If you’re familiar with other DNA surprise podcasts, this week’s guest needs no introduction. And if you aren’t allow me to introduce you to Lily Wood, host of NPE Stories. Lily started NPE Stories after experiencing her own NPE in 2019. She is a strong presence in our community, a bonafide truth-teller, and I call her one of the OGs in this space.
She joined me to talk about her DNA surprise and how it has affected her life. Lily offers a vulnerable and transparent look at what happens when the relationships in our lives aren’t what we hoped to be, and how we can create our own families where there is none.
Thank you, Lily, for sharing your story.
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Transcripts are AI-generated and may not reflect the final published episodes.
[00:00:00] Lily: My mom. . And my dad, I can’t call him dad. My mom and my biological father, their responses to me after finding this out, they were just so disappointing to, to hear of two human beings treating well, really, it’s their child this way.
[00:00:20] Lily: As a mom, I just couldn’t understand it. As a parent, I can’t imagine treating any human, and especially not my own child this way.
[00:00:29] Lily: Hi, I am Lily. I am 41 years old and I’m from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
[00:00:37] Lily: My DNA surprise story I found out on April 9th. 2019 that I was an NPE. I had originally taken a 23 and me test for the health biomarkers that they advertise. I’m a health nut. I’m a biohacker. If there’s anything I can change in my life currently. Um, That will help me live longer with a higher quality of life.
[00:01:10] Lily: I was like, I will do this. So I, I took it for the health reasons and, uh, just the tiniest bit of confusion happened with my 23 and me test my ethnicity was, was slightly different. Not the big change you saw, but I was getting a lot of Italian names show up. And I was, uh, getting I think maybe like a quarter Sicilian show up.
[00:01:32] Lily: And I’ve always thought that I was almost 50% French. I was raised by my French father and my Norwegian mother, and to see, I believe at the time it was one to 2% French. But since they’ve changed things around over the years, it’s actually now 0% French. I’m, I’m
[00:01:51] Alexis: Mm.
[00:01:52] Lily: French. Um, But I, I. My ethnicity was changing with the 23 and me test.
[00:01:58] Lily: So I spoke with my sister and I said, can you believe we’re not as French as we thought? And she said, no, I’m 50% French, 50% Norwegian, just like we thought. But she had taken Ancestry and I had taken 23 and me. And we knew there were different databases and like so many people, we questioned the technician, could there have been a hair in the test tube?
[00:02:27] Lily: How, how great is this science? And obviously, DNA is a sound science, but we were, we were questioning this right through a phone call and I just had spent my a hundred dollars. I wasn’t gonna spend another. And same with her. Um, But we agreed we needed to take the same company’s DNA test. So four months later, I finally took my ancestry test, and that’s when I guess you could say the seed was planted.
[00:02:55] Lily: Something was confusing. With my test results, I’m waiting for my ancestry test results. I’m waiting the, I believe, four to six weeks and I start joking to my husband and my best friend. Well, who knows what I’m gonna find out about my dad. I was never raised to have any suspicions whatsoever. I always thought my mom was my mom.
[00:03:19] Lily: My dad was my dad and I had one sister. So the day my ancestry test results came, I opened them. It’s in 2019 and I see my sister’s name, which makes sense. And she’s showing as close family relation. And right below that I have with nearly the same amount of Centum Morgans, I believe it was around 13, 1400.
[00:03:44] Lily: Centum Morgans relation was this man named Tim and he was showing up as a half sibling as a brother. But I don’t have a brother. and I switch over to my ethnicity, and again, it’s confirmed. You know, I have a, a chunk of Sicilian and, and no French. And I go back to the DNA matches, and I see this last name, an unknown last name appear over and over and over again, at least the first six people.
[00:04:20] Lily: This is a last name I’ve never heard of. I am the youngest of 27 grandchildren in a very close family. I know my cousins, my aunts, uncles, my grandparents, what is this last name? And so I tell my mom that I’m coming over to visit her. And she says, am I in trouble? And I said, no. I, I, I honestly didn’t think she was in trouble,
[00:04:44] Lily: I just needed to talk to her about this.
[00:04:47] Alexis: At that point, did you think, okay, this is confirmation. My sister is my half sister, and my father is not my biological father. Or were you in denial at that point?
[00:05:00] Lily: I think I was in denial at that point before I’d gone to my mom’s house. I really believe there was a good reason for this. I something was off, but I never suspected that my dad wasn’t my dad and I still didn’t quite understand Santa Morgan’s. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t looking at a full sibling relationship.
[00:05:22] Lily: I didn’t realize that, you know, somewhere in the teens is only a half sibling
[00:05:26] Alexis: Okay. Okay, so you go over to your mom’s house.
