to no longer sympathise with dh's birth mother.(long: apologies!)

(67 Posts)
MillyONaire Tue 19-Nov-13 22:33:24

Dh (now 44) was adopted at 10 days old. He was never terribly curious about his birth parents until 9 years ago. He contacted the adoption agency (we're in Ireland where the "child" has no right to any but the most basic, unidentifying information) and spoke with a social worker. She advised him to write to his BM and she would pass the letter on. He did so, saying that he really wanted to know his medical history (I think the SW might have suggested that as a tactic to get her to respond). She did respond immediately with a letter saying how upset and terrified she was to get his letter. That if she had committed a crime she'd have served her time by now and wouldn't have this fear that he would show up at her doorstep. That she never saw or held him and was sedated at the time of his birth. Her parents and siblings knew about him (she was 23 at the time of his birth, his BF was 30!). She was not interested in forming any relationship with him at this stage but maybe in the future - she did ask for a photograph (of him and his dc which he had included but the sw had not forwarded). A year or so ago dh had become very interested in knowing his genetic background and whether he had siblings (he has none in his adoptive family) and found he was always looking at people in the street wondering did they look like him - could they possibly be related (it is a small country!) so he contacted the SW again, wrote another letter but again she is not interested but hasn't quite said so, just that she is not sure yet....So we went to the General Registery and found dh's and his bm's birth cert (his uncle knew her surname) so we know her name (but are not supposed to - she doesn't know this as he is supposed to be respecting her right to anonymity) and where she lived and have seen pictures of his cousins on facebook - a definite family resemblance!!! He is so pleased. But of course this has only whetted his appetite for knowing more - and he still has no clue as to what his BF is like.
Initially I felt sympathy for his BM - it must be awful to feel shame for what must have been a traumatic time in her life - she doesn't appear to have married or had more children. But now we know her DF (his GF!!) died (only) 5 years ago so we can't really see why she would not want to acknowledge him now. I want to feel the sympathy I did initially as dh is increasingly upset by her lack of curiosity/interest in him and I'd like to be able to throw a bit of oil on troubled waters rather than join in giving out about her but I'm thinking: why not!!! HE has not done anything wrong - why shouldn't he know where he comes from - what right does she have to keep that information from him??? I feel I probably am BU so if you can throw a bit of reason on her side of the fence please do and stop me from wanting to post her a letter directly giving her a piece of my mind!!!

Clowdy Tue 19-Nov-13 22:41:02

I agree with you. I think the very least she owes him is to answer his questions and provide a photograph. I can't understand how a birth mother can deny their child access to their family history. I will probably be a lone voice here but I find it selfish. There is a great forum called AfterAdoption where both you and dh will get great support from people who have been through similar.

FamiliesShareGerms Tue 19-Nov-13 22:41:46

Hi, you might want to get this thread moved over to the adoption forum

DameDeepRedBetty Tue 19-Nov-13 22:45:04

You may get some rather ill-informed responses here in AIBU, I think Families has a fair point.

Clowdy Tue 19-Nov-13 22:47:29

Milly, the one thing I would say though is, it is dh's mother who is missing out - he has his life and the people around him who love and support him. He may feel his life will be better through having a relationship with her but it may just open a whole can of worms. Tell him to remember that being an adoptee is not WHO he is, it is just a part of his life and all the people and things about his life that he loves will still be there, whether he gets answers or not. I do understand the all consuming need for answers though and it's hard. He may well need to make his own peace with the fact that he may never get what he wants from her and only he can do that. I sympathise though and truly understand how he feels.

MillyONaire Tue 19-Nov-13 22:48:01

Problem is that the adoption page is primarily families in the throes of trying to adopt children and this problem feels quite trivial next to their (often) anguish. Hopefully I'll take what I get on AIBU on the chin....(but thanks Clowdy I will look up that one)

Clowdy Tue 19-Nov-13 22:48:41

Never even noticed it was AIBU but yes, I would agree, get it moved to adoption.

GrendelsMum Tue 19-Nov-13 22:49:30

It is sad, but I guess you don't know the circumstances of her pregnancy or her life since then. The one thing you know is that something was probsbly pretty badly wrong for her to give up her baby, and it may well be that she still finds those memories extremely traumatic.

GrendelsMum Tue 19-Nov-13 22:50:08

Perhaps ask to have it moved to relationships?

Clowdy Tue 19-Nov-13 22:50:18

It's not as fast moving as here but there are specific sections for adopters, adoptees, birth parents, families etc. there are some fantastic regulars on there with a wealth of experience and knowledge.

LuciusMalfoyisSmokingHot Tue 19-Nov-13 22:50:18

My ex had this with his BM, hes tried to track her down and she showed no interested, then his father showed no interest, we sent him a letter with pics of DD, although my ex knew his dad and had met him a few times, we never got a reply.

LuciusMalfoyisSmokingHot Tue 19-Nov-13 22:52:39

Oh and she was also irish and my ex is 41, i think theres a big stigma in ireland back then about unwed mothers.

MillyONaire Tue 19-Nov-13 22:54:19

Huge stigma Lucius - I knew girls when I was a teen who gave their babies up for adoption and it was supposed to be a shameful secret (I am 40). Maybe I am being naive in thinking because attitudes have changed maybe hers would too.

