Saturday, August 2, 2014

Writing the first letter to the adoptive parents

Jane
You and your surrendered child have reunited; he's told his adoptive parents about you. You're thinking about meeting them but you're scared. Chances are though, they're as scared of you as you are of them. Thinking of first and adoptive parents meeting reminds me of the scene in E.T. when Elliot and the Extra-Terrestrial see each other for the first time. E.T. might stand for Each Terrified of the other.

First parents may feel inferior to the adoptive parents who seem to have all the power. Adoptive parents may fear the child will leave, the biological bond stronger than the nurturing bond. Everybody's on edge.

You're thinking of writing the adoptive parents and and trying to set them at ease but the thought of a letter sets off another round of fears.
You are worried that if you write the wrong thing, you may jeopardize your relationship with your new-found lost child. Your feelings about the adoptive parents may not positive, depending on what you have been told, so it's going to be hard to be upbeat. You may harbor some, perhaps a lot, of resentment towards them. If they hadn't been there with all their money and their all-too-important marital status, you think you might not have been pressured to give up your child. You're jealous, they took the baby pictures, saw the first tooth come in, went to the soccer games, proudly watched as your child received his high school diploma; he calls them mom and dad

Of course a meeting may not be in the works. My daughter Rebecca told me that her adoptive parents did not want to meet me. At first, I was fine with that. I thought of them as natural rivals, as a mistress might think of her lover's wife. I thought of the adoptive parents simply as an obstacle to our relationship, she wanted to keep on their good side, but in my mind, they were not particularly important to her. Later I realized I was wrong. Adoptive parents cannot be dismissed; they, like natural parents who raise a child, are vitally important to their children. At conferences of the American Adoption Congress, I met other first parents and learned it was possible for both sets of parents to develop a positive relationship--indeed, some even formed a close friendship.

DO  NOT DEMEAN YOURSELF 
Before you begin your letter, try to think of yourself as an equal to the adoptive parents. Be positive about yourself. You're are not the scared teenager, perhaps the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, the stressed out college student, the humiliated young professional. Like the adoptive mother, you're a competent woman, in or approaching middle-age. Both of you play a vital role in your child's life. Approach the letter with the idea that both of you--the birth/first parent and the adoptive parents want what is best for the person who connects you--the adoptee.

It's tempting to act like a supplicant, thanking the adoptive parents and asking them to favor you with a meeting or at least letting their child know that it's okay for him to know you. While the adoptive parents played a rule that you could not--or thought you could not--it's unlikely that they took your child as an act of charity. Most likely, their primary motive was to fulfill their desire to be parents. Let's assume here that we are talking about a case in which the adoptive parents were good people and did a good job of raising your child.

OR POUR OUT ALL YOUR WOES
Undoubtedly the social worker or the attorney told the adoptive parents you were making a wise and brave decision; the fact that you may have been coerced by relatives, circumstances, or social mores may never have occurred to them. They may be unaware of the pain you suffered and have continued to suffer from losing your child. They are probably not clear on why you want a relationship with your child. But don't start out with the idea that they are to blame for you losing your child. Making them feel bad about raising your child should not come through in anything your write. And if they are to blame for losing your child, you are probably not writing them a letter to make nice and get to know them.

A SAMPLE LETTER
Here's my take on what to write to set things off on the right path. We welcome comments and sample letters from our readers.

Dear Mr. and Ms. Smith, [Go with a formal salutation, you don't know them as Dick and Joan.]

I know that John has told you that we have connected. I'm looking forward to meeting you soon. I thought it would be helpful if I tell you a little about myself. First though, I want to tell you I know how much you have loved and cared for John. He is a remarkable young man. He has told me how much he loves you, his parents. I appreciate so much that your have not discouraged John from establishing a relationship with me.

[Here you can tell about your relationship with your child's father and why your pregnancy ended in adoption You can leave this out altogether. If you include it, be general. Here's an example.] When John was born, I was a student at State U or in high school, what ever. His father and I dated off and on but we did not plan to marry. If it's not comfortable to mention the father, leave him out.]

My goal was to have an education and become a professional xxx.  John's father and my family proposed adoption as the solution to this untimely pregnancy.  I had doubts, but I did not see a way to keep John without help. With tears in my eyes and a heavy heart, I signed a consent to adoption within hours/days/weeks of his birth. While my pregnancy was not planned, John was not unwanted.  I promised myself that someday I would find him. I have thought of him often over the past 25 years.

I tell you this so you can understand how much it means to me to know John and why I hope to have a continuing relationship with him and with you.

[Tell about your life since your child was born.  Again, be general, tell if you married, had other children, work.] Here's an example:  Within a few years of John's birth,  I met my husband, Jim. He's a fine man and is happy for me that I finally know my lost son. We have three children ages fill-in-the blanks who are excited to meet their brother. Or, I never had any other children. [Do not go into how you never thought you could because of the pain of losing your only child. This could lead them to believe you want to reclaim your child fully, and may scare them off.]

