Ashley had one of those moments where talking to her biological sister felt so familiar it was like texting and and responding to herself. But her birth mother’s pain and uneasiness over Ashley’s desire to learn anything about her birth father was too much for the woman, and their relationship suffered. When she found her birth father Ashley, predictably, learned that he didn’t know she existed. But incredibly he learned that his wife, who was not Ashley’s birth mother, already knew her husband had a child out there, even though he didn’t.
Read Full TranscriptAshley: 00:00:02 I was worried about her because she just is so constantly, basically, it seemed like she was depressed about the situation. I just wanted to make it go away. I just wanted her to know I had a good life. I was happy. I’m still happy. You’re in my life now. Let’s just go with it because, and I remember I said to her, not many people get this chance. Not many people get a chance to meet their biological family and get to know them and I said like, like let’s take advantage of this.
Voices: 00:00:35 Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?
Damon: 00:00:47 This is Who Am I Really? A podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I’m Damon Davis and on today’s show is Ashley. She lives up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Ashley had one of those moments where talking to her biological sister felt so familiar. It was like texting and responding to herself, but her birth mother’s pain and uneasiness over Ashley’s desire to learn anything about her birth father was too much for the woman and their relationship suffered. When she found her birth father, Ashley predictably learned that he didn’t know she existed, but incredibly he learned that his wife, who was not Ashley’s birth mother already knew her husband, had a child out there even though he didn’t. This is Ashley’s journey.
Damon: 00:01:37 Ashley was adopted as an infant because her adoptive parents weren’t able to conceive. She described her life as comfortable and she got a lot of love from her parents. They held her and rocked her every day. In school, he was given the infamous family heritage assignment, so she assumed the identity of her adoptive parents. She was paternally, Scottish and maternally German in adoption. In grade six, she started to question things more. Her adoption was closed, so there wasn’t much information available to her parents, but
Ashley: 00:02:08 they did know that, you know, I had a couple brothers and a sister, which is cool for me cause I, well growing up I was an only child. So to hear that I had siblings out there was a pretty cool thought. They also told me how I was an auntie before I was born, which again, very cool. You know, don’t have siblings never would be an Auntie. So that thought was pretty cool.
Damon: 00:02:28 How did, how did you know that you were an auntie already?
Ashley: 00:02:31 My Mom and dad, I don’t know if they got told when they adopted me, but my biological parents were older when they had me, like my parents were in their forties when they had me. Like I was, you know, kind of a way later. Like, I mean now, you know, it’s, I look back and it’s like, yeah, you know, I’m 12 years old and I’m an Auntie. I guess that’s pretty cool. Once I, uh, Kinda asked mom and dad questions, I said, you know, like you, you know, you’re an auntie, you have siblings but we don’t much to tell you. And they said when we do find out stuff and when we do tell you, you know, maybe anything else that we know we want you to be ready to handle the information because it’s not going to be something just light to take. So I was like, okay. And I kind of, you know, went on with it.
Damon: 00:03:16 what did you think when they said that? That’s kind of a heavy comment to even make. What do you remember how you felt when you heard those words?
Ashley: 00:03:24 I think I was confused. Like what could it be, you know, that could be so terrible or so huge that I need to wait until I’m old enough to understand. Like, I mean I knew it wouldn’t be something as simple as you have a mom and dad. Like I kind of had that feeling from the get go, but just kind hearing that thought that when you’re prepared, when you’re ready. And I’m thinking, okay, like how long is it going to take me to get emotionally ready or mentally ready to handle whatever it is that might be thrown at me. But it was, I could take my whole life. It could take five years. I had no idea.
Damon: 00:03:56 What was it like to grow up as an only child, but know that you had siblings out there?
Ashley: 00:04:02 It was, I dunno, it was, it was good I guess. Like, I mean I never, um, you know, I guess hearing all my friends and having their siblings and like, you know, sibling arguments and stuff, I kind of was glad, I guess in a way that I was an only child that I kinda didn’t have to deal with that kind of aspect of it.
