Julie’s DNA Surprise

Most of the time, when I speak to people on the podcast, we learn that the reason they took the test was out of curiosity or for fun. Maybe they were given the DNA test as a gift from a friend or significant other. So imagine my surprise when I learned that this week’s guest was given her Ancestry DNA kit by her mother.

Welcome to Season 8 of DNA Surprises. In this week’s episode, Julie shares how she uncovered the truth about her paternity after her mom gifted her a DNA test. She recalls her “party people” parents and a childhood spent around the world after they divorced and her mother remarried. As we often say on this podcast, DNA surprises can happen to anyone, of any background. From conservative upbringings to more unconventional lifestyles, there are no rules about who can be rocked by the shocking results of a DNA test.

Thank you for sharing your story, Julie.

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Episode Transcript

Transcripts are AI-generated and may not reflect the final published episodes.

[00:00:00] Julie: I mean, I, I go down all these little rabbit holes when I’m thinking about it. That’s 1 of the main things I’ve thought about for the last 3 or 4 years is this finding out more about these people. And, where I came from and how this all came to be, you know, it’s not just a 1960s swing fest.

[00:00:19] Julie: It’s my origin story and, you know, I wish my mom would be okay with it. That would be a good thing. Cause like, it’s the truth is out. She has to live with it now and I’m embracing it. And. If she was less shame filled about it, she could understand the kind of poetry of it in a way.

[00:00:39] Julie: It’s, it’s a beautiful, you know, I got lucky. I got lucky. Like, I have a dad who loved me. I had a A dad who’s an artist, who, who came to visit me and carried my baby picture. Mom told him he couldn’t be part of my life. She said he didn’t want to be part of my life, but who carries a child’s baby picture in their wallet if they don’t want to be part of their life?

[00:00:59] Julie: And who tells on their deathbed, you know, you got to go find this person. He wanted, he wanted to know me.

[00:01:06] Julie: He wasn’t allowed to.

[00:01:12] Julie: My name’s Julie. I am 60, about to turn 61, and I’m from upstate New York. Holy crap. It’s, um, be a book someday, I tell you. You know, the usual. I always felt different. I always, I was the oldest of five kids, my mom’s, first child, and I was born in 1963, January. Then I had a brother who was born about a year after me and another brother and a sister and a brother. There’s 12 years between the oldest and the youngest.

[00:01:51] Julie: So I was, my parents were married about maybe three years before I was born, three or four years. Just never got along. They were totally different people. Um, they married basically when they were like 18 and 21. As they did back then my mom, she came from a small town.

[00:02:09] Julie: My dad was going to a private boarding school in that small town. And they met when they were teenagers. And mom, you know, first guy she fell in love with, she wanted to get out of the house and he proposed and they got married.

[00:02:24] Julie: I was the oldest and you know, like first kid and first pancake. So they make all the mistakes. Throw the first one away. first pancake. So when they burn. I had my little brother and we were, we were close in age, we did everything together. I love my dad, my birth certificate father, um, totally adored him. We got along great. He was working all the time and mom was like a stay at home mom. Her and I was always butt in heads, totally, uh, contentious relationship, even from the get go, cause I think I was a challenging kid.

[00:03:01] Julie: I was just really opinionated and I guess smart and I just saw everything and I, I asked a lot of questions. And I don’t think they like that. And I saw things and I would say, well, what was that? You know, try and find out more information than they wanted me to know. My parents were party people.

[00:03:21] Julie: They liked to have these crazy parties. office parties at their house and it was the 60s and lots of crazy shit. My brothers and I would come, or my brother and I would come downstairs after these parties and help ourselves to what was left in the, in the glasses, smoking cigarette butts. We were like three and four or something

[00:03:43] Alexis: Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,

[00:03:45] Julie: Yeah, we were bad. Um, but yeah, I mean, it was, It was the only childhood I know. So for me, that was just the way it was. It was just a Weird little crazy thing and then one year my mom said she didn’t want to live in the city anymore We were living in a suburb of Rochester. She’s like I don’t want to I don’t want to live in the city Let’s go live in the country because she she wanted to live in the country So dad found this old dilapidated farmhouse and he fixed it up for us and we lived there for quite a while and then Uh, I guess it was like 1969, 1970.

[00:04:23] Julie: Um, my parents started like deciding about getting divorced. They were just fighting all the time. And, um, a new man came into the picture. It happened to be a hitchhiker. My dad brought home from work one day and my mom. And him started seeing each other. So that was my stepfather. He became my stepfather.

[00:04:44] Julie: He wasn’t a good person. He was, he was a little bit, uh, abusive, but so there’s that there’s my dad, my birth certificate, dad, my stepfather. Deaf father that I, those are the dads I knew. Also, when we were living there, uh, friends of the family would come by, people from the city that my mom knew, and uh, they’d come visit.

[00:05:06] Julie: And I remember this one particular man come, came and he was very curious about me and my art, and um, he would talk to me and he had a picture of me. British accent his, he smelled good and he was kind and I remember something about him. He was, uh, rather deaf in 1 year and he told me you have to speak in the other ear.

[00:05:26] Julie: And he had 1 leg that was a little bit shorter than the other. So he wore the little elevated shoes on 1 side, but he was such an interesting, kind person. And, he gave me this little ammonite. possible, which I still have to this day. I have no idea how I kept it over the years, but I, it was a little like thing.

