132 – Nearly Dying Is One Of The Best Things That Ever Happened

Adrian, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, has lived around the country and in different parts of the world, only to find himself right back in the town where everything started for him. An avid mountain biker, he nearly lost it all when the widow maker tried to tear him down. Adrian fought through recovery, vowed to love his family like he never had before, and follow the advice of the voice in his ear telling him to find his birth family. This is Adrian’s journey. 

Transcript
Adrian (:

The next night I checked in with both the sisters. I gave them each a phone call and the youngest of the two told me that she had been up all night crying. And I said, why are you crying? And she said, because I was thinking about you. I've always wanted a brother and now I got one, wonderful. You as my brother. I'm so excited. I'm excited too. I feel like my soul was now complete. I didn't realize I had a hole in my soul until I met you last night. And now it's complete.

(:

Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

Damon (:s journey. Adrian was born in:Adrian (:

So my family was pretty unique. And when my, I remember my parents telling me when I was in fifth grade, and this is a classic ongoing family debate because they will argue, they were telling me much earlier. And it was in fifth grade when the quarter actually went through the machine. And then it clicked. When I found out like the next day I went to school, I told anybody who had listened to me that I was adopted because I thought that was really cool. Even though as a fifth grader or thereabouts, obviously I didn't have my head fully around what all that meant, but I knew it made me different and kind of unique. And I like that. I don't know if my, my adoptive sister felt nearly the same way, but for me, I'm like, this is something that's going to define me and I'm going to wear it and see how it goes.

Adrian (:

So growing up, that's sort of how I took it. My, my adoptive family, it wasn't a big deal. My parents, and would often sit down at family dinners with me and my sister and talk about the fact we're adopted. And if we ever wanted to search, they would support us, but we're their children. And they are our parents and they love us to death. And we are we're angels that were brought to them. And they're so fortunate to have us in their lives. So overall, it was a very positive experience from a, an adoptee perspective. At least from my perspective,

Damon (:

Understanding what adoption meant, became an awakening for Adrian, but he admitted that his family didn't harp on their adoption and he and his sister didn't really explore it until they were much older. But when they were older, a funny thing would happen with the siblings from time to time.

Adrian (:

I'll tell you. And this sounds strange to say, I suppose, but whereas I'm taller and darker haired and my sister is shorter and fair. And one of the weirdest things that would happen is we'd go out to restaurants in our teenage years. And we were in college and coming back home for summer or whatever, and waiters would say, Oh, what was your girlfriend like to drink? It was like, no, that is awful. Yeah. Like weird and uncomfortable. And like, yeah, we just laugh it off, but it wasn't happening all the time. But it was just one of those times in your life. I go, this is just strange. I wonder if my biological siblings have to deal with this sort of thing.

Damon (:

When I asked Adrian about the dynamics in his family, he described parents who raised the children in a fairly proper household. Like the ones they had grown up in his mother of English descent took to equestrian activities. When the kids were young and Adrian sister joined their mother going around to competitions together, Adrian gravitated to his dad's side of the family, Northern Californians with a history dating back to the westward expansion and the wagon trains that traversed the country, his adoptive paternal side were really into skiing, which Adrian loves too. And he has transferred that love of skiing to his own children. I was kind of curious to know what kind of kid Adrian was growing up. He said he wasn't a jock, but he was athletic. He wasn't super smart, but he was intelligent enough. He wasn't a troublemaker, but a bit of a rule follower and kind of a people pleaser.

Adrian (:

I was very quiet, very shy, quiet kid. I didn't come out of my shell loss well in my deepen my high school years. So I was pretty quiet. You know, the kid who wasn't first picked for the Dodge ball team, but not the last, you know, wasn't getting the gold stars on all the homework, but certainly wasn't getting that. So whatever, but, but, but, but the adopted thing gave me an identity. And I think like those late elementary school years, when you're going into middle school, it's tough. I'm like, what is my identity? Not that I walked around with a big adopted badge on my sweatshirt or something like that, but it just helped me anchor a little bit in a strange, strange way. And I want to go back to something I was just saying earlier in terms of, I felt, you know, I said I was a people pleaser.

Adrian (:

I'm pretty quiet. I think rooted in my psyche, as we adoptees since learned is the trauma of separation at birth and the fear of abandonment. And so I felt maybe I'm just hardwired this way, but I think it was further compounded by something deep in the recesses of my brain that I just wanted to sit in and, and be. And so that was real important to me. So it wasn't shortly, probably in my middle school years. Did I begin to say, I have another mother, a natural mother birth mother somewhere out there. And I have no idea what she's like. I don't know what she looks like. I don't know why she would want to give me up and told it was out of love. And she had her reasons

Damon (:

What Adrian did know from his adoption papers was that his natural parents were engaged to be married, but she became pregnant before their marriage. And as a member of the Catholic church, it was unacceptable to have a child out of wedlock. Adrian bought into the story that he was conceived in love. His adoption papers also suggested he's half Italian and half Norwegian. And he grew up feeling like he looked Italian. Today, DNA testing has told him otherwise. He said, he's a little taller than his parents. Adrian talked about what happened one time when he and his dad were out and about together.

Adrian (:

Yeah. I don't know about you Damon, but for me, nothing that would trip me out and still does this happen kind of recently when my dad was out visiting and I introduced him to a friend of mine and he, he doesn't know my adoption story at all. He said, Oh, you look so much like your dad and my dad was a real glance at each other and laugh like, well, okay. I guess some people see that, but I don't think the family the family, the portrait would show that we there's a strong resemblance between any of the four of us.

Damon (:

I I've often said that I've had that happen too. And for me to my mind, it's even more stark because as an African-American man, I am, I always say my mom was light I'm Brown and my dad was dark. So we looked like family if we stood together. Right. But if you put me next to dad, I don't feel like I looked like him at all. And my sense is, as it probably was for you, people can sense your connection and your similar energy kind of thing. And, you know, cause you pick up mannerisms and things like that. And like you might learn your laugh or you might do certain things with your hands that you've admired that from your dad when he was your hero, when you was young, when you were young and therefore some of that might carry through. And my dad and I had similar sort of gregarious personalities as well. So I suspect people detect some of those pieces and they apply the looks to that thing that they see that they feel between you. They say you guys look alike as that's my guess.

