195 – Filling The Hole From Not Knowing
Brittney, from Connecticut, grew up knowing but not closely connected with her biological mother .
After a bombshell moment where her mom revealed the truth about her paternal parentage, Brittney felt like she was left to clean up the mess of lies.
She was conflicted about searching for her birth father because of her loyalty to her adoptive father. Brittney said she was glad she searched because what she learned filled a hole she didn’t even know was in her.
This is Brittney’s journey.
Who Am I Really?
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195 Filling the Hole From Not Knowing
It was always my, the lack of a better term burden to carry . This was my thing I had to deal with. Nobody else had to, and that's kind of the unfairness of it[:
And today you're going to meet Brittney who called me from Connecticut. Brittney grew up knowing, but not closely connected with her biological mother .After a [:
She was conflicted about searching for her birth father because of her loyalty to her adoptive father, but Brittney was glad she searched because what she learned, filled avoid, she didn't even know was in her.
This is Brittney's, journey
She felt the responsibility to support her father and her caregiving role brought Brittney closer to her dad[:[:That's [:[:n she had mentioned that she [:
He said, are you sure? And she said, yep. And then never really talked to him again. And that's the only short version of the story that I got. And then she. Looked at me and said, do you know what I'm saying to you? , I'm probably 10 11 at this point. And my heart just immediately sunk in my chest and I felt like Somebody had just taken a baseball bat to my back and, and sucked all the air outta me. cause I knew what she was saying, but I didn't wanna know what she was saying. And I was just like, no. And she said, you know, you have a different father, you know, and this is what his name is. And it's kind of a blur from there because I don't really remember responding to it.I [:
And I felt embarrassed and I remember coming home and my dad just was standing there with open arms and hugged me and told me this wouldn't change a thing. He would always be my dad and I cried and he cried. And I think in that moment, that was one of my loyalty moments where I felt like I'm gonna do everything in my power to make sure that, you know, I never even questioned that loyalty to you.from that time on, you know, [:[:
It's really wild. So you grew up with your biological mother, but without the knowledge that your dad was not your biological father, correct. Oh, wow. And so did he officially adopt you?[:
So she called the hospital said, I forgot to put the dad's name on the birth certificate. Can we change the name? And they changed it. And a couple weeks later I had a different birth certificate with my dad's last name on it. Wow. Which later when they got divorced, the, the judge had said, you know, you have no, right.
You know, you don't technically have to be responsible for this child because. I have no idea how you did that with the birth certificate, but it was kind of illegal . Oh, really? Wow. But yeah, you can't just change somebody's name without paternity, yeah. I don't know how they did that, but they did[:verything, but it just for a [:
Like that's my daughter, man. You know, I just, I can't imagine the context in which those words came up.[:[:
He knows what your mom has taken you out to tell you mm-hmm and you come home and you're with him. How was it to walk in and be in his arms and think of what she had just told you. Do you recall that feeling?[:ly up until this, this whole [:
I still have it to this day. And, and later on, that will come into play and part of this story too, but I remember just hugging him and not letting go. And he had written me some words, I think I have to this day, too. So it was a very special moment for me.[:[:
Like I, I forget, you know, mm-hmm because I just pushed it so far away and they had all my mom, my bio dad, and him had all gone to the same high school. And my dad's picture is in the top right hand corner. And my bio dad's picture is in the bottom left.[:[:, but I would always kind of [:
I just always kind of felt like that test of loyalty and that like, you know, every now and then I'd go and get it and look at it and, you know, bring it out and dissect it and then I'd put it back quickly. Like, oh no, no. You're not supposed to think about that.[:
There's a loyalty and a love that you feel for the person who's there with you, the adoptive parent, but the curiosity is undeniable. And I've said this before. It just it's so jarring to learn that. The people you love that you are adopted into a family with are one set of people. And that there's a whole other set of people that are your family by virtue of their biological tie to you.re blue in the face, I'm not [:
Right. I mean, cuz part of what we think of when we think of being related to people is knowing them, knowing some relation to them, having a general idea, like where they are on this planet, what their email address might be and you know, sort of what their general interests are. There's some connectivity to knowing people, right?
