Not many of us experience our DNA surprises on television, but this week’s guest did exactly that. Patrice is a foundling adoptee, adopted at just a few months old after being abandoned in a garbage bin. She always knew she was adopted, but as an adult, she decided she wanted to look for her biological family.
The TLC show Long Lost Family shows her finding her biological sister, but much more happened behind the scenes. She shares what happened when she reunited with her biological mother and how it changed her perspective on her story.
She also discusses how she’s used her experiences to advocate and provide support for her community.
Thank you for sharing your story, Patrice.
Join the DNA Surprises Patreon community! Listen to episodes one week early, gain access to exclusive content, use merch discounts, and more.
Transcripts are AI-generated and may not reflect the final published episodes.
[00:00:00] Patrice: I’m going to quote my sister, because she said this on a call the other day, and I thought it was amazing. She said. You know, We always see Annie and Daddy Warbucks comes in and swoops up Annie from this orphanage, but you didn’t find out what happened with the rest of Annie.
[00:00:14] Patrice: And when Annie turned 25 and wanted to find her family and really get to know who she was and all of that, that’s.
[00:00:21] Alexis: Yeah.
[00:00:22] Alexis: Right.
[00:00:22] Alexis: It’s just like this nice little buttoned up story of,
[00:00:27] Patrice: a little buttoned up dress. Hey, how about that? That little red dress. We love that dress. Uh,
[00:00:33] Patrice: you know, I love that. I love any, I’ll still sing the songs as they, you know,
[00:00:38] Patrice: coming out of the fog would be in any word books. If you really are about what you say you’re about, you’re going to stand by me while I go figure out. Who my parents really were, and you’re going to stand by me as I get to know them and get to know who I am.
[00:00:57] Patrice: That’s what coming out of the fog is
[00:00:59] Patrice: Hello, I am Patrice. I’m 46. Years old, and I am originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, currently living in Nashville, Tennessee.
[00:01:19] Patrice: My DNA surprise story starts when, in 2019, when I was reunited with my biological family, namely my sister, on the show, Long Lost Family, on Season 6, Episode 8. I’ll start the story with in 2018, I was up one night ’cause my husband used to do a lot of traveling and I saw that the show long lost family existed on T L C with me flipping around.
[00:01:57] Patrice: I had always known that I was adopted my whole entire life. My adoptive parents had always used that word since I was little, I was adopted at about five months old and live with them, you know, forever and ever. And I think the part of that, that, you know, just kind of took some of the mystery around being adopted out. Was that, it wasn’t until I was about 25, 26 years old where my adopted mom told me the rest of the story, uh, in particular because I had, I think around early twenties, I started to wonder a bit more about, you know, just health concerns and things like that from that vantage point.
[00:02:47] Patrice: And you know, she said, well, do you feel like you would ever want to try to find, anyone that is biologically related to you? And I said I guess I could, but at the time, you know, we didn’t even then we didn’t know that’s probably I want to say, 15, 20 years ago, it didn’t really know, much about DNA testing.
[00:03:09] Patrice: It was done, in the healthcare setting, but, but
[00:03:12] Alexis: there weren’t really like commercial DNA
[00:03:14] Patrice: It wasn’t commercialized like it is now. Correct. I said, well, if there’s some way, but I don’t know. Well, at that time, I think she felt prompted because I was, moving into later adulthood to tell me that I had been abandoned in a trash bin
[00:03:34] Patrice: And that I had don’t that if you want to do this, that the.
[00:03:40] Patrice: Chances of you knowing anything about anyone, we’re slim. So I took that and I remember, you know, I wasn’t necessarily, it’s kind of, you know, crushing or whatever to hear things like that. So fast forward to 2018 and watching long last family in the middle of the night by myself.
[00:03:59] Patrice: And I said, Oh wow. And I just couldn’t get it out of my head. And the next day I go to work at lunch. I said, is there a casting call? Like, I’m going to tell them my story. It’s just not even think too much of it. So on my lunch, I’m sitting there eating my sandwich. Fill out the form, send it in. And, uh, that was like May.
[00:04:19] Patrice: And then like November of that year they reached out to me a DNA kit. Well, I hadn’t heard anything for months. And in the beginning of 2019, mid 2019, someone called me, . Said, you know, we’re kind of interested in the story a little more. Well, you’re actually really reunited with your actual biological. So they don’t tell you either way, whether they found someone or didn’t, you know, um, they let that reveal kind of be there.