Adrian (:

Yeah. Some learned mannerisms and responses. Yeah. I think you're spot on, on that. I know I picked that up from my parents. That's for sure.

Damon (:ancisco Bay area in the early:Adrian (:

And so we were going up a pretty steep pitch when I lost all the strength in my legs, like vanished in the snap of a finger gone. And I thought, what on earth is happening? And my friends were ahead. And I labored to catch up with them. But when I did catch up with them, Damon, it was all I could do to get off my bike. The world was spinning and the most terrifying and awful, awful way. I mean, something was really wrong. And I stumbled off to the side and started to grow up and heat all the contents out of my stomach onto this little Bush. And it was, I was miserable and I'm thinking, God, I'm just a fat old man. I'm just out of shape. Pull it together, Adrian. Which is a dangerous narrative to have very dangerous narrative to have.

Adrian (:

I stood up and told my friends that I felt better and they wanted none of it. And they said, we got to stop it right now. It was going on with you. So I said, no, no, no guys, like I feel better. Let's do this. Let's complete the ride. And thank goodness to a brand, to a man. They all said, absolutely not. We got to go down. And so on the way down I started to get a chest pain in the chest. Like I had a million needles inside my chest that tricked me every time I took a breath and I had to get off my bike and I lay spread eagled across the fire trail and pounded on my chest like King Kong or Tarzan, right left right left using my fist to pound my chest, thinking that this was a burp or acid reflux.

Adrian (:

I was going to get out of my system evil to say it didn't leave. And I wrote a little bit further until I could throw my bike anymore. He ended up walking down the trail and I continued to be sick here and there. And eventually I lost the feeling in my, in both ring and pinky fingers. They went totally numb. And at that point I thought something's really wrong. And a friend had his car at the bottom of the trail and he threw me in the car and raced off to the hospital. And I was told once I walked into the hospital, I was told I was having a heart attack and they went straight into emergency operation where they put a stent into my left anterior descending artery or the Widowmaker artery for those who know their cardiology. And it's known as the Widowmaker for good reason, because my left anterior descending artery was 100% blocked.

Adrian (:

When I got to the hospital. It had it was blocked by arterial plaque that had burst or ruptured climbing up that steep ascent. And that mortality rate is so high. I don't even want to say it well into the high 90% range if you don't catch it on time. So after the step procedure, they cleared out that artery. And I got to tell you, I'm one of the lucky ones and one of the very lucky ones to be here and to have a second chance on life and to really revisit a whole lot of things, which I'm sure we're going to be exploring here momentarily. But it was a life changing to say the least I mean, that's just an understatement. It almost feels trite to say, to be frank. But it really, really affected me deeply. And I refuse to allow it to define my life or who I am. I allowed it to help shape who I want to be and how I want to live going forward. And I have some try to truisms that I've been following since that time.

Damon (:

Wow. Oh my God. First. Yes, you are so lucky and I'm so glad. I'm so, so glad. That's just terrifying. Oh my God. I was trying to really imagine the feelings you were describing, as you said it, and it was absolutely terrifying and I didn't even live it. So I'm so, so, so glad that you had other guys there that were like, nah, dude, this is, we're done. We're out of here. Something's definitely wrong. I mean, that is so, so, so critical. And I'm so glad they got you to care.

Adrian (:

Yeah. I just, I'm very open with my story because I hope it drives awareness and people will start association, associating, nausea, lightheadedness, and these others symptoms I experienced as this could be troubling. This isn't acid reflux or bad gas. This could actually be a heart attack in some form, but I'll tell you Damon. When we were in the hospital and I had just gone through triaged, I had the frigerators on my chest. I had I.V. Lines coming out of all my veins. I had things attached to the end of my fingers and the nurses were running down the hospital and I'm laying on the gurney in my mountain bike attire. Again, the is on my chest and I'm laying, looking up in the white ceiling tiles are racing by overhead and I had three really, really clear and distinct thoughts. The first one was, I didn't want my wife to fly home a widow.

Adrian (:

I refuse to let that happen. That was not be fair to her. And I couldn't let that happen on that day. And I prayed, please let me see my work again. My next thought is, why did I run out of the house to go mountain biking? I didn't tell my kids. I loved them. Right? So when I ran out that morning, I just said, bye kids be back in a couple hours. But I should've said is I'll bike and I'll be back in a couple hours. I love you. And I vowed in that moment that if I were to survive, that would never happen again. And when I think about it in my family, I say, I love you. And then the third thought was predicated by those previous two thoughts. And it was like, it was a very, very driving, powerful thought. It said, this is not happening today. This is not going down. This is not your day to checkout. You will walk out of this hospital on your own two feet and have your own volition. And that's what I did

Damon (:

That is practically speechless. That's so incredibly powerful. It's unbelievable. I mean, needless to say, the gravity of the situation would drive. So it's thoughts. It must've been so incredibly sweet for your wife to hear that you thought of her first, that you wanted to make sure to choose saw her again. I mean, she must've just, God, I'm sure she would have cried anyway, but she must've just absolutely melted. And I, and I hear you 100% on the telling your kids, you love them. I, I don't know what it is about adoptees and our kids, but I am a smother that hugs and kisses and love all the time for my son

Adrian (:

And me too. Yeah, yeah,

Damon (:

Yeah. It's cool.

Adrian (:

Keep, keep doing it. Keep doing it, keep it up. Yeah. It's good to know when you're on potentially your final breath. Now I'm not saying I flat, but if I was starting to fade that this is where my orientation was and you have to fight to in those moments, but it was nice to know all the things that we worry about when it comes down to like, what's really, really, really important. I talked about those truisms that I live by. These are the truisms. This is what we think it is. We know it is. We act that way, but it really sharpened the focus for me.

Damon (:

I can totally imagine that must've been so crazy.

