Sara was the baby in her family of four biological half brothers to one another, and one other brother who was also adopted like her just like her. When she hit puberty, a naturally more emotional time in our lives, she lost her grandmother, someone who never made her feel like an adoptee. She found her way out of the darkness from a suicide attempt and substance addiction, but still she hadn’t escaped depression. When she found her biological mother things started out well, but they turned grim when Sara caught the woman in lies about her biological father’s identity. In the end, her journey has taken a turn for the positive, but she lost many relationships that were important to her along the way. Still, Sara says she has no regrets.
So for two years I'm believing he's my father. My kids finally meet them. We spend holidays, everything together, but something in my head saying really, really small. What if he's not your father?
Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?
This is Who Am I Really, a podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members.
Hey, it's Damon, and on the show today, I'm joined by Sarah. Sarah has lived in Indianapolis all of her life and all of her life, she's known she was an adoptee. In her family, there were six siblings, four older boys who are not adoptees and one brother who is also an adoptee and then Sara, the baby in the family. She said that even though she grew up with the knowledge that she was an adoptee, she had it very rough in her teenage years because she is adopted. Sarah battled depression, faced post traumatic stress disorder and even attempted suicide. She says she carried the emotional baggage of being adopted with her until she finally started to do something about it and search for her biological family. Her journey began with tremendous luck in finding her family very quickly, thanks to the great work of search angels. But her luck didn't hold out as lies were uncovered. And a DNA test proved that the man whom she thought was her biological father really was not. Here's Sarah's journey.
Sarah says she was the baby in her family of four biological half-brothers to one another and one other, a brother, who was also adopted just like her
For starters, Um, it's kind of cool in a sense. I'm the only girl, so I was very, very spoiled in that sense. Um, having all older brothers, I'm not the only adoptee, the youngest boy, he's also adopted, but we're not related at all. So that was something always cool to grow up with that we can relate to each other in that sense of both being adopted. Growing up wise, I'd say in a city, I didn't know anyb,ody at all, like myself besides my brother who was adopted. That's all my friends, they're born in their biological families, so I didn't have any friends that were adopted either, and most of them it was, they didn't even believe I was even adopted. It was like one of those things you'd say, I am adopted. They'd be like, nah, you look so much like your mom. And I never saw it. But yeah, I never saw it. So it's kind of funny when they get around my mom and I have to be like, mom, tell him I'm adopted so and so. They don't believe me. It was kind of weird kind of thing that they do. I was like the only odd man out on one besides my brother. I've always known I was adopted.
Yeah. You grew up knowing.
Yeah, I knew. I never knew an age exactly when it was. I was told, I just, I've always known it. It never bothered me at all until about the age of 14 that's probably when it all came crashing down. Hit me pretty hard.
So. Sara's 14. She's hit puberty, which is a naturally more emotional time in all of our lives and she's lost her grandmother. Someone who never made her feel like an adoptee at all. What Sarah felt was favorite status with her grandmother, had disappeared with her death. I asked Sarah about whether she went to therapy and whether it was helpful during that dark time.
All the questions started hitting me then all of a sudden. I mean of course growing up I would always have the thoughts of, okay, you know, what's my birth mom or dad like and then it just disappear within a few seconds of thinking of it, no big deal. And then when I would hit 14 all of a sudden it was, Whoa, wait a minute. Why was I given up? Okay, they didn't love me then I wasn't, you know, worth it or I was just totally like garbage or all these just horrible thoughts. None of them were good anymore. Like you know, adopted family want to tell you that you're a chosen child and it was so wonderful and beautiful. I all of a sudden I wasn't looking at it like that anymore and it became very, very dark to where I attempted suicide. That year, my grandmother passed and she was on my adopted mothers side and growing up she was probably the main one who I never felt adopted at all, so that hit me along at the same year and then the rest of my adoptive family just seemed to change at the same time with it because I was pretty much like a favorite in her eyes versus against them. It just seemed like all of it was going away and it was all getting darker and darker for me and I was starting to become angrier and angrier about being adopted and not liking it at all. Wasn't such a cool thing after all.
So I assume you got some help after your suicide attempt. Did you talk about being an adoptee during that time period and what kinds of things help you through that dark time?
