|Jeanne Phillips ("Dear Abby")|
Here's the brother's letter and Abby's response.
DEAR ABBY: Please help with something that has been on my mind for years. I am one of your male readers. I have a sister, "Eileen," who is a bit older. We had a wonderful childhood and are close. When Eileen entered college, she became pregnant. Because she was unmarried, she and Mom went to a different city and she had the baby. I believe the child was placed for adoption. I don't know if it was a boy or girl. Eileen returned home, finished college, got married and now has a family. It was never mentioned again. I sometimes wonder if she thinks about the baby she had. I think about it a lot and wonder if I should ask her, or if it's too painful for her to discuss after all these years. I sometimes think I have a niece or nephew out there and wonder what he or she is like. Should I ask my sister or just leave it alone? WISTFUL OUT WEST
DEAR WISTFUL: I'm sure your sister also sometimes thinks about the child she placed for adoption and wonders what he or she is like. However, unless she raises the subject with you, my advice is to leave it alone. If it has never been mentioned again, there is a good reason for it."Here's how First Mother Forum would have responded:
Mothers who lose children to adoption have many reasons for not discussing their child but their silence does not reflect their thoughts. It's more than likely that your sister thinks of her child often, perhaps several times a day. She may be trying to follow the script laid out for her by well-meaning adults--that she would forget and go on with her life--by acting as though nothing happened. She may feel that something is wrong with her because she can't forget. She may believe that silence is necessary to protect herself and your family from shame. She may not have told her husband about the baby and she is afraid of upsetting or even losing him. She may be afraid of hurting the children she is raising.
If she opens up to you, encourage her to join a first mother support group and read about adoption. Origins-USA, American Adoption Congress, and Concerned United Birthparents provide information on support groups and helpful books. If she is interested in searching for her child, The US Department of Health and Human Services has an excellent guide to searching.
To our readers: Offer your advice to WISTFUL OUT WEST and send it to Dear Abby. (www.DearAbby.com; or snail mail: PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069
Dear Abby 6-28-12
American Adoption Congress
Concerned United Birthparents
US Department of Health and Human Services, Searching for Birth Relatives
Does my natural mother ever think of me?
When your adopted child wants to visit her birth mother
On grieving for a grandchild not placed for adoption
(Pro)Adoption Special: Dr. Drew encourages teen moms to give up their babies