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226 - The First Free Man Hug
Episode 22630th March 2024 • Who Am I Really? • Damon L. Davis
00:00:00 01:22:21

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Brad, from McKinney, Texas, just outside of Dallas grew up thinking something was off in his family. But Brad internalized his differences from his parents as his own inability to adapt to their personality traits and abilities.

As an adult DNA testing revealed that something far more foundational to his being was the reason for their differences. The revelation set off a series of forced confrontations, unexpected sibling introductions, and being face to face with an incarcerated man Brad had no intention of bonding with... until he did.

Make sure you to listen until the end to hear how Brad's paternal reunion played out. It is heartwarming for sure.

This is Brad's journey.

Who Am I Really?

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Cold Cut


[00:00:00] Brad: So what if you take a baby, and hand that to somebody that needs the constant affirmation. And the baby's not going to give that because that's not who the baby's looking for and it's nobody it's not the baby's fault It's not the adoptive mom's fault.

But she's not the person that I grew inside for nine months that I was familiar with so I think she felt more than likely rejected from very early on because That was her only experience with a baby, you know, she didn't have a biological child to be like, they really cling to their mom You She just had me who didn't cling to her because I was looking for somebody else.

Show Open


Brad had no intention of bonding with. Until he did.

I implore you to stay until the end to hear how Brad's paternal reunion plays out. It is heartwarming for sure. This is Brad's journey.



It seemed like there was no intention of ever talking about how their family was formed. Brad said he and his dad got along great, but he and his mother Always had a strained relationship, but he never could figure out why. Brad was an only child. So there was no reference point for why he and his mother didn't get along. [00:02:00] Brad is a late discovery adoptee.

He found out he was adopted later in life.

So when he reflects on his childhood, now he can see all of the ways he was different from his family.


So. My dad was big into sports growing up. He played baseball and football through high school, played for the Florida Gators in college, had some pro offers to play football, but eventually joined the Navy and went off to fly jets in Vietnam. So sports was really his thing. As, as long as I grew up, he was a runner.

mself busy when he wasn't at [:

The parties, getting together with people. Going to fancy places and they were both super outgoing. If you flip that around, you get me who is about as introverted as they come, probably almost pathologically introverted. Sometimes I tried all the sports growing up. I played soccer in elementary school. I played football in junior high.

ly I'll find one of these at [:

And the more I did it, the more I was just, it was never really my thing. I enjoy working out. I enjoyed, I enjoyed running. I don't really run much anymore, but I enjoyed that kind of stuff. But team sports like baseball, football, like my dad did, I would want to do nothing less than that.


Also, you will run into folks who have these kinds of differences in that one part of the family is very athletically con inclined, and the other part is not, or one part is very, very studious and into education and the other is not. It's just fascinating to see how we differ from each other.


[00:05:18] Damon: So what would you say you were gifted at? What was your strong suit?


It just wasn't something that I enjoyed getting up and going to do every day like some people would do. Yeah, so and then you asked physically what physically Differences. I'm probably a solid head taller than my father was I'm 6'4. I think he was around 5'11 Wow, and mom was even shorter than that.

I look [:

I'm just bigger all over than they are.


[00:06:34] Brad: No, absolutely not.


[00:06:43] Brad: Yeah, people would ask all the time, and my parents would always say, you know, there's some really tall people in our family, that there was an answer for everything, and like you said, when your paradigm's a certain way, especially when it's that way from birth, you don't start questioning it all of a sudden, and think, wait, [00:07:00] maybe I'm adopted, maybe that's why I'm taller.

That's, that's the furthest thing that ever would have entered my mind.

but yeah, people, people asked all the time because by the time I was 16, maybe I was already taller and bigger than my dad, but by quite a bit, not just, you know, I hit a little growth spurt. So it was always kind of obvious.

When I look at pictures now, I laugh and go, how did I not see that?


You know what? I might be adopted if there was no reason to venture down that thought path, right?


I can't figure out what it is, but something is not right for me. I internalized all of it and just assumed that for whatever reason, I could not get with the program. I would work hard to do good at sports, wasn't good at sports. My parents did school really well. I didn't enjoy school. So I basically internalized everything and just thought, well, if anything, I just keep screwing things up.


That is really, really fascinating. I never really sort of directly contemplated that if you didn't suspect adoption, you would just suspect you're not doing things right. And you just got to work harder, work, you know, be faster, be stronger. Everything. That's really interesting that the internalization was.

What ended up happening for you fascinating. Yeah, so did you know other adopted people growing up? I'm just kind of curious if you can remember anyone saying that they were adopted I I


And it wasn't until probably a couple years ago that I was talking to his mom, that she reminded me that he was adopted. And suddenly I could picture the entire conversation when he told me he was adopted.

But it was such and he you know, he grew up knowing but it was such a non entity for two kids playing That was like, okay, you're adopted now.

Let's keep playing.

