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Adopted adult

(21 Posts)
SilverandRuby Thu 02-Jun-16 15:59:54

Hi, I hope people don't mind me posting here, but I have noticed that from time to time adopted people come onto these threads. I am one such person. I am active on various other parts of MN but have not posted here before and have namechanged. I hope no-one minds.

I am a married woman with children, now over 50. I found out when I was 14 that the man I thought was my father is not my biological father. I found out when I came across some paperwork by chance, and I knew immediately that it was true, as I had vague memories of various things in my early childhood which then suddenly made sense.

What had happened is that my mother had fallen pregnant when she was very young (18) and had me, and then later she had married the man I had believed to be my father, and he had adopted me.

I never told my parents that I knew, I still have not done so to the present day, they are in their 70s now. I do not intend to ever tell them. There have been some awkward moments over the years, when I was glad I did know or I would have put my foot in it in various ways. (Because I did know, I have been able to head off discussions about hereditary conditions, who takes after whom and so on).

I know my biological father's name, having traced this through the adoption records some years ago. I know where he lives and the names of his wife and children. As I get older I have thought more and more about contacting him before it is too late. But I have always worried about causing upset to someone who may not even be aware that I exist (on the adoption paperwork my mother is recorded as having said that the father had "moved abroad", which was a total lie, he still lives in the same county where he was born and always has done. But my mother, much as I love her, is a serial liar and always has been, so this doesn't surprise me).

I have drafted a letter to him, and I have almost sent it many times but just never felt able to do so. I worry about the consternation it may cause. I tell him in the letter that I am not looking for money or anything else from him, I am a successful professional person with a stable life and family, and I had a very good upbringing and good parents. I am not trying to fill in any holes in my life, just wondering about the other side of my family with curiosity more than anything else. Has anyone got any advice about the letter before I send it?

Thanks very much!

OP’s posts: |
MypocketsarelikeNarnia Thu 02-Jun-16 18:17:30

Hi silver smile Of course no-one minds you posting here. There is a thread for adopted adults somewhere in relationships and that might also be a good place to post for support or to chat with people who might 'get it'.

Regarding your letter it sounds as though you've thought it through a great deal. I wonder whether you've had any support in thinking around what might happen and how you might feel if various scenarios occur - if for example you get no response, or an unpleasant response, or equally how you'd deal with a very welcoming open response. Any of those scenarios might be difficult. What rl support do you have? Of course you can post here too smile

And I feel that you don't have to be too self effacing. I don't know what others think about that I feel you have a right to ask your questions and have them answered. You may not get them answered but you were/are the innocent child in this and your birth parents SHOULD recognise that.

SilverandRuby Fri 03-Jun-16 12:32:42

Thanks for the reply. I have thought about it a lot, over many years, and about the possible responses. I know that, at my age, stage in life and with my outlook, whatever response there is I will be able to deal with it. If he never gets back to me I will just leave it at that, I am not going to let it bother me, I would assume he has good reasons for not replying and would respect that. If I get a negative or unpleasant response I will of course not like it much but I will be fine. A very welcoming response would probably be in many ways the most difficult, in terms of impact on my life, as it would mean meeting new people and there therefore being some change in my life and circle of people.

I can't assume that this chap is going to have any form of "answers" for me, he may not even know I exist! I don't have any expectations. Just curiosity.

OP’s posts: |
Kr1stina Fri 03-Jun-16 19:13:06

Hi, my advice is that before you you make any contact, you talk this through with a counsellor . There are many possible out comes here and ramifications for your husband, children and perhaps your parents too.

I'm not saying don't do it - not at all , but I think it woudl be useful to talk things through first .

JugglingFromHereToThere Fri 03-Jun-16 19:21:35

I think go for it, it might be interesting and helpful to you
and I think it's unlikely to upset anyone else.
Possibly things might come out more into the open I suppose but that might not be a bad thing?

