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Unraveling Family Mysteries with Carlyn Montes De Oca
Episode 2225th October 2022 • Family Twist • Corey and Kendall Stulce
00:00:00 00:34:48

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Have you ever wondered what secrets your family tree might hide?

Join hosts Kendall and Corey Stulce as they delve into the incredible story of Carlyn Montes De Oca, author of Junkyard Girl, a memoir that uncovers ancestry secrets, family dynamics, and the power of second chances. Discover Carlyn's unexpected journey through the world of DNA testing and the revelations that altered the course of her life.

Listeners will gain:

  • Insight into the emotional and psychological impact of late discovery adoption and how it reshapes personal identity.
  • Understanding of the healing power of connecting with biological family and reconciling with past secrets.
  • Motivation from Carlyn's resilience and her path to embracing a new definition of family, demonstrating how adversity can lead to profound personal growth.

Press play to hear Carlyn's riveting tale of discovery, transformation, and acceptance, and find inspiration in her journey to uncover the truths of her past.

Guest bio

Carlyn Montes De Oca is the award-winning author of "Dog as My Doctor, Cat as My Nurse.” She is also an international speaker, animal-human health expert, and animal advocate. A former film editor on such movies as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Three Men and a Little Lady, Carlyn holds a bachelor's degree in communications and a master’s in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Today she is the founder of The Animal-Human Health Connection, speaking on the powerful ways human health, happiness, and longevity are improved through our connection to our animal companions. Montes De Oca was voted PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50 and is an ambassador at Animal Protection New Mexico. A longtime resident of Northern California, Carlyn now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband, Ken Fischer, an award-winning sound editor, and her beloved rescue dog, Grace. Her upcoming book - Junkyard Girl: A Memoir of Ancestry, Family Secrets, and Second Chances is available November, 2022.

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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.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

Welcome back to season two of Family Twist podcast. I'm Kendall. And I'm Corey. And today we're really pleased to have a guest with us named Carly Montes de Oca. She's the author of Junkyard Girl, a memoir of ancestry, family secrets and second chances. This title alone tells us that you're a perfect guest for Family Twist. When does the book get released? November 2nd, 2022. Very good.

We're coming up pretty quickly. Are you excited? I'm excited. The thing is, I keep thinking how eight months ago I was thinking, oh, I have plenty of time. And the book was done, but it was mostly the marketing and whatnot. Plenty of time. And now it's like, oh my God, three weeks. And I've maybe gotten 75 % of everything I wanted to do. Yup. Yes, I hear you. Like once you set a deadline for release, you are pretty much stuck to that. And...

Yeah, my last book was like a rush to the finish line for sure. For sure. But before we get started on the book and your adoption story, we want to say kudos for being a part of animal advocacy because we're huge animal advocates here. We have a small zoo in our home.

How did you get involved in this wonderful world of helping? I didn't know that about you. So thank you so much. I'm always grateful to connect with other people who are in the same family as that. I think I was born loving animals. I mean, I've always loved them and I've always felt a deep connection to them, especially when I was a kid, because I felt very lonely and dogs were my best friends and they helped me feel less lonely. I felt like they were my friends that helped me get along. And.

Over time, as I grew up and became an adult, my first profession was in the movie business and I was a film editor. And then I moved on to a second profession after I got burned out on movie business, I became an acupuncturist. And so I would sit with my clients and hear.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

whatever was going on with them and they might be really stressed or tense or whatever it was. But as soon as they started talking about their animals, suddenly they'd start smiling or they'd cry or something would happen. And I was thinking, gosh, you know, animals have such a power, you know, to help us heal. And that's when I thought of writing a book, which later became...

dog as my doctor, cat as my nurse, and it's about how animals help us live healthier, happier, and more extraordinary lives. And, you know, at the time too, I had what I call my six pack for dogs, rescue dogs, and two rescue cats, who also came from very difficult situations, so they had a lot of issues.

but in helping them heal, they helped me heal in many ways. So that's when I really discovered how powerful this animal -human bond was and this mutual rescue that we have with animals that if we can help them and in a sense, rescue them, they rescue us right back. So that's how that all began, just with a, I think I was born into loving animals and then starting to realize the powerful connection we can have with them throughout our lives. Well, we've got an ape pack.