But yeah, it's weird I've I knew a few growing up and in my adult life now that all this has come out I can't count the number of adoptees that I work with and I never knew they were adopted Other people that i've just known in my life and they're like i'm adopted too and i'm i had no idea


One of the, this is, I almost wonder if people like get sick of me saying it because I tell everybody, right. Partially because I'm a podcast host and this is what I do is interview adopted people and I'm always interested to, share the story and the challenges of adoption [00:11:00] with people, both who are adopted and those who are, in the lay public for lack of better words.

And I. I always like to tell the story, my own story and share that I do this podcast because there are so many people out there that you will walk right past and you will be in a meeting at a conference. You will be best friends with them for 10 years next door neighbor. You name the relationship and you will never have known they were adopted unless one of you says it to the other.

And so this is why I do this show because Adoption can be a very lonely experience until you find one other person to connect with, let alone discovering this whole community. It's so fascinating just to think that you've been surrounded by people who shared your experience. One. But two had your experience and you didn't even know that you were sharing the experience because you didn't yet know you were adopted.

I mean, this is just wild.


Here's what happened. I laid out what had happened to him. And his first response was. I'm adopted too. Did you not know that? And I was like, I had no idea. And he'd been my boss for six, seven years and never knew.


Brad said his [00:13:00] relationship with his parents stayed pretty much the same. He and his dad got along. Well, his relationship with his mom was strained. He said when high school was over, he was in the starting blocks, ready to sprint out of the house To start his own life. Brad. Wasn't the guy to check in much.

He was hyper.

independent, which caused some conflicts.

What would happen when you and your mom wouldn't get along? did you blow up? was it fierce? Or was it, like, silence? Or was it just that it was so consistent that it was just, every day, it was just a little something where you just gotta, it was the norm?


So [00:14:00] I, I learned pretty much from an early age to just head down, try to do what mom wanted. Good. And as I got to be a teenager, because I was a little bit rebellious as a teenager, that became harder and harder.


[00:14:33] Brad: I am sure that she wished she could have had her own child. My dad told me that he was infertile and that's why they adopted he had mumps when he was a kid and I guess back then that could cause you to become infertile But that's what he explained why he explained that they adopted But I really think what it was for my mom and I was she I cannot think of the attachment style, but she is the person that needs constant [00:15:00] affirmation and affection.

And really not until I figured out I was adopted and then started really, I mean, once I was out of the fog and reflecting on it, and I think I've heard you mentioned this on the podcast, you you're married, do you have kids?


Okay, so can you think of a time, cause I can, when your kids were infants and it didn't matter what you as the dad did to calm that child down, there was nothing you could do except hand that baby back to your wife for the baby to calm down.

Yes, absolutely.

Okay, me too. So what if you take a baby, and hand that to somebody that needs the constant affirmation. And the baby's not going to give that because that's not who the baby's looking for and it's nobody it's not the baby's fault It's not the adoptive mom's fault.

nk she felt more than likely [:

[00:16:15] Damon: That is really interesting. You were inconsolable at those times and the one person you were looking for was not in that household,


I'm not knocking her at all. She just wasn't the person I was looking for any more than when I was holding my, holding my own children. When they wanted mom, I was not the person they were looking for.


So there's, [00:17:00] there's literally no way that that could have worked out in those moments when ultimately what you needed was the same voice that you had heard for the preceding nine months, right?


It's, it was a little different for them than it was for my parents, I think, but I think really the adoption, I won't even call it an industry because mine was private through a doctor, but there were no, there weren't a lot of supports for not only the relinquishing parents, but the parents that were getting the babies.

you struggle with, with this [:

You internalize that and think, well, I'm doing something wrong. Well, How can I blame them for doing the same thing when they are having struggles with a baby and nobody told them that because it's an adopted child, there will be these struggles.


He clearly cared. So many years into their marriage at about 46 years old, Brad and his wife decided To do ancestry DNA tests together for Christmas. Brad just wanted to learn more about his heritage, His lineage and physical descendancy through the world's history. He wanted the answers, his father, wasn't bringing home.

Brad and his wife received their results at the same time.

And Brad dug into his heritage with fascination. With his curiosity, satisfied Brad closed his ancestry DNA tests and only opened them one more time. When he and his wife Broadcasted their computer screens onto their TV screen at home for his parents and her parents to see. Brad's parents, didn't say a word about his heritage. Brad didn't open his ancestry DNA results again for nearly three years. Neither.

Brad, nor his wife realized there was a messenger feature on the platform until his wife received a message one day from a woman.


[00:20:04] Brad: When my wife asked me, you know, I told her, I was like, you know, that I can name My grandparents, a couple of aunts, and a couple of cousins, and past that, I don't know anybody. So the fact that this name that I don't know is popping up means nothing to me. I have no idea who this could be. I can tell you my mom and dad were both very much, now it makes me wonder more now, but they were not big on being Like mom and dad didn't like having Facebook pages, social media and all that, that, that all made them very uncomfortable.

get together with my parents.[:

My mom apparently was very upset that we couldn't get together for Mother's Day. My dad met me at work to get the present that I was supposed to give to my mom. And he was like, I'm sorry, your mom's upset. These things happen sometimes. You know, I think part of the reason she gets so upset is I don't think we've ever told you, but your mom might be adopted.