I finished my education [be specific--high school, college, beauty school, technical training] and am now employed as a xxx.

[Most important: Include your interests, hobbies, sports. They may be able to relate to your interests and see the similarities between your interests and those of your child, and this may help them see that there is a connection that would be beneficial to the adoptee.] For example: I coach my daughter's soccer team, and volunteer at the local food bank. Or, though I never had a career in fashion, it has always been an interest of mine. Or, I took up jogging in my thirties and discovered not only that I enjoyed it but was good at it, and run in 5K races in the summer. Or, I am an avid reader of fiction, and also enjoy crocheting hats and scarves for my family and friends. We love to travel as a family. Or, I go on weekend cycling trips with a group. Last year we took a camping trip to Yellowstone National Park. Or, I am a homebody and tend not to travel much. I have a dog/cat named Roscoe/Rupert/Sigmund. You would be surprised how often names are found to be similar in reunion.

It doesn't matter if your interests and hobbies are unusual and do not seem glamorous. The smallest quirky part of your personality may be something they recognize in the individual they raised.

Lastly, including a photograph would also be a plus, for they may see a resemblance, and that may further solidify, or even instill, the feeling that you are not a stranger, that their son or daughter should have a relationship with you, the first mother, and that everyone will benefit by being welcoming to you, rather than fearful and negative. Do make yourself look attractive as possible.

When you write the letter, focus on the desired end result--a good relationship for all--and not on your need to vent about your pain. And keep in mind what we said earlier: there is no need to grovel. You as the mother who gave birth, are equally important as the people who raised him.

I look forward to hearing from you.  My phone number is 111-111-1111. The best time to call is xxx or on weekends. You can also email me at susiejones@xmail.com.

Sincerely,

Susie Jones
_________________________
FROM FMF:
When adoptive parents reject the birth/first mother--they reject the "child"
Two Mothers, Part 3

BOOKS
Jessica Lost: A Story of Birth, Adoption & The Meaning of Motherhood by Jessica Lost, A Story of Birth, Adoption & The Meaning of Motherhood
"My initial interest in this book was the nature/nurture angle - exploring the relative impact on Jessica/Jil of the parents who gave her life vs the parents she spent the 'formative' years of that life with. And the book delivered stunningly on that. But it's also much much more. It's a beautifully told, heartfelt account of the development of a lovely friendship between 2 women who happen to be mother and daughter."--Byrce Ott at Amazon

How to Write Heartfelt Letters to Treasure: For Special Occasions and Occasions Made Special
by Lynette M. Smith
Since the art of letter writing has all but died in this day of email and texting, it may seem daunting to even start the letter to the adoptive parents. This book, while not specifically addressed to our concern, may offer some general guidance to get you started.


39 comments :

  1. I agree with this post and the letter is perfect to my mind.

    My adoptive parents would throw it away and never mention it. I assure you.

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  2. Baby Girl StephensAugust 2, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    I'm a reunited adoptee. My natural father wrote a letter very much like this 12 years ago.

    My adoptive parents put big X's all over the envelope and returned to sender, unopened.

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  3. I wrote a letter like that to my son's adoptive parents. They ignored it and me. Never did have a word for me. Made him chose between us and I didn't hear from him for almost a year. Then we went underground with our reunion contact. They missed out on a lot because of their selfishness. But it hurt me.

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  4. Baby Girl Stephens just reinforced everything I have learned about many adoptive parents, not just my own. Those from the BSE, especially, would tend to behave this way. Many of them are insecure, defensive, possessive, and downright cruel. Adoptees are in a very weird position, and it is very difficult to explain.

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  5. Jane – how I wish I had this information prior to writing to my daughter’s adoptive parents. I didn’t write to them prior to reuniting with my daughter, I foolishly wrote them asking for permission to reunite with my 19 year old daughter. I thought this approach would demonstrate my respect and consideration and they would appreciate a head’s up before I possibly caused disruption.

    In hindsight, I unwittingly cast myself as the proletariat and they were the aristocrats – I groveled AND fawned. In response to my 3 page letter (with pictures), I received a few simple sentences, telling me to go away. Over a four month period, two subsequent letters I sent were never acknowledged - including one asking them to tell me if she even knew she was adopted. Knowing what I know now, I will never be an equal, I will never be treated kindly or be respected.

    I should mention that for several long years before I contacted my daughter or her adoptive parents I was saddled with the knowledge that the adoption agency I worked was later revealed to be a gray-market broker. They sold babies to the highest bidder, did not (as a rule) perform home-studies or psychological evaluations. They were banned from performing adoptions in many states, including my own. They were in and out of litigation, shipped pregnant teens to states where they could bend the rules, manufactured and diverted communication in order to keep the peace and often lied about where children were placed. It was a catastrophic revelation, so when my daughter’s adoptive parents dismissed me so coldly, it bolstered my concern and I thought I too had been deceived.