All the students except for one pandemic puppy, which to be fair was Kendall's 50th birthday gift, a little chihuahua puppy. That's awesome. COVID ruined my plans, our plans for my 50th birthday.

I wasn't really bummed about it except not getting to see the people, but I joked with them and I said, well, the choice is now I either want a Corvette or a puppy. So we went with the puppy. Oh, so glad you didn't go with a Corvette. That was a big joke, honestly. Yes, we drove to New York during the pandemic to go. Which we shouldn't have done. Don't tell the authorities. No, but to meet this little pup was like...

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

He's three this month and yeah, he's just, I mean, he's, well, he's running the pack. Let's just put it that way. He's running the pack. Yeah. Well, that's great. That's great. An eight pack. Well, you're, you're, you know, twice well embedded math. So you're not twice as doing better than me. You're almost twice. That's, that's, yeah. It's fun though. It's fun. They're our kids. And to your point, they've been our saving grace at times. You know, they've been super helpful.

emotionally. And yeah, they've just bonded with Corey so much because he got to work, well, maybe had to, but got to work at home a lot, the beginning of the pandemic and got them even more spoiled than they already were. Yeah, I'd like to think of myself as alpha, but I'm probably beta.

And so, I mean, we know firsthand how relaxing and freeing of anxiety animals can be. Could you just touch on that a little bit, like in your experience, like how that has been and why you decided to write that book? Sure. Well, it started off that I thought, well, I know they're having this effect on me. I mean, I feel a lot happier when I'm with them. And I thought I was somehow unique until I sat with my clients and started hearing.

They had stories of, I had cancer, or I had this major breakup, or I had something going on, and major life events, and animals, dogs, cats, would always help them move through that. And so that's where it began. And then I started reading about science and what they seem to be doing constantly, research on how animals help lower our blood pressure.

They help us with cholesterol. They help boost our immune system. They help us with anxiety, with stress, with depression. I mean, the list was endless. They help little kids with their self -confidence and children who maybe are bullied, you know, they help them, you know. There were so many things that I thought, this is tremendous. And as an acupuncturist, my goal wasn't just to help people feel better physically. It was physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. It's the whole.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

gamut of what I believe true health is. And I thought, wow, these dogs, these cats, when people have a connection with them, it helps them on every single level. And I would think to myself, gosh, if somebody put that in a little pill, how much would you pay for that to have all of that well -being? And then I also, I did a TEDx talk where part of my talk was about, I mean, this was amazing. There was a woman who, she had a business online and she started noticing that her dog,

was crying like under her desk, the dog started to whine and she thought, well, the dog's sick. So she took her to the hospital or to the, sorry, to the vet and the vet said, no, there's nothing wrong with your dog. And the dog kept whining and whining. And one night she was laying in bed and she was trying to keep the dog quiet because her husband needed to sleep.

And then all of a sudden the dog jumped on the bed. And this is an older dog who she said was arthritic and hadn't jumped on the bed in two years, jumped on the bed and started scratching at her breast to the point that it bled.

And then the husband woke up and was feeling and felt this little nodule. And she went to the doctor where she had only been a month before and had given her a clean fill of health. The doctor said, oh my God, you've got this aggressive form of breast cancer and that dog just saved your life. So it's pretty tremendous kind of the levels. And I actually have been to up in Northern California. There's actually an acupuncture clinic where they have trained dogs to sniff out cancer.