Adrian (:

So, so what's crazier. Let's play out the crazy here. So I get wheeled into the ICU and the nurses make sure I'm all hooked up to the machines and everything is looking good and stable and they leave me alone to my thoughts. And first thought it wasn't even a thought. And I don't know how anyone can fact check this, but I swear it is true. I heard a voice in my right ear and I even looked over to my right shoulder a little bit. See if someone had whispered to me and the voice said, find your birth parents.

Adrian (:

And in that moment I knew not only had I been a heart attack, I'm a heart attack survivor. And I have a whole new world I've got to learn to live with. But in that moment, that's when I turned the corner and there was no going back. I thought to myself, yeah, you know what? I almost checked out of here. And maybe they wanted to know how I turned out. Maybe they're dying to hear how doing do I don't. I owe it to them to at least give them that news. And the other thing is I needed to figure out my genetic health risks for my family. I've been for my kids, especially does heart disease run in the family. I have no idea. You know, you talk to a lot of adoptees. Like we go to the doctor's office, you'll get that question. Does this run in the family? The answer is not applicable. I don't know I'm adopted. So this runs in the family. I got to figure that out for me and my children and their children.

Damon (:

Adrian, very fortunately survived the 100% blockage of the Widowmaker. Thanks to the forceful actions of caring friends, the rapid response of the hospital's clinical staff and his own inner resolve to make sure he saw his wife and children again, refusing to meet death that day. Going back, remember that Adrian was born and has moved back to Marin his birthplace. He told me he started wondering more and more. If he was among family there in the community, he coached youth, recreational soccer could one of the kids, he was coaching, be a niece or nephew. When he was at back to school events for his kids was one of the other parents, one of his own siblings, maybe one of his kids' teachers was one of his siblings. It was all building up within him before that life-changing heart attack, survival moment. So once that voice in his ear said he should find his birth parents.

Damon (:

He kicked it into high gear. It's funny how once you decide to start looking in the crowd for your biological family, you can't turn those thoughts off Adrian admitted. He didn't know how to start his search, but he knew he wanted to talk things through with his adoptive parents and his sister first. He didn't want to go down that path without bringing them along. As soon as he was healthy and stable, we left off with Adrian on his back in recovery at the hospital. The next thing he says is going to trip you out a little bit.

Adrian (:th,:Damon (:

Think about it. Adrian's life started in that hospital. He was brought into the same facility, again, nearly at the possible end of his life and walked out of the hospital again on his birthday. In essence, reborn from near death. That is incredible. After he was discharged, Adrian began cardiac rehabilitation. Heart attack survivors are assisted in rebuilding their physical and emotional strength appropriate for their age and fitness level. At the beginning of his six weeks, Adrian was strolling gingerly on the treadmill, ending his rehabilitation, running strenuously on the treadmill, sweating profusely with his strength and confidence rebuilt. He reached his goal of not letting the heart attack, define him or leave him living in fear. He said he felt like there was a reason he lived and he wanted to make sure to find his answers. When I asked him how he began his search, he for warned me that it was another surreal coincidence. It was his very first time out socially. After the heart attack, Adrian had become a bit of a home body not ready to talk about his heart attack while he was in rehab. Back in November of that year, he was at a costume party, a couple approached Adrian expressing their concern. After hearing about his heart attack, he took a few moments to share the short version of his story.

Adrian (:th,:Adrian (:

And I could see, and she explained to an email to me that the way California is the, their convention for doing unwed births is to put the last name of the biological mother and father in the place of where traditional names would go. And she points out here are the two names of your biological, presumably, presumably these could be your biological parents. And the bottom of her email was, do you want to find out more? I said, absolutely. So two days later, I meet her in a parking lot. At this point, you know, my cardiac rehab is going along and we go for a nice walk in the hills out here where I live, bring along the dog and we have a great walk and it turns out she's a DNA and family investigator with a degree in genealogy. And she helps adoptees find their biological families. Two days earlier I was thinking I was going to Google, literally, Google, how to find your biological parents was sort of thinking what I would do when I was ready. And here she is thrust into my lap. Like, Hey, here's someone who's really curious, and this is what she does affect. Quite honestly, she has a black belt in it, as I will explain to you in a second. So we go for this walk and she says, would you want my help? I said, absolutely.

Damon (:women of childbearing age in:Adrian (:town I moved my family to in:Adrian (:woman when she lived here in:Adrian (:l and this woman graduated in:Damon (:

Are you serious? That's crazy. You're hurt what? The class photos on your wall and your, your daughter's walking past her grandmother. Oh, that's crazy. Yep.

Adrian (:ou a picture of this woman in:Damon (:

Just incredible. That's unreal. I mean wow. One, you survived this massive heart attack that really could have gone. The other way. You walk out of the same hospital you were born in on your birthday that year, couple of days later you've gotten, so you meet this woman. And she turns out to be a black belt genealogist who finds your birth mother went to the same high school that your daughter is attending now. And she lived in town. I mean, that's just bananas.

Adrian (:

I hear about I think I have for some adoptees stories where they grew up close to where they were born, you see that overlap. But I mean, we skipped out of the Bay area when I was four years old and kept moving progressively East until I went to college in LA. You know? And so there was no like just, there was no doctor. There was nothing to suggest that this is where my biological, at least the maternal side of my biological family came from here. I was following in her footsteps, which is crazy.

Damon (:

Christina has found Adrian's birth mother who at the time lived right there in town where he lives today. But locating someone is only part of the journey making contact is the next big action to take. There was something else though that had to come first sharing his incredible news with his adopted parents and sister. He said his parents took it well while they were obviously shocked. Adrian sister was super supportive too. He asked his mom if there was any other identifying information she might have about his biological father, because he wanted to feed Christina as much valuable information as possible. Adrian's mother recalled that his birth father had been a title, officer, someone who supports real estate acquisitions, he immediately called Christina with that information. She hung up and jumped back on the case. She found a guy with that profession in his background. He had also gone to high school in the Marin County area.