[00:05:46] Julie: I remember in one day, I remember this conversation between him and my mom and I’m sitting there, I must’ve been about seven and I heard him say, Oh, my mom said, you think she looks like Christina and that man said, she does, but I think she also looks like Frankie and. And I looked at both of them.

[00:06:10] Julie: I’m like, who’s Christina? And he said, Oh, Christina is my little girl. And my little like brain was going like, why do I look like his little girl? And then I’m like, who’s Frankie? He’s like, that’s my mother. Like, I look like your mother. I guess that shut the conversation down because they realized I understood what they were saying.

[00:06:29] Alexis: What did you think at that point? Were you like, is this guy my dad or were you just

[00:06:34] Julie: No, it never occurred to me. I’m like, how could I look like this person’s child and mother that, you know, what does that mean? And then I, I guess mom and I had a conversation about it afterwards. She’s like, no, you look like me. You look just like me. And I, I do look a lot like my mom. And then I said, do I look like my dad?

[00:06:53] Julie: But she wasn’t thinking of the dad that I was thinking of. I was thinking of my birth certificate father. And she said, yeah, you do. And then I went out to my dad. I said, do I look like you dad? I don’t. Don’t know what I look like, you know, it’s like very confused Like you see that like person you look like and then the other person who made you you look nothing like them It’s so such a strange like confusing thing Like why didn’t I get like my brothers look like him, but why don’t I and I don’t study people’s faces I’m fascinated with like looking at people’s faces and finding out like who looks like who in the family

[00:07:29] Alexis: Yeah, as a, as a child, were you very conscious of the fact that you didn’t look like your birth certificate father? Or is it more upon reflection? Yeah,

[00:07:46] Julie: look like him. I have feminine features so I thought, well, I don’t know, maybe I look like a woman in his family somewhere, but he was an only child.

[00:07:55] Julie: So anyway, like, uh, we ended up going to Mexico with my stepfather and my mom in a Volkswagen van. And, my sister was born down there and then we had to come back cause she was born with a liver condition, so we had to get medical attention. So we moved to England for the socialized medicine.

[00:08:12] Julie: My stepfather was English too. So that’s the weird thing is I guess my mom was an Anglophile.

[00:08:18] Alexis: Yeah, that’s interesting.

[00:08:20] Julie: liked English dudes.

[00:08:21] Alexis: Yeah, and very like, you know, you, you’re very well traveled for, from childhood. That’s really interesting.

[00:08:29] Julie: Yeah, well I lived on a farm for I guess second five years of my life. First five was in a city, so then moving around was an experience that I treasure because I learned so much and I opened my eyes about, you know, different cultures and seeing the world and kind of like planted the seeds for future adventures.

[00:08:50] Alexis: Yeah,

[00:08:51] Julie: Cause I live on a bus now, I actually bought my own school bus and I converted it into a tiny home.

[00:08:56] Alexis: Oh, that’s awesome. So you live in England, you see the world. Yeah, oh,

[00:09:10] Julie: brother who was born in England. we all lived in this farmhouse in a remote area. I was immersed in the culture over there. Uh, I went to a British school, uh, a grammar school, and I had English friends and I actually developed an English accent to kind of fit in. After a while it was, it was great cause I had friends, I had a social life. Um, I was living on a farm. It was fun. I mean, going home wasn’t fun cause I was not being treated very well by my stepfather, especially.

[00:09:43] Julie: But I was a little bit heartbroken because I felt like I’d lost my mom when she married him and, um, I just felt like also I was going through my tweens and my teens and it was just weird and awkward and I really missed my dad. He was in the States still, but he would come visit us or we would go visit him.

[00:10:02] Julie: He would. Fly us over for the summer. So that was my reprieve. And I was able to spend time with my dad who I loved, you know, he was such a good man. He was such a good dad. He was a dad, a dad, like that was his, his archetype. He, um, he even was like a dad to my friends. Like when he passed away a couple of years ago, a lot of my friends came out of the woodwork and they just said, Yeah, we remember, we remember Mr.

[00:10:30] Julie: Bill. He was such a great guy. He’s like our dad too and I’m like, yeah, he was, he was, he was like universal dad.

[00:10:39] Alexis: that’s so sweet.

[00:10:40] Julie: yeah, I was lucky to have him.

[00:10:43] Julie: After England I was like 15. We moved back to the States and, then when I was 16, I moved in with my dad. I, I left my mom. ’cause that was just a really difficult home life and I didn’t wanna, I didn’t wanna deal with it anymore. And also, I graduated from high school when I was 16 and.

[00:11:01] Julie: got into college. So even though I was like, really not ready psychologically for college, I was, I jumped to the chance because that meant I could go live with my dad. And, and so that’s what I did. But I was, I was a bit feral. I was kind of like, Oh, I had a lot of stuff there for my childhood that I needed to like, unpack.

[00:11:23] Julie: Dad was just so patient with me. He let have a lot of freedom, but he also, Provided structure. So it was, it really lives like the antidote to my first 15 years. Um, so yeah, I lived with dad, then moved to New York city when I was 23 and I stayed there, had my kids and my mom and I have always had this very on off difficult.

