Amanda describes her childhood with a father she considered to be a hero and a mother whom she loves despite her physical and mental abuse while showing favoritism toward her sister. She always wanted to search for her birth parents, scouring her house for information about herself when she was a kid. Unable to endure the abuse against herself and her brother Amanda called social services, after which she was disowned. When she finally obtained her adoption records she found one birth parent was deceased, and the other didn’t want contact yet.
Read Full TranscriptAmanda: 00:02 I want him to contact me when he wants to be a part of my life. We’ll get to know me, but it still hurts because I talked to the brothers all the time and I’m like, why can’t he just pick up the phone and just call me or or even returning email. It would be wonderful to just have something. It’s just like don’t silence it. It is so, so I would just give anything to hear his voice.
Voices: 00:35 Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I in mind?
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 Amanda. She called me from Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. Amanda is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and she says, even though she lives in the country, you still can’t get the city out of her. Amanda describes a childhood with her father. She considered to be a hero into mother whom she loves despite her physical and mental abuse, while showing favoritism toward her sister. She always wanted to search for her birth parents, scouring her house for information about herself when she was a kid. When she finally obtained her records, she found one birth parent was deceased and the other not wanting contact yet. This is Amanda’s journey. Amanda was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the second baby to her 23 year old birth mother, but she was placed in foster care when she was nine months old.
Amanda: 01:48 My mom actually gave me upon her own volition initially because she thought that I would be better off with someone else because she just was having a tough time with it and actually it was good that she did because apparently when they did the intake or weighed like 12 pounds, so I was severely malnourished. And so then when I went to foster care, of course, you know I bolt right up, ya know, because they were feeding me, but I remember my foster parents. Well, my foster mother, I remember her to be very loving and very attentive even though she had, I don’t even know how many other kids she had in the house, but there were quite a few. But uh, Ken and Jean Newsome were my foster parents.
Damon: 02:36 That’s interesting that you have memories of them. How long were you with them?
Amanda: 02:41 Till? I was three and a half.
New Speaker: 02:43 Oh Wow. So some of your formative years were spent with them. Were spent?
Amanda: 02:48 Yeah.
Damon: 02:49 Wow.
Amanda: 02:50 Yeah. But my biological mom was involved. Um, it took that long to terminate her rights. And what makes the most interesting is that my mom’s case for involuntary termination of parental rights was the first in our state that was actually successful in 1978.
Damon: 03:10 Your mother was the first successful case of the state terminating a parent’s rights.
Damon: 03:20 Amanda has read her file and learned that her birth mother was offered mental health assistance back in 1978. She was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder,
Amanda: 03:31 She suffered a very traumatic childhood herself. So when I read all that it kind of just put everything together for me as far as why she was the way she was. Why she did the things that she did. For instance, my case worker, in some of the case notes, I noticed that there was some conversation with my birth mother where she had said she had noticed that I was sucking my thumb and she goes, “well, I thought I cured the child with that”, and a case worker was perplexed and She asked what my mom meant by that, and she goes, well, I tied her hands behind her back. Oh boy. Then she said also that she had shaved my head as an infant thinking my hair grow back faster, so she has some very interesting ideations about how to change things. For instance,
Damon: 04:21 Amanda believes that with appropriate medications and supports, perhaps she could have done better as a mother, but that’s a hard thing to speculate. She mentioned that her birth mother was involved in her life while she was in foster care. Apparently there was a period when the woman was living in the home with Amanda, but not for very long. Something went awry with the foster mother and not long after that her birth mother’s rights were terminated.
Amanda: 04:45 I, I believe that she did. She did want me. I just think that she gave up because she felt that she just really wasn’t going to win no matter how hard she tried.
Damon: 04:56 She says she has memories of what her foster mother looked like and recall spending one of her early birthdays with Jean, but she couldn’t recall what her birth mother looked like at all. Her birth mother’s parental rights were terminated in 1978 and Amanda was adopted about one year later, then moved to Milwaukee. But remember, Amanda was nearly four when she left Osh Kosh with her adopted parents. So she recalls leaving her foster home.
Amanda: 05:22 And I remember I was sitting in the backseat of the car facing the wrong way, facing back in the back and actually up against the back of the seat looking out the window. And um, and I remember I had big tears rolling down my cheeks and I couldn’t. I couldn’t cry out loud because I didn’t wan them to hear me because…
Damon: 05:46 You remember that feeling?