Mm-hmm and to just have someone say like there's another person out there that you're related to. That you have quite literally zero information on it's it's just wild and you can't help, but try to wrap your mind around it.[:
Right. And then I'd be like, oh yeah, that, that is something that stings a little bit.[:
What went through your heart and mind as you sort of looked across your family at your relationships?[:
My mom's mom. and I remember searching for something like searching for a document or, or picture some kind of secret about me. I don't know why I did that. I, I don't know if I maybe overheard someone's conversation. But part of me, I always knew. And then when that had happened, I was like, oh, okay.they look alike. And I don't [:[:
Inkling or be told that you're not biologically related to folks, but you can sense that something is off and, and be in question about it. And that's really interesting to hear, cuz like I said, no one signaled to you that you were any different than your sisters and your father yet you could somehow feel it, even if you couldn't articulate it.[:He didn't know she was [:
So she had this other guy believing that he was my dad until I was six months old. And then there was a paternity test done and, you know, they had come over and gimme presents his whole family thought I belonged to them. And I didn't. So I don't know if I kind of carried that. I mean, at six months, I probably didn't know much, but I don't know if I carried that kind of sense of knowing, from a really young age or if those kind of conversations happened around me.
And I didn't realize it.[:
Within three years, there were several other serious family matters that made Brittney's pre-teen years, a confusing blur. After the drive life went back to quote unquote normal and no one raised the issue or questioned the truth.
Of their family's relation to one another. However, because things were moving forward as if nothing had happened. There were no offers to help Brittney find her way through her new reality. No suggestion at all that they might try to find her birth father[:
Everything had changed.[:
She dissected their facial features, trying to figure out if she had found the guy based on How much he looked like herself. Then she would push the search out of her mind and come back to it another day. Brittney. Wasn't thinking about her search much until her mother married a man who went to school with her birth father. So it seemed like her opportunity to find the man was approaching.new half of her genetics. In:[:[:on't know why. And so when I [:
I didn't know. Later until later it was actually the grandma. So that's why she was confused, but I had my facts wrong. You know, I didn't have all the facts. I was just gathering information at that time. So mm-hmm, , I never really knew the full truth. So part of the journey is gaining the truth about yourself, which is kind of an odd concept for people who don't go through something like this.e phone, although she didn't [:
And she said, I'll call you back tomorrow. And I said, okay, you know, next day she said, we love you, which I thought was kind of an odd thing to say to somebody you don't know. But I was like, all right, you know, mm-hmm and then I never heard from her again.
Yep. She never, she answered my text again.
And I just said, Hey, you know, I'm not trying to ruin every anybody's life. I don't wanna start anything. I just want him to know I exist. Sorry. If anything I said was offensive and I texted her a few times just to reassure her and then I never heard anything. Wow. So I thought that was another dead end.[:
not the best show of love. Mm-hmm wow. That must have been really tough to endure.[:[:[:
And then I didn't find that out till later. And then, you know, I, like I said, I thought my story was kind of done for now. My search was kind of kaput. And then I walked into a local pizza place and I saw a poster for a missing girl. Same last name as my bio Dadd. She looked very similar to me in high school.at picture. Like I stared at [:
They found him, they never found her. And when I looked up her information, I also found the name of the sister that I had talked to another sister, my bio dad's name and an uncle, which I didn't know, you know, half of them existed. And it also led me to my grandma's obituary. And as soon as I saw my grandma's obituary, I was like, that's my face.
wow. That's my face. This is, this[:[:the obituary was the father [:
She had drowned so I thought, you know, either me coming into the picture now, cuz I came into the picture around the same time is either gonna be devastating for this family or it could be helpful. I wasn't sure.[:
Brittney got the names of some of her birth fathers, other siblings from the obituary she found online. She had called phone numbers for her birth father and her uncles, but none of them worked. Social media had not returned anything meaningful either.htfulness To try to help her [:
But it did. Ancestry connected Brittney to the paternal uncle whose daughter had tragically drowned.[:
Who, what, where, when, why? He kind of established a relationship with me first because he is also estranged from my bio Dadd. So I think he really wanted to make sure before he reached out to him so we kind of established a relationship and, and plus he had just lost his daughter, so right.Brittney reached out to her, [:
Wow. So did your buyer father end up reaching out? He did. Yeah. Wow. Really?
