' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Writing the First Letter to your birth mother (or a sibling)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Writing the First Letter to your birth mother (or a sibling)

What to write in that first letter to your birth mother?--If that is how you decide to make the initial contact. It's your introduction to a woman you hope will want to know you, and with whom you may have a continuing relationship. It's an advertisement for yourself to the woman who gave birth to you--but hasn't seen you since.

Chances are, your mother has been hoping for this day all your life and will welcome you with an open heart. She may have already searched for you and been unsuccessful. She may have contacted your adoptive parents and been told to leave you alone. They may have even threatened her. Or she may have been afraid to search because social workers and her priest and her friends and maybe her mother or father, urged you not to. She may have been afraid that you did not know you were adopted, and that it would "destroy your world" if she showed up. She may have been told to "leave well enough alone." Or she may not know how to search, and otherwise be afraid to. 

For some women, make no mistake, the letter will come as a shock. Some first mothers have been in the the closet so long they are unable to reciprocate and refuse contact.  They may change their minds in the future, and even if they do not respond, they may keep the letter, and read it many times. No matter how it is received, you want it to make the best impression possible, and make the letter as inviting as you can. If you are writing to a sibling, unless you know differently, you need to assume that they do not know about you.

If you have the name and address and phone number of your first mother, a call may be the safest and most discreet because you do not know who will see her mail before she does, and ask her who the letter is from. And your very existence may be something she has kept secret. However, if you are going through an intermediary, you may have to write a letter; or you may simply choose to write instead of phone.

You want to let your birth mother, or sibling, know that you are a thoughtful, sincere individual, and that you are interested in her well-being as much as your own. The letter may open feelings she thought she had buried. Be friendly and honest, and not overly emotional. Yes, we know this is tricky. You will probably write the letter a few times before you are happy with the result. Our suggestions:
  • Keep it short--aim for two pages, no more. You also don't want to overwhelm her with this first communication. 
  • Write it by hand, rather than on a computer. Just as a handwritten thank you note is preferred to a typed one, a letter written in your own handwriting is a more powerful, intimate document than one printed by a machine. Your handwriting, the paper you choose, even the type of pen you use--all give a sense of your personality, and may remind her of herself. We've heard of a mother once who got a note written with a peacock blue pen, and the woman immediately knew it was from her daughter--who else would use such a distinctive color? 
  •  Include general information about yourself: education, occupation, marital or partner status, and whether you have children. If there is a particular reason you are searching at this time--say an illness or health concern--include that. Say how long or short a time you have been searching. Try to imagine what the woman who gave birth to you might want to know, or what you would tell a new acquaintance you wanted to like you.  
  • Do include mention special interests and hobbies--she may indeed have the same ones, or know that your father did. They can be as diverse as travel to knitting, photographer to your favorite television show, your collection of mid-century pottery to matchbooks from restaurants you've visited. 
  • You can say that your adoptive parents were good people and that your growing up was generally a healthy, happy time. But don't go overboard here and talk about the pony you had or how you can't imagine a better "Mom" in the whole world. Unless she is wealthy and accomplished herself, this will likely make her feel diminished and fearful that she does not live up to your social/educational status because of your privileged adoptive background, and could make her fearful of meeting you. 
  • Do include a photograph or yourself, or with your family, especially if you have children. Your mother or sibling may immediately recognize family resemblances, and increase the chances she will want to meet you. If you have some physical characteristic that you have always wondered about, include that. Writing something like, "I've always been tall and played center on my high school basketball team," conveys both your physical information and a special ability. Or you might include that you are not athletic, but are a passionate reader/chess player/music fan. A quirky little detail about yourself may turn out to be the connective tissue that delights her. So many times when watching Long Lost Family, you'll notice that the mother and daughter will share a trait such as wearing vivid or dark nail polish on manicured nails. Or wear none at all. 
  • Omit any difficult circumstances of your growing up. Your mother may have deep feelings of remorse and guilt over having relinquished you, and the point of the first letter is to establish a relationship. There will be time to share this unhappy news later. So leave out information such as, your adoptive parents were abusive, the adoption was terminated, you bounced around from one place to another, et cetera.
  • You may ask for an updated medical history/family background. If there is a critical need for the information at this particular time, include that. However, do not make it seem as if that is the only reason you are contacting her; she may desire a relationship, and a request for only medical data may seem cold and put her off. You might add if she does not wish to have a relationship, you still want and need updated medical information. You could remind her that you are always asked for it when you visit a doctor.
  • Do be specific about asking for a phone call and/or a meeting, but add that you will respect her need for time to process this contact, as well as her lead on how to proceed. If a birth mother has to tell her husband, or children, about your very existence, and she is fearful of doing so, you will be called upon to have the patience of Job. It is not just the guilt over the relinquishment that prevents such women from immediately telling the rest of their immediate family, it is knowing that the people she tells will not only see her somewhat differently, but they also may feel that they have been lied to because this information was withheld. We cannot exaggerate the amount of guilt that the culture of the past has bred into the birth mother blood stream, and for every woman it will be different. 
  • Include contact information and the best way to reach you, as well as the best times, if via phone. Include our email address, and you may add, if true, that you are on Facebook so that she may see a window into your life. 
  • You can sign the letter, as Your daughter, or Your sister/brother.
  • Send it registered so that she has to sign for it. You want to know that it was received by the person you are searching. You want to know that it arrived, and was not lost in transit or is sitting somewhere in someone else's hands. 

