' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Two brothers, one adopted, find each other at the swimming pool

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Two brothers, one adopted, find each other at the swimming pool

Isaac (Left) and Dakotah                 Courtesy of Dawn Nolting
Coming on the heels of the post the other day about two boys switched-at-birth is a real-life story of two brothers who were separated soon after the birth of one, and found each other because friends noticed the physical similarities between the two: same walk, same hands, same feet, same nose. One of the boys says, I've got a brother who was adopted by a woman named Dawn.

Other boy says: "That's my mom's name."

Yes, truth can be as strange as fiction. This happened last summer at a local swimming pool in Washington, Missouri, but only recently was made public. Isaac Pettet-Nolting went home that night he first met his brother without knowing it, and asked his mother, Dawn, if he were adopted. Dawn, 42, a manager at a dry-cleaning company, asked, "What makes you think that?

And he said, ‘Because I think I found my brother.’" Dawn immediately fessed up and they both burst into tears.

“I just cried and cried and cried,” Isaac says. “I was so happy that I had a brother. I always asked for one.” Dawn says she knew she had to tell her son but wasn't sure how to do it, and had even spoken to her pastor and friends asking, when is the right time?

Later is better than never, but earlier would have been better. If a child is told at an early age, at the time he first asks, Where did I come from? then the pressure does not keep mounting to find the "right" time. The right time is never to have the adoption be a hidden factor in the parent/child relationship. The right time is earlier rather than later. My own daughter heard it early on, so young she misunderstood what was being said, and thought her parents were telling her she was "a doctor." Of course she figured it out, and had no resentment that they kept this important information from her. We've heard many stories of how a child find out--from cousins and friends because their parents talked about it at home, from a teacher who's been told and assumes  the child knows. Late Discovery Adoptees (adults) are in a tougher position, because they say, upon learning the truth of their origins late in life, that they feel as if they had been lied to all their lives--up until the day they found out. But enough about that. Let's get back to the boys. I don't feel like preaching today, even though this question is often asked by people doing a Google search who end up at First Mother Foum.

Dawn Nolting took Isaac into her home thinking it was only for a brief time. When Dawn met his 16-year-old mother soon after Isaac was born, she was clearly overwhelmed as she already had a son (Dakotah) at home. Dawn, a divorced mother, had an 11-year-old daughter at the time, but offered to take care of the infant while the young mother got back on her feet. She agreed, and months passed. While she visited often, she never asked to take Isaac back home. Soon after, she was pregnant again. Within two years, Dawn formally adopted Isaac.

Both of the biological parents of the children have died, and the older son, Dakotah, and his younger sister, Ashley, are being raised by their maternal grandmother, Debi Bay. "I'm just glad they got to meet," she says. They are so similar that she says, "It's like they were never separated."

Yes. We know that reunion does not heal all wounds, and nothing is ever normal again, but I said the same yesterday--there were times with my daughter when I felt as if we had never been separated. Her other mother told me how shocked she was when we met because "our" daughter resembled me in so many ways--size, coloring, mannerisms, mannerisms you would not suspect. For instance, her father was always telling my daughter, Jane, that her step as she went up the stairs was too hard; I wonder if they observed my heavy step when I visited them that first time--and they ought to hear one of my nieces! I slept in my daughter's room, up the stairs, and they might have noticed my step. We liked the same style of clothes. When she visited she was always borrowing something of mine. And I (as well as her biological father) were writers, and Jane, our daughter, was already writing poetry. Obviously adoptive parents know such similarities are likely to exist, but to have it confirmed in the flesh must be somewhat shocking and difficult for those who are not prepared emotionally. Our similarities should not, in fact, have been a surprise because my daughter's adoptive parents also had two biological children who followed after two adopted, and those boys resembled them in so many ways. But still. To have all that confirmed.

