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Advice re. contacting birth family please...

16 replies

Pachooka · 06/07/2020 11:29

Dh (50) was adopted at birth, his birth siblings weren’t.

He finally decided he was ready to try and contact his birth family.

We found that his birth sister was searching for him via an adoption website so joined, were matched with her and received her details.

Dh asked me to contact her initially. Her email address was old as the message bounced back and we didn’t want to send a letter incase she’d moved and we wouldn’t know whether she’d received it.

We had a phone number so I sent her a brief message. She simply replied confirming it was her and didn’t reply when asked if we could call.

We left it for a week and didn’t hear anything. Dh was upset and felt rejected again. I sent her a longer text saying what we’d said in the initial email.

She replied saying she didn’t believe I was who I said I was and asked me to send photos of DH which I did. She then said she thought he wasn’t the right person because the details didn’t match up (what he’d been told about his birth family). His birth name is unusual and the date of birth is exactly the same and from the same place so it is definitely the right family.

She then said she’d like to talk to DH and asked he called her at a certain time that day. She also sent a photo of her mother saying there was no resemblance between her and DH.

The whole thing is really weird. Dh is planning to call today as didn’t feel ready yesterday.

Is this a normal reaction?

OP posts:
sunshineandskyscrapers · 06/07/2020 12:03

What's normal? There are so many personality types out there and people deal with things in different ways. The situation will be a very emotive one for BM, who is presumably around 70 now and has probably spent the best part of her life pushing those feelings to the back of her mind to get on with her life.

If you have seen Long Lost Family, and noted that there tends to be a fairy tale ending just keep in mind that they only show cases where all parties are open to reunion and consent to filming. Even in these very successful cases I am sure there are difficult conversations we don't see and a team of professionals to smooth things over. So I'd be wary of trying to hold your husband's family to that kind of high standard. In fact I'd try to avoid any comparisons at all and try to deal with the situation as you find it.

Good luck. I hope your husband gets on well with the call.

sunshineandskyscrapers · 06/07/2020 12:08

Sorry, I just reread and I see now this is his sister and not birth mother. It does sound like she's being a bit strange and perhaps overly cautious, especially since she was doing the searching. I hope it goes well.

Pachooka · 06/07/2020 13:04

Thank you 💐

Yes we both feel it’s strange but obviously have no comparative experience. It does seem strange that she was searching for him and now seems almost reluctant to allow him to contact his birth family.

OP posts:
Ted27 · 06/07/2020 13:48

There really is no right or normal reaction in this situation. There are so many complex emotions at play, circumstances about which you know nothing. Add in the pandemic and many, many people are feeling the strain now.

I replied on your thread last week. You thought it strange that she didnt reply straight away, but your DH didnt call when she requested it. She might think that's strange as you have been pushing for contact and then he didnt call.

You really do need to give her time to process it. I think both you and your husband will get through this better if you stop expecting people to respond in a particular way or within a certain timeframe.

I hope the call goes well, but your DH should try not to have too high an expectation of what will happen. And take is slow.

Pachooka · 06/07/2020 14:17

It appears she was unresponsive initially because she didn’t believe we were who we said we were. I find this difficult to understand, why would someone pretend to be a long lost child? She’s been bordering on rude to me. It’s difficult to understand. She seems reluctant to accept it’s really him for some reason.

She asked for DH to call her that evening but he felt he needed a day and said he would call the next day instead.

OP posts:
UnderTheNameOfSanders · 06/07/2020 14:51

She might well be concerned about being scammed.
e.g. You are after money or whatever.
Your DH could offer to do a DNA test or something.

Haffdonga · 06/07/2020 15:03

Is it really difficult to understand?

She may have put her contact details on the site years ago and now be in a different frame of mind and stage of life than she was then. She may be scared that it's some kind of scam after hearing about so many fake internet profiles and cat fishing. It may have opened a whole overwhelming set of complex emotions for her - fear about upsetting people she loves, unhappiness about her own life, or she may not have told significant people that she was searching and be terrified of opening a can of worms. There may be wording in your email that makes her cautious. Perhaps you sounded too keen? Or not keen enough? She may be dreaming of a fairy tale reunion but seeing a picture of a real person may suddenly have brought it home to her that there are real lives involved. Or maybe she was just feeling curious what he looks like but doesn't really want to get to know your dp any more than that. Her statement that your dp doesn't look similar and she isn't sure he's related might be an excuse to back out of contact if she's changed her mind.