[00:05:31] Lily: Yes. I go over to my mom’s house and my stepdad happened to be there, and my stepdad is, is basically a father figure. He’s been my dad since I was four years old. They’re both there. Uh, they’re in the rocking chairs and, and I come in and I just get right into it. I said, . I don’t have any of my paternal side.
[00:05:52] Lily: I said my dad’s side. I don’t have any of my dad’s family showing up in my ancestry results. But Angela, my sister does, and this last name, and I re, I said the last name is coming up over and over and over again, and I’m not French. What’s going on? I, I, I really did not believe that I would hear this. And my mom just looks at me and she says, in the eighties when I worked at Federal Express Bill with this last name was my coworker, actually, she, she called him her boss, which I didn’t
[00:06:27] Alexis: Mm.
[00:06:29] Lily: So there’s silence, and from that I say, are you telling me this man named Bill is my father? And she just sat there, red-faced pursed lips um, probably shame on her face, and that’s how I had to figure out in that moment. Yes, this man is my dad. He’s my father. My dad is not my dad. And this, Tim showing up in my DNA matches is actually my brother.
[00:07:04] Alexis: How are you feeling at that moment?
[00:07:08] Lily: In that moment, I was so shocked. I was in total disbelief. I felt sick to my stomach. You know, I was, I, I hate the word hysterical, but I felt like almost like a, like this kind of, this excited, this weird hysteria feeling in me. I was, I was not, uh, I was not healthy, let’s just say that I was not in a good place.
[00:07:33] Lily: . Both my mom and my stepdad were weirdly quiet. There was no comforting, there was no getting up to hug me. I mean, these are not huggers. Anyway, it was, it was so surreal. My mom scoffed, that’s the only way to put it. She scoffed and she said, ’cause I said, are you saying ? Dad’s not my dad. And she said, oh, Lily, your dad is still your dad,
[00:08:04] Alexis: Mm.
[00:08:05] Lily: you know, immediately dismissive.
[00:08:08] Lily: And I said, who is this man? Did he rape you? Who, who is this? Because she had had kind of said it was her boss.
[00:08:17] Lily: I realized then she was putting, she was already trying to lay the, the story down that, you know, he was in a position of power, which is what I believed, and, and placing herself as you know, God, I thought she was a victim of something in the beginning.
[00:08:33] Lily: She did admit that it was a consensual relationship. I said, is he still alive? She said she didn’t know. . And then she tried to give me some office gossip from FedEx in the eighties that I didn’t care about something to, she was trying to like change the topic. I, it was so surreal. And then she laughed and said, you mean I could have gotten more child support?
[00:09:00] Alexis: Wow.
[00:09:02] Lily: Yeah, it was I mean, but this is, this is not new behavior. This is um, in my family, this is . This is kind of how things go.
[00:09:17] Alexis: Were you still close with your raised father at this time? You mentioned you’d had a stepfather since you were four.
[00:09:24] Alexis: Were you still close to your dad?
[00:09:28] Lily: Was I still close to him? He was so. To use your words, I am a people pleaser. I’m, I guess you could say I am a I’m currently trying to be a reformed people pleaser , but I was raised as a people pleaser. I, I love my parents’ approval. I wanted their approval and their love, my entire childhood. They’re both rather self-centered individuals.
[00:09:56] Lily: And my dad, I would have. A relationship with where I wanted to please him and I would give him information I thought he would like about once a month, if that makes sense at all. So we’d, we’d get together for kind of these strained family barbecues once a month for three hours, and I would attend to him and ask him how he was.
[00:10:19] Lily: I wouldn’t say he’d do the same to me, but no, I guess he, I, no, it was not a close father-daughter relationship.
[00:10:26] Alexis: So once you get this confirmation from your mom, do you tell him.
[00:10:33] Lily: No, I made a mistake doing that. Alexis. I wish I had, I wish I had been the one to tell my dad at, at the end of this terrible day. I, I have actually end up deciding to get up and leave ’cause there’s no way I was gonna get any support from them. And I needed love. I needed someone to be there for me and I needed my husband, honestly, and
[00:10:55] Lily: So I get up to leave and I tell my mom, well, you’re gonna talk to dad about this. You’re gonna tell him, thinking that here I was making her be the bearer of bad news so I don’t have to see him being devastated. Uh, what I did was make a mistake. I realized because then she was able to present it the way she presented it.
[00:11:20] Lily: Now, I wasn’t there when she told him, but she somehow was able to tell him in a way where she kind of reminded him they’d had a bad marriage and she reminded him of all the terrible things he had done to her. And then she said, you know, she had didn’t realize that. when she had had a one night stand with her boss slash coworker that it resulted in a pregnancy.
