Damon: 00:00 Hey there. I just wanted to take a sec to let you know that in between producing the show, chasing my son Seth around and generally living life, I took time to write a book about my own adoption journey. It’s called Who Am I Really? Of course. If you’d like to preorder a copy, go to WhoAmIReallypodcast.com and click shop where you will be redirected to the publishers bookstore. I hope to make it to your reading list. Okay, here’s this week’s show.
Bill: 00:30 I just realized that what was so upsetting was all the stuff I had missed. I missed 54 years with these people. I missed 54 years with my parents. I missed 54 years with my aunts and uncles and my sisters that I’ll never get back and that was really, really weighing on me and I just, I got to a point where I learned that I have to just accept that and I got to try to get past it.
Voices: 01:05 Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?
Damon: 01:16 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 Bill. He called me from Virginia Beach, Virginia. When he was a kid, Bill saw clues here and there that he was adopted, but no one ever actually said it. It wasn’t until he called an uncle he’d never met before that the truth was revealed, turning Bill’s world upside down. He talks about how he felt toward the father he grew up with after learning the news and how redemptive it’s been to be accepted by his birth parents and his new siblings. This is Bill’s journey. Bill tells his adoption story in parts. I gathered, It was because he’s had to accumulate the facts over his lifetime. The first part of his story he calls, what I knew, where he describes exactly that, the things that he knew were the facts of his life. For example, he was born in January of 1963 his birth place was a Methodist hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. His father’s name was Bill. His first wife’s name was Audrey.
Bill: 02:27 I knew that sometime when I was two years old, Audrey passed away in June of 65 and I know that, uh, my father remarried my mother who raised me and uh, November of 67 that I knew, I knew that I grew up with a mother who wasn’t my real mother. I knew she was my step, but I grew up with that stereotypical Walt Whitman, uh, suburban family. There was nothing that we couldn’t do. Daryl and uh, his wife Jean went on to have four children, two boys and two girls. So I grew up as the oldest of five. Typical Irish Catholic family in Nebraska, the siblings, we were very, very close, but we fought like cats and dogs just like kids do. They were never any knock down drag outs. They were just those, you know, he took my toy, that type of stuff.
Damon: 03:25 sibling rivalry stuff.
Bill: 03:27 Yeah. Yeah. Now if someone outside of the family, picked on one of us, well then it was on because we would all take care of each other. But we’ve, you know, we fought like cats and dogs.
Damon: 03:39 Bill said he did all of the typical stuff boys did back then. He was a scout. He went camping and hunting, hiking and stomping through the creeks. Bill attended Catholic schools through high school when he was 16, the family relocated to California, but back when he was around 11 years old, he got his first piece of hard evidence about his adoption.
Bill: 04:02 I never had any clues that I looked at as clues at the time that I was different than the others. I knew that she was my stepmother, but I, I just didn’t. It didn’t matter. She was my mother. A couple of times, I remember asking my father to tell me more about my mom’s side of the family, Audrey’s side of the family, because we are an Irish Catholic family, but we didn’t have cousins. Um, my father, my father had a older brother, but he was, he was mentally handicapped and never married. And My mother Jean had a, had a brother, but he was the stereotypical California lifelong bachelor. So when all my friends would go visit cousins and stuff over the summer and Christmas, we didn’t do that. So I remember asking him about my mom, Audrey’s family, because I knew about his family, but I didn’t know anything about hers.
Bill: 04:58 And the answer I got on two separate occasions was, it’s not something that I like to talk about because you know, I loved her and she died from cancer and I, it’s just not something that I could talk, I can talk about. And as, as a kid I just kind of said okay. And I didn’t push it. There was another time, uh, I was, uh, using the parish directory to call a friend of mine to see if I could come over and play. Well, he, he and I were on the phone, I was flipping through the directory and I found our name and like kids do. I’m just sitting there and reading, making sure everything was right. And when it listed the siblings, it said me with A after it brother one, brother two, and sister. And I thought, well, what’s the A mean?
