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The Roller Coaster Ride of Reunion with Brian Stanton and Rick Wertz - Ep 117

Unraveling Adoption

Release Date: 10/30/2023

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"You can't make this up. It's a beautiful journey of discovery and connection." - Rick Wertz

Adoptees searching for their birth family are often met with dead-ends and heartache, which can be overwhelming. But Brian and Rick's story will give you hope. They demonstrate the grace and determination required to HANG ON when riding the complex roller coaster ride of reunion.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Discover the complexities and emotional challenges of adoption, providing insight and understanding into the adoptee's and the birth parent's journey.

  • Learn effective strategies for navigating reunion and building healthy relationships with birth family members, fostering connection and growth.

  • Understand the importance of support groups for adoptees and birth parents, finding a community of understanding and empathy to navigate the unique aspects of reunion.

  • Explore the concept of genetic mirroring and its impact on an adoptee's sense of identity.


📆 Community Calendar: UnravelingAdoption.com/Calendar

💌Sign up for our Unraveling Adoption email list: http://eepurl.com/hVIAVX


My special guests are Brian Stanton and Rick Wertz

Brian Stanton is an adoptee who has a captivating story to share. As an actor, filmmaker, and playwright living in Los Angeles, he has used his creative talents to explore his own adoption journey. Brian's award-winning solo play, Blank, delves into the complexities of adoption, and he further documented his search for birth family members in his film, @Ghost Kingdom. Brian's reunion with his birth father, Rick Wertz, adds another layer to his story. Their reunion, filled with twists and turns, has provided them both with valuable insights into the complexities of adoption and the challenges of building relationships with birth families. Through their personal experiences and the support of various adoption communities, Brian and Rick have gained a deeper understanding of the emotional journey adoptees and NPEs face. Their story is sure to resonate with those seeking guidance and connection in their own reunion journeys.

The resources mentioned in this episode are:

  • Rent Brian Stanton's film @Ghost Kingdom on Vimeo: atghostkingdom.com/

  • Look up support groups for adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents in your area or online through Unraveling Adoption's Community Calendar: UnravelingAdoption.com/Calendar

  • Check out Adoptees Connect for in-person support groups around the world: AdopteesConnect.com

  • Explore The Adopt Salon and Celia Center for adoption education and support: celiacenter.org/

  • Discover resources for Christian fathers at Rick's ministry Faithful Fathering: faithfulfathering.org/

Building Relationships with Birth Families
Reconnecting with birth families involves nurturing meaningful relationships over time, underlined by mutual respect and understanding. This journey, as explored in the conversation between Beth Syverson, Brian Stanton, and Rick Wertz, involves unexpected twists and turns that can either lead to confusion or closer familial bonds. The essence of such relationships stems from recognizing the importance of genetic connections and their impact on defining one's identity.


Other Resources:


Unraveling Adoption is produced and hosted by Beth Syverson

Music written and performed by Joseph Nakao

Email questions or comments to [email protected]

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

Support Unraveling Adoption on Patreon: Patreon.com/UnravelingAdoption



Timestamped summary of this episode:

00:01:30 - Brian's Adoption Story
Brian shares his adoption story, mentioning that he was adopted shortly after birth and always knew he was adopted. He talks about his adoptive family and how his adoptive mother eventually gave him his original birth certificate when he was 23.

00:05:28 - The Reunion
Brian talks about his reunion with his birth mother, mentioning that it started off well but became overwhelming for him. He reflects on the push-pull dynamic and how he wishes he had more support and understanding at the time. He shares that their communication is now solely in his hands.

00:08:22 - The Importance of Support
Beth and Brian emphasize the importance of support groups for adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents. They mention the availability of online and in-person support groups and encourage listeners to seek them out. Brian discusses his experience with support groups and specific organizations that have helped him post-reunion.

00:09:52 - Difficult Conception Story
Brian shares that his conception story was difficult and talks about how he dealt with that information.

00:13:47 - Finding Family Connections
Brian shares his experience of discovering his biological father, and he expresses gratitude for finding Rick, who is not a criminal, unlike what Brian had thought for years. They connected through Ancestry and a supportive aunt.

00:16:15 - A Positive Response
Rick recalls receiving Brian's email and discovering the connection through names on his mother's side of the family, as well as the connection to Kansas City and their high school.

00:19:13 - Openness and Support
Rick and his entire family have been open, loving, and supportive of Brian throughout their reunion. Brian expresses his gratitude for their acceptance and mentions the importance of having a spouse who is understanding and supportive as well.

00:21:22 - Another Twist in the Story
Brian learns from his uncle that his biological father was likely the result of an affair his grandfather had with a married woman in Kansas City. Brian realized that Rick doesn't know this information and felt a duty to tell him, leading to a difficult conversation.

00:29:26 - Connecting with a Stranger
Meeting a genetically related stranger can be jarring for adoptees, but genetic mirroring and shared mannerisms provide a sense of confidence and grounding.

00:31:04 - Support for Artistic Pursuits
Brian's adoptive family eventually supported his artistic endeavors, but initially struggled to understand and guide him. Brian's adoptive mother eventually admitted her lack of knowledge in the arts and apologized for not being able to help him pursue his passion.

00:33:11 - The Impact on Family
Rick's daughter felt a strong connection to Rick's biological mother and like her, pursued a career in musical theater. Discovering the truth about his biological mother was a disappointment for her, but the parallels between her artistic career and Brian's are striking.

00:35:42 - Underestimating Genetics
The importance of genetics in shaping one's identity and health is often underestimated. Adoptees may lack crucial information about their genetic history, making medical appointments and discussions challenging. Genetic mirroring and understanding genetic traits are vital for adoptees.

00:41:20 - Getting to Know Each Other
Brian remembers expressing his desire to get to know Rick without being a burden or interrupting his life.

00:42:11 - Ministry and Faith
Rick shares that he is involved in ministry and believes that everyone is an adoptee in a spiritual sense. He talks about how his faith has helped him fill the gap in his own fathering and his ministry's goal to encourage and equip fathers to be faithful.

00:43:23 - Brian's Future Projects
Brian mentions that he has ideas for future films but nothing has come together yet. He emphasizes that the story doesn't end with the reunion but continues as a journey. They both express their excitement for the ongoing journey of their relationship.