Artwork for podcast Who Am I Really?
189 - Reckoning With The Primal Wound
Episode 18912th November 2022 • Who Am I Really? • Damon L. Davis
00:00:00 00:43:37

Share Episode


Rebecca, from Tallahassee, Florida, grew up in a religious home where she was over protected and adoption was not discussed or explored. In reunion, She learned her social worker who helped her placement had remained friends with her birth mother and was able to connect them immediately.

Rebecca is the documentarian behind the movie Reckoning With The Primal Wound, a visual exploration of the landmark book, "The Primal Wound" by Nancy Verrier. She's worked on the movie and an audio version of the book. One has gone very well. The other is blocked by a litigious brick wall that Rebecca didn't anticipate and that's triggering adoptee abandonment issues.

This is Rebecca's journey

Reckoning With The Primal Wound

Who Am I Really?

Social Media

Listen On




Cold Cut


Adoption knowledge affiliates provides education, connection and support to the adoption foster birth family, adoptive family and adoption adjacent communities. So their recognition for this work Is truly heartwarming for me. I'm going to take a quick minute to share with you what I said when I accepted the award.

Most podcasters start their show out of a passion for something meaningful in their life. And my lived experiences as an adoptee and an adoptive parent are at the core of my passion.

ay and surprising her on her [:

That made me realize there are a lot of stories to tell from the adoption experience and they aren't all great. I set out to give the adoptee community a chance to share their full story from where each person started to where they are now. My goal is to let everyone be their authentic self Vulnerable and honest. My joy comes from the adoptees that write to me after our interview and say how cathartic it was to share their whole journey With an empathetic listener. It makes me happy when the occasional listener reaches out to say The show has gotten them through a dark time, helped them navigate a part of their journey or that a story my guests shared resonated with them. After 190 episodes, I've learned so much about adoption that I didn't know before this adventure [00:02:00] started. I've learned adoption can be horrifically, ugly and incredibly beautiful. I've heard how adoption can make a person or break them down. I know that adoption is flawed, but in some instances it is the best option for everyone.

It is clear that adoption is incredibly complex and I wouldn't be the man I am today without it. I've been lucky that other podcasters have trusted me To help them start their own shows to lift their community's voices. Jennifer Dhyan Ghoson and I chatted often about her show once upon a time in adoptee land. D Yvonne rivers reached out after she heard my call for a birth mother to start what she has created. Birth mom's real talk. And I'll support anyone else who feels called to come into this space and create a platform for others to share their adoption journeys, to.

lor and faith folks of every [:

This is some of the most fulfilling work I have ever undertaken. And I can't thank you enough for supporting my little project of passion.

So to every one of you out there who has supported the, who am I really podcast or gotten some little piece of therapy? Education or comfort, clarity or whatever. I thank you for being here. To every one of my guests. Thank you for your openness and sharing your stories to help others

and for allowing me to help you do so.

You can check out adoption knowledge affiliates Okay. You ready for another one? Let's go.

Show Intro


The primal wound by Nancy Verrier. She's worked on the movie and an audio version of the book. One has gone very well. The other is blocked by a litigious brick wall that Rebecca didn't That's triggering adopt the abandonment issues this is Rebecca's journey



When Rebecca was four years old, Her parents sat her and her younger brother down and father And shared the news that they each had another mother and father out there somewhere


And what that meant. And did she love me as like a six year old, seven year old? Mm. I mean, we were raised Southern Baptists and so kind of that mentality of everyone, [00:06:00] all Christians were adopted into the kingdom of God. So adoption's not like a big deal at all. And we don't even have to talk about it, I think was the thought.

