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Who Am I Really? - Damon L. Davis EPISODE 44, 25th July 2020
044 – She Never Met Me, But She Saw Me

044 – She Never Met Me, But She Saw Me

Angie lived a split life as a child in small-town Mississippi. During the week her mother had her in all kinds of activities and her stepfather was her rock. On the weekends her dad exposed her to alcohol, drugs, and abuse. Through it all, she suspected that she was adopted but her mother lied about it for 19 years. In reunion, Angie learned that her birth mother had seen her several times as a little girl on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. She got healing from her birth mother who said she always loved Angie and developed a cherished bond with her paternal grandmother who helped her navigate her emotions over her biological father.

The post 044 – She Never Met Me, But She Saw Me appeared first on Who Am I...Really? Podcast.

Angie (00:04):

When we got to our house, you know, we were getting ready for bed late and she says, you know, I just have to tell you something and I don't want it to scare you. And I don't want it to, you know, make you think I'm crazy. And I said, what? And she said, when I hugged you, she said, I felt like 42 years just went away. And she said, I felt my baby girl again. And I thought, I said, I did too,

Damon (00:32):

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. I'm Damon Davis and on today's show is Angie. She called from Panama city, Florida where she and her husband live on the Bay. But Angie grew up in Mississippi with a tragic story in her childhood, but it was her normal. She didn't know she was adopted as a child, but she suspected it. And she asked about it. She was shooed away from the topic as a teenager. Her first son's medical needs meant she had to have a conversation with her adopted mother about the truth. That didn't go very well. When Angie's second son was born, her search began in earnest, but was boxed in by the small town community where everyone knew one another. So news of someone's adoption search traveled fast.

Damon (01:33):

After years of waiting. She finally did a DNA test in 2017 and was in touch with her family that same day when she met her birth mother, the healing was an unreal experience where her mother admitted she had definitely seen Angie as a child. This is Angie's journey. Angie thinks of her story as a bit of a fairy tale, starting off very harshly, but ending in a beautiful way. She grew up in central Mississippi in a very small town that only has two traffic lights and is still paved with bricks from the old days. It's the kind of place where literally everyone knows everyone else. When Angie was five years old, her parents divorced her adopted mother remarried and amazing man whom Angie adores.

Angie (02:20):

My adopted father was abusive. He was an alcoholic and an addict. So that was, you know, my horror story because I still had to go visit him on the weekends. So I grew up in a situation where I had to grow up very quickly. I mean, I saw things most people don't see until they are in their adulthood. And you know, even then they don't choose to see it. But my adopted mom remarried when I was six and she married an amazing man. And if I get a little choked up it's because he was my hero. He was everything. He was my daddy. He is who I call daddy, my adopted father. I call him by his first name. We've actually been estranged for 15 years now. And for good reason, you know, my mom, my mom had me in dance and gymnastics and every I started playing softball when I was five. To me, it was a normal childhood. And then on the weekends, you know, I had the horse show. So I kind of grew up like a split personality almost. I didn't know what bipolar was then, but you know, you get older and you learn what things are. But I almost felt like my life was either a double life or I was, you know, in a whole other realm or it was just, it was crazy to look back on.

Damon (03:45):

Did you catch what Angie said? She had to grow up very quickly seeing things that even adults sometimes choose not to see. She's about to explain some of the things she witnessed in her youth, the things she should not have been exposed to.

Angie (03:59):

I was eight years old when I learned how to drive. He taught me how to drive because he needed somebody to pick him up from the bars. Cause he was too drunk to drive home. So my first time driving a vehicle by myself, I think I was actually nine years old. And it was about one in the morning.

Damon (04:18):

What

Angie (04:19):

I've been. Yeah. I would spend Friday nights asleep in the front seat of his truck at the local brothel and it's a nice word to use for it. And then as I got older, I actually was brought into it. Um, and the lady who ran it would actually stick me in a back room for the night and I've actually had them call my mom to come pick me up from there. Uh, yeah. You know, I grew up with him having poker parties every weekend and alcohol and drugs, you know, being served like hors d'oeuvres and it was the local attorneys and judges and sheriff deputies. And you know, I, I, my best friend and I, um, she's kind of the only one that I can talk to. And you know, who knows all my secrets, you know, her and I have discussed, I could write a book and completely annihilate the entire existence and the salts of everyone in that city, because of all the dark secrets that I have. It, it was a very, uh, it was a tough childhood at the time. It was normal to me. But now that I look back on it, it's, it's horrific. It's stuff that children shouldn't see.