And that was the first time I'd heard that. So I said, what are you talking about? He said, well, when your grandma died, um, or shortly before your grandma died, when she was in a nursing home, she told your mom one day that she was Wow. And we don't know if Your mom didn't want to pursue it and look into it.

s adopted, this woman is her [:

[00:22:06] Damon: So you're thinking that this person is related to your mom that you don't know yet is not biologically related to you.


[00:22:28] Damon: No. Cause you had assigned this out to your wife. You delegated that task.


But instead, the woman and my wife spent about two and a half weeks, maybe three weeks, going over different scenarios of how I could be related to her. And [00:23:00] the woman was hinting around at adoption and things like that, but never flat out came and said it. And my wife wasn't catching the hints because her paradigm was just like mine.

The one question we didn't have was who my parents were. So that never, when this woman would mention an option, that would never pop in her head. And it wasn't until we were on a date one day, we were having a lunch date, and we were sitting at a Thai food restaurant enjoying some soup. And my wife's phone dings and she picks it up and she just goes, huh?

I was like, huh what? And she said well that woman's messaging me again And she's done all the research and she said there's no way that she's related to your mom because that's really what we'd kind Of settled on that. We thought it might be And I told and I looked at Pam and I was like, well, I don't know what to tell you at this point Um, that was my only guess I'm still too stupid to know that I should probably go look at ancestry.

she goes, well, but there's [:

Wow. And we both laughed that off without a second thought because of all the things that was still not registering anywhere in my brain as a remote possibility of my life. So over lunch, what we came to the conclusion of is I asked my wife, I said, Hey, can you just message this lady back and ask her, What hospital she thinks that this baby was born in any other information she can give you because when I get home I'll go get my birth certificate out of the safe and we can at least get this lady on the right track So my wife does and the woman says she can't more off the top of her head But she'll think about it and do some research and see if she can get back with us and tell us So when we got home [00:25:00] my in laws were overwatching our kids because they were smaller back then.

And because we'd been talking about ancestry all day, my wife and her mom start talking ancestry and looking at stuff on ancestry and working on the family tree. I, of course, quietly go straight to the fire safe and get my birth certificate out because I just want to get this lady on the right track and move on with my life.

And this is when things kind of started to crumble for me because when I pulled my birth certificate out, I'd had it for, shoot, 25 years, probably. I had never really paid much attention to it. I used it to get my, you know, driver's license. When I got hired for my job, I had to show up for that, but I'd never really looked at it.

so was also born in Dallas in:

And when I did that, things really went off the rails because the two documents couldn't have been more different. Mine looked like an old copy off a microfiche machine, if you remember those. It kind of looks more like a negative where the typing is all in white. The background is all black so They looked different and I was still immediately willing to write that off and thought my parents lost my birth certificate at some point And this is what a 1970s copy of birth of a birth certificate is


[00:26:34] Brad: no big deal So then I started comparing because all the boxes are numbered.

You can go line by line and look at the boxes and What i'm noticing as I go is there's just more discrepancies. It doesn't say where I was born Um In the box that her dad signed, being the witness to her birth, my dad's name is just typed in the box. What do you mean? How are they different? I'm not following.


[00:27:04] Damon: a Texas birth certificate. Oh, it's not signed by a person.


[00:27:19] Damon: Mm hmm


My wife's birth certificate is Stamped and sealed and from Dallas County. My birth certificate is stamped and sealed from Travis County, which is Austin the capital But we were both born in Dallas. So the more I look at that, the more I'm like this, this isn't making sense at all. So now I don't know what to do.

talk right now. Something's [:

She was a flight attendant So they were flying all over the place and they loved taking pictures. So there were pictures of them Flying all over the world because my dad was in vietnam [00:29:00] in the late 60s. So there's pictures from everywhere And the one thing that I still can't come up with in my head is a time that I ever saw a picture of my mom pregnant.

So now I'm stuck with my birth certificate looks weird. I've never seen a picture of my mom pregnant and my mom's never told a pregnancy story, which adds up to a lot of weirdness, but not enough yet to kick me over the edge to say, okay, something's this lady could be right. So I stuck my head in the living room where my wife was and said, Hey.

Has that lady ever emailed you back with that place? Cause I, you know, I didn't want to get into all of it with her parents. And she said, she looked on her phone. She said she can't remember where it is, but she said, and this won't make sense to anybody that's not here, but she said it was right off the street, called Colorado Boulevard in Dallas, right by where they lived and they lived at this location.

ed right down, got on Google [:

The only thing she could tell us was that it was, I was not born in a hospital. I was born in a small women's clinic. Some were off Colorado Boulevard and she said that it was a white building with a green roof And that threw me for a loop because I knew where that building was Really?


[00:30:36] Brad: Yes when I was growing up There was a place called stevens park hospital that was a mile and a half from my grandparents house And there was a doctor there named dr Carmichael who was a family friend and i'd say over half the times that we would drive out to visit my grandparents We would stop by The Stevens park hospital.

Cause I say hospital people [:

Carmichael and then move on to my grandparents house.