But I do think that everyone in the church and around my parents assumed that we were their biological children and that that was totally fine by my parents. you know, that's just kind of how it was. That's how they were coached to handle it through Christian counseling services where I was adopted.

one of the big facets of my story is that Jill left me a box. Of things. And she's just a very thoughtful person. So she wrote a poem, and left like her favorite books cuz reading's super important to her. then the social worker, I guess gave it to my parents, but kind of implied that they didn't, they had no obligation to actually give it to me

ld not see a time where that [:

[00:07:13] Damon: Oh man, that's rough. So,


so many adoptees have a similar tale, you know, that they didn't know they had a memento left for them or a letter or just anything. It was kept from them. I'm sure you can relate to that too. Mm-hmm. just secrets and and I think I'm still processing that cuz I didn't know about the box until I got in reunion with Jill in 20 12, 10 years ago.

f alluded to it being in the [:

Mm-hmm. .


What was it like in your family after hearing that news? You said your brother was adopted, your mom was awesome, it sounds like as a mother, but what was it like in your family after hearing that news, do you think?


And [00:09:00] perhaps that's the start of feeling like I didn't fully belong. Where I was or you know, who am I really, um, started manifesting, but nothing changed as far as the dynamics in the family. It was just internal. Mm-hmm. . And I wonder what it was like for my brother. We did not talk about it together. We didn't really bond about that at all growing



She said she developed a complicated relationship with the truth from that experience. They were trying to prevent behaviors that they ultimately caused [00:10:00] she remembered battling with her parents to go to social engagements and even when she did get to go like one outing at a skating rink she saw her father lurking in the corner

watching her behavior


Like they manifested their worst


[00:10:40] Rebecca: Yeah. That's probably psychologically a thing.


The one thing, you know, when you tell a teenager, I don't do that. Like the first thing they wanna do is almost said a big fu and do it anyway. Right. Just cuz they want to be independent. So I can imagine the oppression that they were trying to, sort of put on you to, to [00:11:00] hold you within their, barricade.

just made you wanna burst out even more. Mm,


[00:11:33] Damon: In college. Rebecca said she floundered feeling somewhat lost. Eventually she found a solid friend group that shaped a lot of who she is today. Rebecca shared that she believes in God, but she's not a religious person despite growing up in a religious home and attending a Christian college. She can't help thinking though, that there could have been some divine intervention along her path to the woman she is now. And through her life's experiences. [00:12:00]

nown book the primal wound in:

[00:12:36] Rebecca: my whole life, I'd taken the narrative that adoption is good and fine, and like not traumatizing, right?

the idea to get in touch with[:

And so I did not think she would get the email and that nothing would happen, but she did. And then she started, like she was said, she just got in touch with Jill again that year. Wow. Yeah, they'd been out of touch and that's is when it seemed like the right time.


Yeah. Are you saying when you said she'd just gotten in touch with Jill, your birth mother, that year, this was as of a result of your request for her to get in touch with her, or she had just been in touch with her? No. Separately


And then they had just reestablished a connection like months before I reached out.


[00:14:02] Rebecca: I know. Yeah. So it was really easy. That's in, It was like three days. Wow. And I love that my mom, Martha Carroll was such a big part of it.


Like they sound like they were somewhat friends, friendly ish. Wow.


[00:14:57] Damon: Rebecca's birth mother. Jill remained [00:15:00] friends with Becky, the social worker. Rebecca took a moment to point out that her name, Rebecca is the long form of the nickname Becky. Rebecca told me, she asked her adoptive parents if they named her after their social worker, but they swore they did However Rebecca is not sure she believes them fully.

Becky knew exactly where to find Jill and could reconnect Rebecca and Jill immediately, but Jill needed to take it slow. Becky served as an intermediary between the two Months


[00:15:47] Damon: She's not ready for this. She does not want a relationship with you. That was a whole week. And I was like, Oh yeah, that can be an outcome. crap. What have I done? [00:16:00] But then I think that was before she read my words, because now Jill will say once she got. . Like she really processed my letters I think it was just Becky saying, she said this and then when she sent like my actual message, that's when Jill was like, I know her.

