Free Transcript Project – #13

Pushing Upstream – Episode 01 – St Louis Post Dispatch & DNA Testing

YouTube Channel : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRCr8a7XCdy164safAuDIOw

Host :
Twitter : @WinstonWolfe333
Steemit : https://steemit.com/@winstonwolfe


 

[INTRO MUSIC]

Winston Wolfe (Host) : My name is Winston Wolfe, and you’re listening to “Pushing Upstream”. I was born in 1979, in the midwest, and adopted eight days later. Now, at almost 39 years old I’ve begun the search for my birth family, and I started this podcast to document my experiences. I invite you to join me on my journey… Today is June 22nd, 2018. This is Episode #01. The day after I recorded the pilot Episode #00, there was an article that was posted by Kurt Erickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. [This] could not have come at a more perfect timing, in my opinion. The name of the article is “Long wait for adoptees seeking birth records in Missouri”. Essentially, whenever the law went into enactment on the 1st of January, for those over the age of 18, people were warned that the wait period could be between three to six months. However, it looks like – considering the number of requests they received; which they didn’t anticipate – apparently the wait time has actually been extended to nearly nine months. Now I personally have not been able to submit my form yet, [although] I stll plan to. But it looks like I’m going to need to plan for a wait period of probably up to about a year. Needless to day, this is a little disappointing. According to the article it looks like 848 people have been provided with either a copy of their original birth certificate, or notified that the agency dd not have a record on file for them. This is something I’m kind of worried about – not necessarily that they won’t have a record; that would be disappointing in and of itself. But also to find out that information may have been redacted. As I said in the previous episode, there is a form you can submit if you are a birth parent, if you decide you don’t want that information divulged. The way I understand that it works is [that] if both parents fill that form out the record is completely unavailable. If only one of them fills out that form, then essentially, you would get a record that has that information marked out. But to be honest, even if I’m not able to get any sort of document – anything that shows any information about either one of my birth parents – no matter what the outcome is going to be I plan on submitting it anyway, and basically planning for probably up to about a year to get anything back, as I said. In the meantime, however, there are plenty of other things I can be doing. I can be searching online. I can also submit my DNA – for example, through Ancestry.com, or through 23andMe.com. Since I released the pilot episode about four days ago I have joined all kinds of Facebook groups for people who are essentially “adopted and searching”. I know that’s actually the name of one of them. There are several different groups like this too, and I’m seeing stories popping up by the hour – from people who are getting results back, people who have had results and have tried contacting the people that it says they are connected to; both positive and negative. I’m seeing things where it almost seemed as if the birth families were simply waiting to be found, and accepted their long-lost child – [laughter] now an adult – with open arms. This is kind of what I’m hoping for maybe. Meanwhile, other people are finding it very difficult to contact their birth family – some of whom are saying things like, “We have come to terms with what we’ve done, and moved on, and we really don’t want to talk.” This is heartbreaking to me – [these] people who are on this journey of self-discovery, [to] find out where they came from, and to see what kind of people they came from, and are being rejected. I’m even seen cases where people are contacting half-siblings they never knew they even had, and are very easily able to talk to some of them, but whenever they try to talk to the actual birth parent [they’re] being rejected. Now, the thing with Ancestry.com – just to kind of talk about that for a minute. This is something I’m actually kind of excited about, because even if I don’t find anybody I can still get some information about my genetic health background, which is very important to me, and important for me for my son. But essentially, for about $100 [USD] from Ancestry.com you can order a DNA kit. It just comes with – to my knowledge – when you receive the kit it comes with a kind of tube, and you fill it up with some saliva and that’s it. You just sent it off and wait for about a month [or] two months, [or] something like that, for your results. [It’s the] same thing with 23andMe.com. Both of these services offer family genetic testing, [which basically will] show you who, genetically, you’re linked to, if the people that it says you’re linked to have decided to make it public, and make themselves able to be contacted. With 23andMe.com, however, not only do you get that, and not only – like [Ancestry.com] – do you get the ethnic background test — which, by the way, I understand should kind of be taken with a grain of salt, because it’s not perfect. But they also offer a service for $199 [USD], which provides that information, but also gives you your genetic health background. Like I said, this is important to me – for me and my son – because I know nothing about my genetic background, obviously, and my son only has half of the information that he needs – which is on his mother’s side, of course. Now granted, I’ve not really ever been terribly sick, aside from just the normal sicknesses people get on and off. [For example], I’ve never had to go spend the night in [a] hospital. I never had a surgery. I’ve never broken a bone. I don’t even wear glasses. But who’s to say that somewhere