I just got a letter from my (never had contact with) birth-mother.

A few disclaimers and some background information:

I’m not posting this for sympathy. Typically I am against posting any sort of “woe is me, here’s my problems” type of threads…because I mainly view the SDMB as recreation, and not somewhere I come to be brought down or bring anyone else down.

I’m 31 years old. My parents have always been very open about that fact that I was adopted, and it was never really a big deal. I remember even before I was 5 them having a discussion with me about what it meant, and what the situation was.
So then, for most of my life it’s never, ever been anything that was an issue for me. I went through a phase in my late teens where I thought I wanted to seek her out, but ultimately I concluded it was not worth it. Eerily enough, I just posted this 5 days ago in a recent MPSIMS thread on adoption.

Yep. So, Thursday evening I get my mail, and I see a card addressed to me. I didn’t recognize the return addy, but my birthday was this past week (actually my BD was on Thursday, so this is an added birthday treat for me). I expected it was a friend or family member. I go in to the house and stand at the kitchen counter. Opening the card, there’s 2 pictures inside. A 40s something lady and 2 20-ish kids. I’m looking at these pictures, trying to figure out if I know these people. I unfold the letter that’s inside the card. Begin reading:

>>Dear [real name],
>>On April 8th, 1973 I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy…

“Holy F’ing S” (kept PG for MPSIMS) was all that came out of my mouth. I couldn’t even read any further. I repeated that statement about 138 times. I ask my wife to dump a large amount of vodka into a glass for me. Take my drink, go sit down and start reading.

I’m not going to quote the whole letter, as it was almost a page long of typed text. Here’s the important stuff.

• She was 16.
• She found me via “adoption search and support groups”. (wtf that means?)
• I’m fully Irish. (hmm, that big glass of vodka in my hands suddenly makes a little more sense).
• She’s one of 8 kids (!) and all of her siblings and her parents are still alive.
• I have a half sister who is 25 and a half brother who is 19
• She said she’s not trying to be my mother or make up for lost time, realizes that I have a mother and she respected that.
• She lives in the greater Pittsburgh area, probably not 15 minutes from one of the places I lived about 10 years ago.
• She left me snail mail addy, phone # and email addy. Said she wanted to hear from me but she understood completely if I didn’t respond, that she’d respect whatever decision I made.
• Noticeably absent was any information about my bio-father.

Overall, the letter was well thought out and about as polite and considerate and she said all the right things (or at least what seem to me to be the right things, if I was in her position).

Jesus. What a headf*** this whole thing is.

First and foremost, I decided that I was going to wait a minimum of one month before I did anything. I have a bad habit of letting anger get the better of me in a lot of cases and that’s not going to happen here. I need time to digest this.

I wound up going out on Thursday and getting obliterated, and I called my parents (my real parents, not this lady) at about one in the AM and christ only knows what I said. I see from my cell phone that the call lasted almost an hour.

I do know that my mother is very angry, and my wife is also very angry. I am just confused, and I guess my whole point in posting is to try and get some perspective that I don’t have now. Help? Heh – that sounds stupid…I know this is my decision to make but I’m just hoping for some insight. I read elmwood’s (I think it was elmwood, anyway) “F-You, birth mother” Pit thread and that just sounded horrible. But, in fairness, other than the adoption and the potential meeting, nothing else is really the same. Elmwood expressed concerns about loneliness and aging parents and no other family. I have a lot of family that I am close with. IF I decide I will go anywhere with this, it will mainly be to satisfy a curiosity and my I will have no expectations of having a new family or anything like that.

My wife is concerned because she thinks if I am go forward with this that I am just setting myself up for what is potentially a lot of letdown, drama and pain. I see where she’s coming from but I think this can only be as dramatic as I let it. If it turns out this lady is a nutcase, I tell her to FOAD and then I’m right back where I was a week ago, except now I know who my birthmother is and that I want nothing to do with her.