Amanda: 05:46 I do. So I think the fear was that if they heard me or saw was that they might want to get rid of me too. And that’s something that I carried with me my whole life. Yeah, that fear.
Damon: 06:03 So even as a toddler, and it sounds like about four years old, you had the sense that going with these new parents was not necessarily final that they… If they determined that you were in any way undesirable, they could send you back and you didn’t want that. So you. You held your emotions back.
Amanda: 06:30 mmmhmmm….That’s something I was trained to do as a kid. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t react to stuff at least down in front of them. My bedroom, while It was a place of punishment most times. It was also a place of solace for me because it was a place where I could express myself without any recourse.
Damon: 06:49 She says her childhood was hard because there was a lot of competition with her siblings, especially her sister who were adopted after her. Amanda said she was an awful student in school, but she loved to go to school because it was an escape. She connected with the adults at school better than she connected with her own parents, sometimes. Amanda was in special Ed classes because she had what was later determined to be attention deficit disorder. She did well on standardized tests, just not in her studies. So Amanda believes the masking of her emotions and her learned behaviors were part of what morphed into perceived learning disabilities. At home. The kids were involved in a lot of sports, like golf. It was the one space where Amanda could feel good about herself despite her mother’s unkind words.
Amanda: 07:38 I guess I use golf as kind of a way to show my mom up (laughs) because for whatever reason I have a stronger upper body than she does and um, so by the time I reached a certain age I could really hit the ball, you know, kind of John Daly style. I could just just really know, smack it out of the field and it used to it… I don’t know why it brought me joy that a preterm her, but it was just the one thing that I was good at. She couldn’t, she couldn’t cut me down for, you know what I mean? And so I always, you know, if I hit that ball $250, I was happy. If it went in the woods drilling, that’s funny.
Damon: 08:20 Well, what I was going to ask was you said you used the words. It was the one thing she couldn’t cut me down for. What does that mean? How would she cut you down?
Amanda: 08:32 It was awful that way. When I hit puberty, I dealt with my weight. My weight was always a hard thing to deal with after puberty and so she would… She would find a way to use that against me in any way she could like if a friend and I switched clothes She would tell me in front of my friends that I looked fat in those clubs and then she would kind of tell me almost on a daily basis that I was fat and stupid and she would call me other words and those things really resonated with me my entire life. When I found something that I was good at that I knew she couldn’t put me down for. I really, I really just tried to use that so that those things would shine as opposed to the negative, you know, and I was hoping that that would bring her some sort of way to give me a compliment to make me feel good about myself, but she never did. Not until even now, it’s hard to get a good compliment out of her, but she made it really hard, grow up in that house and, and aside from that, you know, like I said, the struggle with the sister, she was my exact opposite.
Damon: 09:40 So Amanda was adopted first as a toddler. A year later, her sister entered the home and a few years later her brother entered their home. Amanda said that her sister was always pretty smart and perhaps read situations better than herself, doing things in a way that she didn’t get in trouble. She never saw her sister get the abuse that she and her brother got. Their mother took her sister to modeling and ballet and their mother always compared the girls, but while they’re sister seemed to escape their mother’s abuse, their brother did not.
Amanda: 10:12 She did abuse my brother. Um, it was more physical than verbal. My brother also had some interesting verbal attributes. He was always very quick with the tongue, quicker sometimes physically than she was so, but I intervened. I would often in, in between her and him so that she wouldn’t do it. I was very protective of my brother. He doesn’t remember it the same way I do. And I think maybe only because I was a two to me out of the house and he was sick. So we didn’t have, you know, a lot of formative memories between the two of us after the age of seven for him,
Damon: 10:49 Amanda said she was 16 when she was kicked out while her brother was only seven years old. She recalled some of the abuse that happened before she was kicked out.
Amanda: 10:59 There were a couple of times in high school, specifically when I was 14, my mom beat me with a, you know, those corded phones.
Damon: 11:10 Yes.
