When a 70-year-old adoptee decided to find out more about her biological family, she was shocked by what she discovered. Her adoptive parents had kept an unbelievable secret about her identity.
When Verda Byrd was adopted in 1943, she was happy to have a family and a loving home. However, the people who raised her never revealed the truth about her birth mother and father.
They took the secret to the grave with them, but Byrd did some digging of her own and stumbled upon an unexpected piece of information. She grew up in a black family and had no reason to doubt that she was African American—until 2013.
Verda Byrd and her adoptive parents | Photo: Youtube/USA TODAY
THE DISCOVERY WAS OVERWHELMING
Byrd found out that her biological parents were white. She was stunned and initially struggled to come to terms with this new part of her identity.
"It was overwhelming. You cannot erase 70 years of your life and just accept what the papers say instantly. It's like 70 years pass by, and in a blink of an eye, you’re a different race."
Verda Byrd was born white but thought she was black for seven decades | Photo: Youtube/USA TODAY
SHE ACCEPTED HER IDENTITY
Byrd shared that she didn't regret the black life she was adopted into and was grateful for the parents that raised her. She has also accepted her new racial identity.
While she still identifies as a "beautiful black woman," she has started ticking two boxes, black and white. Byrd aptly summarized why she chose to do this when she said:
"I was born white, but my whole life, I've lived the black experience."
Census documents prove that Verda Byrd's mother was white | Photo: Youtube/USA TODAY
NO QUESTIONS ABOUT HER APPEARANCE
Byrd's appearance never caused too much confusion growing up, nor did it spur on questions about her race. People attributed her lighter skin to her mother, and her curly hair also matched her presumed black race.
"My family didn't experience much discrimination because my mom and I were lighter-skinned and there weren't a lot of African Americans in Newton [Massachusetts]."
SHE DISCOVERED MORE THAN EXPECTED
Byrd married a black man and went on with her life without questioning her heritage. She only felt ready to learn more about her family history in 2013. With the assistance of a researcher, she tracked down her biological history and adoption records.
She spent days reading the findings repeatedly, stunned that she not only had ten siblings but was born white. She found much more than she expected but has made the most out of the unique situation.
Verda Byrd reveals how she feels about her racial identity | Photo: Youtube/KENS 5: Your San Antonio News Source
ANOTHER WOMAN UNCOVERS THE TRUTH
Byrd wasn't the only woman who found out the truth about her racial identity. Shortly before she turned 50, Rhonda Fils-Aimé discovered that she was not white. After using an at-home DNA testing kit in 2017, she found out that she was part black.
Fils-Aimé was shocked but immediately pursued the leads, which led to her biological father, a Haitian man. She was grateful for the opportunity to connect with him and excited to make up for the lost time.
Both Fils-Aimé and Byrd made startling discoveries about their racial identities. While it wasn't always easy to make sense of the past, they can move forward with a better understanding of themselves and their heritage.