I’m a female, 18, who was given up for adoption at birth.
I was adopted by my parents at five-months-old. I love them very much and we have a happy home life.
Recently, my family was called by the agency that handled my adoption, informing us that my birth mother wants to contact me.
We were given her contact details with full assurance that she didn’t have ours and wouldn't, unless we contacted her ourselves.
I don't think I want to contact her.
To me, she isn't really my mom. She gave me up and hasn't been there to support, educate and love me like my parents have.
She's a stranger who I'm tied to via DNA.
Yet I feel like I'm being selfish. I don't know why she gave me up, and now she has a chance to explain it.
She also went to the trouble of trying to find me again, which I imagine wasn't simple.
I feel guilty approaching this subject with my parents. I don't want them to think they'll be nudged to the side if I take an interest in my birth mother.
I'm afraid this situation will cause problems for all of us.
Should I hear her out, or should I let this sleeping dog lie?
Birth Mother Request
Take time with this emotion-laden decision.
You’re a thoughtful person, with a happy life… you have a right to want to keep it exactly as is. Yet you also have the kind of strong, stable background that can help you handle new information and potential insights to yourself.
Accordingly, do some research on the question through the adoption agency, which has likely dealt with such situations.
Example: You could ask them ahead how this usually goes – e.g. what have others found is the best way to have first contact (phone? email?), how soon to meet in person, and where.
Inquire, too, whether there are areas of conversation or requests by a birth parent that are signals to proceed cautiously.
Next, talk to your parents openly about your concerns for their feelings.
They’ll appreciate this, and may have some surprise responses, such as information about your earliest months with them and about any health facts they initially received about your birth mother.
Or, whether there’s any other information they’d withheld in order to protect you.
Consider, also, getting counselling ahead about making contact. Discuss with a professional how to avoid having unrealistic expectations.
Be open in counselling about any anxieties or fears you have regarding a meeting.
Remember, this is now, with you at 18.
In years ahead, your life may involve a career, a love relationship, children of your own.
Your interest in your birth mother may be stronger then, or perhaps even less so.
For now, doing what I’ve suggested will either lead your curiosity to agreeing to the possibility of meeting soon, or to waiting to feel that you’re certain about a definite Yes or No.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman whose husband paid too much attention to his parents (August 17):
“My husband’s mother and his family are always asking for money.
“We have a disabled child and his mother’s always encouraging my husband to divorce me so that he can have “normal” children.
“Because he earns a decent living (and his many siblings don’t), his mother thinks she’s entitled to dig into our savings.
“I believe a man’s wife and his children should come first.”
Wherever I bump into my ex - the mall, bingo, coffee shop – she’ll badmouth me to others and call me terrible names in front of them.
She’s made false accusations against me and presents herself as the victim, saying that she had “only loved me.”
When together 20 years ago, she verbally abused and badmouthed me then too. I’d grown up in an abusive family so I thought that's what love was.
With counselling, I know this isn’t how love is supposed to be.
But I don't know how to make her stop. I'm afraid to stand up to her because I have some physical health issues and don't feel strong enough.
What can I do?
Avoid going where you know she’ll be. If she shows up elsewhere, walk away. Keep a record if it.
Her showing up again warrants you asking the police for a restraining order, because she bullies you and frightens you.
Tip of the day:
An adopted adult child whose birth parent wants contact, should take time to feel certain it’s the decision she/he wants.