[00:04:50] Patrice: But they said, yeah, we’re, you know, we’re interested in your story and we’re going to film your case. So I did some interviews with them. You know, we do filming. It was really cool experience with a production company and everything. They take me back to Pittsburgh. And then lo and behold as we’re taping, they said, we got hit DNA and it actually is a nephew will come to find out.
[00:05:13] Patrice: I had a sister that had been looking for me for 20 plus years. And um, she had her son’s DNA was in the pool and she knew it had to be me because he was connected to another aunt that he had on our other side were half sisters. She knew it was me the minute she saw that and lo and behold, I was reunited with her.
[00:05:36] Patrice: Part of what a little bit what you don’t see on there. I also end up meeting other members of my family.
[00:05:43] Alexis: So kind of going back to you, you get selected to do this show, you know that you may or may not connect with family members.
[00:05:55] Patrice: Yes.
[00:05:56] Alexis: And by this point, you know what your origin story is and your mother, do you just call her your mom, like your adoptive mother?
[00:06:05] Alexis: Yes. So your mom has told you. How you were found, that you were found in a trash bin as a baby.
[00:06:12] Alexis: What feelings are you having about possibly connecting with a parent who left you in those circumstances? What emotions are coming up at that time?
[00:06:24] Patrice: You know, Alexis, it’s crazy. It’s really crazy that I always default to, I have a very researcher centered brain. And so even about my own self, my own story, should I say. I was like, I just want to know the facts here. It was so, it was literally like, and I don’t know if that’s just personally like a protective mechanism that I went into, whatever it probably is now that I’ve figured it out, and I also work with therapists and I, do my own work definitely know that, but that’s really the default for me.
[00:07:03] Patrice: Is that I was like, I got to find out these facts. I know they’re about me, but I want to know the facts here, and I think that also having that orientation. Did help me to understand when I found out more it helped me to understand it more and then it helped. We also, as I was dealing with, okay, this is my own story and yes, this is how it affected my own narrative, but now moving to the advocacy space.
[00:07:34] Alexis: Yeah. So you’re really, you kind of maybe compartmentalized the emotional side of it and really focused on let’s get some answers here and then turn that into to advocacy. Okay. So you do connect with your sister. How does that go? What do you learn?
[00:07:56] Patrice: I connected with her. I, the 1st thing I learned is that there was this. Absolutely amazing human being in the world that has been looking for me for 20 plus years. Like, just to think that is just overwhelming. Like, she’s an amazing person. And so here’s how it unfolded my biological mother was a nurse. And she got into, relationship with my biological father and they were kind of like, dating off and on or whatever, but they both worked at the same hospital and they weren’t like really, exclusively like an item, I guess, but you know, somebody that she had been seeing for a while and she ended up since she already had my sister who was about two at the time.
[00:08:48] Patrice: And her family knew she just it was a lot of complex family situations, a lot of complex situations with being, quite frankly, an African American woman, single woman with a daughter already. Who was working as a nurse and didn’t have the level of tenure on her job to ask for. Time off and all these different things.
[00:09:10] Patrice: So she hid her pregnancy and then she had me on the bathroom floor of the house. She was living with her parents at the time and cut the cord herself. And then I think just kind of had a mental break. Like, I can’t do this and put me behind it was behind a mall, but, in a dumpster area and called the cops herself.
[00:09:34] Patrice: And like, kind of disguise her voice. And there’s an article actually that we found my adoptive mom actually helped find that article about the situation. And it says all of that, it doesn’t say who she was, but it says that some serious person called, early in the day and the cops came and.
[00:09:53] Patrice: I think there’s just a lot there that we can unpack later, but that was the actual story of it. Then she continued to kind of day off and on this same man. And I actually found out from at that same time that I had a full brother. He’s a
[00:10:11] Alexis: Wow.
[00:10:13] Patrice: brother who she still kept dating the same man and she ended up keeping him and my sister and um, she had a pretty rough go of it ended up, you know, with some mental health issues and And even some substance abuse issues and ended up that my brother and sister for a time ended up in foster care. And I lived across town, like 20 minutes away, didn’t even know and I’m living this, pretty much middle class black family life, totally different from theirs.
[00:10:46] Alexis: Wow.
