' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Ancestry Shows Beg the Question: Don't Adoptees have the same curiosity?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ancestry Shows Beg the Question: Don't Adoptees have the same curiosity?

Is anybody watching NBC's Who Do You Think You Are?

Is anybody who was adopted watching through the lens of "Why doesn't the rest of the world understand we want to know where we came from? Why are we denied the right to have a background that is meaningful to us? That means something to me?" I watched and thought: surely those legislators, those adoptive parents, those adoption attorneys, anybody who works for the National Council for Adoption (NCFA), any agency associated with NCFA, anyone who opposes less that giving adoptees their original birth certificates can see that ancestry is important. And if that's the case, why are we still so far behind in opening closed records? Why are adoptees still denied the right to know who they are, where they came from, whence they came?

It makes me nuts.

Last night I watched Lisa Kudrow trace down her family's history that led her to a memorial for those Jews hunted, killed and burned in a small village called Ilya where many were slaughtered in the 1940s. A weeks ago I watched Sarah Jessica Parker learn that one of her direct ancestors was accused of being a witch in Salem, but escaped trial and punishment because the religious court that tried the Salem "witches" was disbanded before she was brought to trial. On their faces, in the emotions they display, you can see how meaningful it is to have a connection to someone whose DNA they share. It's palpable, it's real, it's haunting. Next week, somebody else, some other family ancestral history, more tears and deep feelings stirred by the truth of someone's family history.

The show originated in Britain, where ancestors are more important socially and politically than they are in the New World; but we are all one under the skin. And we are all a part of who came before us, and in some profound way that knowledge is meaningful to our sense of our place in the world. Yet by and large the world denies adoptees this piece of their own humanity. Every legislator who votes against giving adoptees their original birth certificates steals a valuable part of that person and says: You don't need your ancestral knowledge: I'm keeping it under lock and key.

Why? Because I have to protect the sanctity of your adoptive family, your new parents who went to a lot of trouble--and paid a lot of money, in many cases--to get you, and you should be grateful they did! Or they imply, with a straight face, having convinced themselves that this is the right thing to do: I have to protect your mother. Your birth mother. She has made a new life about her and maybe her family, her husband and other kids, don't even know about you! Can't have you upsetting that apple cart, you ungrateful wretch.

It makes me mad. Eons ago, shortly after I published Birthmark, and was fair game for every jerk who was shocked! shocked! that I had the temerity and gall to write such an expose, I was at a dinner party at the home of a well-known restaurant critic. (We had chili and corn bread, since you ask.) Alden Whitman, who then wrote those long essay obits of the celebrated for the New York Times, sat next to me. As the evening wore on and wine loosened his tongue, he went at me mercilessly about having come out of the closet as one-of-those-women-who-gave-away-baby. I doubt he actually read Birthmark, but he was plenty pissed at me, and made no bones about it: What right do you have to write that book! What--well, there was no other complaint, it was simply: You ought to stay in the closet: forever. What gave you the right!@!

Now, this was a guy who had quite a reputation for hitting on the young women at the Times. We'd even had lunch once years earlier before I realized what he was up to. I'm sitting there that night thinking: so...You have a kid somewhere...? And now you are afraid of his coming back? I'm not going to say anything, but trust me, I'd like to, you prick, and would--if your wife were not sitting here also and we now have the whole table of ten mesmerized.

It was his wife who came to my defense. Alden, she said heatedly after listening to his angry barrage, What were we doing in Wales a couple of weeks ago? Mucking around old cemeteries looking for the graves of your ancestors? What are you not understanding? What are you not getting?

No answer. 

Finally the host cleared his throat and put on some music, and people danced. We never spoke about this again. He's dead, the fight goes on, someday we will succeed.

But not before many who search for their roots will die without answers.


  1. Interesting topic Lorraine. I've wondered the same thing as I've watched these shows.
    I'm especially confused about why/whether adoptees would have a natural, intellectual curiousity about their ancestors.

