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Contact with birth family - advice please (a bit long!)

(66 Posts)
ScotsBird Sat 13-Oct-07 15:41:01

Hi all, apologies in advance if this rambles a bit. I am a regular on mumsnet but am a reader rather than a poster so might not have the knack of efficient posting.

Anyway, I am 34 and have always known I was adopted (my birth parents were just 16 when I was born). Great relationship with mum (adoptive) and adopted sister and mum always made sure we knew that she was happy for us to trace. So, in August this year I got hold of my original birth cert and sent a message to my birth mother after finding her on t'internet. Anyhow, turns out she and my birth father are still together, been married for 28 years and have two daughters. We have communicated loads by email and have met up (I live in south england and they live in scotland so it was not hugely simple to organise) - meeting was really positive and we all got on great.

However, my mum is gutted and is really struggling with feelings of rejection and jealousy (despite my reassurances that I am not seeking an alternative family and that I still love and regard her as my mum). She is very gracious about it though, and wants me to do what is best for me. Other issue is that birth parents never told their daughters (17 and 21 yrs) about the child they had adopted and they say now that they need to tell them, and how do I feel about the girls wanting to be part of mine and my family's lives. Feels like they are waiting for me to give them the green light to tell their daughters. I have told them that I am happy for them to tell or to keep it a secret, as I don't want to feel the responsibility for their daughters taking it badly and it causing a potential family rift.

I talked to dh last night and he said that I am the one holding all the cards cos any decisions I make will affect everyone else's lives. I don't know what to do for the best.

Should I completely embrace my birth parents and my birth sisters into my family (dh, dd (4)and ds (20mths)) and risk hurting my mum, or just back off, "remember where my loyalties lie" and maintain an email relationship with birth parents at a safe distance?

Well done if you have got to the end of this! Thoughts from anyone gratefully received.
thanks in advance

Nightynight Sat 13-Oct-07 16:03:16

What a fascinating story!
I would go for openness all round. The risk is, that your mother would never recover from her feelings of rejection. But most people do get over most things, given love and time.
If you back off, you risk undercurrents carrying on for years. eg your sisters will find out eventually. your children will find out they've got other relatives. your mother still may feel hurt and hide it. you yourself may feel that you missed an opportunity.

BellaBear Sat 13-Oct-07 16:08:24

Given that I am never going to be in this situation, I would go for the openness route for the same reasons as nightynight - it would be harder to deal with in the future if it all came out then and hopefully for your mum, time will help with her feelings. Obviously it is a lot easier to say when it doesn't affect you! Good luck with whatever you do!

roisin Sat 13-Oct-07 16:14:28

It's a situation very close to my heart, as I had a son adopted at birth 18 years ago, and hope one day he will choose to get in touch. (My boys 8 and 10 have 'always' known about him btw.)

However despite that I think I would urge caution upon you. Given that you only got the birth certificate in August, things are moving very fast. If you had made contact through a counselling service they would have encouraged you to take things far more slowly and gently.

I do think you should be giving your mum more time to come to terms with it all.

ScotsBird Sat 13-Oct-07 17:39:38

Thank you for your replies - they are really helpful.

NN and BB I am veering towards the openness route as I think that the longer this situation goes on in secret (with birth parents' daughters) the worse it will be when it (inevitably) comes out.

Roisin, I made a conscious choice not to go down the pre-counselling route (also it's not a requirement in scotland) as I have a good awareness and insight about how to deal with these situations initially (through my work). I have been very measured about the contact, ensuring that the three of us were comfortable at every stage of initial contact. My mum is very philosophical though, and knows that she will always be my mum, iyswim. I did talk to her about it beforehand and she was (and is) fully aware of everything that goes on with the situation.

It is interesting to hear that you told your boys from the start - I feel that this kind of openness is very healthy. I hope you get the contact you want at some point.

Thanks all. Much appreciated.

ib Sat 13-Oct-07 19:19:32

Your posts sound very loving and focused on everyone else's feelings - but what do you want? Do you want your sisters in your life?

