Family Twist Episode 14: Answering Your Burning Questions
Kendall and Corey have shared many details on their found family journey, and reached out to Family Twist listeners for their burning questions. In this episode, Corey asks Kendall “cold” questions such as:
Do you have any regrets about moving?
When will we hear about your birth father’s second son?
Have you been in touch with Ancestry about your story?
As a same-sex couple, have you sensed any reluctance from family members to connect?
Will your birth mother ever connect with you?
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00:05 Welcome to Family Twist, a podcast about relatively unusual stories of long lost families, adoption, and lots of drama. I'm Corey. And I'm Kendall, and we've been partners for over 16 years. Hello. Okay. We've been doing the podcast for a little over three months, sharing Kendall's story and other stories as well, and we just ask our subscribers if they have any questions, if they want to know a little bit more about Kendall's journey and where we're going from here with the podcast.
00:34 So I have a list here. Kendall hasn't seen these, so we'll be getting his gut reaction to them and mine. So the first one is, do you have any regrets about moving? No regrets. You don't know when you move all the way across the country to be around family that you didn't know previously, you don't know how well it's going to go. And I think by and large, it's gone really well. We don't see our family, my family, as often as we'd probably all like to, but everybody has busy lives, and that's just the way it's been.
01:08 But it's still been super valuable, I think, to both of us to connect with my family here and even my extended family. I feel like my brother's in laws are really great people as well, and so it's been really nice to get to know them, too. I wouldn't say that I have any regrets either. I'm glad that we did this, and I think we wouldn't have had such a rewarding experience had we not just thrown everybody into the car and moved all the way across the country.
01:38 That said, a few weeks ago, I was back in California for the first time since we moved, and, wow. I mean, I do miss the people, the culture. So I'm hoping that we can at least make some more journeys back to California to see our people there in the near future. All right, so one of our subscribers asked, when will we hear about your birth father's second son? Oh, wow. Have we referenced him before?
02:08 I didn't remember that. We have talked about him a little bit, I believe in the episode with Chris. Oh, that makes sense. And so when I got this question, it just prompted me to reach out to Kendall's sister in law and say, hey, I'm not sure if you're aware of the podcast, but we would love for you to take part. And they have been listening to it, and they seem to be enjoying it so far, and I think we'll probably have them on in the very near future.
02:36 So I think within the next handful of episodes, we will be getting another part of the story, which I think is a really interesting part of the story that we have not shared at all yet. So that's exciting. I'm glad that they're open to participating. Me too. All right. So have there been other siblings or family members who have declined to meet you. Yeah, well, I won't say decline to meet me, but I've never really had much contact with my mother's other son, and it's not malicious.
03:11 I think he lives really close to my mother, and I think he's honoring her. Not request, but her actions. We've alluded to the fact that she and I have never met. We've never spoken on the phone. We've never emailed. We've never texted any of that. And we've only sort of communicated well. We've only connected through my sisters, her two daughters, and I won't even say connected because she doesn't give them any messages to give me.
03:45 I have just asked them to give messages to her. And I think because that relationship is the way it is, then my brother, my half brother on that side, just as probably guarded. He texts me sometimes, occasionally, and really only in response to my texts, but we've never spoken on the phone.
04:15 I have spoken to his wife a few times, and that went well, but I don't know whether that will progress. It's weird to say that almost five years after finding all these people that you feel like it hasn't progressed by now. Then it probably never will. But maybe that's not true. I don't know. But no regrets. Regardless, I have five siblings that I'm in contact with, and the six sort of occasionally, but it's all good.
04:49 So here's something we haven't really talked about. We haven't talked about at all on the podcast, but we might as well put it out there. Someone asks, Kendall, what are your ex wife's thoughts about all of this? Oh, yeah. I don't know if we've ever referred to Connie, my ex wife. She is great, and she has been really supportive. She was ecstatic when I called her five years not quite five years ago, but back then, and told her that I'd found everybody because she and I are from the same tiny town.
05:23 And she knew my parents, my adoptive parents, and she knew that they were very supportive of a possible search, and she knew that they hoped that I would find my biological family someday. So it meant a lot to her. It had to have been crazy for her to have known me all my life and wondered, just like we all did have about who I'd find ever, if I ever did.