    I even hired a post adoption therapist to help me navigate my feelings and this process.

    So, back to letter writing... It has been almost two years since my daughter unceremoniously ended communication with me, likely in response to the insurmountable pressure her adoptive mother put on her while we were in reunion. During reunion, I learned about many despicable things my daughter’s adoptive parents did, including hiring a private investigator to follow me. They treated me with contempt and mistrust. I have been constructing a new letter to her adoptive parents, but haven’t sent it – my hesitation is due to its brutal honestly. I don’t feel like I need to be considerate anymore, but do feel compelled to address their cruel treatment, rejection and heartlessness. I can’t see how any of our relationships could be reconstructed or healthy, so I’m honestly not worried about jeopardizing relationships. I can’t tell if this is something I should do and unfortunately I’ve learned that there is little clarity when it comes to operating in an adoption triad.

    What should I do? Two years later I’m still tweaking this letter and feel just as strongly about sending it as I did when I started writing it. I have nothing more to lose...

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    1. Hilary: As a first mother who has been in contact with my daughter's adoptive parents since the very beginning of our relationship (daughter was 15 when I found her, I went through her adoptive parents, they had been looking for me) I urge you NOT to send the letter. Sure it would be nice to tell them to fuck off, but it won't mean much to them because they don't regard you as important at all. It will just be trashed--but probably not before they show it to your daughter and say, See, we told you she was like this. It's probably good that you wrote it, but put it away, and don't go back to fiddle with it. Let your anger stay there.

      For more than a year once my daughter barely spoke to me and I thought it would always be this way--but then out of the blue she called one day and said: How are you? as if we had been talking a few days ago. I had gotten used to her coming and going,and this last "going" had been to prove to her adoptive mother that she, Jane (my daughter's name) was worthy of being loved by her mother. Something had been said at the funeral of the eldest of the biological children, the one most like her, and Jane wanted to rectify that. She thought the way to curry her mother's favor would be to push me away--after about 20 years of our knowing one another! Yes, it was an awful time for me.

      From what I've learned, adoptees in reunion often feel the push/pull of the two sides vying for their attention, and sometimes it is just too much to handle, and so choosing the people they grew up with--who took them in, who were there, etc--is much much easier than maintaining a relationship with the birth mother. Who "abandoned" them, after all. So...they can abandon us...right?

      I have heard from another first mother who had a PI following her for a while. Her daughter sent her a letter saying that she dreaded her birthdays became she was afraid she would get a card from her mother. The woman was crushed. Years passed. The adoptee broke away from them in some regard (she may have been living at home before, I am not sure) and contacted her IN SECRET and they now have what the first mother calls a wonderful relationship. Her daughter's pulling away had everything to do with the fearful, jealous nasty reaction of her adoptive parents.

      I can't promise that you will hear from your daughter--I've heard from adoptees who lets a decade go by--but sending the letter is only going to make your situation worse. As for now, consider these words that ultimately helped me when my (adopted-out) granddaughter said she was in a good place and didn't want any contact--The people who want to be in your life will be; you don't have to go running after them.

      That doesn't mean it won't hurt some days, and you will cry, but focusing on the people who do want to be in your life will help you. You can't fix this situation on your own, but you can commiserate with people who understand. And then, go on. Everybody's got something.
      hugs--lo

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    2. I think I know the letter shouldn’t be sent… and this is why it sits on my computer, for me to edit when I need to deal with my emotions. But my god, almost weekly, I want to send the damn thing.

      I am so angry with her parents. They sold me song. They told me what I wanted to hear – to get what I had. They took advantage of a pregnant kid with no parents and now all these years later, they hold me in contempt for simply wanting a sliver of a relationship with ‘their’ daughter? I feel so incredibly betrayed in ways I never thought imaginable. My anger toward my daughter is somewhat tempered because she is 25, just getting a handle on the prism of life and she has been impossibly sheltered by her helicopter parents. She has also seen, through reunion, that her parents (the only ones she’s known) will withhold love if she pursues a relationship with me (they threatened to withdraw financial support during her final year of college because of her interaction with me). So, yes, I know why she chose. I firmly believe my daughter is a victim and in my letter I acknowledge that when I write: “she had no choice in our decision and she gets to live with the outcome of being given away by me and now kept away by you”.

      I truly feel desirous of writing them all off; literally – metaphorically taking back some of my power. I dread the phone call, if it ever comes, where my daughter acts as if nothing has happened, because I fear I’ll be sucked back in, vulnerable and setting myself up for more emotional destruction. I can’t take it again; I honestly don’t want that call. I think my subconscious wants me to send the letter in order to seal the door shut, permanently.

      I do love the philosophy of ‘focusing on the people who do want to be in your life’ as they are the ones who treat me kindly and deserve my attention and love… and fortunately, I do have those people. I will keep this sentence very close to my heart. Thank you.

