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22: Yvonne – I Felt Like I Could Breathe Again
Episode 224th March 2022 • Birth Moms Real Talk • D. Yvonne Rivers
00:00:00 01:03:26

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In a way, this is my own Birth Moms Real Talk episode from an interview with Damon L. Davis, host of the "Who Am I Really?" podcast. We discussed my reunion with my son after more than 40 years apart. I shared the loneliness of my pregnancy, my desire to keep her son versus against my inability to do so, the moment I came face to face with my son’s adoptive mother and the search to find the man he grew up to be.

This episode first appeared in June 2021 as episode 154 of the "Who Am I Really?" podcast with Damon L. Davis (, @WAIReally).


Yvonne – I Felt Like I Could Breathe Again


And the first question she asked, she said, do you want him back? And , my response was, I wish that I could. I just can't take care of him.


Damon: [::

The moment she came face to face with her son's adoptive mother and her search to find the man he grew up to be. [00:01:00] Yvonne is launching a new podcast, "birth mothers, real talk" where other women like herself can share stories openly in a safe place. But before we get to her podcast this is yvonne's journey.

Patreon thanks

Hey, real quick. I just wanted to share my appreciation for a new Patreon donor, and you'll never guess who it is. It's last week's guest Sari. She told me in a message that she had been meaning to contribute for a while. So I thanked her for taking action to be supportive of the, who am I really podcast?

If you've been meaning to contribute, take a moment to do it right now. Go to ai really to show your support for more adopt these stories coming to light


rough me with Ann Marie, a [::

I said, I think it's really important That someone initiate a podcast where natural mothers like Anne Marie can tell their stories too, like adoptees can share their journeys here. After that episode, I got an email from Yvonne that red.

Damon your last podcast was my confirmation that I need to do a podcast for natural mothers. I found my son two and a half years ago, after 45 years.

Since November of::

Yvonne grew up in Petersburg, Virginia, [00:03:00] 25 miles south of Richmond.

She was a country girl who grew up on a farm, raising pigs, chickens, and growing vegetables and wheat for bread. . She said she laughs at what passes for organic today based on how she grew up. Her family was self-sustaining everything they grew and raised they lived on

Yvonne: [::

Damon: [: 00:03:44

She described herself as always being an inquisitive person, asking questions and wondering why things were the way they were the youngest of three children. Yvonne considers herself a tomboy.

Yvonne: [::

So I played the marbles. I rode the bike. In fact, quite frankly, my brothers with a bet against their friends have educated, beat my sister and riding the bike, but I couldn't

Damon: [::

Yvonne: [00:04:36] Yes. Yes. So I grew up around mostly boys in the neighborhood.

So I always felt as if I , could do, I could do a boys did or whatever

Damon: [::

Yvonne: [: 00:05:02

Damon: [:

Yvonne: [::

And it was standing and really going through being called names and things thrown at us [00:06:00] simply because we just wanted the education we were in trying to start anything and so forth so , , protests were less so more. I just continual you know, that whole system and it did bring back. A lot of the memories is like, things really changed since 1965, this systemic racism.

And that's true. That is a true thing that I have seen, , before my eyes.

Damon: [::

And there's a diverse, a big difference, right? It can be sort of accepted in society. Like, yeah, he's over there and he's not bothering me and I'm not going to hurt him. And then there's actually opportunity

After high school, [::

Going from rural Virginia's farm life to that university, two states away was a huge culture shock. At 18 years old, Yvonne had never even spent a night away from home and there she was launching her collegiate studies. . She was scared to death to use her words, but she desperately wanted the opportunity to achieve more.

Yvonne attended Lincoln on scholarship and took jobs on campus in the lab, worked as a trainer and started a business, Kind of a precursor to Uber while she was there. There were a few dollars of scholarship money leftover. So Yvonne bought a car and shuttled people to Philadelphia, to the airport or bus station.

a physician in Africa. So [::

Yvonne: [00:08:13] I finished my studies in three years because I've actually had Burton accepted into our early admission into medical school Rutgers university, and, , New Jersey and medical college of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia. And so I had finished, , Lincoln, and I just had to go back the next year to get my degree, to get into medical school.

lly get here in. So that was::

Damon: [: 00:08:46

Yvonne: [:

And so after getting my degree, the next year that I was an analytical chemist for three years then became a stockbroker and then went into my own business, which Ive been in for the last 32 years.