[00:31:34] Brad: Yeah. And I'm like, oh god, I know exactly where this is. And now, it's gone from it doesn't make any sense, but I'm still holding pretty strong to my paradigm, to it doesn't make any sense, and I'm really getting scared that this woman's right. But. When Pam asked her, you know, can you give us any other details anything else?

There was nothing. So [:

Of being pregnant with me because she was around you during your pregnancy with all of our kids. And we had fertility issues between our first and our second child. So my mom had been around for that. It's like, has she ever talked any time about being pregnant with me? And my wife sat there for a little while and she's like, I can't think of that ever happened.

s why they're different. The [:

I used to go to all the time to visit this doctor just to say hi. And I can't figure out what to do with all this information. Cause it's, I'm not sure where it's like where you are, but. All the records are still sealed here in texas So i'm just at a loss And i'm really not at all excited to call my parents and say hey Did y'all adopt me and not tell me because that just seemed Well, it it still seems like a super offensive question to ask somebody unless you're really solidly sure on the answer Yeah, right To look at the parents that have raised you and taken care of your whole life and be like, hey, am I really y'all's?


[00:33:50] Brad: my wife being the smarter one of us, remember that we had a good friend from church who had grown up her whole life, known she was adopted. [00:34:00] And after nine 11 had jumped through all the hoops in Texas to get her records unsealed and eventually was able to decipher enough non identifying information to track down her birth parents.


[00:34:12] Brad: So. My wife's suggestion was, hey, call, her friend Jan in the morning, because by now it's like 10 o'clock at night. She's like, call her friend Jan in the morning, tell her what's going on, and let her look at your birth certificate, see what she thinks, and see what direction she would give you, because she's gone through the court process.

She knows some of the ins and outs of it. So that, that's great. So, next day I get up, I go to work. I call our friend Jan, tell her what's going on. And as I'm talking to Jan, she said, well, do you have a picture of your birth certificate?

alled back, it was a totally [:

It had gone from happy go lucky Jan to when I answer the phone, she's like, Hey, how are you doing? And I'm like, well, not good with the way you sound all of a sudden. You don't sound normal anymore. She said, well, I don't even know how to start this conversation off with you, but I'm going to send you a picture of my birth certificate.

I said, okay. So she sent, she texted me a copy, a picture of her birth certificate. And my initial thought was that she accidentally texted the picture of mine back to me because they looked the exact same. They're both the microfiche copy looking thing. They both don't have the address of our birth.

d birth certificates from the:

[00:36:00] She said, I don't really know how to tell you this, but I think you may be adopted and are just finding out right now. And what did you think? I, I still was 100 percent not prepared to believe that. Yeah. I could not make that leap in my mind. So I asked her, you know, talk me through what you did to get your records unsealed.

Is that an option for me? Tell me what I could do to find out because I still don't want to make this conversation with my parents. And she basically explained to me, and I've since gone through the process and know that that is the case, that basically here in Texas, you can petition the courts to unseal your birth records.

? It's insane. It's it's the [:

I was gonna say, you might be surprised.

But I didn't know that they would have secrets about me that they also kept from me. I figured I would know all the stuff about myself. But now I know better. so the more we talked, the more she convinced me that the only way to really find out was to ask my parents.


So it wasn't unheard of for him to call out of the blue and suggest they get together to catch up. So Brad simply called thinking he was going to offer to get lunch or a beer Or something sometime soon.


[00:38:22] Damon: Oh, no, Brad.

Oh my gosh. .


Nobody needs money. Pam and I aren't getting divorced. The kids are all good. I kind of tried to get through the list of all the things that would worry somebody. And I said, I've just got a couple things that I'm thinking about. And I would love to [00:39:00] get your opinion on them next time you're free. I said it's not a rush just when you have time. Let's get together sit down I want to ask you a few things that I see if I can get some clarification on some things i'm doing and You know, like I said Hundreds of times we've had that conversation. It's ended the same time same way. Sure. Let's get together at such and such time This time he says why?

And I'm just like, Oh, come on, you're killing me, dad, weren't supposed to answer the phone. You weren't, you certainly weren't supposed to ask why I've just told you all the why's that aren't. and I would tell you, it felt like we circled that drain for 10 minutes. It was probably more like 30 seconds of him saying why and me just repeating myself.

now what we're going to talk [:

I said, okay, well. Do you remember that Pam and I did Ancestry? And he said, Oh yeah, I remember that. That was kind of neat. I said, yeah, well, and you told me mom was adopted. And I'm still trying to play this out long enough that maybe he's going to stop and get off the phone with me. Like maybe he'll catch wind of what's coming and at least give us a time to get face to face.

Cause this was not something I thought was something I ever wanted to do on the phone. So I said, do you remember, you know, you told me mom's possibly adopted. Oh yeah. I remember that. I said, well, this lady contacted us. And I was very specific with my words, hoping he would catch on. I said, this woman contacted us and we thought that it might be mom's half sister, cousin, or something like that.

e said, Oh, okay. Well, what [:

I said, well, she says that I'm her sister's son. It was given up for adoption at two days old and the child have adopted me and never told me And what I was really hoping for was some explosive answer. That woman's crazy. This is bullshit She's after money pick whatever just some definitive Stay away from this woman and instead all I got was and then dead silence which I don't think i've said yet and it'll matter here in a little bit, but At this point, I had been a cop for 25 years, so I was used to paying attention to the way people responded to me, expecting certain responses, and understanding when I don't get those responses that it doesn't necessarily mean somebody's lying, but it means that something's not quite right with the story.

the case. Correct answer for [:

Oh, wow.