      Julia – I do hear what you are saying and I’m not offended at all. I know my daughter doesn’t owe me, nor do I feel entitled to have a relationship with her. I do think without the poisonous interference of her adoptive parents, we would have a chance at something more than nothing. I know it is easy to rose-color-glasses this situation and “if only” this to death. Truth is most relationships are complicated, but adoption just adds an impossibility layer that sucks beyond words.

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  6. This is fascinating. just look at all the comments and replies here, mine included, describing the insecurities (among other things) of adoptive parents.

    Lorraine.....you are absolutely right in that Hilary should not send the letter. It is good that she wrote it, got out some anger, and put it aside. A letter such as that would only make things worse.

    As an adoptee, let me say something here which is not meant to hurt any first mothers, by any means. Jane's post, and comments by first mothers here indicate that you feel you have a right to a relationship with your surrendered "child". You have a lot to offer. You have information. Adoptive parents should not be afraid of or intimidated by you. You are not going to replace the adoptive mother.

    You are all absolutely correct.

    Adoptive parents WILL NOT think so.

    They are insecure. They are, in many cases, still pretending that this adopted child is theirs and ONLY theirs. The secrecy protected them as parents, and made them the only parents the child ever knew. The first mother, or "the girl", as my A-mom called her, is not welcome. The adoptee has probably heard nothing good about the first mother, if they ever heard anything at all. Mine was mentioned only a few times, in such a huff and with such disdain because she disappeared and held up the legal proceeding, that I never thought about her until much later in my life. I still will not speak of her to my AP's. I don't need to cause a World war. The adoptee has spent their whole life with these adoptive parents, being fed only the information the AP's want them to have, none at all, or only negative information.

    Lorraine's daughter described it as a magnet pulled between two poles. She was spot on. The adoptee is in a difficult situation. Depending the on personalities involved, they may not know how to handle it.

    And adoptive parents, especially from closed adoptions and the BSE, will never welcome the first mother into the picture. I will bet my house on that.

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    1. JE: You remember that well--I almost added it to my comment. I agree that if the adoptee does not want the two sets of mothers and/or parents to meet, that should be honored without question. The adoptee is going through enough turmoil without worrying about this.

      My advice would be: do not write that letter unless invited or easily agreed to by the adopted individual. Be content with a relationship, and remember: You don't get whipped cream with everything.

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  7. When my son was found I was elated and scared. My husband at the time made the first call with me on the other line. Once he got my son on the line and verified that it was him. He asked that he write our number down in case we were disconnected. Luckily, my son was curious and he did write number down. He also stayed on the line to talk and we talked for the first time that day. I do remember what he said when my husband told him that I was on the other line. He said no kidding and then we spoke. I remember trying to here in his voice what he was like as if you can do that he had a pleasant, calm voice for a man of 26. He was celebrating his birthday that weekend although his bday wasn't on that weekend. He came that night to see me.
    I do remember what happened after was horrible. After eight months of reunion I was asked to meet adoptive mom. She was pleasant enough, all family was there at Christmas no less.'
    I thought a second about going and my son said just go meet her and then we can leave. We were also picking up his daughter. The two women adoptive mom and her sister had us stand side by side...nope we didn't look like each other. My son looks like his dad with a touch of my family's looks. I thought nothing of this but now that I look at it that was a way to try to put down that connection. From that moment on I tried to befriend her not overly working it but trying to talk with her. She decided it wasn't going to happen. She decided she would lock down on my granddaughter claiming she didn't want her taken away. Told my son this he in turn was not allowed his visits because adoptive mom had to have his child. Just bizarre to me. Insecure, and jealous of him knowing me he told her she knew her mom. Of course it probably hurt her but it was truth. She went on to say and do some terrible things to him. All the while clamping down on his daughters visits he suffered because I found him. His daughter suffered too. Although, she was young two and half at the time.
    After all this came down I decided I didn't need her permission to see my son. He also didn't need her permission to see his daughter. After, twenty six years along as his mom she still feared our meeting. This woman had a close relationship with her parents but felt my son didn't need to know his family. Of course, with sealed records she thought she was safe.
    My son and I have continued our relationship since 92. Adoptive mom passed away a couple of years ago. I am glad I was there for my son. He needed his family.

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  8. I am sorry Lorraine but I disagree, I recently found my daughter and her adoptive parents online, and after my daughter made it clear that she didn’t want contact, I did send a letter to her adoptive parents, it wasn’t a nasty letter I did mention how much I grieved for my daughter after they closed our open adoption. I needed to be heard and it felt good. We are expected to be nice don’t upset the adoptive parents ,their feeling are the only feeling that matter, but our children and their ap need to know that we are just not breeders we are human beings and yes mothers. What they did to me was wrong all I asked for is an update once a year and they could not do that. And yes I know they probably showed the letter to my daughter but just I as question my mother about absent father and found out the truth, I believe that my daughter will question her parents one day and see them for what they are

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    1. Every situation is different. You did what feels right--especially as you were supposed to have an open adoption. You had every right to call them on that. They were absolute pricks to close an open adoption, and NOTHING WILL CHANGE MY MIND ABOUT THAT. I tried to find a nicer word but every one that came to mind was equally offensive, because that is what they deserve. I am so sorry to hear that happened, but it is good to write out it publicly so other vulnerable women can find out the truth.

