078 – I’m In Recovery, I’m In A Good Place

 

Megan grew up in an affluent suburb of Chicago and was comfortable with her adoption, but curious about her start in life. After pregnancy, “I struggled with mental health problems and became addicted to narcotics and anti-anxiety meds.” When she met her maternal relatives, things went well until her aunt shunned her for her addiction recovery. On her paternal side, that same news, being in recovery, was met with acceptance, because we all have our challenges. More than anything, Megan is thankful to finally have a sister, and it’s someone listeners already know. (http://www.whoamireallypodcast.com/071-i-would-give-anything-to-hear-his-voice/)
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Megan:                         00:03                Am I opening up my heart to this woman who is just gonna stomp on it? Do I let myself accept the love that’s coming at me and just take it at face value and so that’s what I decided to do, but I was not going to make, you know, midnight pilgrimage to Chicago to meet them. Because I’ve been hurt. You know what I mean? I’ve been really hurt by my birth mother’s side of the family.

Voices:                         00:35                Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

Damon:                        00:47                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 Megan. She called me from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Megan grew up in an affluent suburb of Chicago and was comfortable with her adoption but curious about her start in life. When she met her maternal relatives, things went well until her aunt shunned her for her addiction recovery. On her paternal side, that same news was met with acceptance because we all have our challenges, but more than anything, Megan is thankful to finally have a sister and it’s someone listeners already know. This is Megan’s journey

Damon:                        01:34                Megan grew up in Beverly, an affluent neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. She’s the oldest of three children in her family, all adopted, raised strict Irish Catholic. Megan says she was told she was adopted from as far back as she can remember and it was something to be proud of.

Megan:                         01:50                I remember my mom, um, telling stories to my younger brothers and myself about how she had prayed to God and God blessed her with three beautiful children and it sticks in my head. The neighborhood I grew up in, there were a lot of adopted children, so we knew, we knew and initially we knew we were different because it was brought up to us. Oh, they’re not your real parents. And as we kind of figured out the other children who are adopted, we kind of realized we weren’t different we were special, you know, our parents loved us so much that they prayed for us. And, and you know, we were chosen to be in this family.

Damon:                        02:37                Megan was adopted through an adoption agency called The Cradle. So was her middle brother and a lot of the children in her community. Her father was a lawyer, her mother was a stay at home mom and the children didn’t want for anything. But ultimately the longing Megan felt was for her greater understanding of herself. For example, she wanted to know things about herself, like who she got her physical features from,

Megan:                         03:00                those types of questions came up in college. I was an RA in, at college in my first two years of college I went to St Louis University. And that’s a private Jesuit College Catholic. And um, one of the girls on the unit was an RA and she became pregnant. And that kind of brought up a lot of questions because she made her decision, which was her decision. It’s her body, her choice, the whole nine yards. But I started thinking about my birth mother and you know, this was, I was born in 74. So this was, you know, this was right around Roe vs Wade and you know, she could have made a different decision. She didn’t have to put me up for adoption. And so I just started wondering about who this person was and I kind of, I kind of built her up in my head. She was this great, wonderful selfless person who, you know, got pregnant unexpectedly and wanted the best for me and decided to put me up for adoption.

Damon:                        04:07                So in 1994, Megan was watching an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show where she talked about an adoptee’s legal entitlement to obtain non identifying information. Mentioning that Illinois is one of those states where that’s possible. Megan wrote a letter to The Cradle, identifying herself, her parents, and requesting information on her birth mother. They mailed back a packet of information to her home during the summer of 1994. When Megan got home from work one day her parents were sitting together in the living room awaiting her arrival.

Megan:                         04:37                And my dad said, Megan is there something you want to tell me, something you want to ask me? And I’m like, oh my God, what did I do?

Damon:                        04:44                Her father pulled out the envelope and asked again if there was anything she wanted to ask them. She really felt like she was in deep trouble because she didn’t tell her parents that she was launching a search.

