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I'm an adult adoptee. I thought I was sorted about all this but I'm not :(

(23 Posts)
MrsMcEnroe Sat 04-Aug-12 00:13:43


I really need some advice /perspective as all I'm doing at the moment is guilt-tripping myself (sorry to turn a noun into a verb there; I must be really stressed!).

I'm 40 and was adopted in 1972. I had lovely, loving, open and honest adoptive parents who have both died in the last 7 years. They were fantastic, i loved them with all my heart and I never thought of them as anything other than my parents. All through my childhood and teens I also just knew that I wanted contact with my birth mother, and I met her when I was 18 or 19 (I initiated contact via the proper channels). At the time it felt like meeting an older sister or other relative who I'd always known; it was very comfortable, and lots of things fell into place for me e.g. where i got my hair colour and eye colour from, etc, and also she was the first blood relative I'd ever met and i did feel a certain natural bond with her. Birth mother met my parents (something that I really didn't want to happen - I have been unable to bring myself to analyse why) and birth mother and I have continued to meet up approximately once / twice a year ever since. So we've known each other for about 21 years, i.e. half my life, and before that I always knew about her and knew her name (the social worker who organised my adoption was a bit of a rule-breaker so my parents were given my birth parents' names) so she has always been a tangible part of my life.

After the first couple of meetings, when the glow had worn off a bit, I began to realise that there were lots of things I didn't really like about my birth mother, (most of them are probably traits that I share with her! wink) but I - for whatever reason - tried to ignore this, and carried on with the contact.

My dad died 7 years ago and my mum died 4 years ago. After my mum's death, my birth mother wrote to say that she she wanted to play a bigger part in my life now. I cannot remember what I said in reply (I was grieving, and was horrified and repulsed by her assumption that she could just take over as a mother) - anyway, her reply to my reply was that she realised that she had overstepped the mark. We have continued to meet up once a year or so but I no longer want to - from the day my mum died, my heart just seemed to close over as far as my birth mother is concerned.

We are now at the point where I have recently turned 40 and birth mother wants to take me shopping and buy me a "special gift.". I can't think of anything I'd like less. I really really don't want to see her any more, and haven't wanted to since my mum died, but I am such a pathetic people-pleaser that I have been afraid of upsetting her and i am feeling guily that I am the one who initiated contact and therefore I can't now say that I don't want contact any more .... I'm a mother now, and the thought of one of my children saying that to me just about finishes me off.

Also, now that I'm a mother, I find it impossible to understand her decision to have me adopted. Before I became a parent I understood and accepted why she did it. But now I seem to have put on a massive pair of judgey pants and I dislike her because of what she did. I don't judge other women in this way, and I certainly don't harbour any wish that she had kept me when I was a baby, so what is that judginess all about????

Is there any way to stop seeing her and tell her in as kind a way as possible and not feel guilty about it?!

Thank you if you've managed to read this far!

OP’s posts: |
PatricPackard Sat 04-Aug-12 00:29:11

I am an adoptee too and I don't think I will ever be "sorted" about it all!

My Aparents are thankfully still very much alive but I can see where you're coming from. I traced my Bfamily about five years ago and have met them all, I have quite strong ties with some of the wider family but don't really have much of "a feeling" for my birth mother. Like you I find myself having less and less sympathy for what she did as time goes on and am not sure if I actually like her.

I don't think there is a perfect solution to this. If I were you I would just let contact slide, but if she is the type to confront you about it I don't know where that would lead you.

Try the forums at After Adoption, they are slow but more people who know where you're coming from and may have been through similar. If you contact AA themselves they might be able to sort you out with some counselling to help you make a decision about how to end contact?

duchesse Sat 04-Aug-12 00:30:39

I'd say because you felt abandoned by her. I have no direct experience of adoption in any capacity but as a total outsider that would be like a totally normal reaction to me.

I think you may need top be brutally frank with her. Tell her that you made contact out of curiosity, that you had two perfectly lovely parents and that you don't feel the need for a third. You don't have to please your birth mother, nor do you have to see against your will.

PatricPackard Sat 04-Aug-12 00:38:51

Hi, OP, I meant to say that I read something really good on adoptee guilt and people pleasing a few years ago, can't remember what now but I think it might have been Betty Jean Lifton.

If you haven't already do give some of the "adoption literature" a read. It's a bit...American, especially The Primal Wound, but it does make quite a lot of sense, it was a huge relief to me to find someone shared some of my weirder feelings. The message boards at AA are good for that feeling too.