Adrian (:as, mid December, I would say:Adrian (:

I will, I will. Whatever happens with the biological parents is one thing that I'm going to meet those sisters. And I'm, I know I'm going to love getting to know them. So I decided all along the course of action for me would be to send letters to them, both at the, at my biological parents. At the same time, I would put them both in FedEx at the same time and surrender myself to fate. And for some strange reason, I'll, I'll give credit to the band Oasis. I was really struggling with how to write that letter. Like what's the playbook for writing a letter to someone you never met, who gave you up, who may never want to hear from you again, or maybe dying to hear or in every, every part of the spectrum in between. And I was listening to champagne supernova to Oasis and it hit me how I wanted to write the letters. And I opened up my laptop and sat there and let my fingers become the vessels to my soul. If you will. And then I wrote a three-page letter.

Damon (:

Adrian introduced himself, talked about his children, the great life he had led to that point. And the fact that he was searching because he wanted genetic information. Following the near death experience with his heart attack. He also shared that he's a man with a big heart and he loved to share it with them. If they were open to it, Adrian included his contact information, phone number, and email address. In his note, he sent the letters through FedEx, refreshing their webpage frequently for delivery confirmation, hoping to learn in real time when someone had received his missives, when he saw his birth mother's letter was delivered first, then his birth fathers was delivered a few hours later that Tuesday, he reconciled himself to accepting any possible response from either of them. That weekend, Adrian was with his family at their ski getaway, near Lake Tahoe. Everyone is sitting by the fireplace sharing some bonding time. When Adrian took an electronics break to check his phone real fast.

Adrian (:

My phone was downloading nine emails, the one out of my two out of nine, three out of nine, so forth and finally email nine out of nine hit. And it was from my biological mother. The subject line was thank you. Wow. I'm shaking. I'm jumping out of my chair. I screamed contact my wife, startled. Like why, why? I said, nah, sorry, sir. We all scrambled to like look over the phone, but we can all read it. And it was amen. It was so powerful. Just getting that letter an email hadn't even read it, but it started with thank you. I knew it had to be good. And it was amazing because she, she said in a fact I've been waiting for 47 years to hear from you, I never changed my last name in the hopes that you would come to mind. You deserve to know everything.

Adrian (:

I want you to know about your sister and her children. I want to hear all about your family. How soon can we talk? I mean, she's been hoping to hear from me for 47 years. She'd never given up that hope that I would come back and find her, which is crazy. And she never changed her last name. She got married in the early eighties and she hyphenated her last name, which was not the typical convention in those days, but she did it because she did not want her last name that she gave birth with me her maiden name to be wiped from the records.

Damon (:

Yeah. Wow. God, that's unbelievable. That's so cool. And I remember that feeling too, of that first contact email, especially with my biological father, because I, my, my mom found, told me the wrong name. I found this wrong guy and then DNA revealed that it was a totally different person. And so I emailed this dude and there is no there's zero context for him. And I remember when I saw his name in my email box, there was definitely like an elation. Like I couldn't describe in a relief, you know?

Adrian (:

Yeah. Relief. Yep. Did you feel lighter? I felt so light. It was incredible.

Damon (:

Yeah. Cause you know that, that the FedEx refresh, you know, you're holding your breath the whole time. You're holding your breath, you're breathing, but you're holding your breath. Hoping that it one, it gets there, two they'll accept it, three that they'll open it and read it. And four like within seconds, they, after they, you know, receive it, they will be in touch with you. Like you're really holding your breath the entire time. And it's in the back of your mind. And it consumes you a little bit to know that a piece of you is out there. You know, it's almost like a hand has reached out into the distance and you're hoping somebody on the other end is about to touch it. Right. And when they do, it's this huge relief of, Oh my God, you are out there. Right. I mean, it's, it's really, it's, it's almost indescribable. It's really great.

Adrian (:

I like, I like the way you say that you are out there. That's really powerful. Yeah. Yeah.

Damon (:

I know. And I was thinking about what you said about writing down, sort of who you are about your family, you know, expressing yourself in this letter. You know, in many ways we have many friends that we talk to on a regular basis, but you don't openly emote with them in one, three page letter like that. Like you literally almost dump your heart into this thing because in fact, you want someone to feel a connection to you so that they want to reach out. And so that, it's one, it's an emotional process to sit there and craft every single word as you would like for it to be read and received and, and to put it into a full three-page thing and then feel like it's finally complete. There's an emotional heaviness to the creation of the document itself, let alone what it represents in terms of what I hope you will return to me in being back in contact. Like it's incredibly heavy to write those letters.

Adrian (:

Yeah. It really is. And there's no playbook, right? Like there's no dummies guide for writing letters to your biological parents. You're like, what, how do I put myself on paper and explain this and why I'm searching and what I'm looking for. And at the same time, you know, I presume most people who send letters are hoping for positive contact back. So you like, am I phrasing this the right way? How will this be received? Even if they never want to hear from me, or if they're dying to hear from me or somewhere in between, how's all going to be read, Oh, I get it. And I can really relate.

Damon (:

Adrian emailed back that same night. And he and his mother exchanged messages agreeing to talk by phone the next morning when he dialed the phone number, his birth mother had given him the phone rang a few times unanswered. So Adrian started to wonder to himself. I hope she doesn't have cold feet about talking to me. His mind raced a little bit as to whether he should leave a message. Would her husband know who this man's voice was and why he was calling?

Adrian (:

And then she answered the phone and she said, hello, Adrian. Hello. And I mean, hearing that voice for the first time, this woman that's being created you, there she is. She's not just there as we're talking about the letters that she's talking to me and I hear her voice and it was like in a year. It was fascinating. And I got to tell you, it was the most emotional two hour conversation I might've ever had. We went all over the place and, you know, she asked a lot about my upbringing and my parents, what I was interested in. And I learned, you know, how I came to be that, that she was yes engaged in that she became pregnant and then realized that the marriage to my biological father was not right for her. And as she was a first-year elementary school teacher, she didn't think she could raise me in the late sixties in a manner that she thought was right for me.

Adrian (:

So she did what she thought was best and was told what's best. So that put me up for adoption. So I thought at that point, I may never hear from my biological father, because if she terminated the engagement and then gave away the child, this is probably a dark chapter for him. And then back to my conversation with her, I mean, it was absolutely just beautiful to hear her voice and for her to be so interested in me, I was humbled by it. And we agreed with me two days later over in Berkeley, in the, in the East Bay. And I tried to wrap up a pretty intense, heavy conversation with, with something lighthearted, half jokingly said, well, I can't wait to see you again. And she said, I've never seen you. I said, what, what do you mean? And she said, well, in those days we were sedated when we were unwed mothers, giving birth for adoption.

