My guest asked that I maintain her anonymity, so I’ll refer to her as Nina. She shared her story growing up with dedicated parents who embraced her challenges and gave her the foundational support she needed. Her birth father found her through a reunification registry and while he has his own struggles, he’s a very dear friend to Nina. However, her birth mother started down the path of secondary rejection, won’t take responsibility for not getting Nina pre-natal care, and is overzealous with her dedication to her religion, driving a wedge between Nina and the woman. This is Nina’s journey.
You know, my relationship with my birth mother is nonexistent anymore. I kind of hate calling her birth mother. I usually call her incubator because, you know, she did, that's all she did for me. That's all she's ever done for me.
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 my guest today asked that I maintain her anonymity. So I'll refer to her as Nina. She shared her story growing up with dedicated parents who embraced her challenges and gave her the foundational support. She needed. Her birth father found her through a reunification registry. And while he has his own struggles, he's a very dear friend to Nina. However, her birth mother started down the path of secondary rejection. Won't take responsibility for not getting Nina prenatal care and is overzealous with her dedication to her religion. All of which has driven a wedge between Nina and the woman. This is Nina's journey life for Nina was idyllic as an adoptee. She was told she was adopted and her adopted parents never kept it. A secret. Nina told me she still has a Sesame street book called Susan and Gordon adopt a baby in which big bird asks the couple questions about adoption and what it means. She likened her life to the book because she would ask questions. They would be answered and life would go on. Everything was just fine until Nina was 12 years old,
But I know that they did start taking me to the therapist after a bit, because I started to having these nightmares that, um, I was being abducted by my birth parents in, um, in a white van. And, uh, you know, one of those, uh, one of those creepy white vans we all talk about. So, you know, the windowless white van came and took me. So, um, I don't where that trope came into my mind at eight years old, but it did everything. Everything was completely idyllic until my adoptive father died. Um, when I was 12, suddenly from a heart attack
Quickly, before you get to the, to your father, did the, did the therapy help?
Um, you know, the therapy was quite interesting because it did help. I still maintain that therapist, even though she's a child therapist, you know, if I'm in, if I'm in town, I will still go and see her. Um, so because there is such a long relationship there that she really does understand me. I think she, she was most fascinated by the fact that, you know, I had forecasted my dad's death when I was like eight. Well, she did those picture things. And she said, you know, tell me, tell me something. And she's drawing pictures that she had little, you know, stuffed animals in there. And I drew a picture apparently of my dad lying on the ground. And she said, what's that? And she's, I said, well, that's dad. And she said, why is he on the ground? And I said, he's had a heart attack and he's dead.
So, um, I don't know, maybe at that point I became the creepy sixth sense child or something, but, um, anyway, I don't know, um, take it as you like, but I guess they tend to look at it as, um, as, you know, having a closeness to, to him and, you know, being able to see that. But, um, he did, he had a heart attack and he died and then it did make things, it made things so, so very different. I don't want to say hard, but it made things really rather different with my relationship with my mom, because I am disabled primarily because of my birth mother's actions. My adopted mom became that helicopter parent you always hear about, but it was more like, you know, be careful, I don't think you can do this because you know, you've got some disabilities. Whereas my dad was just kind of like, Oh, let her play in the dirt. It's good for her. You know? Um, so he was definitely that type of parent and, um, which, which I thought was good. And I think that's probably the way all parents, because, you know, it's like, well, you know, you have issues that, Hey, um, you know, you're either gonna breathe. They're gonna like, mollycoddle you, or, you know, you're going to get through this, um, and get through this with some life skills. So
Nina said she kind of resisted her adopted mother's style of parenting, but by the same token, her adopted mother was pretty busy running the family business and maintaining their house. So Nina didn't see her much during that time. She didn't feel unloved. She had the feeling that her adopted mom would spend time with her, after everything was done. She says her mom has always been like that. And it's a repeated theme of her life to this day. She says her mom just likes to work. Even at Christmas time when her adopted mother comes over, she cleans the floors after Nina and her husband have already done so. Nina says her adopted mother. Does those things from a place of caring?
Yes, exactly. I do see it all as caring and, you know, I'm very glad that I have somebody who, who is like that.
That's really cool. even if it's challenging. I know what you mean. There's there's folks around you that they just, they care so much in the way that they do things that it can be challenging to have them around all the time because of that level or that type of character
It is. But, you know, having been sick this whole time, it's like, you know, I, I do, I need her around. Um, and I don't, you know, I think my husband could provide some of that care, but, you know, because, because he has a set job, you know, whereas, you know, um, my mother owns her own business, you know, and so she could kind of make her own hours. So then it's like, you know, um, I do, I'm better off being taken care of by her
Nina shared that her adopted father was white. He was in his fifties when they adopted Nina, his brother, her uncle took a DNA test that basically said they were Northern European with some Northern African mixed in that was a shock for the uncle who Nina says was slightly racist, but her father was probably indifferent to it all in the 1960s. He marched as a white ally with blacks fighting for civil rights, even going back to his youth, he would have parties at his home on the farm for the Mexican farm hands of his parents, that kind of behavior incensed, his mother Nina's grandmother, who was also very racist,
Incredibly racist. And so he actually, I don't know what happened, but he, he became the opposite of that. And, you know, something clicked in his head and, uh, and unlike his brothers and sisters, he just, he became very, very committed to the opposite cause to the cause of, you know, unification of everyone, you know, race was, was there, but it was mostly a social construct that we have imposed upon ourselves. Um, but, uh, so the, um,
How about your mom, what is her, her racial or ethnic background?