Damon: [::

Yvonne: [00:09:45] Yes,

Damon: [::

Yvonne: [00:09:48] Wow. It was. It was a journey. You know, the thing of it, when I found out I was pregnant, you know, I'd really had finished, , my [00:10:00] studies. I had to go back and take my comprehensive exam. And my son was born that October of that year. I ended up graduating that next may. , and then that's when I went into a corporate job and, , actually, uh, research and development lab as an analytical chemist.

That was my first job after college.

Damon: [::

He was in and out of different living situations and was trying to sort himself out. And it was around that time that they reconnected.

Yvonne: [::

Damon: [00:11:01] And what did you think when you found out that you were pregnant?

Yvonne: [::

And so I did know until that time. So at th at the time when it's a, what did I think is like, okay, uh, what am I going to do? , I reached out to, to the father and quite frankly, he was not in a situation over leaving. I think even knowing what I was saying to him. And so it was thinking in terms of what, what will I do?

I'll note that my [::

And so when I went home and talked to them first, my mom, and as I said before, a mom, you really wouldn't know she's in the room. So when I said to her, I said, mom, I'm pregnant. And it was silence. And I don't say that was different because at my family has been very non-communicative family of not talking or responding.

I shared, my dad worked in [::

And so I didn't know what I would do, but I knew I would need help. And at that particular point I wasn't getting any help. And so it was trying to figure out what's the next step.

Damon: [::

And yet you now are approaching him with a personal [00:14:00] challenge that you've gone home, told your parents each, individually, neither one of them has said a thing. Now you're back at the doctor trying to get guidance. That's that's fascinating. So what did, what did you guys discuss?

Yvonne: [::

I expected a response, but I never got a response at all.

Damon: [::

Yvonne: [00:15:08] And I have to say he was my angel and I used that word angel because he stepped in, he, uh, took care of everything because the thing with the care, I didn't have insurance. So he took, I mean, really didn't charge , anything. He just, I mean, he was, he was truly just an angel for stepping in and was there for me. When actually it wasn't my family that was there for me.

Damon: [::

rm and place him in adoption [: 00:16:00

Yvonne: [::

We were, I lived maybe about 10 miles from the hospital. And so just thinking with the severity of the pain, I think it's time. And my older brother was there on the farm and I asked him to take me to the hospital and so went to the hospital into the emergency room [00:17:00] and they examined me but said, I guess it wasn't time and sent me home.

Okay. So then maybe about three or four hours later. Well, meanwhile, he left. Um, my mother did not drive.

Damon: [::

Yvonne: [00:17:22] My brother left. And so

I drove myself

Damon: [::

Yvonne: [00:17:32] to the hospital.

Damon: [::

Yvonne: [00:17:40] and doc Dr. B, um, my doctor . He was called. So he took me up to labor and delivery and he came in and delivered my son. And he had already notified the hospital that I would be [00:18:00] placing. And when I said he's an angel here, this is 1973.

There were no private rooms in hospitals, but somehow he got me a private, rural, and meaning that it was another bed, but no one ever came in there. And because he had set that up that way, , I did not see, , my son, when he was born, I heard him had good lungs. , and so after I had delivered, I was taken back to my hospital room and I was there for three days.

me up and take me home and [::

I have a son. I remember doing that. I have a son

Damon: [::

Yvonne: [00:19:24] did that go? Yeah. And when I came into the house, I had a son.

That's how I did it. Nothing ever was ever said to me again, or questions or anything, anything

Damon: [::

That means somebody came and got the car, but did not actually come in to see you.

Yvonne: [::

Damon: [00:20:03] How did you feel about your family in those times?

