Elisa lives outside of Philadelphia. She shares her story of the DNA test. She completed to learn more about her heritage that surprisingly linked her to her birth mother. The woman was lifelong friends with Elisa's birth father's family, but the man never knew that Elisa existed until her birth mother helped connect them at her own home. Elisa's birth mother has met her adoptive parents which filled an unrecognized void in her parents' lives this is Elisa's journey
165 - Elisa Hoffman
And then also kind of took me off the hook there a little bit,
[00:01:24] Elisa: So I have, , two younger brothers, , who are biological to my adopted parents. there's actually a little bit of an interesting story there because, well, I, mom couldn't get pregnant and so, you know, they adopt, they tried for seven years and then they adopted me.traumatic and yeah, a lot of [:
And, , she, you know, talked to her doctor and he said, oh, it's just stress and stress. Don't worry about it. , and then my mom's stomach was getting really big and hard. And my dad told her that he was worried about her and they should go to the doctor and she went and found out she was seven months pregnant with my brother.
Oh my God. Yeah.[:
[00:02:55] Elisa: Right, right. And the, you know, the doctor and kind of explained it away, [00:03:00] which, you know, kind of made sense and, she's very, like, she was very petite and so she didn't really show for a long time, so,[:
[00:03:31] Damon: Multi year span between surprises is kind of crazy. Wow. So , how how'd you get along with your.[:
, I mean, in a way I kind of was like, [00:04:00] almost like favored, but especially by my dad, I was like, definitely like daddy's little girl scout. My one brother always teases me that I never like had to take the trash out or anything. It was always my brother's.[:
[00:04:24] Elisa: Well, I have two daughters, so they're taking the trash out. I think you're can get[:
[00:04:37] Elisa: , good. I mean, I really, you know, didn't have anything, , out of the ordinary, I were very close. , they, they were just very good parents to me, always, and I never wanted for anything and they always were there to help me.ired teachers now. , so they [:
[00:05:16] Damon: So you, it sounds like you were pretty well adjusted. Tell me about, you said you were a bit of a daddy's girl. Tell me about being a daddy's girl.[:
, I think it was a little like harsher on them. Not, not bad in a bad way, but you know, harder on them than on me. , and then, you know, , I couldn't do, like, I couldn't do any wrong for him. I went to a different high school than my brothers went to.And, , those were like some [:
So lots of bonding time and we're very, we have very similar personalities, like, you know, we're, , very like friendly and funny.[:
[00:06:46] Elisa: I always knew that. So I never was like, never that interested in searching that I wanted to take a chance of hurting them, so I never actually did anything to try to, to find [00:07:00] anybody.but what happened was in,:
They, , found my nephew's biological sister living like an hour and a half away from us.[:
[00:07:53] Elisa: From Guatemala.
Yeah.t's a crazy story. , so, , I [:
, so, but, but I always heard from people like, Hmm, you don't look Jewish, you know? Cause I have like blonde hair and green eyes. So I was like, oh, I'm kind of curious. So I wound up in, so like later that year, it's like for December of 2018, as like a Hanukkah present to myself, I bought it at ancestry DNA kit.okay. That's interesting. I [:
And it said, it was from this woman and it said, what is your birthday? You came up as a match on ancestry. I did give a baby for adoption.son, I just, I never thought [:
[00:10:04] Damon: not to mention them reaching out to you and saying, Hey,
[00:10:24] Damon: So you're reading this message. You almost dropped the phone. Where do you even go from that? What do you say to a message like that in Ancestry.[:
Because that kind of, I knew if I responded that, that to kind of open everything up, you know? . And I wasn't really ready for that [00:11:00] or, you know, prepared for that. , so waited for like for a day. And then I was like, well, I guess I have to respond in some way. So I just wrote back what my birthday is, because that's what she asked for.
and then she replied and, you know, was just like very excited. And that's the day I had the baby I gave up and you know, where do we go from here? And where do you live? What do you look like? And I was just like, Ooh, whoa, That was just a lot for me.[:
Or was it a lot in that like, oh, a large volume of unexpected emotions is as happening? Like tell me, what do you mean when you say it was[:
, it just threw me for such a loop. It was just,[:
[00:12:45] Elisa: like just even[:
It just sounds like it just like it took off out of nowhere.[:
[00:13:03] Damon: So she confirmed for you that the date you gave was the date she gave birth. And it sounds like, you're going pretty slow in terms of sharing information. And she says, where do we go from here? Where did you go from there?[:
, I gave her my email address, , and just asked like, just for some information about like how it happened and, and let her know, like, , I just wouldn't take it. So, but I do want you to know that, you know, I've never been upset or angry about being adopted. And, and I did grow up in a very loving family, , and I've had a really good life, so wanted to let her know [00:14:00] that.