Damon: 00:04:19 I had the same feeling I would always, there were times when I wanted a brother and then I would go to my, my friend’s house and they will be bickering with their siblings and I was like, well I don’t want that. That’s bleeh,
Ashley: 00:04:28 Yup. Yeah. But I mean at the same time it was kind of hard cause it was Kinda, you know, I always, growing up I always wanted like an older brother or something. So knowing that I maybe had that out there and I couldn’t like have it with me then. It was hard. But at the same time I was thankful for my mom and dad, so I didn’t really try and focus on that thought too much of, you know, what if I had a brother with me, what if I had a sister? I just kind of would push those thoughts out and just, you know, focus on, I have two wonderful parents and a family who loves me and for me that was good enough.
Damon: 00:05:01 I inquired about their families, likenesses and differences. Ashley said they looked alike and their personalities are closely aligned too.
Ashley: 00:05:09 If you didn’t know we were, if I was adopted, you would think that I was biologically their child and is actually quite, um, scary sometimes. Like we, you know, we all have blue eyes, you know, just my dad has a lazy eye. I have lazy eye, the exact same like eye as well. Like there’s just weird little things that, you know, I noticed growing up too that were the same and a lot of people, they always tell me, you know, if I, if I didn’t know you were adopted, I would have never guessed like personality wise too. You know, like I get quite a bit of personality from them. I think being is because I did grow up with them and they raised me and I, you know, been around for 22 years of my life. So how they, you know, acted and everything is what I took as a trait and um definitely, I get you know, stuff also from them completely,
Damon: 00:05:59 that’s really amazing. It’s not, it’s not very often that an adoptee will say that they, you know, resemble their own adopted families so much. That’s incredible. Wow. That must’ve, did that give you a sense of comfort that you’d, and forgive the terms , like didn’t stick out like a sore thumb and therefore weren’t constantly reminded? Like how did it, you’re resemblance to them play out for you in terms of your feelings as a family?
Ashley: 00:06:31 I think for me it was, you know, I could look at them and I could be like, yeah, that’s my mom and dad, yet look at pictures and I could see we were a family and we looked alike, and for me that kind of, yeah, it definitely gave me a little bit of comfort that I didn’t look completely different than my parents and you know, I was part of who they were and they look like they were part of who I was. So for me that definitely made it a little bit easier to, you know, when people found out that I was adopted and I would tell them and they’d be like, really you’re adopted? Like that’s a joke. I’d be like, well no, actually like I am adopted. But I think looking at them, even now it’s like I’m 22 and I can still look at them and I’m like, I still see so much resemblance in looks wise and personality wise. And I think for me and hearing other people’s stories that that’s very, it’s very lucky that I even have that because I know that it can be, from what I’ve heard from others, it’s very hard when you look, you know so different from them and you feel like you don’t fit in and you have to kind of make yourself blend in with them and I didn’t have to experience that part. So for me I feel that was very, I’m very grateful for that.
Damon: 00:07:37 So Ashley’s parents have given her the talk to prepare her mentally for whatever she might learn when she gets more information. When she was about 15 she was so curious about all of the details about her biological family members.
Ashley: 00:07:50 I don’t know if I want to know who they are, but I want to know why. I want to know my background. I don’t know my medical history, I would like to know my medical history. Like there was a lot of things that I just wanted to know just for the sake of knowing.
Damon: 00:08:02 In high school, the questions really took hold in Ashley’s mind and she wondered how her life would have been different if she were not an adoptee. She wasn’t wishing her wonderful life with her parents away. She just wanted answers to the question, why? Around 16 years old, she spoke with her mother again about her adoption. She said,
Ashley: 00:08:21 when you turn 18 you can fill out a record to release your adoption records and we will help you with that and we will be there for you every step of the way. And I was like, okay, like you know, that’s another year away, I can wait. So grade 12 year came and graduation year and I was still wondering like, am I ready? Like you know, I turned 18 and two months, am I ready to do this? And I remember going to my friends and being like, what do I do? Like do I fill out this form? Do I wait? Like I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m mentally ready. I don’t know what I’m preparing for. I mean, ultimately you don’t know. I mean, by all I knew, you know, my biological parents could be dead, they could want nothing to do with me. There was a lot that you have to prepare for. And I remember thinking maybe I’m ready. Maybe I’m not
Damon: 00:09:08 on her 18th birthday. Ashley didn’t feel ready. She pushed her thoughts away for a year, but they came back nagging at...