128 – A Peace Came Over Me

Val called me from outside of Houston, Texas, but her story started in in Kansas. She had a great childhood with her parents until a neighbor revealed her adoption to her, rocking her world, sending her into rebellious phase in life. When Val searched for her biological father, because his name wouldn’t have changed over the years, she found her natural parents were together. He was frosty to her and they barely spoke because he probably believed she wasn’t his. He went to his grave not knowing the truth. This is Val’s journey 

Transcript
Damon (:s, it's me. It's been a rough:Val (:

But now I'm thinking maybe he really was standoffish and maybe that's why he gave up his only child, his only biological child, because he didn't think that I was his child. Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

Damon (:

This is who am I really a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I am Damon Davis and on today's show is Val. She called me from outside of Houston, Texas, but her story started in Kansas. Bow had a great childhood with her parents until a neighbor revealed her adoption to her rocking her world, sending her into a rebellious phase in life. When she searched for her biological father, because his name wouldn't have changed over the years, she found her natural parents were together. He was frosty to her and they barely spoke because he probably believed she wasn't his, he went to his grave, not knowing the truth. This is Val's journey.

Damon (:

Thou was raised in Wichita, Kansas. She had an older half sister who was her father's child by his first marriage, but she didn't see her much because there was tension between the sister and their dad. Val grew up like an only child. She was raised in a house with her parents and her maternal grandparents. Her mother worked out of the beauty shop. Val's grandfather built for her mother on the side of their house. When Val went to work with her mom, they were only right next door. Val's grandparents passed away within six months of one another. When she was about five years old, her died of complications from diabetes. And everyone said her grandmother grieved herself to death. Six short months later, Val grew up in their house with her parents. Her mother was a little older for the time as a parent back then 42, when Val was born Val's mother doted on her vows childhood was happy with dear friends in the neighborhood that she keeps even to this day,

Val (:

I had a really good childhood and and you know, just, I had good friends, the neighbors they had grown up in the same neighborhood, just like me and, and, you know, we were just best friends and we still are, you know, just a real normal childhood. I mean, if you would been called normal, just happy and you know, played outside and you know, had good parents and had no idea I was adopted. I just, I never even knew. They never told me. And when I found out it was such a surprise, right. Just somebody just took my identity.

Damon (:

So set the scene for me a little bit. Tell me what your, how old you were, where you were and how the situation unfolded.

Val (:

Okay. One of my very good friends lived two houses down and her mother drank a lot of coffee and she also would have an occasional drink. And we were setting down there talking to her one day about, you know, me and my friend about how people look like their parents and stuff. And I said, I just don't think I look like either one of my parents. And she said, well that's because honey, they are not your parents. I like what? And she said, well, you were adopted. Like what? I mean, it was just, it was like devastating. I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it. And it just took my identity. I mean, it just felt like I just lost my identity. I just, it was just crazy. I felt like I've been lied to and, you know, after I found out and I actually talked to them about it, you know, I was angry because I mean, here are the people that I trust most in the world and they've kept this huge secret from me all these years.

Val (:

I, you know, I felt stupid for one thing. And I just felt deceived because the neighbors knew it later on. I found out I was probably one of the only people that didn't know, and I should have been the first one to know it just caused a big problem between us because for a couple of years, I just, I just started rebelling. I was, I just couldn't believe it. They would buy me books. I mean, they bought me this book called the chosen one, you know, here I'm a teenager. The books made for maybe a five or five or six year old. I just, it was very traumatizing, the whole experience when I found out and I didn't handle it very well.

Damon (:

Do you remember in that moment when your friend's mother revealed your secret to you, did you, first of all, did you stay there in that conversation and like ask questions or were you just shocked and ran away? And then did you, when you went home, was that an immediate confrontation or did you sort of stew over it for awhile?