[00:10:47] Patrice: So that’s what transpired and what we kind of learned from that, but it was kind of neat when you talk about the DNA.
[00:10:54] Patrice: I thought I’d bring that out to you, Alexis, that I loved learning the fact that there is a human being on this earth that shares just about the amount of DNA that you could, you know, for it says it like, oh, my DNA thing. I love looking at it. When I pull up my brother, it says brother.
[00:11:14] Alexis: Right. Yeah. So you connected with your sister and she’d been looking for you. What was it like to meet her and see her and hug
[00:11:25] Alexis: her and talk to her?
[00:11:27] Patrice: she was she’s amazing. We still are close. We talk, I mean, just about the phone, but just about every day. She’s just someone who’s roll with the punches and also she has my nephew and they’re both just amazing people. And I love getting to know about them and getting to know them. just when, my biological mother had told when, so she got my brother and sister back at some point. it was at that point, she had been through her own therapy and things like that. She felt like she wanted to come clean with her kids and let them know that they have a sister. So, from then on, my sister’s, like, well, where is she?
[00:12:11] Patrice: Where is she? Where is she? And she just never stopped.
[00:12:15] Alexis: Did your biological mother tell them what happened to you as far as what she knew? Or did she just say, you have a sibling,
[00:12:23] Patrice: Yeah, you have a sibling and I know that, you know, pretty much, they’re probably okay because this is what I did.
[00:12:30] Alexis: Okay.
[00:12:31] Patrice: I know they’re out there because this is what I did. I know I didn’t just leave them. And they didn’t just… Die there,
[00:12:39] Alexis: Yeah. Okay. So you mentioned that you got to connect with other family members. Who else did you get to meet?
[00:12:46] Patrice: So 1 part of the piece of this story is just to tell you that was in August of 2019. I met all of them. And then I. My biological mother that date, like, right after we finished taping the show, she couldn’t be on the show just because she had some severe health concerns and she was in a nursing home.
[00:13:06] Patrice: And it was pretty much like, hey, if you’re going to meet her, you pretty much should go today to meet her. So I did that. And that was an experience in itself. And, I met her, it was, you know, she and I had a chance to talk and, I don’t really share too much about what she and I talked about, but I will say that I I got out what I needed to say.
[00:13:27] Patrice: And it was a really cool conversation, months later, she got progressively worse and I came back in November and I ended up meeting an uncle that was coming into the nurse home to see her. And that was really neat at the time.
[00:13:40] Patrice: And then I met my brother that day, my full brother, and I have since met both of my 2 of my sisters from my dad’s side.
[00:13:49] Alexis: Oh, wow. Okay.
[00:13:51] Patrice: that’s been pretty cool. In December of 2019, uh, my biological mother passed away and so I came back to Pittsburgh and I went to that funeral and that is when I just met the floodgates open and I met a whole bunch of people and it was a very interesting experience ’cause it was like it’s supposed to be this, funeral we’re at, but it’s like all these people are coming, her daughter’s gonna be there.
[00:14:15] Patrice: Let me see. It was like a nonstop. Two hour meeting people. The family’s pretty big and they’re amazing. And everybody is trying to keep some type of connection, even cousins, I was living in New Jersey at the time and found out that a whole big chunk of that family lived in North Jersey. I was living in South Jersey at the time.
[00:14:36] Patrice: And they, quite a few of them tried to stay, you know, connected to me in various ways. It’s been really neat. We’re really neat journey.
[00:14:44] Alexis: What does your family think of? I mean, it sounds like they were very fascinated and excited to meet you, but knowing the circumstances of your birth, of your adoption, what is there? Are they just, let’s move on and you’re part of the family or what’s the feeling?
[00:15:02] Patrice: No, you know, 1 thing I think it’s a little complicated there and I don’t I don’t want to ever, like, feel like I’m ever throwing them under the bus because I’m not. I think we’re all still working through that. My biological mother had a lot of siblings and. There were people that at different times helped in and out, you know, with my brother and sister time for various reasons and not various reasons.
[00:15:27] Patrice: But, you know, they ended up in foster care, but I think one of the sentiments that I got from quite a few of the, uncles or whatever, and even aunts is that, wow, it’s almost like a wow for them. Like, yeah. I wish we would have no, we’re known to do something or could have just.