Bill: 05:48 So I looked at the front in the key and it said adopted. So when I hung up the phone, I found my, my father and I asked him, why does it say adopted after my name in the parish directory and his response was, well, when I married your mother Jean, she adopted you. And I thought, Oh okay, can I go to my friend’s house now? And I never thought anything else about it. The last time I remember asking him about it was, it was probably after we moved, we were living in California and I was like probably been in an argument with somebody and I was feeling a little cranky and I remember asking him another time about, who I called my real mom, Audrey. And again, he gave me the same story and I said, you know, if you don’t tell me, I’m just going to have to find out all my own. And his response that time was, well, if you do, be careful because you might not like what you find. And I just thought it was an odd response, but I just didn’t process it. I just didn’t do anything with it.
Damon: 06:57 If you haven’t figured it out. Bill grew up not knowing he was adopted. He’s a late discovery adoptee. Bill told me his life just kind of went on and he joined the US navy in 1982, when he was 19 years old. Bill had posts in different parts of the country and all over the world. Eventually landing on the east coast where he met his wife. They started a family, bought a house and started having children.
Bill: 07:25 I had just deployed, going across the Atlantic into the Mediterranean and I get a message that I need to call home immediately because there’s a medical problem. So I was able to get ahold of a phone. This was before the internet, before emails. So we just had to do things the hard way. I called home and I was told that my father had been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. He had three to five months and I needed to come home because it’s going to be a a six month deployment. So there was a shot that I wouldn’t see him again. So I went, uh, I flew back to the states. Spent some time with my father, the family, and then eventually get back to the ship. Uh, finished the deployment and I get home, uh, 20 years ago, this month in January of 99 this day actually that we are doing this, marks the 20th anniversary of his passing.
Damon: 08:21 Oh Man. I’m sorry. Wow.
Bill: 08:23 Yeah. Uh, he was in hospice when I finally got back home and he never said anything to me. So you know, he died in January of 99
Damon: 08:35 so I think what you were saying is he never revealed your truth there on his death bed.
Bill: 08:39 That’s true. Yes.
Damon: 08:41 Bill’s father died in January of 1999, in April of that same year he was stationed back in his home state of Nebraska. He traveled to Nebraska to search for a place to live and since he was home, he visited the cemetery where his mother, Audrey is buried along with his grandparents. Visiting the graves Bill, started writing down birth and death dates for his relatives. He hadn’t had that information before. He realized he would like to see his birth announcement, something the Omaha newspaper used to print. So he went to the central library to do some research. Unfortunately, the newspaper wasn’t posting the birth announcements in the year Bill was born, so his announcement wasn’t in the libraries archives. So he decided to look up Audrey’s obituary where he learned she had six siblings, aunts and uncles on her side of the family that he didn’t know. He printed the document and took it home to jump on the Internet, which was brand new at the time. Bill found what amounted to a gigantic phone book listed online. Audrey’s brother had a very unique name and lived in a small town, so he seemed like the easiest person to locate.
Bill: 09:54 So I thought, what the heck? I typed in his name and I get one return and I write the phone number down and I do it for all of her siblings and I find, I don’t know, three or four of them. So I remember sitting on that for a little bit, a couple of days, and then I thought, you know what? What’s the worst that can happen? So my, my wife wasn’t home, she was visiting her parents, uh, with the boys and I just picked up the phone one night and I make a, a long distance phone call. And this elderly man answers the phone. And I asked him, are you so and so? And he says, yes. Then I asked him, did you have a sister named Audrey who was married to a, this man Bill? And, uh, she passed away in, uh, in June of 65.
Bill: 10:44 And he hesitantly says yes. And I just blurted it out. I said, well, sir, I guess that makes you my uncle. And the first words out of his mouth were Billy? So he, he knew about me, but I didn’t know anything about him.
Damon: 11:03 That’s crazy.
Bill: 11:05 So I can’t tell you what we talked about, but we, it was just random small talk for about 15, 20 minutes. And then he said, getting back to that first question you asked me. Yes, I guess I could be your uncle, but since you were adopted, not really. And that was the first time I heard the words, I said, excuse me? And he repeated it. He said, you were adopted. And I just kind of remember stammering and asked him to repeat himself. He said, you didn’t know you were adopted? And I could tell he immediately wanted off the phone.
Bill: 11:43 He felt uncomfortable with it. And I said, I have no idea what you’re talking about. And he said, um, oh my goodness. I know. All right, let me call my sister. She’s going to know more than me. Uh, give me your number and I’ll have her call you back. And I never spoke to him again. So we hang up the phone and I am, I’m blinded. I have no idea what to think. I’m now, you know, 36 years old. And for the first time someone’s said those words to me. So this woman calls me, his sister calls me and she says, she confirms that yes, you were adopted and here’s what you need the program. Cause she says, um, yeah, you were adopted. But I was also married to your father for a very brief period of time. And you have another brother. And I said, what?
