Kendall and Corey are joined this episode by Ryan Pesavento (they/them), who accidentally discovered a family secret. Ryan was donor conceived, and after doing a DNA test, they discovered more than a dozen siblings. That number has grown to currently 71 total, and many of the half-siblings are connected in a Facebook group. Ryan has been in touch with their sperm donor, as a “professional relationship” to gain biological information. Ryan has met 10 of their siblings around the country thus far, and is about to embark on a road trip where they will meet several of their siblings in person.
Meet Me and My 71 Siblings
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Hello and welcome to season three of Family Twist, a podcast about DNA surprises, found family, and amazing adoption stories. I'm Kendall Austin Stulce and my partner is Corey Stulce. We've had fabulous guests during seasons one and two. We're sharing stories of people who identify as NPEs, also called not parent expected, others who found out they were donor conceived and have surprise siblings, and even others with unique family twists.
his adoption story and his discovering both sides of his biological family in 2017. So if you're just finding the podcast, we encourage you to start with episode one to learn more about Kendall's journey. Thank you for listening. Thanks again for joining us on Family Twist. Now in season three, in fact, this is our first episode of season three, we've used our hiatus to get some really great guests for season three. I'm very excited about these episodes. So far they've just been great. Kendall and I were
commenting yesterday that we've just been really fortunate to find such well-spoken, you know, great storytellers, good senses of humor. It's been great. So we thought we'd do a little recap of why we're doing this podcast in the first place. We discovered Kendall's birth family back in 2017. And Kendall, you just want to give us like a little bit of a shortened version of your story, just so people are caught up.
Sure, sure. I always, when I meet new people who want to hear why I moved to New England, I almost always tell this story pretty quickly. And it's that until 2017, all I knew about my birth is that I was adopted by my parents when I was two months old. And it was a private adoption. And so I had zero information, except I knew my birth name, I knew my birth date, and I knew where I was born.
And then in 2017, Corey got me an Ancestry.com DNA kit, and I immediately matched with my half-brother, Chris, in Massachusetts, who had been looking for me since 1988. So after thinking I was an only child for 47 years and being raised that way, I suddenly found out that both my birth parents are still living. They were teenagers when I was born, which is why I was given up. I'm the oldest child, but they both...
both went on to have three other children with other people. And so suddenly I had six half siblings, 13 nieces and nephews and birth parents overnight. So that prompted us to want to tell not only my story, but also to find others who had interesting stories. And it's been a really great catalyst for me and my siblings to connect even further. And
you get to hear their stories, their impressions of meeting me and how that all went if you listen to season one. And so we're gonna do something. Well, this is something that we've never done before. So if you've been listening to the podcast, you know that unfortunately, Kendall has not yet connected with his birth mother. It's been five years. It's been very frustrating for him and for me.
and you know it's just it's an ongoing um bit of trauma for this whole experience so Kendall has written a letter to her that he's going to now read. Jackie I just want to speak to you once I just want to hear your voice I don't need anything else from you of course I would welcome a relationship but I assume it's of no interest to you that's okay
I just don't want something to happen to either you or me without having the chance to speak at least once. People say that you said that quote, that period of your life when I was born was extremely difficult. I understand that. I can't imagine having a child at 15 and then placing the child for adoption. I want you to know that until recently, I never harbored any bad feelings toward you or your parents. Who I assume encouraged you to
to place me for adoption. Now though, I'm becoming a bit resentful because I logically am wondering why you don't wanna know me. I'm a good person and you should be proud of the way my adoptive parents raised me. They were wonderful people and instilled admirable morals into my daily life and those morals are still my guiding principles. Before my mother, Betty,
died in 1980, she told me that she hoped I would find my biological family someday, and that she knew that my parents would love getting to know me. So in my heart, I feel as if I haven't fulfilled Betty's dying wish for me. Before my father, Ruble, died in 1987, he told me something very similar. I've always been a positive thinker, and I deluded myself into thinking that finding my biological family would be perfect. It has not been perfect, but it has been wonderful.
I feel as if Richard might agree to connect with me more fully if you gave him your blessing. I don't even feel as if I can visit the town where you live to see Brooke and her family because she and you live so close to each other. The door for me is still open. So my question for you is, what's the easiest way for you and me to make this happen? Was it hard to write? No, because I think...
That's a good question, but I think that, and you know this because you and I have talked about it so many times, but I feel like I'm just finally putting on paper. Or on screen. I didn't, it's not technically paper. Um, you know, typing it out was a little therapeutic, but it really is just reiterating everything I've felt for so many times over and over in the last five years, and I just feel like.
I don't know that she'll ever accept a call from me. I don't know that she'll ever open a piece of mail from me or an email from me. But I feel like even if she doesn't read this, if others know that this is the way I feel about meeting my birth mother, I think it's important. Yeah. Or two, are you considering sending a physical copy of this? Yes. You know, what's awkward about.