Nature/nurture: We are the sum of both, but certain things--physical traits, some characteristics--neither time nor distance nor environment can alter. I wonder, first mothers, how was it when you first saw your child? The scene in the film, The Other Son, gets it so right. And to those adopted individuals, how did it feel to finally look at someone who looked like you, or shared common traits? One granddaughter of mine, adopted herself, was disappointed that we did not share physical traits that were readily obvious, but in the short time we had together, I related to many psychological similarities, as well as general attitude. Yes, for me, it was sweet. I also discerned ways in which my granddaughter was like her mother, but by then, her mother, my daughter, was dead. I'd love to hear about unusual traits that are shared with natural parents or children, and the feelings they evoke.--lorraine

Sources:  'So happy I had a brother': Boys meet as friends, discover they are siblings
The young boys who met by chance and became friends. . . then discovered they were BROTHERS

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2239483/Its-like-separated-The-boys-met-friends-discovered-brothers.html#ixzz2DXRungXS
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 The young boys who met by chance and discovered they were brothers

Earlier FMF blog: The Other Son asks questions of identity 

Siblings: 'I could tell because of the nose,' said Dakotah Zimmer (middle, flanked by siblings Ashley and Issac) of how he knew that a boy he had met by chance at the Washington pool was actually his younger brother, Isaac, who had been adopted some 10 years earlier

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2239483/Its-like-separated-The-boys-met-friends-discovered-brothers.html#ixzz2DXOgOHWy
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
How It Feels to Be Adopted: 19 boys and girls, from age 8 - 16 and from every social background, confide their feelings about this crucial fact. Lorraine's daughter's story is told in her own words on Page 79. Jane was 16 at the time. The photograph of them was taken on their third meeting. Jill Krementz, the photographer who collected the stories and took pictures of the children, some with their parents, biological and adoptive, is an adoptive mother. She handles the children's essays with sensitivity. This would be a good gift to any young adoptee, and would give adoptive parents a jumping off point to begin one of the most important discussions they will ever have with their children. I suspect most adoptive parents will read the stories first. 

"The sooner my child is comfortable discussing her fears and concerns about adoption with me, the easier it will be for me to put her fears to rest. " --an Amazon reviewer   

‘I’m just glad they got to meet,’ she said of her grandsons’ clandestine encounter.
Though the two didn’t know of each other’s existence for more than a decade, it seems as though they grew up together, Ms Noltin said. ‘It’s like they were never separated,’ she observed.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2239483/Its-like-separated-The-boys-met-friends-discovered-brothers.html#ixzz2DXOGI6WT
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
‘I’m just glad they got to meet,’ she said of her grandsons’ clandestine encounter.
Though the two didn’t know of each other’s existence for more than a decade, it seems as though they grew up together, Ms Noltin said. ‘It’s like they were never separated,’ she observed.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2239483/Its-like-separated-The-boys-met-friends-discovered-brothers.html#ixzz2DXO67mHB
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
‘I’m just glad they got to meet,’ she said of her grandsons’ clandestine encounter.
Though the two didn’t know of each other’s existence for more than a decade, it seems as though they grew up together, Ms Noltin said. ‘It’s like they were never separated,’ she observed.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2239483/Its-like-separated-The-boys-met-friends-discovered-brothers.html#ixzz2DXO67mHB
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook


  1. I reunited in person with my 24 year old son 6 weeks ago and had never heard his adult voice before. I was stunned to hear my own voice but in a lower octave. I didn't expect that as I thought he would sound like his biological father or my father even. I have other children but they still are young and have children's voices so I cannot hear myself in them. Some of his facial expressions reminded me so much of his father. It was beautiful to see and hear the those things. His sense of humor was also so familiar. I hope to see him again soon and discover more. Genetics are an amazing thing.

