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Adoption secret

(27 Posts)
Slippersmum Thu 23-Apr-15 13:02:46

I know generally this thread is for people who are thinking of or adopting but I know there are some people on here who were adopted themselves, such as myself. I was raised to keep my adoption a secret and was not allowed to tell anyone. As a child I once told my best friend and when my Dad found out he made me go back and tell her I had lied. This has resulted in me not really being able to share the fact that I am adopted, even my very closest friends do not know. As I have got older I have felt the resentment towards my parents grow (my Dad is now dead). And I really don't know how to get passed this. I am not going to speak to my Mum about it as she is nearly 90 now and its just too late for that but I would like to find some kind of peace. I have been diagnosed with a very serious illness, which although currently under control will probably eventually kill me. I recently had lunch with my best friend and we were talking about my funeral and I mentioned how easy it is not to share things with people as most people just don't ask. She joked that when I die she will sit there thinking am I at the right funeral, is this even her? And we both laughed but I guess it really isn't funny. Does anyone have any advice or suggestions.

TywysogesGymraeg Thu 23-Apr-15 13:09:52

I would say that, now that you are older, you can decide for yourself whether or not to tell people you are adopted. Your father has died anyway, and your Mum needn't necessarily know that you've told people.

It's no longer their decision, it's yours. They may not have wanted their friends and family to know they adopted you - years ago there was a bit of a stigma about not being able to have your own kids etc (adopted children were seen as second best, but this is no longer the case).

Telling your own friends would take a lot of pressure off you.

Do you have a partner or children? It would be really useful for them to know, in case the children are ever asked about inherited medical conditions etc.

eightytwenty Thu 23-Apr-15 13:11:25

I wonder how old you are. No advice but my mother was adopted and she wasn't told. It was a family secret that she uncovered when her father died and she found the adoption certificate in his papers. I wonder if it was a generational problem - perhaps more to do with the shame of infertility. My mother has never been able to understand as she did know of other families who had adopted and her aunt to whom she was close wanted to tell her.

Slippersmum Thu 23-Apr-15 13:27:55

I am in my 40s and I guess shame is a good word. On one level I know there is nothing to be ashamed of as an adult but being brought up to keep it as a secret made me feel it was something to be ashamed of. My dh knows and my 4 dcs know. I was determined to tell them and they also know I am unable to tell anyone else. My eldest ds is wonderfully supportive. I have perpetuated the lie as when we visit my birth family (traced them when I was 18) they do not tell my Mum. This probably sound completely ridiculous.

eightytwenty Thu 23-Apr-15 14:28:42

No not at all. Infact I know another family who used to visit family friends who infact were half siblings from a previous marriage. Nothing quite so queer as folk. I'd say respecting your mother and maintaining the deceit is probably ok - especially since she's elderly. However you shouldn't feel ashamed - and it is your 'secret' to tell should you wish to share it with anyone else or not.

eightytwenty Thu 23-Apr-15 14:29:56

I'm sorry about your diagnosis by the way.

YDdraigGoch Thu 23-Apr-15 17:09:33

Do you have one close friend you could share your secret with OP? A trouble shared is a trouble halved and all that. It would probably take such a weight off your shoulders (a weight you may not really know you're carrying).

Springtimemama Thu 23-Apr-15 20:05:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Italiangreyhound Thu 23-Apr-15 21:38:38

Slippersmum I am so sorry you were forced to keep this secret.

I sincerely hope you will get some counselling to help you lay these feelings to rest. It is, as you know, no shame or guilt to be adopted, and I really hope you will fully embrace this whether you choose to tell people or not.

I am so sorry about your illness and hope you will get all the help with this. I know that I know nothing about the illness but having investigated various things in the past on the internet (unrelated, e.g. autism) that sometime the USA has much more information on medical factors and even though some things are handled differently their larger population size and shared language means there is just more 'stuff' on any topic out there! Sorry if that is all too obvious!

Anyway, back to adoption.....

Adoption UK might have some support for adults who were adopted

www.adoptionuk.org/

Your situation touched my heart and while Googling around I also found this....

www.pac-uk.org/our-service/adopted-adults/

You may be able to find a specialist counsellor...

www.pac-uk.org/our-service/adopted-adults/#spec

ans here is something called After Adoption.

www.afteradoption.org.uk/are-you-adopted-adult-or-birth-relative

It may be that most of this is about tracing birth relatives but some may be relevant.