One little thing about your letter I wouldn't put the not wanting financial support too near the beginning. Maybe start with a bit of enthusiasm and curiosity about being in contact and possibly meeting with them? Though maybe start with the contact idea and see how things go?

Good luck!

SilverandRuby Fri 03-Jun-16 19:34:36

Thanks for the replies. I appreciate the concern but I really don't need any counselling, I am not going to be upset by whatever happens and I have thought about this (and talked it over with my husband) for years. I am not going to tell my parents anything so it won't affect them. I have adult stepchildren who I probably won't tell about it either.

The way I have made it clear that I am not after money is indirectly, I have mentioned (in very general terms) what I do for a living, and from that information it will be evident I am going to be financially ok.

OP’s posts: |
Kr1stina Sat 04-Jun-16 08:59:37

i am not going to be upset by whatever happens and I have thought about this (and talked it over with my husband) for years. I am not going to tell my parents anything so it won't affect them. I have adult stepchildren who I probably won't tell about it either

I'm not sure if you have thought through all of the possibilities . Eg what if he decides to contract your mother / his ex ? What if he wants to become involved in your family and meet your husband and your step children ?

What if he wants you to meet his wife and children - they are your half siblings ? What if any of them contact you directly and ask to meet up ?

Have you even considered issues like genetic sexual attraction ?

You seem to be thinking that this is all one way - what you might feel about what he says or how he reacts . I'm afraid it can be more complex than that.

I think your focus on money is quite unusual TBH, it wouldn't occur to most people that the reason for contact might be financial. Is your biological father very wealthy ?

Perhaps you could say more about what advice you actually want ? You have said you want advice on your letter but you've told us little about what you plan to say ( except that you don't want money , you are very successful and you are just curious ) .

SilverandRuby Sat 04-Jun-16 17:39:45

Oh dear I seem to have come across rather wrong, it's nothing to do with money, I was just thinking I wanted to reassure him that I am not popping up out of nowhere after all these years to get anything from him. He's not particularly wealthy, no. I am not trying to say I am very successful either it is just that mentioning what I do will reassure him that I am likely to be stable and secure.

I can't see him wanting to contact my parents, they don't live in this country and I don't know why he would. If he did I would just have to deal with that. My stepchildren don't live with me either (at present anyway) and I can't see them being involved. He is welcome to meet my husband, and my son, if that seems appropriate to him in due course. I am happy to meet his wife and his children if that is what he wanted. Or not, if he didn't. I am not sure what you mean about genetic sexual attraction? Do you mean me being attracted to my half-brother? I am well over 50 and happily married! That's not an issue!
I am just trying to convey to him that I am not looking for anything in particular and if he doesn't want to make contact, or wants only superficial contact, that's fine. I am not going to create any kind of drama in his life.

OP’s posts: |
Kr1stina Sat 04-Jun-16 17:45:11

Well it seems like you have a clear plan of what you want to do . I hope it goes well for you smile

SilverandRuby Sat 04-Jun-16 17:47:01

Maybe you are right though, I don't really know what advice I am looking for if any. I think perhaps I just wanted to tell the story and put a couple of ideas out there...

OP’s posts: |
MypocketsarelikeNarnia Sat 04-Jun-16 18:38:21

I think the thing with genetic sexual attraction is that it could be someone else being attracted - e.g your father to you. It is rare but not unheard of and I think it happened to someone who posts here.

I also think kristina was using it as an example of the kind of extreme emotional fallout that can result from contact. Not to discourage you but to be certain that you've explored all possible outcomes.

Good luck with this op - and please do feel free to come here for support or to vent or whatever you need. :-)

SilverandRuby Sun 05-Jun-16 14:57:05

Thank you. I can't see the sexual attraction thing being an issue, seriously! But do I realise that there could be unforseen emotional consquences, have thought about that for decades, which is why I did nothing about this till now. But now, with everyone ageing, if I don't make contact it may become too late, and that, for me, although would not be a disaster, seems a shame. That thought has started to outweigh the concern about rocking the boat, I guess.