Amanda: 11:10 The clamshell phones. She ripped it out of the wall and beat me with it in front of my dad and my brother and I ran away that night. And uh, my friend that I went to when I went to her house, her mother took pictures. Her mother was a social worker and father was a cop, but she didn’t tell her Dad I was there because he wouldn’t let me be there. He didn’t want to get in the middle of it. So I hid. He had no idea that was there. But that was just one instance. And I can’t tell you how many times as a young teenager that I did go to the right people about it. Even even in grade school I talked to my ld teacher about it and nobody wanted to help. Nobody.
Amanda: 11:49 And then anytime anybody did, I was made out to be one who was at fault or the crazy one or whatever. But it was never my mother’s fault, never To this day she’s never at fault for it. I remember what, what proceeded me being thrown out was I called social services on my mother. I was across the country in Colorado at boarding school. And the reason I called cps from there was because I had a phone call with my brother when he said, that bitch is hitting me again. And I said, well, what do you want me to do from here? I’m all the way in Colorado. What do you want? I, I can’t. I mean if I come… And he wanted me to come and get him, he wanted me to come and kidnap him and take him in and run away with him. But I could not do it because I knew legally I’ve been so much trouble, as much as I wanted to go and save him and you know. But I knew that I just couldn’t do it.
Damon: 12:44 Social workers were dispatched to her siblings. Schools where the kids were interviewed away from their parents. It’s Amanda’s understanding that her siblings were not taken away from her parents based on her claims. But based on what her brother told the social workers
Amanda: 12:59 and my brother to this day admits that he did say those things and You know, he feels bad about it, but he feels bad that I was the one who was ultimately held accountable for it. Within the family, because I had no family after that, literally my mom’s family turned their backs on me except her brother and his wife and you know, anybody that was a family friend turned their back on me. Anybody that was, you know, my dad’s side turned their backs on me. Nobody, nobody want to talk to him. Anybody that did was for whatever reason, fearful that my mother would do something, you know. So it was a big secret, you know, so I did it because I wanted to protect my brother from so much, but I didn’t realize that I was already too late because he became a heavy drug user ready by eighth grade.
Damon: 13:50 Eighth Grade, Wow.
Amanda: 13:52 Great. He started using drugs and he’s just now finally clean and sober, and he’s 33 years old.
Damon: 13:59 Man,
Amanda: 14:00 you know, I love him to death, but I do feel guilty because sometimes I wonder if maybe if I would have just done nothing about that. Um, when he still to come, you know, a heroin user or would his life be as messed up as it is had I done that, you know, or it just left it alone.
Damon: 14:24 Yeah. but you know…
Amanda: 14:27 I did that to protect them, and that’s why I did it, you know, so
Damon: 14:30 …you did what you thought was right at that time and you know, if I may, he also said point blank, you know, she’s doing it again. So he was being abused. I’m glad he’s sober now, but I can’t see that… I feel like you shouldn’t hold accountable for the addiction that he fell into because it sounds like the situation, the situation was dire regardless, and you had the best of intentions.
Amanda: 15:03 Right. And I don’t know what transpired in the family for decades.
Damon: 15:08 Their family broken up. Amanda didn’t speak to her mother again until she was 26 and even then it was totally happenstance that brought them together. Amanda was working at a restaurant when she mistakenly thought her grandmother had just walked in, but it was her mother. Amanda never recognized such a resemblance between mother and daughter before that moment of mistaken identity. I asked her what it was like when her mother walked back into her life.
Amanda: 15:36 You know, I didn’t know whether it’s running gear for a baseball bat. Like I was so torn, like I love her to death, but some stuff, all that stuff makes me so mad. But again, there’s so much of it that I can’t entirely blame on her
Amanda: 15:56 because she didn’t know about adoption trauma even though she had a degree in psychiatric or psychiatry whatever. She said she didn’t know about adoption, adoption, trauma and she didn’t know about attachment disorders and things like that. She didn’t, she had no clue how that was going to affect our relationship between her and I, ya know. She didn’t realize the mistrust that was there because you know, you’d be taken like, like you said, [inaudible] the more my parents during my formative years. So it’s like know how to say it as it’s like ripping a bandaid, you know, and taking the skin with it.
Amanda: 16:44 It’s raw and I just don’t think that back in the seventies, I just don’t think they knew how to, you know, put the bandaid back on. I just think there was just no, I think it was doomed from the beginning. And that’s the sad thing is because I think she had the right intentions. I don’t think, I think a lot of her abuse was based on her anger because I didn’t trust her and because I, uh, I didn’t love her the way she wanted me to love her. or I couldn’t love her that way because of all the stuff that she added to it, you know, so hard.