Um, she, she was, that's interesting because it's like almost, almost the opposite cause she grew up in a little town and um, basically she and her family were like the only Brown people, but you know, is the funny part about, you know, people who are racist is they're, they're so dumb. And so that, you know, they don't even seek to see, you know, where you're from, you know, so she, she and her family got called the N word all the time, but they were half Polish and half Lebanese. Um, so, you know, that's a very interesting pair to have. Um, as she admits and says to other people who say, wow, that's a really interesting combination. You know, she said, well, they were both Catholics. So that's the only way that worked out.
Nina says she really resembles her adopted mother, such that whenever she was with her father who was a bit older, he was often seen as her grandfather, which upset her. She's a little bit lighter in complexion than her mother. But if you saw them together as a family unit, you could easily make the leap that the couple shared biology with their daughter recounting what led up to her search for her birth family. Nina said, she asked more often about her birth mother, nearly never about her birth father. Her questions started at an early age arising around the time her therapy began.
Then it was, you know, it was all kind of like, well, you know, when, when you're ready to go in and try to, you know, search for her, we'll help you, you know, but then they put in the caveat of, but you have to remember that she, she may have, you know, a different life and not want to be found. And so, uh, and they, they did, they always gave me the caveat of, of, you know, this may be a whole different, you know, situation for her. And yeah, I get that in my brain, by the same token, it popped up every once in a while then I thought, Oh, I wonder my shit. And then it thought, and then I kind of thought a little bit more about it and um, really, really gave it some, some hard thinking. It came down to, I wanted to see somebody who looked like me and I think that's, you know, that's kind of an old, an old trope there in itself, but it's true. I think, yeah, that's the thing about stereotypes is unfortunately they're stereotypes because they're, they're true. And it wasn't enough that my mother sort of looks like me. Um, you know, it was, it was something else. Cause they said they met her briefly.
Did they describe to you at all what the circumstances were for them meeting her?
Yeah, it was, it was fully described to me because I was a private adoption. So, you know, it was very, it was all very, um, I mean it is a private, but it was all very open for a little bit. They just, they, they said that they had gone in there right after she had delivered and they were, they were kind of, I guess the doctors were working on me per se and uh, you know, then they got to go see her. And, uh, before they saw me and then they, they said that she, uh, they said that she looked like me and, uh, that was pretty much about it. That's pretty much all, both of them remembered.
Nina said she knew the doctor and the nurse who delivered her and they both recalled her birth mother at the time of her delivery. They said her birth mother looked very young. She seemed very scared. And they said there were complications from not really getting any prenatal care.
He said, I was way I was in the oven way too long. I was the over cooked bun. That's where all my disabilities came from. It's kind of one of those spectrum things of you need to be born right in the middle because there's being born way too early, which causes complications and being born way too late, which causes complications.
So can you give me a timeframe, like how much longer were, do you know how many weeks you were born?
Um, I don't know, but he just, he, he told me, um, and it's always been told to me by medical professionals because it's just on my chart since forever that, you know, I was born too late. Um, and that was just going to cause some complications. But you know, my parents didn't really care. They were really quite desperate for a child and they did not care whether I was a boy or a girl, or if I came out with, you know, three feet, um, they, they were going to take me home full stop.
The delivery doctor said Nina was going to need some help because to use her words, the bun in the oven might come out larger if you leave it in longer, but you're also likely to burn it. But Nina's adopted parents never told her the reason why she struggled with physical disabilities, seeing that she was intellectually strong, they made the decision to keep the fact that she was in gestation too long to themselves in their estimation. They could help her overcome her physical limitations and difficulties. Nina says she's had trouble walking has decreased stamina and has a weakened immune system.
And then also just being susceptible to pretty much anything that goes is like, there's a cold going on. I'm going to catch it. It's like I should have been a goalkeeper for soccer because anything comes along and I catch it.
She told me her physical limitations played out weirdly in her academics. As the school staff seemed to make assumptions about her intellectual limitations and put her in classes beneath her capabilities. She remembers one time her father had to go into the principal's office to have a confrontation about putting his daughter on the right curricular path. Anyway, Nina search was also partially catalyzed a few years ago because her health was suffering so much that she really felt she needed to find her birth mother medical necessity compounded with the still present desire to find someone who looked like herself drove her forward.
And it was interesting because whereas, you