And I said, , if you want to email me, can. So kind of, I was thinking like, if I keep it at like at email, then it's just, you know, keeping a distance in that way. It's not as personal as talking on the phone, you know,[:
Like a phone conversation, the person's voice in your ear is fairly intimate. No.[:
And it was just, it was a lot too, cause I was just trying to think, like, I dunno, like I just, I just, there, I didn't know what I wanted to know. And then, you know, was I going to tell my parents about it? , and it was just, you know, I had a lot going on with my parents anyway, and like the year before.arents into assisted living. [:
, so I mean, it was just in the middle of all of that happening too. And I was like, I have enough, I have so much going on with my pant, with one set of parents. And it was just like, I don't know what I'm going to do, how to handle having another set.[:
She said part of her is a people pleaser, something she admits could be part of her life as an adoptee. Elisa was taken aback, but she didn't want to reject her birth mother Cindy's outreach. So they went [00:16:00] back and forth on email. The women shared some facts from their lives. And Alyssa talked about her husband and her daughters. Sometimes when adoptees find our families, we have so many questions. We spray a barrage of inquiries and overshare our own information with the family members we've found. I wondered if the reverse was true for elisa's birth mother who had found her[:
, she sent me some pictures. I sent her some pictures, we like, um, friends at each other on Facebook so that we could see more pictures. Um, so [00:17:00] yeah, so we did, we did take without
even agreeing to it between each other too, right,
right. Yeah. Neither one of us ever said, like, let's just take, let's slow this down.
Take note. We didn't do that. It just kind of happened that way.[:
[00:17:33] Elisa: right.
I think, I mean, I know she, she had been looking for me for a long time.
They planned a weekend meeting for the summer of 2019.[:
So I had to like, had to text her and say like, we're not coming. , because we were sick and I just felt so bad. And then I was like, I wonder if she really believes me, because it was just so weird, um, you know, the timing of it[:
[00:18:40] Elisa: right.[:
[00:18:44] Elisa: Yeah. Like, oh yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. , she was, she was fine with it. She was like, you know, I, I understand just feel better. , so we wound up rescheduling it for September. [00:19:00] So, , we wound up, wound up driving out like a Friday morning and my husband and my daughters came with me. ' cause. I was like, I'm not going by myself.
You're all coming with me. Yes. So we had a plan that, , they, she and I would meet up at a restaurant, , by ourselves, you know, just the two of us on Friday night. We had a plan to like go to the restaurant, like right next to where is the hotel that I was staying at. , and she wound up like being a little bit late.is. Emotional moving moment, [:
[00:20:10] Elisa: Yeah. And it's changed because I'm a very emotional person. I cry easily. Like just, you know, watching movies. I just that's just me. But like, I didn't cry practically the whole weekend. It was so weird. I think I was in shock.[:
[00:20:29] Elisa: . So we had a nice dinner. How was your dinner? It was good. We, you know, , she did like, you know, a lot of talking and telling me about herself and her family. , And,, so she has two other children. , she, yeah, so, , she has a son, , who is actually two years older than me.[:
[00:21:02] Elisa: right? Yeah. Which was, that was like, I was like, not ready to hear it. You know what I mean? That surprised me for sure. I wasn't expecting to hear that. , but she told me, you know, when she was pregnant with me, she was 19 and she had moved out of her parents' house.
She was living with a friend. In the city, , she never car, she was working, but not a great job. And she just knew that she wouldn't be able to give to children what they need.[:
[00:21:42] Elisa: , I mean, you know, a little bit like the, a little, , hurt, I guess.grateful that she did that. [:
[00:22:10] Damon: That's fascinating. Tell me a little bit about what you learned about her life.
How do you mean.[:
I couldn't think of the word. It was very dysfunctional. , You know, and even like, now I know between, you know, my biological brother, like him and his kids and you know, my bio. And then I also, I also have a biological sister too. And like, and her family there's a lot. [00:23:00] So there's always these periods of like this, person's not talking to this person and this person, you know, and it just like, even since I've been known them, which has only been, you know, a year and a half it's you can, or two years it's been, you know, there's always a period of time where somebody is like, not talking to each other.
It's just strange. Almost sounds like
a lot of drama.