[00:42:20] Brad: Yeah. So what I heard was him, his fingers drumming on the steering wheel of his car because he had pulled over by now. And we're just sitting in this awkward silence, and I finally said, Dad, I'm not trying to make anything harder on you.

And I think you probably know this already, but I know, by what you said, how you responded, I know the answer already, but you're gonna have to say it to me out loud, because until I hear you say the words, I'm not gonna be able to 100 percent believe what I'm hearing. And he took a deep breath and gave me a little short sigh and said, well, Bradley, you're adopted.

We've been trying to figure out how to tell you.

How did [:

Oh, it was, I'm not a big amusement park ride person, but it reminded me of that thing that you ride where it spins in a circle and it presses your back up against the wall and the floor drops out. The floor just dropped out. I'm sitting, I'm sitting at work in my office, staring at the wall going, what do I do now?

I don't even, you know, I don't even know where to begin from this at this point. And my dad did what I'll say is, the things that we all, or most people that get these DNA discoveries hate hearing, but he was doing the best he could with what he had at the time. So, you know, he told me, you know, we still love you.

ing to be okay. And he said, [:

I said, yeah, I guess that's your next step. And he said, well, you're working today. You're working tomorrow. When can we get together? And I said, well, you know, let's, let's get together Monday. I'll be off Sunday. I think I need a full day just by myself to let all this sink in, but then we can get together Monday and talk.


[00:44:33] Brad: Yes, he's very dry. He's very matter of fact I think some of it is a he's just dry and matter of fact, I think the other part is even though he's known I was adopted my whole life.

him. A that just wasn't his [:

[00:45:05] Damon: Yeah, true. But it also, I couldn't help thinking to myself that his words were, we've been trying to figure out how to tell you.

And it sounded the way that you expressed it sounded like he was also thinking to himself whether he could admit it or not. Welp, that's over. Like, glad I didn't have to do that. You know what I mean?


And we, we've never, we never got to talk about this. I don't believe that for a second. I don't think they were ever telling me. Oh, really? I, I really don't, I mean.


I don't know. Cause we had been through, my wife and I had been through fertility issues. She had had like four miscarriages.

member my mother standing in [:


So, there were multiple opportunities looking back where I could see that, you know, probably in the pre op room wasn't the place to be like, oh by the way, funny story.

But, I had had like five or six weeks waiting for surgery. Per cancer. So there was plenty of time to sit down and say, we need to talk to you about medical history stuff that just apparently matters more than we understood.


Of, of all the times that it would have been important to do so that wasamong them. your fertility was also among them too. Like. There's just multiple times when it should have come up,


So maybe adoption is something else, you know, just, even if it was just as a suggestion. But the fact that all of those times came and went and they never said a word leads me to believe that there was no interest in telling me.


But if she wanted to contact the lady whose DNA matched his and tell her that he is the man she had been looking for, that was fine with him. Brad also said to let her [00:48:00] know that while he's not mad at her, he was in no place to speak with her, given everything that he had to process. Brad also told his wife get any information she could from the woman. Knowing that as his protector, his wife would Feed him the information appropriately And filter it to him in a meaningful way. He figured he would take the information piecemeal and process things as they came. That approach only lasted about 12 hours before Brad Wanted to know everything the woman had shared. His wife protecting her husband, Asked him, if he was sure he wanted to hear the whole thing. Brad insisted he was ready.


And while can't prove it, she believes she knows who my birth father is because my birth father is her ex husband who is now in prison and has been in prison for back then 48 years.


And this guy is not a free man. He's in prison.

And my birth mother's been dead for 19 years. Oh my gosh. You took all that in, in one text.


[00:49:54] Damon: But you know, this is the, this is the, the rough, rough part of this, right? Oh, yeah. Is you've been.[00:50:00]

Like, it's almost like somebody cracked your chest open. Like you just, this is a life altering event and it's impossible, I think, for someone to continue to have information that you don't have and for you to show restraint. In, you know, in a super heightened sense, uh, moment of, you know, this revelation, I mean, I just, I can't even conceive of how one would say, you know what, honey, you may be right.

Let me go chill and I'll let you, , feed this. Like, there's just no way to do that. Of course, you're going to want to know.


I kept just wondering who am I? I mean, for having a late discovery adoption, or even people that do the DNA test and find out dad's not dad, all those different things. It's [00:51:00] very true when people tell you nothing's changed because I woke up the day after I found out I had the same wife, the same kids, the same house, the same job, everything was the same.

At the same time, everything was 100 percent different than it had been the day before. Mm hmm. So. I spent the entire day trying to reconcile who exactly am I, who's this guy in the mirror that I keep passing that apparently I didn't know.


