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183 - The Journey Changes Your Soul
Episode 1831st October 2022 • Who Am I Really? • Damon L. Davis
00:00:00 00:42:25

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Jack from Phoenix, Arizona, said as a boy, he was kept separate from his sister who was biologically related to his parents. While he was interested in reunion jack was clearly told his desires were unacceptable. He held off from searching for years only to find later that his birth mother was eagerly awaiting his return.

On his paternal side, Jack was met with a wall of protection with the exception of one sister. From a distance jack says he's learned more about his paternal family than they probably know about themselves.

This is jack's journey

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Damon's own story in print and audio:


Cold Cut Intro


[00:00:00] Jack: well, Damon, let me, just, piggyback on that by, by telling absolutely everyone who's wondering even. These block walls come up and it feels like nothing, but the worst kind of rejection, the, the journey is still worth it just based on what you learn around it.

And, and having participated in it. It changes your soul. It's it's worth it.



only to find later that his birth mother was eagerly awaiting his return. On his paternal side, Jack was met with a wall of protection with the exception of one sister. From a distance jack says he's learned more about his paternal family than they probably [00:01:00] know about themselves. This is jack's journey



Was a Navy man.

so his birth name resonated with his new dad.

For clarity, sometimes a guy with the name, John will get the nickname, Jack.

Jack was adopted first. Then two years later, his younger sister was adopted. Their family lived in Altadena, California, near Pasadena, north of the famous rose bowl. Then they moved to lancaster where the space shuttle was built and stealth bombers were crafted.


A lot of things. So I had kinda lived in my own world. I went to Catholic schools all the way through the the, the play time is pretty much alone. I, you know, if I look back, if I wish for anything, it would've been to have you know, something like little league from, from day one, or even some more informal sports with local kids.

I think the problem was mom, didn't make friends with the parents of any kids who were there. I would run into them in the street and ride bicycles, just kind of like once in a while. But it generally, we were, we were pretty much at home.


[00:02:42] Jack: Yes and adopted sibling. It, it turns out by the way, we found out much later after everyone. And absolutely everyone had passed away that she was the daughter of my adoptive dad's sister , which was , quite a surprise

for all of us.


[00:03:01] Jack: two years difference and no, it was like we didn't exist. I mean, You know, we had very, very, very little interaction. There was something, something dark about the, the whole issue about adopting her.

And so she was get very separate from me and, and not, and, and we were extremely different people. So even though it turns out, ultimately she was the biological relation to the, the parents of the house. And I was not, but we were, you know, we just different levels of, of interests. You name it, intelligence, anything.

It was just, you know, there was no reason for us to interact very much


[00:03:46] Jack: Well, , the, the adoption story for me was my. Birth father was on his way to becoming a doctor.

er was a cardiac surgeon. My [:

And so she was very, you know, supervised, , like some religious cult in the sense of not you know, not ever getting into trouble one day.


[00:04:39] Jack: Well, we were. That's a good question. I've been, I've been thinking about that.

something about what we each [:

I you know, she did the, you know, she had girl type chores. I had boy type chores. I took music lessons and, and so forth. She took ice skating lessons, so they were, they were separate worlds. And and I can just gather that she was a big handful. I think this being a daughter of serious alcoholics might have had a lot to do with, her hyperactivity.

You know, inability to have interesting conversations at any age and so on. I mean, a lot of that might, you know, had to do with, I, I just know it and we were not encouraged to do much together. That's for sure.


[00:05:58] Jack: the [00:06:00] complete opposite.

If you were an outsider, you would've envisioned me as the chosen one. And she was the, the, the black sheep in addition you know, the mother , she favored males at all levels of life children, adults, and so on. And, wasn't, wasn't close to, you know, women very much was very, you know, very, very strict, quite, you know, judgemental about women.

That's a, that's a serious thing with her.


