The best things take time, or at least that’s one way of looking at why Jonathan Hay waited so long to meet his biological mother in person.
“I’ve been avoiding it for two years out of fear,” said Jonathan, a music producer and publicist.
But the fear evaporated when the two finally met in February.
“It was a life changing experience that instantly helped unwrap all the emotional bondage and deep rejection that a lot of adopted people suffer with,” he said. “Looking in her eyes, I could see the decades of pain, loss and love that penetrated to the soul. I was finally home.” We first wrote about Jonathan two years ago when he found his biological father. Adopted at birth in Florida, Jonathan was able to identify his birth father, Ronnie Bradley, and a half brother Ryan, after connecting with a close cousin using 23andMe.
Jonathan also got some help from an adoption search expert in the state. Together they were also able to identify his mom, and filled in some of the blanks around his birth and adoption. His dad told him that when Jonathan was born, he was a new Navy enlistee living in San Diego. He didn’t even know his former girlfriend had been pregnant and only learned about Jonathan’s birth after getting the legal papers to give up the baby for adoption.
Jonathan’s mom, Pam Nicely, lived in Florida, was still a teen and struggling for her future. After piecing together the story, Jonathan — ever the publicist — decided to create a reality show around meeting his birth parents for the first time. He began to pitch the idea for what, at first, he called “The Haymaker.” Everything was in place, but he couldn’t get past the fear of an in-person contact.
That changed in November of last year when he met his brother Ryan for the first time.
“He’s actually the first person I met from my biological family,” Jonathan said.
His brother was able to give Jonathan even more background on the family, and, most importantly Ryan knew how Jonathan could get in touch with his mother. When Jonathan finally called his mom and planned his trip to see her in Ashtabula, Ohio, he didn’t bring any cameras.
“Everyone wanted to film it, but I just decided to keep it private,” he said. Spending time with his biological mother, getting to know her, ask her questions, helped relieve some of the fear for Jonathan had.
“Meeting her really gave me the strength to follow through with the TV show,” he said. “I was kind of at a roadblock in my life emotionally and that was a breakthrough.”
Now he is gearing up to begin filming in April in Florida for an in-person meeting with his dad. The show is now tentatively titled “Daddy Issues,” and will also feature Jonathan’s daughters, IIiana Eve, 14, and Hannah Lynn, 16. Both girls also have budding music careers that Jonathan is trying to support.
As for the show, Jonathan said he’s working with Angie Fenton, a well-known Louisville television correspondent. Part of the attraction of working with Fenton was that she went through this same process herself. Fenton documented her own journey meeting her biological father in an Oxygen network series called “Finding My Father”.
“We’ve been talking to A. Smith Productions as well,” said Jonathan. “(There are) a lot of options for the show. We need to get the pilot done first, which is what we are filming in April in Florida.”
Whatever happens with the show, Jonathan said using 23andMe to connect to his biological family sent him on a pilgrimage that is helping him unpack the complicated emotional baggage he’s been carrying through his life.
“Thank you so much for creating your product,” he said.