Actually, I had no help like that. Looking back, I probably should have been in therapy. I'm in therapy now for it. But looking back, I never had anyone, even though like I said, mentioned my brother is adoptee, hit him and I look at it differently and we could talk about it. But back then at the same time he's four years older than me. We hated each other then it was a normal, you know, sibling bill. So I really had no one at all to talk to, but pretty much, God actually my faith was probably the main thing that helped me up and kept me going back then as well. But really there was no therapy or no teachers or pastors or no one to talk to it.
So in the absence of someone else to talk to, what did you tell yourself? How did you make yourself realize that life was worth living in? This was not something worth ending your life for?
Wow, that's really an awesome question. I think that again, probably does go back to my faith. Um, I would still continue to have suicidal thoughts of course. Cause obviously I think that's when the depression did hit me. And of course when that did happen, obviously the, you know, normal society, Oh, you're depressed, let's, you know, throw the antidepressants at you. So obviously I knew that was there, but um, a peace would still come over me. When other evolves wanting to harm myself again or that those panic attacks would happen, I can just throw them off to the side but still wanting to go on. I would think there was still some, there's like a fire inside of me that I still wanted to keep going pretty much.
That's a great thing to keep burning. I'm glad you discovered that fire and fueled that fire with your own faith. That's amazing. She found her way out of the darkness from suicide, but still she hadn't escaped depression, which also led her down a dark path of its own substance abuse and addiction.
My birth mother was a teen mom along to my adopted mother, so I became one at 17 so that, you know, there went school, there went everything like I dreamed of. I was, I was a young child and then as time went on in my twenties, to help deal with the pain that I had that started at age 14 I would press it with drugs becoming an addict. That was an 11 year battle that I had to deal with and fought a lot by myself as well as trying to hide that from the world too. At the same time as dealing with depression or in being an adoptee and a mom, a wife, all of it rolled into one while hiding it and it was definitely a rough time until three years ago when I had enough and was able to get clean and break that, but it's like always, of course goes back to that one primal wound of course, and being adopted.
That's another powerful victory for you. I mean it sounds, again like you didn't have any therapy and that you broke free from addiction. It sounds almost relatively on your own. Is that an accurate?
Wow. How did you do that
Again, really, I would have to say it really is faith. It really is.
A lot of people do laugh at that or they don't get it and I know there are a lot adoptees who do and I get why they do feel that way, hate God or they're against it. Where I'm on the other side of that spectrum whereas I wouldn't have made it without that because that was my only standing friend. There was my faith and God right there.
Sierra survived another deep valley in her life climbing out on the strength of her faith. She decided that she wanted to find her biological family when she got older. She had been mother for a while herself and had started her search in her twenties but that was a time when she was still suffering from addiction and an era before the internet offered easy access and resources for people to find and connect with others.
Three years ago, I started online and messed around a little bit and then I found a group on Facebook called search squad and it's full of search angels and they do it all for free and they help you find your bicycle family and I've always known him growing up. My birth, mother's name, her first and last name. And I had two younger brothers by her and that were born right after I was, cause she had me at the age of 14 and then right after that right smack after me came a boy and then so on. So I've always known that just pretty much my whole life. How am I mom found out? I don't know, but that's just what I've always known. So since I had that information I would, I put it into the group and an awesome search angel, her first name is Cher.
Um, she picked it up and it was easy to find out some information by her and bam, within then probably a couple hours I got a message back. Okay, here's your birth mom. She's married to this man. Here's a bunch of addresses. And I took it from there and I was able to find the man she was married to. They were always married but separated for so many years. And then he gives me the biggest shock of all. Apparently my birth mother had another daughter five years after I was born and put her up for adoption in the state of Kentucky. This is me. Like I said, I had six brothers so my whole life is I want a sister. So I was just, I mean emotions are everywhere. I'm just, I was crying. I was like, Oh my God, instant love because I've always known the boys were there.
I had brothers and I just, it's so weird have the mentality growing up being the youngest, but my whole life I had this mentality of I'm a big sister and there's somebody or people out there I need to protect and I hate it because it's, you kind of feel guilty when you do get to meet some of them because you weren't there to protect them when you hear their stories and all that because it's weird like in my shoes being the big sister, but the younger sister, it's really weird to explain but that was probably the best thing I ever heard cause I never saw that coming
after hearing the news that she had a sister, Sarah was curious about whether her biological mother's husband was also her biological father. Sarah asked him that question, but he wasn't. He is the father of the two younger half-brothers she discovered and the sister that she learned was also given up for adoption in Kentucky. So the search for her own biological father continued.