Adrian (:

And so I was out when you were born. And when I came to my mother, your grandmother told me that she got to hold you after you were born for a minute. And she told me you had the face of an angel. I mean, that's all that my mother was holding onto. That was a son with a face of an angel that's all. She had lunch for 47 years. Wow. So crazy. And we wrapped up the call, so I wrapped up the call and yeah. And then she said, sorry. And then she said can I hug you when I see you? And I said, that's the first order of business is we're going to have a really, really long overdue hug. And that's what happened. I saw her two days later at the Claremont hotel in Berkeley. And I saw her walking towards me in the hotel lobby.

Adrian (:

And I had a backpack with some childhood photos in it. And at this point I did have my adoption papers, which I wanted to read with her. But when I saw her, we saw each other and we made eye contact. We just smiled. I dropped my backpack to the ground and we hugged. And there are no words to describe it. I curious what your experiences was, has been with those sorts of hugs, that first initial contact and embrace. I didn't know where I was. I didn't know who was around me. I had no idea who was looking at me. I didn't even know if my feet were on the ground. It was upside down and amazing. And that's really, really powerful. We spent the next six hours sitting in the lobby of the hotel, just talking. It's really wonderful.

Damon (:

Oh my God. Six hours. Wow. Dang. Oh yeah, yeah. 47 years. It's funny how you, you feel like you want to both press fast forward and like get through like, just catch up on everything all at once simultaneously you feel like you want to slow it all down. And so get in and just, just lap up every word. And I'll tell you the first time I met my biological mother, I, I did the same thing. Like I, I dove on her in this embrace and I just burst into tears right. In her shoulder. And for a minute, like the building, we were in just disappeared. We were, it was just the two of us, like standing in this open black space, you know? And when I, when I, when I opened my eyes there, she was in my face, was on this other person. And it was just unbelievable.

Adrian (:

Unbelievable. They're exactly. They're my eyes. They're my cheekbones. I was looking at, we were sitting there and I couldn't help, but I had an out-of-body moment where I was looking at myself, looking at her, going, I looked like a little puppy dog. I'm just staring at her and taking on everything. She's saying every mannerism, every Twitch, every blink of the eye, every curl of the lip with a smile. I was fascinated. Absorbing it all this intake like this is me. Yeah. That woman me. Holy cow. That's really surreal.

Damon (:

So powerful. Yeah. Yeah. So six hours later. Yeah. You guys have met. You must have floated out of that place, man.

Adrian (:

Floated, floated. And to your point, the next, like probably four to six weeks, she would not. She, she confessed to me that she had told her husband about my adoption before they got married because she got married much, 14 years after I was born, but she had never told her daughter. So that was something we'd have to deal with. And I told her, well, I'll play along, but know that she is my sister and I I'm compelled to meet her. And she goes, you will just give me time with it. Absolutely. I respect that. There's a lot of change for both of us, but for the next four to six weeks, we would meet each other, almost illicitly in places around the Bay area, because we just wanted that time to, I didn't want to bring in my wife and kids yet. She wasn't ready to bring in her friends or husband yet.

Adrian (:

We just wanted that time to soak up together and just be us and establish a foundation. Yeah. Which I'm really grateful that we were, we were able to do it and it went well, what do you mean? It was working through a lot of baggage early days. And then my biological mother loves to like dig into the emotional stuff. And so it took me a while to get comfortable doing that with her a bit and opening up on some of the true feelings that I had developed over four plus decades or whatever, really cool, really cool stuff.

Damon (:

While their maternal reunion was unfolding. Adrian, hadn't heard a thing from his biological father. Like he said, his birth mother had ended their engagement and place their child for adoption thinking. She would not be able to care for Adrian the way she wanted to alone on her elementary school teacher's salary. It was his expectation that this guy would have been in great pain at that time in his life. And Adrian's emergence from that fall could bring it all back. Still Adrian weighted with hopes of making a connection, because don't forget, he's interested in learning about any and all health risks that may be looming over his family from his genetics on his maternal side, he learned that heart disease was a deadly killer in her family. Several relatives impacted at early ages in life.

Adrian (:

So, you know, as an adoptee and you think about adoptee rights, adoptee access to medical information, a privilege would have liked to have known that 25 years ago. I don't know what younger me would have done with that information, but maybe I would have been more on top of some things, but now I know, and I'm on top of it even more. And my kids know them to be aware

Damon (:

Just on that point there about that medical knowledge, you know, it's not even necessarily about what you would have done with it. It's about you as a part of the medical team who was asking you about your heredity. So they know what to look for, right? They are the ones trained in the thing. And if they're asking you a question, the gateway question to caring for you is tell me about your heredity and your blanket answer is, I don't know, you've basically given them that you can't give them a single clue to go on no direction. You can't point in any direction and say, we should probably look over there for this, for whatever you might, you know, try to help a treat me with you can't point them in any single direction. And it's summarily unfair. And, and I think that that's a massive thing that needs to be well-documented in every adoption going forward, right?

Damon (:

Is that you've got to write down everything that the biologicals know about themselves and their family Adrian's birth father had the letter in his possession for about six weeks. Adrian was unsure what to do. He definitely wasn't going to go show up on the man's doorstep. Maybe he should write another letter. The internet told Adrian that he had two paternal sisters. The oldest of the two had a website for her interior design business. And on that site was his paternal sister's email address. Adrian took that information back to Christina, his amazing adoption reunion investigator. They figured out through Facebook connections that Adrian's friend's cousin was the ex-boyfriend of the paternal sister. They were just a few degrees of separation apart from one another through social circles. Adrian's friend's cousin could make the connection to his own sister.