I am not adopted but I am a mum to a child through adoption 9aged 4, a son) and birth child )aged 10, a daughter).

I had counselling for anxiety many years ago and found it very, very helpful and liberating.

Please do tell your friends now, if you wish to, but I really do suggest counselling first.

Your friends may or may not know how to handle the information and may not respond in the way you would like. Either by being too interested or not interested enough .... or perhaps even (I sincerely hope NOT!) resenting the fact you did not tell them sooner! They may also not understand why you chose to abide by your parents wishes and keep it secret or why you choose not to now!

Some of these responses might be totally inappropriate and unhelpful to you and so I think you need to build yourself up before telling people. You also have the illness and the impact of that to consider so please do get some help. I really hope everyone told would behave in the right right way for you.

I really hope whoever you tell feels honoured.

We have told our son it is his news to tell, but just warned him he cannot un-tell it. So at the moment (at 4) we have a mixture of friends who know (because they have known us all for ages) and newer friends who do not. Our son rarely talks about his birth family but we do encourage him to be open with us, if he wants to and we regularly see his foster family, who are very special to him.

Your message has helped me to see that it must be his choice, as he moved through life, (I know this of course but it reminds me JUST how important that is).

If he wishes to tell or not, and who and when. We will do all we can to help him and allow him to make the right choices for him at the right time.

I am so sorry your parents did not (for whatever reason) feel able to do this for you but I hope that whatever happy memories you have of your dad and memories and current time with your mum still mean a lot. My mum is 80 something and has dementia and my father died 10 years ago, so I know that elderly parents are quite hard, sometimes, to deal with anyway!

Bless you.

Italiangreyhound Thu 23-Apr-15 21:42:12

Springtimemama I really hope you are right that No one will think less of you for having kept this secret and not told them before but the Op should be ready that if anyone does every feel that then it is absolutely the other person's problem.

Slippersmum I am not trying to be negative but just saying be to be aware that if anyone does say anything inappropriate then to ensure you do not take on board their thoughts. It is your story to tell and when you tell it is up to you. This has been withheld from you and how you choose to proceed is your right.

Italiangreyhound Thu 23-Apr-15 21:42:51

...ever feel ... not ... every feel...

Springtimemama Thu 23-Apr-15 22:06:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Italiangreyhound Thu 23-Apr-15 23:56:23

Thank you Springtime but in this instance I do hope you are right! smile

Kewcumber Sat 25-Apr-15 15:45:46

Once upon a time most adoptive parents would have been given the advice to ignore the fact that their child was adopted and would have been given very little preparation.

Your parents may have been following the advice they were given, they may have been thinking that it would be better for you to keep it quiet, they might have been trying to "pretend" on their own behalf. It's hard to tell really isn't it as you've never been able to ask them?

One thing I do know is that you as the adopted child really had no choices at the time - no choice about being adopted, no choice about which family you went to, no choice about discussing it openly.

But now you do have choices and you have to work on taking control of those choices. It's quite hard sometimes to take control of your own choices if you have been trained not to. But really they are your choices now.

You can choose to be open about your adoption if you wish, you can choose whom you wish to tell, you can choose to not tell. You can choose to get counselling or just talk to us or to your DH.

The possibilities are endless though you might struggle to take some of them in the absence of permission from your parents. But this is your life and you don't need their permission. They made their choices.

It's your turn now.

Kewcumber Sat 25-Apr-15 15:51:33

they do not tell my Mum. This probably sound completely ridiculous.

Not really - if thats what you want then whats wrong with it? There's no one right way to deal with things like this and in fact what you want to do might change over time and thats fine too.

You might start out being more open with the people closest to you and keep it away from your mother for an easy life (her's or yours), you may find thats enough for you. Or not - you may decide to be more open about your new approach with your mother or you may not.

I teach DS that his adoption isn;t a secret but it is private and that he can therefore chose himself who he discusses it with and it's quite OK not to if he doesn;t want to.

You might find that once you've moved in your head from it being private rather than a secret that you can relax about whether people know or not.

TheWildRumpyPumpus Sat 25-Apr-15 15:53:59

I feel for you, I know how big a part of your life it is, and having to never talk about it must be so difficult.

I am 35 and was adopted at birth. My parents were always very open with us, but were similar in that they didn't want us talking to all and sundry about it. My Mum used to say 'it's not a big deal, people don't want to hear our business'.

