in therapy. What did people believe you when you said what you said, because these are not people who’ve had prior experience with you. You’re telling the truth as it’s as your story and they’ve had no prior assumption of your guilt. Did they receive your words and did they, how did they, what did they say?

Tameko:                       11:28                I’m not exactly sure what they said. Everybody seemed really nice. It didn’t seem like I was there for therapy, like a therapeutic experience. It was more like I’m taking a vacation and I happened to be going to play therapy every other day class and go into woodworking and they had a BMX trail like it and, and we went hiking, skiing. I mean, I did all these cool fit. So I don’t think anyone really was like, oh, this is a bad kid. I wasn’t a bad kid. I was just, I was being framed. And then I was sent to this place where there were kids who were actually doing things that were just like off the wall for whatever reason. And I’m like, I’m not doing these things. Like I was cool before this guy got to our house. I’m being framed for things cause he’s trying to make, he’s trying to get me out of the picture because he wants the spotlight and he wants me out. And so everybody just, you know, I don’t think I, I wasn’t telling the whole truth. Like I didn’t say anything about the sexual abuse when I was there. They had no idea.

Damon:                        12:39                Yeah, that’s what I was wondering. I you divulged that.

Tameko:                       12:41                Yeah, cuz I was s,cared, you know? I didn’t know because you know, like, it’s weird I think in situations. So when you’re a kid you feel dirty. Like you’re like, oh my God, I’m going to be in trouble too, type thing. And so I just, I didn’t share because I was like, I don’t know how this was going to go down. I mean, I wish I would’ve shared and then he wouldn’t have been at home maybe when I got home,

Damon:                        13:08                but that’s some pretty advanced thinking for a nine year old. I could totally see why you wouldn’t want to share with anybody, especially because at home when you shared with adults, they basically blamed you for what had not been your fault. So why would you trust anybody else if you decide… It’s a very advanced line of thinking too for four, nine year old to say, Oh wow, these are different adults. If I tell them the truth, then perhaps they will help me. I just, I could totally see how you would reserve that and never divulge it.

Damon:                        13:44                Tameko said she went to the school and went into survival mode and during therapy sessions she talked a lot about her adoption. So naturally they thought she was in their care for adoption related issues. Somehow or the other Tameko was aware that she had biological twin brothers and they came up during her therapy sessions. One of the counselors at the school took it upon himself to find her older brother’s in a foster home in Washington state. The counselor spoke with her adopted mother about locating the boys and asking permission to introduce them to Tameko and her mother agreed. The counselor drove her 11 hours from Montana to Port Angeles and Seattle where they met her adopted mother and a woman named Joycelyn. She was a single parent who fostered then adopted her brothers. Joycelyn fostered and adopted a lot of children and they were all of color. She’s Caucasian. Tameko was introduced to her brothers Holston and Austin who both had fetal alcohol syndrome. Holston displaying signs of his condition more than Austin. One of his eyes was smaller than the other and his voice noticeably scratchy.

Tameko:                       14:53                My other brother, not so much like him and I look alike, which is very interesting. I was like, Oh wow, and my mom’s like oh wow I could totally see it, and I’m like, yeah, this is weird, but never had a connection with anyone. That was my blood before. So that was just like mind blowing for me. I just remember being outside and playing with the kids and they’re talking and I also remember a Holston going into a seizure, but not like a big seizure. He, they said that they would have small seizures and sometimes when you’re talking or having a conversation they might kind of like be vacant and like his eyes might roll back and then, and that happened and I was just like, wow, this is a trip. You know, like all, yeah, it was kind of like, wow, okay. I wasn’t ready for that. But you know, obviously we’re adopted for a reason and these are the effects that my mother using drugs and using alcohol when she was pregnant with them. Well, the thing is my mom didn’t do that when she was pregnant with me. She was sober.