Megan:                         04:55                I didn’t tell them that I was doing this. This was, this was something I did and I didn’t want to hurt them, you know, I didn’t want them to think that I didn’t love them anymore. You know, that I said that because I was searching for this information, that it meant that I loved them any less. Um, and I sat down with my mom and dad and my mom was crying and you know, it was a good conversation and my dad said, what do you want to know? And I just told him, I said, I want to know who she is. I want to know, do I look like her? You know, I just have all these questions. And I rattled off this list of things that I wanted and he said, well, I can help you with one thing. And I said, oh, okay. He says, Do you want to know her name?

Megan:                         05:44                And I was like, it was a private adoption, like my adoption was closed. It says it right in my paperwork. Well, my dad was a lawyer and he happened to know the lawyer who worked at the adoption agency, so he and my mom were there the day that they terminated my biological mother and father’s parental rights, so he heard the name and it was an odd name. It wasn’t, it wasn’t like Smith or Jones. It was a unique name, and so he remembered it all those years. He remembered it, which is ironic now because my father passed away from early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Damon:                        06:25                Oh, so that information could have left him. Wow.

Megan:                         06:29                Absolutely. Absolutely.

Damon:                        06:31                Megan was 20 at the time of that conversation, she told me she also hadn’t spoken with her siblings, who were adopted, about her desire to search. She didn’t want to spark a bunch of searches and make her parents feel badly. I circled back to something Megan said before that her neighborhood was affluent and there was a large population of adopted children in it. I asked if she thought there was a correlation between that collective affluence and the rate of adoption in those neighboring families and she said, yes. We chatted about how much it can cost to complete an adoption and the business that adoption has turned into in many cases,

Megan:                         07:07                it’s not something that a family that is completely loving and would be tremendous parenst to a child are able to afford. It no matter how you adopt a child, it’s a wonderful experience. But it’s unfortunate that those without the means to afford it financially are unable to do what other people that happen to have $30,000 lying around are able to.

Damon:                        07:39                Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean the idea that a person could have, you know, most love in their heart, the most altruistic vision and no financial means to complete an adoption versus somebody who, as you know, I’ve interviewed on the podcast many times, parents who are not fit to be parents but are in a position of affluence and can afford it end up with more than one child in many cases and sometimes those children are miserable.

Megan:                         08:10                Look at my half sister, Amanda. I mean, look what she went through. My heart breaks for her.

Damon:                        08:16                Did you hear that? Remember that name, Amanda, we’ll come back to her in a few minutes. Let’s go back to the living room where Megan’s parents have confronted her about her envelope. Her mother is crying, but

Megan:                         08:28                they were, they were good tears. She wasn’t, she wasn’t, you know, wasn’t coming from, from a place of sadness was, she was happy for me almost. You know, that, that I was getting to know this piece, this information as, as minimalistic as the page and the information was, I had some information, you know, so we sat down and we read it together.

Damon:                        08:54                Megan learned her mother was four foot six inches tall and had worked odd jobs and the documentation explained the woman’s social and family history. But what shocked Megan the most was.

Megan:                         09:05                it said that I had a half sibling. It didn’t say brother or sister, it’s just that I had a half sibling who was placed production in 1978 and so, you know, instantly in the, in addition to who, who are my biological parents, well, Holy Shit. Now I have, I have a sibling?

Damon:                        09:25                Right? Mind blowing.

Megan:                         09:29                Like, okay. Holy Shit, number one. Number two. Um, why did no one notify my parents that I had a sibling.

Damon:                        09:38                Okay. Now let’s talk about Megan’s sister, Amanda. You’ve actually met her already. She was episode 71 last season, called “I would give anything to hear his voice”. She talked about her mother.

Amanda:                       09:51                I hate to say this cause I don’t, I’m not trying to paint any negativity about her. But she was a go, go dancer and a dwarf go go dancer? I don’t know, cause I don’t know if I could forget that.

Damon:                        10:02                And her birth father,

Amanda:                       10:03                I want him to contact me when he wants to be a part of my life or get to know me. But it still hurts because I talked to his brothers all the time and it’s like, why can’t you just pick up the phone and just call me?

Damon:                        10:15                So Megan’s parents told her that someone called from The Cradle in late 1978 wanting to know how things were going with Megan. They wanted to know if she was developmentally hitting her milestones and was she healthy.