OP’s posts: |
SilverandRuby Sun 05-Jun-16 15:07:15

Can I just ask whether anyone has any opinion about this letter I have drafted?:

This letter is likely to come as a surprise, or even a shock, to you and I am sorry if it does. I will tell you immediately what this is about. I was adopted in 19xx and on the adoption papers you are named as my biological father.

I was born in X-town in 19xx, my mother’s name then was XX. I was brought up by her and her husband, whom she married in 19xx and who adopted me. My mother has never been able to speak to me about this issue and so I have not been told anything about my biological father, only finding out the name through accessing the adoption papers.

I grew up in a stable family, and have good parents. If you are indeed my biological father, I am not looking for anything from you. I am a [profession], and have a settled life and my own family. I am just writing to see whether you would be agreeable to having contact with me. I have thought about contacting you for a number of years, but it was after my son was born x years ago, and especially after my fiftieth birthday x years ago, that I began to think more about it, simply out of interest and curiosity about my genealogical background and my family. I realise that this may not be easy for you and that is why it has taken me so long to write this letter.

I do not want to cause any upset. I realise that there is a chance that, even if you are my biological father, you don’t even know that I exist. You may decide that you do not wish to contact me. If I don’t hear from you I will not try to contact you again, but I do wish you well.

OP’s posts: |
Kr1stina Sun 05-Jun-16 16:41:52

Well you are looking for something from him, so I'd take out that bit .

Because you go on to say that You want information about him and, I assume , the circumstances surrounding your conception . And about his family . And you want to meet him .

So that's quite a lot .

What will you do if he writes back and says he's not your father, but in fact he is and he is lying ? You have been lied to all your life by your mother - how will you know and how will it feel ?

Or what if he is telling the truth ? After all, the only reason you think he is is that your mother gave his name to social services at the time of your adoption, so years after you were born .

Sometimes women lie about these things because the bio father was married and they are protecting him . Or because they don't want him to be contacted by SS, so they give the false name of someone who has gone aboard , can't be found etc . Or because it's a member of their family or person in authority ( teacher, priest ) who might be in trouble.

And your say that your mother lies all the time , so how can you trust what she has told SS?

If you're don't hear back from him, will you feel sure he is the right person ?

My aunt was adopted, she was born to a young single woman and some intermediary ( probably a doctor or a priest / vicar ) arranged for her child to be adopted by a local couple . When the baby was born , the man ( of the couple ) went along with the young woman and registered himself as the father , then he and his wife raised the baby. So no need for any legal adoption .

I only mention this because I can see these are some of the complications you may not have thought of. And they are much more common than you think .

What will you do if you discover that there was some coercion or abuse involved in his relationship with your mother ? Or that there was no relationship as all and he was a one night stand ?

How will you feel if you get an abusive or threatening response from him, a member of his family or even his solicitor ?

I know your have dismissed counselling , but I strongly urge you to think again . You strike me as someone who is very clear and organised and believe that you are in control of this all . That you have thought through all the options and consequences .

But it's not always that simple and you can't control for other people Or even your own feelings . Even a couple of sessions with an experienced counsellor might help you feel better prepared . It's not an admission of weakness you know !

SilverandRuby Sun 05-Jun-16 17:47:13

OK thanks for that very thoughtful reply! I am pretty sure (obviously not 100%) he is the right person because of the papers that I found as a child (personal stuff of my mother's) which completely agree, regarding his exact name, with the official documents I tracked down many years later. (I would not believe it otherwise, my mother is absolutely perfectly capable of having lied to the authorities about who it was).

But I do agree there is a fair chance that he will say he isn't the right person, even if he is and he knows he is, and I will accept that. That may be the only thing he feels he can do, and if that's the case, OK, I respect that.

I am not sure why he or his family would threaten me, I have said I am not after anything and that I won't try to contact him again if he doesn't want to make contact.