[00:11:44] Lily: Um, I don’t think she was truthful or honest, but she’s the one that ended up telling him and I kind of wish that I had taken that one on instead.
[00:11:56] Alexis: Did he reach out to you after that, or
[00:11:59] Alexis: how did you find out that he knew?
[00:12:02] Lily: My mom called me. A day or two later, I had a friend over caring for me. ’cause that’s where I had to get love and support. The following days after finding out I was an NPE I had a friend over and you know, where you can hear through p a person’s cell phone in a quiet room, you can sometimes hear the other person.
[00:12:19] Lily: My friend thought my mom was so odd and so strange, and it was, I’m, I’m glad she picked up on that because that is how my mom was. My mom called me and she said, well, I told your dad. He’s cool about it. And I remember after the phone call my friend saying, your mom said he’s cool about that. Like, that’s so weird.
[00:12:41] Lily: And it was, it’s a weird thing to say. Yeah, my mom apparently did, did tell him. He found out and he told my mom, well, she’s still my daughter, so nothing changes. You know, the kind of the, the train, the, the sayings that you hear, nothing changes. She’s still my daughter.
[00:12:57] Alexis: How were you feeling during that time?
[00:12:59] Alexis: You’re
[00:12:59] Lily: Well, I had my, what I found out was a panic attack. I didn’t know that. I thought I was dying. I woke up, I think it was two or 3:00 AM I started to go to the bathroom and I, you know, fell or, or, or went down kind of in the. Bathroom, I’m calling my husband. I thought I was having a heart attack at the time.
[00:13:17] Lily: I was 37 years old and I, my body was obviously not responding well to incredible stress and trauma, and I found out later it was a panic attack. But in the moment you think you’re dying. You think you’re dying. He drew me a bath and luckily he thought it was a panic attack. He’s googling at 3:00 AM what to say to someone in the middle of a panic attack.
[00:13:41] Lily: And it’s some, something he found where he is able to kind of bring me back to reality. Slowly he was saying things like, this is just a moment. This will pass. You are okay. You are alive, your body. He was saying like things, I was only halfway hearing them. Of course.
[00:13:58] Alexis: Yeah..
[00:13:59] Lily: I was not processing things well, let’s just say that I, I had no support.
[00:14:05] Lily: The day after that panic attack, I called my primary care physician, and they were able to get me in that day with an open therapist. I bet she had a cancellation or something. Uh, she ended up being a C B T therapist, cognitive behavioral therapy. It was quite helpful for life in general. I worked with her for an entire year.
[00:14:27] Lily: Did she understand anything about NPE? No. , I
[00:14:32] Alexis: Yeah.
[00:14:33] Alexis: Yeah.
[00:14:34] Lily: no. I, I wish I had made the switch earlier to, or, or done some more research. I learned a ton of about great healthy communication strategies and mental distortions and black and white thinking. I learned a lot of wonderful things, but no, it wasn’t, it wasn’t a perfect fit, let’s just say that.
[00:14:54] Alexis: And you have kids, right?
[00:14:56] Lily: Yes. I have three kids,
[00:14:59] Alexis: And what are they thinking during this time? Did you tell them
[00:15:03] Lily: So I did, I ended up telling them, gosh um, within days, I feel all of that was such a blur. I did tell them. Um, We’re always very honest about my, my children Al . They know about uh, anxiety and depression, and we talk about feelings a lot even before all this happened. Um, So they knew, you know, they knew something was going on.
[00:15:27] Lily: I think I I told them um, that grandma told me, grandpa. Was my dad and he wasn’t. And that I was very upset about it and I was, I was processing things and I just needed to spend some time. Um, You know, I, I had an age appropriate way of talking with them about it, but I did tell them the truth from the beginning.
[00:15:47] Lily: And of course we asked them how, how did they feel about this? And we gave them plenty of reassurance as well. But I’m, I’m guessing at the time, my husband . Was probably taking on a lot more of that because I was not, well, those first few weeks, not at all. I, I was also obsessively on my phone looking into paternity and NPE type of situations.
[00:16:12] Lily: ’cause someone had turned me onto the word NPE I think three, four days after finding out. And that’s how I was able to find the NPE. There was a very large NPE forum on Facebook. Years ago, and I joined that one and I was just scrolling, listening or reading stories endlessly. Those first few days or weeks.
[00:16:34] Alexis: Did you try to find more information about Bill?
[00:16:38] Lily: Yes, yes I did. So I needed to know who this man was. Was he alive? I Googled him. He was still alive. He . He has a, you know, still a big presence on LinkedIn Board of directors. This trustee, that philanthropist um, he’s still busy in his retirement age. I found an email address for him and I emailed him the first day.