And so I've been around those dogs and the stories are just tremendous of the many, many ways that they can help us. Wow. Yeah. Yes. We were very lucky to live in California for almost 10 years. And I mean, talk about who loves their pets. California and Taipei, they really love their pets. That's how we got so many. Right. Yeah. I mean, we did move there with Snore. Well, I also want to add that.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

You're doing much better than me because at the moment I only have one. Unfortunately, all the ones that I wrote about in my book have passed away, but boy, I thought Grace, who's the dog that I have now, she was from a very, very bad affording situation in Northern New Mexico. And this was about a year after I discovered my whole adoption story. So I was still pretty raw from it.

but she needed so much help from me because she was at least neglected and just in a really bad situation. It was all over the press how bad that was out there, but I could focus all of my attention and all of my efforts in helping her, which got me out of my own kind of thing that I was going through. And one thing I do know is that when we help animals, if we love animals and we help them, that's really good for us too. It's like being of service serves us too. I agree.

Well, this is a perfect time to get into your adoption story. So, all right. So in your fifties, you did a DNA test and discovered your parents weren't your first parents and that you were a late discovery adoptee. How many members of your family knew the truth? Well, I have a very large extended family. Do you remember in that movie, my big Bat Creek wedding?

When she was like, oh, I have 25 first cousins, I'm like, I have 63 first cousins. That's nothing. Wow. So I have a very, very large family. And when I discovered this all, I remember asking my sister, my adoptive sister, how many of our family do you think know? She said, I have no idea. So I started calling up my cousins and saying, you know, I have something to tell you. And they're like, oh, yeah, we know. Oh, yeah, I knew ever since I could walk. Oh, yeah, well, you didn't know?

You know, it went on and then I finally stopped calling everybody. And this is kind of funny because we are kind of a funny family, or at least we think we are. That I started telling them as a joke, I started saying, okay, you didn't tell me I'm gonna kick your ass. And it got around at everybody that I was telling, I was saying that. And so one day in the mail, I got an envelope and it was all these pictures from one of my cousins. Oh, she says, I just wanted you to know before you say it. Yes, I did know, please don't kick my ass.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

I mean, to me, I don't know what that says to you. It just means that your family was accepting and it was just the matter of fact. Well, yeah. And I have had to ask because I mean, I may be laughing about it now, but it was pretty traumatic. And especially in the circumstances of finding out was, I mean, I've talked to a lot of other LDAs and I guess we are in that same boat. It is a trauma. It can be a trauma, or at least it felt that way to me. And...

when I would ask, because I had to ask my sister who I was closest to, my adoptive sister repeatedly, why didn't you tell me? Why I would have told you? Why would she not have told me? My parents have been dead for a long time. And she just kept saying, and I get it. You know, she said, my mother said we were to protect you. My mother said we were never to tell you. My mother said that the stigma was going to be too much back when I was born. And she said, and I did not want to lose you.

And so when somebody says that, I mean, I get it. You know, I understand it. I think the best decision would have been to tell me early on, but I understand people make mistakes and they do things because they think it's the best thing. So there that's how it was. And yeah, I think that there is a lot of love. As soon as everybody started finding out and they realized they could say something, I had a lot of people reaching out from my family saying how much, you know, I meant to them. And this is what I mean about being a funny family is I remember.

I have these two cousins and one of them, as I told him the story, was holding my hand and he said, we've always loved you. We've always thought of you as our cousin. You were part of our family and he was crying. And then his brother took my other hand and he goes, no, you're out. So. Yeah. I'm so glad you had those moments. You know, I mean,

I didn't live through that because I don't ever remember me. I was so young when I was told that I was adopted that I always knew I was. But even then, even when I was like four years old and was really physically in proximity close to my mother's sister's daughters, so my two cousins, you know, they embraced me and said, we know, you know, you're adopted, but that doesn't make you any different than any of the other cousins. And so, you know, I always felt like I got that early on.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

which I think to your point made a big difference. I felt really accepted, really accepted in the family. Yeah. So from there, I mean, I'm sure you have a million questions and are trying to figure out, you know, who am I? What do you do? What's the path that you go on? Well, would you like me to share a little bit about how I even found out? Cause I think that that's the basis or the foundation of the path that I took.