He swore that he was not my biological father, that he came around after I was born.
Tell me what you then figured out about your biological father, you did you search for him? Did you get his name? What was the next step?
That is where I'm still at. Actually, the younger sister happened to be the first one I did meet after I found out about her, I got to get her number and talk and go meet her, which was an awesome day. And then when I came home that day, I had a voicemail on my phone. It was my birth mom because when all that was going on, I was tracking her down with letters after all those addresses and one finally found her. So it was like a cold day, that particular day. I'm here in Kentucky meeting my sister, come home and bam, there's the voicemail and I hear her voice for the first time and at that point like 32 years.
Mhmm that's way cool!
Yeah, it was a very cool day. So I called her back and her and I started immediate friendship and she immediately gave me the name of my birth father and I was shocked. She was so adamant and she sounded like she was telling the truth. She was giving me his birthday, name, nicknames, everything. So all I had to do is go back to search squad and do the same thing again. Give them the information I had and it only took 30 minutes this time. And another search angel, I wish I could remember her name, she comes back and like bam, I found his sister on Facebook, here's the family. And I immediately, um, started doing my own research from there and I was able to find some friends of his from high school and contacted them on Facebook. And I knew they were kind of playing it safe.
They were acting like they didn't know how to get ahold of them just in case. But then a few hours later they called me back and said, I found him, he's going to call you in two hours. So of course I'm, yeah, I'm all excited. And he does. And he's like one of the nicest guys I've ever met, an older gentleman. And so him and I take off. Wonderful friendship. And so for two years I'm believing he's my father. My kids finally meet him. We spend holidays, everything together. But something in my head saying really, really small: What if he's not your father? Cause I don't look like him except for my girls have um, blue eyes and I and my husband has green and no one can say where these blue eyes come from, but he does. And other than that, there's no looks, but this gut feeling I have. So I thought, well maybe I should, cause I did offer to do a DNA test with him in the beginning, but he said no. He was like, no, you're my daughter. Just let it go. Then as the time went on, I noticed we weren't talking as much and his sister admitted to me that his wife had her doubts about me possibly being his daughter and I know he didn't have the heart to say that to me.
So, I just threw it out there again. I was like, well how about we just do a DNA test and get it over with? And it was one of those ones you buy at CVS, Identigene I believe it's called. And so we did that and it comes back in three to five days really fast and it said 0% probability, no chance he's the father. And this just happened three months ago, finally.
When we did the results. So it's like I'm still kind of healing from that. It was definitely shattering and heartbreaking cause I didn't see that one coming. Even though your gut feeling, most people know that it didn't ever lie that it's there for a reason and I knew it was telling me he wasn't, but I was still hoping he was.
Man, it's so funny how intuition works, how you are just questioning the situation. Even though he said it sounds like he was very forthright and he said I'm your father, we have a relationship. Don't worry about it. I wonder, did you ever ask him why he was so adamant about being your father?
I never did, but I think it goes back to.. Cause like when I would speak to his mother and sister, they all remember the time my birth mother was pregnant with me and how they all knew I was a girl. And I guess when she was like six months pregnant, she pretty much disappeared from their neighborhood, is how they looked at it and how his mother and sister even told me they tried to fight for me and adopt me into their family themselves legally just to keep me so I wouldn't be put up for adoption. Some awesome stories like that. And so I think it's because he remembered that time and you know, if he was specifically dating my birth mom, his wife, and he was kind of adamant like yeah, she probably is my kid I think is what he looked at it.
He knew that he had been with her. Therefore there was a strong likelihood that you were his child. So you're still in search of your biological father.
Correct. And the crazy thing is, after that happened, of course I did ancestry and the only hint I got on there is a really cool third cousin and I told them what I'm doing and everything, and he's been on Ancestry for a long time, so he's pretty good at what he's doing. It was really weird because just last week he asked me if I knew a specific man's name and the man's name he gave me was my so-called biological father's, father's name, and my mouth just hit the floor. I was like, how does he know this man's name? Where does it come from unless we're not connected somehow? So I was very, very shocked by that.