      And you are right, I always could sense that I was the one who was always supposed to be careful about the feelings of the APs, understanding of whatever my daughter did even as she was trampling on my feelings. Why?

      Because I gave her up, right? Therefor until the end of time, my feelings counted for less. I will say that near the end of my daughter's life, she said to me on the phone: You are my real family, I know that now.

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  9. Hi Jane! I am a bit flummoxed by your post (though I found it and the commentary interesting).

    Why would a mother choose to write adoptive parents on her own? I can see if the child (presumably now an adult) asked but it is not clear in your scenario.

    I can honestly say I have never had the desire (realizing of course, despite having found/communicated with my daughter ten years ago but not granted face to face). Even if she were to welcome me today, my interest in them would be by her request. My desire is to know her - not them. I have no desire to thank them, talk to them, etc. If she wants me to, i will out of respect for her but I have no burning need or desire. I don't mean this maliciously. I just cannot relate. Wondering if i should? Maybe it is because she rejected me? Or that when I first did contact her (not even sure she was she) they intercepted the letter and kept it from her? Or that she did tell me years ago "do not mail anything to my parents home. they do not appreciate you." .

    Do reunited mothers actually write adoptive parents without their child's knowledge/request/permission?

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    1. If they had previously met them and were made bogus promises in a fraudulent open adoption, perhaps. If she met them before her child ever did, I think the tables turn a bit, especially when they treat her viciously when she finds her lost child. Perhaps that would be a bit hard to understand if that is not the type of adoption you were involved in.

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  10. While I usually agree with most of what you both write, Jane and Lorraine, there is one resounding question that keeps popping up for me as I read this blog and the comments. WHY?!
    If the adoptee (child- as you reference here) is in fact an adult now, why would/should the birth mother be the one who need reach out in the first place, unless of course, the adoptee makes the request of her. I understand the wish to make things as easy as possible on the adoptee and sorry if I"m asking the obvious, do most/all adopted adults wish both their families HAVE a relationship? My daughter and I have just observed our first anniversary of reunion (by correspondence only) and are just getting set to meet in person in a few months. From the beginning, her parents have been fearful, insecure and set some harsh limits for her in terms of what she may share about them with me (she's 29!). I'm sure they wish I'd just fallen off the planet after giving birth.
    Interestingly, at a well-attended CUB meeting not so long ago, I posed this exact question to the group, of which there were a good number of adoptees in attendance by the way, (gotta love CUB). The answer was the same, WHY?! Why subject yourself to that, give them all the power again,-still, -more? I actually feel a level of compassion for these people and empathy, (having suffered secondary infertility myself after relinquishment), however, I don't feel it is my responsibility to quell their fears or make everything "ok" for them.

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  11. W@W. Just when I think I can't admire the FMF gang any more strongly... well, there you go again.

    Jane, excellent template for a letter to be personalized as the first mother sees fit. Lorraine, wise advice to Hilary. Julia Emily, alas, succinct communique from the battleground that is maintained by insecure, easily threatened APs.

    Hilary? Your daughter may yet come around when she has loosened her ties with her manipulative APs through maturity (I hope!), and when (I also hope) she is no longer hamstrung by her parents' pursestrings.

    Though not an adoptee, I was hobbled at every developmental turn by my parents tossing cinder blocks in my path. Among the "outrages" I committed as a girl were insisting on attending and graduating from university, by not smoking tobacco (not only for reasons of health but because I couldn't afford the habit), by always fastening my seat belt in a car, and for failing to "watch enough television," in their words. As my mother often put it distastefully, that once-little girl was "just an old woe-man."

    My dear husband, Mr. B, thought I was joking when he first heard all this many years ago. He learned that I wasn't.

    So here's the downside: if the APs are fearful of reunion, they are likely to demean anything they learn about the first mother. If she's educated and has a fine career and/or family, they may call her "high and mighty." If not, they may call her "trash." Same thing goes with their assessment of the physical attractiveness of the woman they see in the photo. I learned this as my parents reacted to events in my life. They gloated at my hard times, sulked at my successes, until they finally cut off all contact not long after Mr. B and I married.

    But I urge the first mother to write that letter. In AA argot, "you didn't cause [their reaction], and you sure as hell can't cure it." And it is your RIGHT to send a civil and pleasant letter: the APs would not have gotten that particular child to raise if not for you.

    Forgive me, please, for reacting so personally: I just returned from a trip to my home state, which included a spin around the old hometown so that my dearest relative from our family of origin could show his wife where we grew up. The sibling whose adoption, and the aftermath, ravaged this relative's family was not mentioned by him to me on this trip, a conscious decision I am sure. But even so... Oy, the memories!