[00:17:02] Lily: Um, and I. I received a reply that that night, I believe that first day as well. And he seemed promising with that first email. So I was, I was like, good. He’s not crazy , I don’t think, from what I know of him. He said Lily, I do remember your mother and we can bring clarity to this situation. And I’m out of the country, but I’ll be in touch with you.
[00:17:34] Lily: . So I was like, okay, this feels good. This he is, he’s formal, he’s polite. He might even be reassuring in a way, and then slowly things kind of went south after that with him, with the next communication weeks later, it was. Um, First of all, I’d re-read that email a hundred times and he said he was outta the country and he’d be in touch with me when he got back into the country.
[00:18:01] Lily: So when weeks later he writes me and he calls me Lulu, not Lily. That was a little weird. Um, Lulu, I haven’t heard from you. That also freaked me out ’cause I hate to think I’ve done anything wrong. I was trying to . Appease him and his schedule. I haven’t heard from you, Lulu. That’s weird. Not my name. And also I was waiting for him to contact me
[00:18:25] Alexis: Yeah.
[00:18:26] Lily: and, and a couple other things that were a little bit of red flag ish in that email.
[00:18:30] Lily: And I had like my best friend right at my husband my mentor, a few other people, and they’re like, this is kind of weird. Why don’t you set up a phone call with him?
[00:18:40] Lily: I, I did set up a phone call with him. I had my list of questions. He answered all of them. He didn’t ask me a single question.
[00:18:51] Alexis: Hmm.
[00:18:52] Lily: I was fascinated by the stories he told me.
[00:18:55] Lily: I took notes. I was absolutely so excited scared, nervous. I wanted him to like me. He came away from that phone call. . Probably feeling pretty good. I was a little surprised ’cause at the end of the phone call he said, he either said he’s just going to tell, or he has told his wife. That freaked me out.
[00:19:16] Lily: He didn’t tell his wife for almost a month. I, I just couldn’t imagine finding out you had a child and not telling your spouse for
[00:19:26] Alexis: Was he married at the time that he got with your mom?
[00:19:31] Lily: No, he was not married at the time. He was with my mom. So in, in fact, he didn’t do anything wrong. He was single. He was a divorced man with two children, 10 years older than me, eight and 10 years older than me. Divorced man. Free to do as he wants. And my mom was married, but
[00:19:48] Lily: you know, she had a one night stand, she had an affair but he was not,
[00:19:51] Alexis: When you talked to him, did you express that you were hoping to have a relationship or did it seem like there could have been any door open there?
[00:20:00] Lily: I didn’t say I wanted to have a relationship. I was very careful with what I wrote him. Um, I think I started first with a medical history and I’d like to know more about him and I’m excited. I think I said to know more about him and his family and my siblings. , did I want a relationship with him? Yeah.
[00:20:18] Lily: Inside. I mean, did I want to admit it? No, but like, yeah, I wanted him to love me and like me and be a father figure, but , I know it’s probably asking way too much of a complete and total stranger, but that’s what I, I wanted, and I was really sad the, the final email I got from him after that phone call. . I just reread it actually last week, you know, it’s now a four year old email.
[00:20:46] Lily: I printed it off because I was like, am I going crazy? This email was so, I mean, the man is is very smart and he uses
[00:20:56] Lily: his words. cuttingly well, and
[00:21:00] Lily: which kills me. And then he throws in these slights and insults mixed in with these big words in his great vocabulary. And it’s, it’s a terrible thing to read, but it basically said something like me, My entire family and my children, not me.
[00:21:19] Lily: ’cause he doesn’t consider me his child. Me, my entire family, and my children are rather disturbed at your behavior. How you would throw your family under the bus and hurt your mother so very deeply by trying to, I believe he said, reach out to me or, or find out. Find me. . So that one I reread about a hundred times and then he had more paragraphs about how concerned he was at my behavior.
[00:21:47] Lily: Again, Alexis, I just reached out to find out who this man was. I don’t know what behavior I did that was so
[00:21:54] Alexis: this is very odd.
[00:21:56] Alexis: I mean, and also just this idea that why wouldn’t you want to connect to somebody that’s biologically related
[00:22:02] Alexis: to you that you just learned about?
[00:22:04] Lily: Yeah.
[00:22:05] Alexis: So it seems like he kind of went like warm, cold very quickly.
[00:22:13] Lily: yes. Something happened.
[00:22:15] Alexis: Yeah.
[00:22:16] Alexis: And so at that point then, how are you feeling?
[00:22:21] Lily: devastated. I, first of all, there’s self blame, right? I’m kicking myself. This man is telling me I did something hurtful and wrong, and I threw my family under the bus, so I must have, I believe him. I think I, I feel deep shame. I feel like a little kid that’s done something wrong. And it wasn’t until I kind of used like my audience, my, my husband, my friends, and I had a few other people read it, including my therapist at the time, my C B T therapist.