Damon (05:25):

She was driving a motor vehicle on the road with adults at nine years old because of his substance abuse for a kid, if that's your normal, you don't realize that an adult trusting you to be the responsible driver is abnormal at best not to mention completely irresponsible and illegal. Angie told me her adopted father was married seven times with countless girlfriends moving into and out of his home along the way. Thankfully, she had a much better and more appropriate lifestyle in her mother's home during the workweek counter balancing abominable behavior of her adoptive father on the weekends, she admits she loves her adopted mother, but it was her daddy, her mother's second husband, who was her rock,

Angie (06:07):

my mom and I never connected. We never had that mother daughter bond. We loved each other. Um, I loved that woman immensely and I know she loved me, but, um, you know, when she married my stepdad, he was everything that her and my adopted father never worked. He was nurturing and caring and supportive and he encouraged me and he gave me all of that, that I was missing. So, you know, he was, he was my, everything. I talked to him about all my problems. You know, I asked him about boys. It was, it was kind of like he was the mom and the dad in the family, you know, Monday through Friday, it was great. I mean, I, I loved my life at that house. And then, you know, Friday through Sunday, seven miles away, it was, you know, the horror show. So

Damon (07:05):

did you, did you get a sense that your mom knew what he was doing? And at any point when you were older, did you resist going into that horror show?

Angie (07:15):

I started telling my mom what he was doing when the, the physical sexual abuse started. I told her when I was 12 and she didn't, I can't say that she didn't believe me, but she didn't concern her enough to keep me from it.

Damon (07:33):

She didn't take it seriously enough.

Angie (07:36):

I don't think that was the case. Looking back, I feel like she felt her hands were tied because of his connections in the community that I don't think she could have done anything about it.

Damon (07:49):

Was he a prominent guy in the community?

Angie (07:51):

He was not, but all of his friends were, and he was basically their supplier. You know, you have court judges and district attorneys and Sheriff's deputies. And they come to his house on the weekends and there's drugs and booze and women. And I mean, he's their get away. And you know, I don't know if my mom thought this, but this is why I never went anywhere with it. Who's going to believe a 19 year old little girl, you know, who who's gonna believe that. But in her case, I went back on it and thinking, well, maybe she felt like who's going to believe this.

Damon (08:26):

There was no lawyer who could represent the case for the child. Endangerment. Angie lived through everyone in town was her adopted father's weekend escape buddy. And no one would corroborate her stories against him. Sadly, Angie said she was physically and sexually abused too. So I couldn't help wondering how her mother continued to let her go to the man's house every weekend. Eventually Angie arrived at a hypothesis for why, which she is still trying every day to forgive her mother for,

Angie (08:55):

she passed away five years ago and it's taking me five years to forgive her. And it's a daily struggle to this day to keep, to forgive her. Because as a mom, like I would have tore down, you know, the whole town and burned it to protect my child

Damon (09:14):

if she knew even. And I hope you'll forgive me. I don't by any means mean to minimize what you went through personally. But if I know, if my mom knew that my dad was taken me to brothels and I was driving his car and like all that other stuff, she would've been like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. We are not doing this. But obviously the added layer of, of abuse would have been, that would have been it. And I just, I just wondered. Wow. Why would she continue to let you go back to that?

Angie (09:47):

Yeah. And I, I struggle with that to this day. Um, because the reason she left him was for the alcohol, the drug addiction, the abuse, the affairs, she left him for that reason. And then she, and, and then she didn't just let me go back. It was almost like she kept sending me. I've actually talked to one of my aunts a lot. Yeah. Since my mom passed. And you know, we think that her weekends with my stepdad were just more important to her because she had that, that alone time. And she got to be the number one in his life. Because Monday through Friday, I was, there was a lot of jealousy with my mother. She was, she's a very complex person, but I can see her is that person now. And not as my mother, you know, I look at her as who she was and what she went through in her life. And what, you know, I guess, calls her to make the decisions that she did.

Damon (10:42):

So that horror story was Angie's foundation for childhood. Also, she didn't actually know that she was adopted. She asked multiple times over the years, but her mother hid the truth. Then when Angie was a teenager, she felt confident there was something amiss. She confronted her mother again.

Angie (11:02):

I suspected it. And I even asked, but I was never told yes, I was, I was, it was always denied. No, you're not. But I think around 14, my best friend and I were just kind of like, okay, this doesn't make sense. You know, this isn't adding up. This doesn't add up. People are saying stuff. And I went to her and I said, I have a question. And she said, what? And I said, am I adopted? And you know, my response to my own child would be, have you lost your mind? No, you're not adopted. Look at you. You look like this person, this person, you know, no, her response was no. And don't worry about this anymore. I'm tired of you acting like, you know, you're different. You're not. And I got shooed away at 14, 14. I mean, I've had, I've been through three 14 year olds.

Angie (11:50):

You've got, you've got it set in your mind. You're not stupid. And that was my answer. I knew something was up. So then at that point, you know, we started coming up with these scenarios. I knew my birth, my adopted father was fooling around. I knew he had so many wives. So we thought maybe he had an affair. And she, you know, they, she took me in. She adopted me, you know, that would make why else would she be? So, um, I used to work cruel because that's the only word I, I know for it. You know, why else would you send your child into this den of debauchery every weekend if I wasn't hers. So I knew for a fact, I knew in my heart, I was not her child. I did not know that I was not. now on a side note, my mother was diabetic. She had juvenile diabetes. So she had a hysterectomy when she was 17, so she could not have children. So that nurture bond that comes in when you birth a child, she didn't have, she didn't have it. She didn't know any way to get it. I hold. That is a main reason why her and I never clicked and why she couldn't ever understand the role of a parent. You know, that unconditional unwavering love no matter what, she just didn't have it. I mean, all, all of everything that made her a woman was gone at 17.

