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Do i tell my children i am adopted?

(84 Posts)
Sam1973 Tue 27-Sep-11 23:31:40

Does anyone think it is necessary for me to tell my children I was adopted? They are 8 and 4 which is prob a little young any way. I cant decide if they need to know or not.....

KristinaM Wed 19-Dec-12 15:44:51

I'm sorry you and your children are in this situation .of course you don't want to upset them but its better coming from you than them hearing it elsewhere . A bit like the adoption thing.

mary04 Wed 19-Dec-12 12:42:27

Thank you for the sound advice kristina. My ex and I do not know if he is the biological father since the we used his sperm in addition to the donor sperm. I would guess that if the children wanted to find out, a dna would need to be done and I'm not sure if their father would agree to do it and I worry that this will bring on more resentment with him. Their relationship with their father has been horrific for so many years. Almost non existent. I'm very concerned for them. My youngest son is going through a very difficult time right now and I'm not sure how he will cope with all of this. I have to find the right time to tell both of the boys. I just wish that my ex was on the same page with me, the last thing I want to do is cause any pain to my children.

KristinaM Wed 19-Dec-12 08:23:06

Your instinct is right -of course you must tell the children that they were conceived by AID. I'm sorry you are in this situation now and that you were not given good advice about being honest with them when they were small. Most children who grow up knowing the facts as ok with them -its a lot more upsettig to discover at a later date that you have been lied to .

You need to prepare youreslf for the possibility that they will be quite upset. It's quite a blow to discover that your father is not your biological father AND your mothers family are nt your biological family either.

There is no easy way to do this I'm afraid, they need to know now. Please try not to blame each other. You have both lied to them for years . Theres no question of one of you not " letting" the other be honest . You just need to tell them that you thought it was for the best, that attitudes were less open 20 years ago and that you didn't mean to hurt them and you are sorry .

mary04 Wed 19-Dec-12 01:49:23

complicated situation, my past came back and opened up a can of worms. I was adopted as an infant. i was never very comfortable talking about it and did not tell many people.I accepted it at a very young age. My husband at the time knew i was adopted(now ex). we have two children ages 20 and 22. My kids and my ex husband have never had a good relationship, he is in my opinion a narcissistic man. 15 years after our very messy divorce he decided to tell our children out of the blue without my knowledge that i was adopted, of course they were shocked. I explained to my kids that I did not hide this information from them to hurt them, I accepted my adoption a long time ago and feel that my adopted parents who raised me were to me my only parents. I have now contacted the adoption agency to get any and all information for my kids so I can answer their questions regarding their background. I will do it for them even if i don't have any interest in knowing.
The next part of this problem is. My ex had testicular cancer when we met. He caught the cancer early and is fine to date. He froze his sperm and when we decided to start a family we had to use donor sperm in addition to his sperm. My ex never wanted the kids to know any of this, his cancer or the donor sperm. I informed the pediatricians when the kids were babies so it would be in their medical history.My ex is now telling me that I should not tell the kids how they were conceived, mind you my ex is in the medical field. Now I feel horrible that I kept my adoption from my kids and feel that its time to be completely honest with them about everything. I have tried to talk to my ex about this for weeks now and he will not listen. He feels its going to hurt the kids since they have a bad relationship with him already, I'm so torn up about all of this and I hold myself accountable for not telling my kids of my adoption. any advice is welcome. I want to do the right thing. This is not about revenge, I now see how I have made a large mistake and want to be honest with my kids.

Andy6 Tue 17-Apr-12 20:30:28

I would say yes. Not only will they know the truth but they will help normalise the process if you have been through it to. They they will be able to empathise / understand as they have also been through it so to me is a bonding advantage as they get older. I grew up without parents and I have told my adopted children this and one day after they turn 18 I have told them they will be able to find their birth parents if they want just like I found my dad (and explained what happened etc).

dizzyblonde Wed 16-Nov-11 18:54:37

My Dh is adopted, in the early sixties, and has always known. It was never made a big thing of but just something he always knew.
I have always been open with my 3 DC's. It comes up in conversation when they ask ' who do I take after'. I found that they forgot and then found out again, my 15 year old DS recently asked if he had any other nationalities in his genetic line-up. My DH's birth mother was half french so we told him that. Turns out he had forgotten the adoption story but was totally unphased by it.
I think being open and honest is the key.