[00:11:51] Julie: Like not healthy relationship, very like angry most of the time, or, you know, sometimes it was soft and then, but that wouldn’t last more than a couple of days. And, um, so there’s no trust. I mean, I don’t know how she feels about me. Per se, I just don’t have any trust, uh, for her. So I would always be very, like, cautious about the good times, thinking, okay, well, then she’s gonna drop soon.

[00:12:18] Julie: But then when, during one of the good times, she said, Hey, um, I want to buy your DNA test. She said, I’m gonna, I’m gonna pay for it. You promise you’ll take it and then show me the results. And I said, Okay, sure. I’m curious. So why not? Oddly enough that she wanted to do the DNA test.

[00:12:40] Alexis: What were you thinking? Did

[00:12:42] Julie: think she’s kicking herself.

[00:12:43] Alexis: Yeah, I was going to say, did you have any suspicions, like, why is she wanting me to do this or

[00:12:50] Julie: We, I mean, I’d gone on Ancestry and started my family tree and I was doing research and it was super curious. And that’s something that we do have in common is like family history. We’re both really like, super curious about stuff like that. And that’s like a common ground for us.

[00:13:05] Julie: So we would, you know, get together and talk about, who’s who in the family. And I didn’t know anything about my dad’s side because, he wasn’t interested in it. He’d tell me some nice stories about his grandfather and his father and, you know, um, things like that.

[00:13:20] Julie: But he just wasn’t interested in that DNA stuff. So she, she paid for this test and she told me she was getting it for my brothers too, to make it seem like I wasn’t the only one. But I don’t think she did. I don’t know. Maybe she did because I never even saw anything about it online. I didn’t see their DNA.

[00:13:40] Julie: So I thought, well, maybe it was just me. So I took the test, um, came back that. I, I’m, I got some Native American through my mom’s side and I thought it was going to be a lot more, but it wasn’t. It was, It was small blood quantum, but on my dad’s side or the side that wasn’t connected to my mom, I didn’t see any, any relatives at all that I knew their names.

[00:14:07] Julie: And it didn’t even occur to me like to ask questions because I know people’s names change with marriages and whatnot. And I just wasn’t that well versed and I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. So years went by. Mom got to see my DNA test and she’s like, oh interesting, you know, look at all that English in there Like yeah, how come it’s not more I think my dad’s got some like German and other stuff Scottish But it was predominantly British so Years go by and it was March, 2020. And my cat had just died and I was. like emotionally raw from that. And I was down in the city finishing up some, I was, you know, finishing up some legal stuff with my ex husband, over child support because all the kids had left home. So we’re closing the case and I was staying at a friend’s house and I was just hanging out on the couch and I happened to look at the ancestry thing because it said, in an email, you have a match.

[00:15:14] Julie: So I’m like, Oh, I always go check out the matches just out of curiosity. And it said, it’s a first cousin or closer. I’m like, what’s closer than a first cousin. What was, what does that mean? And I looked at it and it was a name I’d never seen before. Uh, her name is Saffron and I thought, what a pretty name, but I don’t know any Saffron.

[00:15:36] Julie: So, but how, how come she’s so close to me and, so I reached out to her in a, in a message and I said, hi, looks like we’re related, but I’m not sure how, do you know anything and I put out some names and she said oh my god My family and I have been looking for you for 15 years.

[00:15:54] Julie: Is your is your mom name? Star is your dad’s name Bill? And I said, yeah, and she’s like you’re my mom’s sister and I said What I have a sister. I was so excited. I was like, oh my god, dad dad

[00:16:12] Alexis: Oh, so you were thinking your

[00:16:15] Julie: thinking my dad had this little like thing going on and because they were all in Ireland, I’m like, well, maybe, you know, on a business trip or something. And I’m thinking, wow, dad, it didn’t make me feel bad or anything. It was just like, Okay, that’s a human thing. So I’m like, okay, dad, had an affair in Ireland and I have a little sister and she’s like, uh, no, she’s 10 years older than you. She’s actually 11 years older than you. And I’m like, wait dad would have been 12.

[00:16:52] Julie: How is it possible?

[00:16:54] Alexis: yeah, so not a business trip at that point, yeah.

[00:16:58] Julie: I’m like, but I don’t get it. I’m, I’m confused. How is this person my sister? And she’s like, do you know the name Cedric? And I said, and she said the last name. And I said, uh, yeah, I do actually. It’s a friend of the family and I’ve met him a few times. She said, well, that’s my mom’s father. And.

[00:17:19] Julie: I’m trying to do the math in my head. It just isn’t registering. Cause to me, dad’s my dad and never even occurred to me. He wouldn’t be I’m just speechless. Listen, I start. Like feeling it, like come up and I’m like, my tears were, were just spilling over my, you know, onto my cheeks.

[00:17:36] Julie: And I was, I was trying to process it and feel my feelings and there was too many feelings all at the same time. And there was anger. There was like, how could you not tell me how could these people be lying to me all my life? And, um, how could they hide such an important thing? Piece of information from me. It was, it was crazy. And then, like, the most powerful feeling I had was, does my father know? And I mean, he must never know. I’m never going to tell him because it would hurt him so much. And then I thought, wait, wait a minute. He might know. They were a little bit crazy in the 60s. He might know. And so I delicately I asked as many questions as I could and my niece said, you know, just take your time.