Damon: 12:31 Whoa.
Damon: 12:34 your mother’s sister was also at one point married to your father Bill?
Bill: 12:42 Yes.
Damon: 12:43 Wow. Okay.
Bill: 12:45 Yes. And this a new found brother didn’t live that far from where we are right now. So yeah, we had this conversation and I am just, I am just beside my, I have no idea what to even think. I, I, I’ve tried to think of what I was thinking at the time or what I was feeling and I’m not sure I was feeling anything. I just kind of remember wondering what just happened.
Damon: 13:13 Yeah, just numbness, right?
Bill: 13:16 Yes. Because everything I had been told was completely wrong. It had been flipped upside down. It had been torn apart and I was stunned. And when my wife came home, I told her this and she looked at me and she says, you have to call your mother Jean. I called her and I started to explain this to her and she says, well, yeah, you were adopted. You didn’t know that. And I said, when did this ever come up as a topic of conversation?
Damon: 13:50 Right. What made you think I did know?
Bill: 13:53 Yeah. And I then proceeded to call all my siblings and they said, yeah, you didn’t know that. We knew. So I, I don’t know what to think.
Damon: 14:03 Bill ends up meeting his surprise half brother on his father’s side and he looks just like their father. The brothers get pretty close over the years and this long lost brother is welcomed into the family.
Bill: 14:16 I go visit his mother, Audrey sister. I go to visit her and while I’m there they drop these things like, oh he looks just like us, you know, this, that or the other thing. So I’m thinking I am blood with this long lost brother because of these things that they keep saying. Meanwhile I’m trying to go through the state of Nebraska to get my original birth certificate and they won’t give it to me because it’s close, close date. They can only give it to me if they can, If I can prove both my biological parents are deceased, which I can’t prove cause I don’t know who they are. They will check states for death certificates if I’m willing to pay for each state for both parents. And then even then there could be rules that would say, okay, yeah you’ve done all that but we still can’t give it to you.
Bill: 15:12 But what they, what the researcher would tell me was that my mother was, my birth mother was 28 years old when I was born and she was from the state of Pennsylvania. That’s all I knew. Well, as it turns out, Audrey’s sister was 28 years old and was living in Pennsylvania when I was born. So for all, yeah. So for a long time, for years and years and years, I was holding out hope that I was actually blood to all my siblings.
Damon: 15:49 Wow.
Bill: 15:51 Because Bill wanted to give his wife a child more than anything before she died. So maybe somehow something happened and a child shows up. And so there was a hope there that there was some blood
Damon: 16:09 for many years, the family ran with the idea of their biological relation. Then in 2016, Bill’s wife bought him a sibling paternity test so that everyone could solve the mystery of their relation. In January, 2017, the results came back.
Bill: 16:26 Basically the results said, yeah, not even close, no trace whatsoever. So that, um, that just solidified the fact that I was truly adopted. I was, I had no blood to any of my siblings, no blood to my, my parents at all, uh, who I thought were my parents. And it was kind of a low point. It was a low point for me and it was a bit of a low point for my siblings as well. So we, um,
Damon: 16:53 how, how do you mean that? What were you guys like with each other? What did you feel between each other at this moment of confirmation?
Bill: 17:00 It was just, it was just quiet and it was just a bit on the depressing side.
Damon: 17:07 You guys didn’t communicate much during that time or?
Bill: 17:10 no, we did. I mean, we all agreed that we’re still siblings. You know, we grew up together. We are siblings, they are my brothers and sisters. I am their brother and sister and nothing will change that. It was just a biological part that just kind of put a damper on things. We, we stayed tight. We stayed talking with each other.
Damon: 17:32 That’s cool.
Bill: 17:33 I mean, I, the one thing I can say is I had been an extremely lucky, uh, adoptee. I, I’ve heard the stories. Everything has, has been very, very good for me. I got very, very lucky and I have great siblings all over the place. I have great siblings. So this never was a journey to find out, to find a new family. It was just a journey to find out where I came from. That’s really all it was.
Damon: 18:00 In June, 2017, Bill’s wife bought him an ancestry DNA kit for father’s day. He submitted his sample and by July his results were in.