Val (:

No, I didn't stew I, it was immediate confrontation and they did come clean about it. And but the funny thing is you know, I remember my mother telling me some details and the details that she would tell me were like, Oh, you had a, you had a aunt that was red headed. Like, you know, but she didn't remember much about my mother. She wasn't willing to tell me much about my birth mother. And I, now at this point I realized that she was very threatened. She felt threatened, you know, of course at that age I didn't. And after that shock, I didn't realize what was going on, but I think she remembered a lot more than she told me

Damon (:

Once she found out she was adopted. Val said a lot of things started to make sense. For example, she always wanted to walk to her local neighborhood school with her friends, but her dad drove her all the way across town to attend a Lutheran private school.

Val (:

And I thought, why do I have to go here? It was a religious school. It was a Lutheran school. And we weren't even Lutheran, you know, I never understood that. And I would beg, can I just go to the public still with them? You know? And like, no, no, you need to go here. Your cousins go here. Like, yeah, we're not even Lutheran.

Damon (:

So

Val (:

I later found out that they were taking me over there because my birth mother knew where I lived because she was a customer of my adopted mother.

Damon (:

Wow. Are you serious?

Val (:

They were always afraid that one of them was going to come back and get me and take me.

Damon (:

Your biological mother was a beauty customer of your adopted mother. Yes. Wow. Wow. Was all kind

Val (:

Of arranged. You know she was a customer and she would go talk to my mom and tell her, you know, she was pregnant and she, she wasn't going to give it away. And, and so my mother being in their forties and never having children and wanting them said, you know, I will, you know, pay for all your expenses. We'll do this. And, and so that's, it was arranged like that. So I never left the hospital with my birth parents. I left the hospital with my adoptive parents at five days old. Wow.

Damon (:

That is unbelievable. I have never heard of a story where someone's adoption was arranged by a person that they knew in a, in a client relationship. That's fascinating. Thous rebellion drove her parents to the point of giving up and needing a break. They weren't disciplinarians by nature. So she said she was left to do whatever she wanted further fueling her rebellion. Her parents sent her to live with her maternal uncle, a Navy retiree, and his wife who lived across town there in Wichita that lived with them for several years. Her uncle didn't accept nearly as much bad behavior as her own parents had. Before you left your parents' house to go to live with your more strict uncle, would it rebellion look like for you? What, how did you rebel?

Val (:

Oh, I'd stay out. I go out with my friends and just not come home and my mother would be calling all over and, you know, she was all upset and crying and calling my friends, parents. And where are they? And, you know, I just stopped to the point where I just didn't care. Yeah. I was so upset. I mean, it was, it was a very upsetting to me. I can imagine.

Damon (:

I'm sorry that must've been so rough to have your identity ripped away from you, especially at 15 when that's, when you, when you're really trying to find it for yourself. Right. As a teenager you know, you're, you're looking at yourself in the mirror trying to figure out how your body's developing. You're looking at your friends and comparing yourself to them in terms of how pretty or not you are, how athletic or not you are, how it musically adept or eh, you know, academically intelligent you are, and you're starting to get remotely comfortable with yourself. And then the entire foundation upon which that secondary identity was built is torn down. That had to be a shock.

Val (:

Yeah. So it was a shock. And, you know I think it was on of the fact that everybody knew, but me, you know, of course my, my aunts knew. And even some of my cousins knew and the neighbors and it was like, who doesn't know, besides me, it's

Damon (:

The best kept secret that only you don't

Val (:

Know. Yeah. So now when I talk to people that are, have the kids in their adopted house, I'd make sure you let them know from, you know, from the time they're old enough to understand, you know, that they are adopted and, you know, because coming later it's Shaw.

Damon (:

Well, if the state of Kansas say an adoptee can have open access to their adoption records, when the person reaches 18 years of age, Val said she had thought about obtaining her records at that age, but she had reconciled with her parents by then and had calmed from the shock of learning. She's an adoptee Val and her parents had civil conversations about her adoption and the possibility of a search for her natural mother.

Val (:

But she was just always against it, me looking them up. In fact, I know she probably remembered her name and she kept telling me, I can't even remember her name now. It was a weird name. Okay. So every time I mentioned, well, maybe we should try to find, you know, find her, do you have any paperwork or whatever? She just now, you know, I, I just don't think we have that anymore. And she just didn't want me to go look for them. Like I said, I think she was threatened. Oh, absolutely. If she was her customer, I mean, yes. He knew. She knew. Yeah, she did. She knew, she knew a lot more than what she told me.