down on my birth father’s side they don’t have a history of early-40s heart attacks, or anything like that. I need to know what it is I’m up against. Of course, aside from being able to get those services, those two places – [Ancestry.com] and 23andMe.com – they also offer you the ability to download, essentially, the raw data on your DNA. Then once you’ve got that you can upload it to other databases that people upload that information to. For example, MyHeritage.com, GEDMatch.com, FTDNA – which is also [FamilyTreeDNA.com] – and [Promethease.com]. I understand that Promethease actually has a huge breakdown that they can give you on a lot of information about your DNA. I’m interested in submitting to all of these. You’ve got to set those trot lines. Another really useful resource I thought I found, actually, was on a website called AdoptionDatabase.Quickbase.com. I actually found that one by simply Googling “adoption database for Missouri”. That’s really it. There’s all kinds of listings. When you go in there – again, it’s going to be one of those things where it completely relies on the people you’re looking for having gone there and paid to make an entry. I think it’s like $10 [USD], and you can make an entry saying, for example, “I’m a birth mother, and I’m looking for an adoptee who was born on [this] date, in [this] county, in [this] city, in [this] state, on [this]…” you know, and “… you can tell at the hospital, [and] you can tell at the adoption agency that was involved ..” On that particular web site I found an entry that was very, very similar to mine – so much so that I thought, ‘You know what? Even though there’s this one piece of information, of all of the available information on this entry, that’s incorrect, I’m still going to take a look. I’m going to go ahead and see what I can find out.’ I’m going to talk about that, but not on this episode. But to sum up, essentially, everything on that entry that I found was on par with what I expected to find, except that the birthday was wrong. Now, I almost didn’t look at this entry, but then after reading article, after article, after article on advice for people who are on this journey, and on this search, in particular the one thing they said was, “Even if some information is incorrect, if your gut tells you that it’s worth looking into don’t pass it up. Look into it.” So I did, and again, I’m going to save that for a different episode, because that was an interesting experience. It was the first contact I made, and while it was a little bit of a letdown at the same time, I can’t help but wonder if this is not just kind of part of the process for a lot of people. I’m sure it is. I don’t have to really wonder. I’m sure that it is. I know that it is. [There’s] lots of “false positives”. [There’s] lots of getting not only your hopes up. but the person you’re contacting – getting their hopes up too – and having to apologize for that, and then wishing each other “better luck next time”. Now one thing that I will talk about [is that] in the last episode I mentioned several different things that I had wondered over the years. For example: Are they still alive? Are they looking for me? Have I met them and not even known it? That one in particular – that last one about having met them and not known it – there was something that happened to me about 18 years ago, when I worked at a camera store. There was a woman and her daughter – who must have been probably five years younger than me, or so – who came into the store looking for a camera for the young girl. So, of course, I helped these folks out, [showing] them a lot of the point-and-shoot cameras, and I think she might have been interested in one of the Olympus models. The more I was looking at her [I thought] to myself, ‘She could be my sister. This girl could be my sister. She looks like I’m looking into a mirror at a female version of myself.’ I can’t be the only person that’s had that experience, where they’re looking around at people and they find somebody and just kind of look them right in the face and go, ‘My god!’ You know? How do you approach that? How do you go, “Did you by chance have a child that you adopted out in 1979?” How do you drop that? [laughter] You don’t. [There’s] no socially acceptable way to just stumble into that conversation, like, “Nice weather, huh? Did you ever adopt a kid out?” [laughter]. It just doesn’t work that way. So I just had to kind of stand there, and I helped them just fine. I sold her a camera, but I never saw them again, to my knowledge. I just [have] never had that experience with anybody else – to look at somebody and go, ‘I wonder?’ You know, there’s enough similarities in physical appearance that ‘I wonder’. Now, of course, here we are in 2018 and it’s so easy to do a DNA test now, and throw that data into a database to see who links up to you. How much would that have cost 18 years ago? I don’t even know. [I was] probably pretty expensive. I don’t even think the technology was nearly up to par then as it is now – just as with, of course, any other technology – so we really do live in the future [laughter], so to speak. So yeah, that was a unique experience that I wasn’t sure how to describe, [and] I wasn’t sure how to share, over the years. It’s just been one of those things, but it is what it is. This afternoon, on one of the Facebook gourps that I’m a part of for adoptees who are searching, or family members looking for other family members, there was someone on here who wrote – as if they were speaking to their birth child – a post on their 40th birthday. Now I won’t read the whole thing, but I do want to read a couple of highlights, and I think you’ll like where this ended. She said, “You are 40 today. I don’t want to interrupt your life. I don’t want to upset you. I only want to know that you are okay. I was very young when you were born. I wanted to keep you, but couldn’t. The reasons seem