Yeah, I'll bet. But I mean, I guess if he's on the ancestry DNA, as you've said, he's a fairly adept searcher linker and if he's going to look back in his own family history based on anything that you would have told him about your mother's history, where she lived, what time you know about when she was pregnant, it might not be too, too hard to find out within the family circles who it might be, right?
Right. Yeah. Cause he already discovered how him and I are cousins and which through which grandparents and so forth. And then if he knows I'm looking through the paternal lines for my father and I told him the name, the not the names of, he knew the name of the guy had thought with my dad but never his father's name. So when he came back randomly, just that with his first and last name just floored me. I was like, where did that come from? Which made me wonder, could these store-bought tests be wrong? Is that a possibility? And could Ancestry prove it better? So I'm like, wow, you might just have to ask my possible father to take an ancestry test? Maybe. I'm not sure.
Yeah, it's a, it's a good question. Actually I, so I'm currently in the process of doing DNA testing with my own immediate family, my wife, my biological son, and you know, we sent the tests in and you used to track them online and it's taking quite a while. I mean I would imagine that they have a backlog, but for you to have gotten results back in just a couple of days and mind you, I am by no means clinically or laboratory trained, but I thought it was really interesting that you said you got results back in just a couple of days from a store test. It would be really interesting to me to see what happens with what I perceive to be a stronger body of testing from a different company.
Yeah, that's, that's what I'm thinking. If I made a mistake by picking, I mean there are some that have argued with me that it's a good one, but then the more I get into your genes and geoneology and all this, I'm thinking I, yeah, I'm starting to learn more than I knew just back in January, February when I first purchased this test and we started to do it.
I hope that you're able to find a positive resolution to that particular piece. So I can't help but wonder. You said that you're not currently speaking with your biological mother or tell me a little bit more about that. What happened there?
It goes back to exactly with the situation with my birth father when that happened because her and I, when we started to talking or texting and we seen each other a few times. We always like to write letters and she'd sent cards a lot. So that was one of our big things in communication. So I decided to write her a letter and tell her my thoughts about that feeling I had about the birth father and after again, cause I did always tell it from day one. Of course I can understand as I knew some birth moms out there, they've been raped or incest and I could be a product of that. So I always told her I understood that and it was okay to be forthcoming and truthful. I've helped her through it, you know, God forbid that was the truth and that happened to both of us, but she was always still adamant that he was the one. So when I wrote her the letter again and said, I was thinking of doing the test, she wrote back and all of a sudden made up this story of cheating on my birth father, I guess at that age and gave me the name of, um, the first time I came up, a guy who probably could be my birth dad and this whole three, four page letter about it. So I was devastated, of course. And knowing how I can search and find people better than the FBI now.
I found, yeah, I found out within 10 minutes tops, this guy did not even exist. And I found the family she was referring to supposedly because she, when she wrote the letter, she put five brothers down to this supposedly that I have. So I've found that family and they're all like, okay, we don't even know your birth mom. And um, yeah, we don't have a brother named Ronnie, which that's the name she gave me. So I was like, wow, okay, that's pretty cruel to just lie to me in a letter. Why couldn't she just say, I'm sorry you feel that way? And yes, the guy that is your birth that I told you about, is it, why go through the extreme and write me a long letter? That was the first stride I'm starting to, I'm starting to see a different side of her that I didn't like.
Then at that point she didn't know that we started to go further and take the test and my birth father and I, and then when it came back that he wasn't, I contacted her again and she wouldn't respond. And then finally she did and her and I end up in arguments. She would call names and my adopted mother names. And I was like, yeah, lady, you're done. She was threatening. It was, it was horrible really, and I saw an, to me, I call her pretty much probably the most evil woman I've ever seen or been involved with.
She expressed sadness for a lot of losses during the process. There was no longer a relationship with her biological mother and the DNA test results had severed the tie to the gentleman she wanted to be her biological father, so I asked Sarah where things stood with her new found siblings. She gave me an update on those relationships. Then told me about how the whole saga had strained the bonds with her adopted family too.