However his dad was about as engaged with Jack as men of that era were with kids his age. He wasn't a hugger showed up to graduations but wasn't deeply [00:07:00] involved in the day-to-day of parenting


So we didn't get any history. We didn't have any great conversations. Didn't have a lot of great interaction with, with dad's Irish family who, you know, these are people who went to college or, and had, you know, interesting lives, especially back east. So, so. As far as I'm concerned, I knew how life should be

But on the other hand mom was in charge of the children. I I'm guessing since based on the love letters that dad sent during world war II, dad barely even knew that I was coming along. And, and that mom is like a hundred percent in charge of the children. And, and, and that's the sad side. Mom was a, just basically a preacher and a non communicator.

, a very long list of things [:

[00:08:02] Damon: Jack told me he relates to movie characters like Chauncey Gardner and Walter Mitty in 1979, the actor Peter Sellers played the character Chauncey Gardner in the movie "being there" about a simple guy who worked as a gardener, who was thrust out of the only home he ever knew when his employer passed away.

After some chance encounters, Chauncey ends up in Washington, DC acting as an influential confidant to a political insider.

played by Ben Stiller in the:

[00:08:56] Jack: So how that relates to me is that's [00:09:00] how I've been most of my life. , I've done so many things. I don't have the talent, the knowledge or whatever , to do extraordinarily well. And an example of that would be be music. I, I really worked hard on music, but the Mo the highest level I ever reached is playing in Octoberfest bands and things like that.

Or and in publishing, I, I did a lot of writing and, and saw myself as editor and chief , of a major firm. And, and when I did get to that level in a firm, it was, it was ridiculous. so these are examples of, Being being somebody that, that I'm not necess, cuz I I'm trying to find out who I am and, and, and trying this and trying that.

And, and, and I know I, I I've got intelligence. I know I've got talent, but it took a long time to, fit into what is my actual nature.


Like, what was the [00:10:00] catalyst for you that made you start thinking that this was something you wanted to


This was, you know, competing with her. Why wasn't I grateful enough. She was the actual mother and, it was, you know, it was offensive for me , to be looking out in those directions. But, but so all my life , I saw that there were no writers, no musicians in the, in this. No priest I have to tell you growing up you know, I was given these options, you know, well, of course you're going to be a doctor and if not that, well, maybe a lawyer or maybe an entrepreneur or a businessman or something, you're definitely going to college.

be a priest and nothing less [:

And, and so my only joy growing up was, was church because what a church had church had it had color, it had rights and rituals and aromas and, and ideas and controversy. And you name it you know, it, it was just full of life and color in many, many ways. So I was drawn very much in that direction.

nd a, you know, kind of less [:

And so I, you know, without words having said it, or anyone said you are, well, people would say once, well, you're, well, there's something wrong here. Or you know, you're a little different but I, I generally felt like a, like an outsider and, and, and I, and, and that generation, and particularly my parents, the, the secrets were, were enormous.

There must have been millions of it, but I was tired of the secrets. Hmm. So that there had to be more, there had to be more. And and I, and I didn't really seek information until I. Like in my thirties. Wow. And, and it did. So before you go


Like you stay over there and don't bother trying to achieve anything because nobody cares. Right. But it sounds like people had very high expectations for you. And I'm gonna go back to something else you said, if people from the outside would look at you and think you were the golden child in your family.

So there's a lot of mm-hmm. what seems to me in listening to this for the first time. Sort of contradictions, which I would imagine are confusing for you. Can you explain a little bit of what I've just asked about there in terms of high expectation held on the outside, but golden child as perceived from the outside?


And, and I think that's, you know, the being that was bought that was purchased and that you know, I, I'm pretty smart. I'm certainly well above average in many ways, but I, I didn't fit their program. In other words, I, you know, I, I'm more artistic than, , than scientific. I, you know, I'm, I'm a lot less athletic than any parents would want and, and, and so on, so forth.