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  12. I don't understand why nparents care about aparents at all during reunion. Reunion is between the adoptee and nparents. Why write a letter to the aparents?

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    1. Reunion is never just about the First Mother and Adoptee.... the world is not that narrow.

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    2. Lori, you are wrong. Some things are that "narrow" and should be. My experience is that the APs hate me and put horrible pressure on my daughter to break off the reunion. If they had been left out of it as my daughter was 38 when we met for the first time, we might still be in contact. The APs are almost never a positive influence on reunion.

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    3. I agree with you! When a reunion takes place the healing is between the child, now adult, who was adopted and the birth parent. It is foolish to think you are responsible for the feelings of he entire family-that is absolutely insane. Adults make their own decisions, therefore, if they choose to reunite with their birth parents and accept their love, then so be it! Really, as loving parents why you not want your child that you raised to feel WHOLE and COMPLETE-clearly this will always be a missing link in a child's life who was adopted. Lets get real!

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  13. This post has generated so many comments about adoptive parents, and they are amazing to read. From the first mother viewpoint, everything you say is correct. You have a bond with the child you surrendered. And the adoptive parents never would have had the child at all, if not for you.

    Insecure adoptive parents certainly do not see it that way. Especially if we are talking about closed adoption, BSE, etc. The child is THEIRS. A possession. End of story.

    My AP's , as we all know, never wanted anything to do with the girl. For God's sake, they never even found out the actual date she gave birth. They wanted a baby. There was, after quite a long wait, a legal proceeding. Lawyers were present, papers were signed. My name was changed, I became theirs. The papers were put away and it was never mentioned again. Kind of like closing the deal upon buying a house. You certainly don't want the previous owners coming back to live with you, right? It's a done deal.

    My a-mother has no idea how traumatic it would be to give up a baby. She never gave birth. She was surrounded by other women who never gave birth, yet had adopted babies. There were 3 of us on one floor of the building where I grew up. God knows how many more lived in the same building that we didn't know about. Women, obviously, were giving up babies all the time. Look at all the happy adopted families that were right there beside us!

    Once again, I am rambling, but this is how adoptive parent see it, except for a few who actually understand. The adoptive parents are the winners. The girl gave up the baby, and never should be heard from again. The adoptee has issues? Oh, well, that's too bad. If we don't talk about it, maybe it will just go away.

    God himself could write a letter to my adoptive parents. They would throw it away and never mention it. As sad as that may seem, it is true.

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    1. Julia Emily summarised the situation:
      '...The girl gave up the baby, and never should be heard from again. The adoptee has issues? Oh, well, that's too bad. If we don't talk about it, maybe it will just go away.'

      This is exactly how my son's adoptive mother sees me and him.
      It's incredibly painful for both of us, as you well know in your own circumstances Julia Emily.
      I agree with you, the adoptive parents are the only winners.

      Delete
  14. Just an aside here. Attended a memorial service for an old and very good friend yesterday who I have known since 1980. There were about 50-60 people there. Three Chinese daughters of non-Chinese parents. Chance of reunion? Probably zero.

    And I agree, whether or not there is a meeting of the two sets of parents is up to the adoptee.

    As to the use of "child"--in this context, "child" means "child" of anyone, of any age. I was asked the other day if I had any children. Not: did you give birth to anyone? Did you raise anyone? We all someone's children. We do understand how the youthful implications of the word in terms of getting an OBC or whatever information available, but the fact remains that we are all someone's children, no matter what age we are. A good comeback would be, when referred to as an "adopted child" in this context, would be: Yes, I am a child of someone; I want to find out who she is.And not add any extra words--such as birth, natural, biological, adoptive, anything at all. The person will grasp your meaning.

    I was and always will be my mother's child. We know the word has a double meaning--both a youthful person but also the son or daughter who is of any age.

    Mrs. Tarquin B: I was called a "New York CAREER WOMAN" by my daughter's amother. As a friend of mine pointed out, there is not one word in there except "woman"that is not derogatory--especially when spoken by someone in the Midwest with a job, not a career. She later said how stunned she was to see how much I resembled Jane, and while our body types were practically mirror images, we did not, I thought, in the face resemble one another so much.

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  15. Jane, I enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing, as an adoptee, it gives me in sight into the thinking of my birth mother. I also feel a bit guilty for not spending more time with her. She lives in an adult foster care facility (4 hours from my house) because of a brain aneurysm that she had years before I met her. My adoptive mother lives with me and Hospice cares for her needs. In a few months, I'll be 60, so I'm not a child by any means. I would not be happy to learn that my birth mother wrote a letter to my adoptive mother.

    My adoptive mother deserves no accolades for adopting me. My parents had a fertility problem and wanted a baby, any baby would do. My birth parents were both young and pressured in to surrender - they went so far as to hire an attorney after placement to have me returned.