Damon (:sat on the back burner in the:Val (:

I decided I'm going to look them up. I want to know, I want to know who I am, you know, cause it always is in the back of your mind, but you just kind of bury it for a little while it comes back a little bit to the fore, you know, and then you just buried again, but it was just staying out there more and more. And I thought I just started doing it,

Damon (:ate. Keep in mind, it was the:Damon (:

Like his birth mother would have. If she had gotten married, she bought a book called how to find anybody anywhere, which recommended contacting the department of motor vehicles to learn if a person had a driver's license or a car registered in their name since Val's father was born in California, her mother was born in Arkansas and she was born in Kansas. She decided to target those three States, Arkansas wrote back to say they did have a record of her birth father and asked Val to prove who she was to them before they divulge any information.

Val (:

And so I went and Xerox, everything sent it to him and they sent me back that there the name and address and she was on it too. My biological mother. So they were still married after 30 some years. Wow. I know that was a shocker as she does have her she did have a really unusual name. It was ironic. You know, it's not that common. So

Damon (:

What did you think when you saw that? Like, you'd get this piece of paper back and it's got both of their names on it. Like I'm sure it said him and I Rhonda, like that must be

Val (:

Yes, it was, it was, I thought, wow, they're married. You know, they're still married. And so then on my even more curious, right, I want to know

Damon (:

Days before so much information was available on the internet. We used to be able to call directory assistance for one, one and get information about people in a chosen city, Val called directory assistance to get the couple's phone number. And you know, I sat

Val (:

On it for a couple of days cause I thought, what am I going to say? And I just, I didn't know what to say because I'm just not really a good talker. Anyway. I felt like I don't know what to say, but one day I was just sitting there. I thought I'm going to call him, I'm going to call him just I thought what? I just will tell him, I want medical information, you know, and just see what they say. And so I dialed the number and a little girl answered the phone and I asked for him and she's she yelled at grandpa.

Val (:ave me up for adoption in the:Damon (:

So T just tell me for a second, this guy has gone silent when you've identified yourself, and then he calls the name of your biological mother. Just tell me what, like, how are you feeling as you're listening to this unfold?

Val (:

Oh, gosh. I was like having palpitations, you know, because I thought I cannot believe this. I was like, I'm in some kind of you know, different universe. And when she got on the phone, you know, I was like, you know, having butterflies in my stomach and palpitations and I was just, but then I, I relaxed and, and after I started talking to her, she was, you know, I'm sure was in shock too, you know? Yeah. My delivery initially was probably not that tactful, but I just, it just came out.

Damon (:

Well, what else are you going to do? I mean, you've never been through this situation before,

Val (:

Right? The direct approach. Yeah.

Damon (:

Like, and all my, of all the times I've reunited with my biological parents, I find this to be the best approach. Right? What experience are you pulling from the, make it go, right? Whatever comes out is the right thing in the moment, right? Oh my gosh. That must have been crazy. The two of them together, the couple didn't talk about valves, relinquishment in that initial phone conversation, they stuck with chatting about medical information. But I Rhonda asked about Val's children and asked for her address. I Rhonda sent a letter to vowel sharing background, family information, valuable context about their family that she had never read before when the time of their meeting came. Val's natural. Parents drove from Arkansas to Wichita, Kansas. Val told me about the lead up to the meeting. I want you to listen closely to the major twist. She discovered in her story.

Val (:

I stayed in Wichita with my ex mother-in-law. I didn't go to my aunt and uncles house because I knew they would not approve. And I thought I'm just not going to open that can of worms right now. So I went to my ex mother-in-law's house and she said, I'm going to go with you. I said, okay, violet, let's go. So her and her husband drove me to my, one of my biological brothers houses, where we were going to meet. And we go out there and then like, you know, I'm getting cold feet again. I'm thinking, Oh, I'm sick at my stomach. I just can't do this. And pilots going, no, you're going to get out of the car. You've done this. You've come this far. You've come all the way from Austin. You're going to go meet them. So before I could actually get out of the car and my mother-in-law's like out of the car, just her and w two people walk out the front door. So now they know we're there. And I'll, I'll be darned if my brother, my older brother and his wife knew my mother-in-law. They went to church together. Really? She was crazy because they looked at each other and then they're screaming. And I mean like, like, Oh my gosh, I like, what is so yeah, they went to church together. And what was really even crazier is that my ex-husband and I got married in that church. Are you serious? Yeah. Where my brother went to church mackerel.

