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Helping my friend trace her birth-mother....

(22 Posts)
beanieb Mon 28-Jul-08 19:19:22

My friend was adopted in 1970 as a baby and her adoptive parents have recently both died. She has looked into tracing her birth mother in the past but now both her parents are dead she is hoping to do it properly.

She told me this week that her case notes say her birth-mother was raped and she gave up my friend because of pressure from her dad.

However my friend also says that the social worker she has been in touch with has told her that she doesn't really believe the rape story. Now I don't know why the social worker thinks this and my mum who is a social worker says unless it's the same social worker who was involved in the adoption then it's not really an appropriate thing to suggest.

Anyway - I don't know the ins and outs of it all but my friend is insisting that the story is false, she seems very bitter towards her birth-mum and says 'I want to go and find her to find out what the truth is and to see who I look like' - my fear is that if she looks like her birth-father it could cause all sorts of grief.

I have access to the electoral register so said I could help her out but am wary of doing this because I am not sure she should be doing it this way. Surely she should receive some counselling?

Does anyone know if this really is the kind of thing a social worker could or should know and do you think I should offer the help I can, or maybe try to talk to her some more about how she should best handle the situation if she does track her down?

MrsTiddles Mon 28-Jul-08 20:24:44

Because she was born before 1976 she would be advised to have councelling before making contact. This is because all the mothers who gave up their babies pre-76 were told that they would never be contacted by them or be able to trace them. Then the law changed.

But it also sounds like quite a strongly emotional situation, beyond the usual adoption scenario. And I'm not a professional but she does sound like she could do with talking to the professionals first.

Norcap as I've mentioned on a thread here before were tremendously helpful to me regarding my DH. We didn't subscribe to them or use their trace and contact services but they gave me some very solid and thoughtful advice over the phone.

sandy4 Mon 28-Jul-08 20:30:16

I think you should try to persuade her to seek counselling.

You sound like a very good friend which is what she will need if she decides to continue with the search.

Be prepared for the situation to be very stressful for her and for you. I don't think it was appropriate for the social worker to say that.

I think you should talk to your friend about it & try & get some more information if possible. The info I recieved when I first started my search was very muddled & confusing. good luck.

KristinaM Mon 28-Jul-08 21:02:50

It it were my friend I would strongly advise her to use an agency like NORCAP. Although her local social services have a legal duty to help adoptees who are searching, they often have very little experience or training and can make very unhelpful commenst & assumptions

what your mother said is correct - unless teh Sw was involved she cannot possibly know if what is in the notes is correct. sadly social work notes are very often extremely inaccurate and full of the personal unsupported opinion of workers angry

the worker may be guessing that teh birth mother DID know the identity of the Bf and that it was a consensual relataionship, but she said that she was raped, to protect him or to avoid her parenst anger. But that woudl just be her guess

its easy to forget that there used to be a lot of stigma towards single women who got pg, even in 1970, particularly in certain communities.your friend's birth mother was in a very difficult situation, espcieally without the support of her family sad

i think the best way to help her is to support her through this search process. she may feel angry and bitter, but thats OK and she just needs time and support to work it all through

you sound like a very good friend to her smile

sandy4 Mon 28-Jul-08 21:15:05

yes, norcap have loads of useful info. i was told to prepare for the worst - my mother could have been a prostitute & my father her pimp shock. (not very helpful & wasn't the truth)

KristinaM Mon 28-Jul-08 21:21:53

sandy4 - i think their comment is also a bit lacking in undertanding...many women turn to prostitution to support a habit. they are not bad people, just desperate.

sandy4 Mon 28-Jul-08 21:27:16

I know, KristinaM. I would never think anyone who has to turn to prostitution is a bad person.

sandy4 Mon 28-Jul-08 21:31:16

I think it was used as a shock tactic when I decided to trace my birth parents. I also think it was an assumption that was made (wrongly) as my birth mum was catholic & birth dad black. I didn't find it very helpful.