The two burning questions I have are: “Why now?” and “What is she hoping to do by making this contact?” I’m strongly considering writing her with
Anyway, I feel like I’m rambling but I’d appreciate any insight.


Wow! I can’t even imagine…

I’m afraid I can’t offer any advice or insight; but good luck with whatever you decide to do.

I’m sure more people will come and see this thread and offer advice based on more relevant personal experiences, but I just had a hard time reading all that, mouthbreather, and then clicking away without responding a wee bit.

My main guess as to your first question (“Why now?”) is that she hopes you can handle this information with maturity. Contacting you earlier in life, she would have risked confusing you or just being rejected outright. Now, as an adult, maybe you have a family of your own or enough other life experiences to respond to this situation…not something she necessarily could have counted on when you were 16, 20, or even 25.

Anyway, I wish you the best of luck, whatever your decision.

Well, not having been in either your or your birth mother’s situation, I can’t say I know how either of you are feeling. She sounds, from your letter info, like she’s been thinking about you for a long time. I can only imagine 30 years of wondering about the child you gave up for a hopefully better life. I’m not going to tell you you should welcome her with open arms, but I think a letter telling her you’ve been happy, had a good life and that she did the right thing*would be a wonderful gift.

I don’t understand why your mother and wife are angry. From what you said of the letter she sounds reasonable, but like you said, if she does turn out to be a nutter, just tell her to shove off.

*assuming you feel that way, of course

I guess I’m not sure why you’re so angry. I can understand being conflicted, perhaps, but she hasn’t come to you asking for money, or a kidney or your first-born child. She just wants you to know you have biological family (including sibs - that would be interesting, at least to me) and if you are curious or interested, they would like to know you, too. It doesn’t mean that you’ll suddenly find a part of yourself that was missing, or you’ll abandon your parents or your wife. They are there. You can’t get around that. Now the decision is up to you.

My sister gave a daughter up for adoption about 15 years ago. I know for a fact she thinks about the child every day. Your birth mother is probably the same way. All she wants to know for sure is that you’re happy and healthy. I think sending a snail response with a picture, isn’t too big a gesture. If you want more later, you can cross that bridge when you come to it.

Good luck with whatever decision you make.


I am a birth mother. I placed a baby for adoption when I was 17. My daughter would be 21 now. I do think about her every day, and ever since she turned 18 I have thought about trying to find her. It is very scary, and I don’t want to interrupt her life. I can understand what this woman has done mouthbreather, I always wonder how my daughter is doing and if she is happy. Maybe your birth mother wonders too?

I don’t understand the reason for the anger either. Confusion, definately. Anger on the part of your family… How?

Childbirth at 16 is a stupid idea - period. Undoubtedly, the new life she chose to give you - and probably going through a lot of emotional pain to give you - was better than the life you would’ve had.

At least send her a (polite, unemotional) letter or message stating that you’re going to wait a month before making any further comment.

Why now? Any number of reasons.
She might have started six years ago* and only got through the bureaucracy and the closed doors in the last month.
She might have suffered a different loss (that she did not immediately relay–possibly your birth dad) and that has triggered a suppressed need to re-establish contact.
She might have been getting pressure from the rest of the family to re-establish contact.
She might have finally worked up the nerve.
At any rate, I’d say pursue it. As noted above: if she’s a flake you can just fail to maintain the correspondence. If she is a wonderful person, that is one or more good person(s) in your life. (I do not know anyone who has “too many” good people in their lives.)

I can kinda see your mother’s anger (although I think it is misplaced–your birth mom does not seem to have tried to interfere with your family while you were a child).

I have no idea why your wife is mad, aside from that being a standard reaction to news that is unexpected and unsettling.

  • During our adoption classes, we were warned to discourage reunions before the kids are 24 or 25. There is a lot of unresolved conflict in teens’ heads that can really cause problems if they meet their birth parents before they have become adults. (This does not apply to open adoptions which were really new when we adopted, so there was not a lot of psych info on them at that time.)