[00:22:49] Lily: But other than the self blame, I’m also, now I’m angry. I am so angry that I’m being accused of. I was like, you are the person that had sex with my mother and produced a child. What? I just found out about it at 37 years old had my life . F you know, rocked, my world rocked, and I’m contacting you to find out more about you and my two siblings.
[00:23:13] Lily: What have I done wrong? So I go from one feeling like a very bad person. Total self-blame to now I’m angry and how dare you? And some regret that I had reached out to him. I, I don’t
[00:23:25] Lily: regret knowing the truth. I regret knowing that I come from bad stock.
[00:23:31] Alexis: Mm.
[00:23:33] Alexis: I am so sorry that that
[00:23:34] Alexis: happened. It’s just so cruel and I think any, everyone in the community knows, like you are the most empathetic kind person,
[00:23:43] Alexis: and so I’m so sorry that that was the way that they treated you.
[00:23:48] Lily: Oh, thank you,
[00:23:50] Alexis: Did you write back to him?
[00:23:52] Lily: I, after that last one, it was recommended to me to give him space. I wrote a draft in my . Email drafts and I, I still have it. It’s a four year old email draft. I just, I always peek at it in my draft. I never sent it. And I wanted to address the points about, you know, I said, bill, I’m curious as to why you think I threw my family under the bus air quotes by contacting you.
[00:24:17] Lily: And so anyway, I was addressing all of his points. I never did send it though. I. With that time and space, I realized this person unfortunately did not seem like a safe person or receptive to me and he is a bit intimidating with his words and his language and his writing skills, whatever I were, whatever I was going to write to him.
[00:24:40] Lily: Alexis, he is going to one up me and have the last word, and I’m not gonna leave this feeling. Okay. My husband wrote him. My best friend wrote him . I didn’t ask them to, they did this without me knowing. But they’ve got such terrible responses. They said, Lily, stay away from this man. I don’t know if he’s a bad man, but something about me triggered something in him where he.
[00:25:06] Lily: You know, felt, it felt, I, I guess I could say very protective of his, his family unit. And I was, I think he viewed me as some form of enemy when I contacted him.
[00:25:17] Alexis: How are things with your mother?
[00:25:20] Lily: Yes. So I, you know, I’d had a, a strained relationship with her the few years before. Mostly ever since I’d become a mom, I realized just how important it is, you know, just to remain healthy and to allow my children to have, to feel their feelings and their emotions and not, uh, punish them when they show.
[00:25:45] Lily: Feelings, which is different than my own childhood, so we’re already a bit strained. My mother, I wrote down the things I wanted to talk to her about because I realized she was in shock, that first moment, right? I have empathy. I feel she’s ashamed. I feel bad for her. I know. I wouldn’t say this was a surprise to her.
[00:26:10] Lily: She may not have ever had DNA confirmation, but she at least had . The knowledge that I could have been the product of an affair with another man. So I ask her to come over and talk to me. She comes over and talks to me and I have my list of things I want to ask her and tell her how I’m feeling and her response to things.
[00:26:29] Lily: And I go through my four important things with her and she interrupts me at the end. It’s, do you never talk with someone and you feel like ? They’re not really listening, but they’re just kind of ready to say something, you know, they’re
[00:26:43] Alexis: Yes.
[00:26:43] Lily: say something.
[00:26:44] Alexis: Yep.
[00:26:45] Lily: So that was her and I could tell with just ’cause I know her and is she’s ready to go.
[00:26:52] Lily: And the first thing she says to me is when I’m done is she says, I’m not hearing any, I feel statements. Lily, you’re just saying you statements like she didn’t even hear what I said because she had to correct the way I spoke to her. Eh, was she right? Sure. I probably did forget to say my, I feel statements in that moment, but I’m her daughter and my world has just been torn apart, and that’s what she has to do in that moment is to correct me.
[00:27:22] Lily: And then I said, mom, I don’t even feel like you’re sorry. I don’t even feel any remorse. And she said, go get your phone. I texted you that I was sorry. Like in the most absolutely unapologetic voice you’ve ever heard. So I, I, you know, I did actually look at my phone and she did say one of those things days before, like, I’m sorry you feel that way.
[00:27:43] Lily: Kind of one of those non-apology, sorry. But in her mind, darn it, check she’d done it. Check. She had said, I’m sorry, and we were not to speak of this again. And how dare I have any, you know, . Anything to tell her that’s not just Okay. It’s okay, mom. We’ll sweep this under the rug. So to answer your question, the the relationship did not go very well with my mom.