[00:15:50] Patrice: Like, a lot of people feel like we don’t like feeling like knowing that there’s someone that was out there that we didn’t know
[00:16:00] Alexis: Yeah.
[00:16:01] Patrice: And every single last person has been just really nice in the sense that, like, they’re not, no, they’re not like, no, shunned away or whatever if they’re.
[00:16:12] Patrice: If I called any of them, and they, or my stir different type, they met family gatherings, you know, at aunts reach out and say, if you’re around, we’re having this. Family gathering, you’re more than welcome to come, , it’s like that it’s, I think it’s almost like come now we can’t do anything about the past, but come now,
[00:16:34] Alexis: Yeah. What did your adoptive parents think
[00:16:38] Patrice: My, uh, adoptive father died when I was 13. But my mother is, and she is on actually filmed on the show. And is, is supportive, of me and throughout the journey, somebody who’s definitely supportive I will say that. I’m learning that for adoptive parents, it can be a little, it can be a little tricky.
[00:17:04] Patrice: And I honestly say this, I’m, it’s definitely an area that I’m guarded with with her because I’m not because I don’t feel like she understands all of it or whatever. I just feel like there’s you know, you just, you have your own story. And for you to do the processing that you need, it needs to not be about other people. And it’s my story.
[00:17:30] Alexis: Yeah.
[00:17:31] Patrice: I learned through the the filming and the production company that did that. They taught me that. They taught me that this is my story, and that I have a right to tell it like it is, and it doesn’t really, even though there’s, you honor the fact that she’s in that story and she raised me and, but there’s a piece of it that’s mine.
[00:17:52] Patrice: That is solely mine. And I’ve got to own that. And I don’t need other narratives in it, and I don’t need it. That and so that’s one of my big sticking points is I think that for the future and we talk about advocacy or whatever for the future of adoption, I really think that and this doesn’t take anything away from my adoptive mom, but I really think that there needs to be a lot of conversation to potential adoptive parents about the why you’re doing what you’re doing and that you are adopting someone who has a biological family and they have a right to know. That family
[00:18:34] Alexis: Yes.
[00:18:35] Patrice: regardless of the situation. So my particular situation was that my mother at the time, my adoptive mother just could not have kids.
[00:18:43] Patrice: And I think a lot of times when you have people with that it can create a dynamic, and I’m not saying bad or good, but I’ll just leave that there.
[00:18:52] Alexis: Okay. Okay. Now you talked about, I think this is really important because I 100 percent agree. These are our stories that we need to tell. And I do think in this community between adoptees, donor conceived people, and NPEs.
[00:19:12] Patrice: Yeah.
[00:19:12] Alexis: There’s a, there’s an urge to protect our mothers, adoptive mothers,
[00:19:17] Alexis: biological Mothers, all the mothers.
[00:19:20] Patrice: Yeah. Yep. I have a situation. I’m actually really close to a person that is going to eventually have this whole donor conceived narrative and I think I need to have the conversation with them that, there’s some things you have to talk about because you had this intention that you were doing this. But when somebody is not by a lot, you cannot erase that you cannot erase that they have a DNA story
[00:19:50] Alexis: right. Yes.
[00:19:53] Patrice: and stop. You know, I think people need to stop selfishly.
[00:19:58] Patrice: I’m not, I don’t want to, I really do not. I don’t want to seem like I’m being angry or mean, but I, what I am saying is that I think that there people need to count the cost. And count and fully embrace that child for who they are before they start into this stuff. And if you can do that, do it because you’re fully embracing who that person is.
[00:20:22] Alexis: Yeah,
[00:20:24] Patrice: But, they’ll have 2 sets of parentage, right? Like, if you can equally say that this person has 2 sets of parentage and not treat that 2nd set of parentage or think that’s any less than. If you can fully say that, then have at it. You’re a perfect candidate to do this.
[00:20:41] Patrice: If you’re not, and this is all about you, and what you want, then you better figure it out
[00:20:48] Alexis: that’s something I’ve learned since kind of entering this space is the myth of the blank slate, right?
[00:20:56] Alexis: Adopted. Children, babies, even if it’s a newborn baby,
[00:21:02] Alexis: it’s not a blank Slate. They’ve had experiences.