Damon: 17:17 Her mother was absent with her country club buddies playing racquetball, living her life and a family life that Amanda today, after they’ve reunited and her parents are elderly, Amanda says her mother relies on her heavily, especially after her father’s stroke. Amanda finds her reliance now very weird. Juxtaposed against her mother’s absence from her life during her childhood. I have to say every once in awhile I’m editing an episode and I think of something I should have said, and this is one of those times I wish I had told Amanda in the moment that I felt like she was making excuses for her mother. I understand that she loves her mother and many of us feel that even through extremely adverse circumstances, but I do feel that an adult knows how to or not to treat a child. Physical abuse isn’t an answer.
Amanda: 18:08 I think maybe that might be a disconnect between birth parents and adoptive parents because adoptive parents have greatest intentions I think, and I give them credit because I had the opportunity to become one myself and I keep thinking of a hard thing and how hard it must be for them because you don’t have that connection with them. How do you create it? there’s the question, you know? But yeah, I mean, so seeing her was seeing her was amazing but so full of emotion. I just didn’t know. But I knew that if I went running in there with a bat and yelling at her and you know, and I mean an emotional bat, not a physical bat, you know, yelling at her and tell her, you know, just giving it all to her would not contribute anything to it. So I just let her talk and she didn’t recognize me at first, believe it or not.
Amanda: 19:03 I stood there and I, I knew that my sister had been off to college and so I was, she was asking, you know, about the chicken or whatever, and I said, oh, who are you feeding you did? And Shawn and she looked at me and she’s like, you know, Mandy, and yeah. And she didn’t at first I don’t think she knew what to do. She fumbled around, he dropped her purse and she just kind of like, I went around the counter and then she, We did hug and there was actually kind of felt good, you know, but it’s been tough still because I’m still bad person for all that I’m still held accountable for calling CPS and that’s still drilled into me whenever we get to an argument about how it was my choice that I did it, you know,
Damon: 19:54 brother was your brother. Sounds like he was ready for it anyway. Like had he been old enough and known that it was an option, you know, it sounds like he would have done it himself
New Speaker: 20:04 While we chatted. I realized we hadn’t spoken much about Amanda’s father, so I asked her to tell me a little bit about him. She described a man who loved his daughter in whom she was attached to like a girl wants to be with her father.
Amanda: 20:17 My Dad, my adoptive dad was wonderful. I’ll be it he didn’t really know how to step in with my mom. He was a chronic alcoholic, so I think my dad just kind of fit it in the only way he knew how. My dad had a really good sense of humor and he was a good, He was really good at sitting and studying with me. I don’t really remember any bad things with my adopted Dad. There’s nothing bad that I can remember other than being resentful for him never stepping in. I think everything else was tops. One thing that very many didn’t know, but all the years that my mother didn’t speak to me, my dad was speaking to me. He snuck behind her back for you know, for well over a decade and actually knew about my kids before . My Mother did. They never met my kids until they were three and seven years old, but my dad had pictures of my, my son’s in his dresser drawer.
Amanda: 21:12 My Dad did, you know, he did a lot more one on one, I guess was one thing that he did, you know. He would go Golfing with me. He would it take me Um, he would just do stuff with me one on one, you know, like, even it didn’t even matter what we were doing. It just felt good that he wanted to put that attention on just me, you know. like he created stories. Like when I was a kid I remember during the adoption process he was, he would come home from work and uh, he would lay on the couch and pretend he was dying because I had my little kid doctor kit and um, he’d be like, take my temperature, you know, and stuff. And he was, he was funny. And like his dad was funny and his dad would come over and he puts my grandfather, which I don’t remember a lot of him, but a little bit. I do remember he used to put these, put all my hats on and he was just silly, you know, and like my dad was still so it was just, I guess you could say that I was kind of a daddy’s girl and it wasn’t that I hated my mother just to my dad. I had a, I connected with him.
