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My biological brother has been in touch

(25 Posts)
colourdilemma Thu 09-Feb-17 22:37:58

My father has had a letter from my brother (birth brother? Not sure of correct term and sorry if I have it wrong. He is in his late thirties, I am in my forties and he was adopted when he was a baby and I was very young too. I don't remember him. My parents are hugely excited and have sent me a copy of the letter he sent. I don't know what to think. I am a mess of emotions, some nice and positive, some (I'm sorry to admit) not so much. My parents have asked me to be happy for them. I don't know how I feel. They want to reply in the next couple of days and asked how much info I wanted them to give. I am not trying to shut them down, but I have asked they give only my age, the fact I'm married and the number of children I have. I might choose to give more info later, but at the moment, given that my children don't yet know about this brother at all, I feel caution is the right thing, given the fact that social media is so busy these days.
How should I feel about all this? Is it wrong to feel super cautious? Has anyone been through this? I don't want to dampen my parents' enthusiasm, but this is something I had processed a long time ago and I feel conflicted about it coming at me now, however I might feel later.

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colourdilemma Thu 09-Feb-17 22:41:40

He was adopted, as far as I know, because mum had (still has) huge mental health issues, although I am pretty sure that the situation would be different these days and he might not have been removed, or would have come back to us. To be honest, I have to take everything I'm told with a shovel of salt as my mum in particular is not great at telling things how they were. I don't blame her for that, but it is still true that I can't be totally sure about her version of events.

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socialengineering Thu 09-Feb-17 22:44:49

I'm not sure I follow! Your parents gave him up for adoption as a baby or your adopted?

Are you nervous about his intentions? Guarding yourself so you don't get hurt etc? I understand that, it must be shock and it's human nature to protect oneself.

If it is your parents son, they are happy and now you have your own children can you see it from their point of view?

colourdilemma Thu 09-Feb-17 22:50:47

He was put with foster parents when mum couldn't cope then was considered too old to return when she got well enough again. There was a court battle but the judge ruled against his return to mum and dad.
Absolutely, I can see why they are happy. However, I had a very difficult childhood and difficult relationship with mum particularly, and her behaviour can often be impulsive and erratic. I am fearful that she will leap in and force my hand about contact, when I would like to proceed really slowly. I also fear that she might be unrealistic about what this means.

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colourdilemma Thu 09-Feb-17 22:52:10

Neither my sister nor I were removed, I'm not sure why but perhaps because we were school age?

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Kr1stina Fri 10-Feb-17 10:23:10

I'm sorry I can see why this is a very upsetting situation for you. And yes, it's fine for you to have your own thoughts and feelings about it .

I find it very telling that you parents say that they want you to be happy about it. You are 40 and they are still telling you how to think and feel.

You don't have to be happy. You can be worried and scared and concerned about what this might mean for them and you.

These are all very natural feelings to have .

I'm guessing that you knew what had happened to your brother. How and when did you find out and how do you feel about all that ?

I'm sorry that you had such a difficult childhood .

CrazyCatLaydee123 Fri 10-Feb-17 10:24:33

Take as much time as you need, just because he's ready doesn't mean you are! Are you able to access counselling at all? Perhaps there is an element of... not jealousy as such... but how life could have been different for you if you had been in care too? Whatever it is you need to work through thathe in order to be open to meeting.

OVienna Fri 10-Feb-17 17:05:18

I am wondering whether people have acknowledged that this event was hugely traumatic for you too but YOUR need for processing it has never been addressed.

Would you feel differently if he'd contacted YOU wanting a relationship?

Your parents are saying: feel happy for THEM. When a child leaves a family it isn't all about THEM though is it? It sounds like you and your sister were left to get on with your feelings.