    I am the primary genealogist for my family - I inherited the honor from my now deceased paternal aunt who left unfinished research. Since the internet, I've been able to reach out and connect to about 15 other people on 4 continents researching the same family and who it has been proven through DNA; is descended from the same Chandler family as mine from Sussex County, England. We've joined forces and now have our own Facebook page and research together. And of course each branch has our own family tree for our individual ancestors.

    What's been interesting to me is that very few younger family members, sibling, nieces or even other cousins share this interest or curiosity about our ancestors. I do have one cousin who recently contacted me and I invited her to join our research group, but other than that - no one shows any interest at all. Perhaps this new Ancestry show will pique some interest.

    But what is really astounding to me is that my surrendered son who grew up in a family that he claimed he didn't feel connected to, has not shown any interest in wanting to know anything about his roots. I've asked him if he'd like me to send him my Family Tree Maker File or even just general information and he tells me he has too many other things going on in his life, to be interested 'at this point".

    I have wondered if it's because as an adoptee who spent 21 years before meeting me not feeling like he fit in; that he also assumes he won't feel that he fits in anywhere in his biological family? After all, our family left him behind so why should he care that his 3x Great grandfather was a deserter in the Royal Sussex Army and and jumped a ship to come to this country? Since my son claims to be opposed to war like me, I thought he'd find that intriguing.

    Or even that one of our more recent newly found family members, was part of the originial Microsoft team along with Bill Gates and they are researching our family along with the rest of my group? My son's only comment was, "do you think they'd give me $$$ since I'm related?"

    Even when I've shared with him things that I think he might find of interest, he continues to have ambivelent feelings.

    I have become convinced that he thinks he would have turned out differently and amounted to something more than he perceives himself to be, had my mother not forced me to surrender him. He's already told me he's disappointed that I didn't fight harder to keep him. So why should he care who he's biologically descended from?

    This is just my personal take on my own situation and I would love to hear what other adoptees think about this question.

  2. Being a veteran of the Internet comment wars, I am amazed, shocked, disgusted, and flabbergasted at some of the comments I've seen whenever the topic of heritage, DNA, or genealogy comes up in an adoption setting.

    1 - We're all one people under the skin so why does my (internationally adopted) daughter NEED to know anything about where she was born. To point out that she is different is RACIST.

    2 - Your "real" parents are the ones who raised you. Why do you care whose DNA you carry? It's irrelevant. (Usually the term "sperm and egg donor" is added for emphasis.)

    3 - My (internationally adopted) daughter's heritage has been erased and replaced with the heritage of her "real" parents (us). (Said by a School Board member in a public forum as if this was a good thing.)

    4 - You've got your non-ID stating that you're (Irish, German, Czech, etc.) Why do you need anything else? You KNOW your heritage.

    5 - You're obviously white. Why do you care if your background is Irish or German or Italian or... We're all Americans. To hyphenate Irish-American or German-American several generations out is what is dividing this country!

    I'm sure at some point I was accused of being anti-adoption because I thought adoptees had the right to know their heritage.

  3. Ah, but you see, according to the "Positive/Respectful Adoption Language" campaign folks, the new "politically correct" term is "family history," so that adoptees do not feel they are lacking. "Genealogy" is now a term that is considered "anti-adoption" and "discriminatory" toward adoptees. And this attitude is slowly gaining ground in some genealogy research forums (luckily not much yet).

    Hence, even on the show "Who do You Think You Are?" in the U.K. you had adopted adults tracing the history of their adoptive families, implying that anything else doesn't count.

    So, not even genealogy is considered a "valid" reason any longer -- "knowing your roots" now means the adoptive family's history. I guess genes don't matter one bit other than for those pesky genetic disorders because the adoption industry hasn't figured out how to entirely erase and transplant genes yet.

  4. I'm going to take the newly invented "Family Finder" DNA test. It allows for female adoptees to locate the male relatives that previous tests did not allow.

    I'm not sure if I'll ever get my identity back but I want my kids and grandkids to be able to get it back for themselves and for me.

    These shows fascinate me. (I am very interested in geneaology.) But they also make me extremely angry that I am kept from the information that non-adoptees are allowed to have.

    How many more adoptees have to go to their graves not knowing WHO they are?