[00:18:22] Julie: Don’t worry about, doing anything or saying anything. She said, if you need a few days, if you need more time, I totally understand. She was just so sweet. And then she said, yeah, you have. I have two other sisters. So you have three nieces. She was telling me about some family history and she said, you know, your grandmother, my great grandmother was a artist for children’s literature in the 30s and 40s.

 Grandpa was a, also a, an author of many books about the sea and, pirates and adventures and stuff. And I’m like thinking to myself, this is magical. It makes so much sense. But at the same time, my heart was breaking because I was thinking of my dad. I’m like, that’s my dad. What do I do now?

[00:19:09] Julie: Like, what am I supposed to feel? Like, I, I didn’t know if this was going to change anything because, yeah, I’m a daddy’s girl. What can I say? And I was like, what if he doesn’t know and he finds out I’m not his biological child? Is he going to not want me anymore? But I didn’t think he would because he was always very kind to my friends and he just adopted everybody.

[00:19:32] Alexis: It sounds like it was a mixture of joy, because you’re like finding out about this very artistic, creative side that maybe you identify with on some, in some level.

[00:19:43] Alexis: And

[00:19:43] Julie: actually made so much sense to me.

[00:19:45] Alexis: Yeah. And then obviously the relationship with your dad. So, do you tell your dad?

[00:19:52] Julie: Yeah. Like, I, I’m, I’m the actual, like, I mean, it’s a cliche, but I’m the black sheep tooth teller person in my family and I, I own it. I own it. It is what it is. I can’t help it. Just born that way. I gave it some time though. I had to process my own feelings and thoughts before I actually told anyone.

[00:20:18] Julie: And the first people I told were my children. Because they’re the coolest people. I, I. No, in this world, they are so smart and accepting and worldly. And they just, they’re wise. And I said, you know, this doesn’t make anything different. Grandpa’s your grandpa. And in fact, I think one of my kids said that to me.

[00:20:42] Julie: It’s like, that doesn’t change anything. Grandpa’s our grandpa. We love him, you know? But the funny thing is my son looks just like my biological father and they were, I mean, he’s a handsome man. My son’s a handsome young person and they, and he looks like when, Oh, and I found out I had two older brothers too, but they had passed away, which broke my heart too.

[00:21:08] Julie: Cause I really wished I had gotten to know them. And one of the things that actually. Kind of pisses me off about the whole thing is I lived in England for eight years altogether and they were so close and I could have met them and I could have gone to see them. My mother actually did go to see them when we were living there.

[00:21:29] Alexis: Wow.

[00:21:29] Alexis: Okay, I, I want to get to your mother, but first, so your father, so you’re, you’re the truth teller,

[00:21:38] Julie: Yeah,

[00:21:39] Alexis: you’re, you are,

[00:21:41] Julie: to my own detriment sometimes

[00:21:43] Alexis: sure, sure, which I think many people in our community identify with. There’s something where we always felt different. We always have to speak truth and, and that kind of thing.

[00:21:54] Julie: Yeah,

[00:21:55] Alexis: So, what does he say?

[00:21:58] Alexis: Like, Um, Uh,

[00:22:02] Julie: get the story from the horse’s mouth I want to get her side of it because my sister and my nieces, she said, we’ve been looking for you for 15 years. So obviously they knew about me. And she said that when my biological father passed away, before he passed away, he told my sister about me.

[00:22:20] Julie: And he had a baby picture of me in his wallet when he passed.

[00:22:25] Alexis: So he knew. He really knew. Um,

[00:22:30] Julie: without my sister knowing,

[00:22:31] Alexis: Um,

[00:22:33] Julie: her he said, find her. She lives in New York. She is a model, you know, that was back in the late 90s, I guess, or the early 2000s.

[00:22:44] Julie: So yeah, they knew about me and, and he told her, this is, this is his version. Okay, so I have 3 versions of what happened. My biological father told my sister that he was friends with this young couple in America.

[00:22:59] Julie: And this was 1962. And he was he’s a painter. So he was painting people’s portraits and painting models from life and other things still lives and things. So it is art studio in Pennsylvania my dad was going to school in Pennsylvania. And so my biological father had an art show in Lehigh University, and my dad was there with my mom.

[00:23:23] Julie: And my dad bought a painting of a reclining nude. And the reclining nude was my biological father’s wife, the mother of my siblings.

[00:23:35] Alexis: Uh, That’s

[00:23:36] Julie: So, so, they became friends. They used to go to bars together and hang out and I think my mom and father were not getting pregnant and it was the draft and I think it was Vietnam.

[00:23:51] Julie: My dad was up for the draft and they didn’t want him, he didn’t want to go. And my mom didn’t want him to go. So. Cedric said that they asked him to be the donor since they weren’t getting pregnant and they wanted an artistic child. So that was the reason that I came to be, according to Cedric. And then when I talked to my mom to find out her side of the story, she said that Cedric’s wife and my dad were having an affair.