Like she'll say that now. She's like, I know this person. Okay, I have to know

this person. Wow. You're saying that the translation between you and Jill by Becky was not really conveying the true sentiment of what you were trying to say, and when Jill finally got to read your actual words, she felt more connected to you and your purpose for reaching out, it sounds like.

Is that roughly correct?


[00:16:48] Damon: Yeah. That's amazing. So what ended up happening after this month or two of this intermediary interaction? How did you guys connect?


So how was it? It was great. it was like magical. Kind of like when they got there. don't know, one night when they came over there were like 30 white mods on the front door just flying around and I've never seen that before. And so now we're like, moth mother . we had a great time cuz we, she took me around to where she worked when she was pregnant with me. It was not like still there, but it was a cafe called Candy Land, and then there's an arcade that you can walk through that's like an open air kind of mall that's still there that she would take her lunch breaks on while she was pregnant.

And so we walked, we kind of did a little tour. That was nice.


[00:17:59] Rebecca: yeah, [00:18:00] we went to Sambuca, this restaurant, that's where we met first. And the host, like, when does the host ask you what your party that you're meeting looks like? . Like, that's never happened to me, but the host, I was like, I'm meeting someone here.

And they were like, What does she look like? I was like, um, I don't know. I mean, of course I'd seen pictures, but I told them, I was like, It's actually my birth mother and we haven't met before. Not even thinking. And they were like, what? And like super interested and then kind of watching us the whole time.

Yeah, that's, I don't remember what we talked about. I don't know.


[00:18:42] Rebecca: yeah. I mean she definitely seemed familiar and then our voices sound really similar, so that was interesting. . And then we shared a meal, just like two weirdos that are like clearly related.


[00:19:08] Rebecca: Um, I was conceived in a car, so that explains everything. , they were dating and they almost got married. so I didn't know that.

I didn't know that he apparently carved my name into a tree autumn after I was born. But he, you know, he didn't come to the hospital. He wasn't really around for any of the Nashville times. Not very supportive, and I have not met him, but she says, you know, he's, he was a good guy, but she like didn't wanna marry him.

And keep me . And I, I think I'm just not ready to meet him.

ne that at all. Like, taking [:

[00:20:08] Damon: Maybe you should contact, She's pushing you in that direction.

That's really interesting.


[00:20:15] Damon: Reunion mm-hmm. , why do you think you don't feel like doing it quite yet?


And are you mentally ready to handle that?


I'm just, I'm literally thinking out loud as I speak, so forgive me. Mm-hmm. , but it just, it [00:21:00] strikes me as sort of oddly interesting. You were gung ho sounds like, to meet her , but not quite there with him. It is a fascinating juxtaposition to me to think through the fact that we do that.

You, you almost check the box on Reunion when you meet your birth mother for some people, because she's quite literally the person from whom you came. But then sometimes the birth fathers we're just not quite ready to go there yet. And I had a little bit of that myself, , with my mom. I, I could feel her pain from the story of how I was conceived.

And I said, I don't need to push her with me trying to find this guy. And, and he wasn't, he wasn't interested in helping her when she was pregnant. So I said, uh, there's, there's no reason for me to go down this route. But then curiosity got the best of me after Ann's death and mm-hmm. , I went ahead and pursued it.

figure out what the catalyst [:

[00:22:17] Rebecca: Mm-hmm. . Yeah, I think you're right. And it is, it's always something that makes it clear. Like you get that piece of information that makes it clear. And that could be it. And you saying that might be the switch I needed to be like, maybe it's just Jill saying she'll support and actually make contact for you.