  5. Bravo! Sometimes people have to be kicked in the teeth to understand.

  6. I never understood why Real Mothers were told they were selfish if they wanted to look for their babies-that's just...weird. I mean what is wrong with letting your child know you care about them, and want to know if they are alright. The Church and the Adoption Industry are whacked. And truly-they do not treat us like we are human beings and I am bloody sick of it. All this maltreatment towards us, just comes down to them making fun of us, reminisant of the 14th century, when people were even more immature and went around acting like mean 4th graders 24/7, with out any compassion or humanity at all. And we are the only group of people still being forced to live in the dark ages. I don't think I am going to be able to watch this show, because I am frustrated about who my bloodline is, and unless a person doesn't have idenity issues due to Closed Adoption, or has closure, these kinds of shows are just, well they make me sad. I'm glad you liked it though Lorraine, and LoL (although not funny at all), the first time I ever saw SJP was in Hocus Pocus, with Bette Midler who I have loved since I saw The Rose, and she was playing a witch in that movie, how ironic...

  7. Of course genes and blood line matter. If they didn't, there would not be the Herculean effort to keep the right baby with the right mother in the maternity ward. If it "didn't matter" they'd say " Had a girl? Just grab a cute one when you leave...and have a nice life !". Adoptees just learn to stuff their natural curiosity....and desires about their families of origin. Most don't have much of a choice.

    But on the subject of "who do you think you are?" That question will asked of me and my sisters-in-surrender (again this year) on May 9th. As always, the word "just" will be added in front of the word 'who'. And, someone will be wagging their finger in our faces while asking it.
    I hope we all collectively say "I am a Mother". Letters-to-the-editors should be in the draft stage soon....polished up and sent off en mass at the end of April. But I digress. When adoptees are asked "who do you think you are" I expect they mostly just shrug their shoulders and say 'damned if I know!'
    I'd never last through that show without hurling a lamp at the TV and I'm not even adopted.

    p.s. that's my adopted-away son on the left of my daughter and my second 'first son' in the picture near my profile name. We took it last christmas. Do these kids look like they carry the same family blood? and their behaviors are a give-away, too! believe me, blood matters.

  8. kitta here:

    "I never understood why Real Mothers were told they were selfish if they wanted to look for their babies-that's just weird"

    Improper Adoptee. I never understood that either. Neither did my son. He was glad I found him and he asked me if I was afraid he would slam a door in my face. I told him that I was, but at least I would know he was well enough to slam the door.

    He was very interested in his ethnic and heritage background, and asked me about it right away.

    Wow..about the 14th century..the Black Plague...that changed society forever...caused a great transfer of wealth since so many died. The feudal system came down.

    the attitude was youthful and so, yes, immature...due to so many young people growing up after their elders had died in the plague.

    And a different attitude emerged, since rapid sweeping death became a constant companion.

    Science began to become important in answering questions..

    Our heritage gives us a sense of where 'we' were back in time.

  9. Hey everybody, thanks for the thoughtful comments--and food for other blogs in the future.

    A few thoughts: In my husband's family the one adoptee (a cousin) became totally interested in the family tree and she did the family genealogy, got everyone together at her B&B in upstate New York (oddly enough, not far from where I surrendered my daughter, Rochester). Hers was a private adoption and apparently a relative knew who she was but he died without telling her, even though she asked him point blank as his death was imminent. No comment. I have wondered if he not only knew, he was the parent and could not bring himself to admit it after all the years of lying.

    As for myself, I did not become interested in the family tree myself until I was older and so maybe that has something to do with your son, Carol. But your comment about your son turning out differently if you had raised him--do I think that about my daughter? You betcha!

    With her epilepsy she was heavily drugged and had trouble in school and was taunted by kids because she wore a hockey helmet for several years because she would fall over and hurt herself with the numerous seizures. Her parents thought then that I, the missing birth/first mother might have been in a mental institution, or that there was mental illness in the family. Because she had trouble concentrating in school, she ended up in several classes for the learning disabled. NOT NECESSARY! And that certainly colored how she felt about herself. That would not have happened had I been there. As an adult, she completed two years of junior college and graduated with honors. Learning disabled? Not quite. She was, in fact, quite a good writer.

