Andrie, who lives in Duluth, Georgia, learned she was adopted as a kid, then started coping with the rejection she felt by making up stories about her birth parents, a habit that carried into adulthood.
Searching for her truth, Andrie found her birth father, but has chosen to distance herself from him
When she met her birth mother Andrie found a woman she has a lot in common with and whom she says she absolutely loves.
This is Andrie's journey.
Who Am I Really?
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193 – Telling My Truth
Cold Cut Intro[:
It was like, it was like, I heard this voice before. That is the feeling that I got.
I'm Damon Davis. And today you're going to meet Andrie who called me from Duluth, Georgia. When Andrie learned she was adopted, she started coping with the rejections. She felt by making up stories about her birth parents, a habit that carried into adulthood. Searching for her truth. Andrie found her birth father,
but has chosen to distance herself from him. When she met her birth mother, Andrie found a woman. She has a lot in common with and whom she says she absolutely loves this is Andrie's journey.[:
sweet. Thank you.[:
Yeah, I can. . Thank you. I can't,[:
That's three parents whom I've had great relationships with. Right. So, you know, I know my birth father as well, and eventually his day will also come. So with reunion comes the eventuality of more loss. And it's just an interesting thing to sort of contemplate losing four parents instead of two. But thank you for your words.
I appreciate that so much.[:
[00:02:58] Damon: oh, I bet it is. [00:03:00] I can't wait to get into that piece. We're gonna uncover what it is that was wrapped in.
So obviously Andrie has some feelings about her relationship with her birth father, which we'll definitely get to later. But for now, I'm going to take us back to Andrie's beginning.
Andrie was adopted as an infant and she had a normal life in Rockford, Illinois. She said when she went to school the children said she had to be adopted[:
[00:04:00] And kids just said, said, you, you have to be adopted. That's not your mom and dad. And I remember when I was seven years old is when my mother told me I was adopted. I was outside playing in the front yard and my mom was sitting on the porch watching me play. And she told me that she had to tell me something and, and I was like, oh, what, what do you have to tell me?
And that's when she told me that I was adopted. And I remember at a young age feeling. For the first time feeling rejected and feeling the abandonment or feeling like in my seven year old head thinking somebody did not want me. and I remember feeling that empty feeling at at seven years old.adopted at, at two days old. [:
I remember my sister was born early. She was in the hospital for, in NICU [00:06:00] for, for some years. And I remember every time we would go visit my sister, my mother would dress us up and like our Sundays best where I had all. The Sunday dresses and my brother was always in his best and we would go see my sister and my mother kept, kept us very involved in that process.
And then when my sister came home, I mean, we were really involved and we had normal dysfunctions, like many families have. I mean, there was arguments in the house with my mom and dad and my dad was an alcoholic. Still is an alcoholic so we, you know, we had, you know, normal dysfunctions, like, like any normal family would.e that taught me how to love [:
He just , sees me and my brother as his children, like, and that's how we always felt like we were like we are their natural born children, you know? And and my mother, when she told me she didn't want to talk about it anymore, after that , her feeling was. You're my kids, you're my babies.every once in a while I will [:
But it was not much after that because she just didn't wanna talk about it.[:
Her mom joked that she should tell the other kids. She was the milkman's baby. So she did. But Andrie said, telling that story started her off creating other fabrications of her origin story. Andrie had very long hair and other kids thought she was native American. So she went with it and told the children she was native American.
One time. She created a story that she was born in the south of France and her birth father owned a vineyard. Creating alternate storylines for herself was Andrie's way of masking her feelings[:
[00:09:00] Andrie: I literally made these stories up. Later, I realized that it was my way of coping.
cuz I pushed these feelings down when I, when I was growing up, I didn't wanna deal with it. There were times when I thought about it. And then my father, my dad was very strict growing up. I couldn't barely date. I couldn't go to parties. I couldn't do the things that other kids were doing.