Speaker 4 (13:15):

Yeah. I could see how the Nate, the nature to nurture just would not kick in. I mean, if you're supposed to be at a place in your life, as you get to be a young woman and your hormones are starting to click and make you feel like it's time to start thinking about a family, like if all of that has been surgically removed, you're not going to be in a position to feel that about a child. I know I should probably take that back actually, because I would imagine that that could also be a very driving factor for why a woman might feel a need to adopt a child and actually really try hard to connect because she couldn't do that for whatever adverse reasons. So I'm wondering about her, her history, you said, uh, it sounded like you were saying that she had, had her own challenged history, even outside of the relationship with your adoptive father.

Angie (14:05):

Yes. Growing up, I always knew that my mother had an older sister that passed away in childbirth and that, um, my mother never knew her. She passed away before my mother was born, which I didn't find odd at the time. You know? Cause you're talking about the fifties, the forties in the fifties, you know, my mother, there was 11 of those kids. So I just, it was just like, whatever. But then after she passed and you know, my aunt and I started talking more, you know, we, we realized that the aunt that passed away in childbirth was juvenile diabetic. And so when she passed away, my mother was born 14 months later, my grandmother and them had already stopped having kids 11 years before that. So my mother was not an accident, she was planned. My grandmother got pregnant on purpose. So here comes this new baby and lo and behold, it's a girl. You just lost one. And Oh my gosh, she has got diabetes too. Not to say my mother was spoiled. And what is the word I'm looking for? She was like kept in a bubble.

Damon (15:13):

She was overly protected.

Angie (15:15):

Yes. She's really overprotected.

Damon (15:18):

Angie's mother grew up excessively doted over and shielded from the potential ills of the world around her. She didn't drive a car until her early twenties. She never went to a party until she went to college and she was spoiled. Angie's stepfather treated her mother like a princess doting over her. Like her parents had, he was an amazing guy, but her mother's thirst for attention. Couldn't be quenched. When Angie was around distracting him. Angie also believes that her mother tried to settle her first husband down by adopting to start a family. But that only exacerbated his behavior. Angie said, escaping that little town was foremost on her mind. And all she could do was go into survival mode at 14. Angie developed the strength to talk back, fight back and find ways not to be forced into her adopted father's lifestyle nor subjected to his abuse. At 15, she had a car and independence. So she chose not to go to his house, making every excuse to go to friend's houses at 19 Angie's mother was finally forced to admit the truth.

Angie (16:22):

So I actually got confirmation. She actually finally told me, um, I was 19. My husband and I had just had our first child. We were in San Antonio at Fort Sam Houston. And my oldest son has down syndrome. So the military brought in geneticists and they said, we need you to call your families. And we need, you know, these questions asked and, you know, get the answers for us. So I called home and I said, you know, Hey, uh, you know, Aaron has down syndrome. I need to ask you these questions. And she said, well, what is it about? And I said, it's our genetics, it's our medical background. And she was really quiet. And I said, okay, you know, it's a bunch of questions. Do you have time? And she said, just matter of fact, she said, it doesn't matter anyway. And I said, why? And she said you were adopted.

Angie (17:13):

Yup. Not, I'm sorry, not, I should have told you when you asked me not I've lied to you, nothing just, it doesn't matter. You were adopted. That was the end of the conversation. And I just remember hanging up the phone and thinking, well, I'm not shocked. And I'm kind of relieved that I'm angry because it's like, I've been lied to for 19 years. And I asked you when you lied to me. And so they're in, started another journey of, you know, of anger and deception from her, but directed towards her because then I absolutely don't trust you now. Right. Right.

Damon (17:50):

If there's something as fundamental is whether you and I are related or not, and you can't answer that directly, that's a, that's a huge thing. And if you've lied about bad, you probably have lied about everything else.

Angie (18:02):

Exactly.

Damon (18:04):

Yeah.

Angie (18:05):

So that was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back with my relationship with her over the next, you know, 23 years, it was pretty tumultuous. After that with her,

Damon (18:15):

Angie had trouble relating to her mother after that, when she and her husband left the army, they moved from Texas back to Angie's hometown and Mississippi looking for the support of family as they raised their children. She says her parents were excellent with her children and were shining examples of what grandparents should be. But her relationship with her mother was irreparably damaged. And her mother's declining health was making things worse.

Angie (18:40):

You know, she was involved with my kids. They were great. They're excellent grandparents. If you had to, you know, Mark down perfect grandparents, that would be her and my dad. They were phenomenal, but my and her relationship was always tense. It was always tense. You know, my husband and I would go over and she would speak to him and not me. And then of course her, her health started to decline. She had brain tumors and started having grandma seizures. And so then that was changing her personality more. So we just drifted farther and farther and farther apart to where, when we moved to Atlanta, she would call my house and I would pick up the phone and she would ask for my husband, or if I would call home, she would answer the phone. I'd be like, Hey mama. And she would literally hand the phone to my dad and say, it's your daughter. So it got, it got pretty rough.