We did have a short little spell where we didn't talk last year. I'm not sure why it went away. It was like last June to Christmas, so it was like a five, six months, little spell. I still this day, I really don't know what happened there. We just kind of cut off connection and weren't on each others social media sites anymore. Then it was, I was like, okay, that's my little sister. I'll be the bigger one. I miss her. I want her in my life. So I sent gifts to them for the holidays and after that we started talking again and kind of we picked us up as best as we can. Um, cause like I said, she does live in another state and tried to see her and her kids when we can. She does have a big blended family so she's very, very busy. But she's the only biological sibling that I'm in contact with. The boys I never did get to meet them, unfortunately yet. I spoken to them on the phone a few times, but they'd gone down a rough path with drugs and that kind of activity and it just, I would fell okay. Something's in me, always told me it's not time, even though I thought as long as I can talk to them on the phone and know they're okay and do my own little detective work and check on them when they don't know it, then I'm okay with that till the time comes to meet them.
There's a great power in sort of being able to be on social media, on the internet, peek into what might be happening with somebody and just sort of generally be familiar, though, hopefully you will get the opportunity to meet them, connect with them, et cetera.
Yeah cause it's, it was going great with the siblings I thought were mine. If they still are, again, the biological, fraternal side, they were pretty awesome. They were two boys and another sister, but I still chat with them through text from time to time. Hopefully that can continue whether through friendship or not, which is funny. Besides my brother I have now, who's the adopted one, he's pretty much the only sibling I talk to. I don't speak to any other siblings at all that I'd grown up with either.
Why is that?
New Speaker (24:14):
My oldest brother and it's, it's really, I don't even know what word in the dictionary could describe how actually how it happened or why. My very oldest brother was my main favorite brother I guess you could say growing up being as 10 years apart. But as things went closer and well, to make it kind of easier to understand I guess to where what happened was when I first started my adoption journey, I documented everything on Facebook from the albums to blogs to, I mean anything because I wanted the world, I wanted to educate and I wanted people who weren't adopted to see what it was like for an adoptee, from the sorrow to the joy to the madness.
I mean every, every motion. I wanted them to see what it was like. Well, when the weekend came to see, I was getting ready to meet my birth mother for the very first time in person. So this was two years ago, he was writing me a message on Facebook that I was upsetting our mother and okay. I was like, Oh here we go with this again. Because I've heard in general from people who weren't adopted who were asking me that. So I'm thinking it's weird coming from my brother, cause we talked about it before and I've made it clear and I even made it clear on random posts that my mother is my mother. I'd never replace her and all that, you know, normal stuff a non adoptee would say, I mean that's my mom no matter what. So I explained that to him. I was shocked by that.
Well he gets angry with me and goes to our mom's side and saying it's our mom period and you're hurting her. Delete me on social media and says I'm pretty much dead to him. And to this day he never has spoken to me and I'm like, wow, you turned something that was something joyful to me at the time and turned it into something it shouldn't have been, should have never went. It's hard to be where I was at. I was trying to protect everybody and their feelings and that's also what sucks about being adopted. You're trying to protect everybody and you just can't. You can't, you can't do it no matter how hard you try. And that's what I was trying to tell him. I was like, I'm trying to keep as much as, even though I'm trying to inform the public and share my journey, post it as I have a right to do, I'm still trying to make sure it doesn't hurt my mom.
I know of course it did that moment I get it. If I was her I get that.
Me, you know going to meet the woman who gave me life and all that. I get where she was at but there was no need for him as a brother to take it the way he did when he should've supported me. It was rough and it's been two years and I've still not spoken to him or seen him all. So that's like another lovely side of adoption that it just, it's like the gift that keeps on giving.
Yeah. You've had yet another loss. How did you share with your adopted family that you were launching this journey? Like how did that go down and were they supportive at the time? Did it change?
Yeah, they were originally always and I've always throughout my life made it clear that I was going to look and I was always going to find them. They're just things that, you know, I'd only say periodically growing up and, and all that and especially the older I got. And then when, like I said three years ago came and I don't even know how I came across that search squad group cause like I said that moment there was not another friend or adoptee, I even had not even on my friends list. I mean nothing somehow just boom there it was, I came across it and then when I did that's when I made it specifically more clear to my mom and my husband, more family friends. Okay I'm doing it, here's the post on the post and take it from there. And then once that was done there was no going back cause yes, especially if like I said, they only take a couple of hours and bam there was the information I needed. That's why I highly recommend that group to any adoptee because if it wasn't for them, I'd still be looking probably.