DO I have this wrong?

colourdilemma Fri 10-Feb-17 19:28:37

Thank you so much. You have hit several nails right on the head and made me feel that I'm not bring so selfish or unkind to be feeling, frankly, a combination of upset, jealous, as if once again I'm not in control of what happens to me, and as if my parents have exactly not considered how I might feel, or given me permission to feel how I need to.
I am not a cruel person and I can totally understand that this is everything my parents wanted to happen. I also know that it's important for adopted children to be able to know about their roots.
Thing is, aside from, yes, this weird envy (I know that this is a simplistic, raw feeling and that he will have had much stuff to deal with too) for my brother for not having to come to terms with a childhood with an emotionally difficult father and a mother who has constantly thrown drama at me, pretended (not her fault-she's bipolar and it was the seventies/eighties) that either my father was ill or that she was mother of the year, making it even more difficult to unravel the complexities. I fear (I'm raw-I might get past this) that he will come in, polite and unaware of the mess things have been and wonder why I am so cold and out of touch with this dear old lady who knits and brings sweets (I have struggled with my children discovering her on their own terms, but have managed to tell some of the story, told no untruths, but not clouded my kids view). I fear (again irrationally) that my imperfections will be in sharp contrast to this new/long lost son. I know I could gain a relationship with someone, but I am not sure he will be a brother. I fear that my children will be confused by the whole thing and wonder why this hasn't come up before. My 11 year old knows some of the story, but I have not introduced the idea that I have a brother somewhere and now feel I should have.
A aargh.

In short, none of you have much wrong about this. I have had counselling in the past and addressed quite a lot of stuff, but OVienna, you are spot on when you talk about being left to get on with it. Mum wanted us to have family counselling once, but it was couched in terms of us becoming closer as a family and I had just about got my strategies for coping without them in an emotional sense and it really felt it was, once again, about them. I once threw my phone when dad said that mum wanted a normal mother daughter relationship. Over the years, we have got to the point where I see them every so often, we even go away and have a nice time, but to ask me to have the relationship I have with my mother in law is unrealistic. I can't manufacture wanting to share triumph and disaster with someone who plays loose with confidences. I have good, strong relationships with people I trust and I have, with counselling, understood that there are key people who have filled in the role a mum would play. I know that I am vastly different to mum, but still deeply fear that my mental health struggles will affect my own kids.

God, this runs so deep. I still recall feeling guilty for refusing to hand over a story I wrote, presumably to a social worker, when we had a meeting, I'm guessing to assess whether my brother should be returned or not. Of course, that wouldn't decide things but I wondered at six whether it would have.

Yep-this could and may very well be amazing. But at the moment, I feel very odd about it. I so appreciate your forgiving and kind comments.

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colourdilemma Fri 10-Feb-17 19:33:22

And yes, I think I'd feel differently if it were me he'd contacted. I feel I'm someone about whom he wants information but very much a side player. Although I have his address and phone number because dad copied me the letter (? Not sure that was the right thing to do) I am aware that he wanted to make contact with them not me and so feel if I made co tact I would be responsible if anything I said made contact with my parents less likely/impossible. So I have the ball in my hands/court but the rules say I mustn't throw it even if I want to in case I upset my parents/ him.

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OVienna Fri 10-Feb-17 20:39:57

I didn't want to read your post and run, as they say. I am very happy to keep chatting, even over PM if you'd like.

A few things jump out though:

Thing is, aside from, yes, this weird envy (I know that this is a simplistic, raw feeling and that he will have had much stuff to deal with too) for my brother for not having to come to terms with a childhood with an emotionally difficult father and a mother who has constantly thrown drama at me.. One thing I would say here, is that while you shouldn't feel guilty about feeling like this, chances are he'll have been having his own weird shit to deal with that when, you hear about it, means that this feeling will probably pass quickly. No he wasn't there to deal with your mum with you but it doesn't sound like all of the issues that were there at the time are gone and he'd only be getting 'the good bits.'

I feel I'm someone about whom he wants information but very much a side player. I am sure he's more curious about you guys than you realise; he's probably been dissuaded from contacting you directly by a well-meaning person. Again, don't feel guilty for your reaction, it's just a perspective. The question may be rather what sort of relationship you'd want with him rather than him not being that interested in you.

This is the real big thing though:

* I still recall feeling guilty for refusing to hand over a story I wrote, presumably to a social worker, when we had a meeting, I'm guessing to assess whether my brother should be returned or not. Of course, that wouldn't decide things but I wondered at six whether it would have.*

How are you going to get your head around feeling like you had some role in his going??? I'm worried about this part for you and ensuring you have the right support. The other stuff I think will quickly sort itself out.

