23 [S2 E5] Keith - Late Discovery at Age 33

Keith Sciarillo is a late discovery adoptee. His cousin accidentally told him he was adopted when Keith was 33 years old. No one would confirm this for Keith, so he went on to search and find out for himself. We talk about how almost everyone in Keith’s extended family knew and just assumed Keith knew too.

Show Notes

Topics We Discussed

  • Keith was born in NYC in 1979

  • Birthparents were drug addicts at the time of his birth; his birth mother had mental illness and was a prostitute

  • In the hospital for the first month of his life, went to his adoptive family at one month old, adoption was finalized at age 4

  • His adoptive parents had 4 biological kids, then adopted Keith, then had one more biological child

  • Parents divorced at age 5; his adoptive father left and was not in the picture for a long time

  • Keith is now in the Washington DC Area

  • Keith didn’t find out he was adopted until he was 33 years old

  • At Keith’s daughter’s first birthday party, his cousin casually mentioned, “I just found out about you a couple of years ago, that you were adopted”

  • Keith’s birth certificate says his adoptive parents names, so he was confused

  • No one would confirm to Keith that he was adopted, his mom would just brush him off

  • Keith tried many different ways to confirm that he was adopted: he got his long form birth certificate which had some different numbers and a later file date on it; he emailed the courthouse and asked about his name and adoption records; he registered on the NY state adoption registry and was connected with his biological father within two weeks.

  • His biological father gave Keith his birth mother’s name (she was deceased, just three years before Keith searched)

  • Keith reached out to his birth mother’s husband and was connected with a giant extended family

  • Keith’s birth mother had 8 children; one of whom is a full biological sibling. All of the siblings were given up for adoption

  • Good reunion with his biological father

  • A few cousins on his maternal side set up a family meeting, 20 - 30 of Keith’s extended family came. Keith was able to be himself with them and felt like he fit in. His family members told him repeatedly how he looked like “so and so” etc.

  • Differences between Keith and his adoptive family

  • Learning about his biological family history - Grandfather was a WWII veteran; other set of grandparents were survivors of the holocaust; Feelings that he didn’t really know much about his adoptive family history.

  • Learning about our family history can ground us and help us feel connected to something; Reunion can propel us towards learning more about our biological history

  • How Keith goes back to his adoptive mom and tell her he knows he’s adopted; she gets very upset and says he was never supposed to know; She didn’t want Keith to feel different.

  • Keith finds out he’s half Puerto Rican

  • Late Discover Adoptee (LDA) means finding out you’re adopted when you’re an adult

  • A lot of LDAs had some idea at the back of their mind like something was off; most LDAs find out by accident when their parents die and they have to go through paperwork or someone may tell them at the funeral.

  • Most people in Keith’s extended family (including his siblings) knew he was adopted, they just assumed Keith knew too

  • Keith has found many positive outlets to deal with it (take his mind off of it); he focuses on being a great father, getting involved with other adoptees, talking about his adoption story online, started his chocolate business on the side (JasyJay Fine Chocolates, LLC), making chocolates for open records and foster care organizations, he’s trained as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster children)

  • Keith has ADHD; sometimes thinks about what happened to him in utero (drug use) and what effect that could have had on him

  • He gets really focused on something for a while, then gets excited about something else

  • Has stayed with the same company for 14 years, can maintain the essential things

  • If someone hints that they don’t want to be in touch again, Keith can cut ties without a second thought or hard feelings

  • Keith has found all of his siblings; two are deceased (diabetes-related), and he’s not in touch with any of them currently.

  • Keith used a birth index to find some of his siblings

  • Keith is still in a relationship with his biological father; it’s more like a brother relationship, not really a father/son relationship

  • Keith encourages us to share our stories; letting things out is healthy and Keith feels that has helped him to feel better

  • Tornado coming to you - secrets, lies, deception - when you speak your truth with compassion and caring it diminishes the tornado and those things don’t have as much power

  • Starting your own adoptee support group - all you need is a free room at the library, snacks and to invite some adoptees

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