Adrian (:

So I ran into this friend at it show one night in town. And I said, I got to tell you a story. And I told him the whole story. And he said, and I showed him a picture of my sister and I go, do you know her? And he goes, Oh my God, that's your sister. He goes, she is the best. You will love her. Oh my you kidding? That's your sister like, yes. He goes, how can I connect you guys? How can I play a role in this? I said, you've already played enough of a role by telling me she's really open-minded. And he goes, use us, use me. Or my wife has referenced. We really enjoyed spending time with her. I wish she, and you know, my cousin we're still together, but she's a great woman.

Damon (:

The next day, Adrian drafted a letter introducing himself to his sister. He described himself as an adoptee, searching for his biological family. Adrian shared that he started his search looking for answers to health questions, but the search evolves into a quest for answers about how he came to be in this life and who his biological relatives are. He shared that he and his sister are closely related and that he had sent a letter to her father, Adrian didn't expose their sibling relationship. Quite yet. Of course, he named dropped his friend as a character reference. So she didn't think he was so nuts.

Adrian (:

Turns out that sister called my friend's wife. The next day asked like, who is this Adrian guy? What is going on? Tell me about him. And my friend hopefully spoke the truth and said, good things. He's upstanding great in the community, whatever, aren't you excited? He's your brother. And so the cat was out of the bag with my sister. So, so two days later I got an email back from her where, and in the email, we got a full family email with everybody's email address, copied on the email, like her dad, her mom, our other sister were so excited to hear. We have a brother and our family. We confronted dad about this. He's told us everything. We can't wait to meet you. How soon can we meet you? We're so excited to have a brother. I thought, Oh my gosh. Wow. And I called Dina and I said, Oh my gosh, can you believe this?

Adrian (:

This is incredible. And she goes, you better? I got email. It works as you better leave work. Cause they want to meet you today. I said today she's Oh yeah. That email is all about meeting you right now. So I jammed out of work and went home and put on a fresh shirt and a drove out to a restaurant to meet with my paternal side of the family. And they all showed up all of them and it was wonderful. Lots of hug. Yeah. And just before you know, it I'm joking around with my sisters and it's like, we've been siblings for, so many years. It was something at ease, which was really wonderful. And we just got, we just clicked and got along. So great. And I'll tell you your app, the next night I checked in with both the sisters, I gave them each a phone call and the youngest of the two told me that she had been up all night crying. And I said, why are you crying? And she said, because I was thinking about you. I've always wanted a brother and now I've got wonderful. You as my brother. I'm so excited. I'm excited too. As you know, I feel like my soul was now complete. I didn't realize I had a hole in my soul until I met you last night and now it's complete.

Damon (:

Wow. Wow.

Adrian (:

The more I thought about it with time and not a lot of time, I realized that my soul was increasingly becoming complete too. As I went through this whole process questions, I never knew I had had been answered gaps in my being were filled holes in the soul work field. I, it just, it all so many good positive things started to happen. And it's just remarkable.

Adrian (:

Yeah. It's crazy stuff. It would be crazy. And so now, you know, we're, what are we getting to be three yet? We're a little over three years into reunion across the board and now transitioning. And the early honeymoon days where we're texting furiously and calling and trying to get together. Now things are normalizing. And you know, I get an, I get invited to birthday parties. I'm included in obituaries and stuff. It's really, you know, trying to find that integration, which is, which is tricky, but it's done. We're doing it with a lot of love and flexibility and just so excited to have each other in each other's lives.

Damon (:

Reunions happen fairly rapidly sometimes. And it's hard to keep the loved ones we already have in our lives up to date on the new people we're finding, meeting, connecting with and learning how to love. I asked Adrian how he shared his reunion journey with his adopted family.

Adrian (:

It was happening so quickly. And my, you have to remember my folks live across the country outside of Boston. And so it was, it was hard at first for my, certainly for my mother, because so much of this was happening out here, you know, in my proverbial backyard where I live and she couldn't be a part of it. She was fearful that my kids wouldn't see her as their grandmother, which to me was patently absurd. But if I put my empathetic hat on and look from my mom's perspective, maybe that is a, but all these people are out here. The new biological grandmothers, 45 minutes drive away. You can come visit any time, you know, but there's no replacement that was not ever my objective. And it was hard when my mom brought some of that up. Like, you must be, you must be kidding.

Adrian (:

I don't even have my head around that. That's never, I'm a Jones. And I'm going to carry that Jones flag all the way to my grave. Like that doesn't change has been my philosophy and how I've approached it. But yeah, I, you know, I, I wish I could have sat down with them before I met Christina, we shot out of a cannon, was with the search. I would have loved to have sat down with them, face to face said, Hey, this is what I'm thinking. This is what I'm going to do. That, that, wasn't what happened. And I had to tell him over the phone, which I didn't love either. And I regret those, those two things. And then, you know, they kinda told me quite candidly, but do what you need to do for yourself. We support you. It's your life.

Adrian (:

Like, we're surprised it took you this long to go out and strike, to find, strike out, to find your biological family, but you don't feel, you have to tell us all the updates, like it's your life in many ways, like you're old enough, you're a mature adult. Your dad like go, you know, handling, you know, if you really need us, let us know. So that, that part was a little tricky navigating with the, with my parents. You know, because you, I don't know how your experience was, but your parents are there for, well, not for the birth, but other major milestones, diapers and moving out of elementary school and whatever, being a starter on some sports team and graduating high school, whatever college and getting married and birth of your first child. But when you strike out to go tackle this really big personal issue, finding your biological truth, the restorative there, and it was hard for me, that was hard and know, I'm sure it was hard for them too. And I don't know what the silver bullet is here, but it was tricky. And I, and I don't, and I still to this day, don't really bring much up if they ask I'm elated and I'm more than happy to put all everything on the table what's going on, but I don't proactively bring any stuff.

Damon (:

Adrian and I chatted quite a bit about parallels in our journeys and some of the stark coincidences that happened for each of us, part of that discussion was about how the universe kind of brings people together in amazing ways. Sometimes the universe sends us signals and messages that we have a hard time wrapping our minds around. Adrian tells a final story of that very thing.