Yvonne: [::

I mean, I'd seen it during elementary school, high schools just to not talking like not acknowledging. And it wasn't just that time that I was pregnant, but I said it was a very good student and it was not even acknowledging that accomplishment and you know honor society. You know, I played in band concert band and recognitions and not really getting that.

anding whatever generation [::

Damon: [: 00:21:35

t what she had been through. [:

Yvonne: [::

So I'd never really didn't really work that six months. , but it was coming to terms with the fact that I was a mother just coming to terms with that and wondering about him, , Part of the, I call it the, the God story about it, because I believe God has such a path for us. And he lays it out before us that, , during the time of the after delivery, again, Dr. B being [00:23:00] that angel had set up everything regarding the legal signing of papers and so forth, , that I, um, and that's what I say, I don't know is a guy thing, or just the way it worked. I ended up finding the last name of the family who was going to adopt my son. And, , I wrote a letter Damon back in 1973, still had phone books, people's phone numbers and addresses.

And so I just looked in the phone book for that last name and wrote a letter. I wanted the family to know , the reason why wasn't, because I didn't love my son and didn't want to take care of him I just couldn't. And I wrote a letter and, , I was still at my parents' home and I had left the phone number and the mother called.

ked, she said, do you want [::

Damon: [00:24:08] . That must've been really hard to say.

Yvonne: [::

Damon: [00:24:13] it must have also, it also must have been hard to realize

that you've got this secondary opportunity and you just, you can't make it happen.

Yvonne: [::

They've been trying to have a child and they will give a good home. [00:25:00] And so I suspect likewise, he probably told them, he's known me since I was 13 years old. She was, you know, finishing college had finished college, go to medical school, so I'm I'm suspecting. That's what he told them. But I just wanted to just say it.

That is fact it's not because he was not wanted. It was because I simply could not take care of him. And his father was not available either to help in any way.

Damon: [::

Yvonne: [00:25:35] Yes. Yes. Because when I wrote, I had no clue whether here anything I did, I did. So yes I did. Yes I did.

ion. Do you want him back? [::

Damon: [: 00:26:15

Yvonne: [:

, actually one of my probably after three or four years, , I had moved jobs from, and being analytical chemist to a stock broker. And I was riding with a coworker and it, turned out she had been adopted and she had, I guess, but it was like a family adoption or something. And she was, was about to meet or heard of, or knew it was learning some things about her birth mom.

nted him have a good life. [::

Damon: [00:28:02] Wow. That must've been mind blowing for both of you, one for her. Yeah. She's sitting next to a birth mother that she didn't know. And two, you're not saying this to anybody. And for all of a sudden, this wide open opportunity presents itself for you to finally release the valve and admit it to somebody.

That's incredible.

Yvonne: [::

Damon: [00:28:36] That's unreal. Was it a relief to tell somebody.

Yvonne: [::

, and I, I can probably say the first time I say I went public as the worst mother was probably [00:29:00] about maybe six years after that. , I ended up getting married maybe about seven years after my son was born. , marriage lasted close to 10 years. Never had children had a couple of miscarriages, but after that time, and I did a lot of community work and I remember being on a panel, , and it was regarding, , It was, we got an adoption is actually, and you may have heard his organization called one church, one child that churches mainly black churches would advocate for, as in people adopting children, black children, there were in orphanages or whatever.

unced it. And this year my [::

So when opportunity presented itself, I would, , but it was pretty much mostly on a one-to-one shared arrangement, shared, , where we, the conversation.

Damon: [::

She believed in their right to privacy. Yvonne did take advantage of the state of Virginia's adoption registry and periodically when she had life changes, she would update her address and medical information with the state. She knew that when he turned 18, her son could contact the department of social services and ask for her letters and

Yvonne: [::

Because my only time, because I said I left about at three days later, he couldn't, he left a few days after that in the way we had first set up the placement with the attorney in the, in the signing of the documents, is that the law firm who was handling adoption of paralegal is someone from the firm would pick my son up at the hospital.

my son for the first time [::

Damon: [00:32:06] Oh, my God. That is unreal. That must have been so hard to do

Yvonne: [::

Damon: [00:32:16] because you had to pick him up and hand them off again.