Bill: 18:09 I sat there for a day, literally a day just looking at my DNA story, looking at what I was, and for the first time I knew ethnically what I was Irish, Scottish, English, eastern European, Polish, German. It was just really cool to see that stuff. I did not even see the little thing that said DNA matches. I didn’t even see it. I was just focused on the story part.
Damon: 18:43 I did the same thing. Same thing.
Bill: 18:46 Yeah. And a part of me thought I can’t have DNA matches because I don’t know anything. I think there was just a little voice in the back of my head that said, I won’t have DNA matches
Damon: 18:55 Yeah. You feel like you’re alone. You’re alone on this journey, so you must be alone in DNA, right?
Bill: 19:02 Yes, but eventually I click that button and right at the top there’s a parent-child relationship right at the top and it says AB. That’s all it says. AB. I don’t know who ab is, but it says AB is managed by somebody else. The tree is managed by somebody else and ab is your mother. I, I just stare at this and my wife is sitting probably 10 feet away from me. And I said, honey, you need to come over here and look at this.
Damon: 19:37 Oh my God, you’re telling my story.
Bill: 19:41 And she comes over and she looks at this and she says, oh my goodness. And then the next one turns out to be a first cousin and then the next one, the turns out to, all of a sudden I have all these first cousins and they’re all related to that top person on my tree. And I am, I don’t, I don’t know what to do.
Damon: 20:04 Yeah, It’s such an overload, man. It’s astonishing. You’ve gone from zero to 100% matched in an instance.
Bill: 20:12 Yeah. And the numbers are, no doubt. Yeah. It’s like a 99.6%
Damon: 20:21 the next day, Bill sent a message to the administrator of his birth mother’s account and laid it all out there about being an adoptee, having just gotten his DNA results, the fact that he didn’t know any facts at all. And he asked if the person would be willing to talk. No reply. For eight days.
Bill: 20:41 I was looking, like every hour I was looking, waiting for this response to come in.
Damon: 20:46 Bill consulted his wife who immediately agreed he should contact the next closest match in his list. He sent the exact same message to the next relative in line.
Bill: 20:56 15 minutes later, my cell phone rang and it was my cousin. And, uh, we started talking and she starts to tell me who these people are cause she’s looking at her, her account. And she says, none of us know anything about this. You’re gonna have, we’re gonna have to do something here. So she says, let me make some phone calls. She makes her phone calls. She calls me back and she says, well, I just spoke to AB on the phone. And, um, she’s not denying that she had a child, but she’s not saying yes just yet. So she and I talk frequently, we exchange photos and I start to see myself in the family. There’s no denying it.
Damon: 21:38 Really? Wow.
Bill: 21:40 So she eventually says, the problem I had is this woman is now in her mid eighties, and she’s starting to suffer from dementia and I was losing time. Time was not on my side. So I decided one day to make a phone call that was going to be very, very difficult. And I called her directly. She answered the phone, there were some tears, there was some anguish and she said yes, she was my mother. And then I couldn’t get ahold of her anymore.
Bill: 22:27 And the reason I couldn’t get ahold of her anymore with she, the dementia had set in to such a point that she was using her phone to do some things that she shouldn’t be doing, like calling the police department and whatnot. So what turns out is my biological sister, my biological half sister, took the phone away from her. So I’m trying to call her and I can’t get ahold of her. So eventually my cousin and I were talking and we just decided, you know what, let’s just go see her. What’s the worst that can happen? So when people say, you know, they, you know, how should I do this? I’ve been the one that’s just done the cold calls and just gone directly to, it doesn’t work for every adoptee. I know that. I know a lot of people do the letters and they, they take time to do their reunions. Yeah. It was different. Yeah. And I felt I was really up against the clock, so I had to do what I had to do.
Damon: 23:25 Bill and his cousin flew from opposite sides of the country to meet. The first time they ever met was in Nashville airport.
Bill: 23:32 We, um, agree to a story of what we’re going to do and we determined that there’s three outcomes. There’s a gonna be shotguns in the face on the front porch. There’s going to be a balloons and cake or there’s going to be something in the middle that was going to be one of those three. And the plan was I was going to wait in my hotel room. My cousin was going to talk to my half sister, catch up. Then she was going to tell the story and then my cousin was going to text me to say to come down. I can hear them talking and I know when they start talking about this because the conversation, the voices get more quiet. And then I hear the door close and I thought, well I’m not going to meet her because she just walked out the door.