[00:28:08] Lily: And, um, If it had been any other mom and not the one that I’d had my entire life growing up, I, I think we could have worked past it. But this is not the only thing in our history. And this is a mom who is. Uh, you know, I, I’m, it’s so ingrained in me to never say a bad word about my family member, but I do still wanna speak the truth.
[00:28:32] Lily: This is not someone that necessarily curated a, a relationship where her, her child feels nurtured and loved and cared for. So, I guess this is kind of like the, what’s that phrase? The last straw, the, you know, the nail on them. It’s, this was just kind of, I was like, can I finally just take a break from this relationship?
[00:28:51] Lily: Can I just release this? And I, I did take a break um, from my mom. We’re currently in estrangement. It’s been four years. been a sad, sad, grieving process and I miss her sometimes a lot. But I, I really miss the mom that I wish I’d had
[00:29:09] Alexis: Mm.
[00:29:09] Lily: is, . So I don’t, I don’t currently have a relationship with my mom. I wish her well, health and happiness.
[00:29:17] Lily: I really do. And I’m completely open if she’s ever done any sort of work to come back into my life, like I’m here absolutely. But I just can’t keep put putting in the work with her.
[00:29:29] Alexis: I think a lot of people can . Identify with that, especially in our community for some reason there seems to be themes with, the parents involved in these situations.
[00:29:41] Lily: Right.
[00:29:43] Alexis: How is your relationship with your raised father?
[00:29:46] Lily: It’s pretty much the same and that, and I’m good with that. He just came over a few days ago. Um, 90 minutes. You know, he doesn’t ask me questions, that’s fine. I ask him how he’s doing. I ask him about his hobbies, his activities.
[00:30:00] Lily: We keep it surface level. I, I care about him. It will never be deep. And that’s, that’s okay. That’s how it is. And he was briefly in my life, kind of in every other weekend, of dad growing up. And that’s just where we’re at. So it’s kind of in that same area. But I actually do speak with him.
[00:30:19] Alexis: Yeah.
[00:30:20] Alexis: And then you said that you embarked on this with your sister
[00:30:24] Alexis: in terms of like getting the testing.
[00:30:27] Lily: Yeah.
[00:30:27] Alexis: Are you close with her?
[00:30:29] Lily: Oh, Alexis, that’s been so up and down the last four years,
[00:30:33] Alexis: Mm.
[00:30:33] Lily: It has been so up and down. Um, My sister was incredibly very protective of my mother in the beginning, like a lot of siblings are, and I understand that, and I’ve heard this story a hundred hundreds of times. She was very protective of my mom.
[00:30:48] Lily: Couldn’t see things from my side. That’s okay. You know, I don’t blame her. Uh, so I had to just kind of give some space from her. My sister claimed she was Switzerland. She’s claimed she’s being neutral, but it was very clear that she would talk with my mom about this at length. But then basically we wouldn’t talk about it.
[00:31:09] Lily: And if it were to come up she would just . She would somehow let it be known that she kind of agreed with my mom and that I need to forgive and get over this. And, and so it wasn’t great. It wasn’t great. And then my, my sister ended actually ended up having um, some horrific mental health problems and I ended up taking her child in for, for six months two years ago.
[00:31:32] Lily: And so, it’s been a roller coaster with my sister, but
[00:31:37] Lily: yeah. I don’t have a ton of healthy family member. I have no, I have no family members currently that I’m, I mean, the, the close, the, the close family member that I’m able to really talk with about it. But I have my, you know, my husband and my, my friends and I’ve made my, kind of made my own family.
[00:31:57] Lily: I really miss my cousins though. They weirdly kind of all stopped inviting me to the, the family Christmas gatherings. And I’m sure it’s because of course my mom is one generation above me, she’s more of the matriarch. So if they’re gonna invite her and I’m estranged from her, that does make sense.
[00:32:14] Lily: I get that. I understand. But I, I miss my aunts and my cousins a lot, a lot.
[00:32:21] Alexis: I’m curious how you have navigated. Not having any parent figures in your life because, you know, as, as we talked about on the episode I did with you, that’s something that I personally struggled with a lot was having
[00:32:41] Alexis: a kind of estrangement, estranged relationship with my parents and feeling like I didn’t have parents, really.
[00:32:48] Alexis: How have you managed that?
[00:32:50] Lily: That has been a real huge struggle for me. I was really hoping my in-laws would be the surrogate parents they’re of a, you know, a different generation and they’re more Nordic in nature. So that’s that wasn’t quite the fit. My, I, I was without family support, without a parental figure.
[00:33:07] Lily: My, my mentor, she’s, she’s only 15 years older than me, has . Has claimed she has a motherly love for me, and I do believe that. I do feel that from her. And my best friend who’s the same age as she’s younger, as, as she always reminds me, she’s told me that she has a, a family love for me. We really love each other.