[00:24:24] Julie: And she was being painted by Cedric. She was modeling for him. So she did several different like. Kinds of paintings or he did paintings of her and during that time. It was early 1962. I believe they Started an affair. My mom fell in love with him and she wanted him to leave his wife for her but she was very young and He already was in you know He was in a relationship with his wife and they had children together and I think they were thinking of it and Him, his wife, and my dad were thinking of it as just play, fun, and my mom was 20.

[00:25:06] Julie: She probably hadn’t really seen much of the world, and she got emotionally involved, and she really wanted him to be with her. Like, she wanted to be with him. She, when she got pregnant, she, went to him and he said, uh, well, that’s nice, dear. Hope everything goes well for you.

[00:25:26] Julie: That’s what you wanted. I don’t know if it’s just different people having different points of view of what was what or if they misled each other somehow. I don’t know. But she was devastated and she was very upset. And I don’t know. You know, exactly what she went through during that time. I imagine she was pretty, lost, you know, being as young as she was, you know, things back then they just did them differently because people would get married younger and have kids younger.

[00:25:58] Julie: You know, I didn’t have my first kid till I was 29.

[00:26:02] Alexis: Yeah, yeah.

[00:26:03] Julie: can’t imagine having a kid when I’m 20.

[00:26:06] Alexis: Right.

[00:26:06] Julie: that’s a lot.

[00:26:08] Alexis: Yeah. So that’s two very different sides of the

[00:26:12] Julie: two very, and she, she swore she was in love with him because I said to her mom, was that, was that something you wanted? Was that, uh, were you coerced? Were you raped? I, I, I hated to ask her that, but she said, no, absolutely not.

[00:26:26] Julie: I loved him. I wanted to be with him. So she was mad when they decided to move back to England, and so she had a choice to make. She was gonna either keep me or not. She kept me, and she, I think she didn’t talk about it, and my dad and her just didn’t talk about it, but he suspected, because I don’t really look like him, but he made a decision to be my dad, and he put his name on the birth certificate, and he’s just always my dad.

[00:26:58] Alexis: And so

[00:26:58] Julie: treated me any differently.

[00:27:00] Alexis: said that he suspected.

[00:27:02] Julie: he did.

[00:27:03] Julie: It was such a hard conversation to have with him. Uh, he’d just come back from Mexico. He was recovering from his first bout of COVID and he was doing okay, but he was not. As strong as he used to used to be, it was, very hard to actually get him, into a situation where I could bring it up because my step mom was always around and I didn’t know if she knew and I didn’t want to embarrass him.

[00:27:31] Julie: So I decided I was going to try and, um, talk to him by himself. So we went grocery shopping and we were in the car about to go back and I was just digging so hard to find the courage to actually ask him this question and, and I said, I, I got to tell, ask you something, dad. Don’t drive just yet.

[00:27:50] Julie: Don’t don’t move. Um, let’s go. Let’s sit here for a minute. And he’s like, what is it? And I think he was thinking, are you sick? Are you, are you okay? Because I don’t think it was on his mind at all. And I said, dad, um, yeah. I hope I’m not the first person to tell you this, but I, I found out that Cedric’s my biological father and his head went down and he closed his eyes and he said, Oh, and I said, well, it doesn’t matter to me.

[00:28:18] Julie: You’re, you’re my dad. I said, I just wanted to know. Wondered if you knew and he said, I did, I kind of suspected, but it doesn’t matter to you. I said, no, it doesn’t. It’s not at all. I said, you’re my dad, no matter what, you’re my children’s grandfather. And he said, okay, good. Because it doesn’t matter to me either.

[00:28:36] Julie: So, we, we actually, we got to have that conversation, although, you know, like, looking back, I think my mom was dropping hints. Yeah. Over the years, like every time she’d get, she’d get mad at me about something and, and I don’t know, like, she’d just say things like, yeah, maybe your dad’s not your dad. And, and then I’d say to my dad, I was like, did, you know, mom said that you’re not my, you might not be my dad.

[00:29:01] Julie: He’s like, why would she say such a thing? You know,

[00:29:05] Alexis: Wow. Did she ever, did she ever reveal why she wanted you to take a DNA test? If she wasn’t 100 percent sure? It sounds like she was sure. So then why

[00:29:17] Alexis: did she have you take the test?

[00:29:19] Julie: I think it was just. For her, it wasn’t for me to find out anything. I think we were both pretty naive about how these tests work and because I wasn’t looking for anything and I think she was. And if she had bought DNA tests for my brothers and had them take it, then I would have found out they were my half siblings

[00:29:41] Alexis: Right.

[00:29:42] Julie: I didn’t find that out until after my dad passed, because one of my brothers did take a DNA test and I found out he was, my half sibling.

[00:29:52] Alexis: So he was your birth certificate father’s son? Yeah.

[00:29:55] Julie: Son, yeah. Yeah, he has two sons with my mom.

[00:29:59] Alexis: Okay. So whatever fertility issues that Cedric was claiming maybe were not necessary. So what story do you believe? I mean, I know you’ll never know for sure, right? Because

[00:30:10] Julie: I think there’s, I think my dad, okay, my dad’s story was, it was the 60s. That’s what we did. We were just crazy, you know, we, we played. We wife swapped, you know, whatever, and things happen and whatever. You just sort of deal with the consequences in the best way that you know how. Not that I’m, he saw me as a consequence, he just saw me as like innocent and I was a product of something that they all decided to do.