05:51 And so she was really ecstatic for me. Yeah, so it's been great. All right. Have you been in touch with Ancestry about the podcast, either about sharing the story or asking for a sponsorship? Yes and no. When we were still in California, right after we found Chris, the brother that you first heard on the podcast, the person I connected with first on Ancestry.com, I remember I took the same ferry at the same time every weekday to go to work in San Francisco, and I always was on the 715 ferry.
06:28 And I remembered that there was a man who was almost always waiting in the same line that I was waiting in to get onto the ferry. And one day, right after I had found Chris on Ancestry and we started talking, I'm in the line for the ferry, and I look up and I see this guy. You got to know the regulars, right? And I just for the first time noticed that his backpack said Ancestry.com.
06:56 And I tapped him on the shoulder and I said, I know it's 07:00 in the morning and you probably don't want to talk about work, but I just have to let you know that Ancestry.com helped me find my biological family, and he was interested to listen to that story, or at least feigned interest, and he said, oh, my gosh. He took down my email address and said, I'm going to connect you with our marketing team and see what can happen.
07:22 Well, nothing came of that way back then, and even when Corey and I reached out to them, aside from that, we didn't get any contact in response. And I get it probably people constantly reaching out, saying, Listen to our stories. But now that listeners have been so wonderful and positive about our experience, we should try again.
07:48 We should try to reach out to Ancestry and say, hey, help us reach more people, help us tell more stories like mine and see what happens. I definitely tag Ancestry, hashtag Ancestry, with different hashtags whenever I get the opportunity on social posts. And Ancestry is referenced in the show notes to any episode where we talk about how you found your family. So ancestry. We're out there. We're out there.
08:17 And, yeah, we would love to have some sort of collaboration. It would be great, because without Ancestry, none of this would be happening. Right. And I do think that while there are other podcasts about family stories and things like that, I don't think that there is another podcast exactly like this one right now. We do give a lot of love to Ancestry in there. So just saying that yeah, that's a really good point because I am a huge fan, and if this DNA technology weren't out there, to Corey's point, I probably never would have been able to find my family.
08:49 And so it means a lot to me, and I do give them props every time I can verbally. You know, when I'm telling my story outside the podcast to just people in my life that I interact with, I always mention Ancestry.com because I feel like I should continually and always give them credit for their part of this journey. All right, next question. Being a samesex couple, have you sensed any reluctance from family members to connect?
09:18 Yeah, I constantly worry that my biological family on my mother's side in southern Louisiana. Not that everybody in southern Louisiana would be conservative, but I do worry that they are. And that sadly, it sounds like to me that they probably at least my birth mother might buy into the silly stereotypes that exist about gay people.
09:48 And that's always on my mind. And I would hate to think that my being gay would keep my birth mother from reaching out to me. Who knows what's going through her mind? She won't talk about me enough with my sisters for me to even get a good indication of what she's thinking. Jackie, if you're listening, I hope that your heart will soften when it comes to my being who I am.
10:15 And I hope you don't have any shame associated with that, because who cares? Whether it's nature versus nurture, it doesn't matter. I'm happy. And I'm who I am. And I'm 52 years old, and life is short, and I feel like you and I should at least meet, at least speak on the telephone. I would hate for anything to happen to either of us, and we've never even had that experience.
10:46 That would be tragic, in my opinion. Yeah. That said, no one that we've met has made us feel less than or weird about the fact that we're gay and have been in a long time relationship. Even if they are more on the conservative side of things, they haven't said anything to us that would offend us in any kind of way. So it is a little bit surprising, though, because I come from a pretty big family, and there are only, like, two second cousins that I know of that are part of the LGBTQ community.
11:21 None on my father's side that I know of. And then we've got this big, huge family on Kendall slash any gays over here either. Like, oh, man, I guess we're the Tokens. We're the token gay uncle, cousin, brother, what have you. Yeah, I should clarify my previous answer, too, and say that my baby sister lives in southern Louisiana, and she has been nothing but wonderful to Corey and me. To Corey's previous point.
