Don't rush to meet birth mother

Don't rush to meet birth mother

There are 4 comments on the Chicago Tribune story from Aug 11, 2007, titled Don't rush to meet birth mother. In it, Chicago Tribune reports that:

Dear Abby: I am 15 years old, and for 13 years I have known that I am adopted. My friend tells me that she thinks she has found my real mother -- that she goes to her church.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Chicago Tribune.

Been There

Thiensville, WI

#1 Aug 11, 2007
I am responding to the 15 yr. old adoptee who wants to approach the woman her friend believes is her birthmother but is frightened to.

I am an adoptee and I grew up knowing I was adopted. When I was 26 years old, I decided to search for my birthmother. It took me three years to find her and our reunion was very positive, though she died shortly afterward. After my search, I joined an international adoptee search organization and became a private investigator/researcher, successfully finding birthparents and adoptees in dozens and dozens of cases.

I would like to tell your 15 year old reader to sit tight. The odds that her friend was able to find her birthmother with little or no documentation are terribly slim. True, some searches are solved as simply and quickly as opening the phone book, but those are few and far between. Even in my own search, in which I had lots of information and documentation, I was lead to the wrong person twice.

Secondly, at 15, you are not emotionally ready for a search. What if your birthmother didn't tell anyone about the child she put up for adoption? What if she's married now to a man who doesn't know? What if she has other children who don't know or who she doesn't want to know? What if she was raped? What if she doesn't want the whole church knowing about this? On the other hand, what if she is so thrilled to have the child come back into her life that she begins to want a motherly role in the child's life?(I've seen that happen many times with adult adoptees even.) How would her adoptive parents react to the birthmother's presence in their child's lives?

Most of the time when reunions go bad it's because the adoptees and birthparents rush headlong into them with no thought to anyone's feelings but their own. It's a very slippery slope that many adults find difficult to manage, let alone a 15 year old acting on the advice of her friends. If she chooses to plunge ahead and does cause her birthmother trouble or embarassment, it could doom any possibility of a relationship ever.

I would advise her to keep a journal of her feelings and write down whatever information she absolutely knows about her adoption and her birthmother. There are a lot of great books written by people who have searched and she would do well to read them. They would give her tremendous insight into all the possible pitfalls and prepare her for whatever she may find. Starting a search when she is a little older and definitely more prepared can only make a happy, positive reunion more possible.
Brenda Carter

Romeoville, IL

#2 Aug 11, 2007
I read the letter from unsure in Indiana. Replace the thief! Annie probably will be stealing other items if she hasn't already. I had a housekeeper for 4 years that stole money, toys, collectibles, cd's and medicine!! She was an elderly woman with a mentally ill daughter and a grandchild. They really shouldn't be with her in the first place. Our thief is no longer living in our neighborhood. Maybe she moved to Indiana!!!!! Take the time now to find someone that is good to your father and also does not steal! Good luck.
Trish

Massapequa, NY

#3 Aug 11, 2007
I couldn't help but notice that Been There's "what if"s were all about the concerns of the first/natural mother and the adoptive parents, not about the adoptees needs or concerns at all. The fact that she uses the pejorative term "birthmother" is clue enough that she isn't really involved in helping adoptees access their own records.

There are web-based forums, support groups, and individual therapists who specialize in adoptee issues that can help the adoptee sort through her feelings, concerns, and fears. After working through all this, she may decide to contact the possible first mother, or she may decide to wait. Most importantly, she'll have a better understanding of herself and be able to make an informed decision.
Malleigh

Aurora, IL

#4 Aug 13, 2007
I, too, am an adoptee and have know all of my life. My firstmother got in touch with me shortly after I turned 21, and we've had a steady but also tumultuous relationship. I NEVER discourage anyone from trying to find their firstparents, but for someone who is 15, I would recommend reading lots of books (Journey of the Adopted Self by Betty Jean Lifton is great as it explores experiences and feelings alike).

Some adoptive parents find it threatening when their children want to search. Sometimes this goes away, and sometimes it doesn't. I wouldn't let that discourage you, but I would take it into consideration and make it known to her parents that it's not about love, but about a need.

Additionally, there is probably a law in place stating that she needs to be 18 to meet her firstparents, depending on the adoption arrangements.

I wish her, and all of the adoptees, the best of luck in their journeys with their firstparents.

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