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Celebrating National Adoption Month
Episode 2729th November 2022 • Family Twist • Corey and Kendall Stulce
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Have you ever wondered what it's like to grow up knowing you're adopted, and how it shapes your view of family and identity?

In celebration of National Adoption Month, this special episode of Family Twist delves deep into co-host Kendall's personal adoption story. Kendall shares his experience growing up knowing he was adopted, reflecting on the unique challenges and profound love he received from his adoptive parents, Betty and Ruble. The episode not only explores Kendall's journey but also highlights broader themes of acceptance and family diversity.

Celebrating National Adoption Month

Listeners will gain:

  • An understanding of the emotional dynamics within adoptive families through Kendall’s firsthand account.
  • Insights into the process and decisions involved in state versus private adoption from the perspective of the adoptive parents in the 1960s.
  • Encouragement and advice for those considering adoption today, based on personal anecdotes and reflections on societal changes.

Tune into this heartfelt episode to explore the nuances of adoption and the enduring impact of love and acceptance in shaping a family. Discover how Kendall’s story might mirror or inform your own perceptions of family and identity.

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Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

This is Family Twist, a podcast about astonishing adoption stories and finding family via DNA magic. I'm Kendall. And I'm Corey. And we've been inseparable partners in life since 03, 04, 05, also known as March 4th, 2005. In January 2018, our found family journey took us 3000 miles from the San Francisco Bay Area to New England, where we now live near my biological father, two half siblings and their families.

We love being near them all and the adventure continues. Well, we made it by a kitten's whisker, but we wanted to acknowledge the fact that this is National Adoption Month. And so here we are at the end of November and we thought we would talk a little bit about Kendall's adventure and adoption. We've been over this somewhat before. I think it was early in the very first season. We thought we'd talk a little bit about what his adoption experience was like with his parents.

married. They got married in:

by the time my mother turned 30, she'd already had two miscarriages and the doctors were really concerned that she would never be able to bring a baby to full term. I don't really know the details behind that because to my knowledge, none of her siblings suffered from anything like that. She had two sisters who both had children. So, you know, I don't know the...

what was really behind that. And it was such a personal thing that she told me that much, but I really don't know again, more details. But what I do know is that go living through those two miscarriages was apparently really difficult on both of them, my mom and dad. And I know my dad well enough to know that he would have, if my mother were suffering emotionally or physically, he would have been.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

very upset about that. So he told me as I got older that he really worked with the doctor to convince her that, you know, she shouldn't keep trying to have a baby on her own physically. And so that's when they started talking about, you know, the option of adopting. And so officially they reached out to the state of Arkansas.

y on. So this would have been:

religious organizations and they didn't want to specifically because they felt like a that was intended for people who Not necessarily could afford it more but probably had more disposable income to throw it that process than my parents wanted to and They felt like the children at the state Institutions might be harder to place so that was kind of their logic and why they

They wanted to go through the state. But they were looking for an infant. Absolutely. My mother, I think because of the miscarriages, really only wanted an infant. Not that, of course, they understood that there were older children, toddlers, you know, who were adoptable and that need was there. I just think maternally, she was very...

headstrong about wanting to experience all the things that a brand new parent experiences with a baby. And do I sometimes think that was selfish a little bit, but I can't know what a woman who has had two miscarriages would feel. So I don't judge her about that. Obviously it worked out well for me that that's what they wanted, but because I was premature myself,

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

So it felt to them like they were getting me at the time that I should have been born. So, you know, for them, it felt very much like they were getting me at the right time. I mean, obviously you don't remember being an infant, but what was it like for them bringing you into their extended family? Oh, it was, everybody tells me that it was seamless. And I definitely felt like it was as soon as I was a toddler, because again,

listeners might not remember, but I don't ever remember not knowing that I was adopted. It was talked about openly, it was talked about honestly, and in a very, very positive light. And so there was no stigma in my family. We could talk about one of my cousins when we were teenagers, we got into an argument and she was a

right around my age and she told me, you're not even my cousin anyway. But apart from that one incident in my life, in general, nobody treated me any differently. And quite the opposite, I was the youngest grandchild on both sides of the families, which were huge families. So I felt sort of special in that respect because I knew I'd always be the youngest or thought I would be just because my parents were very young and their...