Yvonne: [::

Damon: [: 00:32:43

She told me God has taken her on some twists and turns during her journey. And her time as a stockbroker was one of them. She was working out of Richmond, Virginia

, only 30 miles from Petersburg. So she would visit home from time to time. Yvonne also had a client assigned to her there in petersburg a physician so she called to make an appointment to introduce

Yvonne: [::

Damon: [00:33:53] No, Are you serious?

Yvonne: [::

Where the office, the building was located and the vicinity, uh, what I knew the adoptive parents lived, I put it all together 10 seconds and then it was like, I mean, it was, I was, I think I was hyperventilating. Okay. What am I going to do? Cause I, when I came in and announced myself, but it was like, you know, I didn't make appointment with her.

It was with the doctor. And so I said, get yourself together Yvonne, stand up. Because behind her was a credenza that had a picture that seemed like a family picture. And the first thought in my mind was my son is in that picture. I've got to see that picture. I got myself together enough to be able to stand up.

ctor came out and I had to [::

Cause I knew he had to be in that picture.

Damon: [::

Yvonne: [00:35:32] I'm serious? And that was verified. When I ended up meeting my son, I told him the story and I said, was that her? He said, yes,

Damon: [::

I was just, I just couldn't just couldn't. It was too far, but I just couldn't, but I could tell it was a picture seeing me of a family. So he's gotta be

unbelievable. Unbelievable.

At that time, Yvonne would have been about 28 years old. Her son was about six years old in that picture that she never saw. Sometime later after that harrowing incident. Yvonne was

Yvonne: [::

Damon: [00:36:39] Tell me about your miscarriages. That must've been really difficult. I mean, above the norm and I don't mean to make light of any anyone else's miscarriages, they're all tragic losses, but you have actually delivered a son before that you don't [00:37:00] get to raise. And now here you are trying to have other children in. You can't, what was that like?

Yvonne: [::

That was one of my first thoughts.

Damon: [::

Yvonne: [00:37:37] Well, not really. I mean like it's like, and people are at different stages of whatever the, the loss itself of the child. Oh, because we had always talked about having family and not being able to, and especially when the marriage ended, I just, it was [00:38:00] like at a time of feeling as if not that things are just not going my way.

That was really a lot.

Damon: [::

She searched online using Facebook and LinkedIn, but never really found anything. At first yvonne found her son's younger brother one of two boys born into her son's family after his

Yvonne: [::

and you know, on LinkedIn, you see a picture. Sometimes people have birth dates or not, but at this particular [00:39:00] time I saw this and I was searching just the last name and popped up. And it didn't say a birthday. But it said where maybe where you born at or something like that. So I maybe put in last name I was searched.

I was a internet slooth . Cause I'm looking for myself and uh, I saw a profile come up and looked at the face and it's like, I remember saying, that's my son. I remember calling my best girlfriend was my college roommate. We've known each other for over 50 years. And I said, I found my son on LinkedIn.

requested a connection and [::

And so the response back was not sure what you're asking. And I said, okay, so, but I was convinced, I was convinced, you know, he did not acknowledge them. I was just convinced. And I said, if for when, you know, or you want to talk, or this is you, I left my phone number and my email address. And that was 2015.

Heard nothing until::

Damon: [00:41:18] Wow. What did you think when you saw it

Yvonne: [::

Absolutely. Yes. And I say, you let me know when and where. And so that was in April. , and he set a time to call about [00:42:00] four days later. And so I talked to him on the phone for the first time.

Damon: [::

Yvonne: [00:42:08] Wow. My first thought it was like, my mind was crazy because about three or four days in between, it's like, you know, I don't think I slept or whatever. And I was like, what does he sound like? Does he sound like me? Does it sound like me? And I think he found, sounded like me when he called right on the dot, it was like four 15 or the 15.

el, Dr. B and all of that. [::

Damon: [: 00:43:14

l Virginia. So they met at a [:

And he was texting when he was on the way. And I said is, you wouldn't do it this Damon. When I said, text me before you, come into the hotel lobby because I may pass out. But because I got to get prepared to see you. So I was serious, you know, how you gonna respond to your child you havent' seen it forty-five years.