I think everyone else can (and should) adapt to what you need to resolve your past - after all this really is all about you imo.

Kewcumber Sun 14-Oct-07 20:14:38

Hi Scotsbird, my ds was adopted though he's too young at the moment to have any isues for me to deal with (he's not yet two). I can only tell you what I would feel as his mum if he wanted contact with his birth mother.

I would encourage him 100% if thats what he wanted no matter that I probably would feel slightly anxious about it (which I think is pretty normal). It is his right to have whatever kind of relationship he wants with his birth family and it is not for either them or me to dictate what should or shouldn;t happen. We all had choices about his adoption and he didn't. We all owe him the right for his life to develop in the way he wants it to.

In much more long winded way, I'm agreeing with ib - what do you want.

btw, I really don;t think that your b-mum should be telling you to make the decision of whether her girls are told. That is her and her partners choice and I think you probably need to say that to her very clearly.

If your mum loves you as much as I do DS (and it sounds like she does) she truly does want you to be happy, so you should do what makes you happy. I think it wouldn't be a bad thing to tell her (if you haven't already) that you love the fact that despite it hurting her that she is prepared to support you and that you need some time to weigh up the curiousity about your birth family against your desire to protect her.

I wish you luck.

Kewcumber Sun 14-Oct-07 20:15:35

and I agree with roisin - there's no hurry is there? You can mull things over for a little while.

wideload Sun 14-Oct-07 21:05:59

I love Kewcumber, she is always so thoughtful and forthright with her posts. I agree you need to have a long conversation with your mam. I am sure if you was in her situation you would long for your child to have contact with her birth family but, be very nervous and jealous to, I think it would be a truly remarkable person who wasn't, so I say again do what kew says and include her .. which I am sure you have.
As it happens, my dniece's bio father did a runner when she was 19 months, she and her mam had gone to do the weekly food shop and he just disappeared, he never contacted her again, he never paid maintenece even with the csa involved. He wrote a letter when the csa finally traced him 2 weeks before her 18th, shocking really and wants to be a major part of her life, even now 9 months later dn is so traumatised that she only saw him the once, but he sends weekly letters ... now. He had married on her 2nd birthday to someone he had met 3 months earlier! He hadn't told his wife or kids anything and his parents had colluded too keep her a secret angry he wants her to tell them who she is ... I'll not go any further as it makes me mad.
Except to say, had you thought about going for counselling for just you and your mam.

Kewcumber Mon 15-Oct-07 09:22:43

OOh I have a fan! Does forthright mean mouthy?!

wideload Mon 15-Oct-07 10:00:14

na kew, course not, I always thought forthright ment direct and to the point. I like you, I'm just not a big fan of the scarletts I prefer the quinns!

Scotbird have you thought any more on your options, You know the more I think about it the more I feel your birth family copped out a bit by never telling their younger girls about you, society has changed so much in the last 30 years that it should not be taboo anymore. I can't understand them not having said anything at all and I think they are still coping out a bit by insuating that the descion to tell their girls should be yours. Not very parenty is it really. sorry.

ScotsBird Mon 15-Oct-07 19:27:17

Hi All, great to hear from so many more of you - different opinions really help to put things into perspective. As I said before I really appreciate your time over this ...

KC, my birthparents arent strictly asking me to make the decision about whether they should tell their daughters, but I think its more to do with the fact that they dont want to tell them about me if I have no intention of letting the girls into my life in some way. I have made very clear to b-parents that I am not responsible for their decision. I have also made it very clear to my mum that it is very much a testament to her great parenting that I am feeling so emotionally stable about this now - she is in no doubt how I feel about her. It's good to hear from someone in the same situation as mum.

WL I agree about them not having told the girls before now ... Its probably not the way I would have done it, but ....

What an awful thing for your niece - her dad doesn't sound like the nicest person in the world.

Thank you all again, you have given me much food for thought and confirmed some of my feelings on this.