You know, all, all of my people are still here, my wife's still here, my kids are still here, but I don't have a clue who I am anymore.

I've been a cop for 25 years and I have a father that's been in prison for 48 years. Wow. Make make that make sense to me.


It's not either or it's not binary. It's both and and what you're saying is exactly Exemplary of that very thing that nothing has changed and everything has changed It's this is wild. Wow. So what was your conversation like on monday?


I went to my parents house. I told them that it was completely okay that they had concealed this from me my whole life. turned out that it was a closed adoption. So I, at this point actually knew more about my biological family than they did. So I [00:53:00] told them about my biological family.

I told them that everything was great. And then I left and nothing was great. I was a train wreck, but My job for my life had been to tell them everything was okay. So I certainly wasn't going to start that day, not saying it.


[00:53:17] Brad: So, my dad stayed very stoic through it.

My mom cried most of the time. really, I think, well, and I can tell you from. Later after that, she was really not happy for me to know that I was adopted.


[00:53:39] Brad: It mainly was defensive, but only around the decision of not telling me, but she, she really wanted to explain here's reasons we didn't tell.



[00:54:04] Brad: Yeah, I think because of my dad and I's relationship, I think had my mom passed before my dad, that my dad more than likely would have told me at some point, but my dad was one of those guys that was very much happy wife, happy life.

So as long as she's happy and the boat's moving along steadily, we're not going to rock that boat. So he was never going to go against and just say, no, we need to tell him we're telling.


His aunt had sent him and try to learn as much as possible. Brad was able to trace his father's crime to the day it happened. To the day of his incarceration. And back-filled the whole story of that man's history.

as a police officer, was that an additional curiosity?

Like, were you also sort of analyzing what was being said from an investigative perspective, , or were you just a son looking for answers?


So it was some of both. And after a [00:56:00] week, I told everybody and I wasn't trying to be the tough guy that I was good. And I really thought I was, I made it almost six months of being pretty good. I went to work, I functioned, I did great. I won supervisor of the year for my department the year I found out I was adopted.


[00:56:22] Brad: No, the year that I discovered. So I found out that I won supervisor of the year for that


[00:56:30] Brad: Which probably tells you what I did to manage myself. I buried myself in work as much as I could. Uh huh. Because work meant you didn't have to think about that. So I did really good for six months.

a Dateline special on Angola [:

He said, yeah, it was just on Dateline. It was really interesting. They interviewed all these inmates and guards and all this stuff. You ought to watch it. Okay. So I went home that night and paid whoever it was, Amazon 5. So I could watch Dateline from home. Yeah. Yeah. A few days before


[00:57:21] Brad: watched that episode, I never saw my father in that episode.

I couldn't have picked him out if I did see him, but something about seeing that prison suddenly took him. I had, I had done a really good job of maintaining him as more of a concept in my mind. Like I had a bio dad, he existed, he was in prison, but. He was much more of a concept than a real person to me.

able to distance myself from [:

[00:58:07] Damon: Oh my gosh. Really? And on day personified this guy for you.


And we began unpacking. How it works when you're 48, you find out you have a whole lot of family that you didn't have because I don't think I've mentioned Grew up as an only child I now have a half brother and half sister from bio mom's side and a half brother from bio dad's side And they all the furthest one from me is my half brother on bio mom's side He lived about three and a half hours away Everybody else lived less than 45 minutes from [00:59:00] me.


[00:59:08] Brad: Which was just absolutely phenomenal. I don't think I've met a cooler person.


The only thing she did not have full confirmation of was Brad's birth father's identity. Brad had decided not to deal with his bio dad much because his identity was only speculation on verified. His aunt shared the story of the breakup of her marriage to Brad's birth father. He had moved on to another relationship with a different woman there in Dallas after their divorce. Brad's birth mother, a recent high school graduate from [01:00:00] California decided she would move to Dallas to be with her older sister Brad's aunt who was recently divorced. The story Brad heard was that his birth father was sleeping with everyone. His current wife, his ex-wife and her little sister. Brad's birth mother.


I want to give the baby up for adoption. you have to go all the way back to the seventies when there weren't video calls and people weren't flying and driving all over the place. Mm hmm. Yeah, it's not that hard to keep nine months of a pregnancy secret if you're in your entire family's in Stockton, California


Yeah, that's good point.


[01:01:08] Damon: Brad's aunt and his birth mother Moved back to Stockton, California, but never said a word about her pregnancy to anyone. Therefore, more recently when his aunt told the rest of the family to secret. She had held for all those years and that she had found her long lost nephew. Brad's maternal half sister was learning about her half-brother for the first time. There aren't shared that she had spoken with Brad and that he wanted to get in touch with his siblings and asked if that would be okay with them. They both said yes. The ball was in Brad's court to make the next move, which he appreciated because he was already going through a lot and needed to move forward in his own time. Brad checked his sister out on social media from afar. Had seen pictures of her online. Then finally decided he wanted to talk to her.


so we started talking on Facebook then on the phone and pretty quickly decided that we liked talking to each other. We wanted to meet. So one night she and her fiance, then it's now her husband. And my wife and I decided to meet up at a Mexican food restaurant, halfway between us and lay eyes on each other.

