In her adopted family Tameko’s parents just assumed that as an adoptee, she was misbehaving, but when her older adopted brother showed up he actually started framing her for terrible things, trying force her out. Even worse, he abused her. On her search, she read a description of her birthmother that humanized her, but the first pictures Tameko saw online documented the hardening of a once beautiful woman.
Read Full TranscriptTameko: 00:05 this is turning her into a real person and I’m like, I’ve never, I’ve never looked at my mom like that. It’s always somebody was always trying to make her seem like a bad person, so it seemed like my adoption was like this a great thing, which it was, but it’s like don’t make her look like a monster.
Damon: 00:41 Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who amq 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 Tameko. She called me from Seattle, Washington in her adopted family Tameko. Parents just assumed that as an adoptee she was misbehaving. But when her older adopted brother showed up, he actually started framing her for terrible things, trying to force her out even worse. He abused her. On her search. She read a description of her birth mother that humanized her, but the first pictures Tameko saw documented the hardening of a once beautiful woman. This is Tameko journey. Tamika was in foster care until she was adopted at about three years old.
Tameko: 01:36 One day in the foster home I was in. I was like three , they were like oh, someone’s gonna come and take a look at you and I’m fine. they might want to adopt you and I was like, all right, cool, So they were like go take a nap. And I was like, wow. Now I’m excited. I went up to my room in my room and I, you know, and I’m kind of peeking around the corner and you know, finally, uh, someone knocks on the door and this, and they opened the door and this woman, this black woman, and I’m like, mom, because I’m, well, I’m black, but I’m that. I knew of at the time. So I was like, oh. And I was living in a foster home that a lot of white people, and it was Mormon.
Damon: 02:26 You said you were living in a foster home that was predominantly white and it was Mormon, is that what you said?
Tameko: 02:31 No, it was Mormon. Yes. So this was in uh a Utah Salt Lake City. I left that detail out. Gotcha. So, yeah, so me not seeing people of color day to day was kind of like, okay. And like the only person here. So when this woman comes to the door, who’s black? I’m like, “mom,” I’m thinking in my head, that’s the first thing that came to head. I had was this is my mother like, and I think that’s why it’s like embedded in my mind. I was like, oh my God, this woman, are you coming to get me? Like I’ve always, you know, dreamt, you were going to come, you know? And I thought that this woman was my mother. So of course my mother now is like, yeah, I couldn’t deny you at that point I have to take you home.
Damon: 03:16 Tameko remembers the day they left the foster home in Salt Lake City to drive to Seattle in the car where her younger brother Kevin, who was about a year old and her older sister, Kendra, who was about nine years old, they’re biological children to to goes mother, who decided to adopt because she wanted another child. And she knew that not many black children were being adopted in those days, especially in that part of the country. After two years in foster homes. I asked what she felt like going to this new home.
Tameko: 03:50 I felt as if like this is where I was supposed to be like this was it. You know. and um, everything seemed cool.
Damon: 03:57 She said she didn’t remember having behavioral issues per se, noting she probably had some of the same issues. Any kid has it around that age. You’ve got a toy. There’s only one of them and I want it, but her mother tells a different tale, like the time Tameko allegedly tried to push her brother out of the window, which she says is not true.
Tameko: 04:17 My mom knew from the paperwork, I think she was Kinda like, prejudging me, you know. She’s going to do this, so I gotta be on the watch out for like what she’s going to do. There’s also information in there that said that my mom, was paranoid schizophrenic my biological mom, she was on guard, yeah, I totally get it. I mean I’m a mom now, so I get it, but it’s like giving me a chance.
Damon: 04:50 Sounds like you felt like you were prejudged as guilty or assumed. I assumed guilty before, you know, assumed innocent. Right, and did that happened a lot throughout your life there.
Tameko: 05:06 It did and it affected my mom and my, Our relationship
Damon: 05:07 in what way?