    Because I am not adopted, I find it hard to understand that adoptees can really feel connected to a history and legacy that is not theirs. Connected to their immediate family, yes; but to ancestors whose traits, personalities and DNA they do not share? It baffles me. And that Who Do You Think You Are? supports that fiction in England... well, the world is a nutty place.

    Perhaps the interest goes like this: I am fascinated by my husband's genealogy--he is in fact a direct descendant of Rebecca Nourse, one of the best-known of the Salem witches who was hanged. She was an older woman at the time, apparently quite beloved by many, and if you read Arthur Miller's The Crucible, she is one of the "witches" who is a character. But while I'm interested, I know it has nothing to do with me directly. Yet when we went to Salem last year, I was very interested in learning more about her and wanted to go to the farm site, etc., perhaps more than my husband who wanted to see the property at Eastern Point of a former girlfriend!

    On the other hand, my friend Jen, who does searches in Michigan, sent me 1920 census reports from Jenners, PA the other day that show my grandparents' listings and the age of the children. My father, Harry Dusky, is there as an eight-year-old boy. Now that was interesting. And when we were in Jenners, we spent a rainy cold hour looking for my grandfather's grave site in the Catholic cemetery. That is somehow...me.

    March 21, 2010 8:56 AM

  10. I wasn't going to watch, but my son Dan turned on the show which he said was "moderately interesting" as he had seen an earlier episode, and there was nothing else on. I was glad I watched and thought it was well-done and touching.

    The Holocaust stuff was hard to hear, as I always have a hard time with that horror, but the meeting with old Boleslav and his family was really moving and nice happy ending.

    Yes, of course adoptees should be able to connect with their genetic ancestors, and like Cedar, I find it hard to understand feeling connected to adoptive ancestors. Immediate family, yes, of course, but several generations back, I do not see there is any link. At that point for most of us, the only thing left is genetics, the stories being long-lost.

    I know nothing about my family beyond the names of great-grandparents in Poland and Ireland.
    I am vaguely interested, but not enough to really pursue it. However I have always been fascinated with the oldest photo in my family, which includes a great-grandma who looks exactly like me when I was young. It is spooky.

    When I tell Mike any family history stuff, I always say "my uncle etc, not "your great-uncle" but he knows what I mean and can see the family traits that have shown up in himself, like the love of cats and the beach, and running,( in Mike's generation, not mine:-) as well as just looks. Mike in his wedding picture looks very like my Polish grandpa in his.
    Ironically his adoptive mother was obsessed with her genealogy. Probably one more thing to turn him off to the subject.

    I think these shows, especially those that are well-done, can't help but make adoptees think about their heritage, and are a good thing. I will watch this one again.

  11. My "adopted away son" (thanks earth mother, I like that) is proud of the family tree he put together for his adoptive family.

    I comfortable enough now to share bits and pieces of my family's history. Oh, we know that we are very much alike, but has my father's personality. It is amazing. And his son is my brother. These are things his adoptive family cold never have known. I do know that whenever he or his asis strayed the course it was summed up as "it must be the genes."

    On another note I have become really interested in my genealogy since reunion. Ancestry.com is fabulous, you might be surprised as to the wealth of information that is recorded in the census data. I traced my family back to the mid 1800s without a problem.

    On a lark I decided to trace my son's bfather's family. In a matter of minutes I found records back to the 1500s in France. I am doing this for my grandchildren who one day may want to know.

  12. Thanks for voicing what [we] all see. All broadcast networks are trying their own versions of the "Locator". ABC pulled their version "Find My Family". Hard to believe that it didn't have enough of a rating to keep it going. Just goes to show you how far under the radar this issue is to most people. As an adoptee, one of the hardest things for me to do in order to "search" was to step out of the grateful/obediant box. It did do me some good though. I do hope this article gets to every and all citizens within the borders of this country!
    Thanks again
    J.N.H. aka B.B.M.

  13. Honesly? I tear up at the commercials for that show. I'd LOVE to have that kind of information. I mean, what would that be like? To be able to go back generations? I think it would be just amazing.