So, so, so you, so yes, there were, there were high expectations and there, there was respect for you know, you know, the things to, to do and to learn. And some of the things that I, you know, it seemed I would be able to do one day, but, but generally my choices weren't good enough.

hosen. You know how it is in [:

Right. Does that


Right. That's kind of what it sounds like to me.

Jack was told in no uncertain terms, he would be disloyal if he searched for his birth family, he held off doing so until he was in his thirties. In his younger days in the late seventies, Jack's curiosity led him to the local library to request documents about his background. Jack knew that the documents he would receive would have

minimal information [:

who happened to be a private detective? At the same time Jack's adoptive mother decided she wanted to share what she knew about Jack's birth family. And she knew a lot. Jack's birth father Had been a contributing editor at time life in its early days. He went on to be the ceo of a major retail chain in philadelphia and new york


And I'm, 50 something anyway. The show it's unsolved mysteries, uh, had a, had a thing about finding an infant in Arizona abandoned in the middle [00:17:00] of the desert, that child was taken an organization called orphan voyage in Scottsdale, which is no longer exists by the way.

But I called them just out of the blue, I mean, okay. Here's somebody who knows stuff. Nobody else does. I, I can't tell you the surprise I had when they said, well, here's a number in California to call the woman's name is Marilynn. I call Marilyn. She says, give me $350 and I'll have the names of both of your parents and where they came from in 10 minutes.


that's incredible.


And, and mom was, she, she didn't really want me to meet my birth mother birth father, but she, she was, you know, and it turns out that she had actually told my sister who parents were, after everyone had [00:18:00] passed away, she felt she had to do that. And I guess she was, you know, giving me a clue.

She must have been feeling bad about hiding everything. .


[00:18:30] Jack: She said that this had happened any time before it probably wouldn't have happened, but, but now she was ready.

Not only was she ready, she was extremely eager for this. And, , and it was just absolutely wonderful. We, and then she and her husband and me and my daughter we all met in Reno, Nevada for this glorious glorious reunion. And, , and she was number one of everyone of all my, biological people to just, she was just so loving and I had 10 years to engage with her.


[00:19:04] Damon: really amazing. Wow. Can you tell me about that first meeting? What do you remember about it?




[00:19:46] Jack: is really funny. Yeah, absolutely. Oh my gosh. That's crazy. So


[00:19:57] Jack: Well it, you know, I, I, I [00:20:00] can't remember a single thing. We said it, because it was just, you know, catching up on, you know, all those years and, and just being glad for it. I mean, the one thing she was concerned about is she had five more boys you know, just with, with her husband.

And it turns out the husband would've welcomed me too, but it was too late. When she met him and, and, and, and the boys were, you know, had different levels of acceptance or non-acceptance one of the things, by the way, I, I wish I had heard the podcast and read all these books before, all this happened, or even during the time it happened, because then I'd realized how, you know, you're, you're, you're lucky if somebody loves you and embraces you from coming out of the.

you know, would've been much [:

And, and then there were, and probably a couple dozen trips between Arizona and Northern California, where she was and then lot, lots of interaction.


I don't have siblings in my reunion that I know of, and I know that it can be challenging it to come back as the oldest, especially for the person who was previously the oldest, all of a sudden this new person has their title. What was it like to, to sort of try to engage with these guys?


but I don't, I don't think that was entirely true. And, and in addition, I, I have to tell you they're boys, right? And boys are boys. And if, if you wanna be in any position in the [00:22:00] family, after seeing those guys, I would've only wanted to be the oldest. have to tell , , cause you know, they have long history of, you know, they love each other and they, but they also had plenty of disputes and they huge, huge, personality, differences, you know, the whole nine yards.

And it was just strange. They, they, their upbringing was, you know, nothing like mine. And vice versa, very interesting family. They're no two are, are alike whatsoever, entirely different careers, different you know, ways of living their lives. But to this day, by the way, they, they meet you know, once a year and, and, and since their mother died, they've you know, they're, they're close in that sense.

ives like that, we're tearing[:

Empathy, you can find whatever commonalities you can find you're grateful for. And then on the other hand there, there're just things that are, you know, you know, you got, you got there's there's one I'm won't name, any names who uh, if he could put it into words, he would probably say, you know well, that's great.