Tameko: 05:08 A lot. She would believe the other kids before she would believe me and a lot of the time like she didn’t know because she, she assumed that I had all of these issues, like so many issues and I was like, I really don’t like I’m a kid. And I was, you know, like kids coming from foster care are gonna have issues and she did put me in therapy and stuff and um, I felt that it did help. I, you know, not all the time, especially if I wasn’t the one, if I didn’t actually do the crime, you know, I’m like, I’m not going to fess up to doing something I didn’t do
Damon: 05:47 you know how kids are when they know someone is kind of the default guilty party sometimes they use that to their advantage. Tameko said her first two siblings never did that. But her older brother, whom they adopted when she was nine was a different story. He was 12 years old and his name was Nathan. The kids were first introduced to Nathan via videos they saw of him while her parents were working on his adoption. Then the family hopped in the car together for the long drive to Oregon to meet him for the first time.
Tameko: 06:19 So he seemed really cool at first. And I was like yeah we’ve got something in common. We’re both adopted. man, we’re about to be tight. Yea, that didn’t turn out that way. He basically Took my little brother away from me, he was like, yeah, you know, we’re going to be cool and you and your sister aren’t going to be cool. And so I was like, alright. This is not cool. From the first day that he met me. You could see like in his eyes like, yeah, what you thought you had. I’m about to ruin everything. He, I could just see it in the face. Like, I mean, like he, I just remember the instance where he had put his arm around like we were at like some arcade, like my parents said this a cool place, we could go play and get to know him, you know? And I think know, I think the parents, like the, the grownups were, were chillin and kind of talking about the situation with somebody else, maybe the foster parent or whatever. And so we were out, you know, on our own kickin it. Well, I just remember him turning around and having his arm over my brother and my little brother’s shoulder and turning around and looking at me like, yeah, it’s not what you think is going to be cause I’m not going to be your friend. I’m basically out to get you
Damon: 07:41 Tameko had that sinking feeling on day one. She thought she and Nathan were going to be cool so she gave him the benefit of the doubt and assumed he was having an off day. Her parents moved the family to a larger home in a nice neighborhood in anticipation of their larger family and the boy joined their home sometime later.
Tameko: 08:01 This changed my entire life. Because my parents never believed me after this point when he moved in because he would set me up, he would tear things up and blame it on me. Like he would tear up posters of my brother’s. He would even destroy his own things and blame it on me and they believed him. I’m mother like straight up, like I don’t know what kind of hold this kid had on her. I don’t know if it was his story, but she definitely like just everything was like, oh yeah, no like we, you know, cause she’s been naughty in the past, we’re going to go ahead and blame it on her. So I was like, okay, I don’t know if I can win, you know, I’m trying to be cool with this dude. Like I’m going to be cool with you. So he says I’m doing this to me cause I don’t even know why you’re doing this to me. And then he started molesting me and then that was it. Me trying to be cool with him was like over and now I was more, I was just scared of him. So like from nine to, so a little after nine, my behavior quote unquote, which was not really my behavior, got worse
Damon: 09:11 blindly thinking that her quote unquote behavior was getting worse Tameko parents, sent her to boarding school, not realizing the offending party was still living in their house. She went to Intermountain children’s home in Montana from just after her ninth birthday to shortly after her 10th birthday. At first she was thankful to be out of the abusive situation, but of course she missed her parents and her other siblings Tameko said the school had a variety of indoor and outdoor activities mixed with play therapy. It was an okay place because it offered counseling and therapy and she worked on herself. At Christmas. The entire family visited Tameko at school. During the visit, the family was in a lodge where the school held therapy sessions.
Tameko: 10:00 And so my parents were meeting with one therapist in one room, I was meeting with my play therapist and I went out to use the restroom and this guy is sitting, Nathan is sitting in the lobby and he’s trying to get me to go into another room and I’m like, are you serious right now? Im’ at my boarding school! Have you lost your mind? And uh, and I was like, no, what are you talking about? Like other went back in there. It was my therapist. I’m like, I just didn’t, yeah, I didn’t even believe it. I’m like, I’m here because of all the stuff that you’re doing and then you want to bring this here. And like, I was just like, okay. So I finished up the program. I can’t remember when I left or how I felt. I just knew that I was going back to the same situation
Damon: 10:53 and before that I left. Before you tell me more about going back, just can you tell me a little bit about when you got there you felt the sense of relief, you’ve escaped the situation for the moment and you’re in therapy. What did people believe you when you said what you said, because these are not people who’ve had prior experience with you. You’re telling the truth as it’s as your story and they’ve had no prior assumption of your guilt. Did they receive your words and did they, how did they, what did they say?