Birth Mother Dithering

A new comment popped up on my two-year-old BlogHer post Facebook-Stalking My Birth Son:
"I really have no right to say one way or another what you should or shouldn't do, but from what I have read,-If you are correct in that your son has never been told of his adoption-than he has had something taken from him that nobody has a right to take; it seems that you are justifying and making excuses for the adopive father's completely selfish choices, even though your pain and anger is apparent in the intro of your post.  Your son is now an adult, and you speak of him as though he is still a child. Your decision is perhaps very "noble" but quite unfair to him really...IMHO, he at least deserves to be given the right to choose what he wants to do with the information.  He has a mother out there who has never forgotten him!!!! What could be more valuable?  If he's not interested in following up then fine, but lurking behind the shadows is certainly no good to him (or you really)."
My response:
It is reality-altering information, and there's no taking it back. But you are right in that I'm feeling cowardly, too -- so far, I haven't been rejected by him, at least not overtly.
What do you think? If you were adopted, do you think it is your right to know that information, even if your adoptive parents never told you?

His parents and I never agreed to open or closed, really. His mother was always good about sending me photos, but she died fifteen years ago and since then I've not heard a thing. And I really do think  this information should come from his father, not from me. It would be a hell of a lot easier if I could just find out if he knows he's adopted or not!


  1. Shannon - what a lot to think about! It may be that there is information about YOU that is helpful to him. It's information I'd want to have if I were adopted, even if I did nothing with it. It might open you up to rejection, but it could open you up to a relationship that is helpful for your son and you. I wish life were more black and white sometimes.

  2. What do the experts in this kind of thing say? Is there a standard protocol?

  3. Dixie, me too.

    Emily, I have just asked a resource person for advice thanks to your nudge.

  4. Anonymous11:16 AM

    I was adopted at 6yrs old so I always knew I had a "birth family" out there somewhere. However, I did not know that they were keeping track of me. I did not know who they were and they actually showed up to my high school graduation, taking pictures of me. I was mortified to say the least when I found out who they were. At that moment, I wanted to know who they were and what exactly they looked like because I didn't think it was fair that they knew all kinds of things about me and I knew nothing about them. Shortly after, I made contact with them, met them, and decided quickly that they were stuck in the past and had no interest in giving my adoptive parents any credit for making me the woman I became. I decided that I had no room in my life for this kind of behavior and so I left and never looked back. I know they are hurt and for that I am sorry. I can't take their pain away from giving me up by erasing all the good things that my adoptive parents have done for me.

  5. @anonymous, that must have been extremely distressing. My birth son's parents did a fine job raising him and he loves them very much (I think he has a step mom now), I don't want to be a cause of strife for them. But I would like him to know that he has a whole 'nother family of geeks & academics & goofballs who would totally *get* him, if he wants them.

  6. Anonymous1:42 PM

    I'm not sure if you mean if you "were" adopted or if you "are" adopted in asking this question, but as a non-adoptee, I feel very strongly that I would want to know. Even right now, as I imagine my very good parents not being my biological parents, I know that I would want to know my biological parents.

    (I think getting the answers from someone who is adopted, though, is more important).

    I also can't say that I wouldn't reject this hypothetical birth parent. I might well, if I didn't think I'd enjoy having them in my life, so that doesn't help for that concern.


  7. What do you about asking his dad? Sometimes people surprise you, right?

    Also - HI! - it's been too long and we need to get together. xo

  8. Being an orphan who refused to be adopted because I did know and live with my birth parents until I was 11 - I was thinking the same thing that Jen said. Why not put your family's medical information in an envelope and send it to his adopted father? That would at least open up food for thought and perhaps open even more of an ajar door that is bursting to open - at least no your end.