We have this nice new older brother, but if we had to choose one, it wouldn't be you . Well,


There's a lot of varying opinions in a group of five.

share similar temperaments. [:

Jack went into reunion with his birth mother, knowing his birth father's identity. So he asked her about his birth mother opened up with all kinds of stories about the music they dance to

and their life in the U S Navy working at the same hospital. Jack heard all kinds of stories of the couple going on double dates with jack's paternal grandfather a surgeon at that same hospital


. So they had plenty of money and plenty of fun. And I even know where I was conceived and I'm even guess, you know, I'm guessing it was Thanksgiving weekend of 1944 at the foot, at the foot of Mount Baldy.


Good for you figuring that out.

Jack said his birth father's name was pretty common, but he was able to find the man

He [:

[00:25:24] Jack: hello, you might be my brother, please reply.


Unfortunately, Jack's birth father did not want contact with him.


and I have just concluded that he he, he was, you know, embarrassed about, you know, being my father and was probably scared of his wife literally.

And so he just was not going to engage and, and almost nobody that family did or would you know, I've got a few more since then, but generally , they pretty much saw it as a dark part of their history. .

And, and now, now this is a fascinating family. I have to tell you and, and thank God for DNA and, and newspapers and everything else.

You know, I thank got this family back to the, before the American revolution in Pennsylvania, and I know more about them than they've ever known about themselves. Wow. But, but it was good. And yeah. And so the father was huge. He worked he was CEO for two branches of gimbles and watermaker , he just was awesome.

You know, he had his entire career was able to talk to at least one of his employees. He thought he was a bees knees, you know,


[00:27:03] Jack: you?

Well, the thing that I think many of us adoptees probably most, if not all, what do we fear the most? We fear rejection. We, we hate rejection and adoption, you know, being born to a woman who relinquish you, that's the first rejection. And then the fact that you're, you're an outsider as a rejection.

The fact that you don't get invited to be in the family business. That's a rejection. You find people who are your biological people who in your crazy subconscious should, be welcoming and you're like the prodigal son. They're not. So how, why, how do I feel? I, you know, I'm frustrated, I'm angry, you know, this is one wish they cannot be fulfilled you know, to get together with them.

On the other hand, you know, I, I fill myself eventually full you know, once I learned their stories and difficulties that they went through and the, the horrors they may have gone through with their own parents and so on and so forth, it's, it's easy to forgive. It's easy to understand it.

took a while, but You know, [:

[00:28:13] Damon: Really. Why do you say that?


I, I, I knew that there. That there are such people around the in the, the birth father's family, I I've seen confessions of not feeling very much love in the family and, things being sort of grim in many ways. So, you know, you know, I mean you can have, should, or would, or could of things like if my birth mother had actually married my birth fathers, every it was, it it'd be absolutely true.

I probably would've gone to [:

[00:29:19] Damon: Yeah, that's right. There's it's not often time well spent to sort of reflect on what could or would've should have been, cuz you're here now and quite literally the only way to go is forward.

So and this goes into something that I think you have expressed a feeling about is like a lot of. not so favorable feelings from a lot of adoptees. You wanna talk a little bit about your feelings, about how some adoptees feel?


We, we don't know, we have a. The feelings or if we don't know, we don't know why we have them and that's, that's that foggy area. And, and and, and so you, it's really hard to fight that you fight something that you don't know the root cause of. But then when you, when you begin to realize that this is this is something experienced by a lot of people that, you know, we can, we can help each.