And I would think to myself, why was I adopted in this family? I have to, like, This is the worst he, you know, but then I would , imagine something else and it would just block the feelings that I was having. . The feelings of abandonment and the rejection, just, you know, it was my way of coping with, with all[:
Yeah. The storytelling was a coping mechanism. That makes a lot of sense. Wow. [00:10:00][:
And I realized 10 years into my marriage that I, this is not healthy. This is not healthy at all. And the funny thing is, is my husband knew that I was lying and he was just waiting for me to, to tell him the truth. And, and then I finally had to tell him the truth, like, and I would start telling little truth.eated this life of. that was [:
Mm-hmm of who I am as a person.[:
Yeah. So that is a special foundational space that you were lucky to be in. And I'm glad that you said it with the reverence that you did, you know, it pays hommage to your parents loving you. And I think that that's really awesome. I'm interested in the storytelling in your marriage. Was it specific to your childhood and your adoption, or did it bleed into other identity things in terms of your [00:12:00] storytelling?
like I said earlier, when I was telling these stories, these are the stories that I believed. I mean, I believe that this was my story. and so when I was met my husband I was on that last story of, I was born in the south of France and , this whole elaborate story. it was, it became.in a marriage. Now, I, there [:
We were, we were raising my brother's children, my two nephews at the time, my husband and I had took them in and re raised them. And I was definitely trying my best to be the best mother that I could be. And I remember. Teaching them boys not to lie and to tell the truth. And then that's when it hit me.so I went under on a journey [:
Start to learn some new things about myself that I actually really enjoyed and really liked about myself. And that's when I started started like telling the truth, like telling my truth. It matter so funny, my therapist and I, we talk about this is my theme, speaking my truth and telling my truth.
And now sometimes I'm a little too truthful. ,[:
[00:14:47] Andrie: Right, exactly. And even during the reunion with my biological parents I, there were times I either, I had to either not say anything or.or [:
Mm. Because it, it comes up in other relationships where I, especially, if I get to know a person and I really like that person, I have some type of insecurity that I don't wanna lose. That friendship or lose some type of connection with that person. But I, one thing I do not do anymore is I don't lie about anything.[00:16:00]
I'm just very honest, but I do certain little things that shows the insecurity that I don't wanna lose that friend or don't wanna lose that.[:
Right. And, and. Maybe tell themselves that they don't need anybody and they push everybody away and they're not interested in relationships and, and say, I didn't, I didn't need that relationship anyway. So I would imagine there are two very. Strong opposing ends at the same spectrum of wanting relationships, wanting to be connected versus pushing everybody away.[:
[00:17:02] Andrie: That's right. That's really fascinating. Yeah. And, and I think it also plays into my personality cuz I'm a people person and I love people. Mm-hmm people give me energy. I'm a, I'm extroverted. Mm-hmm so. I can be the the social butterfly in the room.
And, and I'm interested in everybody that's in the room. Mm-hmm so that plays a part that's part of my personality. So that's where some of the attachment things come into play mm-hmm is because once I get to know somebody and I really like that person, I don't wanna lose that person. Yeah. And, and I find myself saying in, in, in silly situations, I just got to know you.And. And it's like, what I, [:
Because I've learned that, you know, everybody's not meant to be your friend. Everybody's not meant to be in your life. Some people will come for a season and some people will be there for the rest of your life. And I've gotten better dealing with that.[:
Andrie was busy being a mother to her. Nephew's a wife to her husband and she had re-enrolled in school later in life to get her college degree.. She said another coping mechanism of hers was[:
And that was my way of coping my way of still coping with the fact that I was adopted.[:
As Andrie made new friends in her life, they would ask her what her nationality was, but she had no idea. At least she had begun to tell the truth that she didn't know instead of making something up. One friend would make suggestions about her heritage, but nothing resonated with Andrie.. And that some adoptees had [:
[00:20:08] Andrie: I did this in a really beautiful way. . I actually had an ethnic reveal party with my closest friends. Wow. And I cooked some of the foods from , the higher percentage of where I came from. , , and then I revealed it to my friends of what my nationalities were and I was, it[:
That's really cool.[:
I was really, really, and it still is excited about it. Yeah. And so[:
[00:21:16] Andrie: Right. Cool. Exactly. So , what I cooked was I cooked some foods from the UK mm-hmm and some foods from Africa mm-hmm so I'm 45% west African and, you know, the story behind that mm-hmm and and then I'm 55%.