And so I texted him, I say, well, I'm sitting in the lobby on a, sofa facing the fireplace. And so it was getting close to 12 noon and it's like, I was looking at my clock. I think it was like 10 minutes to, and so of course I was facing away from the lobby doors where people come in and you don't have a good sort of sense that somebody is there.

nd, and I say it this way. [::

And I know people in the lobby were wonder what's up with us, but I just didn't even care.

That is on believable. That embrace. Must've just felt absolutely

Yvonne: [::

once we released, I looked up at him cause he's taller than I am and I just said, "my son" he said, yes. . There's not an amount of money in the world that was priceless. [00:46:00] That moment. Priceless.

Damon: [::

Did you just sit and talk?

Yvonne: [::

So I bought some of those, some family pictures. And so I had that up there to show him all of that. And we just sat and talk for six hours. We took a break to go to cracker barrel to get some lunch. And I found that that was one of his favorite restaurants. So that [00:47:00] was all good. And so I really, we just talk until it was dark, whatever, and he had to go back home.

And that was the beginning. That was the beginning.

Damon: [::

Yvonne: [00:47:26] And this was important for me. And it turned out for him also because you as adoptive, no, you don't know your history. Well, especially when you go to medical and so forth. And so I had been working on a family tree for both sides of the family, these both sides on dad's family.

DNA from It, [::

Damon: [00:48:08] That's really amazing.

How did he receive it?

Yvonne: [::

So just a lot of just family history stories that, um, he now knows his roots.

Damon: [::

There's so much to try to convey and. My birth mother, and did the same thing. She was a genealogist and she was a librarian and just a skilled, , researcher. And she found all of this family history and she gifted me a, an album of pictures of herself and, , , a whole lineage of our family.

And it was just this amazing connection back to history, both personal and global, you know, from, you know, the days of, you know, the Jim Crow south through the slave trade. And it was just such an interesting way to get connected back. I can imagine what he felt like to receive that from you that's,

Yvonne: [::

, when you mentioned four isn't. One particular artifact that I had by [00:50:00] doing my research right in the courthouse of south Hampton county, Virginia, and pulling copies of all, I mean like 18 hundreds of whatever. I fell in a deed that, uh, my great, great grandfather after coming out of slavery, being a slave 13 years later, bought land 30 acres for $300, he signed a deed with an X.

So that was the kind of thing that was able to show him, you know, what, you know, because I, we believe, you know, no way you come from to know where you're going and realizing he wouldn't have had all of that. Wow.

Damon: [::

Yvonne: [00:50:40] Yes, we are.

Damon: [::

So first of all, Yvonne, I really. I appreciate you opening it up to share your story because you and I have talked quite a bit, but never in depth about who you are as a birth mom. And [00:51:00] it has been enlightening to hear your experience both personally colleague to colleague, and adoptee to adopt to birth mother.

Right. And so I think it's really powerful for adoptees to hear some of the stories of birth mothers, which brings us to. Your project.

Yvonne: [::

Damon: [00:51:26] So tell me what you've been working on another

Yvonne: [::

And I so related to that, cause I was listening. I me, I would listen to your podcast. And specifically, as you just said, to get the perspective of adoptees, I know my perspective as a birth mother, but I didn't know [00:52:00] adoptees, and I'm always proud of the journey and the healing and reunion and getting to know my son, he getting to know me and all of that is a noted perspective.

Everybody's different, of course. But when I heard that I reached out to you. I remember sending an email, you immediately responded and that's it. I want to do a birth mom podcast, just like that, because I think a comment you said on the show is that, that, uh, you would hope that a birth mothers would step up and do that because that's something that's needed.

And I have had realized that before, because, and I use a terminology I've been in the rooms, meaning birth mom, support groups or whatever, even before I found my side. Even before, you know, and recognizing that there's a community there, there's, I call it a village there of being related to each other.

al with this, this journey [::

How do you deal with that? And so conversations around it and, and being in roles in different people and different perspectives and so forth. So this podcast, birth moms real talk. Is going to be exactly that real talk with birth moms, as well as a discussion about different topics. It's sometimes a tough, I'm calling them hot topics.

all of that memory is real [::

One being, , our say and for me, and I believe from my son also that that time we saw each other for the first time, that was the beginning of both of our healings. I truly believe that. And nobody's from me. And because as he, as a, you put it that way, I have a missing piece of myself where that time it was 45 years.