Just a little bit of “the other side of the story”…

When I was in my senior year of college, I learned from one of my sisters that my mom had a child before I was born that we never knew about. Apparently, she got pregnant young and lost weight to hide the pregnancy. Because of this, the baby was born with some sort of birth defect. I don’t know the details. She gave the baby up for adoption.

So, I have a half-sister somewhere out there – if she’s still alive, which might not be the case if the defects were severe.

My mom told my sister in the middle of a divorce, where I also found out that my father was previously married and never told us. Because she was so emotionally fragile at the time, I never dared bring it up, and now she’s happily engaged and I don’t want to cause her grief, so I’ve never asked about it, even though I want to know.

I imagine that it would bring your family great joy to hear that (if?) you are happy and healthy. I know there is a bit of my heart ripped off the day that I heard, and I feel pain to think of the situation.

This isn’t to cause you guilt, or anything. I just know that if I found out who my half-sister is, even if she was deformed or mentally challenged, it would give me great joy and relief and I would happily help her out as much as I could. I imagine that others might feel the same way about a long-lost family member, so I think you should consider the positive as well as the negative.

Just my two cents.

“What is she hoping to do by making this contact?”

I would assume just trying to get some closure. Though I don’t have first-hand experience, giving up a child as a mom has to be one of the most emotionally difficult things to go through. The fact that she was a teenage mother, and probably unable to properly take care of you makes it all the more difficult, even though it was for your own good.

She said the right things. She waited until you were old enough. It seems like this attempt was very well thought out. I think the biggest question is, what could you lose by following this up? If she’s a horrible person, you can cut her off. It won’t weaken your relationship with your “real” parents (I know they’re upset, but that relationship will stay strong regardless).

It’s worth taking a shot, in my opinion. And if you do make contact, make sure you at least reserve the anger a bit until you get to know her.

Yeah, I also don’t see why your family is angry. Adoption reunions aren’t at all unprecedented, and it sounds like she is leaving up to you how much contact to have. Your bmom’s behavior is perfectly reasonable.

I think it would be nice to send a photo and some basic info about how your life has been. She would probably really appreciate knowing how things turned out for you, as part of closure if nothing else.
As for the issue of “real” mothers, I’d say that a birthmother is a “real” mother too, like it or not. Carrying a child for nine months (especially as a teen in that era when single motherhood was frowned upon) and going through labor is nothing to sneeze at. Most birthmothers I’ve known chose adoption because they were putting the child’s needs ahead of their own - just the way a parent should.

Maybe your mom is just a little scared that after all this time, lo and behold, your birth mother pops up and she might (although I highly doubt it–but that doesn’t mean she isn’t thinking it) take her place, hence the anger.

I was never in either place (yours or your birth mother) so I can’t give you any experiences, just my silly opinion. I cannot imagine one bit how you feel, but if I were in your position, I think I would contact her. My curiosity would get the best of me. And if it worked out, you have that much more family to cherish. If not, you’ll at least have walked down that path (you’ll have known her–doesn’t mean you have to maintain the relationship).

Whatever you choose to do, I wish the best, and keep us updated. :slight_smile:

You’re right to wait at least a month, I think. Give yourself some time because you’re probably going to feel every emotion in the book for a while until your head is a bit clearer.

As far as why your bio mom did this? Maybe she just wants you to know her story, and realize that she was trying to do what was best for you. Holding you as a newborn and then letting another family raise you because she knew she couldn’t give you the life you deserved? That’s love, man; I don’t care what the circumstances were.

You’re smart to not expect a new family out of this, either. Oh, I’m sure they’d be open to it, but just being friends can be cool, too. DNA or not, you can’t just be reunited with a bio parent and all of a sudden (or ever, I think) be as close to them as those who raised you (yes, I’m speaking from experience although my situation is/was different from yours).

Family is who raises you, not whose chromosomes you carry.