OVienna Fri 10-Feb-17 20:43:34

Your parents have asked you, required you, to have adult maturity processing this situation from the get go and that letter makes me think that you took that on board and also felt somehow involved in the administrative process of it all.

You were six! Terrible.

colourdilemma Fri 10-Feb-17 21:07:12

Bless you again for taking the trouble to reply. I don't know that I ever have genuinely felt responsible because of the story; just remember being very sure they weren't having it and a passing guilt rather than something all consuming. i certainly think its a memory rather than a raw unprocessed feeling. the envy of whatever simpler life my brother might have had was definitely an actual feeling rather than a memory of a feeling, if you see what i mean. I feel all sorts of irrational and rational things but I genuinely don't think me having anything to do with him going is one! Phew!
I guess this could all work out well. Thing is, one coping mechanism I have with my family, is to expect very little, even when things are going well. I have a glint of optimism, and when I first got the email, it did cross my mind that I could gain a whole other group of people who are related to me and might be very nice. Then the fears got in the way. I don't want this to go belly up for mum and dad, not actively, but I have this peculiar resistance to them getting to know the real me, or knowing what I feel about things-almost as if they don't deserve it. That is quite deep within-I do it without meaning to and there's a stubbornness about it that makes me feel its not a conscious choice I make to be unkind to her. Is it to weird to say that there's still a bit of child in me that wants to lash out at mum for not being there?
Blimey. Please don't feel any obligation to reply! I might even have confused myself.

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Kr1stina Fri 10-Feb-17 21:29:14

Of course you would be jealous of him. You were just a child and you had a not great childhood that he escaped. You imagined that he was adopted like children in fairy stories or Matilda.

The child in you is allowed to be angry and jealous. And evermore so that he now gets to meet " sweet little old lady " mum, not the one who was far from the worlds greatest mother.

You really REALLY need a safe pace to talk out all these issues. Before you have to deal with your parents gushing about how wonderful it all is. And before you have to tell your own kids something .

Can you go back to the counsellor you saw before, if you liked them ?

BTW you don't have some obligation to trust your mother and talk to her about your feelings . If she's not been trustworthy and helpful by now it's not gong to happen. It's not about your punishing her, it's about self preservation.

You need to talk to someone not involved in all this. If not a counsellor, a good friend, not family.

colourdilemma Fri 10-Feb-17 22:30:38

I will definitely book to see the counsellor I've seen before. I entitled to my own feelings, but I also need to look after my children. I am also starting to feel guilty about not telling them more about our family before now. I think I have put my own embarrassment (not the wrong word-I have felt squeamish about telling even good friends, the absolute kindred spirits, about my brother. I am hugely, hugely resistant to people feing sorry for me.) above their right to know about family. It is never spoken about.

What a mess.

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Kr1stina Fri 10-Feb-17 22:51:12

Please don't feel bad about not telling your kids more, you never thought you would have to, you were only protecting them from difficult issues. Who wants to tell their kids that granny got one of her children taken off her ?

It's difficult and complicated , of course you have avoided telling people.

You are very hard on yourself you know.

Kr1stina Fri 10-Feb-17 22:54:49

And the " rights " here are not straightforward . Your parents and your brother are entitled to some privacy about their past and these are hard issues for adults to come to terms with, let alone kids. Some of this is your story to tell but some of it isn't.

So it's not easy or straightforward. I think that once your have spoken to the counsellor a few times you will be clearer in your own mind.

colourdilemma Fri 10-Feb-17 23:01:03

Are you actually my counsellor?! Much time spent on erm... How hard I am on myself! I suspect it's got a teeny bit to do with me finding it hard to "forgive" my parents for my childhood. I don't forgive them, therefore set myself high standards too. Also, know how hard inadequate parents were, therefore need to be totally adequate (that's perfect!) myself. Guess I lack normal standards of what is required to be good enough, too, so set the bar too high. Anyways. Off on hols tomorrow so can be thoroughly distracted.