[00:33:25] Lily: But when I see my best friend’s mom come over, help her with her children, her grandchildren, help her paint, help her weeded, even braids her hair, I get so envious. I wish I had that, but I never had that, you know, I never had that. She, her my best friend’s mom has actually started. Hugging me and inviting me over to her house, to her farm an hour and a half away, and my children, and telling my children they can call her grandma.
[00:33:53] Lily: And so it’s kind of become like a surrogate parental figure. But I, I am missing that and especially as a mom myself now, there’s no one to take care of me. And I’ve kind of gotten used to that for years. Right. But it is really . It is really sad. I really miss it, but I wonder, even if my mom was in my life, I think I would still kind of be missing that parental figure.
[00:34:19] Alexis: Yeah, that idealized version.
[00:34:22] Alexis: Yeah.
[00:34:22] Alexis: it’s like grieving. Yeah, grieving something you never really had,
[00:34:26] Alexis: but it’s grief nonetheless.
[00:34:28] Lily: totally,
[00:34:30] Alexis: You started NPE stories a few years ago. and you’re really, like I say, one of the OGs at helping people tell their stories. What led you to start NPE Stories? For anyone who doesn’t know
[00:34:47] Lily: Oh yeah, I was a total mess, Alexis. I didn’t know what I was doing. I still don’t. I started that four years ago. Um, I took my AirPods and I had an Apple developer’s account and because my husband and I make apps, and so I decided to create a podcast account and I put it like a . 62nd trailer out there saying, I’m, you know, I’m starting an NPE Stories podcast.
[00:35:11] Lily: If anyone wa is right, someone actually has to know what that term means. If anyone wants to share their story, here’s this generic Gmail address I made and I heard from . Nobody , like nobody contacted me. Nobody knew what NP was. I didn’t promote it, I didn’t associate my name with it, nothing. I finally did get one person to come on for my first episode and slowly people would start emailing in, being willing to share their story, but that it was rough in the beginning.
[00:35:41] Lily: So I was obsessively reading these NPE forums, people saying, here, I’m going to share my story. I, it felt so good when people started explaining to me their childhood, their relationships with their parents and their siblings, and how they found out they were an NPE, the shock, the grief, the various emotions.
[00:36:03] Lily: I would just nod along as I was reading it. And I was staring at this blue light, this tiny screen for hours and hours a day, and I still need to feed my kids and drive them places and clean and do laundry and . . I said, if I could just listen to this in audio format, and I was over, I was already a podcast listener.
[00:36:24] Lily: I love podcasts, right?
[00:36:26] Lily: I miss it now. I hardly get to listen to them anymore. .
[00:36:28] Alexis: Right.
[00:36:29] Lily: But so that’s, I just wanted to hear these stories in audio format and I said, well, I’d be willing to record stories. I could, I could do the editing and no problem. I didn’t wanna share though, Uhuh. No way. And so I just
[00:36:42] Lily: Associated only my first name with it. And I was anonymous the entire first year. And I eventually, of course, you know, came up with my full name because I was like, why am I so ashamed of this ? But, but yeah, that’s why I did this is I just wanted to hear other people share their stories. ’cause it made me feel better to have a sense of, of community.
[00:37:01] Alexis: Yeah. So I was gonna ask you, ’cause you were anonymous in the beginning and you
[00:37:06] Alexis: weren’t out there with your first
[00:37:08] Alexis: and last name. What was it that really pushed you to now be open with your story?
[00:37:15] Alexis: And I mean, you talk very vulnerably about the relationship that you have with your parents
[00:37:19] Alexis: and, and
[00:37:20] Alexis: how this has gone.
[00:37:21] Alexis: What pushed you to do that?
[00:37:23] Lily: Well, I’ll tell you why I was keeping the secret one was, you know, my mother’s shame, but also I still was kind of hoping my, my new siblings and my birth father would accept me. And I thought they wouldn’t if they knew I had a podcast and I was talking about it. And so that first year, I kept that secret because I really wanted them to accept me and love me, and I didn’t wanna do anything to rock the boat or to make them
[00:37:48] Lily: Wanna reject me even more than they’re already doing. And finally I realized this rejection, I mean this, this is their choice. This is what they’re doing. And I have these brave people coming on telling me they’re scared, they’re nervous, they haven’t been able to eat all day. They’re ready to tell their story.
[00:38:04] Lily: And sometimes they, they share these. Open honest things with me, as you know, and sometimes there’s tears and they were so brave and I felt foolish being a host of something and not being open and honest myself. So it was really the people that came on, you know, Richard Wenzel and Gina Daniel, and, and, and all the people that came on that first season that I was like, I love these people.