Kewcumber Mon 15-Oct-07 19:57:12

it sounds like like you're handling it well given the circumstances. I think its a bit odd to only tell your half sisters if you're going to be part of their life. Like if you decide not to them you don't exist!

Good luck - do let us know how you get on.

Wideload - were you formerly known as BGD?

sKerryMum Mon 15-Oct-07 20:04:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sKerryMum Mon 15-Oct-07 20:05:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fizzbuzz Mon 15-Oct-07 21:04:05

I'm adopted. My adoptive mum also encouraged me to find my BM.

However when I did, she immediately felt like your mum, and as an adopted child this puts you in a fairly horrid situation.

My adoptive mum was my mum, not bm. However I felt angry, that what most people know automatically carried such a huge burde of guilt for me.

I didn't keep in contact with my bm as she lives in Canada, and was a bit too possesive, which made me feel completely smothered.

I know exactly how you feel, and don't have any answers for you. i reassured my mum, that she was by mum, and bm was just a vessel, but it was a very difficult situation. Hoope it works out for you

23balloons Mon 15-Oct-07 21:32:05

Scotsbird I too am adopted and on tracing my bm discovered that she was married to my bf and had gone on to have 4 more children (all boys).

Unfortunately my adoptive parents never once told me I was adopted and kept it a secret from me (although I actually found out when I was 11 by overhearing a conversation). I knew they felt unable to talk about me being adopted and this made me feel unable to mention it to them so when I went to Uni I traced my birth parents without telling anybody mainly because I just wanted to know who they were and who I was. It was a very stressful and emotional time for me and led me to practically having a nervous breakdown from the stress of all the secrecy so I finally told my family a year or so after tracing my birth parents. By that point I no longer cared what the consequences were.

It did turn out well for me in the end though as I have now enjoyed an 18 year relationship to my natural family and my children know them as grandparents and my brothers as Uncles etc. My adoptive family are also very close to me and I have separate relationships with each family.

I am glad you seem so together about it all. I am content with my situation now but there is not a day goes by that I don't wish I had never been given up.

I wish you luck and I agree with another poster who said it is really what is best for you and your family that counts now as all the others made their decisions when you were born and you had no choice in the situation.

ScotsBird Tue 16-Oct-07 22:16:59

Thank you for all your stories - they are really so interesting to hear. Adoption is such a fraught area, isnt it?

sKMum - yes, have a younger adopted sister, and this is another part of the problem. My mum keeps saying that all this will be upsetting her (my sis) but this has a distinct feeling of projection (iyswim). Oh, I dont know.

fizzbuzz, interesting that you refer to your bm as a "vessel" - I had never really thought of it like that before. My bm doesnt seem possessive or anything like that, but it was really weird when we met and she touched my hair (to feel whether it was the same texture as my b sisters').

23balloons - I suppose the outcome that you have achieved is the same as the one I hope to achieve, but how do you get the balance right and keep everyone happy? I am glad I havent had to keep it all secret, although I have to rein in any excitement from my mum and appear to be really measured about it.

The story has changed a little since I first posted - they have told the girls about me and apparently they were really shocked (but in a good way as they thought their parents had sat them down to tell them they were divorcing!). They are very curious about me and my life and I reckon I will be hearing from them soon ... not definite, but a feeling I have in my water ....

Anyway, if any of you have got to the end of my ramblings then well done ... it is nice to just type and let thoughts flow out.

Rosa2 Tue 16-Oct-07 23:23:44

I would definately go for the openess route. I was adopted over 36 years ago when I was just a few weeks old. Around 6 weeks ago I suddenly had a letter from an adoption charity letting me know that my birth family wish to get in touch. I happily received a letter from my BM and one of my Birth Sisters and wrote back to them(all done through the charity). In this time I hadn't found the right time to tell my adoptive parents. I eventually told them this week and got the shock of my life. They are very happy and excited for me. My mum is well and truly over the moon for me.
Today I received more letters and have swapped email addresses with some of my birth siblings(there are a few. lol). I have kept my mum informed of this and chatted to her about it.
So I really think it's important to be open. I was petrified my parents would be so upset, and was nicely surprised.
Deep down, your adoptive parents will have known that one day all this could happen. It will still be a shock to them now it has, but they will adjust. Keep on reassuring them that THEY are your parents and always will be.
It is horrible to feel like piggy in the middle. Thats how I felt at first. But it is your life and future, and you need to do what is right for you.
Good luck and as we are going through the same thing at the same time, I am hear if you want to chat.