  9. Anonymous7:54 AM

    my .02.... I am a grown woman and mother, and was adopted at birth. I didn't find out until I was about ten, my mother said that she didn't want to tell me when our family was already in upheaval due to my parents horrid marriage, etc. and my father didn't want to tell ever - I found out by accident. Anyway. I absolutely think it is not the birth parents place to ever divulge this info. The adoptive parents have the choice to tell or no. I know I have a skewed perspective compared to most adoptees, but I've NEVER wished to have any info about my birth parents. They did a huge and wonderful thing by choosing adoption, but thats where it ends. They are NOT my parents in any way, and I have no desire to interact or even know of them. I understand this might cause controversy, but it is just my experience and opinion.

  10. I alway feel so sad when you talk about this.i know this is a delicate and touchy subject that i really know nothing about but my gut reaction is always that he deserves to get to meet you and the other members of his family and you deserve the chance to see this son again and get to know him.

    i agree with your commenter. He's an adult now and adults get life altering info all the time, actually kids get life altering info all the time too.... so i think humans are equipped to handle it. besides, life altering doesn't mean negative.

    maybe it would help to have a third party do the intro?

  11. maybe you could let the father know you plan on contacting your son and when, just to give him a chance to have a discussion with him if he needs to. and then move forward contacting him how ever feels right.

  12. Thanks folks, good to hear so many different perspectives -- that is what makes this complicated. I just found his dad's profile on LinkedIn. So the ball's in my court. Though I do worry that email is easy to ignore/get the wrong message. I suppose I could write saying that we never had an official agreement re: closed/open and that I'm giving him space, but that now that he's an adult I would like him to know I'm open to contact.

  13. Anonymous2:02 PM

    Shannon, as the mother of four, two of whom are adopted, here's my take. Now that you have the Dad's info available, I think going through him would be respectful. I didn't catch how old your son is, but if he's only just turned 18 or 21, I would want to know from his father just what he's been told. My kids aren't interested currently in contact (they are in their 20s) but they had contact in the early years. It's a delicate subject and I think you are wise enough to tread carefully.

  14. Anonymous11:00 AM

    I think it is up to his dad to let him know. I have a feeling the boy would be very resentful of you if you suddenly just popped into his life and he knew his father got angry that you did this. You gave him up for whatever reason and that is not going to go over big with him. Trust me. He has a family and it is not you by choice. It would not be pleasant in the long run to go behind his father's back.

  15. gidget7:53 AM

    It could be that A-dad is just as unsure about how to proceed and waiting to hear from you. He could be concerned about your feelings and not wanting to intrude on your life if you don't want contact.

    I say go for and contact the dad. IMO, not knowing is worse, my imagination runs rampant with all kinds of crazy scenarios.

  16. Jo Sparkle8:50 AM

    I agree with minnie and others who say that it's a good idea to talk to his dad first. I was adopted at 3weeks old and have always known. I have read a lot from other adoptees who feel this was something done "to" them without their permission, and they have a right to know their biological families. I think for medical reasons they do have a right, but for emotional reasons I think they have to be told in the right way. There's so much anger and resentment among some adoptees who I've interacted with online and I think that can lead to unrealistic expectations and lashing out at any of the parents involved.

    I've been *very* lucky in terms of my experience. I've always known, I met my biological mother about 11 years ago and my biological father about 2 years ago. I never had any questions about the emotional reasons they gave me up, and I never felt like it was something they did to me.

    My mom who raised me used to tell me to imagine there was some reason I couldn't take care of Amy (my favourite doll) anymore, and wouldn't I want to give her to another little girl who could take care of her?

    But growing up with that idea is different that finding out in your 20s and having to very quickly deal with all the questions and doubts it brings up. It changes his relationship with his dead mother who can't speak up for her own experience of loving him just as much as if she were his biological mother (which I think a lot of adoptees do need to hear).

    Anyhow, I could talk about this all day. I vote to go through his dad and tell him you'd like to have contact now that he's an adult and ask if he's aware of his adoption. Also, I have read that male adoptees are less interested in general in knowing their biological families, so I'd say you need to make sure you are prepared for him to not be interested even if he does know. It wouldn't be a rejection of YOU, but more a disinterest in the *concept* of another parent/family.


Respectful disagreement encouraged.