sibling families. So, and I am in fact still the youngest grandchild for my adoptive families. So, you know, I was made to feel really special because of that as well. And although I don't remember them, my father's father and my mother's mother were the two grandparents that were still living when I was born. And even though they were both dead by the time I was two,

I hear only wonderful things about the fact that, you know, my mother's mother just doted on me and, you know, loved to visit our house more often than she used to, you know, because there was a baby in the house. And so I feel like it was a really unifying thing for both my parents. So how did they go about explaining to a toddler what adoption meant? Well, you know, when I would see pregnant women,

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

when I was two or three or whatever and I'd point to their bellies, you know, and say to, and then I'd say to my mom, you know, oh, you carried me like that or something like that. She was matter of fact, she wasn't the type that was gonna say, well, we'll talk about that in a few years. She just said, no, honey, you know, some mommies do that and some don't have to. Some mommies get the babies after, you know, they're born. So.

you know, when you're that young, you don't make the you don't understand exactly what that means. But as I got older, I quickly, you know, figured out that, you know, my parents that I looked at every day and loved dearly, you know, that I was not biologically connected to them, you know, at all. But again, because we had family friends, we had my parents had two very, very good to

couples that they were very, very good friends with that it also adopted. So, you know, it just, it felt really natural to be surrounded by that energy. And quite honestly, when I think about it, but before I started school, like kindergarten, most of the experiences that I had were with my parents' friends that were couples that also had adopted children.

So it felt very natural to live that life. How does it get brought up to friends that didn't know or don't have adopted kids in the family? Well, it's a good point because my hometown is tiny, Gosnell, Arkansas, and everybody in that tiny town, of course, knew that my parents adopted. It was big news, you know, it was exciting and everybody knew.

But because we were an air -based town, there was this constant influx of people in and out, right? So people that my mom and dad met when I was six probably didn't necessarily know me when I was born. So there was that constant, I won't call it gossip, I'll call it news, where people would say matter of factly in front of my parents, I'm sorry, in front of me,

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

to my parents, oh, I just heard that you guys adopted Kendall. So it's a good thing that I did know everything because it was so commonly mentioned in this town, you know, because I think it was maybe to some of the people that were the influx from the air base, maybe it was novel to them. Maybe they thought it was different, you know, but my parents always knew that I didn't necessarily look like they did.

So that explanation probably needed to be there. So nobody ever really hesitated to mention it. It was, and in fact, at our church, which we were a very, very big part of, it was commonly talked about. And in fact, what I liked about our minister back then is that he held my parents up as a great example of people who quote, did the right thing in finding a baby that needed a home.

So I mean, again, it's so weird when I hear people who have sad stigma attached to being adopted because I just, honestly, I have never felt that way. Never one moment. And I don't know if you were in the minority. I just know, you know, when I was a kid, it was not something that you heard about very often. And.

If you did, if you heard like a kid in your class was adopted, then it was just, I guess it was just an unusual thing like, oh, okay. And not really understanding what that meant. Not, you know, being a kid and not having the backstory. And then of course, you know, I mean, it happened in my house and I'm sure it happened in a lot of houses with multiple siblings where it was like a common thing to tease your younger siblings that they were adopted. One of them was adopted. I mean, my brother was a very sensitive little kid and I was a jerk. So.

out definitely was one of the things that I, the ammunition that I used on him was that he was adopted. Why that would be a negative thing. I don't know. Cause I mean, ultimately you're saying like you were chosen. Right. And you know, I guess it's a way to exclude people. Right. But, but being an only child, that was never going to be a thing for me. Right. There was nobody else there. My parents didn't have a biological child to get compared to at all.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