ILikeToMoveItMoveIt Sun 06-Nov-11 10:03:50

Thought I would just add my experience, as only you can decide how/if/when you tell your children.

I found out my mum was adopted when my cousin mentioned it in conversation when I was about 8. I had no clue so I just thought she was making it up. A year or so later I was watching a tv programme (Gentle Ben if you're interested!) that had an adoption storyline, so my mum used the opportunity to tell me she was adopted.

I was annoyed that she hadn't told me and I felt foolish because of what I had said to my cousin. But it has never changed how I felt about my mum or my darling Grandad.

As an adult and a parent, I still don't understand why she waited so long to tell me - especially as she was only told when she was about 12, and found it very difficult to deal with at such an advanced age. But she has never been one for talking - probably learnt from her parents, hence only being told when she was 12.

Samd123 Sun 06-Nov-11 09:47:16

Hi I hope I am not too late to add onto this conversation but I just wanted to add my experiences. My dad is adopted and I seem to have known at least since I was 10. My dad was not told he was adopted til he was 21 which was relatively common back then. However because of the way this was handled we have not really talked about it and there are some issues about it. My DH thinks I am overly empathetic as I am can be emotional about this. I think only recently (I am over 40) that it really sank home to me that my dad never knew about his biological mum and I had another grandma who I never knew and who died without knowing what had happened to her son and about us and didn't know how everything turned out well for us.
As people have said above my grandparents were my grandparents and I have no real need to know about my biological grandparents but there is some sadness there for the reasons I mentioned above.

harrietthespook Mon 03-Oct-11 12:50:43


"The attitudes sound quite familiar to me too. My parents were very open in lots of ways and told me sometimes that if I searched they would help but I was absolutely aware that this would be devastating for them."

Ditto. My mother's 'offer to help' me search pretty much ended when I was in middle school. AFter that: "Everyone knows your adopted. Why do you feel the need to tell people?" This of friends too.

Also it was easier to be relaxed about this in the 70s when it would have been harder to find people. It can be scary for all concerned that it's so much easier to find people, in the social networking era.

giyadas Sun 02-Oct-11 11:36:53

yes, that makes perfect sense Maryz. WRT your earlier post, while I've never said anything, I've never lied either so there won't be any issues re that. This thread has brought up a lot of things I'd pushed to the back of mind, will need time to think it all over before I say anything.
Sorry to just disappear, RL intruded.

auntevil Sat 01-Oct-11 17:06:04

Harrietthespook - I was a sixties adoption and my BM has told me that she had given up the thought that I would contact her. So when she remarried 15 years ago, she didn't tell her new husband. She also hadn't told her subsequent children.
She gave me her husbands e-mail address to contact her - so I had assumed he must have been aware. Can't imagine his surprise when he said to my BM 'who is .." From what I have heard, 1 of her children isn't phased at all, 1 is quite shocked, but interested to hear from me and has given me his contact details. I don't know about the other 2, but time will tell.
So perhaps age is a major factor - whether a positive or negative. My BM didn't think it necessary to discuss it as she didn't think it would matter anymore.
FYI, only my 8 year old has asked subsequent questions on adoption - and it was the why couldn't she keep you but she could keep the others. I explained it as a matter of fact - young, no money, no support. Putting me up for adoption was her way of trying to give me the best start in life. He asked if i was sad about it - i said no - which is true. Then he asked if that meant he had even more family - which i said yes, as i could see where this was going as he has a birthday next month!

bangcrash Sat 01-Oct-11 16:49:44

The attitudes sound quite familiar to me too. My parents were very open in lots of ways and told me sometimes that if I searched they would help but I was absolutely aware that this would be devastating for them.

I was a seventies adoption and would agree it was a difficult era for parents who were told to go home and forget by sws and family sometimes.