Damon (19:32):

Wow. And that was all right after like that, it sounds like the catalyst for that was when she had to admit to you that you were adopted.

Angie (19:40):

Yes, for me, it was, my husband explains it as it literally just broke me because everything that I thought I knew was not true. And I suspected it and you know, honestly, and genuinely went to someone who I trusted and should have been able to trust. And they lied to me, yeah. They betrayed me. And so I couldn't understand that. And I couldn't forgive her for that. Not that she asked for forgiveness, but I could not get past it because of everything else that she had put me through. And it's in these cases where, you know, people say, Oh, you were adopted, you should be grateful. Um, no, I shouldn't be grateful. It didn't matter how many times I would impress on upon her. You know, he has a heart murmur and he has a hole in his heart, you know? Yes, it comes along with down syndrome. But if I have any other kids, I'm going to want to know this too. I need to know this medical information. It didn't matter how much I assured her. I'm not looking for this woman to replace you. I need information. It never mattered. Never mattered.

Damon (20:45):

Angie has been misled lie to her entire life. So she wanted the truth. She tried everything to get answers from her mother over 23 years, but never got any meaningful responses. All Angie ever learned was that her mother was about 16 years old. When she went to the Jackson Baptist, women's home for unwed mothers to have her baby adopted through family services around 1999. Angie had her second son and she was at home when her best friend suggested she take her downtime while the kids were sleeping to start searching, she began making phone calls and she immediately recognized that her search was going to be tough.

Angie (21:24):

I called the local courthouse and this is where my first roadblock started. Cause I found out well, Mississippi has sealed records. And if I remember correctly, the, the little old lady who I was talking to said, well, honey, you know, it just doesn't matter. Anyway, you've got a great mother and daddy. So I knew then I was going to have problems because everybody there knew my family and you can't call somewhere and say, Hey, this is, you know, Angie. So and so, and they're like, Oh your daughter, great. There goes that.

Damon (21:57):

Over the course of two years, Angie spoke with all four practicing attorneys in town, three district attorneys and seven assistant DA's. But her pathway was littered with barriers and potholes. Every advancement in the journey came with an astronomical fee or the person's hands were tied and there was nothing they could do. The small town she lived in, made her search that much worse. Can you imagine calling social services anonymously to ask for information about the cases that were handled around your birth date only to realize the person on the other end of the phone knows who you are. Her small town was so small. There was nowhere to turn by 2002, the internet had matured some and Angie was searching a little online when she found the Mississippi adoption registry.

Angie (22:46):

I think I spent the next two weeks searching every adoption forum, every registry, every well, everything I could find on the internet and put my, what I knew out there, which wasn't much because what I knew I will find out later, wasn't the truth all fall asleep. And you know, my, and my husband and I thought now and we, we feel like it was intentional

Damon (23:12):

during that time Angie's family was planning a move to Georgia. Her adoptive father was letting their family live in one of his two homes in town. So she was in the house, cleaning up and packing in a back room. She discovered an old green metal filing cabinet. It was locked, but she thought there might be something cool inside from a previous occupant of the home.

Angie (23:33):

Well, I broke the lock off and open it up and there were my parents' divorce papers. I was like, Oh wow. So I pulled the papers out and this other folder pulled out and it was my adoption papers. So I opened it up real quick and you know, just read through it. And then the first thing that caught me was baby girl Taylor. I was like, Oh my God, I have a name. It was just, that was probably one of the moments in my life where it was, you know, I never knew who I was. And there was, there was right there in black and white. There was my name. It was a last name, but it was still mine, it was all mine.

Damon (24:19):

Angie had her original name, but there was no other identifiable information in the papers. She noticed the date, the adoption was finalized, but it didn't show any information about her birth parents, where she was born, nothing identifiable. She showed the papers to her husband and kept the information to herself. Unfortunately it was the last time she saw the document

Angie (24:41):

and I put them back in a locked box. And I think about four months later, we finally moved and I forgot the box.

Damon (24:48):

Oh no,

Angie (24:50):

yes. I forgot the box. This was an old farm house. So I thought nobody's ever going to go back there and look for that thing. Never. Well, I'm not kidding you. Three months later after we moved, we moved in February in may. Um, my younger half sister called me and she said, Hey, uh, our father's going to jail for arson. And I said, and she said, yeah, he burned that old farm house down for the insurance money. And I was like,

Damon (25:22):

Oh no,

Angie (25:25):

it's a metal lock box in the back closet. I was like, can you go get it? I said, it's metal. There's no way it would have burned. It's metal. Well, she actually went and looked and couldn't find anything. Of course, you know, you're talking about a burnt house, so

Damon (25:41):

no.

Angie (25:43):

Yeah. Was just like that. Just my luck.

Damon (25:46):

Your heart must have sank, man. I mean, you've looked at this document. You put it back. You thought it was safer. It was in this joker burned the place down.

Angie (25:55):

Yup. I know my husband's like, yeah, that says a lot about your character. You didn't ask if anybody was hurt, you were just worried about that paper. But yeah, that was kind of, that was a heartbreak.