Right. So it is a different dynamic. And I think I do kind of think about that in relation to blended families where they contain biological children as well as adopted children, you know, that hopefully those adopted children are not, you know, that isn't said to them at different points. But even when it was said to me by a few hateful people at school, it rolled right off my back because again, there was zero stigma.

for me attached with being adopted. So I didn't care if you called me adopted, I'd say, and what's your point? Your mama's ugly and you are too. So I see where you get it. You know, so you know, that that's just, that's who I was. And, and I, I, yeah, it's so, I'm so fortunate. I can tell that, you know, just from listening to other people's stories about how fortunate I was that the town that my parents friends that my,

church that in general my school, you know, we're just all really accepting environments for me. Right. Well, and it's been eye opening, I think for both of us as we've been doing this podcast, talking to people who, you know, are a little bit younger than us or our age or even older or even, you know, 15, 20 years older that have these discoveries of adoption later in life. And it is devastating to them. It rocks their world.

and the journeys they try to go through to heal. You know, it's just been, we've had several of them, you know, this season alone already. Yeah. And you know, it's interesting. I have to step back and think about the fact that I have known about my biological family now for five years, and it's interesting how connected I feel. So in some ways I can start to understand how an adopted person who didn't know they were adopted,

you know, loses identity, right? Right. They feel like they're part of this family that they think is their biological family. And when they suddenly find that find out that they're not, you know, truly connected to those people that way, I could see where, you know, it would feel weird. Like if I woke up tomorrow and everybody in my life said, just joking, you're really not a Clark, you know, because that's my biological father's family, you know, I

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

it would be devastating, right? Because I've identified with these people and I connect with them in a possibly different way than I ever did with the Austen's or the Montgomery's. So because when I was growing up, knowing I was adopted, I was never looking for physical similarities, right? I never, I didn't care, you know.

I thought my mother was beautiful and my dad was handsome. So I didn't care, you know, that, that I wasn't biologically related to them. But, you know, as I got older and sometimes I'd be out with my dad and people would run into him and say, you know, they probably just forgot that, you know, I was adopted and they'd say, Oh, I can see the similarities. And we would just look at each other and laugh. Um, because he was so physically, um, dark, you know, he, he had some native American in his.

background. So it's so interesting, interesting and, and, but now when Corey and I look at the photographs of my uncle Sean, my biological father's brother, man, it would be hard to deny being part of this family biologically. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Well, you brought up the blended family situation. And I think that's another unfortunate thing that we've heard about since we've

started this podcast is, you know, sort of that Cinderella situation of the adopted kids not being treated equal to the, you know, biological kids. And to me, that's just unforgivable because adoption is not a, you know, like, let's run to the grocery store and, oh, there's a kid for adoption. Yeah. And on sale too. Let's pick it up. It's, it's not a, you know, a quick and easy decision. So to have that happen, you know, to kids or.

grown adults is just unforgivable, I think. Well, and I completely agree with you. And I cannot relate to that because it's such a sacred bond that a parent has with a child, you know, that that that should never be treated lightly. But what I do think and what I've read about and I I do not mean to stereotype foster parents in any way. I know there are, you know, many, many good foster parents out there, but I do think there are some people.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

who start out as foster parents and are in it for the money, you know, in it for the extra cash that they get to quote, take care of the child. And incidentally, they end up adopting. So I do see how in some families that does happen, you know, where that child was never intended by that family to be treated as a biological child. So that was not the case with my parents. They got nothing in support from...

the state, you know, yes, they did use the state service to adopt me, but there was no continuing payment, quite the opposite. I was a sick baby and they thankfully had really good medical insurance because I was nothing more than an expense to them till I was two, you know? But I do hear some horror stories about foster situations that are negative.

and shame on anybody that does that shame on you. There are lots of other ways to get money and that should not be the way that you do it. You know, for, for, for bad reasons. Right. Right. Well, that gets me thinking about, you know, we've been together for a thousand and a half years now. And over the years, you know, many, a friend or family member, you know, when are you going to have a baby or, you know, are you guys thinking about adoption? And of course we've.

