Neal’s search didn’t take off until he was 66 years old! He got a DNA kit for his birthday and within months he was in touch with his paternal family. Ohio’s open original birth certificate help him learn his birth mother’s name, but he couldn’t find a single maternal connection during his search. This episode was just about to be wrapped up to go live, when Neal circled back to share some big news.
Read Full TranscriptNeal: 00:01 He didn’t really remember very much about my biological mother and that’s a, that’s a search that continues to this day. Um, and sort of like, uh, everything that was fast and relatively easy about finding my genetic father and his family has been difficult about trying to find my genetic mother.
Voices: 00:35 Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?
Damon: 00:47 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 Neal. He called me from right here in Rockville, Maryland. Neal search didn’t take off until he was 66 years old. He got a DNA kit for his birthday and within months he was in touch with his paternal family. Ohio’s open original birth certificate policy, helped him learn his birth mother’s name, but he couldn’t find a single maternal connection during his search. This episode was just about to end when Neal circled back to share some big news. This is Neal’s journey. Neal was raised in bay shore, New York on Long Island. He figures his parents must’ve done a good job with helping him to feel okay with his adoption because he always knew and his parents openly pointed out friends in the neighborhood who were adopted too. He had one younger sister also adopted and his parents selected a special day to commemorate their adoptions.
Neal: 01:50 Valentine’s Day became sort of our day to commemorate uh, our adoption of me and my sister. And uh, we just kind of, they just kind of made a big deal about it and uh, they were actually greeting cards at the time that, uh, I had a message about being accepted as an adoptee.
Damon: 02:15 Oh really? That’s interesting. I didn’t know that. That’s kind of cool.
Neal: 02:19 Yeah, it is.
Damon: 02:21 Neal says he and his sister got along fine when they were kids, but they kind of realized in adulthood that they were different people and they went their separate ways. In terms of inquiring about their adoptions Neal said his sister was much more into peppering their parents with questions about her adoption than he was about his. We agreed that sometimes young men just aren’t as interested in their adoptions as young women are. So that begs the question, when did he take an interest in understanding his roots?
Neal: 02:50 Things, things moved along? Uh, college marriage, kids and that whole thing. And uh, my mother died in the year 2000. My father passed away in 2012. And uh, my youngest sister died last year in 2017.
New Speaker: 03:18 Oh I’m sorry.
Neal: 03:18 and at that point I realized, Oh wow, I’m like the only person left from my immediate family. And it just, you know, the feeling was different and that’s, that’s when I started to think about it. And a, a friend of ours who had gone to a, a little bit ahead of me, had gone through and was going through a similar experience, uh, and it was positive for him and he told me about it and he urged me to have my DNA tested.
Damon: 03:56 So you were just generally curious. It wasn’t even, it wasn’t even, doesn’t sound like a burning passion for you at that moment, right?
Neal: 04:04 Not really. But I was curious and being the only member of my immediate family, my, it definitely got stronger.
Damon: 04:16 What did you think about that in terms of being the only member of your immediate family? I mean, that’s a a fairly solitary feeling, I would imagine, out of it’s, it’s a stark reality when you start to look at, you know, look back at your life and I’m sure as you reflect on your own children and them going forward, you know, what kinds of things did you think about as this, this lone family member left?
Neal: 04:42 Well, I, I just found myself more frequently thinking about things that happened in the family and time I spent with my parents and different things we did. I just find myself thinking about them more.
Damon: 04:57 Yeah, I understand. That reflection sort of breeds curiosity sometimes.
Neal: 05:03 Very much so.
New Speaker: 05:04 Neal’s wife gave him an ancestry DNA kit for his 66th birthday in December. In May, He went to his computer to find thousands of DNA matches
Neal: 05:14 here are all these thousands of people and I don’t know a single one of them.
Damon: 05:18 Thank goodness they were arranged in order of his strongest matches to the most distant. A woman named Norene was his closest match. Kelly was the next closest match. Neal sent both women a message, but it took Norene awhile to write back. Kelly responded almost immediately. She admitted she didn’t know much about genealogy, but her mother had been doing it the old fashioned way since high school. Kelly said
Neal: 05:44 she, she looked at the little, a photo of me and ancestry and I remember she said, honestly, you resemble my grandfather a little bit. And that was my first indication that we, I think we may be on to something here. And, and, and in talking about, uh, her dad and her grandfather, uh, she referred to him as, uh, my genetic dad, she referred to him as parenthesis and maybe your dad too in a later email and that was another indication that, uh, it’s because it’s happening very fast and it’s becoming real. She told me that her dad, who she was pretty sure was my half brother, was planning a family talk to talk about, well about me because they had no idea about this. And how to deal with their dad about it. And uh, a couple of, I started to communicate, email with a couple of other family members and uh, they welcomed me into the family. I’m thinking, wow, this is, this is really going very well.
Damon: 07:06 Within a few weeks a few more family members had taken DNA tests and they had figured out a fair amount about his genetic father’s family tree.
Neal: 07:14 I do have a half brother who told me he had always wanted a brother but he had given up.
New Speaker: 07:21 Wow. That’s funny.
Neal: 07:23 There was, there was a lot going on and we were finding out a lot, a lot of stuff. And I just sent him a message and said, Hey, this is, this is really exciting we need to talk about this. So we got on the phone and we just, we just talked for awhile about, you know, who was, who in the family and you know, welcoming me to the family and what’s going on.
Damon: 07:49 Did he tell you about your dad?
Neal: 07:52 A little bit.
Damon: 07:53 What kinds of things do you remember that he may have shared in those first conversations?
Neal: 07:57 A lot of it was, he kept...