, so , you know, we finished dinner and then she. I said, well, I'll give you a ride back to the hotel. Um, which was really like, I could've just walked, but she was like, oh yeah, she didn't. I could tell, like, she didn't want this to end, which is fine. It was still early. Um, so she drove me over to the, , to the hotel and like stopped in the, you know, like drop off area.telling me stories about, , [:
So I didn't know what to do. I was like, do I, you know, do I try to like to end this or do I let her keep going? And, you know, we were sitting in my car and I always think now I'm like, why didn't I just say, let's go sit in the lobby. Like, I don't know,
So it was, it was nice. she's very nice. She's , , kind of quiet, laid back. , but you know, very sweet person. That's all[:
and a, you know, adoption reunion from the front seat of the vehicle.[:
And we hugged each other and, uh, that was it for that night.[:
Elisa's daughters were just a little older than their cousins and they were kind of nervous about meeting the new family members. Her daughters were unsure what to say or how to act. Elisa told her girls just be nice and polite and try to have fun.. I wondered if Elisa looked [:
[00:26:20] Elisa: She wrote back to me and she was like, kind of embarrassed. , I'm not exactly sure who it is in it's between two different men. , so I was like, okay, you know, so she gave me their names and they, um, she told me , they weren't on Facebook. Well, actually one of them is deceased. So they were on Facebook with their wives.range to me, but I was like, [:
So she gave me the names of their wives. , so I looked on Facebook and I couldn't really tell totally by looking, you know, so I did a little like detective. , so I was like, I on ancestry DNA, I have so many cousins, like, there's, there's just so many cousin matches on my account. I would never be able to go through all of them.t cousin, , was friends with [:
[00:28:14] Elisa: yeah, so I, I told her, I said, you know, I say, I think I figured out who it is. , and then looking at more pictures of him and you know, now, like I can definitely see, you know, that I do look like him. Um, so I said, I figured out who it is.
And I said, Do you think that you would like ever tell him about this? Cause then it felt weird to me that I would know this and she would know this and that he wouldn't, I don't know, , it's not that I wanted to like stir up anything, but it just seemed like something that he should know.with them. , so, , she said, [:
So she told his niece and, , his niece said that she was going to try to figure out. to tell him. and he was very like shocked. I mean, you can imagine,[:
You didn't know, like, that's crazy.[:
[00:29:48] Damon: uh, would you mind putting me in touch with him? I have some interesting news that he went, Nope, you go do it. And let me know how that goes. Right.Elisa's biological [:
[00:30:34] Elisa: , so she, , invited his sister and his niece because again, they all grew up together. So they all know each other like her and their families or they all just know each other. So, , I knew that his, that his sister and his niece are going to come to this, get together. And then I guess the day before we were coming, his niece reached out to [00:31:00] him.
I was like, I don't know if anybody told you, but. Elisa coming, this weekend. So, , he did wind up coming. She told me like on Friday that he said he was going to come to the get together on Saturday night. Wow.[:
All right. But knowing that you would be there, he was planning to show. Yes.[:
So I give him so much credit for, for showing up because that must've been incredibly, [00:32:00] I don't even know awkward, uncomfortable. I, I don't know. Yeah,[:
[00:32:18] Elisa: Yes. Geez.[:
[00:32:24] Elisa: for him. Yeah.[:
[00:32:31] Elisa: came in. So we had been there for, , you know, awhile. Cause we, we came over to her house. This is at my biological mother's house. We had been there probably like for an hour or two before that.bit because, , his sister, , [:
Um, so that the fact that she, you know, it was very important to her to come to meet me. And so just like seeing her, it was very touching, but like, she came up to me and she like put her hands on my face and she just looked at me and just nodded like, oh my gosh, I get chills now just thinking about it.
Yeah, it was really, it was really special. She actually just passed away so yeah, she was a very special person to a lot of people like everybody there, you know, she was aunt now to all those people, everybody , in our community, you know, in my, you know, the two parts of my family that are there, she was a very special person.at I got to meet her. Um, so [:
So we sat down on that, , together. , and he was, he's just, he's so sweet. He's just this really sweet, nice guy. Like, you know, he was asking me questions, , and he was telling me how he was a retired long distance truck driver and he, and he said, he's like, I used to drive up and down 95, like all those years.
Like, and that's, you know, Philadelphia is right on 95. Like you drive right through the city. And so , I just , felt bad because it kind of, you know, he's kind of saying like if I had only known, you know,[:
[00:35:04] Elisa: right.
[00:35:26] Elisa: mean?
Yeah, exactly. And not like angry, , you know, just kinda wished, you know, he had a missed out on it, I guess. Cause he never had any children of his own, other than me[:
[00:35:47] Elisa: Yes. Yeah. it was a really nice, it was a really nice nightnd his wife, and then he has [:
, thinking back on your biological father, I'm thinking about the fact that he walked into this party, to this woman who he hasn't, you know, he hasn't been with in years, didn't know he had a child and you're the only child he ever knew. It's not like he walked in with the confidence of like, if this doesn't work out, I'm just going back to my own kids. There were no other kids. It was you and nobody else. That's really fascinating.