Damon (:

That's crazy.

Val (:

I know. Isn't it.

Damon (:

Wow. That is nuts. Oh my gosh. Wow. God, it's such a small world. It's unbelievable.

Val (:

It is, you know, well, I had two of my brothers there and their wives were there, so I would have never thought about this, but my ex father-in-law took in his video camera and videotaped the whole thing. And yeah, I, you know, initially I was kind of disturbed that it was all being taped, but then now I'm glad I did it, you know?

Damon (:

Yeah, of course. Oh my gosh. That must have been unbelievable. So hugs, tears, how, how did you, how was it to meet them?

Val (:

You know, I'm a kind of a reserved person, not really a hugger. And so I just kind of like shook their hands and he was a cold fish. And I mean, he didn't really talk to me. He didn't say too much at all. And he was just a very different, wow. Yeah. So I thought, well, you know, maybe this is very uncomfortable for him. And that later on, when he did pass my biological mother's sister who I never met, they were all talking, well, why isn't she here? You know? And my biological mother's sister said, why would she be, he's not her father. She said, the boy's father was her father.

Damon (:

Wait a minute. So just I'm I get it. But I want you to clarify this for me. So you're, you're at the funeral.

Val (:

No, I did not go. I did not. I didn't go to the funeral. They told me about it that, you know, I I'd only met the guy twice and we didn't, we didn't really have a conversation even. I mean, he seems like a real standoffish, so I didn't, I didn't go to the funeral. So they were all discussing the fact that I didn't show up at the funeral, you know how families are. And then my biological aunt stood up and said, well, why would she be here? He wasn't her father.

Damon (:

So thou has found a couple that relinquished her into adoption more than 30 years prior. And they were still together. The man barely says anything to Val the whole time. He knows her, but she has no idea why after his funeral, the family reveals a long held secret that Val's birth father. Wasn't her father at all, talking to one of her half-brothers thou learned that she had a paternal aunt living in a nursing home. So they decided to cheek swab, Val and the aunt for a DNA test to see if they find a DNA relation, the test came back

Val (:

And determined. Yes, he was my father.

Damon (:

So the man who was standoffish and passed away, whose funeral you didn't go to and where it was declared, he was not, your father was in fact biologic.

Val (:

He was, he was, but now I'm thinking maybe he really was standoffish. And maybe that's why he gave up his only child, his only biological child, because he didn't think that I was his child. I mean, I'm just speculum.

Damon (:

No, that's fascinating. You're right. I could see how that would have been his calculus.

Val (:

Yeah. And later on, when I mentioned it to my aunt, you know, a couple of years, three years later, and I mentioned it to her and she said, well, I think I, Rhonda told your mom that she was giving you up because she had had some kind of a fling with her ex-husband who was the father of the three boys and had become pregnant.

Damon (:

So he may have lived his whole life thinking his wife had had an affair, gotten pregnant with her ex-husband with whom she already had three children. And he, therefore, when you re returned, probably thought you were that child from that affair.

Val (:

Yes, I think so.

Damon (:

When you called, he answered the phone and you inadvertently said to him, you, I think you gave me up for adoption. In which case in his mind he would have been like, ah, I didn't, your mother did. And in fact it was your fault, right?

Val (:

Yeah. But he signed the papers, I guess he had to, because he was married to her.