I don't want any information from him unless he wants to give it. In fact I don't really care particularly about the circumstances around the conception, I presume it was just a short-lived teenage romance (they were both 18). She knew his full name including his middle name so I think it was probably more than just a one night stand, but either way, I don't really care about that.

The only thing I really hoped for from this (and if I don't get it, well, that will be OK, I don't need it, it would just be interesting) is a little knowledge about my family and genetic background. The same way people like to research their family trees to see who their ancestors were. I know loads about my mother's family, lots of interesting characters and stories. It would just be quite interesting to know a bit about the other side. (Family medical history is of course also potentially interesting and useful, I already know that this chap's father, so my probable grandfather, is still alive at 102, so that's good to know!).

I don't see counselling as admitting weakness! Without giving away too much about myself, I can say that the job I do means that I am very familiar with counselling and therapy. And have been in various forms of therapy myself, for various reasons, both personal and professional. And yes, I take your point, OK, I may well look into some appropriate support if he does get back to me, whether it is a positive or negative experience.

I actually did contact an organisation called After Adoption, but they never bothered to reply. Maybe I will try PAC-UK, which seems to offer some support services. There you go, I am taking your advice! Thanks for taking the time and effort to give your thoughts!

OP’s posts: |
SilverandRuby Sun 05-Jun-16 17:54:16

PS I did not say I wanted to meet him in the letter, I just asked if he would be agreeable to contact. That could be email, or a letter, it doesn't mean meeting (unless he wanted to). I was careful not to say anything about meeting.

OP’s posts: |
JugglingFromHereToThere Sun 05-Jun-16 18:43:28

I think my only remaining advice having read your draft would be to consider making it just a little more open and positive. He may be pleased to hear from you and/or learn that he has a daughter. He may feel similarly interested and positive about it as you do.
So I'd try to make gentle connections where you can .... one thing I noticed was where you said "only finding out the name" whereas you could say "only finding out your name"
That sort of thing!
Hope you'll post an update later, and tell us how it all goes!

Offredalba Sun 05-Jun-16 18:48:15

Hello Silver,
I have actually received a letter like yours, and I think that you have done it really well. The one that I received from my son ended on a humorous note, which was something that made him sound very much like the son that I raised. So I think that any letter that you write that sounds authentically like you, is most likely to be one that resonates.

The only line that jumped out at me was:

I am just writing to see whether you would be agreeable to having contact with me.

I think that it could sound as if you have a preconceived notion of where you might fit into his life and you have no way of knowing whether that might be difficult for him for any reason.

What about.....
Whether you would be interested in hearing about me or having contact.....

I understand what the ladies are saying about being prepared for an emotional earthquake. The losses that are experienced may never have been acknowledged or recognised and when the feelings surface, they can be overwhelming. However, most people who reunite feel that it was worthwhile even if it doesn't progress into a long term warm relationship.
I did go to counselling and it was extremely poor. My son had a similar experience. The best thing that I did was to read and talk to other mothers. I can recommend the Evelyn Robinson books on adoption reunion. They are available on kindle.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do. flowers

SilverandRuby Mon 06-Jun-16 09:04:11

Thank you offredalba that is helpful.

OP’s posts: |
SilverandRuby Mon 06-Jun-16 09:05:08

I said "the name" because to say "your name" semed to be making the assumption that he is definitely the right person. But I take the point, thanks.

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JugglingFromHereToThere Mon 06-Jun-16 10:00:34

Fair enough Silver. I just think it's OK to let a bit of enthusiasm out about it all? That might be nice to hear if you were the biological father of someone?

I like the bit where you talk about how since having your son and recently turning 50 you've got more interested in family history. I feel the same on that, as I'm sure many people do.

So, you could start with a general intro about yourself paragraph, maybe including that bit about becoming interested in family history? Then second paragraph with the big reveal and question of whether he'd be interested in contact?

The way you've drafted it is perfectly fine, I just wondered if my alternative might read more easily and gently - easing into the idea just a little?

Just a thought! Good luck with it all!

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