It was almost like the stars aligned in this moment, but I just took a DNA test for fun. I just thought it would be a kick. And I also wanted to take a DNA test because although I'm Mexican -American, my mother felt that there was a Jewish bloodline going through her family. And yeah, all my cousins were coming in at 40 % Jewish. And I thought, oh, here, what am I? 3%. I'm like, what? And maybe I would have thought about that a little more, except I was so busy at the time that I didn't have time to really look.

If I also hadn't been so busy, I would have noticed that the ancestry company had written, this person, whose name was Martha and the last name, is a possible sibling. But I didn't even read the fine print. I just put it aside. So about a week after that, somebody contacted me on Facebook, somebody who had friended me about a week before, and said, you look an awful lot like my wife. And I thought, God, what a flirt. And I just ignored him.

That's weird, right? And then he kept being persistent. He just said, no, no, look, don't you think? And he showed me these pictures and I said to him, you know, I don't think I look like her. I think maybe we shopped for glasses at the same store. And he says, well, ancestry DNA says different. And I went, what? And so he said his wife was this Martha person. And so it ends up Martha sends me a very nice letter. You know, she's very polite. I don't want to interfere, but.

I don't have any family to speak of. I'm estranged from my birth mother, or my mother who's probably dead, and my brother. And I'm just looking to see, and look it, we have this strong connection. Maybe you might know somebody who's related to me. And, you know, I know my 63 cousins. I don't have any more family, I presume, than that. But I said, oh yeah, I'll ask my older siblings. And my parents were deceased by now, so I couldn't ask them. So I called my siblings and I said, hey, this woman, blah, blah, blah, do you think one of our uncles had an affair? What do you think? And...

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

Nobody was laughing. Everybody was very serious, which should have been a big hint to me. And they just kept saying, I don't know anything. I don't know anything. And then about two weeks later, my sister flies from California to see me in New Mexico and Santa Fe, where I live, which also should have been a big hint because she's coming in the middle of winter when the snow is flying horizontally. It's so much snow.

She isn't in the house more than five minutes when she bursts out crying and says, something big has happened in our family and I have to talk to you about it. And she sits down and she pulls out pages out of her purse that she had written on the airplane. And she was just crying and she said, you know, you talked about this woman, Martha, to us. And I'm thinking, what, what does that have to do with anything? And then she said, Carly, and there's a secret I've been, you know, I promised my mother, I would never tell you, but you're adopted.

And that was the moment I really literally felt like the earth fell out from under me. I'm glad I was sitting down at the moment because it was just like, what? And just like in the movies, I stopped being able to really hear well. Like my ears felt like they were full of cotton and I could see her lips just moving, but I couldn't almost hear the sound that was coming out. It was so muffled. So then she proceeded to tell me that my mother, my adoptive mother had gone to visit a friend of hers when she heard a lady crying in the background.

And when she knocked on her friend's door and the friend came out, she said, hey, do you know who this woman is out here? And she says, yes, that's my cousin. She's here from Chicago. She's got two children. She's not married. And she's got a third one on the way. And she wants me to help her get an abortion. And I'm not going to help her. And so my mother went home, talked to my dad, came back 24 hours later, told this perfect stranger, we'll adopt your child. We'll raise that child and took the whole family to live with them for six months.

And then two months later, being for money to go back to Chicago. And then my adoptive mother took my siblings who were 13, 14 and age nine, you know, took them around the crib and said, this is your new sister. She's adopted. You're never to tell her that because if people find out, they'll try to hurt her. There was a stigma in the sixties around that and they were from Mexico and it was even worse there. And that's the promise she made them to. And so.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

The odd thing was that that's how it all began. And then it was like, you know, a black hole opened up and everything started to happen. Like, for example, this woman, oh, I forgot to tell you that then my sister slipped this little picture across the table towards me. It was a black and white snapshot I had seen in photo albums from my family my whole life. She said, that's your sister, that's Martha, and that's your half brother, Robert, half sister, half brother.