Damon: 22:19 Amanda said their relationship changed a little when her brother was adopted. Her Dad similarly attached himself to his new son and it hurt a little that they got so close. But Amanda said she understands and she’s really glad they built a solid relationship. When I asked Amanda about her search, she said,
Amanda: 22:38 I think I was a born detective. [laughs] Because I spent literally, I kid you not, spent my entire life looking for clues and so bad in that my parents had lock portions of the house to keep me from going through all the files. But anyway, I started searching. As soon as my parents threw me out beause that was when I can openly search without any judgment,
Damon: 23:02 she got her non identifying information in the year 2000 seemingly change in the access laws because during the prior decade she just couldn’t get those records. When the social worker called her back from the children’s Services Society of Wisconsin.
Amanda: 23:18 She goes, “Well I have bad news,” and I go “What?” and she says, well your mother passed away in 1982 now thinking back to when I was 12. My Dad did tell me that my mom died, but I didn’t believe him. I thought he was telling me that to keep me from searching.
Damon: 23:35 Really?
Amanda: 23:35 Yeah, because they used to always compare me to her saying how awful she was and you’re turning out like your mother , or at least that’s what my mom would say, but when I finally heard those words it stung. It stung real bad. I remember I was in a car with my son. He was three and a half maybe, and I don’t think I have cried so hard in my life.
Damon: 23:56 Eventually she pried herself out of the vehicle and went in the house. When her records arrived by mail, Amanda examined them and noticed her birth mother’s name had not been redacted. She went online to find everyone with her birth. Mother’s last name, ultimately connecting with a maternal grandfather’s sibling. The woman didn’t believe Amanda Story at first, so Amanda shared all of the information she had about her birth mother and invited her to tell whomever she needed in the family and to feel free to call her back.
Amanda: 24:26 An hour and a half later I get a phone call from my half sister, which I never knew existed. And it was amazing because I always thought, I always thought maybe I had a twin as a kid. I was looking at all these other people thinking, you know, are you my sister, are you my brother, you know, comparing myself to everybody just because I didn’t look like anybody, you know,
Damon: 24:52 mmmhmmm, constantly searching
Amanda: 24:52 Yeah, it’s something in my heart, told me I had a sibling. I always thought maybe I had a twin, you know, turns out me and my sister couldn’t look anymore different. We have a lot of similarities personality wise. So that was amazing because within I would say within a few weeks we ended up connecting. Um, and I went to her house in Illinois.
Damon: 25:14 Her sister’s daughter is close to the same age as one of Amanda’s sons. So they went to the mall and got some family photos taken together. Her sister was also adopted, has adopted siblings, and they both grew up in an affluent families and got private school educations and it turned out that her sister knew about Amanda many years before. She and her aunts tried to find Amanda in the early 1990s, which was documented in her case file. Of course, meeting her extended relatives also meant she learned some things about the trials of her birth mother’s family. She’s met several relatives, including her mother’s sisters and even her great aunt whom Amanda described as amazing, but she says her birth mother’s youngest sister ruined the relationship with her. Great Aunt Amanda describes that aunt as a toxic mess of a woman with questionable intentions.
Amanda: 26:10 I mean I don’t know how to begin or end with it. It didn’t last long. It was two years that I was talking to them and then I did put an end to it.
Damon: 26:17 Your sister as well?
Amanda: 26:19 No, I will say that my sister and I floated in and out of contact for quite a few years and it wasn’t until she severed ties with them in 2008 that we were really able to connect better as sisters.
Damon: 26:39 Interesting. So you basically had to end up on the same side of things. You both were attempting to exit the toxicity of the family and it was only then when she sort of joined you on the other side that you guys really bonded further, Huh?
Amanda: 26:57 Right. I don’t think she realized how toxic my aunt was. Then for years, I don’t think… I think she was completely blind to it. You know, like my aunt email me one thing and tell my sister another basically plotting us against each other all the time. It was really irritating my. My first husband at the time could not stand this aunt. Even though I stopped talking to that side of the family in 2002, My sister told me that year that my husband died in 2006 and he took his own life.
Damon: 27:34 Aw, I’m sorry.
Amanda: 27:35 It’s okay. Thank you. I guess my aunt decided she was going to try and take my kids away from me.
Damon: 27:45 What!?
Amanda: 27:45 Yeah, I’m telling you this was four years after I severed ties with her. And according to my sister, she called social services and told them that I was an unfit mother and that, you know, because I’m psychologically messed from suicide, of my husband. Now we’re talking about, a woman who’s never had kids of her own, uh, sits in her own little place in Seattle and smokes pot all day long. Yes, she’s successful, but she is poison.