Damon (:

Right. But he signed to them not knowing that you were his child. Oh my gosh,

Val (:

Exactly it, you know, it just makes sense. Now the whole thing, really, even stranger like I was his only child

Damon (:

Val pointed out that the man didn't raise any of his own children. He raised Val's brother, but that was ironic. His son from her ex-husband he raised some of Iran to son's children, his grandkids, but never his own blood. He never got to raise Val. And she was his only child or was she Val and her friend were in new Orleans. As a matter of fact, it was her lifelong friend whose mother revealed the widely known secret that Val was adopted. So they're on this trip and they're sifting through ancestry DNA. When they find a close, relative match for a vow, she started trying to figure out what the possible of this mystery person could be.

Val (:

And so I ruled it out by age, you know, there can be this and B that I like, this is a half sibling. This is a half sibling on his side. So I wrote him, you know, I almost, I was so excited. It was like, I was a stalker. I like write them an email. Like I think we're siblings. Anyway, his wife answered me and I, you know, we got to talking and he grew up never knowing his father. And he looks just like our biological father. Is that right? Yeah. Wow. How did he grow up? Not knowing his father. His mother lived in the town where my biological father's relatives lived. Then after he was born, she took him off to California. She married somebody and took him off to California. So I don't know whether he ever knew that he had a son and he just, you know, just missed it or, you know, no. Tell him, wow. At this point,

Damon (:

It's possible. He missed out on two children.

Val (:

Yes.

Damon (:

Holy mackerel. Keep in mind. Val's adopted mother had passed away before she started her reunion journey, but while she was alive, she seemed threatened and was passive aggressive withholding information that could have helped Val search. Her adoptive father was still alive as the whole thing unfolded. When I asked Val how he reacted to her search and reunion, she said that was another strange story. He remarried after Val's mom passed away. The new wife's son lived in the same city as Val's biological parents in Arkansas. But she also said,

Val (:

I told him I met them and he just blew it off. And so I didn't bring it up again. Wow. He just blew it out. I didn't want to upset him, you know? And I, I feel loyalty of course. And, and I don't want them, you know, I never wanted either one of them upset when, well, once I got over the shock, it was, you know, took a little while, but I didn't want to upset them. They were always wonderful parents to me. And yeah.

Damon (:

Can I ask for your identity to have been so disrupted at 15? Do you find that that had sort of long-term downstream effects on you as a person? Be it, you know, I, now that that's happened to me, I am excessively honest with everybody, or I sometimes feel hurt by this, that, or they have you felt something residual from that shaking of your core at years old as an adult?

Val (:

Possibly in the way I relate things to my children, you know, it haunted me for a long time because I just wanted to know who I was, where I came from. Why did they give me all those, all those, you know, things that adoptees just really, you just want to know. And I think once I found out I had like a piece, I think that I should have probably done it a lot sooner. I mean, just a peace came over me. It was like, okay, I know where I'm from. You know, I know, you know, what she told me and but I think it, it in my children, I so obsessed with them knowing the genealogy and their history and stuff, because they grew up with no history except on their father's side. So I'm really big into genealogy and I tell them and things and make them books. I have books for them, you know? So I think that probably, probably wouldn't be that way. If I was grew up with my biological family, it wouldn't be, so,

Damon (:

Yeah, it would probably be more casual and less intentional. Right. I suspect that you probably convey these things with serious purpose versus like, Oh, you know what, I know I realized, I never told you about your uncle Joe. Right. Versus like your uncle Joe was related to so-and-so and here's his history, like just a very different approach to conveying the family history because you want it to be ingrained in them versus what you experienced. Right.

Val (:

Right. And even if they cannot, I mean, even if they're not interested in it, my grandchildren or my great-grandchildren may be interested in it and they may have a harder time putting it all together because, you know, if I don't put it together for them. Right. So, you know, you know, fast forward 15, 20 years, you know, we may not be able to get any information on anybody.

Damon (:

Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, it's funny, I find it's interesting that you say that I did the same thing when reunion, I became this sort of pseudo family historian, where I was seeking out stories about people and making sure like on ancestry, I filled my tree out so far and wide to people, you know, that I could never really sort of remember their relation for, but, but I was, I definitely felt myself in a place of being sort this archeologist, anthropologist, historian kind of person for my son and his children. And I think we often do do that is we think, not only do I want to know, but I want to make sure that this is well-documented for future generations so that nobody has to go through this. And, and it's easy for them to understand where they came from, unlike what it was like for me.