Damon:                        15:58                They left the meeting and drove back to the school in Helena, Montana, reflecting Tameko said she’s surprised that she went along with such a big trip so readily and she thinks her foster care experience, constantly meeting new people, Somehow prepared her. When she left boarding school Tameko returned home and things started out fine, but soon Nathan was back at it. She said he was so efficient with his theft and destruction that she, as a child, started to doubt her own sanity and wondered if she was really doing the things he claimed Tameko characterized him like a super villain who poured bleach all over her sister’s room or cut his own clothing and his closets with scissors, Then ran downstairs to tell their parents that quote unquote someone had vandalized his things.

Tameko:                       16:46                I feel like I was like, living this bad dream. How can this be possible? You’re making me feel like I’m crazy you know when I have to talk to my parents about this and I know they’re not going to believe me. I mean, it go so bad to one point to where my dad started locking me in my room. I can’t remember what happened, but I know that my father was like, you know what? Get outta my house. and I was young. I don’t know how I think I might have been a little like maybe 10 and a half. And he was like, get out.

Damon:                        17:29                Tameko said her father is a tough guy. He’s more likely to show anger and irritation than he is to show affection, but when he gets angry, you don’t want any part of that. So she knew he was serious, even though she was only 10. He kicked her out that morning and she had no idea what to do or where to go. Lost in her own little life. She walked to the park by herself. She took a nap on a bench, then went into the woods and climbed a tree. With nowhere to go and darkness closing in Tameko got worried so she walked back towards her home, but walked passed it to the local grocery store. She wandered around inside and then made her way to the nearby bus stop as the sun went down.

Tameko:                       18:13                So the sun’s starting to go down and I’m sitting there and I’m like, I don’t know what I’m not going to, I’m not going to tell them that I did it. I’m not going to say it.

Damon:                        18:23                At one point Tameko sees her father drive by and she figures he must’ve seen her, but he didn’t look in her direction. He kept driving. She was incredulous at the fact that Nathan could show up and wreak havoc on their home, but her parents couldn’t make the connection that it wasn’t her.

Tameko:                       18:41                So yeah, he drives by, I sit there, it’s getting late at night. and this couple walks by and asked “hey what are you doing out here?”, and I said my parents kicked me out of that house, you know, whatever. And I’m like, you know, at this point I’m like, like 10.5, 11 years old, what kid gets kicked out at 11? So they, they felt bad for me. It was like at the end, of course, here I go trusting people. I walk with them back towards the house. They sat me down in their living room. They said, what’s your phone number? They called on the phone and say, Hey, I have your daughter here, Tammy. She said that she’s, you know, she’s been kicked out of the house. You know? Um, so I get on the phone of course, reluctantly because I know that they’re still in the same frame of mind and uh, it was, it’s my mother, she was like, well, it was like, come on back up.

Tameko:                       19:40                She’s like, I’m going to talk to your dad, but you just have to say that you, you know, you messed up and you did this. And I was like, but I didn’t and she was like, this, you need to just, if you want to come back in the house, you need to tell him that. So basically I just need to just tell them a falsehood, but that’s okay. Whatever. And they get me, we drive back to the house, get out of the car. I think my dad came down because, because once we got to the front door, there was a a huge porch with a big swing on it. We get to the Porch area and my dad’s like, so you got to tell the truth. And I was like, and I’m just so, I’m basically just petrified. Like, you’re not going to let me in the house.

Tameko:                       20:29                It was like until you told the truth, you’re not stepping a foot up in my house. And so I stood out there for awhile cause I was still like my mom says headstrong child, but I, I stood out there, I was like, I’m not going to say it and it got cold. So finally I just gave in because I was two calls and I just wanted to go to sleep. And you know, that’s basically like the, sum of the sum up of me having to deal with this whole situation with Nathan is that I always just had to just tell, tell them that I was, you know that I did it.

Damon:                        21:07                I asked Tameko where she is with Nathan now. She said that for years she wouldn’t even go to family functions if she thought she would see him.

Tameko:                       21:15                I wouldn’t go to if he was going to be there, I would like hide in my house. Like my kids witnessed me, like not answering the door, shutting off all the lights, acting like we weren’t there because I don’t want to see it. And they didn’t know why.

Damon:                        21:28                He told Tameko, he thought they were just going to let their past to be water under the bridge to what she said

Tameko:                       21:35                In what world do you live in? because that kind of stuff, we don’t just act as if it didn’t happen.