[00:30:37] Alexis: Right. And then your mom, she, she got feelings involved.

[00:30:42] Julie: had feelings for my biological father. She wanted to, she wanted to go with him. She’s romantic. She’s just, she’s a very like romantic person and she romanticized the, situation thinking like, you know, we’re intimate. We have these beautiful moments. You know, there must be love there. Let’s build on that.

[00:31:03] Julie: Then when he very wisely said, dear, I have a family, we’re. Going to England. This was planned already, and I’m sorry that you feel that you were misled because that’s not the intention, but she was okay. There’s a huge age difference to let’s say he was, uh, of born in the same year as my mother’s father.

[00:31:27] Julie: So

[00:31:28] Alexis: Okay,

[00:31:29] Julie: he was, uh, yeah, he was born in 1915 in May, and my grandfather was born in 1915 in September. So I asked her about that too, and she said, You know, I mean, age is a number. I, I don’t feel 60. I don’t really subscribe to

[00:31:49] Julie: the

[00:31:50] Alexis: I was shocked when you said that, when you said you were a model, I was like, oh, okay, I get it. Yeah,

[00:32:00] Julie: age thing, but I, I feel like I’m amused by it. I’m amused by the whole age thing. Like it can be fun to like play with numbers thinking, okay, my dad’s older than my grandpa,

[00:32:13] Alexis: right. Yeah. Yeah. So, sure, sure. .

[00:32:20] Julie: I’m not trying to hurt her or put her on blast. I just want the truth to come out.

[00:32:25] Alexis: Yeah, so, so once you got all three sides of the story, and you, you are in a great, you know, position with your birth certificate father, you agree, like, He’s still your dad. You still love him. He kind of knew and he didn’t care. I’m sure that was reassuring. But how are you feeling once you’re kind of contending with this secret and this change to your identity?

[00:32:52] Julie: My next step was, okay, now my parents know that the cat’s out of the bag. The truth tellers on a mission. I decided that I would give it a year. I was going to give my mom an opportunity to tell her story. We talked a few times on the phone. I said, Mom, you’re 80 years old. You have lived a life.

[00:33:14] Julie: Nothing to be ashamed of. Be honest. Don’t be ashamed. Tell your story. It’s, it’s interesting. It’s fascinating. I’m curious. I’d love to know more, you know, she told me a little bit more stuff, but, you know, she’s like, no, no, no, no. I would never want anybody to know if I’m I’d be mortified. She’s got a lot of shame issues.

[00:33:36] Julie: I think from her childhood, probably because there was like, there were race in this religion where you, Just couldn’t do anything but be perfect. And if you weren’t, you were a sinner. So I don’t know. So yeah, religion kind of messes people up.

[00:33:51] Alexis: Yeah,

[00:33:52] Alexis: and

[00:33:52] Julie: least sometimes.

[00:33:53] Alexis: yeah, and there’s just so much shame with the moms in these stories. It’s really sad.

[00:33:59] Julie: it is. And they’re a product of their times too. I mean, just as an example, my first child, I was leaving her father. We were getting divorced and I went and had a, an affair or fling with an ex boyfriend and it, she was conceived around that time. And I just thought.

[00:34:15] Julie: I’m not sure who the dad is. And I told everybody I was like, I’m, I’m going to find out, but I’m having this baby. And then I told her when she was younger, it’s like, at first, I didn’t know who your dad was, but, you know, you look just like my husband so you’re. His definitely in she, you know, she’s heard the story.

[00:34:35] Julie: So I don’t have that kind of shame. And maybe that’s a testimony to the times I was living. I was raised in or, you know, seeing how my mom was.

[00:34:52] Julie: I wanted to be her champion and say, Hey, I support you if you want to tell this story. So I gave her a year. Then my next step was, all right, I’m going to go to each of my, Relatives that I have a good relationship with who I care about and tell them in person because I’m about to put some of this stuff on Facebook because it’s part of my story and I use Instagram and Facebook like a diary, like a journal.

[00:35:19] Julie: It’s not to like, complain about the world or anything, but it’s like, okay, my thoughts and feelings. These are pictures of things I’ve done. Whatever. And I, I wanted to claim my sister. I wanted to claim my nieces. I wanted to claim my hit my, um, legacy of being from a family of artists. And my mom was trying to swear me to silence.

[00:35:41] Julie: And I won’t, I wasn’t going to absolutely not. After being lied to for the first 57 years of my life. Nope. My turn. I’m saying something

[00:35:51] Alexis: yeah,

[00:35:52] Julie: to be malicious. So first I told my brothers and My brother, my younger brother’s reaction was, Oh, well, that’s interesting. Guess, uh, guess our parents had some fun, didn’t they? So he’s like, yeah, you’re still my sister. No big deal. And I said, if you want to tell my older, my other brother who was not with us at that time, he was in Rochester. I said, you can call him up, tell him. And he did. And everybody was like. I didn’t see that coming But I’ll take it. It makes sense.

[00:36:30] Julie: Explains a lot of things. And then I went to my uncle, told him. And every time I told somebody, I said, Look, I’m not telling you because I’m trying to tear my mom down or to be a gossip. I’m telling you because it’s my story now. And I, I don’t think mom really wants to talk about it. So be aware not to bring it up.