    I was the adopted trash. My adoptive parents looked the other way as their genetic relatives molested and terrorized me. My adoptive father was a drunk who would tell me he was dying to get sympathy and then talk sexually suggestive. These people and their families deserve no "thank you." They were attrocious people who all attended church, taught Sunday school, and bad mouth women like my birth mother. Of course, I was the bastard.

    I have not, nor will I ever, share this with my birth mother. She doesn't deserve to know how I was treated. I don't believe for a minute that she or my birth father gave me up for this. I love God, and I believe that he will deal with my adoptive relatives. I've had tons of counseling, been diagnosed with PTSD, but better than that I've had a productive life. I finished college, retired from a good career, and have children of my own, I also adopted older children, and even have grandchildren. God has been very good to me.

    I do not believe that the two sides have to come together to make it good for the adoptee. Your child, at whatever age, has to work it out for themselves. I struggle with some relationships - go figure, but I love my birth parents even though they are not regulars in my life. I have my birth siblings on Facebook, and communicate with them regularly there; I have most of my adoptive relatives blocked. With my background, Facebook is safe because it's public.

    God bless you birth mothers, and thank you for sharing. It may not feel like it, but I believe that God has heard your cries and the cries of your children.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your warmth and care which I feel from here. I'm so deeply sorry that you were treated so badly.

      Delete
  16. I was typing so fast I didn’t realize my errors
    Thank you Lorraine I did say in my letter that them cutting off contact was in their best interest not my daughter. Also when I wanted to give them an updated medical form I was told that it was too upsetting for them. In my letter I ask her amother why? Even if my daughter never wants to know her natural family she would have the information. I guess my family’s history of cancer and heart disease doesn’t matter. In my prior post I meant to say that growing up I believed the story my mother told me about my father he was a deadbeat , no good, but as I got older I realize parts of her story didn’t fit, and I started to search for the truth. Our children will not be children forever and I wonder, once my daughter starts to question her adopters what will they say? What reason can they give for cutting her off from her family ,was a yearly update asking too much? It was healing for me to send a letter to her amother, I needed to be heard and if it pissed her off so be it, at this point, I felt I had nothing else to
    lose

    ReplyDelete
  17. Jane it appears you've put some thought into the form of your sample letter. Please don't ever send a letter like that. It is overloaded with information and will cause many APs to shut down. They won't call the phone number you've given them. You will feel angry at this and then the adoptee will be left in the middle bearing the brunt of the insecuties for both sets of parents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. adoptee: Are you then saying--that any letter is too much? I personally have no experience with writing to the adoptive parents, and it was not an issue regarding my daughter because I met them at the same time. My daughter's medical issues trumped their feelings of invasion from a birth mother.

      All of these troubles come because adoptive parents cling to the belief that birth mothers never ever will be heard from again. Then the culture changes and some have trouble changing with it. Cultural upheavals are always difficult. We asked for comments and I think what we are hearing is that birth parents should not write unless asked by the adoptee to the adoptive parents. Period.

      That is the advice I would give a first mother who has established a relationship with the adoptee.

      Delete
  18. If you want to meet the APs tell the adoptee "I will be in your area and I'd like to get together with your aparents on Friday or Saturday. Give a specific time and request a specific action. The aparents won't make a phone call and the adoptee won't take the lead.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Yeah, you've got me scratching my head here. Why should the APs be on the receiving end of a letter from their adoptive child's mother? It seems like the letter would tip the already weighty AP power balance even more. I would have HATED it if my mother had done this.

    I've known a lot of adult adoptees in the 20+ years of reunion. Almost every adoptee who involved their APs in the reunion relationship with their mother REGRETS it deeply. I remember my own APs (and their bio kids/my 'siblings') refused to look at the photos of my parents that I'd brought to their home to see. After my urging for them to please look and see if they noticed any resemblance, they quickly glanced at them and said no, that they didn't really see any similarity--which was ridiculous and unkind.

    No, it never got any better than that. The only upside was that the former "woman who gave birth to you" finally had a name for them to use.

    I regret sharing any of my now deceased mother with them.

    ReplyDelete
  20. The more I read, the more I see the point of NOT writing. No matter what you say, you are the supplicant hoping for a response, when most or many adoptive parents want nothing to do with us...we are disposable...once they have the child.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the word, Lorraine, that I have been looking for. "Disposable." That is exactly what my AP's have always thought.

      There is nothing to be gained by writing to adoptive parents, if you are the first mother. They have a completely different view of adoption, and of their own importance, than anyone else involved. It's very frustrating!

