Mar 22, 2017 - Stories

Coming Home

Jonathan Hay & Pam Nicely

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 when he found his biological father two years ago.

Adopted in Florida, Jonathan could 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 fill in some of the blanks around his birth and adoption.

His dad told him that Jonathan was a new Navy enlistee living in San Diego when he was born. 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 and was still a teen struggling for her future.

After piecing together the story, Jonathan—ever the publicist—decided to create a reality show about 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 escape 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 contact 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 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, but that was a breakthrough.”

Now he is gearing up to begin filming in Florida in April for an in-person meeting with his dad. The show is now tentatively titled “Daddy Issues” and features Jonathan’s daughters, Iliana 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 underwent this process herself. Fenton documented her 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.

Related Stories

Stay in the know.

Receive the latest from your DNA community.