Damon: 28:16 Amanda said that same aunt sabotaged relationships in her new found sister’s family as well. She said she wishes she could tell her destructive on how much she hates her behavior, but she knows it wouldn’t change anything. Amanda chooses to expand her energy in more positive relationships turning to her birth father, she said she spent nearly 20 years searching for a man whose name was all over her records. She learned that her birth mother married the guy after Amanda was taken away and comments he made were documented by social workers in her records. She had two phone conversations with him, but he was not a nice man
Amanda: 28:55 He even tattooed my birth name on his arm.
Damon: 28:59 Wow.
Amanda: 28:59 His wife at the time told me that and so you know, I thought, well, for sure because my birth name is Crystal, and he kept saying that was after he named after crystal meth smart guy. let’s just say I should be glad that I’m not a part of that gene pool.
Damon: 29:19 She said it was disappointing to learn that she wasn’t related to the guy because she made a connection with one of his sons who would have been her half brother, made great friends with that brother’s mother and was instrumental in reuniting them. She decided that this massive dead end meant she needed to do ancestry DNA. Her best match was a first cousin whose been very and accepting. She learned that she’s from a huge family with international Italian and Spanish roots. They got together last year to experience the solar eclipse.
Amanda: 29:52 It was an amazing time. I’ll be it nerve wracking at times because I know that I think maybe maybe you can identify with this in a way. It’s just like sometimes I want to be myself, but I’m afraid to be myself because I’m afraid people will reject me for me. Yeah, so there were times when I was abnormally quiet. I’m not quiet person. I talk too much, as you can see, and I think that’s a genetic trait because I’m seeing a lot of it.
Damon: 30:21 Her cousin, she had which branches of their tree were where so she followed her gut to search regionally for branches of the family in Elmhurst, Illinois, where her mother was from. She found a group of brothers and started eliminating ones who were unlikely to be her birth father. Interestingly, the second brother whom Amanda is very close to now thought he could be her father because he knew her mother. It was a small social circle, so he also knew her biological half sister’s father. Anyway, Amanda’s Uncle’s wife told her stories about her birth mother. She learned that she laughed just like her mother, which she really liked to hear. She also learned that her birth mother was a pituitary dwarf, so she stopped growing when she was eight years old, topping out at four foot six inches tall.
Amanda: 31:11 In my opinion, she would have been someone who would have been rather unforgettable. I mean if you’re friends with her. However many years and I would say, you know, and you know, they said that she dressed in today’s view would be like biker type gear and hung out with, with the mean crowd, you know, um, she was never really close with anybody apparently, but she did have a lot of social friends drinking friends. She, it was um, alcohol, but ended up being a token of her death So a third guy, he lives across the country now, but he was from the area now. Initially he was in denial, didn’t remember my mother and actually neither did my uncle at first, but he had to think about it for a while
Damon: 31:56 unless you come out and say you might remember her because she was a pituitary dwarfs. She was only four foot six. Like if you, unless you just clearly state her most memorable physical trait, you know?
Amanda: 32:08 Right, exactly. You might not remember somebody from that long ago.
Amanda: 32:12 Right, right. Well, and then the other thing too is that I hate to say this because I know 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 if I could forget that. this is my opinion, you know.
Damon: 32:29 So the third brother was in complete denial. Amanda requested a kiss of kindness Free Dna Kit through DNA detectives on facebook. Only a number of people are given free kits. And since her first uncle couldn’t afford to buy a kit, he was granted one. The second brother was also eliminated as her father.
Amanda: 32:49 So then once we had all of our ducks in a row, then we attempted to um, confront the third one about it. Uh, but he’s, he was finally accepting after a few months but still wants nothing to do with me. And I don’t know if… the Story is, is that it has a lot to do with his wife, but I mean it could be, it could be a lot of things. I mean, some were saying I was after money and that, but a lot, I think a lot of people need to understand and I want to say this very clearly — When a child was adopted, they lose any right to any money that they had a that could have been there as an estate or something. Something they could have gotten years later from family is no longer legally, you know, they are not bound to it. First of all.