[00:36:52] Julie: She’s. Very uncomfortable with the subject, even talking to me about it. She’s uncomfortable. I said, I felt protective of her. I don’t want her to be hurt, but I was also processing my own pain over this, and part of processing my own pain was to tell people. to let people know the truth that I’m okay with it. I had a wonderful dad. I now I found out I have a sister. I’ve always wanted to have a big sister. Like now I have a big sister. I have nieces, beautiful nieces. They’re all artistic. They’re all very interesting. They live in Ireland. One day I want to go visit them. I was actually going to jump on a plane and go visit them, but it was COVID.

[00:37:34] Julie: So lockdown, nobody was going anywhere.

[00:37:37] Alexis: yeah. And it’s interesting, I think this idea of, you know, in, in this digital age, sharing on social media really is a step to like reclaiming our story and really saying like, this is who I am. I think sometimes people are like, Oh, it’s just Facebook or Instagram. Like, I don’t, who cares? Why do you need to put that out there?

[00:37:59] Alexis: But it is a step and I, you know, saying this is who I am. And this is what has happened to me. So that’s really interesting.

[00:38:07] Julie: Yeah. After I told my relatives up, up in the Adirondacks, and then I told one of my cousins. And they were just so cool about it.

[00:38:14] Julie: They were like, you know what, that makes sense. We love you. And you’re just who you are. You’re our cousin, you’re our niece, whatever. And then one of them called his sister, who’s also my cousin, and said, Guess what? Big news. And he didn’t, he failed to tell her, don’t contact Star. Don’t contact Julie’s mom.

[00:38:38] Julie: She went straight to her phone. And texted my mom. I know something. I know the big news or something and I’m sitting in the living room with my mom at that time because I, I was visiting her and she looked at me and all the blood went from her face. She said, what is what she talking about? I said, I’m telling everybody about Cedric and she said, get out of my house. You’re the most selfish person I’ve ever met. And I said, I’m sorry, mom. But taking somebody’s half of somebody’s family away and keeping them from half their family That’s also selfish and that was the last time we really spent time together She’s still mad at me and I understand because it didn’t go the way she wanted it to and you know She feels humiliated.

[00:39:26] Julie: She feels like I betrayed her but She’s not putting herself in my shoes either because I, I was betrayed too

[00:39:34] Julie: and it’s not revenge. It’s like claiming my, my truth.

[00:39:37] Alexis: Yeah, well I’m so sorry that that happened. How long ago was that?

[00:39:43] Julie: Must have been two years ago Last time I saw her was at my uncle’s funeral and I tried to give her a hug and she pulled away So

[00:39:51] Julie: that’s the last time I saw her

[00:39:53] Alexis: how are you dealing with that estrangement?

[00:39:55] Julie: We’ve been estranged so many times over the years. This is just one more time. It’s not fun.

[00:40:00] Julie: Of course, I would love to have a good relationship with my mom, but I don’t see that happening until, she decides that’s what she wants to. I’m okay with that. It wouldn’t have been something that I’d want to deal with repeatedly, you know, like this getting close and then being strange, getting close, being a strange.

[00:40:19] Julie: It’s like, okay, I’ve decided to, uh, go no contact. For as long as it takes, if it’s going to be always, then it’s going to be always. I have plenty of people in my family that do love me and we have good bonded, you know, relationships, and I understand I have, I have empathy for her. I feel for her too, but I’m not sure she’s feeling what I’m feeling.

[00:40:44] Julie: Can’t hold on to your shame forever.

[00:40:45] Alexis: Do you still have any questions for her that you want answered in regards to your origin story or questions about

[00:40:53] Julie: Yeah, sure. I want to know more about him. I want to know lots, lots of stuff. Like, she did give me some information and, and then when I, I said something to her that was kind of like bratty. I said, Now, maybe you can have a good relationship with your, um, Bohemian Bastard love child.

[00:41:17] Alexis: Do you think that the secret created conflict between you two, even though you didn’t know that it

[00:41:23] Julie: oh, absolutely, absolutely. I’m sure she’s regretted having me many, many times over the years, uh, cause I have been a challenging person in her life and we’re like baking soda and vinegar. We get together and there’s an explosion.

[00:41:39] Alexis: Okay. Okay. So what have you been doing to process this and, and work through? It sounds like you’ve made beautiful Hmm.

[00:41:49] Julie: Yeah, I wrote to my sister a lot and wrote to my nieces a lot. Um, one of my nieces sent me this amazing DVD of old home movies that my grandfather, who was like an amateur filmmaker, made of, My biological father when he was a child and all the way up until adulthood and maybe it’s like 20th birthday or something and my grandmother and I could see their faces.

[00:42:17] Julie: I could see how they moved. It was a silent movie or a silent film. There was no talking in it, but. And then there’s like a part of the film where my grandfather was making faces into the camera. He was doing all these like crazy, and I’m like, that’s my face. That’s

[00:42:35] Alexis: Yeah, that’s

[00:42:36] Julie: Yeah. I make those faces too.

[00:42:40] Alexis: Oh my god, especially for the time. Like, I feel like a lot of people probably don’t have that. You said your father was born in 1915?