This whole situation is, I feel like I'd have to send it to my sister, Brooke, who lives next door to my mother because I don't even have my mother's address. I maybe be able to figure it out if I looked on, you know, Google maps, but I also that, that sort of makes me angry too, because it shouldn't be Brooks responsibility. It shouldn't be Stephanie's responsibility. It shouldn't be Richard's responsibility to help.
my mother and me connect. I feel like she and I are both grown, very grown adults who should be able to move forward. And like I said, even if it's one time, you know, Corey, that I need nothing from her. I would love to have a relationship with her, but I don't need that. You know, nobody will ever replace Betty as my mother.
Well, it's interesting. Um, you know, we've interviewed dozens of people for the podcast and, you know, several of them have had some great reunions, you know, with their birth parents, um, others haven't some, you know, there are some that are in very similar situation to you. And it's, I do find it really interesting to hear their, you know, other people's perspective on it, you know, because it varies. There are, you know, some like you that are, um, you know, a little bit resentful and hurt and there are others who just like, Hey, accepted it. And, uh,
You know, I know that that's not something that's going to be easy for you to do. It isn't. And I think it's because my other parents died. You know, like for me, it feels really real to think that I could, you know, never meet my mother, my birth mother. And, you know, I'm not saying other people don't have dead adoptive parents, but I just mean, you know, I think.
My mother died when I was 10, my dad when I was 16. I don't feel like an orphan, but I did have 30 years, you know, of having that situation be real for me. And so I think because of that, I don't wanna waste any more time, you know? And again, even if that means a one-time conversation,
you know, with my biological mother. And I will never understand, never understand somebody who doesn't wanna know their child. I just don't. I can read everything that people write. I can empathize deeply, but I know myself, there is no way, and I think you're the same way, Corey. I don't think...
I could have gone to sleep that night when I knew, you know, if I'm, if I were a parent who had just found the child that I had to give away, I would not have been able to go to sleep that night without reaching out to the child.
Hi, it's Kendall. I just wanted to pause here for a moment to ask a quick favor. If you're able to safely look at your phone, not while driving, we would love it if you will subscribe to the podcast and if you'll give us a review. We'd love to hear what you think. Okay, back to the episode. You know, many people in my life have said, why don't you just go and knock on her front door? And I feel like, okay, I could do that. Do I risk?
Rejection, of course, that doesn't even bother me. I just feel like at this moment in time, I don't need that either. You know, like I need her to be an adult and to call me or write me or, you know, send me a message through one of my siblings, you know, to say something. I just, I, I feel that it's weird.
I, you know, I've sent her Mother's Day gifts with no response. I've sent her Christmas gifts with no response. You know, I'm not doing that anymore. And it's not, it's not an expense thing. I mean, I don't ever want somebody to think that it's just what, why am I spinning my wheels, right? Why am I doing that to myself? Except that it makes me feel better to do something like that, because I feel like that's natural and normal. You should want to give your s-
your parent a gift, you know? And so it feels weird to me to not do that. But I can't, I can't, I won't continue to just feel pooped on. I'm just, I won't. I was raised with enough pride that sometimes it can get in my way, you know? And I admit that. But I also feel like
I'm a good person and I don't understand why, you know, unless she's a homophobe and can't deal with that as part of the equation, you know, I don't know. I don't know enough about her. I don't know. I feel awkward asking her sister questions about her. I feel awkward asking my siblings questions about her. And so, you know.
It's sad because I don't want to think the worst about her, but it doesn't help when I don't know the answers, right? When I don't know that she's not a homophobe, when I don't know that she's not a racist, when I don't know, you know, I hate, you know, I hate that some of these stereotypes that can exist are kind of sadly stuck in my mind about her. Um, not that race should come into the play here. We're, you know,
That isn't part of the equation for us, but, um, you know, it's a fear that I have, um, that those things are true and nobody is combating my fears right now. Right, right. I mean, I would like to think that it's more of a situation where she's just buried this and, and is, you know,
horrified that it got dug up and found out, you know, because it was something that she, you know, put away. I hear you. I would like to think that that's the case too, but also, I'm almost 53. Like, if you're not gonna deal with it now, as a parent, when will you deal with it? You know, and sadly, sadly, it seems like
she might not want to deal with it. You know, she might want to keep this because, you know, keep in mind listeners, her husband's huge family supposedly doesn't know about me. So, you know, part of it's that. Like I'm this dirty little secret that's still out there 53 years later, which to me just sounds so archaic. I mean, whatever. I, I,
I don't want to get on a soapbox and I don't want to make moral judgments about, you know, other things that she has accepted in her life. Uh, that, you know, lots of listeners would say, oh, well, if she could accept that, why wouldn't she accept, you know, you when you have five plus years to think about it, you think about it a lot. And without more detail. As I said, I feel like I'm assuming some.