    So why don't I just search. It goes back to your previous post where someone commented that about it being a process. It absolutely is.

  14. I'd like to preface my comment by saying I am not looking for pity or a fight but rather to try and make a different point of view known, maybe even understood.

    Having the ability to completely disrupt an entire family's reality as they've always known it is a tremendous burden. To do so in order to satisfy one's curiosity about their genealogy can, for some, feel rather frivolous compared to the effect it could have on possibly numerous innocent people involved.

    It's easy for some to say who cares, it's everyone's right to know their heritage but for some it's not so easily done. There is a genuine care and concern for these strangers who are family that is not disregarded lightly. Feeling this way doesn't make those who do "better or worse adoptees", it just makes them different.

    For some it's a very personal apprehension, nothing to do with villainous adoptive families or money grubbing agencies, just simple trepidation about the possibility of forever changing a woman's image and her role in her family.

    As far as understanding why a person would feel like their adoptive family's history is their own it's because some truly feel they are part of the family, as much as any biological member.

    If there was a magic wand to wave and find out everything about our heritage and it would turn out perfectly for all involved I'm sure you'd see a majority of adoptees wave it.

    It's just not that simple.

  15. Campbell, I don't quite understand what you are saying...I assume you are talking about an adoptee search? And changing a family's opinion of what is? Lord, genealogy does that all the time. One "adopted-out" person does not change the ancestry of a family, or even, I would suggest, the family's attitude towards itself. It's more Uncle Bill was in the Navy, and isn't it interesting that his nephew/grandson wants to the to the Naval Academy?

    In my own case my granddaughters are both pursuing fields that one can see directly in my family: art and writing.

    We can all totally understand apprehension about looking up one's actual biological family tree; I'm just proposing that since these shows about reunion and family heritage are popping up, maybe legislators will begin to understand that adopted people need to have the same rights as the rest of the world: The right to know who they were when they were born.

    As an old bumper sticker I have from Orphan Voyage says: ADOPTED PEOPLE RE NOT ALLOWED ANCESTRY BECAUSE IT MIGHT UPSET SOMEBODY.

  16. I'm talking about appearing in the life of a woman who's told nobody she gave a child up for adoption in order to find out one's genealogy.

    You asked if adoptees have the same curiosity. I'm saying yes but it may come at too high of a cost, for some.

  17. Lorraine...what an excellent post!

    And you are so right, if Sarah Jessica Parker and Lisa Kudrow are interested in their relatives that lived 100's of years ago, why does it not stand to reason that adoptees would be curious about the very people who MADE THEM from their egg and sperm?

    My own a-father, who is a very dear man, is big time into geneology. Sometimes he'll pull out his files and talk to me about the things he is learning. Without hesitation, says things like "your great great grandfather this..." or "how does it feel to know you are mostly Irish?". It has always stuck me as odd that I really don't think it crosses his mind that I'm not even blood related to these people he is talking about.

    Even though I have met my (deceased) mother and know a tiny bit about my bio father...I've never really delved into their family history. All I know is that I am NOT really Irish. (I'm a big chunk Native American Indian...just as I always suspected when looking in the mirror).

  18. I read all the comments and the one that stuck with me is Lorraine's mention of the bumper sticker. The words "because it upset might somebody" could be applied to ALL people involved with adoption. Look at Cedar's comment, "Positive/Respectful Adoption Language" campaign folks, the new "politically correct"... if you ask me political correctness is killing this country. Perhaps this is why all the legislation to free birth certificates STILL sits in the balance, because someone somewhere thinks it is politically incorrect.

    I saw the episode with Lisa Kudrow and found it interesting. HEr emotions were on her face, and I think she was really stunned.

  19. Equal strokes for equal folks.
    Personally, I think adopted persons are entitled to both sorts of history.

    But surely, in individual cases, this is primarily a matter for the adopted person to decide.

  20. If a few women who gave up children for adoption did not tell anyone, that is their problem, not the problem of their surrendered child. In fact this is rare today, and getting rarer as the older generations die off. We are not living in the 1950s any more.