Amanda: 33:44 Yes, adoptees have no right to claim that money, um, if there is any, um, but I wasn’t looking for any anyway, but I wanted to put that out there because a lot of people are always thinking, oh, there’s a scammer because that is not true. Because I would say very few if any scammers out there. So I mean, I guess I don’t understand it and it hurts bad because I have pictures of him and I, um, and I see the resemblance and he has another daughter and a son from his first marriage. You know, I see pictures of them and I see the likenesses. And it’s hard because I don’t look anything like my birth mother. I look a lot like my birth father.
Damon: 34:24 Have you spoken with any with his brothers, your uncles or any of the other folks around him to understand why he doesn’t want to be in contact with you further?
Amanda: 34:34 I have spoken with. I’m very close with both of his brothers. We are as tight as tight can be, and they really can’t get an answer out of him either because once they bring up the subject he shuts down. He, he has expressed some interest in some of the pictures of my kids that my uncle for shared with him because they’re always trying to push the issue lightly. You know what I mean? Like a nudge here and there. Like when my son graduated from high school they’re throwing pictures this way and you know, trying to nudge his interest and while it seems like he has some company he’s not ready for some reason and there’s nobody really knows. He’s always been rather a disconnect from the family. I guess there is a lot of animosity between brothers
Damon: 35:22 thinking back on my own experience accidentally finding my birth father through DNA testing. I asked Amanda if she had taken time to write a letter to her birth father. When a man is confronted by someone they trust with the news that they have a child in the world. They sometimes don’t get the benefit of a well thought out introductory letter from us that lays things out and tries to say, “Hey, I don’t want anything except to know you.” You know that letter are birth mothers often receive when we search for them. First Amanda said she wrote him one email where she introduced herself but it was
Amanda: 35:56 not cold, but not warm, just kind of neutral about it. Kinda throw it out there kind of thing. And then I thought about it later on and so about six months later I wrote him another email and I told him my life story and I told him in both of my emails, he’s not obligated to contact me if he doesn’t want to and that I’m not here to wreck his life and I’m not here to make trouble. And then I just want to get to know him for the man that he is, you know, and that he doesn’t, he isn’t obligated to be a grandfather because my kids have grandfathers and they don’t, he doesn’t have to be my father because I have a father. But all that aside, I mean, I’m hopeful for something.
Damon: 36:42 Yeah. You wouldn’t be here without him, so.
Amanda: 36:45 Right? I didn’t, I didn’t want him to feel obligated to contact me back if he didn’t want to because that could just create a false relationship. And I don’t want, 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 the brothers all the time and I it’s like why can’t he just pick up the phone and just call me or, or even return an email. It would be wonderful to just have something. It’s just like don’t silence it. I would just give anything to hear his voice.
Damon: 37:17 Yeah. I can imagine. And I can’t help but think that since you’ve been writing to him and even though he hasn’t emailed you back, he hasn’t said stop emailing me either. Right. And, and so what that tells me is he’s listening even if he’s not responding. So I would keep talking to him. It might feel like you’re talking to a wall, but he’s listening, he’s reading the emails. His brothers have indicated that they think he’s read them. So you don’t have to email them every day, you don’t have to email him even monthly. But, you know, it would seem to me like from time to time, if you feel like he’s listening, you might just say a couple of things about what’s going on in your life and um, and then, you know, you hope one day he will feel comfortable reaching out because it would mean everything to you to just hear his voice and you might break him down.
Amanda: 38:16 Right. And part of me still feels like I’m hurting my dad, by doing all of this you know?
Damon: 38:25 Yeah. There’s, there’s a lot of adoptee guilt over reaching out to biological parents. Um, but, you know, because you know
Amanda: 38:32 because no one could ever take his place. And I, I’ve told both my parents had no one could ever take your place because I’ll be it, there was abuse and there was problems. I can’t imagine that I was easiest kid to deal with. I get some credit. At least they hung in as long as they did. And I’m hoping today’s parents who adopt kids are aware of the things that, that aren’t there in essence that you can’t see, you know? Um, because even infants that are taken away from their parents experienced that trauma, that biological cut, some don’t experience it as more or say they don’t, but it’s there and I adopted parents have to deal with it in one way or another it comes out and.