Northwestern European with a big influence of Norwegian Norway so
that's amazing.thnic background was, that's [:
[00:22:01] Damon: But before Andrie did the ancestry DNA test, she did a little research of her own. Andrie examined her birth certificate, which revealed the name of the hospital, where she was born in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. When she pulled up the facility's address on Google maps, she didn't see a hospital facility.
Andrie saw condominiums. Further research revealed the address was previously associated with a booth Memorial home for unwed mothers. . Learning that fact corroborated something. Her adoptive mother had told her about her birth mother, that the woman was very young when Andrie was born.e signed for her permission. [:
[00:23:09] Andrie: long story short. This is how I found my biological father. I found him first. Wow. I found, an aunt who lived in my hometown where I grew up at In Illinois
And come to find out that one of the aunts made my green beans at my wedding. really? Yes. This is like .
Is she in a catering business or something?
No, I was working. I was a hair stylist at the time and she would come and get her hair done by the other girl that worked in the same salon that I worked at.r this aunt particular aunt. [:
And then she made these green beans that were amazing. And then when I was getting married, I asked her, will you make the green beans for my wedding? And she said, my God sure. Absolutely. you serious? That is crazy. Yes .[:
Random. That's crazy.[:
I, she was the only one that [00:25:00] I actually talked to. And and she, because of my aunt, the biological aunt telling her, you know, can you believe Andrie is your cousin, your first cousin? Yeah, that is unbelievable. Yeah. Unreal people. I know people, I went to church with mm-hmm were.
Cousins of mine.
Connecting with her birth father was a whole different story. Andrie had found her paternal aunts and they had brothers. One of whom they thought for sure was her birth father.The man had passed away in:
but it turned out he wasn't the right person. There was another brother who lived in Seattle, Washington. So the attention turned to him.
The day Andriy met her paternal aunts there, Seattle brother was on the phone as part of their connection. When he heard the story, he suggested he could be her birth father, but nothing was proven.Andrie's husband at the time [:
[00:26:09] Andrie: And he said, absolutely. And then we started talking on the phone a lot. And before the results even came back, he just came out and said to me, he says, you know what, who cares? What those results says? I'm just gonna to claim that you're my daughter. Wow.[:
[00:26:29] Andrie: it? It was a little unnerving at the time, because I was like, I really wanna know now I really wanna know who my birth father is.
Mm. You know? Yeah. And the results came back and sure enough, he was my birth
[00:26:56] Andrie: I got the results because we did an ancestry DNA [00:27:00] test and I set the whole thing up. I had the test sent to him and he did the test and sent it in.. Yeah. That was in August of:
I had a brother that was two years younger than me and then a brother that's the, same age as my youngest nephew slash son that I raised. Mm-hmm . So I set this visit up to go out to Seattle to visit him. And oh man, I will never forget this two weeks before [00:28:00] flying out to Seattle, I started to have a nervous breakdown.
Really, and yeah, I was like, okay, I, I need to find a therapist. I, I need to talk about this. Because for 47 years, I had been suppressing all of this, like how I was coping with it, like coping it with it, with the lies, coping with it, with just not dealing with it, not even thinking about it, you know, but when now this Pandora's box has opened.
everything started coming out and I was going to meet this person who actually was from my hometown that I really did not know , but I knew was family. And it was, I felt like I was about to lose my mind. I felt very overwhelmed with feelings that I didn't know what to do with them.now how, where to place them.[:
[00:29:29] Andrie: yes. Wow. Absolutely. Yeah.[:
[00:29:35] Andrie: Well, it was very emotional, very, very emotional. I found out that I had two other brothers And one of the two other brothers had just told the two brothers that I knew about that they existed. So they came out wow. They weren't adopted, but they were[00:30:00] my biological father. Had had these two boys in between my brother, that's two years younger than me and my brother that is the same age as my youngest, and they have the same mother and this one brother pretty much came to my brothers and let them know that they, have two other brothers. So all of this was happening at the same time. Wow. I found my biological father and these two brothers of mine came out and told my brothers.
