An Interview With Darryl Mcdaniel

Darryl McDaniels (a.k.a. DMC) shares how he discovered in his 30's that he was adopted.
Darryl McDaniels (a.k.a. DMC) shares how he discovered in his 30's that he was adopted. Andrew H. Walker/Stringer / Getty Images

Like talking to an old friend or the neighbor down the street, Darryl McDaniel a.k.a. DMC, took time out of his busy schedule to discuss his adoption search and new song “Just Like Me.”

While working on his autobiography, DMC asked his mother for some background information. She then shared with him that he was adopted. He was 35 years old at that time. After some time, DMC began a search for his birth mother, creating a documentary with VH1 at the same time, “DMC: My Adoption Journey” which aired February 2006.

We begin our conversation and it turns immediately to the fact that adoption records are closed.

DMC on whether he was surprised by the lack of rights adoptees have to their records:
“Yes, I was [surprised]! It was so shocking, and it’s one of the things we talk about in our adoption meetings besides the other issues of being adopted, the fact that the laws are not protecting, but hurting.” DMC went on to say, “I’ve noticed the lies and secrets around adoption build guilt and shame. When the lady at the courthouse, who had been so helpful to me, told me that I would never gain access to my original birth certificate, it was reality. At first it was funny because she had been so helpful and the way she said, ‘No that will never happen.’ It was reality, records are closed.”

DMC on his role in changing the laws that keep records closed for most of the nation:
“I have to do this. The lady at the Foundling Home that worked with me during the documentary, she told me that it’s now my mission – it has to be my mission to get the records open.” DMC shared with me that he is currently working with Sheila from his support group, which is also featured in his documentary, on starting an organization that will focus on changing laws around closed adoption records.

DMC on looking for his birthdad:
DMC answered, “My birthmom informed me that my father lives on Staton Island within the same neighborhood as my birthmother and siblings”. DMC went on to say that he is preparing to meet his birthfather sometime in the near future.

DMC on his mothers meeting:
“Not yet, but they both say how they would love to meet each other.

If they don’t I’m going to make them meet,” he said with a laugh. We went on to discuss the important it is for an adoptee, no matter the age, for his/her parents to accept each other. How it gives the adoptee permission to love and care for both sets of parents without guilt.

DMC on the void he felt that he couldn’t explain and the losses he experienced in a short period of time.
A short time after Jam Master Jay was murdered, his adoptive father passed away. He listened to Sarah McLachlan, “Angel” every day for 3 years. DMC shares the following: “I just thought, ‘God, What are you trying to tell me?’ My story is a story of purpose and destiny. I was questioning my existence. Am I just here to be DMC, to do this rap thing and nothing else? I was suicidal. Angel kept me alive for 3 more years to discover the meaning of the void. Now I know that I am to bring hope, motivation, and inspiration to adopted kids and those in foster care.”

DMC on the importance of his adoption:
“If I wasn’t adopted I would never have met Jay or Run and I wouldn’t be who I am now, where I am and the influence Run: DMC had on rap music today. We were the rap artists to get promotional deals with the song, ‘My Adidas’.”

DMC on whether the search and finding of his birth mom filled the void:
“Yes, it did, it’s a new beginning for me.”

DMC and how his reunion is progressing:
“Really cool. I have 2 brothers and a sister. My birthmom calls herself ‘the other mother’. She believes that she gave me life, my adoptive mother allowed me to experience it.” And what about his adoptive parents and the fact that he did search? "They are 100% behind me now.”

DMC Gives Advice:

On whether to search or not:
“So many adoptees are worried about rejection and question whether to search because of this fear. I say why start your story on Chapter 2. You wouldn’t pick up a book and start reading with chapter 2, why do that with your life. Searching will find your Chapter 1.”

On Reunion:
“Take it really, really slow. Put your own expectations on the back burner.

They are strangers to you, even if you share the same blood. You can’t write what’s going to happen so be open to the experience and enjoy the journey.”

DMC and “Just Like Me”:
“I wrote this song for all members of the adoption triad. I want people to get rid of the shame, and secrets. Adoption is about love.”

DMC and the stress of life now with his first solo album, “Checks, Thugs, and Rock ‘n Roll” and the finding of his birth family:
“I feel good about it, I’m helping people and that’s my main focus. To get people to listen to me as I do the work I’m meant to do.”

“My faith is grounding to me. Fame and fortune means nothing. I’m just like everyone else out there and they are just like me.”