Damon: 39:20 But, but I want to go back to you for a second. I want, I want to just focus on you for a minute because you’re an adult. You’re here. You’ve had two parents who, who were part of the biology that brought you into this world and you’ve got to other parents who were part of who raised you and are part of your upbringing, etc. One of whom you are very fond of. And I understand that yOu don’t want to hurt him, but I think it’s important for you when you look in the mirror to recognize that that is not your goal. You’re not going after contact with this other dude because you want to replace the guy who brought you up. You’re going after this because this is literally part of who you are and you would like to meet one of the people who is half of the reason you’re on this earth.
Damon: 40:08 I feel like you got to get right with that inside your heart and your mind so that you can feel comfortable reaching out to this guy and not feel the guilt as heavily as you do because you’re clearly not trying to replace your adoptive father because I feel like you’re placing undue stress on yourself,
Amanda: 40:27 right. You’re right.
Damon: 40:27 The classic adoptee guilt and and, and if you’ve told them, point blank, I’m not, I’m so glad for you know who you are and what we’ve had then, then I would encourage you to get away from that guilt, as fast as you can
Amanda: 40:42 and I think to maybe me being complacent in saying that, I feel like he, he has no obligation. I think thAt there’s, that there is a little bit of responsibility in it, that he should respond In some fashion. Even if it isn’t positive something. It gives me somewhere to go with my emotion on it.
Damon: 41:05 Amanda told me that her bond with her second uncle is such an amazing natural, immediate bond that it makes her sad for what she doesn’t have with her birth father. She said she reached out to her paternal half siblings, a brother and a sister. The sister never responded, but her brother responded positively and amanda got excited. Then suddenly his communication stopped completely, so amanda suspects that her birth father asked him not to be in touch with her. I told him he had to to keep chipping away at her birth father and she said she was and she had sent him a note on father’s day, genuinely sharing that she was thinking about him as we chatted. She got another idea for her next email to her birth father, which I was glad to hear. Amanda seemed to take joy from the fact that despite the ups and downs with more immediate family members or cousins have all been really supportive and interested. They’re scattered all over the country from Maine to Maryland down to Florida and out to New Mexico.
Amanda: 42:02 I mean, they’ve all been wonderful and that’s best done. The one greatest dIfference between my reunion with my father’s and mother’s side and albeit that the parents know but the surrounding has… It’s just the difference is amazing. I mean I never expected this because I went into this expecting rejection. I expected it, so when I wasn’t rejected it was a wonderful feeling because I was just used to it. I kind of went to the looking for a name.
Damon: 42:32 Yeah, I hear you. Well, I wish you the best of luck, amanda, with this contact with your biological father. You know, it sounds like if he’s not that old, you still got time to wear him down a little bit and hopefully you’ll get called. So stay at it. Be gentle but be persistent and I’m hopeful that with time he’ll realize like you’re really not after anything big and that it probably wouldn’t hurt to talk to you and hopefully the influenceRs around him will help him to understand that too. Okay.
Amanda: 43:07 I will. Thank you so much for your conversation today and I hope that I contributed.
Damon: 43:12 You did. Fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I appreciate it.
Amanda: 43:15 All right. Thank you Damon.
Damon: 43:17 Take care. All the best. Bye. Bye.
Amanda: 43:18 You as well, bye bye.
Damon: 43:23 Hey, it’s me. Amanda’s had a long road and there’s still a ways to go to try to get her father to come around to speaking with her. I really hope one day she’ll be successful and she’ll get to meet her paternal siblings too. Reflecting on her adopted mother. Amanda said she felt bad that she didn’t say one nice thing about her because she did have good qualities and she was kind and giving. She told me that her mother lost her own dad at 12 years old, that he was her rock and she suspects that loss made her bitter. Amanda said that when her mother spoke of that experience the other day while with her father, her mother wept. You probably remember her expression of adoptee guilt over seeking her birth father and her regret that she felt like she was betraying her. Adopted father. Very sadly, amanda’s adopted father passed away this week when I saw her facebook posts expressing her deep sorrow for losing the man she referred to as her hero.
Damon: 44:19 I messaged her to express my sincere condolences for her loss. She wrote back with these words that she gave me permission to share with you. My dad was my rock. He made me. My dad was ever consistent. I can’t imagine my life without him. I don’t know what I’m going to do emotionally with this, but I will come to terms someday. My dad grabbed my hand and squeezed it, not wanting to let go. he looked into my eyes lovingly and to see him take his last breath was heart stopping. I’m damon davis and I hope you’ll find something in amanda’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.
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