Damon:                        21:41                Nathan eventually confessed his crimes and framing to me go to his parents. I asked her how her parents reacted to his confession.

Tameko:                       21:49                My Mom, kinda changed a little bit. My dad, he just kinda stayed the same. My dad, cause my dad, he’s just a very like stoic type person, does it show a lot of emotion unless it’s anger. So he was just like, oh like this made a big difference, you know, it’s like, well at least for myself, I felt like he acknowledged that he messed up and then I could try to try to move on from that because I don’t think I’m going to get anything else from them.

Damon:                        22:25                Four years ago, Nathan passed away after marrying a woman who was a substance abuser. He started using harder drugs than he had ever had before. Their parents told him to get his act together or he was going to lose his kids. So he quit cold Turkey but his wife couldn’t get clean. So he took his two children. He didn’t want them to go into foster care like he had once been. Unfortunately, he got hurt playing semipro football, got pain pills, relapsed and died of an overdose.

Tameko:                       22:56                And it’s sad. And I’ve forgiven Nathan, but it’s very sad, but for me it was almost freeing. And that sounds bad, but for me, I think I needed that and I think my parents, you know, they have to deal with that and that sucks. But I feel like it’s almost brought closer, because I feel like we’ve gone full circle.

Damon:                        23:28                Yeah. A lifelong tormentor comes in and divides your family and you know, isn’t exactly emotionally apologetic when he finally comes clean. I could see how you did need that. I’m sure you wish that it could be different. I, it’s a rare, rare person that wishes for the death of another person, but for that, for that other individual to be permanently gone from your life is ultimately what you wanted. I get the sense that you, you wish it hadn’t been his death, but that if you could get that permanence, that it would have been the same thing.

Tameko:                       24:06                Exactly. So yeah… I think I feel more sad that he left kids behind.

Damon:                        24:12                Over the years Tameko, looked again for her biological relatives. She knew she could potentially get her information through her adoption agency, so she emailed them. But at that time the $50 fee was a big sum for her while raising kids. Finally in 2018 she got the funds together.

Tameko:                       24:46                So i called and I said I wanted to know what the fee was because you know I didn’t know if it had changed. I said I wanted to know the fees so I could get my non-identifying information for my bios. and they were like Oh um, we don’t do that anymore. And I was like you don’t do what anymore, you dont’ give people their information? and she was like No, we don’t charge people anymore. And I was like, oh my God, this is supposed to happen.

Damon:                        25:00                Within days she got her paperwork notarized. She sent her information off to the caseworker who said they’d be in touch in a week, which turned into two nerve wracking weeks in March. She’s at one of her three jobs working as a receptionist.

Tameko:                       25:14                So the email comes and I see it and I’m trying to not open it because I’m sitting as a receptionist at the front desk and I’m like Lord Jesus. So then I finally opened it and i’m looking down and I’m like trying to just to skim the information. And as I’m reading more, it’s like, you know, this is the information that we’ve prepared for you and you know, if you have any questions, email back. And so I’m looking and at this point it’s giving me information about my biological mother. Besides her just being a drug addict, a prostitute, the prostitute, you know, alcoholic. This is turning her into a real person. And I’m like, I’ve never, I’ve never looked at my mom like that. It’s always, I think somebody was always trying to make her seem like a bad person. So it seemed like my adoption was like this is a great thing, which it was, but it’s like don’t make her look like a monster.

Tameko:                       26:23                And so when I’m reading this information and saying, you know, your mom likes sports and she was good at art, you know, she had you when she lived, when she was 21 and I was like, wow, you know, I thought my mom was a young mom. You know, I had all these things had like conjured up in my head and it was like totally not this person. So at that point I was like, okay, I just wanted just to picture of my mother trying to just see why would I look like I never had the desire to meet her at any point after I read this, it was totally different. I was literally on the hunt to find my mother

Damon:                        27:13                The information Tameko read humanized her birth mother. She had never done herself. Her adoption had been painted in her mind as a rescue. It was true that her birth mother, Mary had been on drugs, then an alcoholic and was a prostitute, but she was clean at the time she was pregnant with Tameko.