Yeah. Yep. He ended up calling me a few weeks later, but before that I had, I had called my dad that raised me and I said, Hey dad, I have this opportunity. I, I never really even thought about this before, but if you told me no today, I, I, out of respect for you, I, I won't.
And he said, Hey, you know, if this is something you feel like you have to do, then you should do it. And I just said, okay. You know, so I needed his permission first, which I probably didn't, but I felt like out of respect that I should let him know that I was doing that. so I didn't have to carry any guilt.[:t this to him to say, I just [:
So the giving him the opportunity to show his support and be an open supporter is really valuable. And I'm sure he appreciates that. And I, I just think you did the right thing. That was smart.[:[:[:
wow. And even when I was here in Connecticut, where I had grown up, initially he was five minutes down, down the road.[:[:
It was like, Ugh, like knife to the task, kind of, but I'm happy we get the, know that at. Now, but the woulda should have sometimes get you.
He told me he had never had children. He was asking me questions about when I was born and where I was born and circumstances. And if I had had a good life, if I was taken care of he also shared with me his friends, like who, his friends, like they had just came back from a trip from Connecticut, visiting some of their friends and their best friends.how to explain this in a not [:
I mean, he could have seen his own grandson and not ever even known it was his grandson, you know, ,[:
You know them too, you know? yeah. It's unbeliev. Wow. That's really amazing.
So did tell me, did you guys end up meeting? What was it like? Yeah,[:
Right. Mm-hmm so like I was, you know, at, you know, when you have something as. Traumatic as the truth about who your very person is, it's hard to know who to trust and then add compounding factors onto that. So I didn't really realize until that moment, how traumatic that finding out was for me. And then it kind of opened this floodgate of trauma for me that I was not prepared for.ought I would get my medical [:
So after we had talked, there was three or four years where of extreme anxiety for me of, oh my gosh, this is a real person. And I have struggles that I didn't know, I had. because of all this and having to know what to do with[:hat or what have you, you've [:
It is so mind blowing and like shocking to your heart to actually put a physical presence to this identity that you have sort of conjured in your mind. It's really wild.[:[:
Can you tell me a little bit about what kinds of things you thought about as you've made this personal connection to this guy?[:
Why was it hard for me to connect to this person trying to connect to me? Why do I have such a hard time trusting people? Why am I so nervous? like, he's been nothing, but kind to me, what I gotta start looking at these things.
Like I said, that bomb got dropped on me. I had to figure out how to deal with that. Internally. I went back to that place of taking it on myself and feeling like it was all on me to figure out and decipher even though they loved me and tried to take care of me, nobody else had to struggle to know what to do with this.erything he could to help me [:
And he did. but there is an injustice about it. Mm-hmm[:
But when you are, you're jarred out of your reality into being informed that there's an alternative reality. That is actually true. that'll mess you up and you're right. Yeah. You're the only one that has to deal with it and it can feel like an injustice.
It's crazy.ngs down. She struggled with [:
luckily Brittney is so close to one of her sisters that she was able to entrust her with taking the reins. So her sister managed the planning to set up the father daughter reunion At a restaurant in a private room now. The you remember Brittney said that after the drive her mom took her to the store and they bought chapstick that she held on to for years[:[:[:[:
yeah, I know. It's amazing. Wow. That's so cool. Yeah, that must have just really warmed your heart.[:
That is my face on someone else. This is wild. Wild.[:[:[:[:
I never got like, when my mom told SIM that she was pregnant, she said, I don't know who the dad is, but I'm okay. She was with my bio dad already, or she was with my dad who raised me already at the time. So she said, I'm I'm okay. I'm taking care of that's the version of the story I got, he told me. She had said that to him, but he had called his mom.sponsibility. And my grandma [:
And she saw him there and she said, I have a daughter. She kind of looks like you. And he was like, what? Like you tell me to stay away. I got the door shut in my face. And then you're at my place of employment saying I have a daughter. She kind of looks like Yeah. So he didn't. Trust her. And he wasn't about to ruin his life over somebody that wasn't truthful from the get go.ess of him wanting to really [:
But I, I don't know that that's true now. I think it was kind of something I was trying to tell myself to kind of protect my heart from feeling this connection with this person that that sense of disloyalty was coming into play. I was really scared and I think that's why this podcast for me was particularly important.