    Don't worry about those hypothetical women, Campbell, and don't discourage adoptees who want to find their original families because they MIGHT hurt someone. Chances are much greater that they will make a mother very happy, and maybe other family members as well.

    But even if people are upset, adoptees still have a right to know their heritage, and whatever relationship comes of that can be worked out by the parties involved. Nobody needs protection, we are all adults and can sort it out and deal with it ourselves.

  21. "Family history" is being used because it's now in the school system. Another option is the "personal timeline." I have no problem with either. These modifications did not come about because or the "sanctity of the adoptive family" (which nobody in the real world could give a crap about) but because of divorce, blended families, and single-parent families where connections to the other parent's family may be questionable or non-existent. It also happens to benefit a much smaller population--adoptees.

    There is a tendency to see too much of adoption in everything.

  22. Campbell: As a bumper sticker I found reads: I'm a person not a "painful reminder".

    A relinquishing mother who never tells anyone and whose life will be destroyed if anyone finds out? Really? If there is such a woman, she needs a reality check because the real world is not "Fantasy Island".

  23. "Don't worry about those hypothetical women, Campbell, and don't discourage adoptees who want to find their original families because they MIGHT hurt someone."

    Trouble is my mother is not hypothetical.

    It's not my intent to discourage adoptees but to relay a perspective of some adoptees.

  24. "...appearing in the life of a woman who's told nobody she gave a child up for adoption." ...which was not a crime in spite of the fact a lot of us were TREATED like criminals before, during and after the adoption process by adults whom we TRUSTED.

    good grief--even the Pentagon wants to lose the Don't Tell policy cause keeping secrets about who we are-- REALLY stinks.
    We were just (dare I say "mostly") good girls who had sex and got caught. Not like we had a corner on the young-girl-gets-raped-or-simply-uses-poor-judgment market, though.
    Of COURSE there were PLENTY of good girls who had sex and did NOT get pregnant...we call many of them Adoptive Mothers now.

    Harsh as it may seem, it's 2010. If a Mother is contacted by her own flesh and blood and she has 'told nobody' then sounds like it's just high time for a telling party to deflate the big old secret once and for all. Better idea is to deal with it before that proverbial knock at the door. At the very least, those opposed to adoption reform will have one less barrier to point to. When they say that to me (she's never told anyone) I say: SO? Now perhaps SHE WILLLLLOLLLLLLLLLLLL! DUH.

  25. if anyone could please help me.I have recently found out that my family has known for many years where my son was placed for adoptopn. He has been told who his uncle is with no mention of me. I am hurt by this that my own family has kept this from me and it is like i am being judged all over again. I have access to how to get a hold of my son but i do not want to step on anyones toes, or make anyone feel unconfortable.

    It is a good thing to know that there are people out there just like me who know my pain and understand not just ones who caused you the pain in the fist place.

  26. Campbell, it is perfectly ok that you chose not to search for your own birthmother, if that is the case. If you did search and she had not told anyone, that is still her problem, not yours. I do not know your story.Perhaps you could briefly enlighten us here.

    Every adoptee has to make their own choice to search or not, and all the ones I know who searched were all too aware of possible difficult outcomes. It takes a great deal of courage to go forward into the unknown.

    If your mother rejected you because of fear of exposure, I am sorry to hear it. But if you are just assuming she might not have told people and are not searching only for that reason, you might be making a huge mistake.

    By the way, meeting living relatives is not genealogy, it is much more personal and serious that getting details about long-dead ancestors.Those who do search seldom do so for trivial reasons, without thought, or without consideration for those found.

  27. Well anonymous, I'm a person, not a bumper sticker.

    I am a real person who worries about f**king up someone elses life so that I can find out if I'm a witch or not.

    Although the reactions of outrage don't really surprise me, it does surprise me if you think I'm the only in North America that is in this position that would have these concerns.

  28. I understood what Campbell was saying about the potential price our families would pay and for some families the fall out is real and still applies today.

    It is something that weighs heavy in the heart and should not scoffed away as 'whatever'. For some it is part of the process of making the decision on whether or not to search and must be thoroughly worked through and the individual must be at peace with. There is no right or wrong answer in this decision to search or not, it is only what is right for that specific adoptee. Not something to be dismissed by others which is what I hear in some of the comments.