[00:21:06] Patrice: Is not,
[00:21:08] Patrice: and that’s part of the after I realized a lot of my life, like, and I still am, no, I was not a blank slate and no, I’m reclaiming all this stuff back
[00:21:21] Patrice: And yeah, I was, you know, raised wonderfully, but I adopted family. But I have, I full on have another family that lived across town.
[00:21:31] Patrice: You can’t lie, you can’t deny it. And if you try to make me, you’re just gonna wish me away.
[00:21:38] Alexis: You mentioned some of this processing and things that you needed to do outside of, you know, worrying about what your mom would think or worrying about what anyone else in your family would think. Can you talk through what some of that work look like?
[00:21:54] Patrice: Yeah, one of the beautiful things about the show I said number one was that The conversations I had with some of the producers about centering my story and all of that, it was huge. Never heard. I just, I will say it. I never heard that in that kind of way. And I think that has totally lit a fire in me the move forward for myself and for other people.
[00:22:20] Patrice: And another thing that they did was they gave me connection to a therapist that is world renowned when I in the adoption space and then I come to find out and I had a couple of sessions with her and I had already had therapists and who happened to also be adopted competent by a therapist.
[00:22:38] Patrice: When I saw her out, I did not realize that at all for some other stuff I was working on. And I’m like, oh, so she kind of did a handoff to her and I’ve been with her ever since. So I think that was just that recognition that you’re doing something here that is huge. And no, you can’t you need to process this.
[00:22:59] Patrice: And so, from that, I’ve realized that, yeah, there’s a lot of themes in life that have been super huge for me. And I need, I have this thing, I need to process these with someone. So that’s the kind of work that I’ve done on my own was just working with a therapist who is happens to be adopted competent and also happens to be you know, of my same faith tradition as a Christian.
[00:23:23] Patrice: So that helps for me,
[00:23:26] Alexis: Before we started recording, you’ve talked about the fog, and we haven’t talked about that before on this podcast. So for people that aren’t familiar with the fog in terms of adoption, can you educate people a little bit on that?
[00:23:46] Patrice: yeah I, when these terms, my, when I say my community, the adoptive community is, I hope that I am doing my community justice when I describe this, you may have to bring somebody else on there to get this. But. For me, what the coming out of the fog was, it was just that was that production company actually started it for me, this whole thing of centering your story and not having a be about someone else’s narrative.
[00:24:18] Patrice: So, for instance, you know, how we use terms like with adoptees of like gotcha day or, or the People brought you to our home and things like that. No, you have a narrative that started before that and that helped me to come out the fog in a sense of saying, oh, wait a minute, this option stuff isn’t necessarily.
[00:24:44] Patrice: I mean, it works in their children. Yes. In my case, abandonment cases, there’s nothing you can do. It’ll be like, you ended in the child welfare system and you have to have someone care for you in your day to day needs. You have to have parents, so I’m not saying 1 of those that the. Whole system needs to be deconstructed, but I think it definitely needs to be overhauled.
[00:25:04] Patrice: And the fact that we have assist, child welfare system that, works disproportionately for some people than others, but just seeing the whole system for what it is seeing the whole system of, and not even just child welfare, but even like Alexis, some of the stuff that we’ve talked about this whole shame and lies, what people try to cover up in families that whole system is a thing and understanding that’s not necessarily so good for the person who it affects.
[00:25:36] Patrice: That’s coming out of the fog of understanding that there’s something bigger than this.
[00:25:41] Alexis: Now I know a huge part of your story coming out of the fog doing the work that you do is that you have used that as a catalyst to support others. And I would love for you to share how you are helping others within that adoptive community.
[00:25:58] Patrice: certainly, so I’m still working through this and figuring out what all I will be doing. But 1 thing that I do is anytime I’ve been given a chance to share my story and narrative. I do. So and so I have done. A few podcasts, quite a few podcasts because I think it shares things from a dynamic that others may not have heard before.
[00:26:24] Patrice: Those of us who are abandonment cases and we’re just left, we’re called foundlings.
[00:26:29] Patrice: So just connected with the founding foundlings and kind of looking through some of the issues that we have, you know, we’re just left. And what does that mean? Like, what is what was behind that? You know, this world would have you to believe that, oh, this is just this terrible mother.
[00:26:44] Patrice: She just let, I would say people just don’t leave people for no reason and they don’t just leave them because they’re just God awful, terrible people either. I will probably tell you about 10 out of 10 of the stories that I’ve ever heard of whether the moms were okay to be parents, eventually or not, there was some socioeconomic status, some family pressure, some type of shame that ended up, a person ended up in a foundling situation.