She only texts with Cindy. They don't actually talk on the phone. Alyssa called cindy's home on that first christmas eve to wish everyone a merry christmas and they spoke by phone that day but since then it's only been texting between them cindy
And, uh, my biological father, I texted him, , cause I got his number and so I texted him after we met and then I didn't hear back from him for , probably a couple months. , I think it was again another like overwhelming thing for him because he's very like sensitive. So I think that he needed to kind of, you know, process actually meeting me, but he, he likes to talk on the phone."bye my girl" and, you know, [:
[00:38:02] Damon: Remember when Elisa talked about her adoptive parents, she said it was never spoken, but she got the signal , that if she ever searched for her birth parents, it might be hurtful to them. I asked her to describe more of what she meant by that[:
Right. And so I just, and you know, , if I brought up, if I ever talked about, adoption or stuff like that, they could just tell, like they would just get , you know, just very sensitive about [00:39:00] it. You know? I don't know if that makes sense, but there's
yeah, very common. Right.
A lot of people. Stiffen up when you ask questions and you express curiosity, because this is now their fear coming to life. Right, right. Oh, this is the moment she's going to tell me she's searching or she's going to tell me she found somebody. You know what I mean? So how did you share the one? How did you share being found.
And two, how did you share the fact that you have met these folks?
, well I told them probably like a week after , I found out, cause again, I didn't want to upset them, but , I just felt like they had to know. Cause it just, I couldn't keep that a secret. , so I just told, them, you know, that she found me, which is true.And then also [:
They know that we are close and I think it just made it easier. They know I'm not going anywhere. So I think the timing of that made it a lot easier for them. , but when we were leaving to go out there, , I say goodbye to my dad. He was like, he's like, just, he's like, just promise me this don't change anything between us, you
know? So they still had that fear, like still there, you know?[:
[00:40:58] Elisa: And then [00:41:00] actually this as well, I have another quick story is that this summer? Well, last summer, um, my biological mother had asked if she could come out here. , cause she wanted to meet my parents and thank them and stuff.oing to go over. But that was:
so,, I did like ask my parents, , and they were very reluctant but said that it would be okay, but my mom and unfortunately my mom has, some kind of dementia, you know, situation going on. So she's very emotional and, you know, gets very stressed out very easily. So that week before. Uh, my biological mother [00:42:00] came, she was very like agitated and upset.
And she was like, I don't understand I don't need this. I don't need to meet her. , she, she was just so resistant to it. and so I was like, oh gosh, I don't know how this is going to happen. but my biological mother came, she came with her sister and they each brought like one other grandsons.
and they met and it was fine. And I knew which I was trying to say, like, she's a very nice person. Like you don't have, she doesn't want anything from you. She just wants to thank you. She wants to meet you and thank you. And it went okay. And then at one point. asked, uh, my, sorry, my adopted mom asked my biological mom to go and to come into her bedroom for a minute to talk.nd then they came out and my [:
And it was really nice. I just got the sense that my parents, , got something from it that theydidn't know that they needed.
I mean, I think they were just so scared that it never like occurred to them that maybe, it would be nice to meet her and to, know that she appreciates what they did.
It was just like this, sense of peace that , I could see in them. And so it was just really nice. It's[:
You know, that, you know, probably that this other [00:44:00] person who gave birth to you would somehow be better than they were in your. And, and it sounds like she did an amazing job of putting them at ease and, and just thanking them. That's really awesome.[:
[00:44:16] Damon: That's great.
I'm so glad this story unfolded as nicely as it did, especially for as abruptly as it came at you. I mean, I can't imagine sitting there looking at my phone and getting that curve ball if I wasn't actually looking. Right,[:
[00:44:36] Damon: No, that's really cool. Well, at least I'm so glad that you took time to share your story, and I'm really glad that that your parents got the chance to connect and it wasn't as bad as they thought it was going to be.
And it sounds like it also reassured you for the life that you did leave live, which I think is also really cool.[:
[00:44:59] Damon: Well, thanks so [00:45:00] much for taking time to share your story. I appreciate it.[:
[00:45:05] Damon: care. Have a great evening. I'll talk to you later. All the best.[:
It was fascinating to hear that her birth mother Cindy. I knew her birth father's family well enough to invite them over to her place and that her birth father was open and brave enough to meet Elisa for the first time there. It's crazy to think he was a long haul, trucker driving up and down the east coast during his career passing through Philadelphia regularly.orld that gets even smaller. [:
That photo Elisa took of Cindy with her parents must be a cherished memory from that day. I'm Damon Davis, and I hope you found something in Elisa's journey that inspires you. Validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn. Who am i really