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colourdilemma Fri 10-Feb-17 23:04:05

Very helpful point about it not being totally my info/privacy. To complicate things a bit on my attitude towards openness, my kids are donor conceived and have been very clear for the start that all evidence points to openness being the way to go. But you're so right about others' right to privacy.

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colourdilemma Fri 10-Feb-17 23:04:41

Openness with them and sharing with a very few close and trusted others.

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Kr1stina Fri 10-Feb-17 23:10:36

I agree with the openness about your kids past. But that's their and your information.

Stuff about GP and uncles past is more complicated.

So I don't think anyone would blame you for not broaching the subject before now. Although if they are anything like most kids, they won't be that bothered. It's too hard for them to imagine that GP were ever young . I was adopted and my kids show little interest in the subject ( including the adopted ones ).

You need to have a chance to work things out for yourself first. It's very complicated and you need to give yourself some time. It doesn't sound like your brother is rushing anyone .

colourdilemma Fri 10-Feb-17 23:28:07

Gosh-you are so kind to be forgiving of my feelings towards this situation. My kids largely disinterested in donor tbh. I thought they'd be hugely interested, but even the eldest not much. Though when she found out about the usual manner of conception, she was quite clear that she'd be going the donor route! I fear the youngest thinks she was conceived using a donut. Glad that's all out in the open with no misconception (pardon the pun!). Feeling better. Lots to process, but this is okay. Will be, anyway.

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Kr1stina Sat 11-Feb-17 00:04:28

Your feelings are completely normal and understandable. And they don't need forgiven because they are neither right not wrong, they just are.

You mention you have a sister. Are you close to her and do you know what she makes of all this ?

OVienna Wed 22-Feb-17 14:53:09

colour do you have any more thoughts on this?

colourdilemma Thu 23-Feb-17 19:53:44

Loads of thoughts and complicated feelings! Bless my good friend, who I saw today. She's the only one I've told so far and she was amazing, given that I shared how I felt, warts and all. I think I'm feeling pretty angry about it really; two sets of people have (and I get totally that they have need to do this and know more) have once again put me in a situation where something I didn't want opening up has been opened. I can't be truthful with my parents about how I feel; I feel very private about it and don't want to be the bad guy who isn't on board. As much as I am (irrationally) cross, I don't want to be a cow about it.
And again, I feel noone has taken into account how I feel. My dad, who was admittedly amazing when trying to make things work when mum was away in hospital for extended periods, has often told me about how hard it was to work, get care for/look after my sister and me and visit my sister. Never once has anyone acknowledged publicly how this might also have been tough for a six year old girl. Mum in hospital, dad run ragged by visiting her daily an hour's drive away. Me being expected to process all this with noone being honest about what was really wrong with mum. Then my brother going away, noone really talking about it. Essentially, then, even when mum was back, she fed me and clothes me but was essentially 'absent in the room' for long periods. Growing realising we were 'that family' and deciding whether to share stuff with friends or just pretend all was normal.
I feel vastly selfish for all this. My lovely friend was amazing at articulating how she felt for my mum but how she understood how difficult my feelings would be (it was soooo much better put than that!).

I've been having a tricky week amd had a total, utter meltdown on wednesday and I do wonder whether all this, which isn't exactly what I melted over, is having an impact.

My dd's assembly was about the prodigal son the other day and I feel right there with the resentful older son, even though my brother didn't ask to leave, and I haven't exactly been the model dutiful child in his absence.

God, it's so complicated. I know I can choose how much involvement I'd like, but truthfully, it isn't my choice about how it affects my family and I would like it not to be happening. Blackest, nastiest, most horrible thought? Please forgive me for this, because I know it's abhorrent even to think like this (shouldn't expect anything from my parents, shouldn't even suggest that he would even want it, shouldn't begrudge it if it happens) but in my darkest moments with my parents, I take some bleak comfort in their ability to provide financially and to ultimately leave us a legacy. I fear my mum will get carried away and go equal with my birth brother. I will get past this, but at the moment, I feel like a spoilt, petulant child throwing her toys out of the pram. I guess I have more empathy for little kids who find out they're to have a sibling, but you'd hope I'd be more mature in my forties.

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