Megan:                         10:27                So they answered the questions and that was it. No one ever said, hey guess what? She did it again. You want another kid? Nope, that it never even came into question. And my dad is, he was a wreak. My god if they would have told us he would have, we would have taken that child in. Which you know, and again juxtaposed against what Amanda went through. That broke my heart because I had a great upbringing. I had an amazing mom and dad who gave me the sun, the moon, and the stars and she went through hell and it was almost, there was a little, there was a little bit of guilt there when I finally met her and I heard all of this stuff that she had gone through that, that I wasn’t, that she wasn’t able to have the same upbringing that I did and all the opportunities that I had.

Damon:                        11:32                In the summer of 1994, the Internet was only just taking off when Megan wanted to search for the names she had on her non identifying information. So she called 411 to get an operator and some information. The operator was super nice and Megan ended up downloading her entire story of adoption, receiving her non-identifying information and her parents’ names, which were unusual names. The operator was looking up the names as Megan spoke, and she agreed, those names were unique. Since there was so few people with that name, the operator was able to give Megan a handful of phone numbers

Megan:                         12:06                and I got off the phone and I didn’t even skip a beat. I just went to the first number and the first number that I called and I kind of explained, you know, I’m like, Hey, I’m Megan, I was adopted in 1974, and woman that answered the phone sounded, she sounded like she could be around the age of my birth mother. I said, this is going to sound bizarre, but I’m looking for my birth mother, and this was the name that they gave me and I, you know, I spelled it out and she’s like, well, that’s my last name. And I’m like, yeah. I’m like, okay, I’m just going to go for it, balls to the wall. I’m like, Did you put a child up for adoption in 1974? and she chuckled and she’s like, no. She’s like, I didn’t but tell me a little bit more. And so I started telling her some of the information. I’m like, well, this is what they said. You know that my birth mother grew up in this large family and that there was a prior marriage. And then, then there was her, you know, her parents and they, you know, they had four children and that her father, my grandfather was a pilot and she goes, hold on, just my husband is a pilot. And so then I read a little bit more, she was like, you’re, you’re talking about Alphonse.

Megan:                         13:37                And I’m like, who? My, my husband was a pilot and he has four children from his first marriage and two children from his second marriage and I’m his third wife. And I was like, I, I believe I said, Holy Shit, but I may not have, I may have said, oh my God, or something. But I just remember being like, god smack. And she’s like, but my, my husband died of a heart attack. And I’m like, okay, so then th mental note is, you know, medical history, heart problems,

Damon:                        14:10                right, right. Alphonse’s third wife said that her own daughter was out with Megan’s probable aunt. She asked if she could call Megan back in a while, but she ended with this.

Megan:                         14:21                If this is who I think it is, I think you might be my step granddaughter. And I’m like, oh my God. And so, you know, we talked for a little bit and we ended the phone call and I got off the phone and I’m like, what just happened?

Damon:                        14:38                Hm.

Megan:                         14:39                Because it doesn’t go that way. It doesn’t happen that way. So, you know what I mean? And I forgot one, one thing. Um, one of the sad pieces of information that she share with me was that if I was who she thought I was, that my biological mother had passed away. Then that was like, that was a, It was kind of a kick to the gut. And she said she passed away in 1982 and I’m doing the math on that and I’m like 30? 29? And she’s like, but I’m, I’m going to save that for, for your, your aunt to talk about

Damon:                        15:18                two hours later, Megan’s birth mother’s sister called and they hit it off immediately and she was very apologetic for the bad news she had to deliver.