trivial now – now that I’m older, and wiser, and not to naive. Do I blame my mother who told me I couldn’t come home if I brought you with me? No, I should have been braver. I should have been stronger. But I wanted you to have a life, a home, a family. Not what I had – a turmoil. You came early – very early. You only weighed one pound and fifteen ounces, but you were beautiful, you were a screamer, and you were mine. I always worried that you had health issues because you were so small. I hope not. I pray not. You are mine, so I know you are a fighter. so if you’re looking I am here. If you’re looking Im not ashamed. If you’re looking, you have family who know about you, who care about you, [and] who want to know you. If you are looking, find me.” Then further down she says, “I wrote you a letter that was supposed to be given to your adopted parents, but who knows if it was given to them. I’ve never kept you a secret, and anyone who knows me knows about you. I hope to meet you one day. I hope to be as much a part of your life as you will allow. I love you.” So I actually went ahead and responded to her, because as somebody in her birth daughter’s position, I think [that] for somebody who sounds so distaught over it – and no blame there – that maybe she could use a little perspective from somebody in our position. I told her, “I’m about two-and-a-half weeks away from being 39. Both of my wonderful adopted parents have passed away recently – dad four years ago, and mom just this past September. I remember thinking years ago that I would feel guilty for searching for my birth parents, because I didn’t want my adopted ones to believe that I was doing it to replace them, or because they weren’t good enough. But I remember one of the last things my mom said to me before she passed away – and keep in mind [that] she had kidney failure and faded into a coma before passing a few days later – was that she was sorry that she didn’t know more about who my birth parents were – or who my birth mother, in particular, was. But I somehow feel that it’s more respectful to them that I waited to embark on this search for my birth parents until now. At one point I’d made peace with not knowing. But now that I’ve got a little boy of my own I feel like I need to do it. I’ve got a non-identifying letter, that was given over to my adopted parents with me at the time of the adoption, as well as a stack of children’s books, a greeting card congratulating my parents on their new baby, and a ring that she wanted me to wear when I got older. Just because they are 40 I don’t think you should convince yourself that they don’t think about you, or that they’re not maybe trying to find you. I just began my search four days ago, and I’ve got some tasks ahead before I can even get a first wave of any useful information. If I can find her I just hope that my birth mother is as anxious to hear from me as you are of your daughter.” So there it is. As I continue on my search I’m learning a lot about other people, and I’m also finding that my story is pretty cut-and-dry, compared to a lot of the ones I’m seeing. For example, I’m finding a lot of people who aren’t adopted, but are doing DNA tests for trying to do family trees, or find out about their ethnic backgrounds a little bit deeper – and in my detail – and in the process they’re uncovering some pretty ugly family secrets. I can think of one instance where a brother and a sister both did a DNA test, and when the taste came back the brother only had half of the people connected to him as the sister did to her, but also had an entire list of people that they’d never heard of before. So essentially – for a lack of a better way to put it – it seems as though the mother in the situation may have been unfiathful. This is a huge secret that can just be blown wide open in a family, and [I have] to admit I’m grateful that that’s not something I’m worried about. I’m not connected to anybody, so everyone I find is going to be a surprise. My hope is that I’m not the secret. On the other hand, I need to go by what I originally said, which was, ‘No matter what the outcome, I want to do this.’ I can be tactful about it, [and] respectful. I get it. [Whenever] I talk about my letter – and I’ll read it, like I’ve said before; I’ll save that for another episode as well. I think you’ll find, like I did, that it seems that my birth parents were probably pretty young, [and] they weren’t ready. I get it. You know, adoption is a fantastic option. It beats the alternative. If you’re not going to keep a kid it beats the alternative. Like I said in the last episode, I’m grateful for the life I’ve had. I don’t know what it would have been had I not been adopted, so I’m not going to speculate, but I certainly have no complaints about the upbringing I got. By as I said, I think that’ll probably do it for this episode, and I’ll go ahead and kind of leave things where thy are right now. In the next episode I think I’d like to discuss the experience of making that first contact – doing the research, and ultimately how I came to the conclusion – before even making that contact – that I was probably not on the right trail. In the meantime, thank you again to all of my listeners. I enjoy recording these episodes and releasing them, and your feedback, of course, is important to me. In fact, I’ve created a new email address for you to send questions to if you want. That email address is : PushingUpstreamPodcast.Gmail.com. For those of you listeners out there who are on your own journeys, don’t give up. Never stop searching, no matter how discouraged you get, because ultimately you don’t know if the people you’re looking for are waiting to be found. But for now, that’s it for this episode. I hope you’ll join me in the next episode, and of course, thanks again for listening. We’ll see you next time…

 

[OUTRO MUSIC]

 

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