I think they were burdened not only by the fear that people had voiced to them over the years that I would look for 'real' family. also they suffered from never having let go of the fear that I could be snatched away. The final court visit was as much as they could bear after some horrid sws and a birth mother who changed her mind a few times.

I think the prep was so bad and the system so awful that my parents carried emotional scars from their experience.

harrietthespook Sat 01-Oct-11 14:02:14

Maryz is spot on.

The other thing is that the birth mothers didn't expect to hear from their birth children either, the ones who adopted in the 70s. I happen to know from the agency that my birth mother travelled to another city to have me, to avoid people knowing about it in her home town. The agency said this wasn't unusual and I'm sure they are right. I do wonder whether my BM worries that it will all one day 'catch up with her' and come out.

Maryz Sat 01-Oct-11 12:13:59

It is definitely different giyadas, simply because they never considered the wider ramifications of adoption and were never prompted to consider it. They assumed that they would take their babies home and no-one would ever discuss it again.

Those of us who have adopted recently are very aware that our children will (more than likely) have contact with their birth families. Even if they don't trace themselves, the likelihood is that they will be "found" either intentionally or by accident by some member or other of their wider family. The world is so much smaller nowadays, and with Facebook and photographs online it isn't hard to find someone.

I knew the day I took my children home that it was likely that they would, at some stage, have another set of "parents". It was up to me whether to make a big deal out of it and force them to choose. I hope my children would include me in any search, and I hope I am secure enough to be able to "allow" them to meet their families (as in allow them emotionally, of course I will allow them physically smile), and to have a relationship with them without feeling that it will take anything from their relationship with me.

Parents back in the 70's didn't have time to come to terms with all this. Many of them think that if their children trace they are doing it because they were inadequate parents, or because their children are unhappy, and so they get defensive. And of course the more defensive they get, the more pressured the (now adult) children feel, the more difficult the whole topic becomes.

Interestingly even earlier adoptions seem to be less confusing all around - simply because people adopted back in the 40s and 50s couldn't trace, so although that was tough for them, it wasn't an issue for their adoptive parents.

Adoptive parents from the late 60s/70s/early 80s are stuck in the middle, because the changes happened during their parenthood, if that all makes sense.

giyadas Sat 01-Oct-11 11:03:02

late 70's, yes. Do you think my mums attitude is typical of the time? It seems so different to the attitude of adopters I've seen on this board.

harrietthespook Sat 01-Oct-11 10:57:56

giyadas - are you a 70s baby too?

giyadas Sat 01-Oct-11 09:50:55

Harriets posts about stakeholders in her adoption really struck a chord with me, as did Bugsys "Although, I always knew I was adopted, it was only discussed under duress as I got older and was always a bit of a dirty secret."
I know my mum doesn't like it brought up,almost like she resents that I was adopted and could possibly put a nasty spin on me telling dd, which is one reason I've avoided it. It just seemed easier not to bring it up. But I would like dd to know, so will have to think about how best to approach it.
Trouble is by telling dd, it may affect her relationship with her gran as it would become a subject that she would have to avoid around her.

bluelaguna Sat 01-Oct-11 09:15:22

Definitely tell them - 4yo is perfect age, 8yo getting a bit old IMHO so would need to do it soon.

Tell them in a tone of voice that is positive and matter of fact. For the 4yo, a very simple explanation will suffice - sometimes a mummy/daddy can't look after her baby and sometimes there is a mummy/daddy who really want a baby but haven't got one. So, they give the baby to them. I see up thread that your birth mother killed herself - a good explanation of suicide is that she was ill, more specifically her head/brain was unwell. Because essentially it is true and it will pave the way for you to tell the entire truth in the future if you decide to do that - as you won't have lied.