Megan:                         15:28                I’m so sorry to tell you this, but your birth mother passed away in 1982 and, and I said, oh, what happened? And she says, it’s really an unfortunate story. You know, she, she had a really troubled life and she died in a, basically like a, seedy hotel of cirrhosis of the liver. And I thought, okay, again, my brain went note to self, cause my, my adopted father was in recovery for 30 some years before he passed away. Um, but I’m like, okay, note to self. We got, we got chemical dependency issues

Damon:                        16:13                With the bad news out of the way, Megan and her aunt talked for hours that first night. They compared physical traits like chubby cheeks and the shape of their foreheads. The answer to every question they asked one another was, yes, I have that too. Eventually, Megan had to get off the phone, but she told her aunt, she would send her a letter in the mail

Megan:                         16:33                and basically said, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. You know, I, I’m, I really look forward to meeting you. This is, you know, this has been dream of mine. And um, long story short, I put my high school picture in there, my graduation picture. And the way she told it is, she got into her building that day, got her mail and was opening up the letter in her elevator, at work or at home, excuse me. And she had somebody staying next to her and apparently she said something like, whoa. And um, she explained what was going on to the person in the elevator and the lady said to her, well, there’s no blood tests needed, sweetie, because I look identical to this person. I look identical to her. I mean we are, we are clones of each other. And it’s scary because when I did, you know, she called me that night and said, my God, you know, we look identical and then that turned quickly in to I want to meet you. And so we agreed that I would come down to meet her, but I get into, into my aunt’s apartment and there’s three of my aunts and opened the door and it was just, you know, either everybody was crying and they were soo happy. I mean, it was like I was looking in a mirror and it was the most surreal experience that I had ever had because, you know, I grew up in a house where I didn’t look like anybody.

Damon:                        18:16                Wow.

Megan:                         18:17                Never was it, it was never used against me. You know what I mean? There wasn’t a, it wasn’t a negative thing..

Damon:                        18:21                Yeah. But you, you notice those things, right? You, It’s a, it’s a relatable factor between people. And when you have three adoptees, I, I believe you guys were not biological to each other, you automatically are going to be missing some common traits. And it’s just noticeable.

Megan:                         18:40                Right.

Damon:                        18:41                During their reunion, Megan showed her aunt’s, her non identifying information, revealing details they didn’t know.

Megan:                         18:48                I showed them a letter and I said, apparently, you know, she had another child and they were just, they knew about me. My biological grandmother, so my maternal grandmother went to the hospital when I was born. My, my birth mother lived in a home for unwed mothers and I was delivered in a hospital that was run by the salvation army. But my maternal grandmother went down after I was born and she saw me and she held me. And I did meet her before she passed away and she told, tells a story of driving in rain on the day and the night I was born and she went and saw me and she held me and I had this little tuft of blonde hair and you know, she so desperately wanted to keep me, but she was in the middle of a divorce from my maternal grandfather and she didn’t think it was fair for her to raise me knowing that I could go to a two parent home.

Megan:                         19:49                So she again, another selfless decision. You know what I mean? She wanted me to be raised by two parents and she kept, when I met her, I flew down to Florida to meet her and she apologized so many times. I’m so sorry I didn’t keep you, I’m so sorry I didn’t keep you and I said, no. I called her grandma and I said grandma, there’s no hard feelings there. I grew up in a, I grew up in, in a loving family. There’s nothing to be sorry about. I’m just so glad that I got to meet you.

Damon:                        20:25                Megan told me she spent holidays with her birth mother’s family for years until she moved away from Chicago. Before Megan moved, she was in law school. A week before she graduated law school she got a call from her birth mother’s aunt, her maternal great aunt. Her great aunt told Megan that she had received a call from a woman who believed she was her birth mother, Barb’s daughter, Megan’s half sister, Amanda. Megan said, growing up in a family with only brothers, finding out that she had a sister was like a Christmas gift. She was ecstatic because the only mechanism she had for reaching out to this unidentified sister was to leave an open letter in her own file at The Cradle six years earlier. When Megan and Amanda finally connected by phone in June of 2000, they also talked for hours Megan shared what she knew about their birth mothers family. Luckily law school graduation was still a week away, so Megan and Amanda arranged to meet that Friday. Amanda drove from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois with her husband and her children who were close in age to Megan’s daughter. All of Megan’s family was present from her mother to her uncle and aunt, grandmother and even her ex husband and his parents because they all knew how important this was for Megan.

Megan:                         21:41                I ran out to the car and I gave her the biggest hug I think I’ve given anybody in my life. I cried and cried. Um, and she and her husband came in with the boys and I introduced everybody and we just sat and talked for a couple hours. And we kept looking at each other and we don’t look alike per se, but there are similarities.