Tameko:                       27:30                So of course I was like, oh, there’s hope is a good person I mean I don’t question her being a good person. I just think she made bad choices and I think it’s a result of things that may have happened to her. You know, people don’t just do things like I think something happens to you and then you make those choices. Right. So, yeah, I just, I just was really kind of like, I need to find her because I don’t care about whatever else happened. I don’t care. We’re grown now. You know, even if I meet you and you don’t want to have a relationship with me after that, like I meet you and then we talk and then that’s it. At least I know, you know, at least I’ve seen you. At least I didn’t give up and I found you. Right. Well, um, I did, I have not found my mother yet, but I found her brother. Yeah. She has three older brothers

Damon:                        28:28                Tameko’s paperwork, had all of her relatives names on it, and she joked that finding black people with original names in Salt Lake City, Utah, it wasn’t hard to find her uncle Virto. She found his picture on Facebook, then found him on Intelius and online resource that scours public records. She got his phone number and she texted him and

Tameko:                       28:50                He knew exactly who I was

Damon:                        28:51                really? Wow.

New Speaker:               28:51                Cause my mother gave me this name, he knew my name.

Damon:                        28:56                Your mother gave you that name and it was never changed.

Tameko:                       28:59                It was never changed.

Damon:                        29:01                Wow. So when Tameko calls, he knew exactly who you were.

Tameko:                       29:09                Yeah, he saw the text message like Wow. This is years and years and years later and he was like I always wondered where you guys went to. He was like, I had no idea.

Damon:                        29:19                About a week later after he traveled to Portland for his wife’s bowling league and he had time to absorb what was happening Tameko and her uncle talked by phone.

Tameko:                       29:29                He, he called me his niece from jump, like we got on the phone and I was like, hi my name is Tameko you know its like, I didn’t even know if he knew that I was his niece at this point. I said, I’m doing this research and trying to find a birth. Family’s like, Oh yeah, you’re my niece. I’ve been wondering where you were all this time. And I was like, oh my God, like at that point I was kind of like taken back like, you know me and so he was like, yeah, I haven’t seen your mom since like ’82. I was like you haven’t seen My mom since ’82. I’m like, well why did you not look for her? You know, I didn’t say that, but in my head I was thinking that there’s a lot of people in the family who had a lot of drug issues, crime issues in and out of jail. He, he wasn’t the one in the family who did that. He, he worked at a newspaper. He, he got married young. She had kids like she was trying to… Because when they were younger, my grandmother was very poor. She didn’t have a husband. She, you know, she was all, all the kids, had different dads. Like he was trying to set a foundation and build a family and keeping up with my mother was not part of that situation.

Damon:                        30:46                She said it was crazy to talk with someone in her biological family Tameko said Virto felt very badly that he didn’t have any information about where her birth mother was. He offered to send Tameko pictures of her birth mother. But the very first time she saw her face was online at Mugshots.com

Tameko:                       31:04                so when I did look there, there was about six month shots at my mother. But it’s crazy because you’d be time to see the progression because it’s, you know, it has a year next to it. The first mugshot she just looks sad. She didn’t look like she was angry. And as the years progressed she just got angrier and she just looks more, just more torn down.

Damon:                        31:26                Really, ugggh

Tameko:                       31:28                Yeah. And so I was like, I don’t know if I’m to be able to find, I mean who knows. I mean, she just looked angry and I remember in my life being like that same look on her face was like, I could totally, I use that as a defense mechanism, you know, over time, like I, I make that same face because I didn’t want people to get in. And so she has this huge wall, like the walls kept getting higher and higher as the mugshots, you know, we’re just coming up and I was like, wow, you know, I don’t want to remember my mom like this. This sucks.

Damon:                        32:03                Tameko started receiving pictures of her birth mother from the years before the mugshots and she was beautiful

Tameko:                       32:10                and my youngest son looks identical to her. I don’t look like my mother, but my youngest son looks like her and it just blew me away. Like I’ve been staring at my son’s face this whole time wondering why he doesn’t look like me. Like he kind of looks like his father, but as soon as I saw that picture of my mother, he looked just like her. And even when he saw the picture, he was like, mom, that’s weird. I was like, he had this kind of weird,

Damon:                        32:37                Wow. yeah, when a person sees their own face on another person, that validation right there.