And it was, it was the coolest experience I've ever had. If for no other reason than like I told you really early on, super introverted. And I sat down at that table and it was like, I had known her my entire life. There was no awkward pauses. We just talked like we had known each other forever.




[01:03:06] Damon: Yeah. I totally know what you mean. That fall in love thing. I always have to qualify it too. Cause when I talk about it with my birth mother, I say the same thing that here's this new person in your life that you can't stop thinking about.

You have so many questions for you wonder when you're going to see them again. And it feels like when you start dating someone, it feels like falling in love. It's crazy. Totally. Yeah. Wow. That's amazing.


Cause she took, pictures of all of us. I couldn't sitting across the table. I couldn't see it when I saw the picture. My first response was, Oh my God, if I was a girl, that's me. Okay. , , she, her face looks like mine. It's it's frightening.


[01:04:01] Brad: And we just hit it off and kept talking, enjoyed talking.

I don't call her as much as I should now, just cause life gets in the way. But like you said, constantly, it's been four years now, still on my mind all the time. my half brother on mom's side, I didn't meet for probably another year and a half or so only because he was, he, he worked for an industrial seal company that made machinery seals for cruise ships. So he spent part of his time at a factory, but the majority of his time. Riding around on cruise ships, occasionally checking the seals in the engine room. So there's all these cool pictures of him all over the place on cruises, but he was working at the same time, but it sounds pretty cool.


[01:04:54] Brad: But yeah, we, we finally got to meet, we, we met it probably the, [01:05:00] a brutal time in both of our lives. So I met my sister in May, and in November of that year, she was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer.

Oh boy. And they did surgery, removed the tumor, and told her that it had already spread to all the lymph nodes and started giving her not long timelines. Oh man. So what finally was the catalyst to meet my brother was she had to go to MD Anderson in Houston for a treatment, plan.

And didn't want to drive all that way. So we drove halfway between, I drove her, met him. We had lunch, got to meet each other, sit around and talk. And then he took her the rest of the way to the hospital. And then we met back on the way back.


[01:05:50] Brad: It was, it was a brutal time, but super cool.

Had a blast meeting him. \ I can see myself in pictures in him as well.


He didn't know if he was ready for, or if they were even appropriate.


He said hey, I want you to meet my girlfriend I think you already know her. Well, there's so many things wrong in that sentence. Damon. I'm like, you're right Whoa, dude, chill out. Yeah, and and part b of this is You Even though I've been wrong about everything in my life, I am certain, which you know already is dumb for me to say, I am [01:07:00] certain that there's no way in hell I know your girlfriend.

And then he proceeds to send me an email and explain to me that she is the HR representative for the police department at the city that I work


[01:07:14] Brad: Yeah.


[01:07:18] Brad: I've known her for 10 years. I think


[01:07:34] Brad: Oh my god. Really? And Damon, go ahead, just for grins, guess what my other son does for a living.

He's a cop.

Oh yeah, we're both cops.


[01:07:47] Brad: Oh


[01:07:50] Brad: And, like I told you, we grew up stone's throw from each other. We both started at the same department and missed each other by two years. [01:08:00] Really? I started working in the Dallas County Jail in 1992, and left in 95.

king in Dallas County Jail in:

[01:08:13] Damon: That is surreal, man. Yeah. tell me, did you ever meet your biological father? I did.



Your, your bio dad, I think at the time was 77.

ep. Yep. So I took that home.[:

And it took me all of about two hours to come to the conclusion that, yeah, that's, that's going to cause me a huge issue. So, I messaged him, told him let's talk on the phone, got him on the phone, said I really would like to meet you. And he says, and I, I, most people don't ask out of politeness, so I'll just tear the band aid off.

He's in, he was in prison for murder.


[01:09:32] Brad: so, I tell him I'd like to come meet you, my cop brain is fully kicked in because he immediately tells me Hey, that's great. I can set it up.

er and your driver's license [:

I did in my head and I thought yeah, uh, let me get back to you on that the next day I called the prison told him I was wanting to visit who I wanted to visit and They basically sent me something very similar to the background packet That I had to fill out to become a police officer Sure, and I actually did have to write all that stuff down in it and send it off to them And the weirdest thing that i've had happen In this adoption experience was you've seen videos you may have done for yourself of kids sitting there waiting for their college acceptance letter I waited for that same thing damon, but it was a letter from angola state penitentiary inviting me to come visit.

Wow Yeah, and I was excited to get that and i'm like, where's my life gone that this is what i'm waiting for in the mail


So tell me about going up to the prison to meet him.


[01:11:21] Damon: You were prepared to shut him out.


And I'm not ready to dive back off into a relationship with somebody else. Who's going to be asking me and keep secrets from me. So I had really laser focused on one and done meeting. We'll get through this and we'll call it a day and I can move on with my life. The [01:12:00] upside is he's in prison. I don't have to accept emails from, I don't have to accept phone calls so I can just move on with my life.