[00:27:18] Alexis: hmm. Mm hmm.
[00:27:19] Patrice: And so what I try to work to do is um, I’m right now in a, in a book club, then we’re working through with another adoptee who, uh, we’re working through a book about shame because I feel like shame is a huge thing, um, with that. So I stay connected with the adoptee. I go to adoptee lounges, adoptee,
[00:27:40] Patrice: meetups and, you know, virtually online and in those spaces, but for myself recently, myself and another adoptee Abby, it’s been amazing, has started the Adoptee Prayer Collective, which is the only prayer collective that we know of that centers the voice of the adoptee around issues and just our lives.
[00:28:03] Patrice: So people have a space to come and just have a quick prayer meeting and just really proud to God about from a spiritual perspective, because we all do the hands on work. We all, you know, we’ll do advocacy work online or, joints or groups or whatever it is, but, for those of us where our spirituality is important we have a place.
[00:28:25] Patrice: To come and we also the important piece of it is as we set the thing up that regardless of whether you believe in or praying about or not, you can send in anonymously a prayer request and we’re going to, we’re going to pray for you. We pray for everybody. It isn’t just, you know, Christian adoptee or whatever.
[00:28:48] Patrice: No. , that’s not what this is
[00:28:50] Alexis: Yeah. That’s incredible that you’ve really just. Let’s turn this into a way to support others. So I’ve heard this term, foundlings before. And that does seem like an even smaller and unique niche right within the adoptive community. Um, And one of the things I wanted to ask you about is how you kind of handle what I imagine is sort of this fascination and like you mentioned earlier, judgment around Your circumstances because you still are working through a lot of the adoptive Narrative like the coming out of the fog and everything But also I feel like you know when people hear what happened to you as a baby and how you were found that sometimes like piques people’s interest and maybe Dehumanizes you a little bit or maybe you don’t find that to be the case, but I’m curious how you know receive that
[00:29:54] Patrice: You know how, if you’re in the public eye, Anything you do, you know, people say don’t read the comments.
[00:30:01] Alexis: Yes. Yes.
[00:30:03] Patrice: So when we did the show and it had, long lost family has a page, on Facebook and people were commenting.
[00:30:09] Patrice: I mean, I will say 95 percent of the comments and the people that watch the show are absolutely fascinated and support the show and love, but there were some that said, Oh my gosh, how could she do that? Like, that’s crazy.
[00:30:26] Patrice: Why would, you know, why would somebody want to read I or meet somebody who done had done that?
[00:30:32] Patrice: And you know, that was the 1st time I had really kind of come in contact with that.
[00:30:38] Patrice: And I really just kind of focus on, with any other kind of advocacy, like, people don’t really understand fully the circumstances why people will do a lot of really hurtful things, and and that’s 1 1 thing.
[00:30:53] Patrice: And that’s 1 thing that fuels this. Understanding of me about, advocating for single moms and for family preservation and that it just not for the system just to jump straight to child welfare. Oh, this person is incapable. They’re just incapable. Well, you don’t know, the circumstances.
[00:31:14] Patrice: You may need to do some emergency thing to make sure that people are okay. But what about, coming alongside families in a better way to ensure that they’re united or coming alongside younger women who find themselves in situations. Where they feel supported so they can have a life where they can feel like they can raise their kid and also pursue their dreams.
[00:31:44] Patrice: People shouldn’t just be counted out in life just because they’re, maybe socio economic disadvantage and they happen to have a child. Like, that’s just silly to me.
[00:31:53] Alexis: Can you talk more about what you think needs to change in the adoption space?
[00:32:00] Patrice: 1 of the things that I feel like I am a advocate for. That adoptive parents before you do it, what you’re doing that number 1, we say this all the time that infertility is not a. Catalyst or reason to adopt adopted kids that need families because of their, abandoned or, neglected or whatever, that there’s a story there and that might not always jive with. Someone’s objectives to want to have a child because the infertility issues. 9 times out of 10 that doesn’t and so you end up a parenting out of a space that’s different and whether you’ve accepted now, if you are a person who has fully accepted that.