Damon: 24:23 where are you and where are they?
Bill: 24:27 We were staying at a bed and breakfast, so I was in the back room and they were sitting out on the front porch.
Damon: 24:31 Oh I see. So it’s basically like being at a house. You can hear this through the house.
Bill: 24:37 Yeah. And I could hear that muffled conversation. I couldn’t hear what they were talking about, but I could hear them. So when I hear the front door close, I thought, well, it didn’t work. But then my cousins says, Bill, come on out and meet your sister. So I go out and I see my sister for, for my half sister there for the first time. We sit and we talked, there’s, there’s a hug. And then she pulls her cell phone, uh, out of her pocket. My cousin looks at her and asks, what are you doing?
Bill: 25:04 And she says, I’m calling mom. And we, my cousin and I looked at each other and my half sister said, there’s no time like the present. Let’s just go. So we went over to the facility. Eventually I, she comes to get me, she says, come on, let’s go, let’s go meet mom. And so she takes me in and, uh, it was a very cheerful, very emotional, emotional reunion. Um, I wanted her to know that I wasn’t angry. Uh, I understood the times. I understood society. Uh, she was a unwed 28 year old woman from a Catholic family in the 60s. She was sent away to have me and she was told that when she got home, do not ever speak of this ever again. And that’s what she did. She even relayed that a few weeks after she got home after placing me for adoption. Uh, she had received a letter that told her I had died. She didn’t quite believe it, but as I’ve done my research, it was something that was done.
Damon: 26:23 That’s, that’s an unimaginable cruelty delt upon someone that’s just,
Bill: 26:32 it was, it was done to prevent, uh, birth mothers or parents from ever looking for their children. And it was a common practice in the 60s.
Damon: 26:41 Yeah. But it just, it feels like almost a piece of psychological warfare. Horrible.
Bill: 26:46 Yes. Yes. Yeah. She, so she never really believe it. Um, but yeah, she, she had to go on with her life, but there was such relief when I walked in the door. Um, but I, I wanted to tell her I wasn’t angry. I, I wanted to tell her I had a very good life. I wanted to thank her for allowing me to have a life. She had other alternatives. She gave me a chance to have a life she gave me. I got extremely lucky with my placement and I had a very good life and I was just very, very happy to see her and meet her and that was 17 months ago and we call, I call her five, six times a week. We talk almost every day.
Damon: 27:38 That’s amazing. How are those conversations? Cause I have experienced with my adoptive mother, um, she’s not, she’s suffering paranoid schizophrenia. How are your conversations if she’s suffering dementia, are they always lucid or… How do you navigate that?
Bill: 27:55 Well the interesting part is her dementia was medication induced.
Damon: 28:06 Really?
Bill: 28:06 She, she had a change of medication and she’s clear as a bell.
Damon: 28:12 Wow, that’s amazing.
Bill: 28:15 Yeah. She talks about absolutely everything. She has the sharpest attack.
Damon: 28:20 Bill said his mother was transferred to another facility, but they wouldn’t take her unless she was evaluated. Their evaluation led to a complete cessation of her assorted medicines that brought her back to lucidity. He sounded so happy when he described his interactions with her now because she’s up on current events and is generally an interesting person to talk with. Bill said when he brought the topic of his biological father, his birth mother said she was only intimate with one man and gave him his name. Bill searched his DNA results but didn’t find the name specifically. Only cousins with that man’s last name. The guy turned out to be a lot harder to find in general. He’s never been on the grid so to speak. He just works every day, pays for everything in cash and has never been in trouble with the law. It took nearly a year to find him with the help of a search angel who said,
Bill: 29:16 every time I’ve done this ex-wives will tell you anything. And so that’s great. So when I called the ex wife, she answered the phone after several rings and she said, you know, something told me to answer the phone. I never answered the phone when it rings, but something just told me to answer the phone. And so when I told her this story, she said, I don’t know anything about this. The only person that might know is my daughter. I’m going to turn this over to her. I don’t want to be in the middle. If she doesn’t call you, I can’t help you. So I said, okay. So her daughter calls me back and she is my biological father’s only child that he remembers. He does not remember me. He does not remember hearing anything about me. He remembers being with her, but he doesn’t remember her being pregnant or being sent away or my having been born. And this is another little twist she tells me she sent him letters all the time. He says, I never got any letters. I think the truth is right in the middle. I think they’re both right.