talked about it and thought about it. And, you know, our lives have been unusual in the sense that we haven't been in one place, you know, consistently. So, you know, we were together for a few years in St. Louis, and then we bounced to California. And I think the California situation would have been tough because of just the space, you know, like, how do you, you know, we do what we've had the space for a child, you know, and we were, you know, in challenging jobs. You know, now that we're in New England,

And, you know, housing is more affordable than it is in California. You know, we've got a house that's, you know, too big for two people, maybe not two people and eight animals like we have, but still we have four bedrooms, you know, and we're sleeping in one with most of the animals. So, I mean, it's, you know, it is something that we've, um, thought a little bit more about, especially as we've, you know, as we've gotten older, like we're probably getting closer to our.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

final opportunity to do something like fostering and you know, probably not an 18 month old. It's probably more like, you know, a grade school or middle school kid who, you know, needs that, needs that, you know, family stability. And so literally just yesterday, Kendall mentioned to me something he saw online. The human rights campaign is putting on a virtual event adoption themed.

tomorrow that we're going to attend and we'll follow up on social media on how it goes. But I thought it was kind of interesting because it is talking about the importance of supporting LGBTQ plus youth in the foster care system. And we know a couple people in social work and I don't know, this might be the event that sort of sparks us on that journey.

Right, yeah, and just shameless plugs for this. Check it out on Twitter, HRC, Human Rights Campaign. On Facebook, Human Rights Campaign. On YouTube, it's HRC Media. So just check this out. Cory and I have a really special connection to the Human Rights Campaign. We worked for them in the San Francisco area for years.

and only on a part -time basis, but the organization means a lot to us. And in fact, the ceremony when we did our domestic partnership ceremony was actually in the original Human Rights Campaign Action Center in the Castro district in San Francisco. So means a lot to us. And if I think it's cool that they are...

spotlighting this National Adoption Month event. Absolutely. Yeah, one of the episodes that we're hoping to put together here in the next couple of weeks, not so much a twist, but really about, you know, chosen family. And that's kind of how you know, we experienced a lot of that when we moved to California, because we didn't have any family nearby. Well, we had actually we did have, you know, some cousins and stuff that, fortunately, we got to hang out with but.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

not the Brett, the family that we had in St. Louis. And even before I moved there, so it was, we won't tell the whole story, but it was super fast. We visited and within six weeks, um, you know, Kendall was on his way there. So fortunately with a place to stay. But, um, when we first visited there, we stopped by the human rights campaign action center just to check it out. In small world, the manager happened to be somebody who I was acquainted with through the media in St. Louis.

And so already there was a connection and he introduced us to a wonderful man named Colton that Kendall became super fast friends with and Kendall started working there in the weekends, like right after arriving in the Bay Area. The first weekend after I arrived, I worked Monday through Friday at my new job that was a transfer for me from St. Louis to San Francisco. And then on Saturday morning, I showed up for my first shift.

at the HRC. Right. And then when I was there in January, I immediately started there too. So it was, you know, a cool way for us to get to know the city together, because Kendall and I would often work, you know, the shift, weekend shifts together. And a great way to really get into the community and start meeting these folks who would become our chosen family that we would share holidays with. So look for an upcoming up, look for an upcoming episode on our holiday adventures with our

our holiday orphans as we like to call them. So yeah, I'm really excited to see what the HRC, this event, kind of information has to offer. You know, we've focused on, I think the DNA aspect of this found family stuff a lot in episodes and maybe we've neglected the adoption side a little bit. So it just, I think just Kendall seeing this tweet about the event kind of got us both thinking that.

we need to be more involved in the adoption community. And so we've started our research to see where, put our money where our mouth is and see where we can do some philanthropy around adoption because, you know, without state adoption, you know, we wouldn't be sitting next to each other right now, entertaining you all. And I think that, you know, of course it means a lot to us to have the LGBTQ plus, you know, youth.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

being supported by any event. Not that every adoption agency isn't worthy of some recognition. I just mean, of course, for us, that's particularly important. The LGBTQ plus community and animal rights have been super, super important. And that's where we really put our dedication towards donating time and money. So would it be rewarding to be able to help a kid in the community who's been thrown out of their house?

another horrible situation. Absolutely. You know, would we be open to fostering? And if it were a great situation, adding somebody to our family? I think so. Yeah. Yeah. I think so too. I mean, lots of people are told that they'd be great parents. And but we're told that often enough that it makes me feel good about about the possibility. Yeah.