Damon (26:08):

Angie admits she was okay with the misfortune in the end because the documents gave her, her identity written in black and white, but really nothing else. Knowing her name allowed her to add her birth name to the online resources she had visited before, but was adding false information to over the course of the next several years, she tracked down the social worker who handled her case. Ms. Grantham. She was elderly by the time they connected, but she remembered Angie and her birth mother. She racked her brain for details. She said,

Angie (26:39):

I think when they got you, your name was Cindy or your mother's name was Cindy. And she goes, and I don't remember which one. So I'm like, okay, I have a Cindy, is that her name? Or was that my name? So then I had that to go on.

Damon (26:54):

So what did you find out? You're looking for the Cindy Taylor. Was it you or was it her?

Angie (27:00):

It was neither.

Damon (27:04):

I got tricked because I forgot you said every fact that you had was wrong. I got tricked

Angie (27:10):

it wasn't, it wasn't that it wasn't true. It just wasn't the full truth. And she was correct, but that wasn't my given name. That's actually the name. The foster parents gave me that held me for four weeks. And the coolest part is I would have eventually found them because my maternal uncle, his wife's name was Cindy and she passed away six years ago. So I would have found her obituary, which would have led me to that family.

Damon (27:43):

Angie was on a never ending quest to have her sealed records open so she could get more answers. But lawyer after lawyer repeatedly told her over the years, there was no way to get her records, unsealed, even considering the medical needs of her son. At some point, she told her husband, she'd like to try DNA testing, but she kept putting it off. And their family was busy with life on her birthday in 2017, Angie's husband reminded her about doing the DNA test and she put it off again. She finally took advantage of a father's day sale from ancestry DNA bought the testing kit and sent in her sample. She told me the waiting wasn't as much the excitement for the results she hoped she'd find as it was fear of disappointment that she wouldn't have any meaningful matches at all over time, Angie forgot. She was even waiting for her test results. In July, 2017, her results were returned. Her closest match was an aunt or a cousin. So she messaged the woman, shared her story and humbly asked if the woman thought she could help.

Angie (28:48):

Well, I jumped over to Facebook and typed in her name as it was on ancestry. And it came up on Facebook with her first name. Her middle name is Taylor and her last name. I was like, Oh my gosh. So this is a birth mother connection. This is that side. So I sent her a message on Facebook really quick. And this was like six in the morning, like this woman is 72 years old. There's I'm never gonna hear from this woman. So I sent her a message. I said, Hey, I got a connection with you on ancestry. I sent you a message. Let me know when you get it. I am not kidding you. I put my coffee cup down and went to stand up and Facebook, she Facebook messaged me right back.

Damon (29:33):

The woman ended up being Angie's aunt VI, who had to do some digging to see what she could learn from the family. And she promised to get back with in a few days. In the meantime, Angie went straight to scanning out these friends list to see if she could find anyone else of interest on Facebook. You know how adoptees these can be. When we get a lead, we covertly continue digging for ourselves to see how much more information we can uncover. Angie typed in the friends list, the name Taylor, one of the clues to her own identity. And it was full of people, but she saw someone special.

Angie (30:07):

So I see this picture of this lady. Her is her name listed on there. It's her first name Taylor, and then her last name. And I thought, Oh my gosh. If this woman is not my mother, she knows who he is because it was like looking in the mirror. It was incredible. I don't have words. I really don't. I've thought about that moment so many times. And there just aren't words because it was real, there was a person that looked like me right there. I finally found somebody that looked like me. And it was just like almost overwhelming because I couldn't believe it was this quick. I mean, you know, we're talking a matter of 45 minutes from when I checked my email.

Damon (30:59):

So Angie messaged the woman copying and pasting what she sent to aunt VI to this woman who looked just like her. Angie went and told her husband that she had gotten a hit on her DNA profile and had been messaging with a relative who was going to try to help. Angie got herself up and rushed off to work. So she wouldn't be late.

Angie (31:17):

I walked in, sat my purse down and my Facebook dinged on my phone and I picked it up. And you know, another one of those moments where you will never forget it, it was, it was my Aunt Theresa. She texted me back and she said, you know, Hey Angie, um, I think I may be your aunt. And my sister is your mom. And she said, I am in tears right now. I cannot believe you found us. And I'm calling your mom right now. Oh yeah. I just burst into tears at work. I mean, I was just a mess. It was unbelievable. I was happy and sad. And it was like the, all the hell that I had been through was finally coming to an end. It was just incredible.

Damon (32:02):

That's amazing.

Angie (32:03):

And so, I mean, in the course of 12 hours from getting my first message from ancestry saying my results were in, I was on the phone with my birth mom.

Damon (32:14):

Angie's aunt Theresa called her sister to ask

Angie (32:17):

the baby girl, you gave up for adoption. What's her birthday.

Damon (32:20):

When Angie's mother gave Theresa Angie's birth date, she told her sister that the baby girl she had given up for adoption as a teenager had found the family. Angie's mother was driving on the highway, so she couldn't call Angie right then. And she was hysterical at the unexpected news. Anyway,

Angie (32:37):

the coolest part. Isn't just that, it's the fact that I found out, not just my mom, but my entire family knew about me. I wasn't a secret. And they all were looking for me.