      Delete
  21. This post has sparked a lot of discussion! I'm going to chime in with how it went for me as a birthmother being invited to my son's adoptive parents' house for dinner. A little background: my son and I wrote letters for six months, then we met in person. After we met, he told his parents. It was emotional, he said, but the way it all shook out was that the adoptive mother and I began writing letters to each other. We had a lot of questions for each other that we got answered. After some months, she invited me and my family (husband and two little girls) to come for dinner at their home (my son, age 21, was still living with them) in a neighboring state. I was a wreck. It was a good thing packing a suitcase and traveling was required to get there or I wouldn't have made it. I'd still be trying on all the clothes in my closet. I think there's a true imbalance of power and it's pretty sweaty getting through it. It was great to have the distraction of the husband (not my son's father) and two adorable little girls who were deliriously happy to have a big brother. We were all on our best behavior. We were all gracious. I think it was hard for all of us except for my daughters for whom it was just dinner followed by a great dessert. I think what might be key is that I followed my son's lead. He thought all the parents should meet, so we did.It seems to me the adopted person should be calling the shots. It's been over 20 years since that dinner and relations are still cordial and warm.There are grandchildren now, and this reunion, it seems to me, just grows more and more important. I've been so, so, so lucky. I wish luck and love to everyone in their reunions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder if the success of this reunion is because you had 6 months of reunion without AP knowledge or involvement? It seems like that foundation made way for a solid relationship. ;-)

      Delete
  22. To me, once the child is adopted the "birthmother" ceases to exist for many adoptive families(not just the parents but the families too). the "child" is brought up to believe that and feel somewhat guilty for hoping that maybe thats not true. Then when the curiosity gets the better of the child, with curiosity being a loaded word...it really is much more then that, they search or want to search and get no support or guarded support from the afamilies. the thought of either mother writing a letter is totally scary to the adopted person. It takes away control from us that we did not have much of to begin with. It may cause feelings from both mothers that could cause us to want to just wither into the ground...then comes the anger, then comes the push/pull that many mothers talk about. Its called confusion, fear, anxiety and so much more...DONT WRITE ANY LETTERS! Let the adoptee control who talks to who.

    Lets be clear, the best scenario for the adoptee is that all families work in the best interest of the adoptee, with all mothers feelings working to make "their" child feel whole, content, and safe in whatever situations may have brought them to where they are...but in most cases that is just a fantasy. to much baggage all around.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Unfortunately for me, the Confidential Intermediary (an adoptee in a bad reunion) took it upon herself to tell all to the adoptive parents. The only time I spoke the the AM was when she was cordially inviting me to come stay with her so I could meet "our" daughter.... then telling me how fat she was and ugly. I don't think that reunion works - ever. I have yet to see one in person or know anyone personally that has a decent reunion with at least a truly cordial, friendly type relationship. I am sorry I bothered at all.

    ReplyDelete
  24. After I began to search for my bmom ( I was pregnant with my first child) I ask mom and dad ( my aparents) if they were ok with it? I asked because I love them and am grateful for the love and sacrifice they made to raise me. However, their love and sacrifice could not overcome the need for me to meet my bparents. My parents and bparents both "share" the titles of grandma and grandpa. My aparents are STILL and will always be "mom and dad", but they have a loving relationship with my bparents and are both honored to share me and my family as "theirs". Long story short, not all aparents are insecure towards bparents and reunion ( some welcome it, especially when the adoptee is an adult)

    ReplyDelete
  25. I cannot speak much on the subject of "reunion" as I have never been out of contact with my adopted son. My relationship with his parents is one I treasure above relationships with my own biological family. Those who are still speaking to me after I placed my son. My son is still young, I've always been an important part of his life, someday he'll fully understand our dynamic, only after our relationship has been solidifying for years. Why make adopting parents the bad guys? We all signed the same termination of parental rights. We should be grateful to them. I am. Constantly. As much as it may bother you, they are the child's parents. Why demonize them? Especially if you want a relationship with your son/daughter? This site is unbelievable. So offensive to both adopting parents, and "first" parents. I just don't understand why. Why? Why be so angry with the people who love and care for the greatest joy in your life? If you did not know the parents beforehand, blame yourself. Take some responsibility. My relationship with my son is not affected by how much his parents love him. Why would they want to hurt him by not allowing our relationship? They wouldn't. It seems like a lot of people here need to take a giant step back and figure out if they would rather enjoy a relationship with their child, or enjoy talking about how miserable they are because of their own choices. It seems difficult to have both. Move forward.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jenny Reese said, about adopting parents, 'We should be grateful to them.'

      My son's adoptive mother was physically, emotionally and psychologically cruel to him. He was homeless at 15. I am not grateful, in the slightest.

      Jenny Reese said: 'If you did not know the parents beforehand, blame yourself'.

      I had no option to know them. Adoption practice 30 years ago did not allow that.

      About adoptive parents: 'Why would they want to hurt him by not allowing our relationship?'

      My son's adoptive family have not considered that their refusal to recognise our unique palce in his life causes him extreme anguish. They have read nothing about adoption, never discuss it, never allow discussion of it, and present him with 'them or us' ultimatums that show no respect for his feelings. They care about themselves, not him.

      Jenny Reese, if you are happy with your adoption lot, then good for you. Many of us are not. Please stop trying to silence us.

      Delete

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