Damon:                        22:06                A few months later, Amanda met some of her birth mother’s relatives. Megan describes how things went down in a similar way that Amanda explained them to me herself.

Megan:                         22:16                They met, some of them that Amanda and I think, I think, again, I don’t know this to be true, but I think Amanda might have come in a little too hot, if that makes sense. She was… Growing up in the family that she grew up in. It doesn’t surprise me that she longed for a close family relationship with her biological.

Damon:                        22:43                Yeah, absolutely.

Megan:                         22:44                Did not surprise me one bit, but I think that they were taken aback because I didn’t come in like that. I was, I was super happy to meet them and over the moon, but I wasn’t… You know what I’m trying to say? Like I was not

Damon:                        23:01                One person comes in with the cautious optimism and, and perhaps the other one comes in with the overt over the top excitement and enthusiasm and you know, whatever. Yeah. There’s just a difference of approach.

Megan:                         23:18                Correct. And I think that was off putting and over the course of a of a little bit of time things, things that sour pretty quickly with with my birth mother’s family and things just more sour as, as time went on and I maintained a good relationship with both my birth mother’s family, my aunts and Amanda. But they were separate entities. It wasn’t, I was speaking to both of them, but I wasn’t speaking about the other. I wasn’t speaking about my, my sister with my aunt, just like I wasn’t speaking about my aunts with my sister. When Amanda’s husband commited suicide, then it became a question of should Amanda be raising her children? And I thought, well, what the hell do you care?

Damon:                        24:17                This was your maternal family raising this question?

Megan:                         24:20                Yes. Yeah. One person in particular. It’s none of your business. She just lost her husband, like get over it.

Megan:                         24:32                And I again tried to stay out of it and did what I thought was a good job of staying out of it. Supporting Amanda through what she was going through and just kind of trying to keep my, my aunts out of the picture and not giving them any information. And then I, I told you that our biological mother had died from cirrhosis, right?

Damon:                        24:56                Yes.

Megan:                         24:58                So we found out that she was, she was drug addicted. She was an alcoholic. She, um, lived, um, she had, she had different ways to financially support herself.

Damon:                        25:17                Understood.

Megan:                         25:19                She was creative, uh, entrepreneurial. And um, I was in a marriage to a man whom, you know, he’s the father of my, my oldest two daughters. And, and for that I will be forever grateful, but he was extremely abusive to me, very emotionally abusive. And I had been dealing with depression ever since my, my eldest daughter was born and anxiety. And then I started dealing with chronic pain and I myself became dependent on prescription opioids and anti-anxiety medications and went through treatment for that. And my now ex husband said, this was December of ’08, either you go through treatments, I’m going to divorce you. And of course for years a victim of abuse. You’re going to tel me that, I can’t live by myself, I’m going to do whatever you want because I want to make him happy and blah, blah, blah.

Damon:                        26:24                Right.

Megan:                         26:25                So despite having medical reasons for being on the medication, I went through detox, I went through treatment and I’m like, okay, I’m going to get this right. Like I’m going to figure out a way to live with chronic pain and crippling anxiety without, medication. It’s an easy task, right?

Damon:                        26:45                Yeah, Good for you.

Megan:                         26:47                So you can say it was not an easy task, but I didn’t tell my birth mother’s family that I was going through treatment because I was embarrassed, you know, and I didn’t tell them I went to treatment. I know that my aunt called a couple of times. I didn’t answer the phone. I didn’t return her phone calls. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. You know, it was, there’s a, there’s a certain, um, how do I put this. There’s a, there’s a perception when you say, you know, I’m an addict, it’s not a good perception. Even though I can say I’m an addict in recovery, the recovery doesn’t matter if you’ve got someone who’s going to pass judgment on you for being an addict.

Damon:                        27:37                Right. The first part of the sentence is what register, not the second part. Right.

Megan:                         27:42                Exactly. Exactly.