11:50 Yes. There are some people that I worry that are conservative, but she is not somebody that I worry about. She has been fantastic and sweet and accepting and interested in all the positive things. I love her a lot, and I wish that proximity weren't the way it is. I wish we were physically closer to each other, but she also lives very close to my mother. It can be difficult, I think, if I tried to visit my sister.
12:22 All right, this one is a little tongue in cheek because it comes from one of your siblings. But the question is, who is your favorite sibling? Oh, God, what a question. I didn't know that would I'm surprised anybody would ask that. I can't. I don't have a favorite sibling. I mean, I love them all in different ways. Everybody seems pretty different, quite honestly. I don't have a favorite I do have a favorite dog, but I don't have a favorite sibling.
12:51 Yeah, the favorite dog is sitting right next to us while the rest of them are created in the basement wondering why. Yeah, because Mr. Furley, he's being really good, as I knew that he would be, and he's being good and quiet and sweet and wonderful like he always is. Yes. I can't say the same for the rest of them. They are sweet, but they wouldn't be quiet. No. All right. This one comes from another family member. Do you feel like life is complete after finding this large group of siblings?
13:20 Yeah, I never knew what it was going to feel like, and I would have been happy with one person. Do you know what I'm saying? Like a it's a combination of not knowing who you are. There is no discredit to my adopted parents. I'm very much their child. I don't mean that. I just mean biologically. You wonder where you came from.
13:45 And so part of the equation is that but even if ancestry.com was structured in such a way that I only ever found out about one person. I would have been ecstatic. Because. Let's face it. I'm an only child from my adoptive family. And those parents have been gone since they died in so it's been a long time. And any connection to any biological family member would have been wonderful.
14:15 But to find out pretty quickly that I had half siblings and 13 nieces and nephews, and then I have great nephews, it's just overwhelming in a wonderful way. I'm so happy. And while you can't make up for the 47 years that I didn't have them in my lives, we've really tried to capitalize on the last five years, corey and I, along with my siblings and their kids and their spouses and that sort of thing.
14:48 So, yeah, it's been amazing. Well, I want to look at the question just a little bit differently. I'm going to focus a little bit on the lifestyle complete part. Now, finding your birth family was a huge piece of the pie that we found for putting together the Trivial Pursuit pie. I think that's like half of the pie pieces right there. Now that we found your birth family doesn't mean like, okay, we're done with our adventures.
15:15 I mean, we are getting a little bit older, but I think we're always kind of looking to the future and what the future holds, and I don't think I'm practically positive we're not going to retire in New England. We've talked about a variety of things, and there's a big world out there, and as you mentioned already, life is short, so we're looking at what opportunities are out there for us. Our best New England friends, who also happen to be family, are moving to Europe next month.
15:44 And while we're very excited for them, it's kind of got us thinking, like, we haven't lived outside of the country before, and the state of this country right now is making us pondered a little bit more I don't think we'll ever get to a point where we'll say life is complete until we've completed it. Yeah. And those of you who know us personally know that Corey and I are not complacent. We're just not. We're not built that way.
16:12 We're not the kind of people and not that there's anything wrong with putting down roots and staying for a long time, but we don't live our lives that way. And I think because we don't have children, it's easier for us, right. It's easier than anybody, even in our families, probably, to kind of uproot ourselves four years ago and come from San Francisco to New England. I get that. And we are fortunate in that respect. It depends on what you want out of life, right?
16:38 Like, there was a point when we wanted children and now we've kind of feel like we're older and maybe we've missed that opportunity and that's okay, we've been very happy otherwise. I just feel like we've kind of rolled with the events that have happened in our lives and really embraced them. I remember when Corey's family, a few people were upset and a few other people weren't upset, but we're very surprised when we moved from St. Louis to San Francisco back in 2008.
17:06 And yeah, that was a big move as well. And again, that's just kind of who we are. We said, hey, that's an opportunity, we're going to take it. And we love the nine years we spent out there's. Again, no regrets about that either, but I will go out on a limb and say we've made a few friends in New England and they're very nice, but most of the time we've been here has been coveted, related, and so that's been particularly difficult.