But it never hurts to get a detailed medical history. Yes, she may be a nutcase, and if she is you will learn quickly enough, and since there won’t be any attachment, you can walk out the door and presto, that’s it. (I had no trouble cutting my Dad out of my life in January, just 4 months after we met for the first time.)

If she’s cool, though, then neato. A new cool person to talk to and hang out with every now and then.

You already have a family. You grew up with them. You don’t need two.

Send a polite message to the woman who bore you explaining this, & gently suggest that the best way for her to achieve closure is not at your emotional expense; rather, she should consider adopting a newborn that some current 16-year-old cannot raise. If she feels guilt or loss, she needs to make things right, & raising such a child is the way to go.

You have your life. Do not allow her to scramble your heart & mind this way.

As a mother, my advice to you would be to listen to those who have suggested sending her a brief note. This woman either gave you up for adoption in the hope that you would have a better life than the one she could have offered you at that time, or she was coerced into it. Whatever the reason, it has no doubt preyed on her mind for the past 31 years.

She gave you up; you owe her nothing. But where is the harm in letting her know that she did indeed do the right thing, by allowing both you and the parents who brought you up to become a family?

I can understand the emotional upheaval this must have caused to your family, but I would imagine that you all must have known at the back of your minds that this was a remote possibility.

Don’t get angry.

Do what you think feels right to you, and don’t worry about any feelings of guilt, or any kind of obligation…

Think about how you’d be feeling if it was you initially seeking her out. You’d be nervous, a little excited, but without any unrealistic expectations. It might turn out wonderfully, it might elicit no response at all, or it might be brief contact and the start of a new casual friendship.

Well, she’s probably thinking those kinds of thoughts, and has no expectations either.

I can’t see any call for anger (but then I’ve never been in any situation like this so I really can’t relate).

If you don’t want to contact her, then don’t. If you’re curious, you now have the means to to take the next step. If you’re excited about it, go right ahead.

I also was placed for adoption in 1961 by Catholic Charities in the Pittsburgh area. I can only believe that my birth mother was very young and probably made to feel very guilty by church and family and forced to give me up. I would like to believe that she thinks of me (I certainly would in her position).

Give yourself some time to process the new events. I would like to share what I would do in your situation. I was placed with a wonderful family and have a brother and sister. We are all adopted and we all are very grateful and had every opportunity, given to us by our adopted parents. If I ever had the chance to meet my birth mother (I’m not looking), I would thank her for her courage in making the very painful decision that she was faced with. I would thank her for bringing me into this world-after all, she could have aborted. I would want to reassure her that she really did make the best decision for me and that I am a happy adult who has been surrounded by love for 42 years. You don’t owe her anything, but try to be gracious.

Only my opinion. I would probably have a few swigs of vodka, too. :wink:

Yikes, mouthbreather. Something like that coming out of nowhere would absolutely knock me on my a**

The anger’s probably shock and reaction. I think you’re wise to let some time pass and let your emotions settle a bit. When you can think a little more clearly, you can decide better about what to do.

I’m thinking good thoughts in your direction…

There are two very important things that you can get out of this. Which one is more important is really up to you. First is the detailed medical history. I cannot say just how valuble this can be to you now and in the future.

Second, there is a chance for closure for both you and your birth mother (and various blood relations, although they are not NEARLY as important). If you still want to wait a month before responding, I would understand, but please send a postcard to her telling her that. I know I would be a complete NUTJOB waiting for a response that may never come.

It may not seem that important to you, but I know it would make all the difference in the world to her. From one Irishman to the next, I wish you good luck.

It sounds as though the actual letter you recieved was well within your comfort zone (“she said all the right things”), but the situation is freaking you out. If you want to find out what kind of person she is, make at least one more contact. If you decide you want to know her, you’ve gained a friend. If not, all you’ve lost is a little bit of time.
[sup]Bosda’s post really rubbed me the wrong way. Too bad this isn’t the Pit.[/sup]