Not so nice things about her that might just not be true. Well, I don't want this episode to be completely a bummer Yeah, because it's interesting. We did an interview yesterday and after we finished the recording, you know, we spoke with this gentleman for a while and he's an author and he's done several podcasts and Not something that we were aware of but he said a lot of the podcast that he's done around adoption are like they go out of their way to be like
you know, super, super sad and heartbreaking and stuff. And, you know, that's not to say that we haven't had sad moments on this show, but I feel like, you know, the, the good has definitely outweighed the bad as far as our, you know, the experiences that our guests have had. And it's just like, it's hard, you know, because this is the hardest part of this whole journey is that, you know, it's been five years now and you haven't been able to connect with your mother, but
Um, it is definitely healing for me to hear some of these stories. I mean, I told Kendall yesterday, I got goosebumps at one point. It's like, you know, and I've heard, you know, quite a few of these stories, but it's like, I, it's I'm nowhere near jaded because it's just, you know, it's just. Wow. You know, it's just this incredible stories out there and, you know, we've. Educated ourselves on the different communities. Um, over the last year, you know, we didn't know about.
necessarily like the NPE, not parent expected. Um, but that's a huge growing community, you know, and there's definitely, um, a lot of folks who, you know, are still traumatized and still healing, um, and you know, it's, we love being able to share those stories with people, cause I think every time we do, you know, I think it, it, it helps at least someone a little bit more, you know. Absolutely. And.
I will always have that passion, you know, after spending 47 years of my life not knowing. That's a long time, you know, and to be curious and to know that my adoptive parents were supportive of the thought that I would find family. So it wasn't like I wasn't this dirty little secret in my adoptive family. So I never expected to be that.
in my biological family this many years later, you know, because exactly what I thought might have been true was true. My parents were teenagers. It wasn't like a 30 year old woman who was well established who just decided she'd rather have a career and not a child. You know what I mean? Like it was a completely different era. It was a completely different mindset toward, you know, illegitimate children, that sort of thing. So
I never expected at this point in time in 2023 to still be needing to justify my existence. So but to your point, Corey, we've had an overwhelmingly positive experience with my family and it isn't lost on me that we're preparing for well, actually one just happened this past weekend. But
We have three of my nieces and nephews are graduating high school this month. So my sister's son in Arkansas, my sister's son in Nashville and New Hampshire, and my brother's daughter in Massachusetts. So these are wonderful things that had we waited a few more years to make this discovery, we would have missed. Right.
Yeah, I think we already feel like we've missed a lot, you know, of, you know, when there were kids. So it's it has been really great to to see them grow up. Yeah. Yeah. And I am thankful that this happened in 2017 and not 2027 when they were all adults, you know. Right. Yeah, we would have missed that much more of their lives. And of course, with my siblings. But, you know, it's.
It's fascinating to me to watch these kids, you know, grow up. So I love it. And I feel like I'm missing out on that with my mother's, um, you know, side of the family, because I'm just not welcome. You know, I'm not welcome there on Christmas. I'm not welcome there on Thanksgiving. I'm not, you know, and I feel like that's. It's well, of course it's unfair to me, but it's kind of unfair to the kids too. Like they don't get to know their cool uncle Kendall.
Right? You know? Exactly. And Corey. But I mean, you know, it's, yeah. I feel like one person in this formula is holding up a lot of progress. So yeah, I can't help but feel some resentment about that. Well, I'm gonna remain hopeful that, maybe even during this season, a family twist that that changes. You know, we've recorded a bunch of episodes already.
But you know, still more to come and certainly if there's some kind of movement there, we'll definitely be talking about it. But yeah, in the meantime, you know, we'll continue to share Kendall's story. We're going to have more of his family members on this season. And we've just got a really interesting lineup of folks. Like I just like we just keep finding these great stories. I didn't read that letter to to feel reactive.
You know, I don't want to create a barrier that isn't there. I just feel like I need to, I need to get my feelings out there. That was really the purpose of that. Right. I mean, this is your outlet, you know, absolutely. Cause you don't have another one. Right. And you know, I have zero, um, knowledge about whether she listens to this, whether she's interested in hearing anything about this. I hope so. I hope she does listen.
I hope so too. So, you know, I do quite a bit of sleuthing online trying to find guests, but guests have found us too. So I know we mentioned this quite a bit, but if you've got an interesting Family Twist, we would love to share it on the show. So you know, reach out. Family Twist podcast.com. You can find our contact information there. Blog posts. We just put up a resource page for NPEs.
And yeah, we're just kind of continuing to expand this Family Twist project. Thank you so much for listening to Family Twist. We feature original music by Cosmic Afterthoughts, and Family Twist is presented by Savoir Faire Marketing Communications. Check out our website at FamilyTwistPodcast.com for blog posts and all of our episodes.