wideload Tue 16-Oct-07 23:47:38

Kew, I have been many many names, I am a serial name changer, but, I have never been BGD or for that fact anything begining with a B. Lol.

You are a remarkable woman Scots bird, it must be so obvious to you and your sister that your mam is so scared because you have found your bfamily, and she is worried that she will go from two 'little girls' too none. The way I see it is your mam adopted you with the thoughts that you would never be able to trace your bfamily, as it was never on the cards that tracing was an option 30 years ago. When tracing became an option, she got scared but pushed it to the back of her mind as something that would more than likely happen in years to come, and she would be a brave and supprotive mam, but she still pushed it away. Then you tell her you are going to trace probably 15 years after she excepcted you too, it must of been a hell of a shock. (BTW I am not saying you dropped the news in a bombshell sort of way, I am saying thought hat even if you eased into this with your mam it would of felt that way to her!) Especially if your child gets to 30 and has never mentioned it before then, bang gives you a fait au compli, it must be so hard, such a shock, give her time and maybe go to joint councelling. What is true though, is, everyone had a choice except you, and your sister and birth sibs in this matter.
With your work have you come across any mam's that feel like your mam does, I wonder if there are any support groups that could help her.
Cor, I do ramble on.

oops Tue 16-Oct-07 23:49:03

Message withdrawn

RosaTransylvania Wed 17-Oct-07 00:14:00

Scotsbird - I too am adopted and have traced my birth mum. I met her and liked her very much and we exchanged letters and spoke on the phone quite regularly for a couple of years. However, I stopped contacting her about two years ago because she clearly would like to meet my children (her grandchildren) and be involved in our lives to some extent, and I could see no way of doing that without hurting my adoptive mum really badly. However a few months ago I finally managed to tell my adoptive mother that I had traced my birth mother. Like yours, she is not at all happy about it and now I feel worse than ever as I feel I have let down both of them.
I really advise you to take it slowly, I rushed into contact with my birth mum and now I have hurt her, hurt my adoptive mum and I feel crap about the whole thing - and also slightly like a juicy bone being squabbled over by two hungry dogs.
Sometimes I really hate being adopted.

23balloons Wed 17-Oct-07 17:53:27

RosaT that is a terrible situation to be in. It is really unfair of your Mum to make you feel that way. I hope you find a way to work it out as its not your fault you were adopted.

Kewcumber Wed 17-Oct-07 20:27:19

you haven't let anyone down Rosa even if you feel that way. Realistically both "mothers" will have considered the possibility of you having birth parent contact and lets me honest you didn't have any choices at the time so I think it's probably your turn now.

Obviously it isn't that simple as you woul obviously prefer not to hurt anyone but ultimately this is your life and you need to do what feels right for you. It may take a litle time yet, 2 years is no time at all really with such an emotive issue.

I hope that when time lends a little distance you can get a resolution that works for you.

fizzbuzz Wed 17-Oct-07 21:34:06

Rosatransylvania, that is EXACTLY how I feel. My bm had no other children, and went mad for my ds. I had to choose to back out, as I knew it would just upset my adoptive mum.

The guilt and pain were just too much to carry on behalf of my adoptive mum. I felt resentful and annoyed rather than angry.

I think it is one of those situations that seem quite clear, until you are involved in it. Then when emotions become involved it is very hard.

Also when I was adopted there was no contact between any people involved, and at the time (in the 60's) it was expected to stay that way. So as times moved on, and it became a more open situation, people who adopted children at that time didn't find it that easy to move on with the open aspect of it all

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