[00:22:40] Rebecca: like, why don't I just accept that ,


Rebecca has taken the book a step further, dedicating a part of her life to creating a documentary that supports the book. She said part of her inspiration for the documentary was she was trying to get members of her family to read the book, to help them all through some struggles.

uld not appear before a film [:

Since Rebecca was pregnant, some of the interviews and the documentary took place leading all the way up to her being induced for delivery. and even when she was waiting to deliver her daughter, Frankie, Joe. Later frankie joe appears in the documentary with nancy Verrier, which rebecca said is one of her favorite parts of the film


so much so that I pulled her into the community. I mean, I got her on Sarah and Louise's podcast Adoption, the making of me. Awesome. And you can still watch that. And some other podcasts like adopt perspective, Joe Sparrows and Australia. And she loved it. Like she was thrilled to be like[00:25:00] kind of back on the scene and interacting with so many adoptees.

She would come to r q and A screening and. So many people saw that we had a relationship, right? And they started asking me for an audiobook version of the Book of the Primal Wound. And like, that's a huge project that was never in my mind to do. But since I had this connection with Nancy, I asked her if we could do it.

e was so excited about that. [:

I think she sounds great and I'm so glad I have, I have this like the beginning and the end. her reading it and she was


[00:26:17] Rebecca: do it. So excited. Like I, she loved him. She was like, I wish that you were here. I would take y'all both out to dinner, you know, just like stoked. So I, in my naivety, just continued producing it and this.

Like this year, This is not that long ago. And, um, one of the criticisms of the book is that like, it might not talk about the TRA experience as much as some people would like.


[00:26:50] Rebecca: Yes. So to remedy that I decided to ask some of the transracial adoptees in our community to read the quotes at [00:27:00] the top of the chapters and then to introduce them, I kind of shouted out what they were working on, if anything, or who they were.

And I don't know, I just thought it was really good. And then I changed all the pronouns, um, to they them instead of, cuz she uses, he his throughout the book. So I, and she let me narrate it, which was great. So, anyways, it was finished, like it took five months and it wasn't like too hard cuz it's not a long book.

, and I needed to get the rice apparently to distribute it because Nancy wanted me to distribute it for her because she just does not like doing computer stuff. And I thought that was fine, but I also thought it would be fair for me to get a percentage of the sales, right? Mm-hmm. Hmm. because I produced this whole thing and we agreed on that.

that neither of us should be [:

And it was this whole thing and I wanted to loop them in anyways, just for transparency sake, you know, I found her daughter, uh, one of them online really easily, and we developed a rapport and they watched the movie and they loved it. And then said if you have any contracts or anything that my mom needs to see, I know she's like bad at the computer, so just send them to me and I'll get them to her.

little nervous and I'm like [:

And I don't know what happened, but I don't know if they knew about the movie or anything. And the whole tone and tenor of our relationship changed. and Nancy was, she called me and was just like really upset because her daughter told her that the movie was out and she was confused because I said , I wouldn't release it until she'd seen it.

And I was like, What? That's not the case. You know, It's not out. I don't know. So it, So the movie


[00:29:39] Rebecca: not out. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Just lots of confusion started happening. Like they thought the private SoundCloud link was live and published. And, I don't know, they just stopped talking to me, started assuming a lot, and, got litigious.

gious person. And that hurts [:

Right. You know? Right. But instead of talking to me, they, they just like cease and assisted the


[00:30:43] Rebecca: up.

Nightmare situation. Yes. Oh


[00:30:52] Rebecca: gone to, Okay. By the time this airs it will totally have been out for a while it'll be out this month that we're recording this. And [00:31:00] then it officially premiered at the Catalina Film Festival last week.


[00:31:18] Rebecca: Yes. Until it's like the public. Rent it or buy it on their own whenever they want.


Is that correct?


I would love for you to come to the premiere. You know? [00:32:00] And she's like, Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. But if you have like your daughter in your ear . , ,


I understand what you're saying. . Wow.

Rebecca says her naivete and enthusiasm for how well things were going with Nancy blinded her to the basics of any project, business deal or agreement. If there's no contract, you're not protected. Since she's completely in the dark about what the resistance is to releasing the audio book.

und to see the light of day. [:

Rebecca said she has a signed release for Nancy to appear in the movie. So at least that project is protected to move forward. When we spoke the lawyers had not responded to rebecca's offer Offer


Like, that's what we talked about. I was like, this is perfect. If I can do this, then you're letting me, then I can like use. Points you give me fun. The film and like travel and expenses. It was all, it made so much sense.