Damon:                        27:44                I just heard someone say something very astute recently about that whole thing. I’m sorry to cut you, but they said, you know, there’s a judgment that comes with people suffering from addiction because it’s interpreted by the broader populace as a moral issue within yourself that you don’t have the moral fortitude to say no to something when in fact it’s quite the opposite. It’s that the things that you have ingested either prescribed or otherwise are actually chemicals that impact your brain and your brain being an organ, your organ is no longer able to function correctly and therefore it’s not that it’s a moral issue, it’s that you literally have a chemical problem with the thought processes.

Megan:                         28:31                it’s a disease.

Damon:                        28:32                Yeah, it’s a disease, that’s exactly right.

Megan:                         28:32                it’s a disease just like you know. Would you judge me because I, you know, I, I’m not, but you know, would you judge me if I’m diabetic or would you judge me if I have cancer?

Damon:                        28:42                Yes, exactly, exactly.

Megan:                         28:44                You know what I mean? And, and I honestly, before I went through what I went through, I didn’t understand that. I knew my, my dad was an alcoholic, but I didn’t understand what that meant, you know, and then to know, my dad was an alcoholic with, you know, 35 years of sobriety. What an accomplishment.

Damon:                        29:09                About six months after Megan got out of treatment for her addiction, her husband divorced her anyway, and he took her birth mother’s family with him. They maintained a relationship with her abusive ex husband and her daughters. In 2017, Megan’s oldest daughter moved in with her. So her maternal birth family cut that daughter off too because of her reassociation with her own mother.

Megan:                         29:34                It’s all unfortunate. Um, you know, I, I had some stumbling blocks coming out of early sobriety. I just I had all these life changes coming at me and I’m like…But I’ve been sober since 2011, so coming up on, um, yeah, it’s coming up, coming up on eight year.

Damon:                        29:56                That’s excellent.

Megan:                         29:56                Um, yeah. And I’m really, you know, I’m really proud of that. Um, I’ve, I’ve gotten remarried. I have two more kids and, an amazing husband who is, um, a genealogist. And when I kind of told him what, what I went through, yeah, he was like, oh, you gotta do DNA testing and you know, don’t you want to find who your birth father is? And I’m like, not really, because to me the birth father is this, with the little bit of information I had again, epileptic cook. But when he was, you know, in my mind he had left her high and dry and um, so I was kinda like, no, I’m okay with that.

Damon:                        30:42                Megan said her husband, Ed lives and breathes genealogy. So for Christmas in 2017, he offered to buy her a DNA test. And to his surprise, she accepted it. But she finally arrived at the conclusion that maybe this guy had a story too. Did he even know about her? She did the test and the results came back with what looked like first cousins, but Megan was too fearful of heartbreak to reach out for herself. So, Ed sent out a few emails on her behalf. He told the recipients that he was a genealogist, his wife was adopted, and he was simply working to help her put the pieces of her past together. For awhile they didn’t hear anything. In April of 2018 ed got an email from Megan’s paternal aunt who was given Ed’s information by her own son, Megan’s cousin. Megan, had drafted a long letter explaining who she was that she had a great upbringing, and was looking for the last piece of her puzzle to make her feel whole. And basically

Megan:                         31:39                I come in peace. I don’t want anything from you. I just, I just want to know where I came from.

Damon:                        31:44                Her paternal family distributed the letter through out their family to seven siblings on her birth Father’s side. One evening, Megan was driving to a treatment center where she shares her personal journey of addiction recovery. She said she does so about every three months with the hope that something she says will help another addicted person who is still suffering. On the way to the treatment center, Her aunt wanted to talk, but she was almost at the center so Megan asked if they could talk during her hour long drive back home.

Megan:                         32:13                So I called her back and I had zero expectations and she was hysterically crying on the phone. Like, I can’t believe I’m talking to you. And you know, come to find out that my birth father was, um, a gentleman who was, he had no more than a, I think it was a form of education. In retrospect, they think he was, he had autism, never had any children, you know, lived with his mother’s, so my paternal grandmother, his entire life, you know, and she, she said, I’m so sorry. I think you’re Skip’s daughter or so. Yeah, I think you’re Skip’s daughter, but I’m so sorry because he passed away in 2011.