There are really multiple understandable reasons why she responded like this. I'd take a step back, slow down and leave the ball in your dp's court to respond if and when he and his possible sister choose.

It's often advised not to contact relatives by phone directly in searches like this but instead to get to know each other by exchange of email for a period of time first, just so everybody's expectations can be managed and nobody gets hurt or disappointed if the other party wants to give more or less of themselves to the potential relationship. The most successful reunions tend to be ones that have taken a lot of time and thought on both sides before any contact.

Isthisfinallyit · 06/07/2020 15:21

Well we did kind of warned you on your previous thread that it was weird of you to contact her, and you sounded very domineering by texting her multiile times within a few hours because she didn't respond quick enough to your liking. I think that that might have made her eonder if you are a scammer.

I get that you want things to go well for your DH, I do, but you need to butt out and see how it goes. It might not have a fairytale ending and you can't arrange one. It's not just your husbands feelings that are at stake here, his sisters feelings matter just as much.

ifchocolatewerecelery · 06/07/2020 15:25

I would recommend you contact the reunification website or an organisation like Adoption U.K. for advice on who best to support you, Dh and his birth relatives during this. A forum like this can give some good, general advice but ultimately you need some counselling to help you think through the complex emotions around reunions and to give you some realistic expectations of it.

Wannakisstheteacher · 06/07/2020 17:56

From her point of view you sent her a number of messages very quickly, you not her brother. Then when she asked to speak to him he suddenly needed more time, despite it being him (you) pushing her previously. She probably does think it's a scam.

Pachooka · 06/07/2020 20:09

I sent her two messages, one to ask if we had the right number and when she confirmed another to ask whether it would be ok to speak to her.

They are the only two that were send and that is only because her email address was no longer valid. We would have much rather emailed.

OP posts:
Ted27 · 06/07/2020 20:30

I don't think the issue here is how many times you called, but your expectations of how she should have responded.
Because she hasn't responded how you thought she should, you seem to be looking for confirmation that this is either weird or strange.
Numerous people on this and the other thread told you this.
You need to try and get past this as it will colour all your interactions with her. As someone else suggested it would be helpfulmof your husband contacted a post adoption support agency and had some specialist support and counselling

vjg13 · 08/07/2020 19:37

"It's often advised not to contact relatives by phone directly in searches like this but instead to get to know each other by exchange of email for a period of time first, just so everybody's expectations can be managed and nobody gets hurt or disappointed if the other party wants to give more or less of themselves to the potential relationship. The most successful reunions tend to be ones that have taken a lot of time and thought on both sides before any contact."

I am adopted and used an intermediary to search for and contact family members and this is definitely the route they advise. There were times when I would have liked the process to go more quickly (about 7 months before I met my sibling) and other times when I felt on a roller coaster. It was a complicated series of emotions for me but I think we all benefitted from the intermediary's help.

I have another adopted sibling (from my adopted family) who had a match on the contact register and emailed a few times before meeting but met quickly. Those relationships seem to be progressing well too but I feel using an intermediary would have helped.

NeedAUsernameGenerator · 09/07/2020 07:36

She might be genuinely worried that it's some kind of scam or mistake. If your DH has a birth certificate or any paperwork that he could show her it might help put her mind at rest?

Onceuponatimethen · 10/07/2020 09:36

Try not to panic op and try I take it slowly and calmly. I’m afraid I have experienced unwanted messages from a stranger from an old ad I put online and forgot about. Definitely a scanner and I think oddly a Russian national. Not adoption related but if I were her I would also be very wary.

She may be very confused Emotionally or could have mental health issues or could just need time to process things. I would try to take the kindest interpretation of everything and be patient and gentle.

Wannakisstheteacher · 10/07/2020 10:13

I think most of it could have been avoided if the DH had just contacted his sister himself. Having his wife do it, just seems odd, and probably made her suspicious from the outset.

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