And trust me, we see examples of people that aren't great parents. So in part, part of me wants to, to be the right person, you know, for a, for a child. Yeah. We can't put that feather in our caps until, you know, we actually make it happen. But I do think that we have, you know, love to give and education to impart and, you know, we're getting older, but we're, we're still fun. I think we, we add some liveliness to, uh,

any social situation we're in. And, you know, I think we've had enough varied life experiences and just our experiences, you know, living in different places across the country and traveling and meeting people and, you know, that I think we can add a lot of part a lot of that to a young person. And I think it could be particularly important for somebody who has been struggling if if we happened upon.

parents that were born in the:

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

my mother told my father before she died when I was 10 that it didn't matter to her if I were gay or straight or bisexual or whatever. And so I think that could be really useful for a young person to hear that I experienced that wonderful sort of acceptance early, early on and that...

no matter where you live, whether you're living in a really conservative place, you know, that there are people out there that will support you. Absolutely. And I think we're very fortunate that, you know, we both now have these large extended families that for absolutely the most part are super accepting and don't ask us to do things that would make us uncomfortable or don't bring this up. Don't bring that up, that sort of thing. And so, you know, we do have a wealth of people in our lives that we could, you know,

Introduce a child to and and help them, you know realize that hey Not everybody's a jerk right and shout out to my dad Cory and I went with my sister Monica and our nephew gauge to see my dad yesterday and I love that when he introduces us to people he says these are all my kids, you know, and it just it warms my heart He's only known us for you know, five years and he treats us really well

And I know he loves all of us. Yeah, I've never felt uncomfortable at all around any of the family that we found, you know, since we did this DNA discovery. So, I mean, I know we're fortunate there because that's not the case with everybody. We know from doing the show, that's not the case. I see it every day in the social media support groups. So, yeah, I mean, we know how fortunate we are. And I think that's part of the reason we're able to do this show.

and are able to kind of help people tell their stories. And so it's, you know, it's nice. It's been this has not been a while. This is started out as sort of like a historical, you know, passion project for us to be able to capture Kendall's history. It's definitely gotten bigger into something else. Mm hmm. One aside, I was recently asked by someone who knows us in our private lives why I haven't had on any of my.

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adoptive family cousins. And I don't know how comfortable they'll be, but I am trying to reach out to a couple of them who might be really helpful in that they undoubtedly would remember more about my adoption, you know, than I then of course I could. But they were my father's older nieces, who were very supportive of my parents when I was

born and I think it'd be really interesting to A, hear from them to to get more detail than I remember and B, possibly learn more things that I don't even know. And I know, you know, by the time you're listening to this, we're we're post Thanksgiving. In fact, you've probably digested all the turkey and leftovers by now, but we're recording this the Sunday after Thanksgiving. And, you know, we're very, very thankful that we've been able to.

grow an audience literally around the world. I didn't know that people in Chechnya would be listening to us, but they are, so thank you for that. As much as we love Halloween, we love the holiday season so much as well. And I think the nicest gift you could give this year would be to share this podcast with your friends and family, even if they don't have an adoption or found family situation. I think that these stories that

that people are coming on and bearing their souls and sharing their heartbreak and healing, I think, can definitely raise people's spirits this time of year. Yeah, I agree, especially with people who, because of the pandemic, you know, are still feeling sort of isolated. I think it can be particularly important. Thanks for joining us on this journey and please continue to do so as we hit the new year.

Thanks a lot.