17:35 But I joke with Corey and say New England is the best at marketing itself as the place to be because, yes, it's pretty, but so is Missouri. No, seriously, believe it or not, you could drive outside of St. Louis for a couple of hours and see scenery that's just as beautiful as what we have in New England. Good for New England, for marketing itself so well.
18:06 But I'm going to go ahead and say that aside from the friends that we've made here, we don't know that we would enjoy the people here as much as we've enjoyed people elsewhere. I'm trying to say that diplomatically. I don't want to alienate all New England listeners. We just have not felt as welcome here as we hoped to. And I'm not talking about my family. I'm talking about the fact that Corey and I live in super conservative New Hampshire.
18:37 And we're not used to that. We're not. We lived in a metro area in St. Louis that felt very multicultural to some degree. And then we moved to San Francisco, which for the US. I think is one of the most interesting places to live and talk about multiculturalism. That was like our ideal and so, yes, we knew that it was going to be different moving to New England, but we didn't think it was going to be as conservative as it is if you're not in Boston, and even if you are in Boston, it's just not what we expected.
19:10 So I'm trying to be diplomatic, but, yeah, we won't be on their tourism boards. I'm just home. All right. You've already covered this. Sort of. And the last question is one that you really can't answer, but it is the most popular question asked by listeners, and that is, will your birth mother ever connect with you? Who knows? Who knows? I mean, my friends know this about me and my found family.
19:39 All these biological family members know this about me. Surely by now, almost five years later, that I want to connect with her, I want to speak with her. I don't really need anything from her. If she's worried I'm going to want continual and constant contact, no, that isn't the way it would need to be.
20:04 She does owe me an apology, and I'll say that right now because nobody and lots of my mother's family members have tried to be her advocate and say, well, Kendall, it was a really difficult time in her life, Jackie. Get over it. It was 50 something years ago. I am here now, and you're missing opportunities that we will never get back. After almost five years, am I now having some resentment?
20:34 Yeah. I never had 1oz of resentment against my mother when this all came to light in 2017 because I found out that she was a young woman and it wasn't her decision to be made for me to be given up for adoption. And actually, I'm not opposed to what my grandparents forced her to do, in that I had a great life with my adoptive family.
21:02 And I've said this before, and I think I might have even said it on the podcast, like, if you told me that my child that I had given up 50 years ago or 47 years ago at that point in time, had found me, I couldn't have gone to sleep that night without speaking to my child. So I don't understand what could make somebody not speak to their child, but that's on her. I'm tired of trying to rationalize her behavior.
21:32 No offense to anybody. I don't think there is an excuse for it now. She's a grown woman. She has had almost five years to reach out to me, and she hasn't. So am I creating a barrier just by saying this out loud? Probably not. I mean, she hasn't reached out in almost five years. What makes me think that she will anyway? So I feel like I'm just being honest.
21:56 This is ridiculous, in my opinion, and I have every right to feel that way because I have been so fully embraced by my mother's two daughters, by my mother's sister, by my cousins, on that side by my father's whole family. So, yeah, I feel like I don't understand a biological parent who could let this amount of time go by.
22:24 And the longer it goes, I would never be rude to her if she called me tomorrow and said, you know what? Let's bury the hatchet, and let's talk. Those of you who know me and maybe some of you who didn't know me and have gotten to know a little bit about me through this podcast would know that's just the way I am. I'm not mean, and I'm not going to be hateful, and I'm not going to be rude, and that's not who I am. But at the same time, it's hard for me.
22:53 How can you not take it personally when your own mother hasn't spoken to you and she's known about you for over four years? I mean, she's known how to get in touch with you for over four years. I find it bizarre. It doesn't really anger me. It puzzles me. Yeah. I mean, that's the big thing that's still hanging out there from this story, and we get asked about it all the time, and we haven't yet encountered someone else who wants to tell their story on the podcast that has had something similar happen.