That they existed. And then this brother found out that you have a sister who was adopted. Yes. .[:
[00:30:52] Andrie: Yes. Yes, exactly. Wow. So that trip to Seattle was [00:31:00] really, really, really emotional. Like very, there was a lot of feelings, lot of feelings from my brothers and just, just a lot.
It was, it was very heavy. Yeah. Very heavy.[:
[00:31:29] Andrie: I understand. Yeah. Found out some things about him that kind of goes against who I am. That doesn't sit well with me. I understand. So yeah, it was very interesting, very interesting. He showed me a lot of attention. But then at the same time he has this son that pretty much told the brothers that he existed and found out that my biological [00:32:00] father knew that these brother brothers existed as well.
He knew he paid child support for them for years. And but never had a relationship with them. Oh, wow. And yeah, so that didn't sit well with me. I couldn't understand it because I come from family that fathers took care of the kids. You know, that's what I saw. I never saw fathers not taking care of their children my dad took care of us, you know, I, I don't know what life is without a dad, and I can't imagine that these two boys grew up not having a relationship with him and he knew that they existed and he didn't even share that with. My other two brothers that he potentially raised.gs that was very unsettling. [:
And the moral one. Is not one that comes up very often, but I can see how impactful it is in trying to make sure that you are in fact aligned with these people that you found
Andrie said that in the midst of the heaviness, there were some beautiful outcomes from the reunion in Seattle. She gained four brothers . Some of whom she has some unique things in common withre just obsessed with shoes. [:
In ancestry DNA. Once you identify one of your biological parents, the door is unlocked for you to peek into the rest of the family tree for that person and see all of your relatives on their side of the family. Ancestry DNA had done so for Andrie's paternal connections. So she needed to focus on her biological mother's side of the family. One of her second cousins shared that
a family historian had a whole family tree that might be helpful when Andrie spoke with this distant cousin, he said he might know who her biological mother was, but he wasn't sure. However, he gave her enough information that she was able to focus her search. On facebook Andrie found some of her family members[:
And I remember looking at that picture and, and I instantly knew that this lady was my biological mother. Wow. It gave me goosebumps. I said this, this has to be her. I was like, I was looking in the mirror. Mm. And looking back at myself. But , this particular cousin didn't get back with me. He hadn't let me know who he thought was my biological mother.But at the time when he was [:
I wasn't a hundred percent sure who the biological mother was. So I had an idea from looking at a Facebook picture, but it wasn't a hundred percent sure. So when he reached out to me, I was like, okay, who is this person like? So I reached out to that cousin the family historian and I said, okay, I just got a message from.
This person. And he is saying that he's my family. He's saying that this person is his mother and I'm a little confused. So he said, hold on, I'm gonna make a phone call. And then I will get back with you. 45 minutes later, he calls me back and he tells me the person that I looked at on that Facebook page is my biological mother.Mm. He [:
[00:37:07] Damon: Wow.
