'Part Of My DNA': An Adopted Woman Learns Of Her Birth Mother's Resilience At StoryCorps, a woman and her half brother reflect on their mother, the pain she experienced in her life and the secret she kept from her children.
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'Part Of My DNA': An Adopted Woman Learns Of Her Birth Mother's Resilience

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'Part Of My DNA': An Adopted Woman Learns Of Her Birth Mother's Resilience

'Part Of My DNA': An Adopted Woman Learns Of Her Birth Mother's Resilience

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It is Friday and time for StoryCorps. Today, uncovering a painful family secret. Lisa Bouler Daniels grew up knowing she was adopted. But it wasn't until seven years ago that she started searching for her birth family. By the time she found them, both her birth mother and her adoptive mother had passed away. Last year, though, she tracked down her half-brother, Benjamin Chambers.

LISA BOULER DANIELS: I kind of ambushed you. I showed up at your church. And I remember asking you, did you have a few minutes. I wanted to talk to you privately because you didn't know that you had a sister - no idea.

BENJAMIN CHAMBERS: No inkling, no hint, no nothing. It was shocking. It felt like I was staring at my mother - cheekbones, eyes - even all the way down through chosen career path, her being a teacher, you being a teacher. So I called my sister, Camille. And I said, is it possible mom had a daughter before all of us? And she was like, I'm calling Dad. And him sharing that they wrestled with wanting to tell us and, especially when she got sick, when was the right time to say something.

BOULER DANIELS: You know, once I found out that I am the result of a sexual assault, that kind of took me for a loop. And so I struggled with maybe I should have stayed away. Now all of the pain and the sadness that goes along with my very existence is out in the open.

CHAMBERS: I remember crying every day, thinking through what our mother had to go through and really thinking about how we were raised and how protective she was and now fully understanding why. I remember being a child and, you know, going to the park to play baseball or basketball and having to check in, giving us the stranger speech over and over, not being able to go to a friend's house or birthday party unless she met everybody.

BOULER DANIELS: You know, to have a child under the circumstances that I was born and then go on to marry and to have four more kids, I mean, that is just phenomenal strength. And so I do take heart in knowing that that's who I come from.

CHAMBERS: Right.

BOULER DANIELS: That's part of my DNA, so to speak. I was birthed by a strong woman. I was raised by a strong woman. I remember thinking both moms would have been fast friends. And so those missed opportunities, I feel sorrow around that. But I do think it happened how it was supposed to happen.

CHAMBERS: Where our relationship has developed, it's exactly where she would want it to be. The only thing that's missing is her presence. But I think the way that which we were raised kept our hearts soft over the years. And I think that that prepared us to one day meet you.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "STEP IN STEP OUT")

MARTIN: Benjamin Chambers and Lisa Bouler Daniels for StoryCorps in Chicago. Their interview will be archived at the Library of Congress.

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