I get to the prison that day. My wife came with, she didn't come with me to the prison. She came with me to Louisiana. She stayed at the hotel. I went to the prison you get run through the metal detector, you get searched, you get run by the drug dog, you get put on a bus.

And if you don't, if you've never seen it, get on Google sometime and Google Angola state penitentiary on Google maps and look at how big it is. Cause I've, I've been to lots of prisons and been around a lot of prisons. I had never been any place like this in my life from the front gate to the camp that they took me to visit him in.

her people in the visitation [:

Is that right? Yeah. Yeah It, it didn't take me a second to wonder, is that who I'm related to, and he came over, I stood up, did you ever watch, Arrested Development? No, I didn't. No? Okay. There's a part in that show where the main character goes and visits his father in prison, and every time he visits his father in prison, If he shakes his hand, hugs him or anything, the guards all jump up, beat their nightsticks on the table and scream, no touching.

w what to do here. But so we [:

And I'm glad we're finally get to see each other face to face. And I want to start off things right and I want to be honest with you. because I'm a little cynical and what I've done for a living All the alarm bells go off in my head and I'm like and here we go with the story. Sure and he does he tells me the story and his story is I could tell you that I killed somebody because I was a drug addict and an alcoholic at the time But that would be lying.

I killed somebody because somebody asked me to do it And sure, I was doing drugs and drinking at the time, but that's not why I did it. I did it because somebody asked me to. And I'll regret it for the rest of my life, and I can never fix it. And if that wasn't enough, he then went on to catalog his other various crimes both in and out of prison.

wing, and at some points was [:

you could get away with all of this and I would never know. And to this day, and I need to ask him sometime 'cause we talk regularly, to this day, I still think that was also a test of me.

Just as I was looking for possibly a one and done, I don't think he wanted to invest a lot of emotional energy in me, if that's what I was gonna do. So if he spills it all out on the table from day one and I never come back, there's not a big emotional loss there for him either. Wow.


You're right. You guys, it's funny. You both probably entered the situation with the same thing. Let me meet this. Let me find a bunch of reasons why I don't need to be in contact with him anymore. And I can just go back to what I was doing.


[01:15:46] Damon: Wow.


[01:15:53] Damon: That's really funny. Once


And I stopped him. I said, yeah, I'm going to tell you this and I hope it doesn't sound weird, but I just have to say this. I feel like you're describing me to me, but I know you're talking about you.


[01:16:39] Brad: Personality wise, short of. A really bad choice he made in his 20s We're very similar people.

ng the adoptee in the middle [:

I couldn't have a pencil. I couldn't have paper. So I was trying to memorize everything he told me because I had no way to do anything until I got outside with him.


When I met my biological mother, I, I always joke with people, I wish I could tell you I hung on every word she said. I was so amazed that I was with her. I can't remember a single thing that we talked about. I was crazy. So, this has been amazing, Brad. I just, [01:18:00] the unbelievable coincidences that you have with your brother, I'm so glad that you got to meet your sister.

I'm sorry that you ended up learning at such a late age that you were an adoptee. But I mean, it sounds like you've developed some really good relationships with folks and that's not always the case. So In at least that way, it sounds like you're somewhat fortunate. Am I right?


Yeah. And mine has really been nothing but a blessing. I know you've got to go, but I want to wrap this up just because I think you'll want this part for your story. So that was our first meeting in 2020 in March. June or so of 2022. Louisiana started doing some prison reform. I got invited to the Louisiana legislator by a group called the Parole Project to speak on behalf of a bill that would make [01:19:00] him eligible for parole. So in 2021, I found myself with the Louisiana House and Senate criminal justice committees testifying about how people that were in my father's situation should be eligible for parole in November of 2022, I sat behind my father in his first ever parole hearing, since he'd gone to prison and I picked him up at the prison gate the next day,


[01:19:24] Brad: So

he is out in a free man now.

Oh my gosh. That's incredible. Wow. Dang. I'm glad you shared that last piece. That's really amazing.



I got to give him his first free man hug. So of all the things that was pretty cool.


that's unreal.


Thank you so much for sharing your story, dude. I appreciate it so much. This is really you met Thanks for

letting me talk this long.


Bye. Bye



[01:20:05] Damon: Hey, it's me. Brad grew up completely in the dark that he was an adopted person. After multiple opportunities to reveal the truth is adoptive. Parents didn't seem like they were Ever going to reveal their secret. But the truth has a way of coming out and DNA testing is frequently the key that opens the lock for many families to step through the secret door. Brad's reunions with his siblings sounded amazing though.

Emotionally challenging given his sister's cancer diagnosis. But how cool was it to hear that when Brad's birth father described himself, the description basically matched Brad's own personality. The man helped Brad warm up to him after an eight hour visit in prison. And Brad got to deliver his birth.

or Brad's birth father to be [:

Really? You can follow me on Instagram at Damon L Davis or follow the podcast at w AI really? If you like the show, please take a moment to leave a five star review in your podcast app or wherever you get your podcasts. Your ratings really do help others to find the podcast too. And if you're interested, you can check out my story in my memoir, who am I really available on

amazon Kindle and audible.

I hope you'll add my story to your reading list.



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