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 email@example.com.
When adoptive parents reject the birth/first mother--they reject the "child"
Two Mothers, Part 3
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.