who they had told me for years, that picture was some cousin of I don't know who related to I don't know why. And I had seen it my whole life and that's who they were. And from there, I mean, it was a weird journey because things just started happening. Like suddenly, we find out my birth mother is alive and in a state hospital in Chicago on hospice. So it's like three weeks after that, I'm hopping on a plane to Chicago to go meet my new half sister and my birth mother and then

It was just one thing after another. Then I found out my half brother had died and it was, you know, it was just a year long journey of meeting new people, of finding out. Cause for me, my number one priority is I have to find out the truth. Now that everything's shattered, I need to put it back together again and I need to know what is what. And I, I will not stop until I find that out. So that was my journey for the next year. Your birth mother, did she remember where you were? And.

The thing with my birth mother that I discovered, she had some sort of mental illness like bipolar disease. That's what they presumed. And so this is why my half sister was estranged from her because she was pretty severely ill and she rejected her. And she didn't seem like a very good mom to me in terms of what my half sister had said. You know, I have to give my half siblings a lot of credit for being as resilient as they were to make it out of there.

She had dementia when we actually saw her in the state hospital. So even my half sister who she raised, she would try to hug her and she'd push her away. She'd push her away. And a funny thing is that I did not feel any connection to her whatsoever. In fact, I think things happened so fast that I was in denial. I would wake up in the middle of the night and go, no.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

This didn't happen. And then suddenly I'd remember, no, you have a half sister. It's ancestry DNA says it's true. Your siblings say it's true. And 10 minutes later, I'd go, no, that wasn't true. And then it was like, yes, it's true. It's true. I don't know. She said some funny things at the time that I wondered if she might know on some level, but it didn't seem to me that she did. Wow. What about that connection with Martha? Was there anything there when you met? It probably would have been smarter.

for me to wait it, though circumstances didn't allow it. Cause it's a lot to process first, like, oh, you're adopted. And then suddenly, oh, there's your birth mother. Oh, there's your half sister. Oh, it was so much, but I am the kind of person who's like, I gotta get to the end. I gotta find out the truth. I gotta get there. And in retrospect, it was probably too much. I'm also very loyal to my adoptive family and feeling like on some level you're betraying them or something. And maybe that was playing out and also.

I grew up with a sister who I adored. She and I were very close and it was hard to think that there was another sister. And it's hard that I could ever think that I could ever have feelings for somebody else the way I have them for the sister I grew up with. So I think when I first met Martha, I was a little bit more standoffish than I usually am.

And she was the, felt the opposite, because she'd been looking for family. So it was a little bit more of me standing back and her moving towards. I mean, she was so excited. When I started telling her the story of what I knew and my siblings had told me, it was like an avalanche of recollections, memories started happening for her. She started saying things like, oh, I remember, I remember, I remember. And she filled in a lot of the blanks. Suddenly her memory came back and...

You know, it's really sweet that she said, I always knew there was something missing and now I know it was you. I mean, it's gut punch after gut punch. Why did you decide to turn this part of your life into a book?

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

Because I'm a writer, you know, as long as I've loved animals, I've also loved to write. And I make sense of the world by words. I really do. Whenever anything is bothering me or I'm trying to figure it out, I put it down on paper. And I like creating, I think for me, my mind goes to creating stories. And so therefore, probably this whole situation is going to create a lot of other fictional stories as well. But it's the way I make sense of the world through writing.

And I had already started to, even before this happened, there's another part of my book about growing up that I thought might be of interest to people. And so I started writing that, which is again, a very strange thing that next thing you know, I'm given this part of my life as I've already been thinking about writing a memoir.