  2. This is my favourite subject. When I first saw my mum’s photograph, I could see some resemblance, but it didn’t jump at me. It was only after the initial reunion that I was amazed at our photos through the years, apart from a few extra pounds on my part and a few extra inches height on her part, my mum and I could easily be mistaken for the same person in our 20s and 30s, we don’t look so similar nowadays, except for our smile and wild hair. We have the same nose (what is it with noses)? We have the same laugh and the same clumsy walk. Growing up in my adoptive family I was forever being told off for my laugh “close your mouth when you laugh, you look common”. Well we both open our mouths quite loud and laugh exactly the same. We cock our heads in the same way, we stand the same way, we both purse our lips when we are uncomfortable, we both tuck our hands between our legs when sitting down and both hold our face in our hands when musing over something. Falling over was another trait I share with my mum (sober I might add)! I have her naturally curly hair, same eye colour, good skin and we both have the same gormless look when we are concentrating. I also inherited a good bit of OCD tendencies; something that wows us, because neither of us had this influence anywhere else in our families. I also have the same female complaints that she had. When we initially met, we brought the same presents, a soft toy, flowers and a present for our respective best friends. There are a lot of other shared personality quirks too, but we recognise that these are most likely from the damage of our separation and who knows how we might have been if we had stayed together.

  3. Jo, wow that is wild--all the similarities one notices in time. And S, I know what you mean about the voice. When Jane was living with us, and she answered the phone, people always thought it was me, even if I thought our voices were not that similar. Speaking of the phone, my mother, my daughter, my granddaughter and I all scribble and doodle when we are on the phone.

    It is the gesturing and walk that are so strange because you don't think of those things as being inherited.

    When I met my daughter, she was 15, I was 37. We both had on crew neck sweaters, hers lavender, mine pink. I had on grown-up lady trousers, she had on jeans. I wear jeans practically every day of my life--even like velvet ones for dress.

    But that day at the airport, with her adoptive dad looking on, no one would have thought we were anything but mother and daughter. When I went shopping this year with the granddaughter who visited, the sales clerk smiled as us and said, "Granddaughter?"I could have kissed her. Instead, I just smiled back.

  4. As an adoptive mom it is really surprising that there are still people who wait that long to tell their child the truth about their identity. My daughter is only 2 but we still talk about it to her. In addition to regular visits with her birth mom, we also have a close relationship with the family who adopted her 5 year old half-sister. I'm so grateful that she will have that connection as she grows up.

  5. I too love this subject as my daughter looks SO much like a cross between me and my sister (her being a twin! LOL!) When I first saw her high school picture - she had short hair, and it looked so much like one of my sister's school picture. But she also looks so like me - in the eyes and nose (yes, those noses!!) I would LOVE to hear what she sounds like, but alas... she does not want contact... but I wait... I've waited 43 years, so I can wait a bit longer!

    Happy Thanksgiving to Lorraine, Jane and all the people that post here! I had a great weekend with my sister (visiting from Sweden, that looks like my daughter) came with my other sister's son, my nephew. Yes, other sister is the twin. Anyway - it was great to see her! Had to play catch up here!

    Oh, what is strange - my sister (from Sweden) wanted so much to get married wearing a black dress! My mother absolutely would NOT allow it. Found some pictures of my daughter's wedding - wearing a black dress!! Coincidence? I think not!

  6. Yo, Lee, that is so eerily sychronistic--the black dress bit, I mean! Who wears a black dress to their own wedding? Relatives, of course.

    I was thinking this morning of something I hadn't remembered quite so vividly before--my daughter and I both wore makeup pretty much to the same degree, and I remember once how she remarked that she hadn't learned to how put it on from her adoptive mother, as she realized that we would have been in it together as she turned into a teen. I took her once to have her makeup done in a department store and bought her makeup and she was strangely silent afterwards. I realize now she was probably thinking of the difference, and what she had missed. Another time I gave her a bottle of half-used makeup when she said she had forgotten hers--try this, I said. She was ecstatic when she discovered that it was the perfect shade for her. this falls into the category of: Little Things Mean a Lot.

  7. Sometimes I wonder if one of the reasons that adoptees may retain so many mannerisms or similarities to their first parents is that they grew up away from them. What I mean is that as I grew up, there were many things I didn't like that my amom did and I'd consciously avoid doing those things. My own teen daughter- who is so like me and my firstmom- will get mad at herself when she sounds like me.

    Maybe the homegrown families have gone through those subconscious rejection of their parents mannerisms because of the inherent conflict of parent raising a teen!

    When I met my mom, we learned the freaky things that we had in common; sleeping on the very edge of the right side of the bed. Hand position on the wheel while driving. We also process things in the same way- bad news we work through internally and then present our conclusion matter of factly to loved ones. The first time I met the full family (4 half sibs, grandmother and stepdad) we went out to breakfast for my mom's bday. I remember that I was sitting at the opposite end of half circle booth from my mom. When the waitress got to my order-I was last- she said I know that's you mom because you ordered the exact same thing! eggs scrambled well, sourdough toast with butter on side, bacon BURNT. Too funny!

  8. I learned that basically all of my people were athletic. In elementary school, I knew that I was as well. But, I didn't have anyone around to encourage me to continue, so I didn't really pursue sports much in junior high and beyond.

    It hurt to learn that they were athletic because I felt like a inheritance of mine had been lost.

    As far as seeing physical similarities are concerned, I shared pictures of myself with my mother, but for some reason, she has chosen not to share any with me. So, I have to be content with the few blurry, aging, tiny pictures that I can find on classmates.com.

  9. Yep, Renee, I wondered the same thing--wondering if my daughter was in a sense MORE like me because she didn't conscientiously try to be NOT like me. Strange, but there it is. I remember not wanting to be my mother, but as I am older I see many similarities in us that I just smile now and accept.

  10. HDW: Have you asked your mother, or told her you would like to see earlier pictures of her?

    Try it. She may think you don't want to, and furthermore, those older pictures are hidden away now somewhere.

  11. Lorraine,

    Thanks for the advice, but I haven't heard back from her in months.

    If a mother is in the closet,I don't think it matters how empathetic the adult child is to her. The adoptee could be Mother Teresa. The mother still is not going to engage unless/until she is ready.

    My mom tried to answer my questions, but I think it was all just too much for her. I understand, but I wish she would have had the courtesy to tell me rather than ignore me.

    I get sick of having to be the strong one in all of my parent-child relationships (when I'm the daughter).

    I'm not giving up yet on the pictures, but I'm not holding my breath either.

  12. HDW: As hard as this is to accept, I don' think your mother could actually say, you now, I can't handle being in touch with you...to her, that would be worse that just letting this drag on, as you say she has, even though that is the hardest of all to endure. My total sympathies. Of course you are tired of having to be the strong one when in the normal course of events, it should be the other way around.

    You are here and sound so healthy and dispense such good reactions.

  13. Lorraine,

    Thank you, that makes sense.

  14. My daughter and I could be mirror images in many ways. She has her father's facial shape, but the rest is all me - only brown hair, eyes and skin.... LOL -

    We move the same way, we sit the same way, we talk with our hands, it is uncanny.

    There are some differences - she got my behind(and his) - but his hips.

    There is no way anyone wouldn't realize that she is my daughter.

  15. Adoptive mom of a seven year old son ("J") here - weighing in if you don't mind? :)

    On his maternal side, my son smiles like his mother in that he doesn't generally display his teeth, more like a grin I guess you'd say. And many times he doesn't like to smile for photos which is VERY much like the men on his father's side.

    On his paternal side of the family, his father races cars and we could tell from an early age that J likes to go fast - on his bike or an amusement park ride or on a tiny four-wheeler at his paternal grandfather's house.

    His father, grandfather and great-grandfather all suffer from social anxiety in varying degrees. His great-grandfather is sometimes not even comfortable at his own children's homes even though he is very close to them.

    Anyway J has shown some signs of that. At three years old when he was visiting his grandparents house and his siblings came over and there were cousins and aunts etc...he would retreat to a bedroom to watch TV and it was obvious that the crowd had gotten too large for him. He would come out and play and visit, go back to the bedroom, come out again, etc. just according to how much overload of people he felt he was having.

    I'm sure many other things will become apparent but those are the things that have stood out to this point in his life.

  16. Daria: Always glad to hear from you.

  17. Thanks for remembering me! That made my night. :)



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