Damon: 30:36 You think the parents intercepted them?
Bill: 30:38 Yes.
Damon: 30:39 Bill’s biological mother went on to get married and she had two daughters. His biological father had one daughter and Bill just thinks the world of his adopted and biological siblings.
Bill: 30:51 They are all the most amazing people. All of my siblings, the ones I grew up with and these siblings are the greatest people ever.
Damon: 30:59 And you’re their older brother
Bill: 31:01 and I’m still, the oldest
Damon: 31:05 Bill told me his birth father was tough to break down and engage. He started then with his sister on that side. In August of 2018, they agreed on a small town off the Pennsylvania turnpike where they could meet. They got hotel rooms and spent 18 hours together just talking. It was Bill’s sister and her husband and son and Bill’s wife. His sister left that meeting and went home and chatted with their father to work things out. Bill and his biological father had a few phone conversations, then they agreed to meet in that same town.
Bill: 31:40 My father is a, uh, he’s a listener. He likes to listen and allow other people to ask questions and tell stories. Uh, he asks a few questions, but he listens and he says, I listened to what people don’t say as much as to what people do say.
Damon: 32:00 You know, that’s fascinating.
Bill: 32:02 And it turns out that, um, while we got done with breakfast and we start walking around this small town, he and I started to linger behind and he says, look, you can call me whatever you want. You can call me by my first name. You can call me sir, you can call me dad if you want. He says, I just want you to know I’m very proud of the man you’ve become. And, uh, we talk twice a week.
Damon: 32:31 Wow. Man. So how does this all, would you look back on it? How does this make you feel?
Bill: 32:36 I went through a tough time about a year ago.
Damon: 32:40 Where were you in, Had you had not met him yet?
Bill: 32:43 I had not met him yet, but I was very upset with my father Bill for taking this to the grave with him. It took me a lot of years to forgive him for it. And I, I say I forgiven him, but I hope I truly have. I just realized that what was so upsetting was all the stuff I had missed. I missed 54 years with these people. I missed 54 years with my parents. I missed 54 years with my aunts and uncles and my sisters that I’ll never get back. And that was really, really weighing on me. And I just, I got to a point where I learned that I have to just accept that and I got to try and get past it. And so had I been around, maybe I wouldn’t have had the sisters. What would have been different had I been around?
Damon: 33:43 Yeah. That’s an interesting piece of introspection when you insert yourself into a life that you didn’t have basically a whole gang of decisions on the part of your biological parents automatically change because they are, the new calculus is that they have a son and you know, some of the marriages that they had, you know, the decisions they made to go to certain places and meet new people, none of those things might have happened. So it is kind of fascinating to think what would happen if I was reinserted back into that life and how would things be different?
Bill: 34:18 Yeah. And I also think that maybe I wasn’t ready. Maybe this journey took me 19 years because maybe I just wasn’t ready. Maybe I needed to learn that before I was allowed to meet these people. Maybe things would have been different had I known them at 18 years old.
Damon: 34:35 That’s also true. You were a different guy. Younger, one would assume less stable is not the right word, but less mature and you would have probably taken all of this news far more differently and you would have taken it back to your father Bill in a different way. And yeah, this is, this is an interesting time for you to come to these conclusions now versus way back then.
Bill: 35:08 Yeah. And, and you know, I, um, I enjoy spending time with the siblings that I grew up with. I love to go visit them and I love it when they come out here to visit us. And I love it when I spend time with my, with my biologicals. My wife surprised me. One of my half sisters and my wife surprised me on my birthday recently when my sister flew here to spend my birthday with me for the first time ever. And that was it. It was hard to see her leave. Yeah. And it’s, it’s just because we’re still learning about each other. I miss my siblings that I grew up with, you know, I, I miss them too. They live on the other side of the country from us. We don’t see them that often. And when we do, I miss not being with them. It’s a little different with my biological siblings because I don’t know them that much.
Damon: 36:02 Yeah. You didn’t spend years with them. You didn’t grow up with them. You didn’t bond in sort of defending one another against the world. And, uh, and then you know them pretty well versus not knowing these new people really at all.