Adrian (:

Okay. So, so here's something crazy. I bet have the people here, this will roll their eyes and go no way. And other people might get goosebumps and say, Holy cow. So when I was starting my reunion with my biological mother and I met my sister on that side, they had both very recently seen a psychic medium in San Francisco. And they were telling me about him and their experiences and who he was able to bring through. And at the time I was getting to know them well enough where I could give him grief about it and be like, yeah, these guys are snake oil sales that are, you know, that is whatever eye roll, you know, but they were really, they were like visibly moved after a session with him. Like this is what came through. And they had to like, totally talk it through and have a day or two to work through their psyche or whatever.

Adrian (:

Who am I to judge? I've never done that before. If they're wanting to do it, why don't I go with them? So I agreed, I'd go with my, my, my birth mother. And I said, under one condition, I said, I'll go to this guy, but he cannot know who we are. He can not know our relationship when we sit down and she said done, let's do it. So it took a few months, this guy's very popular and it took a few months to get in front of them. And we did. And we met in his apartment in the center of San Francisco and we sat in his living room. She and I were on a kind of loveseat sofa facing him. And he's sitting on a flush chair that he's got a chair to his, right, like another reading chair to his right. And he asked us to bring a couple of things with us to this reading something that meant a lot to us in a wedding ring if we had it.

Adrian (:

So we gave him our wedding, my wedding ring, she had hers. And she brought a shawl that her mother had given her way back when, and I brought a rubbing, a worry stone that my adoptive paternal grandmother gave me. I was extraordinarily close with her extraordinarily and I, she just meant the world to me. And she gave it to me at my grandfather's death because he used it to when he worried. And I knew what it just meant a lot to me. So I, I gave that to the psychic and you know, there, my arms crossed over my chest going, okay, prove it to me. And it's not long before am I? My birth mother's husband had died about nine months earlier, 10 months earlier. My math is right. And he starts coming through the reading right away. He's got the name bill or William.

Adrian (:

Yes, it's okay. We want you to know he's in a better place. Right. And then any, any, and this psychic is looking to his right in his chair and his eyes were rolling back. As he's looking at him like what is going on? I later find out that spirits in his house are required to sit and talk to them one by one in the chair. Otherwise it's cacophony in his ear, which I thought was pretty at this point in time, I don't know what's going on, but he's, he's talking to Sharon about her. Ex-Husband, who's trying to communicate with her. And then he looks over to me and he said, Neil wants to give you a hug and say, thank you. Do you know what that means? And I knew exactly what it meant. I entered Sharon's life, my biological mother's life. When he was leaving, he had a prolonged illness and I met him on his way down and out. And so I knew what that meant. And that was my first point of going, okay, maybe there's something to this through the course of the power key correctly identifies my parents names. The late best friend of my mother who died in the early nineties from breast cancer. My grandmother, I mentioned who gave me the, the worry stone. She came through and told me I had to stop stressing out so much. Cause it was bad for my heart.

Adrian (:

She put my heart and one of my friends, he knew my friend's name. Who's not even on social media. And he's like, you guys are really good friends. You guys traveled together. All that is true. We've done trips together. I was just like, well, how much if I believing, but I'm impressed. I'm listening now. And he looked at Sharon, he looks at me and he's like, somebody else is coming through for you. And then he says, the name is like Estelle or Stella or something. And my biological mother to my lips alerts out, Oh, it's a, is it a Stelle? And he said, yeah, it's a lot. It's a name. That's E L L E S I think it's a stone. That's probably mom. And he goes, okay, because she has a message for Adrian. And he looks at me and he goes, she's so glad that you two found each other.

Adrian (:

What does that mean? I thinking what is happening? And I explained to him, I said, well, to be honest with you, this is my biological mother. And we met just a couple of years ago. We literally just found each other and are reconnected now. And he continues. He goes, well, it still is sitting with bill and others. And they're all clapping. And they're also happy for you two to have found each other again, he continues. She goes she wants you to know, talking to me. She wants you to know she's been on your shoulder, guiding you through the whole process.

Adrian (:

Oh, that's fascinating. And it's like, well, is she the voice in my ear in the hospital? Is that, I mean, I don't know. Was she making things happen with me and Christina and some other things like I don't, I mean, I went into this whole thing in, approve it. Pessimistic, give me a break kind of way to being floored, like what is coming through and how is this coming through? And until, to be honest with you to this day, I'm still trying to get my mind around what just happened and isn't this real and how does this, all the stuff, cause this is the first time I've ever done anything like this, but he was nailing it. If it's true, if it's true, what does that mean? And the power of connectivity in that synchronicity that we were talking about, like, is there a greater spirit? Is there a force of higher nature that makes some of this work? I don't know. And lots of smarter people who can debate that than I am, but I got to tell you it was a huge, I don't know, it was a crazy, crazy experience. Doesn't even do it justice, but mind blowing mind, shifting experience to hear that. And just even to consider whether or not you think is true and believe it just, what if that's out there? What if that really happened?

Damon (:

Listen, let me tell you, I had a similar, less I had a similar experience, but not nearly as heavily emotional as the one that you experienced. So to be brief, my stepmother, very spiritual, spiritual person had a guy over at her and my father's house when he was alive. And this guy is also sort of a spiritual medium. And he had, she had told him that I was adopted and that I have begun a search for my biological mother. And he said, come here, let me he said to my stepmother, Hazel, do me a favor. Can you get me a map? He's touching my forearm. Right? He says, get me, give me a map. And he's waving with his other hand. That's not touching me, like come here and bring that please. And he, she puts it down on the table.

Damon (:

He, and he starts flipping through and he gets to Maryland and he points to Laurel. And he says, that's where you need to look right in there. And I'm like, okay, that's so super not helpful. Like this is not in, you know, what do I do? Go to Google maps and go, does Damon's you know, biological mother, like, what the hell am I supposed to do with that? Right. And low and fricking behold, when I found her, she was absolutely 100% living right there in Laurel. She could have been anywhere on the world, but he pointed right on the map to where she was. I was astonished when I thought back on that. So woo Adrian, boy, I tell you, the universe has got some tricks for us, man. It's, it's really unbelievable.