Adoption is one of those things, it's not really talked about and I think we are socialised to believe that birth mothers are either innocent victims or evil villains, when in reality they are usually neither of those things, and there is the constant theme of guilt running through our lives because we're supposed to be GRATEFUL in a way that non-adoptees are not.

MrsMcEnroe Sat 04-Aug-12 00:50:11

Thanks guys. I will check out the adoption forums and adoption literature - I've never looked at either before, can you believe it?!

PatricPackard - you are so right about guilt and gratitude! Thank you smile. I was saying to DH earlier that I think i might benefit from a couple of counselling sessions to work through some of this stuff, and the guilt/gratitude thing is exactly what I want to address...

OP’s posts: |
Kewcumber Sat 04-Aug-12 01:11:37

"we're supposed to be GRATEFUL in a way that non-adoptees are not." this is so true and drives me insane when someone says about my (adopted) DS - oh he's so lucky to have been adopted by you hmm Yes because that's just the kind of "luck" you want for your children isn't it.

I look at it slightly differently - for me its a matter of choice. Two of the three of us in this adoption triangle had some degree of choice - me and DS's birth family. We were adults and we had choices. DS was a baby and had no choice.

When he is old enough to have an element of informed choice I think he is quite within his rights to make the choices that make his life the way he wants it to be.

You birth mother and adoptive mother both had their chance to make their choices - you are now perfectly entitled to make the choices that work for you.

Counselling sounds like the way forward. Just put your adoptive mother off for now - tell her that the time isn't right for you to get closer to her and that you are still in many ways grieving for your mother and when/if you get past that you will contact her.

PatricPackard Sat 04-Aug-12 01:15:27

There's also some interesting stuff about rejection, why really tiny things can really knock you for six, basically saying that such a huge upset to the "normal" course of things means that you subconsciously fear total rejection. It made me realise why I overreact to friends and partners, for example if my DP is off with me I find it really hard to accept the reason he gives me, like being tired, I just have some big siren go off in my mind that says "you're not good enough to live among normal people, why would anyone want you, he's going to send you away". As a child I was very compliant and got very distressed if I was told off because I was always worried they were going to "send me back".

I haven't had any counselling but have found it reassuring that I'm not the only one and am now a lot more secure in my relationships. Not perfect but better!

PatricPackard Sat 04-Aug-12 01:22:50

Kewcumber, I couldn't agree with you more about choice. When I was first making contact with my birth family a few people were a bit sniffy about it (I was being "ungrateful" apparently) and after a while I got angry and started pointing out my lack of choice so far - my adoptive mother desperately wanted a baby and she chose to adopt one, my birth mother didn't want a baby and she chose to give one away, but what did I choose?

(psAre you the lady with the blog about adopting your son from overseas? If so I very much enjoyed reading it, you and your gorgeous boy make a lovely family.)

roisin Sat 04-Aug-12 03:00:31

I agree completely with the posts on here - as a birth mother myself, who would love for her 'birth child' to choose to get in touch at some point.

You don't owe her anything, and if th relationship is not helping you at he moment, you should pull back and be frank with her about your reasons.

beemail Sat 04-Aug-12 16:32:26

Also very interested in the feeling of having to be grateful - feel my teen daughters (adopted) are thankful for the way things eventually worked out for them but we do at times feel that they are unaturally compliant/grateful.
For what it's worth we realise they may be in this situation one day (but very unlikely as it would be so difficult for them to trace) I'd really want them to have the confidence to put themselves first and do what they felt most comfortable with but realise this could be difficult. Their needs are the most important, I think as all the adults who made choices for them initially we now have to accept that this is the way it should be.
You are facing some major issues - grief along with adoption related, specialist counselling may help.

MrsMcEnroe Sat 04-Aug-12 16:51:49

Thank you everyone smile

I had never heard the phrase "adoption triangle" before. It's made me realise exactly how much my own feelings were disregarded as a child - my parents didn't meant to do it, I'm sure, but there was this constant vibe of "you're lucky your birth mum gave you up and we're lucky to have chosen you" - yes, both true, but what about what I feel?? I certainly wasn't considered part of the triangle!

Definitely time for some counselling.
Thanks again to everyone who answered this post.

OP’s posts: |
Kewcumber Tue 07-Aug-12 10:35:34

Beemail - I think choosing to be thankful for your parents is fine (back to that choosing thing again!) as it is for any child. However an expectation that you ought to be grateful for having a halfway decent set of parents and a safe secure loving childhood is no more than most children expect and I don't personally think anyone should be overly grateful for that!