Bill: 36:17 Right. But every, every minute that we’re together, we’re, we’re telling the stories. Everything is so easy. There’s no hard times. There’s no pregnant pauses or any of that stuff. Uncomfortable silences. We just, we pick on each other. I mean the first time, all my two maternal half sisters and I are together, we’re, we’re doing the bunny ears things when we’re taking photos and none of them refer to me as their half-brother. They call me, they call me brother.
Damon: 36:50 that’s amazing. Bill and his wife have two sons who were in their early twenties. I was curious to know how he shared his whole journey with his kids.
Bill: 37:00 The oldest one remembers, uh, his grandfather Bill. He remembers him. The youngest doesn’t because he, he’s only 20. He’s just 22 now. So he was only two and my father passed away. So he didn’t develop the same relationship that, that the older one did. They just think it’s kind of neat. I think they’re tired of hearing about it, but they’re also beginning to meet cousins. My paternal sister, she’s met my oldest son. My maternal, one of my maternal sisters has met my oldest son and then my youngest has, we’ve done facetime at, uh, thanksgiving and Christmas. Uh, so he’s been able to see them at least and talk to them.
Damon: 37:50 And you know, I’m sure it’s also probably challenging for them to truly fathom it because they are biological siblings and they know that for sure. And so it’s probably nearly impossible for them at this age to think what if that wasn’t my brother? You know, like what if we weren’t biologically related is what I mean. I think it’s a hard thing for people who are not adopted to truly grasp and understand. And also it can be overwhelming because this life long secret that you discovered, you know, halfway through your life now becomes, I would imagine nearly an obsession to try to reveal. And once you’ve revealed it, now you’ve got the work to do and the pleasure to get to know these people. And I’m sure you know for a couple of 20 year old guys, it is a little bit much to talk about all the time.
Bill: 38:49 yeah, it is. And you know, the oldest has his life. He’s off doing what he’s doing and the youngest is just starting his professional career. So he’s focused on what he’s doing. They’re not distant about it. It’s just they haven’t, we just haven’t had that opportunity yet to actually sit down with the blood and, and meet them face to face. Not, not all of them.
Damon: 39:12 Yeah. Interesting. Wow. Bill, this is really unbelievable. I mean, I’ve, I can, I can totally relate to that moment that you had of one seeing your DNA in your ancestry and going, oh, so that’s what I’m made of. Right? But then having that secondary shock of realizing that there’s a relation, a parent child relation right there that you didn’t even notice at first, and then it starts this whole other adventure. I did the same thing. It’s absolutely bananas. It’s crazy.
Bill: 39:51 Yes. And I, I still don’t know. I’m not smart enough to figure out what the right word is. What that sensation is that you feel, you know, I don’t know. Maybe there isn’t a word for it. Maybe it’s just that feeling that you get
Damon: 40:07 it is pretty indescribable. It’s true. Well, Bill, thanks so much for calling, man. I appreciate you telling your story. This has been really unbelievable and I’m really, really happy for you that you found your biologicals and they seem like amazing people and that you continue to be really close with your, your adopted siblings and that you’re all just siblings. I think that’s fantastic and I’m really, I’m really happy for you for that. That’s so cool.
Bill: 40:29 Well, thank you. It’s, it’s been a heck of a journey and I’m looking forward to the time when I can actually get the two of them together.
Damon: 40:35 That would be awesome. I wish you best of luck on that man. Take care.
Bill: 40:39 Alrighty. Thank you.
Damon: 40:39 You too. Bye Bye.
Damon: 40:41 Hey, it’s me. Bill’s journey is the story of a late discovery adoptee confirming the feeling that was lurking in the background of his mind since he was a child. I just couldn’t imagine what it must’ve felt like to hear his adopted uncle say the words you’re adopted then to speak to everyone around himself to learn that they all knew of his adoption except him. I was glad he shared openly his anger at his adopted father for taking their secret to his grave and I appreciated that he admitted how important it was to try his best to get past it and to forgive his father. Other adoptees need to hear those two things. It’s okay to feel whatever emotion you’re feeling when you hear whatever news you’ve uncovered, good or bad, and it’s important to decide for yourself to live with it because your life does go on.
Damon: 41:37 I was super glad to hear that Bill discovered awesome siblings on both sides of his biological family and that his journey didn’t harm his relationships with the siblings he grew up with. Bill sounds like he’s got a lot of love around him and I hope you do too. I’m Damon Davis and I hope you’ll find something in Bill’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 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.