Val (:

Yes. I totally agree. And you know, I'm like the historian for my adoptive family and for my biological family, I'm just really into it. I just said something I enjoy. And I just feel like it's necessary.

Damon (:

That's a classic feeling that many adoptees have. We start learning about ourselves and the heritage and history that have been hidden behind the shroud of adoption. Then we want to make sure that our children are well-versed in their own history and heritage. Val's reunion is full of interesting coincidences that bring her adopted family and biological family into close proximity with one another. Here's one more for you.

Val (:rward when I met them back in:Damon (:

As we're operating in a very small world, that's so crazy. Unreal. It is. Wow.

Val (:

That's quite a ride.

Damon (:

It does sound like it was quite a ride. Wow. Well, vow, this is unbelievable. I can't believe I'm. I can't believe how crazy the coincidence is are that, you know, sort of surround you, but I'm sorry for how this whole thing started off. That had to be a really Rocky road. And to have it just bring up evil into your life, such that you would feel so rebellious, you would get sent away, which is probably also pretty tough. We didn't even talk about sort of the rejection that, that probably felt like that you brought on yourself, that it seems like you brought on yourself.

Val (:

I was horrible. I was really horrible. I found out,

Damon (:

But that's good that you were able to turn it around and I'm so glad you got the opportunity to meet your biological parents, but what a crazy situation to find them together. And then all of the complexities of their relationship and the incongruities in their story, that would leave him with the idea that perhaps you weren't, his that's just that's too bad. He went to his grave. Not knowing you were his.

Val (:

Yeah, I think so too, that he didn't know that he had a son also. I mean, he never met him, you know, or

Damon (:

Yeah, that's true. They missed out on two. That's too bad. Well, again, I appreciate you taking time to share your story. This was really fascinating. I'm so sorry for the technical difficulties in the beginning, but

Val (:

I appreciate you taking the time. This, this means a lot. And I'm so glad that the stories that are told here mean something to you and to the community. So thanks for being a part of it. I appreciate it. Thank you, Damon.

New Speaker (:

Of course, take care of Al all the best to you.

Val (:

You too. Bye bye.

Damon (:

Hey, it's me. Val is a late discovery, adoptee LDA, someone who doesn't grow up knowing they're adopted, but finds out later in life. In her case, the secret was known by everyone around her, but not by her. So when she learned she was not biologically related to her parents at 15, it sent her into a rebellious tailspin. I'm always a little nervous to hear about biological parents who are together when an adoptee finds them, because it could be joyous to find both parents at one time, it could be shocking to be doubly rejected by both parents at the same time, if they're not interested in reunion and it could bring even more doubt into an adoptee's mind when they wonder, why was I given up? If you two were going to stay together? Val was relinquished because she was believed to be the product of an affair, but that wasn't true.

Damon (:

Her poor natural father never knew that she is his daughter. And he never learned that he had a son in the world as well. After all that, I was glad to hear Val say that she had found peace from her search and was getting answers most of the time. That's all we're looking for. Whether we can articulate it or not. I'm Damon Davis. And I hope you'll find something in vows journey that inspires you, validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn who am I really, if you would like to share your adoption journey and your attempt to connect with your biological family, please visit who am I really podcast.com/share. You can follow the show at facebook.com/whi really, or follow on Twitter at . Waireally. If the show is meaningful to you, you can support me with a contribution to keep it going on. Patreon.com/WAIReally. Please subscribe to who am I really on? Apple podcasts, Google play, or wherever you get your podcasts. It would mean so much to me. If you took a moment to leave a five star rating there, those ratings can help others to find the podcast too. And if you're interested, you can check out the story of my adoption journey. Who am I really and adopt the memoir on amazon.com on Kindle or as an audio book on audible. I hope you'll add my story to your reading list.

Val (:

After she met my two children, I was getting a little ahead of myself. She made them quilts. No, that's cute. She said I made all my grandkids quilts and she said, I, so she, she made my two kids. No, that's a nice welcome into the family eyes. Yeah, it was.

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