[00:38:29] Lily: I , I’m gonna share my story too, and I’m going to associate my name with this podcast. This is . A silly thing to be in it, but it’s part of my journey, part of my process, and my shame is actually, you could hear it in the first season, how secretive I am.
[00:38:44] Alexis: Yeah.
[00:38:44] Alexis: coming, breaking down that stigma is
[00:38:46] Alexis: so important.
[00:38:48] Lily: Yeah.
[00:38:48] Alexis: What things have helped you? Process. Your NPE, you’re more than a few years out now. What do you think has been most helpful to you?
[00:39:00] Lily: Oh, let’s see here. Listening to other people’s stories, this podcast I’m just nodding along all the time. But even without my own, my own podcast, it’s, I love the forums, the, there’s, you know, Facebook forums, there’s Instagram content. It’s just a nice way to check in just for two to three minutes when I’m somewhere and, and to see these
[00:39:24] Lily: I can’t even remember some of the names of my friends and moderators and people that have things, even you DNA surprises and people that create nice content that I can just nod along with and the donor conceived world, the lds, the right to know. Yeah, I, I think that’s, those things have really, really helped me. Dani Shapiro’s
[00:39:45] Lily: book was one of the first things that really helped me in the beginning. Richard Wenzel has, has, has done work with NPE type blogs with Gina Daniel, and Yeah, just community, other NPEs that get it. When I’m around people that get it, it’s just like a weight is lifted, as I’m sure you know from your retreats when people get it, the, the shock behind a DNA surprise.
[00:40:11] Lily: Uh, it’s like you don’t have to do all the backstory, and I don’t have to change my verbiage around talking about estrangement or rejection or the intricacies around reaching out to new family members. It’s like I can just get right into the guts of it.
[00:40:27] Alexis: Thank you for sharing
[00:40:27] Alexis: that, and I’ll be sure to include any of the resources that you listed in the show notes.
[00:40:32] Alexis: Where can people find you if they want to listen to NPE stories or share their story with you?
[00:40:39] Lily: Mm. Well, I have a podcast called NPE Stories. It’s on most of the podcasting platforms, I believe. If anyone wants to share their story, I have a long wait list and if you’re willing, you know to wait 50 some slots, I’d be happy to have you on it’s npe firstname.lastname@example.org if they want to, to reach out.
[00:41:01] Alexis: What advice do you have for a parent who is keeping a DNA surprise from their child?
[00:41:09] Lily: Oh, if you’re keeping a DNA surprise from a child be so willing to bring the truth to their attention as soon as possible. But do it in a, you know, do your research. Maybe listen to a podcast or, or read about NPE or go on Severance Magazine to find out more about DNA surprises. Um, But do tell the truth as soon as possible because the ability to reach out to someone, especially as people are aging and, and parents and grandparents are aging, you, you ha sometimes you have a short, short window.
[00:41:46] Lily: Your child needs to know the truth they do, and, and to do it in a way. And please, if you have kept a secret from your offspring show true remorse and be willing to do a four step apology, you know, and, and make it right and check in with them even a week later, a month later, a year later.
[00:42:08] Lily: Continue to ask them. Don’t make them feel like they can’t talk about it ever again.
[00:42:12] Alexis: Oh, that’s really good advice. And that’s a first. I haven’t heard that one before.
[00:42:16] Alexis: That checking in. And, but I think that that’s really, really important. So thank you for sharing that
[00:42:22] Lily: I think that hits for both of us, right?
[00:42:24] Alexis: It does. It does.
[00:42:26] Lily: Yeah.
[00:42:27] Alexis: And what advice do you have for someone who just discovered that they’re an NPE
[00:42:33] Lily: Oh boy. , don’t do what I did. , if you, if you just found out you’re an NPE, well, thank goodness you’ve run across, finding out you’re a podcast, know you are not alone. There are people like you, we have community. You can be a lurker on these forums, on these online groups. Even if you’re not on Facebook.
[00:42:52] Lily: There’s other online communities and you can, you can just read too. You don’t always have to be a participant. I would highly recommend to go to a retreat or a summit. I know that’s scary to go to a place with strangers, but it is a wonderful place to just say, I am scheduling my healing for this.
[00:43:10] Lily: Three, four days, whatever it is, and, and I would really suggest being immersed in some form of a, a community like that. So I think, yeah, definitely retreat and getting involved in the online and forums and then, and the podcasts. Yeah.
[00:43:25] Alexis: Lily, thank you so much for joining me, and thank you so much for all that you do for the NPE DNA surprise community. I wish you so much peace on your journey as you continue to process this, and hopefully I’ll see you soon.
[00:43:42] Lily: Oh, you’re so sweet, Alexis, and thank you for all your hard work too. You’re a one-woman show, so thank you for everything you do as well. I appreciate you.