Damon (32:49):

Really?

Angie (32:50):

Yeah. She was 15. She had to give me up for adoption and it devastated the entire family. She has four brothers. They're all incredible. And they were all living at home and they were devastated. It just completely shook their family. And so for 42 years, they've all looked for me. They've all wondered. They've all, you know, did their own searches.

Damon (33:13):

Angie finally got some of the answers about how she ended up in adoption. She shares what she learned about how she was separated from her mother.

Angie (33:20):

Well, she was 15 and they were still five children at home and they were military. They were air force. So they didn't have a lot of money in 1975. And, and my birth father did not know I existed. They actually met while they were stationed at Eglin air force base near Panama city. It's actually nice. And then her family got moved to Biloxi. And so she was pregnant. And by the time she figured out she was pregnant, she didn't know where they were. And back then, it wasn't like you could pick up a phone and call, you know, so she didn't tell him. And she didn't know what she was going to do. Her original plan was to go get her GED and to keep me, she couldn't, they couldn't afford it. She couldn't, she couldn't do it. And so my grandparents did tell her, you know, we'll support you either way.

Angie (34:05):

If you want to keep the baby or not. And her decision, she wanted to keep me, but in the hospital, because I was born on a military base, they immediately alerted social services. And social services basically came in and uh, strong armed her, you know, you're too young. You can't do this. Let's give her to somebody who can, we're going to send her to a nice rich family up North. And she's going to be taken care of. And she's pretty much fit Alignable and you know, that's what she thought. So she thought she was making the best decision and which I have no ill will for her, you know, towards her for that. Because at 15, the Lord knows she couldn't take care of a baby.

Damon (34:43):

Yeah. And not to mention like the same way that as a child, you were trying to express express yourself about your own adoption to your parent and your own abuse situation to your parent. And you know, you've got this feeling like they're not listening to me. I'm sure as she sat there in that hospital bed and social services is standing over her and she's saying, I want to keep it. She also has a similar teenage voice. That's just not being heard and exactly wow.

Angie (35:14):

That day has, you know, cause now that we're four months into reunion, that is her biggest regret in her life and her only regret. And she is know she's still working through that because it hurts so much. You know, it tore so much of her apart. It's such a very young age.

Damon (35:31):

I'm not sure if you picked up on it. But Angie just said that her birth mother and biological father met on a United States air force base. That's only one hour from where she and her family live in Panama city now Angie said that, coincidentally, she grew up spending summers in the Gulf coast of Mississippi in Biloxi and Gulfport because her adopted mother had relatives there after her birth mother's family relocated there. When she was a teenager, their family put down roots there and her birth mother never left the area. So Angie's birth mother lives in the Gulf coast and Angie's adopted family vacations there with their own family. Listen to this incredible part of Angie's journey.

Angie (36:13):

One of the first stories that her and my grandmother told me when I met them, we have sworn, we've seen you four or five times. We've seen you with a blonde headed lady. They had not seen pictures of my birth of my adopted mother yet. And my, my adopted mother was short with blonde hair and blue eyes

Damon (36:29):

get out of here. Are you serious?

Angie (36:31):

I'm serious. And then one of my aunts on my maternal side, my adopted mother's side, she called me she's 84 years old. And she goes, I'm going to tell you a story that happened to us when you and your, your mom came down and stayed with us that summer. And I said, well, how old was I? She said, you were probably like two. She said you were real little. Cause your uncle Roy was really protective of you. She said, me and your two cousins and your uncle Roy and your mom were in a grocery store. She said, and this lady kept following us around and kept staring at you. And she said, and it got to the point where your uncle Roy got so mad that, uh, we left the grocery store without the groceries because he thought that woman was going to kidnap you. I told my mom my birth mom, that story in front of my grandmother. And they both, I didn't get halfway through it. They started falling because it was her.

Damon (37:28):

Oh my gosh. Yeah. She had found you.

Angie (37:34):

Yeah. She saw me through the years down there and thought it was me and knew it was me that couldn't do anything because people kept telling her, no, that's not her, you know?

Damon (37:45):

Oh my gosh.

Angie (37:47):

Hope. And it was her and it was, it was me the whole time I was right there the whole time.

Damon (37:51):

This is one of those things that so many adoptees think about is like, have I run into my biological parents? Have I ever seen them? Have they seen me? Will we know each other? And she did.

Angie (38:01):

Right. She never met me, but she saw me.

Damon (38:05):

Angie says she's always been drawn to the Gulf coast. So it's amusing to her to know that almost all of her huge biological family lives within an hour of her home. I asked Angie about that very first conversation with her biological mother. She told me that her aunt Theresa actually called her first to break the ice and find out a little bit more about Angie. So she could give her sister Angie's birth mother more information and be sure that this was real.

Angie (38:32):

She called me first. And that was the most hilarious conversation I've ever had in my life because I answered the phone. I'm like, hello? And she's like Angie. And I said, yes. And she says, I'm your answer, Theresa. And then she just starts laughing. And I started laughing and it was in harmony.

Damon (38:52):

Are you serious? Y'all sounded just like each other, huh?