KristinaM Sat 01-Oct-11 09:06:50

The only way you can keep it totally secret is

Have no contcat at all with anyone , friends, family, neighbiurs, school friends. Or anyome who knows them. Bst done by changing your name and moving to amother country

Destroy all official documents relating to teh adoption. Nit just the copies you have, you would need to destroy those held by the registrat general etc, medical records

Lie to doctors and hcp caring for you and your children

Ensuer that your children and their children n ever use facebook, any other social media or the internet in general

CustardIsMyNemesis Fri 30-Sep-11 13:05:16

My Dads parents accidentally told me that my Mum was adopted when I was 10. They thought I knew and I was devastated, not because I felt lied to, or because I felt any differently to my Mums ‘mum’, but because I didn’t know how to tell her I knew if that makes sense?

That night my Mum came in to my room and found me in floods of tears and I told her what had happened and she had a really nice chat with me and explained that her (adoptive) Mum and Dad were her Mum and Dad. She told me in such a calm and beautiful way how lucky she was that my Gran and Grandad chose to love her (god, 20 years later and I’m still welling up thinking about it!). We have only spoken about it a couple of times briefly since, my Gran never knew that I knew.

What I’m trying to say is that if there is no way that your DC’s will ever find out about you being adopted then you can choose to not tell them, however if there is a chance that they could find out ‘by accident’ then I think it is good to get in there first, so that you can pick the time and place. My DB is 5 years younger than me and my Mum included him in the conversation that she and I had and he didn’t even bat an eyelid (too busy trying to get back to his lego!)

anewmotivatedme Fri 30-Sep-11 12:35:35

My Dad is adopted, but has no interest in looking up his birth family. He is very close to his parents. He was the adored only child, who they scrimped and saved to send to private school and university. He had an idyllic childhood, with wonderful doting parents.

He has looked at his file, and was taken from his family by social services, and was very malnourished, and considered possibly disabled due to his limited reactions, when he went to live with his parents at eight months old.

We were just told in casual conversation as teenagers. Although I know he was adopted, and am naturally curious, I know not to ask any questions. As far as Dad is concerned his adopted parents are his true family, he prefers to block out any other family.

harrietthespook Fri 30-Sep-11 12:30:57

Thinking about it - one of the other women in this circle of friends has a daughter who is a lesbian. And that subject is TABOO. One is not allowed to discuss that in their gatherings. That came out by 'accident' one time when my mom was on her own with this friend.

So..maybe it's down to the particular group dynamics going on here...? My mom's in her late sixties, some of these women are in their very early 80s...

harrietthespook Fri 30-Sep-11 12:25:58

sorry my mom's friend's children... not my mom's friends have had children.

harrietthespook Fri 30-Sep-11 12:24:09

No Krisitina it's different. She has admitted she is actively not telling this group of people because she thinks it might somehow reflect badly on her/our relationship. hmm She hasn't articulated this in exactly those words, but that SEEMS from WHAT I CAN GATHER, to be the upshot. It's a conscious decision. Everyone knew about it when I was growing up. SO I have to also be careful what I say around them - they've given me things like babyshowers where it might have come up. And my mom's friends have had children and we've been together when we've discussed breast feeding and births. One woman did say to her: Didn't you breastfeed. "God no!" she just made it seem like she hadn't felt like it. her friends still talk about their birth experiences too and she never chimes in. I have said to her: Do they ask you? "No." But it's always hovering there, I guess. Maybe they guess they shouldn't ask...but then they did about the breast feeding so who knows?

It is exceptionally weird why she is doing this now.

KristinaM Fri 30-Sep-11 12:17:49

I am adopted and all my children know. The youngest are 5 and 7 and i cant even remember when we told them, it was years ago. I think they have always kmown IYKWIM.

Harriet - you said that your mum must have issues about your being adopted as she has not told her freinds in the US. Maybe its just that she doenst consider it relevant. For example, i dont normally tell anyone that my 7yo was a ventouse delivery. Its not the kind of thing that comes up in conversation. i occasioanly mention it on mumsnet on a relevant thread. I hope im not still discussing child birth when im 60.i dont think this means i have an issue with it

Personally i woudl think it was a bit weird of someone said

Oh i have a daughter of 40 who lives in the uk with her Dh and two kids. She was born by cesarian section /adopted/conceived by IVF etc etc

Just a thought. Obviously i dont know your mum and you may have other easons to think she is troubled by your adoption

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