So I just thought that this added a lot to it and I don't know what it is. I mean, I think memoir is a very personal thing to write. Your story is very personal, but this is what I've discovered. When I was young, I didn't want anybody to know anything about my life. I wanted to be very private, very quiet. I wanted to keep that hidden. I was probably embarrassed of many things and I had a lot of shame. And what I've discovered is when you put your story out there, at least for me, when you put your story out there, it's not like anybody has said.

gosh, you're weird because this happened to you. They do the opposite. Suddenly they tell you their stories and they connect with you. And I have found that to be a very powerful thing that you share your story, others share their stories and you connect. And so that has been something really beautiful about writing this story. So I think I just had to make sense of this experience and it came out as a book. Wow. Well, I can't wait to read it. So I'm glad. Thank you. Thank you.

So today, when you think about who your family is, who is that? Who is that to you? Well, you're getting right to the end of my book. Don't give it all away. Don't give it all away. I have redefined family because this is the strange thing that happened when I heard those words, you're adopted. I felt as if a severing occurred between me and my adoptive family, the family I was raised with.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

If you think about a baby deer that's being born, you know how spindly they are and they're trying to find their footing. That's how I was feeling. And so I felt the severing happen, which was really hard. I also felt a lot of grief and sadness and disappointment and anger, gratitude as well, many things. But eventually that shift shifted and suddenly I felt very empowered. I thought, wow, I feel that I can choose my family where I never felt that I could do that before.

I can choose who my family is. And what that has become is my adoptive family, absolutely. This new half sister that's in my life. Some amazing friends I have of every gender, every race, every possible, you know, combination there. And animals, you know, animals are absolutely part of my life, part of my family. So what I saw was my family suddenly grew and it became more expansive. And I...

really do love this life. This is my new definition of family is the family who I've chosen. Yeah. I mean, I think that's something that we can definitely relate to. That's how Kendall and I approach family for sure. It's so interesting. You know, this is like 20 something episodes into the podcast and we've had the pleasure of talking to strangers, but man, the whole small world thing really comes back every time we talk to somebody, you know, we've got the California tie.

the animal tie and then I've got to talk about this for just a moment because I'm such a entertainment person. I did entertainment journalism for 20 something years and just doing a little research, I saw that both you and your husband worked on Howard Duff. Is that hard? Yeah, had to talk about that. Yes. I had to forget that. Was that how you two met? Actually, wow, I met him a lot even before then. I don't know.

Maybe as a journalist in the entertainment world, do you remember Haskell Wexler? He was an Academy Award winning cinematographer. He had a couple of movies he directed. And when I was still in film school, I went to do an internship with him and he was great because he was a great mentor. And he took me up to Lucasfilm when I just graduated. So the first movie I was working on was called Latino. Nobody ever saw it. It was about the situation in Nicaragua at the time.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

And that's when I met my husband, but we were just friends. And it was only 20 years later that we actually became romantically involved. Wow. That's awesome. What a connection to the industry. Right. Absolutely. Yeah. Well, and we might insert this later because now I'm getting us out of that mode, but.

Have you discovered anything about your biological father's family? No, and this is the interesting thing because I feel so many things that have occurred are paradoxes and this is one of them. I've mentioned how much the truth was important to me, how much I had to know, I had to know. When I got to my biological father, I thought to myself, I can only handle one new relative a year. This is enough for me right now. And I don't believe that I will ever know who that is because my...

Birth mother's family did not know about me at all. They did not know she was pregnant. So I don't believe that there's any way I'm ever going to figure that out. And that's okay. I decided that that's okay because the father who raised me, it's hard for me to believe that there is going to be anybody else other than that father. So I'm okay not knowing. And to be totally frank, I think it was probably one night stand, you know, or something like that. And so, yeah. The reason I ask is that since you have your DNA out there,

You never know somebody might eventually match from your father's side. Yeah, right. And again, I get DNA matches all the time, but they're usually second or third cousins. If somebody came in as a first, I would probably look at that a little bit more. Second, third, fourth, I kind of don't look anymore. Yeah. So I do not know who my birth father was. Interesting. Well, you mentioned anger is one of the emotions that you felt. It seems like you've come to a lot of

forgiveness, understanding, and you know, I have really moved on beyond that anger. My husband pointed something out because I mentioned I was never angry at my birth parents. I'm sorry, not my birth parents, sorry, my adoptive parents. I was never angry at them.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