Adrian (:

That's incredible, man. Thanks for sharing that. That is nuts, but maybe there's something to it. Maybe, you know, maybe there's something there to it. I, you know, I walked out of that session or reading or whatever it's called, what just happened. I need to sit down and think of you in a similar way. Like, Hey, there's something going on. Yeah.

Damon (:

And I've had other guests talk about spiritual things that have happened to them that they'll, they'll blow you back a little bit. It's really kind of unreal. So at any rate, Adrian, I really appreciate you taking time to call man. This is a really incredible story should say again.

Damon (:

And I'm sure so many people have said to you, I'm so glad that the heart attack didn't take you from us, man. This is you bring a spirit and I can feel sort of a, a, a humility and a gratitude for life and and an appreciation for your family and friends. He like, it just exudes from you from that like nearly catastrophic experience. And I'm so, so, so glad that the Widowmaker didn't, didn't take you from us. And, and then obviously for you to go through this and find your biological family and have everybody be receptive and supportive is just amazing. It's just an incredible story. And I'm so thankful that you shared it with us all, man. I appreciate it very much.

Adrian (:

Well, Damon, thank you. Thank you for allowing me an opportunity to share my story. I really appreciate the opportunity and to share with your listeners my story, and I hope that it helps and inspires them and whatever journey they're on. And, you know, someone asked me along the way, do you think the heart attack is the best thing that ever happened to you? It's one of, I think getting married and having kids will probably trump that, but shaped the life and opened a door for me to find my biological truth that maybe I would have developed denied myself. But now I've found so much of my truth as a result of that. And to your point, I have survivors superpowers and we all have them. Sometimes we just need to be startled to start using them our own superpowers, to engage with life and with others and hopefully make a positive impact and cause a ripple effect of goodness through the world as idealistic as that sounds. I do believe it. So again, thank you. And thanks for sharing parts of your story too. And thanks for your interest.

Damon (:

Of course, man, all the best to you have a great evening and I'll talk to you later. Adrian.

Adrian (:

Sounds good. Thanks Damon. Bye bye.

Damon (:

Hey, it's me. Adrian has had a really full and rich life that has taken him across the country and to far off parts of the world. So when he said that his search for a new home with his wife took them back to the town where he was born. I was amazed racing out of the house to go mountain biking with his friends. He nearly didn't make it home with the 100% blockage of the Widowmaker artery nearly ending his life. He had quite a series of events thereafter, meeting Christina, who just happened to be a search and reunion pro getting an email from his birth mother that allowed them to sit for six hours and talk and finding his paternal sister who was one degree of separation from himself, making it easy to meet and deeply connect with his whole paternal family. Then his sister confirming a feeling Adrian didn't realize he also had the filling of a hole in his soul that he didn't know was there. Adrian

Damon (:

Is a very lucky man in so many ways. I'm Damon Davis and I hope you'll find something in Adrian's journey that inspires you, validate 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 whoamireally podcast.com/share. You can follow the show at facebook.com/waireally 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. Patrion.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.

Adrian (:

It was tricky and I, and I don't, and I still to this day, don't really bring much up if they ask I'm elated and I'll more than happy to put all everything on the table of what's going on, but I don't proactively bring any stuff. That's the same with you. Are you, how are you guys with that?

Damon (:

Yeah, it was, my situation was interesting in that my adoptive mother had begun to suffer sort of dementia, paranoid schizophrenia. And so for all intents and purposes, I was losing her, the person that I knew and loved that reared me into adulthood was fading into the background and this other character who had the mask of dementia and paranoid schizophrenia on was, you know, front and center on stage. So I was lucky in that when I said to her, I'd like to, you know, try to find my biological mother. She had always said she would support me and she very I'm so thankful, found the presence of mind to send me all of the documentation that would lead me on that journey. And so that was incredibly lucky. I raise all of that to say, I therefore wasn't necessarily in, she wasn't necessarily in the place to receive updates.

Damon (:

Our, our relationship was challenged in so many other tremendous ways that were really, really aggravating and, and challenging to manage. That, that when we did talk, it wasn't the search at all. It was mostly about like basically what the hell was going on here. We were trying to figure out our own relationship. And basically in essence, what was going on with her, what was interesting also though, was that in my story, I found my biological mother, but for all intents and purposes, my adopted mother was quote unquote gone. So the only person left was my adopted father. So in essence, I didn't find a quote replacement for him. I found a mother, not a father and therefore not a competition for him. And then he sadly passed away. And so did my biological mother in rapid succession. And then DNA ended up linking me with my real biological father.

Damon (:

My biological mother went to her grave thinking that my biological father was one person and it turned out that she was wrong. And so DNA revealed who the right guy was, but everybody was gone by that time. My adopted mother was completely lost to her mental illness. My by my biological mother had passed on and so had my adopted father. So the only person left was this new biological father, which was actually really interesting going back to the kids thing, you know, you're, you said your mother expressed some concern about her being replaced as your children's grandmother. My son had lost my father, my adopted father, and they were very close. He lived around the corner. He was stopped by all the time. Like I would drive home from work and his car would be in my driveway and I knew what he was there for.

Damon (:

It was my son. And so it was really sad for my son to lose my dad, but then really, really interesting for him to have gotten some understanding of this whole adoption journey for me. And then to have this other guy up here, who's biologically my grandfather. It was really fascinating to watch how into it. He was. So so my, my experience to be brief, which is probably too late is my, my experience was very different from yours because the two parents' sets were not living at the same time. And you know, but I was fortunate though, my biological mother did get to meet my adopted father. But but that was the extent of everything for me.

Adrian (:

Wow. Well, thanks for sharing

Damon (:

It is a crazy story. And it's funny, I, you were referring to how just unbelievably amazing. Some of the coincidences are in your story. And I was thinking to myself, I can totally relate because my story has a whole lot, but I'm am not going to go into it because I want this to continue to be about you. But I definitely have some of those nuanced, like Holy crap. I can't believe that happened to both of us kind of thing. So yeah, it's, it's weird when you get that understanding of how close you've been and how you've managed to find your way back to the same places, geographically, all that other stuff. It's unbelievable.

Adrian (:

It's like it's synchronicity in a way. I mean like how does this happen? Yeah.

Leave a Comment





*