KristinaM Mon 28-Jul-08 21:36:46

??? sounds bonkers to me???

what - do Catholic women never have black boyfriends? Or are black people never catholic???? hmm

oh dear, i wonder what planet these people are living on angry

sandy4 Mon 28-Jul-08 21:56:30

i think in my case it was probably a racist assumption. but hopefully the op's friend will find that opinions have changed.

beanieb Mon 28-Jul-08 21:56:50

Thanks for the advice.

All I know about her birth religion/culture is that hr birth mother said she should not be raised catholic. I can read all sorts into that but really don't know why.

So do mothers who put their children up before '76 have the right to make it known that they do want to make contact if their child decides to try and trace them?

beanieb Mon 28-Jul-08 21:58:50

oh - and I am sure that my friend knows more than she has told me.

I guess I am worried about how to counsel my friend or at least make sure she knows there's help out there.

KristinaM Mon 28-Jul-08 21:59:49

yes, they can contact the placing agency and ask for a note to go on the file

or they can register with teh relevant adoption contact register

sandy4 Mon 28-Jul-08 22:02:27

My birth mother said the same about my religion, even though she was catholic she didn't want me to be. i can't understand that either. but do know i was brought up in an anti-catholic community.

I don't think it's the case of the birth mothers not wanting to make any contact, i think it was the law adoption wise (i was adopted in 1971).

KristinaM Mon 28-Jul-08 22:03:13

i think you would be best to just give her space to talk out her feelings . searching is very emotional and often traumatic

its fine for her to be bitter / angry / confused/ scared etc. a listening friend can encourage her to think things through carefully before making any decisions

sandy4 Mon 28-Jul-08 22:05:43

as regards to counselling your friend - sometimes it's good to know that there is someone there on neutral territory.

KristinaM Mon 28-Jul-08 22:06:41

i suspect sandy that some women who were raised catholic were persuaded / pressurised to relinquish their babies because of their family's and community's beliefs. So they might feel bitter and not want their child to be raised the same way

also there is perhaps more prejudice against adopteees in some religious groups

beanieb Tue 29-Jul-08 07:38:45

This is one thing I have thought, that her mum was Catholic and hated her religion. Could equally be that her mum was very strongly protestant (I think there are links to Scotland) and so didn't want her to be raised Catholic. Thanks for all your advice smile

I think I will ask if she has had full access to her files and if there's any indication that her birth mum wants her to make contact, and also find out more about the rape story and what the social worker has said. She's very headstrong, my friend, and sometimes a little bitter about her birth-mum. at the moment it's not as if she is trying to replace her family but more that she wants to confront her birth family sad

kiltycoldbum Tue 29-Jul-08 07:46:42

my mum had a child adopted 35yrs ago, he is a "full brother" he was adopted as my father was an abusive shit. he traced my mum only for us to discover after 35 years and much moving around the country on both families part that he was now living (totally coincidentally!) in the same town as us (and none of us knew!) not only that he was living round the corner from my old school and was marrying the sister of one of my good mates from school! shock and we all knew the same people etc not only that but i had temped as the receptionist for the company he was working for so he would have been walking past me everyday with neither of us knowing!!

hows that for weirdly spooky and strange.

Christie Tue 29-Jul-08 08:23:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KristinaM Wed 30-Jul-08 01:05:57

I can understand why your friend might feel bitter or angry. She was probably told an " adoption story" by her adoptive parents when she was a child and thats been part of her identity for her whole life.

many adoptees feel that its part of the " deal" with their parenst that they accept this story, even when it often seems nonsensical

eg your birth mother gave you up because she loved you and she wanted you to have a better life / a mum and dad

eg you should be grateful you have such a good home

These adoption myths are very prevalent in our culture and indeed you will often see them mentioned here on Mn ( i shoudl add, not usually by adoptive parents!)

Now someone has suggested to your friend that her story may not be true or is only partly true. So she doesn't know " who she is" anymore. And her parenst are dead and she has no way of checking out the story. Perhaps she is still grieving for them, if they have died within the past few years

Although part of her is a mature woman in her 30s, part of her is still a little child who has now been abandoned by FOUR parents.

No wonder she wants to find out the "truth" sad

Christie Wed 30-Jul-08 09:11:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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