[00:42:48] Julie: my grandfather was born in 1888.

[00:42:50] Alexis: Wow. That’s

[00:42:52] Julie: My it’s a, it’s a fan fascinating, family hit like story, like that whole side of the family. My great grandfather came from Scotland. And I think he met my grandmother, great grandmother in Nottinghamshire, and they lived there for a while, and they had two children.

[00:43:06] Julie: Then they came to the States, and right around the time when, it was after the Civil War, it was when the railroad’s in full effect. They pretty much gotten rid of all the bad outlaws. Like the old West, but Badasses. And so he went out to Washington state and started a wheat farm and they were, he was like a land baron.

[00:43:24] Julie: He was a Mason. And then. My grandfather was not, he didn’t want to do farming.

[00:43:31] Julie: So he, he became a wanderer and he, he was an artist. He went back to England and he, went to college over there for art and met my grandmother and they were both in art school. And then they became like well known, artists in, for their time. And then they had one son, my father, and he’s an artist too. I have a tattoo of one of his drawings. He did this book called The Cats of St. Ives and I put together some of those and made a tattoo about it.

[00:43:59] Alexis: That’s stunning.

[00:44:01] Julie: my grandmother, I have another one. There’s a mermaid.

[00:44:05] Alexis: That is so cool.

[00:44:06] Julie: That’s a drawing by my grandmother. So I’m like embracing it. I, I just love the whole story.

[00:44:13] Julie: One thing my mom said to me is, Don’t romanticize it. And I’m like, I have to, there’s no way I’m not going to romanticize it. Like that’s how you get through life. You don’t look at the bad side of things. You look at the beautiful side.

[00:44:27] Alexis: Yeah, yeah, that’s such a good way to put it.

[00:44:31] Julie: Yeah, if you look at the bad side, you’re just gonna spiral.

[00:44:34] Alexis: What’s next for you in your journey?

[00:44:37] Julie: Well, I’d love to go to Ireland and meet my sister and my nieces. Obviously, that would be highly desirable. I’m working on writing a book of living on my bus for three years in New York City and the adventure of that. So now I’m at this point where like, I came from this artistic family who wrote books and illustrated and traveled and I have to claim that.

[00:45:03] Julie: I have to say, okay, I’m part of that now. Like, it makes sense. Like, I’ve always had the urge. I have literally, like, five or six suitcases full of journals in storage right now. Just sitting there. From 1973.

[00:45:16] Alexis: How would you say that you, I don’t even know if I could use the word overcame the shame because it seems like you’ve never attached shame to it. And I think there’s like these generational aspects for sure, but then there also just seems to be some connection to shame for the moms. So for you, did you just never feel any sort of shame

[00:45:38] Alexis: attachment? Okay. I

[00:45:41] Julie: I think I think I think what happened was I saw how shame affected people when I was growing up Like, oh, what are the neighbors gonna think? Oh, don’t say this. Don’t say that in fact, this reminds me of when we were living in england and I was 11 years old and I was told that I had to tell Everyone that phil my stepfather was my real dad And I had to use his last name I had to Call him dad or he wouldn’t answer and I had to kiss him goodnight every night and I hated him So I didn’t have shame I had anger

[00:46:17] Alexis: Mmm.

[00:46:18] Julie: and I saw all this came out of all these These things that I had to, I was forced to do came out of someone else’s shame.

[00:46:27] Julie: So I was determined that I was not going to be ashamed of anything that I did or said or chose. And I’m not.

[00:46:35] Alexis: I love that. I love that. You’re like my hero right now because I’m like, yes. No, really though, because it’s, it’s, it’s hard. Like, I don’t feel shame for my origin story or anything like that. But I do feel like I take on some of my mom’s.

[00:46:51] Julie: It’s your life and this is your story, so you get to do what you want with your story. You can romanticize it, you can unpack it, you can tear it apart, you can elevate it. You can do whatever you want with it. It’s your story.

[00:47:09] Alexis: I love that. I love that. What advice do you have for a parent who may be keeping a DNA surprise from their child? Thanks. Yeah,

[00:47:29] Julie: once and I felt horrible about it. She asked if I ever smoke pot and I said no. Because I was like, Oh my God, I’m not ready for this question.

[00:47:41] Julie: What do I say? She’s 10 years old. And I thought, Oh, what do I say? What do I say? What would my mom say? Um, no. And that was the stupidest thing ever because she actually said something to me later. She said, You remember that time you told me you never smoked pot? I’m like, honey, I just didn’t know what to say.

[00:47:59] Julie: And of course I have.

[00:48:02] Alexis: What advice do you have for someone who just uncovered a DNA surprise?

[00:48:07] Julie: Go at your own pace. Calm, be calm about it. It’s definitely a life changing experience. It’s going to uproot everything you ever thought about yourself forever. Like you’re going to unpack stuff for the rest of your life. I’m still unpacking stuff.

[00:48:24] Alexis: Julie, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and sharing your story. It was amazing to hear. I mean, you’ve had an incredible life and thank you just for sharing your perspective on your DNA surprise. It sounds like, you know, it’s, it’s something that can be very difficult, but it’s wonderful to hear the beauty that you found in it.

[00:48:45] Julie: Yeah. Well, I think I got another 40 years to go, so. Laughter.


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