What you are really focused on is the democratization of this information, making sure that it gets out in multiple channels regardless of the effort that you've put in. We creators tend to do that, like we are passionate about what we've worked on and we just want people to hear it and have access to it.

nd so it's a shame that it's [:

But also just because people might not actually get a chance to hear it. And I'm hopeful that you and the lawyers and the family can come to an agreement that will at least let this be released in an accessible way for people to get ahold of. Cause I, there's a ton of valuable content out there on this book, in this book, and, and I think you're right that it does deserve to have this new modern format of audiobook be part of how it's shared with the adoptee community.

It's a hugely valuable resource. It's a shame for it to be locked away in audio and not, It's a shame for it to be locked away. Mm-hmm. on paper and not accessible by audio. So, And I appreciate where you're coming from.


Then the main issue for me is that now I'm dealing with like abandonment triggers from the author of the book about abandonment triggers in adoptees.


I, I hadn't really thought about how that would've impact you from a being an adoptee perspective.




[00:37:23] Rebecca: thanks. yeah, I, I feel like, I don't know, I've kind of lost hope on getting it back and I don't know what to do.

So I do think talking about it, and that's why I wanted to tell you this story because I haven't been, and I haven't been allowed to, but I have gotten the green light from a lawyer that I can say whatever I want. At this point, . Um, and I think that's the only way to get through anything is to talk about it.

s no real solution right now [:

[00:38:04] Damon: Yeah, hopefully somebody hearing this can offer an idea for a solution, an idea that may be something that both the family and the lawyers and you and your team can agree to that will allow this to be released on audiobook, because as you've said, it's not about the profit, it's about the information getting out there.

And I really hope that it does happen. So, I'm sorry, Rebecca, this sounds like it's really tough, but hopefully the movie will be, you know, a great means by which to amplify the message. So when does the movie come true and what's, what's,

what's next for the movie? .


And so just having something that you can listen to and that's talking about this is accessible and I, I am so [00:39:00] thrilled with the response to the film. It comes out in two weeks. It'll be out and we'll have been out on Vimeo once this airs. So, um, if you go to the website, you can access it pretty easily and then we'll do screenings, that will be less expensive than like buying the film.

Mm-hmm. . So I'm trying to make it equitable and have different options and always reach out to me if it's still something you can't afford. Cuz I want. Adoptees to be able to see it, no matter what. Very


[00:39:35] Rebecca: for everything then? I hope there's a sequel. So it's just reckoning with the primal


And it sounds like you and Jill have a wonderful relationship and I'm really glad for that. And I'm hopeful that things will turn around for the audiobook, uh, and that things will go well for the movie too. So thank you so much for your hard work in this space. It's, it's really meaningful and I'm, I'm glad you were here to share and talk about it.


[00:40:26] Damon: too. All right, Take care, Rebecca. Thanks. Thanks again for being here. All the best to you. Okay, thanks . Bye. Bye. Bye.



That's happened to a lot of [00:41:00] adoptees letters and gifts from birth parents for their child have been given to adoption agencies and adoptive parents, but never have been seen by the adoptee.

Thankfully when Rebecca's written words were transmitted directly to Jill for her to absorb and understand she was able to connect with her biological daughter in a way the intermediary could not facilitate. I really appreciate all the work Rebecca is doing to bring meaningful content like her documentary "reckoning with the primal wound", to the adoptee community.

You can learn about the The book that inspired the movie is so eye opening for people who want to understand more about adoption trauma. But as Rebecca said, it's only available in written form currently. So the information is trapped on paper in today's world where so much valuable content is available online while we're on the go.

n to stuff while we're doing [:

I'm Damon Davis, and I hope you found something in Rebecca's journey that inspired Validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn who am i really?