So he'll be 48 in October. So all four 48 in October, from that time of looking him in his face, that first time I still see, and that was something I said to him, the day we met, I said, you still got my eyes. He still got my nose. She still got my mouth. I could see it. I could just see it, that it was etched in my mind, 45 years before I saw it.

When I saw it on that first day.

Damon: [::

But I mean is relatively seriously that I believe there are a lot of birth mothers. Like you listening to the podcast because it's like. If you've ever had children and you've driven in the car with them, you know, they'll sit in the back seat and they'll talk to each other as if you're not even sitting there.

d for one another, to hear [::

And, and so I'm excited for your show because this is another piece of the story. That precedes our own piece of the story. We know if reunion happens and we hear your version of the story, we, we hear certain parts of it and we're able to, to fathom certain parts of it. But to have you all talk to each and bring out the history of how you got to this point where you found yourself pregnant, what it was like to traverse that pregnancy, be it as a community or very much alone.

poses sort of has you in a [::

So I'm just really happy that you. Have taken the initiative and are inviting women to open up with their courage to share their stories. I think it's going to be amazing.

Yvonne: [::

And that's the joy of it. As you just said that the diversity of around it, that people are going to hear all different kinds of stories behind it and get that perspective. And I agree with you, far is this podcast is not only just for birth moms for doc it's for everyone. And I say that for everyone, because part of it, what part of my journey of learning number [00:58:00] one to lot of people outside of the triad being adoptees adoptive parents, or, or both parents don't understand.

The whole, I see adoption, what people go through and the reunion. And specifically like when I was in new unit with my son and I shared that, and sometimes the response was all, I guess, now everything is fine, you know, like as bad, as easy as that. So is that like, you just, you know, you're away from your job for 45 years and now you meet them at all.

Okay. Everything just immediately go. Yeah, exactly. I actually, somebody said that, oh, think good now. Oh man. Well, it is, I'm grateful and I'm blessed of that, but it's working through that and the healing. That's a big part of it and understanding that whole, when you, or you heard me say that I wrote a letter to just let the adoptive family know.

do reasoning. Why? That I [::

I placed my son in adoption. So that's fighting words for me. You got to fight on your hand from Yvonne you say that to me?

Damon: [::

I'm so thankful that he was receptive. I know it took him a couple of years to finally sort of reconcile himself to the idea that you were out there and, you know, he is of you and that you are connected regardless. And I'm so glad that you've found a way to make a connection with him. And again, I'm really appreciative of your [01:00:00] effort to help bring birth.

Mom's real talks podcast to the air so that people can hear some stories from some birth moms. So congratulations on getting the surrogate show going. Yeah. Thank you

Yvonne: [::

Damon: [01:00:18] it. Of course, my pleasure, Yvonne, this was really great.

I'm so grateful for your time and your openness and your candor. Thank you so much. And you take care. All right.

Yvonne: [::

Damon: [01:00:27] All the best. Bye bye.

Yvonne: [::

Episode Close

Damon: [::

Yvonne saw his [01:01:00] face 10 days later when she returned to the hospital, as the only person who could extract him from maternity and it was the first and last time she saw his face for decades. When Yvonne found him online, it took him three years to return her message and invite her to talk.

It was that meeting with her son. That allowed Yvonne to breathe again after more than 45 years.

You've now heard two birth mother's stories on the, who am I really podcast. And Yvonne would like to bring more stories forward. She's launching a new podcast called "Birth Moms Real Talk"coming out in another week and it'll be available wherever you get your podcasts.

I've heard one of the episodes of birth moms real talk, and it was enlightening to hear the experience of another birth mom besides Ann Marie and Yvonne, my guests. And there are so many more stories to come.

be to Birth Moms Real Talk [::




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