Damon:                        32:44                Virto his wife and their son Wesley visited Tameko.

Tameko:                       32:55                And to see his emotion… he was like Wow. I can’t believe I’m meeting my niece and I look just like my grandmother. So for him to see his mother in me, you know, I think was kind of an emotional thing for him and they gave me her wedding ring.

Damon:                        33:11                Oh Wow.

New Speaker:               33:13                Yeah. That, that was like, I mean we had been talking since March, but I’m like to give me the wedding rings of your mother. It was kind of like, I felt really like honored. Like I couldn’t believe they would do that. But yeah, I looked identical to my grandmother. Like it’s just, she’s a little bit darker and she had her eyes, eyebrows drawn back in the day. Cause she was a jazz singer, so she kind of had this like personna she had to put on, you know, I guess, you know, back of a Utah, Utah has like a very like underground jazzy and like all the black people there was like the circuit. I guess it, I think it’s the Chitlin circuit li ke went from, you know, down south all the way up to Utah and her mother was a jazz singer also. I always wanted to be a singer and, and I just didn’t know where it came from. Well, there it is.

Damon:                        34:05                Tameko learn so much about herself that she took an ancestry DNA test to learn more. Her results were returned in two weeks, and when she saw her matches, she was surprised by the number of people she was related to.

Tameko:                       34:17                So my first match was close family match initials were X. Dot. C and it said managed by “Mary” Well, my biological mother’s name was Mary, so I was kind of like, who is this? Mary? Is this my mother? So I reached out and messaged her and she said, oh no, I did this. Uh, I did a DNA test on my granddaughters. She’s like, I live in Nebraska, you know, but she was a white woman. Um, and, and my, my, uh, granddaughter’s name is xheadle and that’s what the x comes from. And I was like, really? And so she started giving me, so I was like, okay. So that was all she gave me. So I’ve messaged back, I said, well well maybe this, maybe this can be like a half brother or something, you know, maybe this is my niece or something like that. She said, well no this couldn’t be a half rather cause this guy is 68 years old.

Tameko:                       35:17                I was like what? So I’m working at with a search angel at this point and she starts looking at the information. I gave her access to my account and she starts looking at the information and then like how so xheadles you know, DNA matches with mine. She said, this isn’t your calf, this is your father. And so I was like, wow. I said, her dad is my dad. I said, this kid is two years old. and They have another kid who’s seven months old. And so the lady Mary, her daughter is with my father and she’s 28 so there’s a big huge age difference

Damon:                        36:03                Tameko learned that her birth father was living in Wyoming in a very simple bus that had been converted into a house. Mary and her daughter divulge to Michael’s birth fathers passed unsure of how he’ll react to her emergence, but they don’t put Tameko in touch with the man. The girlfriend seem to be protecting her own interests in the relationship, possibly because he was her bread winner Tameko did an end around locating the man’s niece through ancestry and then Facebook. The niece spoke to her uncle about Tameko.

Tameko:                       36:35                He was like, you may not have known about me. He may not have known he got my mother pregnant. But he’s saying he took all the precautions I don’t care she’s not my kid. If he doesn’t want to. If he doesn’t want to talk to me… all I wanted to know was my roots. I don’t really care past that.

Damon:                        37:04                Despite it all Tameko learned that her heritage is Mayan and her great grandmothers were Mayan medicine women. Of all the things she thought she might be Mexican was never a thought in her mind. Now that she knows the truth, she sees it in the mirror and it totally makes sense why Mexican people have approached her for years trying to speak Spanish. I asked Tameko if she had considered writing the classic adoptee introductory letter to her birth father. It’s one thing to hear that you have a daughter from a third party, like your niece, but it’s something different to actually read the words from your daughter. She’s not sure how she would get a letter to him because he lives in a bus.