I wanted to share because when I was going through this struggle, I felt very alone. Like I did when I was, I had found out, I felt very alone. Don't have anybody to say like, Hey, how was it when you met your bio dad? not many people to ask out there and I had found your podcast. And I was like, I never considered myself to be quote unquote adopted, but I guess I kind of was.
And when I found your podcast, I was like, these people[:
from kinship adoptions that are totally unofficial to, you know, transnational, transracial adoptions that are very obvious to the eye to things like what you're talking about growing up in a family where there's, what is ends up being a misattributed parentage, or the, the hiding of the truth mm-hmm, in parenting and then revealing it like it just, and your father quite literally did adopt you.ct you are. And I think that [:
And right. We as a community, need to accept adoption as all in all of its forms, because this you've, as you've said, you feel the same things that someone like myself who went through a different kind of adoption feels, and you went through reunion, you went through self-discovery, you went through, you know, the challenges of trying to find acceptance with this, person like hoping that they will accept you.
Mm-hmm I wanted to dig in on something that you said you pointed out that you had some hesitation meeting your biological father, because you thought that he didn't want to be involved with you and mm-hmm and you were sort of protecting yourself, but I would also argue that you only went with what was in your story that you were told, right?ogical mother said. That she [:[:[:
And now you've got the additional context. So I'm glad you did push forward with trying to meet him despite the possibility that he might not have wanted to know you still, you learned mm-hmm that he actually did, which is fantastic.[:e for the worst, but you get [:
And like I said, I think that was the biggest thing for me to share in this story was that, that loss of identity , that was normal. How do I acclimate to a life that I, I should have been involved with this whole time, the questioning and, and the struggle that you can have? I really felt like I was a bad person for having this struggle, but I think that that's more normal than I, think or, or had known at the time.
And like, I looked at my childhood pictures and I didn't see the same person anymore. That's. very disorienting.[:[:[:[:[:[:
That's really fascinating that you can look back on pictures of yourself with the clarity. Of your newly found identity and now see that identity in those pictures where it was missing previously. And you probably couldn't have even said so prior to this reunion experience, that's really, really unbelievable.
So if you are struggling with it, I guess just don't feel bad. Take your time, get a therapist. That's also a suggestion.[:[:[:
And sometimes people get the help from podcasts. They get the help from the community online and Facebook groups, but sometimes you need a pro you know, mm-hmm, someone who's trained in understanding how our psychological processes work, how our emotions work and who has been trained to give people tools, to cope with situations that professional help can be really, really valuable in ways that you don't expect.And I think in some ways we [:[:
also didn't meet her bio dad until she was a teenager. So, I mean, that was a coincidence. Wow. But it was a perfect person for me to be talking to.[:all of the parental duties. [:
Still. The whole situation is sensitive so they don't talk about things much[:
So like that's a odd concept, but when I was struggling, I had gone to him and talked to him about. That. And he said, you know, we always kind of felt like this may be a struggle for you when you got older. And he was very mature about it and talked to me about it. And we had a heart to heart and he just was so mature in the way that I needed his, approval that I need you to know.ut it wasn't a hole from not [:
Don't know there's a hole until they realize there's a there's information out there. And then they realize that getting that information is filling a hole that they didn't realize was present. It's it's a wild experience to go through this and feel whole in a new way. W H O L E right. feel like you've been completed when you felt complete in the first place and didn't realize they were, they were missing pieces.