Dear Ms. Jones,
My name is Samantha Smith. I was born on January 15, 1972 at General Hospital in San Francisco, California, and I believe you may be the mother who relinquished me for adoption. I learned your name from an adoption searcher/information my adoptive parents had/combing through birth records at the public library/whatever. 

I was adopted by John and Mary Smith and raised in Portland, Oregon, and have two siblings. I graduated from Portland High School where I was involved in the high school yearbook/national honor society/band/basketball, and then went to XYZ College/traveled the world/got a job. My favorite subjects were math and science. Or, I'm kinda a nerd, and didn't go out for school activities. (To someone who has been a loner, that is just as appealing as being president of student council or captain of the cheerleading squad. This is one time where embellishing your life may not enhance the letter's reception. No matter whether the letter was welcomed or feared, honesty will let her see any resemblances between the two of you. 

After high school, I attended the University of Oregon and studied biochemistry. Or went to work as a barista in a coffee shop, entered the military, whatever. 

I live in Eugene. I'm married and have two children, a boy, 9, and a girl, 6. We like to go camping and hiking on the weekends. I am a vegetarian and we have an organic garden in our backyard. I work in information technology at the University of Oregon. Or: We are bookish types and enjoy political discussion and reading 19th century classics. I have included a picture of us at the Piazza Navona in Rome. Or: I love country music and step dancing. I have included a photograph of us camping last year on the Oregon coast near Cannon Beach. 

If you are my birth mother (or, "the woman I am looking for"), I would like very much to be in touch--and meet you eventually. I won't contact you unless you agree, but knowing you would mean so much to me, as well as answer questions I have had all my life. The best time to call would be from x to x p.m. on weeknights/or whenever. +

My contact information:
email address,
telephone number

your daughter (or son), 

  • Do not address her as "Mother" or "Mom." Wait until you are better acquainted and find out what she's comfortable with. And though you have have heard the words birth mother all your life, this first paragraph may be a place to simply refer to her as your mother without a qualifier attached. Or simply avoid the use of the word mother, if that makes you uncomfortable. However, that is why you are writing to this particular woman.
  • Do not thank her for her selfless decision, and for giving you a good life with wonderful parents. She may take this as an insult, as it may make her feel you think she was not good enough to raise you, and that you were better off growing up without her.  
  • Do not say that all you want is information--even if that is how you feel at this time. She may believe that you consider her just a resource, and you have no interest in her as a human being. See above. 
  • Do not tell her that you had a horrible life because she abandoned you. It is likely that your mother had little or no choice about giving you up, so do not lay a guilt trip on her. 
  • Do not show off stuff, to wit: "After I made my first million, my wife and I took a trip around the world." Besides the fact that nobody likes a boaster, this may make her feel she is not good enough for you or that you believe your success was due to your adoption. See above. 
  • Do not include deeply negative stuff, i.e., "After I was released from prison, I started using drugs again." This may cause her to fear you. 
  • Do not ask for information about your birth father. She may harbor ill feelings towards him--there is always the possibility she was raped--and bringing this up now will increase her fears, if she has any, about meeting you. The time for asking about your father is later. If you have already met him--DNA makes no distinction between which parent to connect an adoptee to first--you may consider leaving that out, unless that he is the connection that led you to her. If he remembers their affair in a positive light, you may reconsider and decide to include him. 
  • Do not use language that demands: to know about your father, possibly siblings, why you were given up. Of course you want to know these things, but wait until you have a relationship. Demanding anything puts anyone on the defensive, and she may already feel extremely vulnerable. She may need to become comfortable with you first before she can talk about what may have been a very painful relationship or incident. No matter how or why she gave you up, relinquishment is always agonizingly difficult for a first mother to think about.
  • Do not say that you're not looking for another mother. She is probably not thinking that you were, but saying it makes it sounds as if you're putting her in her place--that obviously she can't be your "mother." As she reads this letter, her first communication from a son or daughter she relinquished many years earlier, her feelings are going to be tender. Let the details about your personal feelings and needs come up in time as your relationship progresses, just as you would in any new relationship. 
We strongly advise you not to contact your mother's relatives or friends FIRST asking whether they think she would be receptive. They have no way of knowing what is truly in her heart. She may not have talked about you to them for years, or at all, and they may take this to mean that she does not want to hear from you, when the opposite may be true. They may truly believe that sending you away is in her best interests. Or the relative may contact her in misguided enthusiasm, before you do, and that may make a woman feel invaded. A reunion is, in the initial stages, an extremely personal matter between the son or daughter and his or her mother.