[00:32:47] Patrice: Yeah, there’s kids here and I’m not their savior, but they have a story. And I’m here to nurture the story that is their story, but I also genuinely believe that children need a safe and loving homes, and I’m willing to nurture them for who they are, then yeah. I think that people need to know that’s the space that you need to adopt out of.
[00:33:14] Alexis: I definitely want to talk to you about this compassion because I can tell just from our conversation you are an extremely compassionate person and you know, you talk about reducing shame and supporting people through these very difficult decisions.
[00:33:35] Alexis: How did you reach such a place of compassion for your mother and other parents of foundling children?
[00:33:45] Patrice: Something changed in me after I talked to her, that literally that day that changed. I describe it as me being able to participate in Grace and not that I have grace to give to anyone, but because of my situation in the position that I was in and having to literally sit across from someone who has done some of the unspeakable to you. And be able to really genuinely look into the eyes of someone and say, I get it, like, that was a hard decision to me as a woman, as your kid, as your, all of these things and genuinely believe
[00:34:42] Alexis: Yeah.
[00:34:42] Patrice: that’s what changed for me. So, I, I have turned this thing into, like, a badge, you know, of, like, goodness just for me living in the world period.
[00:34:54] Patrice: And if people just don’t do what they do for no reason at all, even when they make really grave mistakes.
[00:35:02] Alexis: Right.
[00:35:02] Patrice: I’m not and did not in the conversation that I had with her, let her off the hook for that because that’s just my humanity. I had and I was given the opportunity to be able to say that, you know, but, not everyone is to someone. I wasn’t given the opportunity to be able to say that to my biological father
[00:35:23] Alexis: Right.
[00:35:24] Patrice: and there’s a lot of they’re there.
[00:35:25] Patrice: I have to, live with that and work through that but. Okay.
[00:35:29] Alexis: Yeah. And I know that the conversation that you had with your biological mother is, sacred and private and that was a moment between you two. But if that was sort of the catalyst for changing your perspective and moving you into a more compassionate mindset before that, did you have a lot of anger, confusion?
[00:35:50] Alexis: What were your feelings before you had that conversation?
[00:35:54] Patrice: This is one of the reasons like when we talked about coming out of the fog and not in the almost like not knowing what you didn’t know.
[00:36:02] Patrice: I don’t necessarily think that I was so much angry about that, but now when I look back on it, I do feel like in life something was missing, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know if that makes any sense.
[00:36:19] Alexis: Yeah, and I know that there’s sometimes this narrative of like the angry adoptee, and I
[00:36:26] Alexis: definitely would not want to
[00:36:27] Alexis: paint, yeah, I
[00:36:29] Alexis: don’t, and I would never want to paint you or anyone that way,
[00:36:33] Alexis: um, for feelings that
[00:36:34] Alexis: they have.
[00:36:35] Patrice: That wasn’t my thing. I think that just kind of goes along my personality . I didn’t own my self. Or who I was enough and I’m starting to learn that and living there. I didn’t own who I was enough.
[00:36:53] Alexis: Yeah,
[00:36:54] Patrice: So it was always kind of was about other people and about, you know, making them happy , and just being okay for other people, but there are some things that I probably should have thought about.
[00:37:08] Patrice: Well, what does want to do with her self or her days not based on some either religious narrative or parent or narrative or whatever. What do I want to do? I like this type of music because of whatever, not because I’m in this category, you know?
[00:37:32] Alexis: Right.
[00:37:33] Patrice: Yeah. I happen to really like R and B, but not because I’m a black woman, living in Nashville, like I love the lyrics to country music, you know, it’s just I think that’s what happens to people as they lose their selves in what could tend to happen adoptees.
[00:37:48] Patrice: You’ll look back of your life and be like whoa. What was I, what decisions was I making and who was really influencing that stuff?
[00:37:56] Alexis: Mmm, that’s important to call out. Have you thought about how different your upbringing was from your siblings that were raised both by your biological father and your biological mother?
[00:38:16] Alexis: It sounds like you had a more positive upbringing than your siblings that stayed with your mother.
[00:38:24] Alexis: Take me through the feelings there, like, is there guilt, sort of that like survivor’s guilt sort of thing? Is there the what ifs? What do you experience?
[00:38:34] Patrice: That was early on after the. meeting that was definitely an area and my therapist shout out to her. She was. She’s amazing. I remember specifically one session that we had because it was really hard. I was struggling a lot with uh, survivor’s remorse, what they call. And you, that thing gets out of control and you’re like, I don’t know what to, I don’t know what to feel like. I’m out of control here because there was all this stuff that I was put into. Thank you. And I can’t even and I can’t even put words to it.