Or at least get back to understanding. And then as a result of that start healing forgiving and building our our own lives. So I, I don't know how to answer that exactly. Except to tell you that I, I only advise to other adoptees would, would, would be to, to learn and, and, and get together when they can, like in these local adoptee groups.

my own childhood about what [:

And even because you're an adoptee, you don't know why a lot of this stuff's happened. And it's only after going through this process that you thank God I've lived long enough to see you know, why it, you know, what makes sense and what doesn't


And, and what do you recommend to other adoptees for who are feeling something similar?


So you don't get the meet, the all you can't meet all the dead people anyway. Yeah. Okay. You can't meet the people that are still living fine, whatever, but what you get from them is a great feeling of connection to, you know, to history suddenly the, the history in Pennsylvania and, and, and Virginia and in such places.

Come really alive when your people have been there, they were there before the revolution, during the revolution, during the civil war.

And, and then it turns out there are threats that there's, there's a really , strong religious thread through these, through these families all the way up to me that you know, I am, you know, it's, it's sort of an intuitive universally connected thing that that, that is, that is not left this.

ves. and where, whereas the, [:

So I have sort of a new vocation at this, at this end to, to be. You know, to be helping them pass on information.


Yep. Yeah. Really wild. One of the [00:34:00] things that you wrote down that I'm kind of curious about is you said something along the lines of having regrets about pieces of your search. Do you wanna elaborate


Or even if it was back then, you know, what questions could we could we have asked, how could we have made it easier for the biological people that we are meeting, or even for adoptive family who are. You know, paranoid about you going out and seeking your, your birth parents, you know, how to talk, what works, what their interests are.

hat we into their biological [:

She didn't have to do it. You could, you could just point fingers at, at the adoption agencies and, and call them, you know, money grubbers, if you want to, or there's just so many ways. But then when you really look, you know, , of all the horrible things that everybody have to face, you know, in society and peer pressure, Different religious points of view, different political point of views ages, cultures, the whole nine yards.

u know, my forcing myself on [:



on people.


And, at the time I didn't have much money and, and so on. So that was kind of my excuse. But if I had done that again, I would've just flown there, found him alone somewhere on a dock where he is fishing sat down. And even if two minutes later he chased me away or whatever at least I could have seen.

Heard his voice and smelled him for a minute. I, I really felt I needed to do that. And I would, I would now do that. I don't care who you are.




Well, Jack, this has been [:

Right. You know, in the absence of solid information, we're willing to go to all kinds of great lengths to try to locate where our biology. Lives. And and it's always interesting to me too, to hear the differences in how a person is received in your biological mother's family, it sounded like you were welcomed, you know, at least by her and by some of her kids.

And then in your biological father's family, like only one sister reached out and the rest of the family doesn't want to engage. And so it's just, you know, it's a fair warning to everybody out there who's searching is that you've got a lot of different possibilities for how this thing could go and you can't really predict it.


[00:38:04] Jack: hear well, Damon, let me, let me just, just piggyback on that by, by telling absolutely everyone who's wondering even. These block walls come up and it feels like nothing, but the worst kind of rejection, the, the journey is still worth it just based on what you learn around it.

And, and having participated in it. It's it's it changes your soul. It's it's worth it.

Yeah, I agree. 100%. And one of the things that I've often told people is you don't realize how much you needed it until you start to get pieces of it. And then it it's indescribable almost to some extent before you start to get the, put the pieces together.

And then as it starts to make you whole, you didn't realize what was missing, you know, because now you feel that wholeness, it's just, it's fascinating.

Exactly. Yeah. Very well


[00:39:05] Jack: Well, it's an honor to be talking to you, my friend keep doing what you're doing.

You're providing a wonderful service to people all over the world. Damon. Thank you,


[00:39:22] Jack: All right. You too, Damon.

All right. Byebye.



Jack was clearly told it would be disloyal to locate his birth mother. But when he did so anyway, he was finally [00:40:00] greeted into her family and loved from head to toe. . The desire to reunite as a powerful one. And Jack said the journey is well worth it.

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



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