When reaching out to a sibling, do not assume they are in contact with the birth parents. You may ask that your letter be kept private between the two of you--until you decide how to proceed contacting them. If a birth mother has denied contact with you, and you are writing a sibling, it is probable that the individual will tell the parent. But remember, everyone is different. Some siblings may be sympathetic and able to bring the reluctant birth parent along, and facilitate a reunion. See also: Should adoptees contact their siblings when first parents are reluctant?

If the letter will go through in intermediary, and you are not allowed to include identifying and contact information, aim to be as personal as possible. Include as many traits and preferences as you can. Probably how much you may include varies from confidential intermediary to confidential intermediary. We hate this kind of letter that must pass through a sieve that keeps people apart, but this is required until the laws in many states are changed.*  And good luck!--lorraine and Jane
*If this is the situation in your state, we urge you to get involved in changing the law, and at the very least, to write your state legislator to express your plight at being denied your original birth certificate. Without more people making themselves heard, original birth certificates will stay sealed, and confidential intermediaries will be bound by law to redact contact information--including your name! 

You may also want to read: A Letter to (Birth) Mothers Who Reject Reunion
Reaching Those Women in the Closet
Telling my family about my first child--and then going public
 Coming out of the closet as a birthmother: To Tell the Truth...Or Not?
Adoptees Who Say They Only Want Information Hurt Everyone
"Thanking" your birthmother for letting you be adopted
Telling your Birthmother She Made the Right Decision



  1. This is good advice. I hope those who are making first contact will take it to heart.

    My son and I were reunited through ISRR (Soundex), which is a wonderful organization, facilitating thousands of mutual consent reunions. Phone calls to me and him to set up our initial phone contact. Letters were not recommended for first contact (whole different deal than if either party is "cold calling."). Ours was mutual consent in accordance with the registry. I must say that I would have much preferred to exchange letters first, but I also understand their philosophy, to jump-start our contact. In retrospect, I approve.

    As for what to say. The ISRR rep told me to tell my son that I never forgot him, that I thought of him everyday. This was true! So it was easy to comply. He thanked me for not aborting him, for giving him life. And I suspect that's what ISRR suggested that he say. I think they were kinda setting us up for what they thought we'd both want to hear, as in smoothing the way.

    What didn't happen, which you advised, was any holding back on his part in terms of his life with his adoptive family. He told me about the abuse he endured, how he was sent away at 13, and what happened after, when he ended up in group homes and on the street.

    Talk about mother guilt, since we had been told we were giving our child a better life, more than we could ever provide.

    I had a lot to cope with, to overcome that blow. Still do, sometimes.

    Anyway, thanks for this post. I hope those making first contact will take it into consideration.

  2. Thanks for writing this post. I think some of it I knew ituitively from years of talking with moms and hearing their stories. However, now that I'm actually filling out paperwork about myself, I've felt paralyzed. Seeing the examples was really helpful.

  3. Awesome post! I wish I had read something like this before I wrote my first letter. I reread it recently and cringed at some of my statements, which at the time I thought were great.

    Thanks for providing a great resource. Writing a letter is such a personal thing and everyone has their own style, but sometimes it's nice to have a little guidance :-)

  4. Good advice in general, but I would add above all, be honest about yourself and feelings. I do not think it wrong to say that you are not looking for another mother if that is how you feel, and some mothers would take that as a positive, not a negative. Also "just seeking information". If that is so, there is nothing wrong with saying it. Better than getting up your mother's hope for a relationship if that is not to be.