Megan:                         33:05                And I thought, okay, so I’m, I’m taking in the information that my Aunt is super excited to meet me and the siblings want to meet me and they think this is the wildest thing in the world. But juxtapose with the fact that my biological father was dead and not only was deceased, but he was never able to live independently. He was at, at the time, you know, my, my aunt just said I think he was autistic because there are other family members on that, on my birth, father’s side of the family who are at differing levels of autistic, you know, somewhere on the spectrum. And she, you know, she and I talked for forever and I got off the phone and she’s like, you know, I just want you to know, I love you. And I’m like, holy crap. Am I opening up my heart to this woman who’s just going to stomp on it? Or do I let myself accept the love that’s coming at me and just take it at face value. And so that’s what I decided to do. But I was not going to make you know, a midnight pilgrimage to Chicago to meet them, because I’ve been hurt. You know what I mean? I had been really hurting my birth mother’s side of the family.

Damon:                        34:27                Megan took it slow and just got to know her aunts over the phone. One of them agreed to do an ancestry DNA test. Megan offered to pay for it, but her aunt said no, she wanted to do the test herself anyway. The test confirmed that Megan was her niece, so she was definitely Skip’s daughter. One Saturday before her eldest daughter shipped off to Marine Corps bootcamp, Megan met her paternal family for the first time.

Megan:                         34:52                I didn’t want to rush into meeting them because of what happened with my birth mother’s family. So I um, we had the DNA test done and they, I think it was like April or May-ish. And so I went down the end of July. So I went to meet my birth father’s family. I had my 18 year old, I had my then five year old and my four year old and my mom, God love her. She’s like, well, I’d like to meet them. And you know, you have that initial like, oh crap.

Megan:                         35:33                So I called my aunt and I’m like, hey, my mom would like to come and they’re like, bring her along oh my God, it’s, so again, it was this surreal experience of driving out there, meeting all of these family members. There must’ve been, I have a picture with, there must be, must be 30 people in the picture. And they all showed up and you know, they’re all crying and you know, Skip, would be so proud of you and you know, Skip, Skip would have loved you. And they told the story, which I found shocking. So my birth mother, again, woman of loose morals, whatever you want to call it, you know, she, I, whether or not she took advantage of him, I don’t know. But she came barreling in my paternal grandmother’s house and basically was like Skip and I are getting married. And again, she had a reputation in that city of being a woman of loose morals. And my grandmother basically said over my dead body, get the hell out of my house. My son lives with me. Goodbye. Never. She never said I’m pregnant. She was just like Skip and I have to get married. So that part never came out. My, my, my birth mother just left.

Damon:                        36:58                Megan said her mother was really brave for going to meet their family and they were happy to meet her and glad for all she had done to raise Megan. Now, remember when Megan had the problems on her maternal side, when she told her aunt she was an addict in recovery? Well, she divulged the truth to her aunt on her paternal side too. Megan doesn’t remember how the subject came up, but,

Megan:                         37:22                but I mentioned it to my aunt and I’m like, you know, I just want to be honest with you. Um, I think it was because I was afraid of getting rejected again for not being honest. Like I was my birth mother’s family. I said, you know, I’m in recovery. I have, you know, I’m seven years clean, you know, I just need you to know this. And she’s like, hunny, we all have our issues. She’s like, I’ve been sober since, and I can’t remember what her date waa. She had be sober forever, but she too dealt with addiction, struggled with addiction. So it was like I, there, there was no judgment. It was, there was just nothing but love and it was amazing.

Damon:                        38:05                Yeah, that must’ve been really refreshing given how that honesty turned against you in the last, the last time you openly admitted it.

Megan:                         38:16                Absolutely. So it was amazing. And I will tell you, I want nothing more than for Amanda to meet them. I know they want to meet Amanda. Part of me feels guilty that, again, I’ve had all of these good things happen. I had a great upbringing. I had fabulous parents. I had for a period of time, a really good relationship with our birth mother’s family. I found my birth father’s family, and they’ve been nothing but wonderful. And Amanda has had struggle, after struggle, after struggle. She was not raised by the nicest family in the world. She, you know, Shit. Her father was amazing, but every, you know, her mother was absolutely not. Our birth mother’s family rejected her from almost the get go. And she’s got a similar situation with her birth father. You know, her birth fathers, um, brother has been very nice to Amanda, but she was rejected by her birth father.