That must have been mind blowing to think one, as you've said, like you've seen her picture and you're looking at yourself in the mirror basically. Right. But two, like to contemplate that there was multi-generational adoption in your biological family as well, must have been really wild to consider.[:
So found out who my biological mother was confirmed, that the lady that I looked at on that picture on Facebook is my biological mother. And she wasn't quite [00:38:00] ready to talk to me because she wasn't a hundred percent sure. And the reason was, because she did not know the person who I was saying was my biological[:
She wasn't positive. It was him.[:
Yeah. And to this day she still doesn't know him. She has no recollection of him at
all. So she didn't, she, she had to wrap her mind around it. So this is like the second, time that I. A little bit of abandonment, like, okay. She knows that I exist but she doesn't wanna talk to me, you know? So I was a little hurt behind that. I was like, okay.would say, I wonder what my [:
So then her husband saw my picture on Facebook and said, that is your daughter. Wow. That is your daughter. Mm-hmm yeah. Wow. Because we look just alike. mm-hmm yes, we look just alike.[:
You still said you were fair and it sounds like they were at least brown or darker skinned. Yeah. How was it to actually see somebody? And how was it to see somebody who you actually looked like, even if you weren't necessarily, for lack of better words, the same race,[:
Like we have some similarities mm-hmm so I had that experience, but the experience to see my biological mother for the first time. Was mind blowing. it was very cathartic in a way. And it's hard to put in words it's really hard to put in words, , it was questions being answered that I had when I was growing up. Like, like thinking about who do I look like, where did I get this height from? Where did I get this? You know, these freckles that I have on my face from you know, just certain things.look. Just like her . I mean,[:
the only difference between us is I'm taller and she is shorter. That's the only difference. And she has blonde hair and I have dark, dark hair. Mm-hmm yes, mm-hmm but I look just like her. And I remember when I, I actually got to see her for the first time face to face. She had showed me a picture of her when she was 18 years old and I had a picture that was very similar to that when I was like 20 something years old and we look exactly alike.[:
and Andrie said, sometimes conversations with her birth mother are like talking to herself. She said her birth mother is very sweet and the woman and her husband [00:42:00] andrise bonus father are just amazing people. But we've blown right past how Andrie and her birth mother ever met. The woman's sister Andrie's maternal aunt and the woman's husband Andrie's bonus father
we're both pushing her birth mother to call Andre. She finally did. The women were on the phone together for a long time[:
[00:42:30] Damon: Wow.
[00:42:35] Damon: that. That's unbelievable. Yeah. That's so interesting.
[00:42:41] Damon: Was it comforting? It's[:
It was like, it was like, I heard this voice before. That is the feeling that I got. Yeah. It's like, I know this voice I was blown away.
[00:43:38] Andrie: I didn't tell you this part. She is from my hometown. She lives in my hometown
Where I grew up. Yes. Is that right? Yes. As a matter of fact, she lived in pretty much the same neighborhood that I lived in.[:
[00:43:54] Andrie: crazy work. Yeah. Worked at the same grocery store that my, my [00:44:00] family[:
[00:44:03] Andrie: Yeah. Very[:
Your family. Right.[:
[00:44:40] Damon: Yeah. Well, cause you didn't know, or[:
It was a choiceless situation. Mm-hmm And it was so funny. Before I met her, I had read this book called choiceless by a mother who gave her baby up for adoption at the same place that my mother was at. Oh, really? The year before my biological mother was at.
[00:45:24] Andrie: Wow. Of all the places you could have read about, it was the same place,
same place. Wow. And I remember when I was reading the story, you heard me say that I'm a superloop I'm like digging for research and research, trying to find information. When I was doing more information on booth Memorial, the unwed mother's place.ore I went out to be meet my [:
So I had a, I had some empathy and compassion because of that. I read that book mm-hmm because going into this reunion, knowing what her, what she went through, what, what she probably was feeling at the time.. And then once I [00:47:00] talked to her, it confirmed that the same feelings that Ruby was having, this is the person who wrote the book mm-hmm that my biological mother had those same feelings.
And she remembers. Telling them that she was not gonna give her baby up for adoption. Mm-hmm then being told that she had no other choice.[:
[00:47:27] Andrie: Oh, it's great. that's good. I love her so much. Oh my gosh.
I love her so much I really do. I just I can't imagine my life without her right now, so that's amazing.[:
When I asked [00:48:00] Andrie how she shared her reunion story with her biological family. She reminded me that she was nearly 50 years old when she submitted her sample on ancestry DNA. Andrie called her adoptive mother to share what she was doing, which ironically.