Patric - yes that was me - kind of you to say something so.

beemail Tue 07-Aug-12 22:49:19

No I agree but it's apparently common for adoptees to feel this way, maybe not always consciously though. Some say it's why they postpone searching for birth parents until their adopted parents have died etc - not wanting to "rock the boat" as it were. Mrs McE it sounds as though your parents did not oppose your search and were prepared to meet your BM. We would like to have the opportunity to support our daughters through any searching they may wish to undertake. It would be a great priviledge for us to meet BPs but somehow doubt it will ever happen.
I do though think there's a general feeling that adoptees should be grateful when having a loving family is of course what every child should have.
Mrs McEnroe - yes the "chosen child". I have heard many adoptees who feel uncomfortable with this. The most important part of the triangle is of course the child but the one who usually has the least say. If you decide to go ahead with counselling I do hope you find someone who has the experience to help you explore some of these issues.

Kewcumber Tue 07-Aug-12 23:23:49

I never tell DS that I !chose" him - partly because it isn't true. I was presented with him and the onus was on me to say No if I wanted to see a different child. But that aside I've never felt comfortable with the "chosen child" explanation some people use but I've never been able to properly articulate why even to myself.

OlaRapaceFru Thu 09-Aug-12 19:27:12

I'm an adoptee also.

I agree with PPs who suggest some counselling might help. Do you know about NORCAP Even though you already know your BM, they have a variety of professionals who can help you through your issues, whatever stage you are at.

Gettingolder Wed 15-Aug-12 21:12:44

Hello from a fellow adoptee! Lovely to meet so many!
I think I've had a lovely adoption, met my birth family 7 years ago and although yes the glow has worn off I'm still in touch with "mum", "dad", and sisters and grandad. I love them all and it's just like an extended family. I could not have done any of this without the support of my mum and dad and they adore my sister. I don't hold any grudge against my birth mum and feel so blessed that they are all lovely, although have had a few issues with my birth dad acting like a teenager!

I lost my grandparents many years ago now and did a lot of homeopathy and that helped me a great deal in coping, with the guilt and many other issues, so I definitely think counselling will help. We as adoptees don't get offered this and I thought I was ok until I went thru it and it explained a lot.

I'm now TTC and having to consider ivf or adoption. Even though my situation worked out I feel I want to try ivf just so that I have something of mine, some sense of belonging I think.

Try counselling or homeopathy or similar, I think it did me wonders in more ways than one. Seven years ago I met my family and my fella..... Just saying grin

PollyRocket Sat 08-Sep-12 16:06:18

Losing your Aparents will have been a huge thing to go through. Guilt is a large part of the grieving process and grieving lasts for years in its own way.
I would be wary of speaking to your Bmum about these feelings of not wanting as much contact with her etc until you have explored your options and got some outside advise/help from a counsellor/therapist/adoption specialist.
A lot of these feelings of not wanting your Bmum's attention could be in reaction to the loss of your Bparents, even after all this time.
I lost my dad a year and a half ago and can see things that I do or say to those I love that are huge reflections on the loss I feel.

I hope you get the support you're seeking.

Offredalba Sun 09-Sep-12 01:35:27

On the subject of choice, in 1972, it is unlikely that a birthmother had much 'choice' in the adoption of her child. Currently there is a motion in parliament requesting a formal apology for the forced and coercive adoption practices which affected thousands of mothers and babies in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Such apologies have already been made in Australia.
Mrs.McE, I think that your feelings are very understandable, and not unusual. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult in many parts of the UK, to get the kind of professional therapeutic care which all members of the adoption triad need in reunion.
I agree completely that there are some very helpful books out there.

I'm so sorry that you have experienced such loss and wish you all the best.

EchoBitch Wed 12-Sep-12 01:17:22

All my life i thought that when my Mum died i'd 'find out' about my birth parents.
My darling Mum died last month and i now realise that i don't need to know anything.
I am grieving for her so much i could cry as i'm writing this.
My extended family are my family and i would give anything to have my Mum back.

sara555 Sat 06-Apr-19 11:05:15

I dont know how old your post is on mums net but I am struggling as well and feel your pain. I would write to your birth mother and explain exactly as you have in your post, you dont owe here anything more than an explanation. I have been devastated since the deaths of my adoptive parents and never gave my birth Mum much thought until my adoptive Mum died four years ago.
I eventually found my birth mother and after two years and four letter from me she indicated she wants no contact with me. I am devastated and feel so alone

Ted27 Sat 06-Apr-19 13:15:21

Hi sara555, I'm sorry to hear you are struggling. This is a very old thread from 2012 so unlikey that the op will be back.

Do you have anyone at all in real life to talk to ?

donquixotedelamancha Sat 06-Apr-19 15:13:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

donquixotedelamancha Sat 06-Apr-19 15:15:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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