Megan:                         39:18                Her birth father knows she exists, but for whatever reason doesn’t want that relationship, whether it’s, you know, a dirty secret or whatever. So, you know, I have felt, I felt guilty because I’ve had quite large positive experiences, you know, and you know, part of me wants to just click my heels and give Amanda what she deserves. I mean, we all deserve to be loved unconditionally and welcomed and not ashamed, of not being shamed for our past. I can’t give that to her, but I can love her, you know, she’s, she’s my sister and so I always have, I always have her back. She’ll always have my, my support.

Damon:                        40:02                That’s really awesome.

Megan:                         40:03                Maybe my, maybe my birth father’s family will adopt her in their own way.

Damon:                        40:08                Well they sound like awesome people. God, What a crazy set of adventures. You both have been on, un..real, unreal. So you’re doing okay now you’re, you’re in recovery. You are in solid relationships.

Megan:                         40:32                I have, I have four amazing kids. I have, I have three kids who think I’m on the moon. I have another child who, for whatever reason she does, she, she’s getting messaging from her, from her father that, you know, I, I am quote unquote, nothing more than an addict. You know what I mean? So that she’s, she’s been getting negative messages from him and she will have to get to her own place in her own journey, which she can see that there’s a difference between active addiction and recovery. And even if there wasn’t a difference in active addiction and recovery, it’s a disease. You know? And would you shunned somebody who has cancer? No. You would do, would rally the troops around them and you would, you know, do whatever you could do to support that person. So she’ll get there. I don’t have a question about that, but yeah, no, I’m, I’m in a great spot. You know, I, I finally have that, that puzzle has finally been completed.

Damon:                        41:40                That’s awesome. Wow, that’s really good. I’m super happy for you, Megan. Congratulations on reaching this point. And not everybody gets there, but you’ve been through a lot

Megan:                         41:52                and you know I didn’t get there overnight. I did an awful lot of therapy. I mean, I still, I’m still in therapy. You know, I still have abandonment issues. I still, you know, I still struggle with anxiety and depression and it’s a struggle, but if you put the work into it and my sobriety and my mental house are, are issues that I will always deal with, but I can say I’m an addict in recovery. I’m someone who struggles with mental health, but I’m in recovery. I, you know, I’m in a good place and by the grace of god I will continue to be in a, in a good place.

Damon:                        42:37                Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Megan. I appreciate it.

Megan:                         42:44                No problem! You’re very welcome.

Damon:                        42:45                Take care. All the best to you. Okay.

Megan:                         42:48                Thank you have a good day!

Damon:                        42:48                You too. Bye.

Megan:                         42:49                Bye.

Damon:                        42:54                Hey, it’s me. I’m always fascinated by the juxtaposition of sibling adoption journeys. Megan and her sister Amanda, grew up very differently and their reunion attempts are also very different. In Megan’s case, she reached the point of playing a neutral role between their maternal family and Amanda, eventually committing to a closer tie with her sibling. I was glad to hear that Megan was able to get some details about her birth mother and father despite missing the chance to meet them in this life, but most importantly, I’m really glad to hear that her recovery continues and her family are supportive. I know this is Megan story, but I wanted to share an update on Amanda. I texted with her off and on after her interview in August of 2017 about her burning desire for her father to just acknowledge her and pick up the phone.

Damon:                        43:44                I felt like my role was to help her be patient while pushing her to continue sending an occasional kind message to help him see that she’s a decent person. Well, over the holidays in 2018 I received a jubilant text from Amanda that it finally happened. Her birth father, Ron, called her and they spoke on the phone for three hours. She said that her favorite part of their conversation was his lament, that if he had known about her, he would have done the right thing. In the end, I’m just glad to know that Megan and Amanda have each other as sisters. I’m Damon Davis and I hope you’ll find something in Megan’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 would like to share your adoption journey and your attempt to connect with your biological family, please visit WhoAmIReallypodcast.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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