    Do keep it brief though, friendly, reassuring, not overly emotional. You are writing to someone you do not know, and more important, whose circumstances you may have no idea about. Also with a snail mail letter you do not know who else may open it out of curiousity. It is good to keep that possibility in mind as well.

    Be true to yourself. You can't really second guess the fine points of what your particular mother may or may not find insulting, so just use common courtesy and sense, and above all honesty, which does not mean telling all in that first letter. Jane has made some very good points about not getting too deeply into the negatives, that can come later if needs be.

    Personally, I like to hear that my son is doing well, is happy. I would have liked it if he had been close to his adoptive family, but sadly that was not the case for him, and yes, it did come out but much later in the relationship.

    We are all different, there is no one letter to either the found adoptee or found mother, but some general guidelines like these are helpful, as long as you tailor them to your own situation and feelings. I wish I had had some kind of guidelines years ago rather then the dreadful overly emotional "poor me" things I initially wrote to my son. It did not help.

  5. We have already posted suggestions for first mothers writing to their sons or daughters, there a link to a permanent page at the top of the home page. This will be added later.

  6. Argh! We wish we were perfect!

    I have added a graf about making a phone call instead of a letter as first contact because you do not know who will handle the mail before it gets to one's mother.

    However, some may still be writing a letter, through an intermediary, you may be able to be open and personal, and so we stand by our suggestions. However, to include or obscure things such as where you work, etc. until you actually know the person is a personal preference.

  7. I have to say this is the first time I have completely disagreed with your writings. I don't think it's ever appropriate to write about these personal things in the first contact. I have never heard, in over four years of search angeling, of a successful first contact by such a revealing letter. First off, you can never be assured that the mother actually receives it. Secondly, you risk the chance that someone else in the family will intercept it and mother will be "outed" and put into a awkward and stressful defensive position. I just can't stress enough that contact should be made by phone, discretely and privately.

  8. I just picked up the phone and called. I know this is not always possible since some people won't be able to get a phone number but I agree with Priscilla that it is the better way to go if one has the option.

    If I had sent a letter I would have been sitting on the edge of my seat having a friggin' nervous breakdown wondering "Did she get the letter?" Did it get lost in the mail?" How long should I wait until I expect a response?" I know a letter can be sent return receipt requested but that makes it stand out. If my n-mother had not told anyone someone else might see it and question who she got such an important letter from.

    When I first called my n-mother I made sure it was her on the line and verified that she had privacy and was able to talk and then I told her who I was. She was of course totally surprised but happy.

    "Chances are, your mother has been hoping for this day all your life and will welcome you with an open heart."

    Actually, I think it is important for those supporting a searcher not to stress the above attitude too much. No adoptee knows what s/he will find and as we have seen by so many who have commented here, there is a lot of rejection. It worries me when I think adoptees keep getting this message and it isn't always true. I was one of the lucky ones. But I can tell you had my mother rejected me I would have been devastated beyond belief. And not just because of the rejection but because I had been so consistently getting the type of message as described above. I think it is better to tell adoptees that they don't what they will find but they have a right to know their own parents and their story. JMHO.

    @Ms. Marginalia,

    I couldn't post a comment at your blog so I just wanted to say that I am wishing you the best this weekend. I will be thinking of you. Please take some time off from work afterwards. I know you will be very emotional and will need time to yourself to process the experience. Hugs :)


  9. Priscilla,

    I really disagree with you. We didn't and don't recommend writing anything personal. We said include general information about yourself. Let the personal stuff come out later. If you believe that writing about your marital status, children, hobbies, and the like is personal don't include it.

    I received a letter from my daughter via a relative. The letter was perfect, less than a page. She told me a little about herself and how to contact her. I would have preferred she not have contacted the relative but that was the only address she had.

    A phone call would have been much less private. Sure enough someone in my home would have asked who I was talking to. "Nobody, dear" is not a satisfactory answer, Having a letter with my daughter's phone number allowed me to call when I knew we would not be disturbed. The letter was easy to hide until I was ready to disclose it.

  10. Ok I never had to write a first contact letter, but I would agree with Pris here, do not reveal too much.

    And I also agree with Maryanne, people need to be true to themselves. I mean if I had written a letter, most likely I would have said something like, "I thought of you every day of my life, and I've missed you since the day I was born. I never considered the strangers who raised me my family, and I can't wait to get to know my real family. I love you, