#011: Brian Williams

Updated: Nov 24


From his earliest memories, Brian Williams knew he was adopted. It was simply a part of who he was, and in fact made him feel special. As time passed, naturally Brian started to have thoughts and questions about this known, yet mysterious part of his life. And when he began having some health issues later in life, his sisters bought him a DNA kit and soon after discovering the results, a whole new world expanded right before his eyes.


In this episode Brian shares his story of adoption and how the process of finding his birth mother filled in the missing pieces he didn't even know existed.


Brian has been a leading figure in brand integration and digital marketing. Currently, Brian is the founder of It City Entertainment. You can find Brian Williams on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.



Transcribed Episode: Ep11 Brian Williams


[Voiceover]

You're listening to The Groove with Devin Pense.


[Host]

Hey guys, welcome back to The Groove Podcast. Thanks for jumping back in. We had to take a little bit of a break due to some work requirements and a little thing called the pandemic. But nevertheless, here we are, and we're starting Season Two, and we're very excited about that. A couple of quick notes before we jump into this episode. This season, it will be yours truly hosting. It was great having Reggie for Season One, but he's really taking off with his brand over on Facebook. I think he's got a couple of live shows over there now. He has a new blog group and he's doing a lot of cool stuff with his music. So be sure to head over to Facebook and check out what Reggie Hamm is doing. And you never know, he may surprise us and pop in on a couple of episodes in Season Two.


I'm still very excited to continue bringing you guys stories. You know, we've all been through some very challenging times these past several months, but a lot of times I think challenging times offer up opportunities for overcoming things and rising above more than anything we thought we could ever do before. And we can still find ways to move forward in a positive direction, even through the struggles. And my goal is to keep talking to people and give them a chance to share their stories because everyone has one. And I think as we move through this season, you're going to hear some really cool, interesting and inspiring stories. Speaking of, my first guest for Season Two is Brian Williams. Man, he's got an incredible story and I'm super excited to share it with you guys, but before we jump into this episode, here's a little bit about Brian.


He began his career specializing in developing multi-platform marketing campaigns for feature films. Now, for more than 10 years, he's been a leading figure in brand integration and digital marketing. Brian's been a part of forming strategic partnerships with several major studios and has radically grown the product integration space across all forms of media, including film, television, video games, live events and web series. Currently Brian is the founder of It City Entertainment. Be sure to head over to thegroovepodcast.com to check out more about Brian and his episode. We'll have the show notes with links to where he can be found as well as some cool pictures from the episode that you're about to hear. And without further ado, let's hop into this episode with Brian.


Alright, welcome guys to The Groove Podcast, and I'm excited today to have Brian Williams on the show, so welcome Brian.


[Brian Williams]

Glad to be here. Thanks Devin.


[Host]

Thank you for doing this. I know you're a very, very busy guy. One of the busiest people I know, actually.


[Brian Williams]

There's a few people who tell me that.


[Host]

Uh, just real quickly um, can you just kind of introduce yourself a little bit and tell everybody what you do and kind of why you do it?


[Brian Williams]

Sure. Well, I work in entertainment and what I do is basically help content creators, figure out the best vehicle to develop and distribute their product. That could be television property or film, or even a new media enterprise. And, uh, I do it because I really enjoy taking the creativity that somebody else has put into a story and helping it to find an audience. I really enjoy that process of creating connections between, uh, creatives and consumers.


[Host]

That's awesome. So basically, uh, without guys like you, guys like me who make things, nothing would ever get seen or heard [laughter]?


[Brian Williams]

Well, I, I, yeah. I mean, I guess that is sort of the role we fill. You know, I live here in Nashville now, but my career was started in Los Angeles and there is a huge pool of really talented people here. And its writers, storytellers, musicians, uh, even directors, producers, um, but there's not a thick pipeline in distribution in this part of the country. So there's all the stuff that gets created and then it kind of circles around and never finds a home. And so sometimes you have to think outside of the box and try to figure out how do we get this, the attention that it needs and how do we sell it.


[Host]

Yeah. And it's, and certainly pre, I don't even what you want to call it pandemic. Let's just call it the pre pandemic days. It was challenging enough. Um, I think we've all seen so many different things change and we as, uh, you know, as humans and as survivalists, I guess if you will, those of us who are freelance and have our own companies and that sort of thing, and even, even larger companies, obviously, you have to find a new way forward and a new way to survive. And has a lot to do with not only, you know, having good business practices, but also surrounding yourself with good people and people that are able to persevere through a lot of these challenges and things. And, and let's jump into, you know, one thing that we talk about a lot on The Groove are inspirational stories. Our lives are kind of made up around work and what we do for a living and that kind of thing and, and, but there's a personal side that effects everything and full disclosure, you know, you and I have worked together. We've known each other for several years and worked together on a few things and hopefully working on the process of working together again soon. And I guess it was last year, Brian, you can correct me if I'm wrong. We were talking on the phone one day and you kind of dropped some incredible news just outside of work. And I'd love for you to share that story with the listeners if you will.


[Brian Williams]

Oh yeah. I'd love to it's I enjoy talking about this more than almost anything. It's a pretty great story that I can't take that much credit for, uh, which those are the best kind. So, uh, I was adopted and, uh, what I knew about my own story was that my, uh, that I was born and...


[Host]

Wait a second, wait, you were born?


[Brian Williams]

...in an ambulance...I was born in an ambulance and...


[Host]

[light giggling]


[Brian Williams]

Yeah! [light laughter]


[Host]

That's a great, let's start there...


[Brian Williams]

....uh, born in an ambulance...


[Host]

[Light laughter]


[Brian Williams]

...and brought to the hospital. And when I got there, um, what I was always told was that my birth mother mentioned to some of the nurses that she wanted to give this baby up for adoption. I mean, it just so happened that my grandmother was a nurse, not my biological grandmother, but my adoptive parent's, adoptive father's mom. She was a nurse and had told all the OB nurses that if anybody ever came in wanting to give a baby up for adoption, then to call her.


So she came down to the OB and, um, at that point, met my biological mother and grandparents, they then called my mom and dad and said, "Hey, there's a baby here. Why don't you come see him?" So they came to the hospital and the way I always knew it is two days later, I went home with them. And, you know, I have one of those stories where I never had any sort of dramatic moment where my parents sat me down and said, "Hey, we've, we've got something to tell you. Um, you're adopted." It's something I've always known because they, you know, told me before I could speak. I remember I had this book that said that was called, Why was I adopted? And, um, it was a picture book you'd read through and hear the sweet little story about how, you know, uh, it was loved by my birth mother, but, um, maybe she had some difficult circumstances and now I'm with a family that loves me and...


[Host]

So you really..


[Brian Williams]

...that was the narrative.


[Host]

So you really knew almost as learning to talk, walk, you know, just as part of your cognitive, you know, initial learnings, this was just all part of the story and scene and was just part of who you were?


[Brian Williams]

Part of who I was, felt totally normal. Um, if anything, it was like something that made me a little different or special. Um, and I got to tell ya that was the way to do it. I mean, it, I think drastically reduced any trauma or even, um, deep abandonment issues or anything like that. Um, but as I got older, um, I began to get curious about that. Um, and I, I would often think about what an encounter with my birth mother would be like, what would I say, what would I ask her? Um...


[Host]

About how old would you say you were when you started feeling that?


[Brian Williams]

Maybe about 11 or 12.


[Host]

Alright, so pretty young


[Brian Williams]

You know...?


[Host]

Mm huh.


[Brian Williams]

Pretty young I, about two years after I was adopted, my mother had an operation and she was able to have two biological children of her own. So I had grew up with two younger sisters, um, and we sort of even looked alike, uh, at least enough for nobody really would question whether or not we were all from the same family. Um, but there, there was curiosities. And I think a lot of it was because the story was always the same and it was always real short. And I just knew there had to be more...


[Host]

Do you think that was...


[Brian Williams]

...to that.


[Host]

...your adoptive parents saw their initial kind of strategy, if you will, you know, wouldn't call it a strategy, but letting you in on this from the beginning. And then all of a sudden, wait a second, oh, now he's asking questions. You know, what are we going to say? Let's keep it short and sweet kind of thing.


[Brian Williams]

Uh, yeah, maybe there's a little bit of that. I think it mostly came from a really good place, which was just that, you know, we're your parents, we love you as much as we would love any child, and what else is there to know what else matters?


[Host]

Mm, okay.


[Brian Williams]

And I think it was more out of wanting to protect their own emotions. Um, like for example, I, I'd asked my mom from time to time questions and I could tell that just the questions were uncomfortable and, and maybe even hurt her feelings a little bit. Um, I understand more of that now at the time it was just like, this is obviously painful and I didn't want to cause pain. Uh, so I, so I stopped asking questions until I got older. Um, and, and like I said, now, I feel like I've got a better understanding of where that came from. It turns out that my biological mother and my half brother lived, you know, a block and a half from where I grew up. My mom knew that, and she, she, she just, she was always so worried that, you know, somehow, um, my birth mother would change her mind or...


[Host]

And just like ring the doorbell "Hey,I was just...


[Brian Williams]

...yeah...


[Host]

"...I was just walking around the block and want to see my son."


[Brian Williams]

Yeah, you got it. So I have better context of that now. And then what happened is, you know, uh, got, you know, got married and, uh, we had our first child. And I remember being in that hospital and my daughter being born and just being overwhelmed by that moment and thinking to myself, there's no way that this is something that you can go through, you know, carrying a child for nine months and then the birth experience and not have some sort of attachment or, um, just a desire to want to know and protect any of your children. Um, and that gave me even a deeper desire to, to really just want to have that moment where I could say to my birth mother, "Hey, uh, I had great parents. I, I'm not looking for another, uh, parent, but I, I just want to say thank you for caring me for nine months. Um, and making sure I got to the right place, uh, in case you ever wondered if that was a good decision, it was thanks." You know, I, I didn't really have any expectation of a relationship. So I would say I started looking in my early twenties, um, could never find anybody or my biological mother, uh, with the information I had. And..


[Host]

And so, they were limiting your, your information, do you think? To kind of keep you from, I mean, having her a right around the block, your mother knew that, or your, your adoptive mother knew that. And I, and I'm sure that, that it was, like you said, how unnerving it would be to, um, cause I have some other friends who've, multiple friends who have gone through the adoption process and, and you've, you know, there's the private adoption or the open adoption - that various types of adoptions. Our mutual friend, Reggie Hamm, you know, he adopted his child from China, no chance and you know, of any, you know, uh, of bumping into her, her mother somewhere, right. Or somebody that lives in another, another state or even another, you know, another country or whatever. But I can't imagine the angst, your adoptive parents must've felt knowing your birth mother was just sort of a block and a half away.


[Brian Williams]

Yeah. I think that played a bigger factor, especially for my mom, then she might've even known herself. Um, there was a lot of stories...


[Host]

You mean your birth mom? You think, you think your birth mom knew that you were right around the block?


[Brian Williams]

No.


[Host]

Oh, okay.


[Brian Williams]

I don't think she did.


[Host]

I missed that. Okay.


[Brian Williams]

I'm pretty sure she, she didn't realize how close they were. My mom is now pretty sure she saw my brother and either her or another woman, um, just taking a walk one day. And, um, she had a hard time with that. She kinda freaked out about it.


[Host]

I can, yeah, I can imagine.


[Brian Williams]

Yeah, I, I understand there were, there were some cases in the eighties where, because of the way the laws were at the time, you know, you'd have somebody give a child up for adoption. And then sometimes, you know, a year later or more, they'd come back and change their mind and it would go through the courts. And then this child was ripped out of one home and put in another. And I think she had a real fear about that because of those stories. And just, again, them being in such close proximity. I found out after, after being able to hear directly from my birth mother, that, um, the day that she met my birth mother, when I was born and in the hospital, um, she saw her and made the commitment that she was never going to, she's never going to interfere or do anything that would, um, jeopardize the relationship between me and my parents. And she never did.


[Host]

Mmm...so, so as far...


[Brian Williams]

I think my mom still held those fears.


[Host]

Interesting. Walk, walk us through the process of kind of fast forwarding a little bit of, the discovery and where your birth mother was and kind of the process.


[Brian Williams]

[Light laughter] Hmm,Yeah.


[Host]

Which is the greatest [Light laughter].


[Brian Williams]

So I, I had this echo in my ear, it was some sort of nerve damage. So I started going to some doctors and ear, nose and throat, and audiologist and neurologist. And every time I'd go and see someone they'd ask me about my family medical history. And I got tired of not being able to answer that question. And I remember being on the phone with my sisters and just kind of complaining about that. Like geez, be nice to know if there's something I should be worried about or if I'm going to drop dead at 50 or something. Um, so for Christmas they decided to get me the, uh, "23 and Me" genetic tests that had the health scan. And, uh, so, man, I don't know. I just, I got that thing, I didn't even think about it. I thought, oh, I'm going to learn all these new traits, uh, about myself and whether or not I'm a carrier for anything, and this'll be great. So I got the results in January and, um, I'm looking through and I'm like great, great...


[Host]

And what, what year was this?


[Brian Williams]

This was January, 2019.


[Host]

Okay.


[Brian Williams]

And, uh, the, the upside was, as far as my genetics are concerned, they're in real good shape. And, uh (light laughter)...


[Host]

And you're not wanted for any, you're not wanting for any outstanding murders that are in the DNA database base files well that's also a good relief.


[Brian Williams]

We'll save that for another episode (light laughter). Anyway, we ended up going through this report, getting to the end where it lists your DNA relatives. And it said I had 1500 of them. Um, I mean, I just remember being shocked like, oh, this is just here. And so then it kind of puts it in the order from the person you share the most DNA with until the least. And I had three first cousins listed at the top and one of them had a pretty unique name. So I mean...


[Host]

So it had their names and everything?


[Brian Williams]

Yeah. Oh yeah.


[Host]

Wow.


[Brian Williams]

Full, full name. Uh, which I thought about a lot since then about, you know, what about all these people who did negotiate closed adoptions? Um, you know, what about, um, situations where, you know, you were just a sperm donor, you know, looking for extra cash during college, um, or something...


[Host]

Right!


[Brian Williams]

Uh, that was supposed to be anonymous. Now you might have kids running around everywhere...


[Host]

Like 300 kids...(light laughter)


[Brian Williams]

...with your name, yeah. I put this first cousin name into Facebook and she popped up immediately and she was like 31 years old, at this point I was 39. And, um, I clicked on her, I said, well, uh, I can see, I can see some similarity there (light laughter). And, uh, looked at her "About," I saw that she had a grandfather listed. I clicked him. He had five daughters listed, one of them had the first name of my birth mother.


[Host]

Oh man.


[Brian Williams]

So I clicked it and it was like, my heart stopped. I just, I saw her face. I saw myself. I, I knew.


[Host]

Wow.


[Brian Williams]

And (light laughter) I, I, I immediately saw that we had a mutual friend listed, and it was the same guy that was listed as a mutual friend on my grandfather's Facebook page. And he was a guy that I knew fairly well. Uh, we, he, he was, uh, um, head of business of development for a, um, automotive group in the San Fernando Valley. And they were a client of the company I worked for. And I thought, how does he know both my grandfather and my birth mother? And it turns out that my mother worked for the same automotive group and my grandfather had been the CFO of that company since like 1974.


[Host]

Man.


[Brian Williams]

Um, and of course this, this company, uh, Galpin is, um, a huge car dealership that was in the San Fernando Valley, right near where I grew up. Uh, I drive by it every single day on my way to work. Um, my company did business with that company. I had been there, uh, met the executive team before, um, so it was shocking, um...


[Host]

Shocking, so there, I think we might've talked about this before, so there's actually a chance that you met your grandfather and didn't know it. Like you're in the same room if he was on the exec committee, right?


[Brian Williams]

I'm pretty sure we did. Uh, my sister and I, along with our CEO, took a tour and of the, of the whole, uh, dealership. And I remember going into these offices and, um, shaking hands with, with some of the executive team. And there was something eerily familiar about my grandfather when I met him. It was like déjà vu.


[Host]

Really? That's interesting. Let's talk about that for a second.


[Brian Williams]

Yeah.


[Host]

Was it a feeling, was it a, uh, a resemblance? Did you, or what was it, what was that moment like?


[Brian Williams]

Yeah, well, what I ended up doing was calling this guy who was our mutual friend and I said, "Hey, uh, Brian," his name's also Brian..."uh, I know we haven't talked in a few years, um, but I want to ask you about Phil Marshall." And he said, "Well, I've known Phil for 40 years, what about him?"


[Host]

(Light laughter)


[Brian Williams]

I said, "I think he might be my biological grandfather," and it was silent.


[Host]

Just, just out of the blue...(light laughter)


[Brian Williams]

And I said, "Well, how about Michelle? Do you know her?" And he said, "Yeah, that's, that's his daughter. Of course I do. She, she's worked for Galpin as well." I said, "Well, I think, I think that might be my mother."


[Brian Williams]

Oh man.


[Brian Williams]

He didn't know what to do with it. I mean, he had known him for so long. I mean, there's pictures of him and then, um, on their Facebooks and, uh, needless to say he was pretty surprised. And I said, "Well, listen, I, I think I'm pretty lucky to have you in this connection because you know, I'd like for you to reach out to them, if you wouldn't mind, um, tell them who I and...


[Host]

No pressure (light laughter).


[Brian Williams]

...see if they'd be interested in having a conversation."


[Host]

Yeah, no pressure, middle, middle person, friend. Now, so...


[Brian Williams]

Well...yeah...


[Host]

This being an adult, you know, you're an adult, you've got a family of your own, as you were going through this process, once you kind of found out all of this information and it was, I'm sure it was just a flood of emotion, uh, for you personally, did you mention this to your adoptive parents at that time? Or did you, were you thinking, look, I'm just going to go down this path and see where it takes me.


[Brian Williams]

Well, I definitely wanted to confirm that I'd stumbled along the, the right people. Um...so...


[Host]

Yeah, good, good choice.


[Brian Williams]

(Light laughter) So, I, I went through this process with Brian, you know, it, it was like every day was just anxiety. I think I called him on a Friday and he said, okay, well, I'll call fo...this weekend. And then let you know. And about a week went by and I called him back and I said, "Hey, uh, any luck?" And he said, "Oh, I've just been busy, and haven't talked to him yet."


[Host]

It's like, come on man!


[Brian Williams]

I know right? A few more days went by, and I thought, you know, maybe I put this guy in an uncomfortable position. So I think I sent him a text message and I said, "Listen, you know, this is, it's my, my thing, so, uh, I totally understand if you, if you don't want to do that and I'll reach out." And he said, "No, no, no, no, no. Um, um, just, just, just give me two more days, I've been traveling." And, okay. So then he called me back and he said, "Brian, I think you're going to get a call, um, from Phil. He is beside himself, he's shocked, but I think in a good way...


[Host]

(Light laughter) I THINK in a good way!


[Brian Williams]

...and uh gave him your number, he'll reach out, reach out to you."


[Host]

Yeah. And I often wonder on a, like on, on his side, you know, guys worked with all these years comes into his office or whatever, calls him up, and he's like, "Hey man, I know this guy, Brian, and he just, you know, call me and he thinks you're his biological grandfather. What do you, what do you think Phil?" (light laughter). I mean, that's like, it's that some news right there, man.


[Brian Williams]

I can't imagine, and I had no idea whether he even knew I existed. I didn't know that part of the story.


[Host]

Yeah, true, true, good point.


[Brian Williams]

He could have been like, well, what that's crazy. Um, so he said, he, he said Phil had asked him to give him about two weeks. The next day I got a call and I answered the phone and he said, "Well, it's been a while." (Light laughter).


[Host]

(Light laughter) Whaaaa?


[Brian Williams]

And I said...


[Host]

That's what he said?


[Brian Williams]

Yeah (light laughter)! He said, "You know, Brian, I have five daughters that have given me 15 grandchildren. Of those grandchildren, 10 of them are female, uh, 5 of them are male, 4 of those are still alive. And one of them is you." And she said, he said, "I've never given up hope this day would come."


[Host]

Wow.


[Brian Williams]

And that breath that I breathed after that was 39 years of baggage that I never felt like I was carrying until I felt the relief of it being lifted from me...


[Host]

Mmm hmm...


[Brian Williams]

...and, and like something I could never describe. It was physical. Um, but he then proceeded to tell me parts of the story I'd never heard. Um, like for instance, he got a call from my birth mother and she said, "Dad, I need you to come over." She was in labor, uh, at, at their house. Um, he showed up along with the, uh, paramedic and I was born there, the house. Um, the EMT, I believe delivered me. Um, my older half brother was about a year and a half old. He witnessed all that.


[Host]

Wow.


[Brian Williams]

Um, then, you know, I was quickly wrapped in a blanket handed to my grandfather and then he, myself and my birth mother got into the ambulance and headed to the hospital. And he said, "You know, all those children and grandchildren, I have, you were the only birth I ever witnessed...and he said, "and then I held you all the way to the hospital," and he said, "I, I've never stopped thinking about you." (light laughter).


[Host]

Man, that's heavy dude.


[Brian Williams]

Quite something.


[Host]

Yeah.


[Brian Williams]

Yeah man.


[Host]

Yeah. How long did it take you emotionally on the phone? I mean, like you said, it was physical. Were you able to respond right away or were you just having to take all this in?


[Brian Williams]

Well, you know, I never, my father's dad passed away when he was 21, and my mother and her father were not all that close. And so I never had a relationship with a grandfather, and I think I was so stunned at even just how natural it was to talk to him. Um, it just it's, it was like a, like an amalgam of, of all the grandfathers, um, I ever had seen. It was like, like, I don't know, he just had all those qualities and he was so warm and it was a happy occasion for him, so I couldn't feel anything other than just, um, joy.


[Host]

Yeah, that's such a special...


[Brian Williams]

...and he said "You know um..."


[Host]

...that is such a special feeling. Uh, the feeling of a grandfather. I mean, it's, it's, it's hard to put your finger on. Um, but it's, it's a, it's a, it's a connection. It's a special connection, you know?


[Brian Williams]

Yeah,I'm learning that (light laughter).


[Host]

(Light laughter)


[Brian Williams]

And he, he said, "Well would you mind if, you know, I'll give you your mother's name and number, um, and you give me yours and, you know, would, I think she'd probably like to talk to you, would you be open to that?" And I said, "Are you kidding?"


[Host]

Wow.


[Brian Williams]

So...um...


[Host]

I can't even, I can't even fathom that moment.


[Brian Williams]

(Light laughter) That's wild.


[Host]

I mean, that's what a bridge right, to cross?


[Brian Williams]

Yeah. Just how fast my life changed. You know, it was just unraveled so quickly, the story, it just, um, filled in so many gaps. It's weird. Um, and then we played chicken for, I dunno, a couple of days because she, um, had waited all those years, never wanted to dishonor what she promised my mom and figured that if I ever wanted to reach out, then I would.


Um, but my wife finally said to me, she, "You know, she's not going to call you, you, you, you need to call her." And I did.


Um, and I remember her, when she answered her phone, she knew it was me because of the number. And it was just the, a quiet, "Hello," and...man (deep sigh), it felt like....like I already knew I wasn't talking to a stranger just from the very first moment. And, um, and then just similar to my grandfather, I listened to her, tell her story, or at least, you know, a big portion of it. And she said, um, and she said, you know, I had no plan to give you up for adoption. My mother, when we got to the hospital, started asking some questions and then before I knew it, I was talking to your grandmother. She said, everything was happening so fast, and I was not at peace and I didn't know what I wanted to do. I was scared. I was young...and then I saw your mom and dad. And they said, she said, when they walked into the room, she just knew that they were going to take care of me and that's where I needed to be.


And she somehow was able to experience peace in the midst of what was a very confusing situation...and she said, "you know, it was like, the hand of God just picked you up and put you in your parents' arms. And I knew that even though it was the hardest thing I've ever done, that it was right." And, um, she said, but I, I always hoped you would reach out. And it was like, she was like, almost saying like, why did it take you so long? And I found out then that, that actually was an open adoption, but I didn't know that. I was always under the impression that that information was sealed and unavailable to me. Um, and I don't, I don't think that was intentional. It just, I think my parents were trying to, um, protect me and, uh...


[Host]

That must've been very...


[Brian Williams]

Needless to say...


[Host]

...it must've been very scary for your parents because as you said, the laws were different than I think, than they are now. And I'm certainly no expert at all and adoption laws, but based on what you said, I mean the fearful day to day of not knowing what the day could bring. Um, so that's, that's quite a story, man.


[Brian Williams]

Yeah (light laughter). Well, you asked about my parents and sort of going through that process of telling them, and that came shortly after because I almost immediately made a plan to fly back to L.A. and meet her. Um, and of course I was just couldn't believe, I you know, had three other siblings. So, um...


[Host]

And I remember this, you know, cause this is, this was, I think, you know, we're working together or talking a lot back then. And I re, I remember you telling me all of this and I could hear the, I don't know the uncertainty or the peace, the, the excitement in your voice, that the unknown, um, what you were about to experience. And it was, I can remember pretty emotional for you at the time. And you know, anything, anytime, something like this happens, especially years later, it's not just you, it's not just Brian, you know, it's Brian and it's your wife and your kids and your, uh, you know, your, your parents and, um, these new people, there's a whole string of people that are going to be emotionally affected. And depending upon kind of the outcome, you know, forever kind of joined to some people that they, that have been complete strangers.


[Brian Williams]

Yeah (light laughter). And my immediate family, you know, my wife and three kids were, were immediately supportive and intrigued. And we would spend hours kind of, you know, going through Facebook and looking at pictures of my biological mother and trying to figure out, you know, is that her son? Is that my brother? What about that girl? Who's that?


[Host]

Man, Facebook man (light laughter).


[Brian Williams]

Yeah, yeah (light laughter). So we have a lot of those experiences. And then I remember this, I had made this play, this plan to go out to L.A. And I knew I had to have the conversation with my parents. And I gotta tell ya, I was much more nervous about that conversation than the one where I called my birth mother!


[Host]

Really?


[Brian Williams]

And that was just because, yeah, man, I really...the last time that anything related to my adoption had even come up was the night of my wedding. My grandmother, the one who was the nurse, you know, she said to me, "You're getting married now, I mean, aren't you, aren't you curious? Don't, don't you want to know more?"


[Host]

(Light laughter) Like on your wedding day?


[Brian Williams]

...and it was like...yeah...


[Host]

Okay, hey, here the, congratulations!


[Brian Williams]

I remember my mom was like, geez, I can't believe she just brought this over. Um, and of course, because my mom was present, I just kind of blew it off. And I was like, "Oh, I don't know. I haven't thought about it." Right, but, um, you know, it was not a common discussion in our family. So the only thing that I, I just never wanted to hurt him, I wanted it to be clear that I wasn't looking for a replacement mother. I didn't feel like I was missing anything in my life, but I did want to know, and I wanted to be able to have the ability to walk in the light of my own story. Why like, why should there be question marks around that?


And so I only had a brief time with them. And so my mom tends to be a talker and she's talking about this and that and the other thing. So finally I just yelled out, "Hey, by the way (light laughter)...


[Host]

(Light laughter)


[Brian Williams]

...uh, I've been in touch with my biological mother and grandfather and, um, it's pretty cool. They're nice, and I intend to go meet them." And of course my dad, who's not a very excitable guy, I think his eyebrows went to the top of his head. He leaned forward "What?!" My mom burst into...


[Host]

(Light laugher) What? You're not adopted!


[Brian Williams]

...tears..Yeah, I uh, yeah. (Light laughter) They always tease my sister that she's the actual one who was adopted. She hates it, anyways...


[Host]

So, so your mother burst into tears?


[Brian Williams]

She did, and she said, I, how, what happened? I can't, I can't believe it. You know, and then she immediately said, um, I'm so happy. She said, you know, Brian and I, our relationship is strong enough to withstand anything that should come out of this. And I do think it's time for you to know everything. And, um, it was not the reaction I expected. I, I thought, you know, it would immediately be kind of retracting and getting quiet. Um, but it, it gave me the encouragement I need, and since then, I mean, we've navigated a lot of emotion, you know. There, she, she did retract quite a bit after that initial, uh, discussion. She, she started to have some of those old fears creep in again, and then it was less about me and now all of a sudden about my kids and, you know, she can't have my grandbabies, you know, (light laughter) and, um, at the same time she acknowledged me. She said, you know, maybe this is time for me to let go of some of those fears that I've been carrying for all these years. And man, it felt like within a pretty short period of time, all this weight that just comes from a transaction like this, um, started to loosen up with all of us.


And, and like I said, I mean, some of this, some of this stuff, it's like, I didn't even know I had these sort of deep emotional attachments around it. And, um, man, there was nothing like that moment of seeing my birth mother for the first time. Um, hugging her, the, the smell, the, the connection, the familiarity, is so bizarre.


[Host]

Mmm hmm...


[Brian Williams]

Um, (light laughter)...


[Host]

Did you see...


[Brian Williams]

...and I met my...


[Host]

...Did you see any like resem...


[Brian Williams]

...and I met my.....older half brother that time too...


[Host]

That's crazy. Did you see any like resemblances at all, or was it like running into somebody, like you said, and you just felt like you've known them forever?


[Brian Williams]

Yeah. We look alike.


[Host]

Wow.


[Brian Williams]

And It's, it's a bizarre feeling when there's, when you don't know anything about a person's life, what they've done, where they've been, and yet she wasn't a stranger to me.


[Host]

Wow.


[Brian Williams]

Crazy. I mean, you think about studies around adoption and even about the sort of in utero, um, attachment that gets developed between a mother and child. Um, and that, that happens really early on. And to think that, that many years went by, and there's still something that happened in that nine months that...


[Host]

Mmm hmm..


[Brian Williams]

...that you know, um, was still there, it's weird.


[Host]

Well, I mean, it it's it's yeah. I mean, I think it's on, uh, all sorts of levels from a, a DNA level to a spiritual level connection. Um, I can't remember the name of the doc off the top of my head, but it was a doc on Netflix about the three triplet boys. And they were all, you know, adopted out to three separate homes, all of different economic standings. And ultimately in the end, as they grew older and things, I mean, the things that would come out in their lives or whatever, certainly a bizarre different outcome, but then what you're talking about, but that connection is, is there. And there's nothing that could, you know, separate that.


[Brian Williams]

That's, it's so true. And you know, when you, when you start to see that there's purpose and design in your life, that, uh, that again, you couldn't have created for yourself, you know, it's, it's, it's, there's so many strange connections. Um, remember I told you that when I started to really have the desire to want to find my birth mother was right when my daughter was born. What I didn't know is that miles from the hospital where we were, my birth mother was, had just given birth herself, um, to my youngest sister who's within a month of the same age as my oldest daughter (light laughter).


[Host]

Man.


[Brian Williams]

And, yeah, it was actually my middle's, middle daughter's doctor delivered my sister. I mean...


[Host]

(Light laughter) These connections are crazy, man.


[Brian Williams]

Bizarre man.


[Host]

Yeah.


[Brian Williams]

Yeah. You couldn't, so, so then my, um, this is so strange, but there was a, my father was a LAPD officer and one of the guys in his unit was a guy named Steve Park. He, he was somebody I knew growing up, his wife, Debbie is my birth mother's um, boss.


[Host]

Man, Brian, you've had..


[Brian Williams]

Now...


[Host]

Go ahead...that's, that's just...


[Brian Williams]

(Light laughter) No, I mean, just bizarre!


[Host]

I don't know. Have you ever done like a, a, just like on a white board, just like written out I'm a visual thinker, right? I would, I think I would have to write down names and then, you know, use yarn or something. And just like, it'd be interesting to see all of these different connections on, at, on a timeline to see where everyone was at a certain period of time and just how close you were orbiting this whole life, this whole group of people that you were connected to. Um, and before I get...


[Brian Williams]

You know...


[Host]

...before we go off too far on that...


[Brian Williams]

Yep...


[Host]

...I wanted to say something about your mom, what a, um, an amazing woman. She sounds like to be able to unselfishly sort of unwind herself and, and, and open up to this. I mean, that had to even open up the door even further to make this much more of a, an amazing experience for you. So you weren't having to now all of a sudden deal with serious emotional baggage on one side. And I know that there's probably been challenges, like you said, along the way, but, uh, your mom sounds like an amazing person.


[Brian Williams]

She is pretty special. Um, there's no question about that. And, you know, that's why I never wanted this story to be at her expense and I could never have predicted how this would turn out. I mean, they talk all the time. It's usually, you know, there's wine and tears involved, but they'll call each other. And, um,


[Brian Williams]

(Light laughter) That's pretty amazing.


[Brian Williams]

And there's been this healing between the two of them. That's it's, I can't even describe it, you know? And, and then my, um, my mom, they started calling each other, um, "sister mothers."


[Host]

Okay.


[Brian Williams]

You know, it's man, I, I, would've never in a million years, all I really wanted to do is be able to say "thank you." And to think that we get to expand our family in this way. And, um, be able to share love between us is, is more than I could have ever asked or imagined. You know, I told my mom when she was sort of struggling a little bit, I said, you know, whenever you have a child, you automatically have the capacity to love that child, even though you don't really know who they are, who they're going to turn into. It's like, it's just there, the love, the capacity to love within you just grows. It's not like you have to take love from, you know, your, one of your previous children and then share it. It just expands. And so in that same way, you know, I told my mom, like, this is expanded love. Like I, you're, my mother and nothing will ever change that. And as we've leaned into some of those, um, tougher conversations, it's, it's always, um, put us in a better, stronger place.


[Host]

I know there's more to the story and you guys have really connected and everything. And, um, but how has it changed your perspective on, on what you do, you know, as a father, as a husband, as a, as a son. Um, and then how has that sort of affected you kind of, you know, personally and your, and your, and your, and your professional life?


[Brian Williams]

That's a great question. Um, I think the biggest revelation for me was realizing that my past, my present and my future are, are not different life stages. All those things are connected to one another, right? You know, in my own personal journey, so even separate from, you know, the, the DNA part of it, I've always wanted to understand my own identity, my, um, relationship to God. Um, and one of the things I've always questioned is what, what was the purpose in all of that, you know, all those years ago, and, you know, had I not been adopted, where would I end up? And, um, what would my life have been like? And, you know, you ask yourself those kinds of questions.


And then when you see the big picture stitch together, the way that God was always able to see it, it's like you get to see how your life matters and has always mattered to God. And for me, that now influences every interaction I have with my kids, with my wife, with strangers, um, because there's divinity in all of life. And, um, the ability to just see all those times I questioned lonely moments, sad moments, depression, feeling disconnected. It's like, God could use that story and show me the bread comes and say, I've always been there.


[Host]

That's amazing, man. And it, it sounds like it is, you mentioned a while ago, it's, it's given you the opportunity to just expand your capability to, to love and to see things that you didn't see before. And that's, we all need more of that. Um, these kinds of stories, they just don't end, you know, and it's the kind of stories you want to sit down and you want to talk about, and, and they're, they're the kind of stories I want to shoot and film and make, you know, make stories out of. Um, so, um, I'm sure we'll get around to that one of these days, but again, Brian Williams, thank you so much for being on The Groove Podcast today. Um, where can people find you? Are you, uh, are you a social media guy or do you just kinda, uh, I knew you were on Facebook, you know, you're an expert Facebook stalker, but, uh...


[Brian Williams]

(Light laughter)


[Host]

...where can people find...


[Brian Williams]

Well I have a profile, um I, I don't post a lot. Um, but I, I do definitely have some pictures up there. Um, so you can, you can find me on Facebook. I'm mrbeew on Instagram. So mrbeew...um...


[Host]

Now is that like your rap name...


[Brian Williams]

You can also find me on LinkedIn...


[Host]

...do you, are you a DJ as well?


[Brian Williams]

(Light laughter) Yeah!


[Host]

Okay, we'll go on that (light laughter). Uh, well, that's awesome, man. Um, thanks again, Brian. And, uh, man, I wish you the best of luck in this continued expansion in your life, cause it seems to me like, it's just, it's doing nothing, but it expanding further and further.


[Brian Williams]

No doubt about it. And like you said, um, it really is a story that that never ends and that's true for all of us and, um, you know, in a, in a year like twen, 2020, um, all we have is the people around us and, um, you know, so anytime I have the opportunity to, um, share my story, it's, it's life-giving to me, and I really appreciate the opportunity, man, thanks.


[Host]

Thanks Brian. You know what? Sometimes The Groove finds us and sometimes we find The Groove and in this case it sounds like it was a perfect combination of both, uh, take care, man. And we'll talk again soon.


[Brian Williams]

Look forward to it. Thanks.


[Host]

To get more information about Brian and to see some cool pictures of his newly expanded family, head over to thegroovepodcast.com. Also, if you'd like to help support our show, click on the Patreon button and join up with some of our other patrons like Maria Elena, and Sue Van Fossen. We really appreciate all the support and be sure to subscribe and rate and give us a review wherever you listen to your podcasts, it really helps us out a lot. You can check out my website at devinpense.com. I have a photography blog now, and I've been posting some old school film photography, and I'm usually hanging out on Instagram @devinpense, and and feel free to join my Facebook pages as well. That's it for this episode, hang in there, stay strong, stay safe, and stay tuned for another episode of The Groove.

#brianwilliams, #devinpense, #personalstory, #adoption, #nashville,#tennessee, #thegroovepodcast #lifestories, #dna, #family, #itcityentertainment, #23andme

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