[00:39:14] Patrice: I and that’s why one of those things is really important about having the type of parent, you know, the adoptive parents should be educated on things because if you’re journeying through life with a person, they’re going to hear things that could be ideal or even less than ideal.
[00:39:32] Patrice: And, but they’re still a part of that story and they’re going to have that feeling. And you can’t say, well, you shouldn’t feel, sweep that under where you shouldn’t feel like that because you had this going on. No, that makes it even worse.
[00:39:48] Patrice: Part of my stuff that I deal with is PTSD, but you really. Dealt with me one of the sessions that we use is she like, and she taught me about even, you know, uh, uh, particular veteran who had survivor’s remorse and took me through some of the stuff that they work with that particular veteran.
[00:40:08] Patrice: Like when you think about it, like, wait, I had no control over this situation. I’m over here, this is going on and I’m connected to them. I cannot lie. Like, even if I never. Saw them again. I’m connected to them and this is what they were like dealing with.
[00:40:25] Alexis: Yeah. It’s hard. It’s a lot. You touched on therapy. It sounds like therapy has been instrumental in your process and you talked about connecting with your biological mother and other family members. What else has helped you navigate your journey?
[00:40:43] Patrice: The adoptee community. I call us a movement.
[00:40:46] Patrice: There’s amazing leaders in a space that just started these online groups and. You may get into one of these spaces and not say a word that night, or you may chat all night long, but you will see yourself hear yourself validated and what you think and what you and even some hopes that you want to have happen for others. You will learn a lot. I mean, some of the work that’s being done to for people to really call people on a carpet around revising the child welfare system and really trying to help people to. Reserve families, it’s revolutionary and it’s coming from that community.
[00:41:31] Alexis: Yeah. There’s amazing work being done. Where would you say that you are now with everything personally?
[00:41:39] Patrice: I would say I’m in a balance between um, still as things come up, you know, still, uh, work with my therapist regularly, but just trying to live whole myself, that balance of trying to live whole and live but also. Really embrace areas where I’m fighting for others and those that are coming behind us.
[00:42:02] Patrice: So it’s just better for the children that are in the system now and to be that. It’s just better for them.
[00:42:09] Alexis: What advice do you have for a parent, an adoptive parent, whose child is interested in putting their DNA out there and finding?
[00:42:22] Alexis: biological family.
[00:42:24] Patrice: I would say that’s not your choice and they need to do it. That’s from an infant. That’s the only thing that belongs to that person. So whether the person is, an infant all the way up to 90 years old, it’s them and it’s not your choice. You just need to facilitate that.
[00:42:51] Alexis: What advice do you have for a fellow adoptee who may decide to embark on a journey similar to yours and try to find their biological family?
[00:43:03] Patrice: I would say for adoptees and anyone that is, looking to, find people via DNA, really do some work in yourself about what you would like to get out of that. One of the things that I said to you earlier was that I wanted information and I think that helped me.
[00:43:27] Patrice: The fact that I just wanted information later on. I worked out whether, there were connections that I needed or and I’m still there. I’m loving this. Like, I recently, a couple of weeks ago was like, told my sister about something that was going on and I was like, I just need to talk to my sister, but that was, that was me taking time.
[00:43:50] Patrice: I didn’t use the DNA test to do that. I. Use the relationship that I have forged with her to do that scientific DNA test. Don’t give you some instant relationship with someone, so, I just say, stay on the information track. And then if there’s some other holes that you need to work out about abandonment and all these other kind of stuff, you work with your therapist, you work with somebody around that, because even if you do meet people and they do love you and they integrate, you’ll wear those relationships out if you’re looking for something from people that they just don’t have to give
[00:44:32] Alexis: That’s really good advice. Really good advice, I think for, yeah, for anyone embarking on a D N A testing
[00:44:39] Patrice: anyone. Thank you.
[00:44:40] Alexis: Yes. Anyone, well, Patrice, thank you so much for joining me today and sharing your story.
[00:44:48] Alexis: And thank you for everything that you’re doing in the community to raise awareness and support others navigating what can be a really challenging experience. So thank you so much.
[00:45:00] Patrice: Thank you.