23:27 But I'm sure that they're out there, and I'm sure we'll be hearing from them, because as the podcast is starting to take off in popularity, we're hearing from more and more people who are open to telling their stories, and there are some amazing, wild stories. They don't all have the fairy tale ending, too, so I guess time will tell, and hopefully there are some folks that we can talk to, so maybe Kendall can get a little bit of better understanding.
23:57 Boy, we love to have somebody on who, for whatever reason, it took time and didn't want to speak to a child if they gave up for a long time but then came around for one reason or another, it would be great to be able to have a conversation with somebody like that. But again, only time will tell. Yeah, but that's the big thing that's still hanging out there, and I hope us talking about this doesn't cause a bigger rift.
24:24 I don't see how it could, but as Kendall said, it's been almost five years, so I don't think Kendall has to be quiet about it any longer. No. And I've tried, and I will continue to try. I've tried to be respectful. I've tried to listen to my family members when they say it was a difficult time in your mother's life when she had to give you up. And I keep hearing that it resonates with me. It stays in my mind, and I hear it over and over in my own mind.
24:55 And there's more to the story, right? There's got to be a bigger reason. And sadly, I feel like from what I can piece together, because my sisters are. My mother's daughters are amazingly, they're just kind people and they don't want to badmouth our mother at all. But they've kind of alluded to the fact that my mother's husband's family still to this day doesn't really know about me.
25:25 Now, I know to a lot of people that sounds ridiculous because how could they not? But my mother and her husband moved from Arkansas to southern Louisiana right after I was born. And I think that my stepfather's family would, of course, never have assumed that she had already given up a child because she was so young. I think that in itself is probably a barrier for her. But again, I just can't imagine that 52 years later that anybody cares.
25:58 Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they're so conservative that she worries that they would care. And maybe she worries about what they would think about her being a young teenager, getting pregnant, giving up a baby, all that sort of thing. And again, accidents happen, right? I mean, if my stepfather's family would judge my mother for something that happened 50 something years ago and it was one mistake, that says a lot about them, in my opinion.
26:27 I feel like that's ridiculous. Everybody's different. And I know as we've gotten older, we've started to care less and less about what other people think. And I mean, I think everybody could take RuPaul's advice to heart and that what other people think or say about me is none of my business. Here's hoping that there will be some kind of shift, that some kind of communication will happen. In the meantime, though, we're going to continue sharing more of Kendall's story.
26:57 As I mentioned, we've got people who have been contacting us and then through our research, finding other people who have amazing stories about finding family they have no idea about. I did a pre interview with a woman who was in 28 different foster homes, essentially what they call back then, like a garbage child who has an amazing story about finding her family. And I can't wait for you to hear that episode. I know just from the conversation I had with her, it's going to be amazing.
27:26 The Family Twist podcast is starting to grow a global audience, which is great. We've got subscribers in the UK and Australia, New Zealand, and other countries around the world. So all we ask is that if you like it and other people who like podcasts, please tell them about it. Share a Link if you haven't done the review on Apple podcasts yet, please do whether you like the show or not. It doesn't have to be a five star review. We love that. But that seems to be where most people are listening.
27:58 And we know, I know we're working in marketing that the more reviews we get on Apple, the algorithms are going to kick in and Apple is going to start putting our podcast out there in front of more people and that way we can find more people to tell their stories. So if you haven't already, please leave us. Review share with a friend, share with an enemy. I don't care. Alright, so I think we're going to jump off our soapboxes now, but thanks everybody, for your support.
28:27 It's been really an incredible journey so far. It doesn't seem like it's only been three months that we've been doing this. We hear from folks from our past that we haven't heard from years ago that are finding out about it and really digging it. So thank you for tuning in. Anything else, Kendall? Yeah, we're just going to say continue to send us your questions. We're happy to answer them like this. We can do another Q and A type episode anytime and I love to hear what people are curious about.
28:58 Right? Because some of these questions have been a surprise and I like that. It's been interesting to see, especially since a couple of them are from family members of mine. So it's kind of fun to have that interaction as well. Thanks again. This is the Family Twist podcast hosted by Kendall and Cory Stalls, with original music by Cosmic Afterthoughts and produced by Outpost Production and presented by Savoir Fair Marketing Communications.
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