Opened her adoptive mother up talking about her own experience, adopting Andrie.[:
Because before she wouldn't talk about any of it, and she kind of told me about when she got me. it was told to her that my biological mother had three months to change her mind. And she said for those three months, it was like the worst time in her life, because she was afraid that somebody was gonna come knocking at the door to take me back.the things that her friends [:
Mm-hmm and she told me all about that. And that's part of the unconditional love that. Got from her, the nurturing that I got from her, she taught me what unconditional love looks like. And, and what it feels like, because that's what she has. So, but it was, I told her about me going out to meet my biological father, told my dad and my dad was okay with it.e beginning, I kept a lot of [:
And that was part of me walking in my truth that I had to let her know this is what I've done. And she still has a little bit of a hard time with it and she became very territorial Like I noticed that she was doing things a lot more than what she normally was doing. Like, it kind of treated me like a child almost.ind her how much I love her, [:
and she's not, I'm not going anywhere. Mm-hmm , I mean, she's one of the best things that ever happened to me. Mm-hmm , you know? Right. So[:
The right, you know, unfortunate end of your relationship, it would certainly stands a reason that she would have PTSD from that. And to learn that you were searching for the person who she was fearful for from in the first, place, you know, 30, 40 years ago, I could see how that would be really tough.g her know that you're there [:
Right. Mm-hmm you comfort them. You let them know they're gonna be okay. You're not going anywhere. Right. And it's interesting as we get to be adults, how that changes and you end up in many ways comforting and caring for your own parents in a variety of different ways. Right. And, and some of them are emotional.
So that's really interesting. Right.[:
[00:52:44] Damon: That's right. You know, that's right., daughter, father, son, and [:
And it can be everything exactly from how we learned to love and therefore how we give love to our kids to right. Things like alcoholism and substance abuse, right? Like there's any variety of things that will make. A family life challenging. So I think you're right. There's some dysfunction in every family, be they biological or adopted I'm with you 100%.[:
Mm-hmm, , it's, it's not about me [00:54:00] being appreciative of the people who adopted me. No, I'm appreciative of the parents who loved me. Mm. That's what I'm appreciative of. I love that. Who cares? Yeah, who cares about the adoption? I, you know, these people and still to this day loves me. They have, they've been behind me 100% of the way.
You know, my mom would say, I when I told her that I found my biological mother, she says, well, I'm the one that saw you walk your first walk. I'm the one that when you were crying about something, I was there and she's right. She is the one, she was the one and, and that will never be replaced. and I love her.his biological mother that I [:
Yeah. I have two fathers. Mm-hmm and my bonus father, he bothers me in a way that he doesn't even know that he's fathering me sometimes. It's, it's amazing. Cause like sometimes we'll have conversations and I'm like, he just fathered me. Did I just get funny? Funny, right.[:
That's really, really awesome. Andrie. Yeah. And, and I'm glad to hear the laughter in your voice, cuz it sounds like there was some challenging times in there in terms of oh yeah. What you had, you know, sort of sit and faced with sat with and faced. With your biological [00:56:00] father, but it sounds like there's so much great stuff around that.
Oh yes. And that you have chosen to put up the boundary that says I'm not, that's not what I'm dealing with here. Right. It sounds like you're in a really healthy place and I love to hear that. And I'm glad to hear that you got the love that you did. That's really cool. Yes. Cool. Well, thank you so much for being here, Andre.
This was really cool. And thanks for sharing your story.[:
[00:56:23] Damon: you. Take care all the best to you, right?[:
Unfortunately, Andrie has problems with the choices her birth father has made in life. So until she is able to get past his moral choices, she chooses to keep her distance from the [00:57:00] man. In reunion, huge moral differences are a hard thing to overcome . Even when someone is trying to be a different person and make amends for past transgressions.
Sometimes the voice in your head just keeps repeating your internal struggle with the other person. So letting them get close to you just isn't possible.
Fortunately her love for her birth mother is strong and the women have a lot in common. I loved hearing Andrie say she couldn't imagine her life without her birth mother.
That's the kind of feeling so many adoptees wish they could feel.
I'm Damon Davis, and I hope you found something in Andrie's journey that inspired you. Validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn who am I really,lease visit who am I really? [:
You can follow me on Instagram at Damon L Davis and follow the podcast. At w a I really. If you like the show, please take a moment to leave a five star review in your podcast app or wherever you get your podcasts. It's easy to do and the ratings really do help others to find the podcast too