    Adoptees come from all eras - not just todays era and that seems to be forgotten in conversations - we are not all just 20 something and at 30 we cease to be adoptees.

    There is no right or wrong in the choice to search - only what is right for the individual at the time. We all change and evolve as we experience life and if choices change then they change - if they don't - they don't - but do not negate anothers voice in the process of making your voice heard.

    In no way was Campbell stating adoptees should not search - only stating it is a personal decision and for some the potential fall out to our families of birth may factor into the decision.

  29. Campbell,
    It seems you are interested in protecting your first mother from herself, as a reflection of your caring and concern. That limits you both. Do you have information that your mother is in a particularly fragile state and has no or minimal possibility for or interest in growth?

  30. "find out if I'm a witch or not"???
    Well that is truly a unique reason for searching!:-) Assuming you are referring to that TV show where someone was related to a Salem Witch, I read somewhere that statistically if your family was among those who made it to the US in the 16 and early 1700s, chances are good you are related to everyone who was here then. So it is not remarkable. Do the math.

    Your fear of hurting your birthmother is very common among adoptees, but often proves to be unrealistic. That's all. It is still your personal choice not to search, which I respect, but do not see that it makes you more caring than those who do search.

  31. Except, Maryanne and jmomma, haven't there been original mothers who freaked out so bad they took it out on their surrendered child too? I dunno. I think any searching fears are legitimate, but just have to be weighed against what could be.

  32. I in no way meant to say that I was more caring. In fact I stated it doesn't make me good or bad.

    I have searched, I have found. I know she's told nobody about me other than her deceased husband. I am not assuming anything. My concern is not unrealistic. We've had one exchange of non identifying letters and I've since mailed her twice with all my contact info and not heard back.

    As Sandy explained (I'm relieved to see you understood my point by the way) adoptees come from all eras. My mother happens to be in her 70's. No, I do not know that she is "is in a particularly fragile state (she looks quite the opposite) and has no or minimal possibility for or interest in growth" but I can safely assume telling her children and grandchildren, sisters, brothers, whomever about this part of her life is not high on her "before I die list of things to do" since she's felt the need to keep it private.

    I just wanted to make the point that for me (and likely others), that yes, I am curious and it would be interesting but in this situation the cost may be too high.

    That's all.

  33. Although adoptees I've met and whose memoirs I've read prepared themselves for rejection, it was far more common to be welcomed with open arms -- which they were not prepared for.

  34. Sorry to comment again but this is not about fear of rejection.

    It's fear of altering people's realities.

  35. Campbell, I know you are honoring your birth mother's fears...and I respect that. If we could reach your birth mother and talk to her, maybe she could see that outing herself would not be the worst thing in the world. But she is who she is, and I'm sad for her (that she has to live a lie) and sad for you (that you are denied access to a larger family you are related to).

    Adoption, as I've said before, is always painful. And you are among those paying the price.

  36. Thanks for explaining your situation, Campbell. You have shown you are dealing realistically with a real situation, not a hypothetical one. That makes all the difference. I am sorry if anything I said was out of line, and also sorry your mother is the way she is. It is a tough situation.

  37. This is an interesting post. I am not adopted myself, well, I am by my father, but my mother is my biological mother, so I am in a different boat. I do not know exactly who my biological father was. I know a name and a country, but never saw a photograph and never will. Finding him would literally be finding a needle in a haystack. He has a very, very, very common name in a country that does not have a large selection of names to begin with. Genealogy is something that became important to me, I think partly because of my situation. If I couldn't know about my Father I'd find out everything I could about my Mother. It breaks my heart that there are people out there who are denied this information. I never understood how genetics impact people until doing research and seeing my sister. My sister was raised by another family and seeing her after all those years and all grown up... she had the exact same mannerisms of our Grandmother. Someone she had seen as an infant, but grew up not knowing. She is almost a mirror image of her, they have the same facial and body expressions. Through genealogy I was able to learn where my "unique" nose came from and why I have a darker skin tone than many of my other family members.

    I personally enjoyed this show very much and I hope they continue it.



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