Laurel1979 Tue 19-Nov-13 22:56:01

I'm not sympathising with his BM but in Ireland until fairly recently, unmarried mothers were treated dreadfully by the state, and many locked away in "magdalene laundries" to have their babies taken without consent and adopted. Many of these women were cut off from their families and made to feel like criminals. Who knows what she went through at that time. Must be awful for your partner though.

FortyDoorsToNowhere Tue 19-Nov-13 22:56:43

I would suggest your DH needs to come to terms that his birth mother doesn't want a relationship, perhaps get some sort of counselling.

I am sorry that your husband has faced this rejection he must be so confused right now.

GrendelsMum Tue 19-Nov-13 22:58:22

A friend's DH is in a similar situation - same age, also Irish, mother was a teenager, father an older man. She is also not willing to get in touch, but after a long while and s lot of struggling, he has come to terms both with that and with the possible circumstances of his conception.

EntWife Tue 19-Nov-13 22:59:17

It may well be that the experience of giving up her baby was just so painful that she just can't revisit it by reuniting with him now as an adult.

my mum is a bit like this. To a certain extent it is cutting of your nose to spite your face but somethings are just so overwhelmingly emotional she may feel unable to deal with it whatever the cost.

LuciusMalfoyisSmokingHot Tue 19-Nov-13 22:59:54

Milly, i think when its you that its happened to, you can change, probably a part of her felt robbed of her child, and shes detached so much that after 44 years, your DH really just doesnt feel like he is her child. She wont give the answers because she doesnt think it would do much good, although that isnt her choice to make. Its sad she cant give your DH the answers.

Broodymomma Tue 19-Nov-13 23:00:53

I respond to this from both sides of the coin. I went through similar with my birth father and understand how important it is to know your history and where you came from. Have also just adopted a little boy too.

I think if I were him and I could go back I would write a letter with specific questions in it for birth mum to answer. Things in relation to family health/likes/dislikes and take it slow. If bm understands exactly what he needs answered she may be more open to responding to him in a more positive way. Then who knows in time it may or may not lead to more.

It's a horrible situation for everyone concerned and sadly it's not always a episode of long lost families where birth mums are desperate to see their child again. I really hope it works out well for you all

Valdeeves Tue 19-Nov-13 23:00:57

Totally different but my grandmother was adopted and for about twenty years we have traced, made contact, had tenuous responses and then just rejection.
We have a genetic medical condition that we would all like to know a bit more about and the obvious questions about family history, roots etc.
After some brief contact went dead again, I finally decided to give up trying to get the birth family (living relatives) to acknowledge or be interested in us. They just don't want to know for whatever reason and I have learnt to accept that.

Very painful for dh. But presumably also for his bm, who may well not want to be made to confront what happened. Maybe she felt guilty but has buried the guilt.

MadonnaKebab Tue 19-Nov-13 23:01:27

I expect there is something else that she feels deep shame about
In addition to being an unmarried mother which would have been seen as shameful in Ireland back then
Maybe the father was married to someone else
Or a priest, or even a rapist
Don't think of her as selfish, there's probably more to the story that she isn't ready to discuss, yet or maybe ever

Valdeeves Tue 19-Nov-13 23:02:11

My point is - sometimes you have to just try and feel solid in who you are now - and accept that you cannot get from people who don't want to give.

NearTheWindmill Tue 19-Nov-13 23:03:08

I think it's awfully sad but was he happy with his adoptive parents? Do they love and support him in every way? It must be awful to have a bit missing but I think he must appreciate her feelings about this somehow. Is there any chance he could have some counselling to help him deal with this.

ScandinavianPrincess Wed 20-Nov-13 17:04:17

I am adopted and found that tracing biological family can be very hurtful. It is likely that she feels guilty and this guilt has been buried and now almost resembles antagonism. Despite saying she was sedated, it is very likely she was affected by giving up her child and may have been sad and depressed for years. Whilst this explains her behaviour, it doesn't stop it being hurtful and comes across as very cold. I didn't pursue a relationship with my birth mother because of this. It was just too painful for me.
I am in contact with further family members. It would be good for your husband to be able to have contact with other family members, it may be difficult because of her attitude.
I expected far more warmth to me than my birth mother gave. I suppose in a way they gave up a baby and a fully grown adult isn't what they imagine us as. It can be surprising how painful this is but your husband needs to remember it is not his fault and is not a rejection of him. I came away from the experience with my birth mother feeling quite rubbish but she had a lot of issues and feelings of her own to deal with which made her not a very a positive person to have in my life.
Tracing family raises more questions than answers them sometimes. It can open wounds, although it may heal some for some. Your husband may have to accept that he might not get the welcome he wants. He has your love and support and sometimes making your own family and life can be incredibly healing for adopted people.
I am British so knewthe name of my birth father which makes me in a much more frttunate position. Perhaps he could contact her one last time. He could pursue contacting other family members if they are on facebook etc but this could also raise difficulties if they don't now about him. However, I don't think he should have to feel like a terrible secret.

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