That's amazing that they were able to turn around your results in such a quick period. So it's in such a short time frame that's just spectacular. But by the same token, you were able to gain this information so quickly and then contact everybody and lose them all. That's, I mean, unbelievable to me.
And still no matter which route it all went, I have no regrets.
Even though it didn't, it didn't go the way I wanted and cause I even had someone ask me once, I'm like, well you're a Jesus freak and you got all this faith and shouldn't you be angry it didn't go the way you want? No, absolutely not. Because I always felt that I was protected through all of it because maybe it didn't go this route because I was protected against something that could have happened otherwise. And I know the answers now. I still know him. I might still be looking on the biological father's side, but I still know so much more than I ever did. Three years ago or before, and that's, that definitely counts. So I definitely have no regrets. That's the way it turned out. Even though I do still see the reunions that will bring tears to my eyes on the birth mothers and daughters, and they're long lasting relationships. It'll kick me in the stomach times, like man, that almost was me, but it wasn't meant to be. And I still know what she looks like and her and I are literally identical. I mean, we're twins, so that's the cool part. I know that. I got to see that. So that's what matters to me. So I definitely still don't have any regrets.
Yeah, you got some validation from seeing her, seeing who you came from, and even like you said, the blue eyes on the paternal side, if he's the gentlemen, then you got that validation too. I'm hopeful that your story will take a turn for the better in the DNA test, and I hope that you'll reach out at another time when you've got some updated results and let me know how things go, okay?
Excellent. Sara, thank you so much for telling me about your journey. I really appreciate it. They're not all positive as you've said, but I'm so glad that you don't have any regrets and especially that you were able to find your way both through post traumatic stress disorder, depression, suicide, and your faith held you. That's a really spectacular testament to what faith can do for a person and I'm glad you're here to tell us.
Thank you, I appreciate it.
Of course. Thank you again. Take care. All the best to you.
Thank you so much for having me.
Okay, Sarah, and of course, take care. Bye bye.
Hey, it's me. Sarah's journey was fascinating on so many levels. It was very sad to hear that Sarah's identity crisis in her teenage years took her to the edge of her own life. Thankfully, she's still here to tell the tale, but what strength she has to survive that tumultuous teenage years and the 11 year substance abuse addiction to get clean and sober on her own with only her faith to guide her. Sarah's reunion with her biological mother started out very positive. The amazing work of the search angels in the Facebook group, Search Squad, found her biological mother and father very quickly, but the reunion with her mother turned nasty when the man she thought was her biological father was proven not to be the right guy. After a store bought DNA test returned a 0% match. That test result also broke the bond with the man she thought was her father.
Sarah said that she began her journey with the best of intentions informing her family of her desire to search and documenting her progress on social media. Unfortunately, her adopted mother felt that this open search was a betrayal leaving Sarah only to talk to her adopted brother. I hope their family can come back to speaking terms in order to heal from Sarah's journey. It sounds like they all have explaining and clarifying to do in order to help one another, understand each other's perspectives, but despite all of these losses Sarah has suffered, she's adamant that she has no regrets because for her knowing something about her history is better than knowing nothing at all.
Oh, one more thing. I was just about to close the show when I got an update email from Sara and she had some great news. Remember how she was trying to locate her biological father. It turns out she was able to connect with him over the Memorial day holiday after she exchanged Facebook messages with a cousin. She was able to be on the phone with her biological father, Tim, in no time. The following Friday, she was driving down to meet him and they could do the DNA test face to face together. On Friday 16th 2017 they got the results back confirming that they were a match, but it was something that they already suspected, Their bond had been instantaneous and Sara says she and her own children look just like him. She said that she was thrilled and shocked that everything happened just in time for Father's Day because Sara is Tim's only child. I hope you'll find something in Sara's journey that inspires you, validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn, who am I really? If you would like to share your story of locating and connecting with your biological family visit, whoamireallypodcast.com/share you can also find this show on Facebook or follow me on Twitter at waireally.