Is that fairly accurate? Mm-hmm[:[:
So do me a favor, just take me back to your childhood and I apologize for making you rewind, but oh, no, you're fine. After the, after the drive, after the divorce, and you've now moved in with your father and your sisters. How was your relationship with your mom as a kid?[:to for multiple reasons. She [:
Number one, because I was her buddy. We were very close in age. She was 16 when she got pregnant with me. So I think it was, she had this idea that I was there to, we were there to take care of each other, not I'm here to take care of you. And that kind of played a part in me, feeling responsible for my sisters, played a part in me being parentified.
And so our relationship has been Rocky and it was still Rocky up until the point of me reaching out. So she really wasn't a part of that. Journey, plus I'm super protective over that. I've always been super protective over my relationship with my dad when it comes to her. If she was to say anything to my dad or, or derogatory or anything like that, I'd be the first to, to call her out.[:[:
But that she was not necessarily the maternal figure that you needed and you sound like you. were somewhat connected with her, but like, didn't have the strongest relationship. And obviously that some of her choices probably pushed you guys apart in many ways. Mm-hmm and I underscore that because I think going into this discussion at the beginning, I'm sure there were people out there that thought to themselves, oh, well she grew up with her mom.Right? Mm-hmm but that your [:
more difficult than it needed to be. There's less connection than there should have been. Mm-hmm and you experienced that even growing up with your biological mother in your life. So I just wanted to make sure people hear that just because you didn't grow up with your biological mother in adoption doesn't mean that people who did have it that much better, it doesn't sound like it was.[:[:[:
And I had told her a little bit about it. She was happy for me. And then she , went into like sharing some things with me. She had never shared before, like that. She really knew the whole time. It, you know, I think what was difficult for me was the day before I was supposed to meet with my biological dad, she had a breakdown and called me at work and kind of, for lack of a better term, kind of making it about herself.
And I thought, no, , you're not gonna steal this from me. Mm-hmm no, this is my moment. I've had those moments kind of stolen from me my whole life, because of the lies that you have spun. Whe I give people forgiveness for being 16 and immature, I can only forgive. I don't hang onto, but I'm protective. You don't get to take this one from me.So as [:
That was going to be yours. Mm-hmm right. And you're right. People do tend to turn things around onto themselves when they get under stress mm-hmm so that's good that you were able to put up some barriers to make sure that you, you know, protected yourself. That's great. Thank you. Wow, Brittney just . Oh my goodness., of basically being a late [:
And I, I think it's, I'm glad that you've identified yourself in this community because we are your people and you are one of us too.[:
This is okay. This is a weird concept to try to find, you know, I was 34 when I reached out. So I had a lifetime of preparing myself for this. He had a couple months, like I have a daughter, I have, you know? Yeah. So he's gung ho and I'm like, whoa, there's a 34 year backstory here,[:
Let's pump our breaks just a little bit around this turn, right? Yeah.[:
Not only was, is kind like, you know, could take it or leave it or, or whatever. I would imagine it'd be hard for a lot of people to be patient with somebody that they don't really know in a lot of that circumstances. And I am so fortunate that I got somebody that was so, so patient, so kind, and at the end of it now, you know, three years later we have a beautiful relationship and, and sometimes I still struggle internally with my feelings of loyalty or, but on both sides, whether my dad who raised me and with him, neither one of them had made, have made me question that that's all on me.ething that I still have to, [:
And I guess I've learned to just be patient with myself and I'm just so grateful. I have people in my life that love me and support me. And I'm so thankful for that. So even with this podcast, it's a support for people who, feel very alone in their, their struggle at times and, and feeling normal.
And I'm so thankful that I found that as well. You, you were a lifeline to me when I was struggling[:
And that's what I love about this. So Brittney, thank you so much for being here. This was really awesome. Absolutely.[:[:[:[:
I loved what she said about her adoptive father showing up in the mature, supportive way that she needed when she shared with him that she was seeking reunion with her biological father.That's exactly [:
Well, this was my last show for season 11 of the, who am I really podcast. I'm going to force myself to take a break, to focus on some other things related to adoption and some projects away from the community.roots conference in March of:[:i'll see you in the spring of:
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