As a grown up, with DC of my own, she asked me not to tell them that I'm adopted, as she doesn't want them to think of her as not a 'real grandma'. As it happens, I haven't told them yet, but just because it's not something I talk about a lot.

On the other hand, they've met my birth mother (without knowing who she was), and my Mum doesn't know about it. She knows I have a relationship with my half-brother though.

It's all so bloody complicated! Would rather be open with Mum about it but she says it would 'kill her' if I ever met birth Mum. So we are where we are.

Slippersmum Sun 26-Apr-15 17:21:17

Thank you so much for all your replies. They are incredibly helpful and empathetic. My birth mum asked me if my mum would like to come round to her house TheWildRumpy but just like you she would say it would kill her which is why I don't tell my mum when we see my birth family. KewCumber I couldn't agree more with what you say about choices. And I know I am in this complicated situation because I have made some poor choices over the years. I never wanted to hurt my parents but I have found over recent years I have come to resent the choices they made and as people say they were most likely following the advice given at the time. But really the responsibility lies with me. It feels like I am carrying a heavy bag round with me and I would love to just set it down. I am a bit lost as how to take the first steps really. Does anyone have any suggestions? Have thought when I meet new people just popping it into the conversation then I don't have to get into the complicated back story or do I start with my best friend but I worry because I think in keeping this secret I have lied to her but my relationship with my birth family is very up and down and some support would be great. My birth brother died last year but I haven't told most people and that has been very difficult.

TheWildRumpy I am sorry things are complicated for you but it makes me feel better it's not just me!!!

Yikesivedoneitagain Tue 28-Apr-15 22:13:42

Those are both great ideas. I'm sorry to relate my completely non-similar difficulty to yours, but: when I split up with my husband I felt ashamed to be a young single mum. To take the sting out of telling people i knew, I started casually mentioning it to people i would never meet again, you know, man in a waiting room, shoe shop assistant. I know it sounds a bit strange, but once I had got used to saying it out loud, I felt better sharing it with other people - neighbours, extended family etc.

Reading it back, it does sound bonkers - but I wonder if you've already started your attempts by sharing the fact you were adopted on mumsnet?

Slippersmum Thu 30-Apr-15 17:09:31

I think that is a brilliant idea Yikes! As saying it out loud is really hard so practising saying it is really useful. Not bonkers at all! You are right about sharing it on here it's been really useful and I have decided that I just can't do it. I know it makes my life very complicated and that I feel like I lack courage. It was so drummed into me and I did receive punishments if I didn't stick to it so maybe it just goes too deep. It almost feels a part of me, the lie. Does that make sense? I think with being so ill and having to face my own mortality made me sad as I always thought someday I would be brave enough but I just don't think I am. Its they wrong choice isn't it? hmm

Kewcumber Thu 30-Apr-15 20:12:41

No I don;t think it's the wrong choice.

It's your choice. It isn't to benefit anyone else, it doesn't really affect anyone else whose womb you grew in decades ago. You have told the people closest to you and thats enough for you.

That choice doesn't have to be forever - it can just be for now. And "for now" may end up being forever and that's fine too.

They don't give out medals for telling people private stuff that's outside your comfort zone - at least not last time I looked.

Springtimemama Thu 30-Apr-15 21:01:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Yikesivedoneitagain Thu 30-Apr-15 21:03:32

It sounds like today you don't want to share, and that's completely understandable. You don't need to make a permanent decision, and even if you do, that's your choice.

You must have so much swishing around in your head Slipper, I can't really imagine. Are you getting much support with your health? As in the emotional side of it?

Italiangreyhound Thu 30-Apr-15 22:32:18

Your story and your choice.

RandomMess Thu 30-Apr-15 22:43:07

I am a similar age to you (not adopted) but my Aunt was completely discouraged to adopt by her Mum and Husband as "you don't know where they're from" angry - so clearly your parents had their concerns about how you & they would be treated if people knew.

I would use that knowledge when you talk to people about your adoption - about how your parents struggle with the fact it wasn't seen as a positive thing in your childhood etc. Yes protect your Mum if it's easy but it is your story and you need support from your friends both for being adopted, for being made to keep it a secret and all the complications both things cause.

Sorry to read about your brother & your health flowers

Slippersmum Fri 01-May-15 07:56:44

Your replies made me cry. You lot are so lovely xx

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