Tameko:                       37:53                I really want to because I think that he needs to hear it from me because he thinks that I’m in cohoots with the grandmother, like we set this up like this as a way of getting him, making him look really bad and that’s not the case. Like he really thinks someone’s out to get him. He’s a very private person and he doesn’t believe in taking DNA tests. He doesn’t, he doesn’t like the government. I mean he’s very secretive. I’m kind of like, I don’t know if I can plead my case after he already thinks that I’m in on this with the grandmother and I’m just like, dude, I mean if I have to, maybe I’ll just drive out there, I don’t know!

Damon:                        38:35                Let me ask you one final question. You’ve been through a lot, Nathan tormented you. Yes. Your parents didn’t believe you and you were guilty in their court before you had a chance to plead your case. You have your maternal biological relatives and you know, I’m sure the connection, it was good to finally have a connection, but you still haven’t found your mom and your dad is denied you. How are you doing now?

Tameko:                       39:03                You’re not surprisingly, I’m doing really great. Like I feel like at this point in my life I literally found like, I think I’ve always looked for someone else to fill like that, you know, the happiness void, which I think everybody does, you know, like relationships or friendships or whatever. But now I’m good on my own. Like I feel like I really just, I’ve really come to a point where I’m like, I know who I am and um, I’m happy regardless of me not finding my mom yet. I’m still going to push through. And you know, I think life in general is hard and there are ups and downs. I think it’s just how you deal with it. I, for some reason I feel like I deal with stress a lot better than a lot of people. There’s a picture of me at two and a half years old and I’m looking at this picture and I’m so like happy and I’m thinking “I’m in a foster home.” These were taking in foster care. How is this child so happy when they’re not even with the family they belong in? Like I literally, I feel like I’ve gone through so much crap in my life that I don’t, I don’t see how I didn’t become, you know, a drug addict for some reason I kept pushing through, you know, I just think that, you know, I’m pretty strong in that sense,

Damon:                        40:28                That’s a mazing,

Tameko:                       40:28                you know, I’m going to keep pushing through.

Damon:                        40:31                That’s really fantastic. I’m glad to hear that. I’m really glad to hear that because it takes a lot to get to this point and in your, you know, late thirties she’s pretty much figured out who you’re going to be and I’m glad to hear it. It, you’re in a positive space where you are willing to accept whatever you find out next about your biological relatives. But I know that the curiosity is just, it can be a real driving force. And I hope you get some answers from them sometime soon.

Tameko:                       41:00                Yeah, me too. Yeah, man, it was really good talking to you. You know, I listened to the podcast like faithfully. I think I’ve listened to every single one.

Damon:                        41:08                Oh, that’s so awesome Tameko. Thank you so much and I really appreciate you taking time to share your own story. I’ve, I know I hear from a lot of adoptees that they appreciate hearing the stories of others and I’m, I’m really thankful that you decided to be a contributor too thanks so much.

Tameko:                       41:24                Yeah, It’s been, it helps me a lot through my, my, my journey. So thank you for doing this. For the people that are adopted. No, my pleasure. Absolutely.

Damon:                        41:34                My pleasure. All the best to you Tameko take care. Thanks for your time. Bye Bye.

Damon:                        41:42                Hey, it’s me. I was really sorry to hear that Tameko adopted brother entered their family with a mission to bring her down, but as she alluded to, I’m sure his past had scarred him and taught him to bring others down to somehow feel better about himself. She said that despite her birth father’s denial and the fact that he forbade his family from speaking to her, she’s okay. She told me in an email that life’s a journey and she knows she’s loved Tameko. Search for her birth mother continues. I’m Damon Davis and I hope you’ll find something in Tameko 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 adoption journey and your attempt to connect with your biological family, please visit who am I really podcast.com/share you can choose to share your whole story, maintain some privacy about parts of your journey or share completely anonymously. You can find the show at facebook.com/WAIReally, or follow me on Twitter at WAIReally, and please, if you like the show, you can support me at patrion.com/WAIReally, you can subscribe to who am I really on apple podcasts, Google play or wherever you get your podcasts, and while you’re there, it would mean so much to me. If you would take a moment to share a rating or leave a comment, those ratings can help others to find the podcast too.

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