Angie (38:55):

Yes. We had the same laugh and it just got louder and louder. And the louder we got, the more we laugh. It was hilarious. And she said, I don't have to ask any questions. I don't have to ask any questions. You are our baby.

Damon (39:09):

Oh my gosh. Your heart must have been so full.

Angie (39:13):

It was, it was so surreal. You know, I, I says I lost my adoptive mom and my stepdad's six months apart in 2012, I kind of view things a little bit more realistically now. And I try to save her that moment and be in it. And it was just one of those most surreal moments where I was like, this is really happening. Like I'm hearing another voice. That's just like mine. It was just, it was incredible.

Damon (39:43):

They talked over 30 minutes and Theresa shared that everyone in the family knew about Angie, but Angie's aunt was careful not to share too many details because she wanted Angie's mother to be the one to tell her everything. When they hung up, Theresa called all of the family. But she left the task of sharing the news about Angie's return for her sister to tell their mother Angie's grandmother.

Angie (40:07):

So I got off the phone with her and it was probably like five minutes. Cause I'd walked outside and I was a nervous wreck. I told my husband, I said, what in the world am I supposed to say? And he said, well, she's anything like you, you guys are gonna say hello. And then you're going to cry for 10 minutes. So she calls and I see the number and I'm like, Oh my gosh. So I picked it up and I was like, hello. And she said, you know, is this Angie? And I said, yes, ma'am, like I'm a five year old. And I will never forget what she said to me. She said, hi, darling. I have always loved you.

Angie (40:44):

And then I started crying. Then she started crying. We cried for about 10 minutes and then we laugh and then I didn't have to ask anything. She, she just told me everything. She told me who my birth father was. She told me what their relationship was. And it was just a summer fling. And you know, it was just 15 year olds and 15 year olds. And you know, she's told me everything. She was like, you know, do you have any questions? And I'm like, you know, not right now because you just answered everything. And I was just, you know, trying to write stuff down when I could and remember it, but I didn't feel like I needed to. Cause I felt like this isn't over, you know, this is just the beginning.

Damon (41:25):

Angie said, she's a pretty spontaneous person. And apparently she's gotten it honestly from her mother during their first conversation, they realized actually live four hours apart, but they still wanted to meet that weekend. Their first conversation happened on a Thursday evening. They met for the first time at 10:00 AM that Saturday morning,

Angie (41:44):

it was the most healing, therapeutic experience I've ever had in my life. No amount of counseling did for me what one hug from her yet

Speaker 4 (41:59):

Really? That's incredible.

Angie (42:01):

It was instant bond instant. It was like, I had never left her arms. It was absolutely incredible.

Angie (42:13):

Didn't say anything at the time because you know, I don't want to seem weird or whatever, but that night when we got, because we were supposed to stay at the hotel, but we ended up going to her house, another spontaneous decision when we got to our house, you know, we were getting ready for bed late. And she said, you know, I just have to tell you something and I don't want it to scare you. And I don't want it to, you know, make you think I'm crazy. And I said, what? And she said, when I hugged you, she said, I felt like 42 years just went away. And she said, I felt my baby girl again. And I thought, I said, I did too. I did too. I said, I didn't want to say anything, cause I didn't want to freak you out. But I felt it, it was like this electric shock that started from my heart and completely healed every wound in my soul.

Speaker 4 (43:00):

God that's unreal.

Angie (43:04):

It was incredible. It was,

Speaker 4 (43:07):

I don't even know what to say. I just feels like I can feel that there's just the overwhelming joy. I wasn't even there. And I can feel like what you felt in spectacular.

Angie (43:20):

It was, it was so incredible. I mean, there just is not a word to it to explain it, to describe that feeling because I never had that with anybody, you know? And it was that mother connection. Like I knew I was hers. I felt it.

Damon (43:40):

Angie said she could see nearly every feature of her own face in her mother. They have the same hair, their eyes mouths and faces have the same shape, but they have one distinctive little feature that seems to be genetic. That Angie couldn't wait to see if she had gotten from her birth mother.

Angie (43:58):

The coolest part was I have, um, these crooked pinkies. They've been like haunting me my entire life. My kids have, them, I've never seen anybody else with 'em. And so, you know, we're hugging and crying and it just hit me. Oh my gosh, look at her hands. I just reached out and grabbed her hands and pulled them up to my face. And she's like what, you have the pinky, you have the pinky I'm like, she's like, Oh my God, I'm so sorry. I gave that to you. Yeah, it was hilarious.

Damon (44:38):

I asked about Angie's birth father and whether she got any information about him. Unfortunately, her father passed away at 44 years old from heart disease. That kind of news can be alarming to hear for an adoptee, getting acquainted with the medical conditions. They may have inherited, even though the birth father had passed away, Angie was able to get their family's last name and started searching for relatives on Facebook. She connected with an aunt and announced herself as one of their relatives.

Angie (45:07):

And I sent her a message the next morning and basically said, surprise, I'm your niece. She messaged me. They were in shock. But because I had a DNA match with one of my cousins, you couldn't deny it. So she actually called my grandmother. Who's amazingly, both of my grandmothers are still alive and they're 80 years old. That's incredible. And they are, but she called my grandmother and told her and my grandmother, I don't talk to her twice a week. Something is wrong. She has not stopped. She texts me or calls me at least twice a week. And has since that day. Yeah. So

Speaker 4 (45:48):

I mean, to be welcomed back to one family that knew of you knew what happened and have been searching for you the whole time, but to be welcomed into another family that didn't even know. I mean, that's incredible.

Damon (46:01):

Growing up an only child, this family expansion has been incredible for Angie. She has a brother and sister on her birth mother's side and three sisters and two brothers on her birth father's side. So her family has expanded tremendously. At the time we talked, Angie was only four months into her reunion. She closed us out with her thoughts on her decision to keep an open mind and live in the moment as she attempted reunion.

Angie (46:29):

There are no words. There are no words. It's. So like I said, it's, it's a fairy tale story for me. You know, I went from, from a horror story to this, you know, and things are kind of winding down now and we're kind of getting in the normal, you know, groove of, you know, contact and not so hurried and you know, pressing. So yeah, it's been a, it's definitely been an adventure,

Speaker 4 (46:56):

man. It sounds like it, you have been through a lot and to come out of a small town where information is scarce and practically locked down because so many people know each other to be at this point where technology and DNA testing are allowing you to connect with people. That's spectacular. That's really cool. Well, Angie, thank you so much for sharing your story. This has been really amazing. You, you warmed my heart with just the connection that you felt immediately with your own biological mother, and I'm really glad that you were able to connect with your paternal side as well.

Damon (47:30):

Cause that's, that can be just as important and I'm glad they were welcoming. That's really fantastic.

Angie (47:34):

Well, thank you. And I just, you know, my hope is that other people that it's, you know, even though they don't have what I got, I think my whole hope is to, I went into this thing, knowing that I was going to find human beings with a past with issues. And that's what I was willing to accept because it took me five years after my, my mother passed away to realize that she was just a woman. And so, you know, I went in viewing my birth is just a woman. I was going to accept her with whatever she came with.

Damon (48:12):

That's an important mindset to have going in.

Angie (48:15):

It is, it really is no expectations, you know, just live in the moment. Yup. Yup.

Damon (48:23):

That's amazing. Angie, thank you so much for your time. This has been really spectacular. What a great, what a great story. I'm glad that you were able to get out of that small town and all of the tumbles to, you know, find a richer life and ultimately make a connection to your biological family. That's just really amazing.

Angie (48:39):

Thank you. It's been, um, it's definitely been a healing experience for me.

Damon (48:43):

Yeah, I'll bet. That's so cool. Take care all the best. Angie.

Angie (48:47):

Thank you so much, Damon. And you have a great night.

Damon (48:49):

too. Bye bye. Bye bye. Hey, it's me. I have to agree with Angie that her story sounds like a fairy tale. It was hard to hear that as a child, she was led into situations where substance abuse and prostitution were the norm and she was subjected to abuse herself and it made things worse that her mother, someone who took on the lifelong duty to raise and protects her child allowed even facilitated, Angie's continued exposure to those horrible conditions. When I heard about Angie as a little girl, visiting the Gulf coast of Mississippi, being spotted by her birth mother and grandmother, I was pretty emotional. It must've been amazing to hear her mother say, I have always loved you and to feel her embrace and those decades of love just a few days later after recording the show, Angie sent me an update. Here are some of her words since we recorded the podcast in early November, my reunion with my paternal side has blossomed beyond anything I could imagine.

Damon (49:52):

I began to feel a connection to my deceased biological father, but couldn't explain the emotions I was dealing with. My paternal grandmother was there to help me sort through those emotions, validate them and love me unconditionally through my journey in knowing who my father was. She has been incredible and we have bonded and grown closer than I ever imagined. I never had a close relationship with a grandparent and I have that now with her, we are so much alike in every way. Other family members refer to me as little, ma mèrè. It's what we call her. It's French for grandmother. I even spent my first surrounded by 50 or so family members at ma grandmèrè home, something I had only dreamed of. I have connected with my sisters and even found our missing brother. I got to meet my little brother recently and we too have a special connection.

Damon (50:41):

When we recorded the podcast, I had only been in reunion for months and honestly, some of the most special relationships had not even formed yet. My ma mèrè has been the biggest key to my healing more than anyone or anything. Why am I bio mom? And I still have a great relationship. My relationship with my paternal grandmother has been my most precious gift. I always thought that a mother daughter relationship was what my heart needed right now. It's been a grandmother granddaughter bond that will never be broken. I'm Damon Davis. And I hope you'll find something in Angie's journey that inspires you, validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have this strength along your journey to learn who am I really, if you would like to share your adoption journey and your attempt to connect with your biological family, please visit who am I really podcast.com/share. You can also find the show at facebook.com/wai really, or follow me on Twitter at Waireally? And please, if you like the show, you can subscribe to who am I really on? Apple podcasts, Google play, or wherever you get your podcasts. And while you're there, take a moment to share a rating or leave a comment. Those ratings can help others find the podcast too.