I would have wanted them to tell me, but I also understood them. My husband says, this is why I think you're not angry at them. You get them. You get how they were. They never acted out of not being authentic. That is the way they were. And you understand them.

who I was angry at was my birth mother. And it wasn't that she gave me up because honestly, when I learned about her, I was really grateful. I thought, thank God somebody stepped in because she wanted to have an abortion. And I believe in a woman's right to choose if that's what she was gonna do, that's fine. But the children she did have and they were not treated well.

And I've heard a lot about that. And I wonder sometimes if I would have made it through that life, certainly wouldn't have been the life I've had. And gosh, I would rather not have been here, honestly. So yeah, I forgot your question. Talk to me about that frustration. Oh, yeah. It's your birth. Yeah. So I felt angry at her for treating her children that way. I really felt angry at her and she died six months after I met her.

And it was only then that I felt like a connection to her. It was really relief because she had such a troubled life in this existence. So I was glad she was free. And that was the first time I did not feel angry at her. And I felt relieved in a way that she was just free, free of all of this. Because who knows, you know, before her dementia, who knows how that may have affected her, you know, knowing that she was of a great mother to you're assuming that she could understand that, you know.

to your biological siblings. I mean, it could have really weighed heavily upon her. Yeah. But again, it's one of those interesting things that out of all the time in my life, I met her six months before she died. How did that just happen? And I also think of just some very strange coincidences that were happening around that time. For example, Martha told me that when she discovered that she had a connection on ancestry, it was her birthday. That was her birthday. And then when I reached out to her to finally tell her, actually, you're my half sister,

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

It was Valentine's Day. And then when I hopped on that plane to go to Chicago, I remember looking up at the big billboard that tells you departing flights. And I couldn't believe it, but the four numbers that were there, 4619, were the four numbers that I grew up with on my home phone number. And that are still the home phone number that's been the home phone number for 16, 17 years, 4619. And I thought, you know, something very interesting is happening out there guiding me along on this journey.

I love those coincidences. I really do. We found several in my story as well. It's bizarre to me. I love it. You know, I try not to be mystic about it, but at the same time, it feels special when you find those clues. Yeah. And I had been talking to my adoptive sister, thinking again, here I am packing to go to Chicago to meet this woman who my parents did not want me to be around because obviously they knew she wasn't a very balanced human being or whatever reasons they had.

And the day after I see those:

that your book is helpful for adoptees to help them get through their journey and help them heal. But I have to ask, what's the next adventure for you and Grace? Probably going to the dog park later this afternoon. No, and thank you for bringing that up because that is one of the things I've discovered that I see a lot of late discovery adoptees really struggling and they've been struggling for a very long time and it really hurts me because I know what that feels like.

I'm really fortunate that I've had the family around me and my dog and my husband and my own wherewithal in a sense to put my words down on paper to try to make sense of things. And a lot of people don't have those tools. So I really do hope that people can take something from the book and hopefully help them. And again, I think storytelling is really important and maybe it'll help them find their own voice. Well, we would love to have you back on at another time when you can talk about.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

what the outcome of the publishing is. Yeah, I mean, maybe at that point you will have connected with some of your readers and heard some of the great stories. Yeah. Even more great stories. Well, thank you. Thank you. I would love that. I think you guys are terrific. Oh, thank you. We did not pay her to say that. Oh, yes, they did. They paid me.

So with your time, we appreciate it so much. Yes, this has been a wonderful conversation and we really thank you for joining us and sharing your story. Thank you so much.

Corey & Kendall Stulce (:

This is the Family Twist podcast hosted by Kendall and Corey Stulce with original music by Cosmic Afterthoughts and produced by Outpost Productions and presented by Savoir Fair Marketing Communications. Have a story you want to share? Visit Family Twist Podcast .com. All our social media links are there as well.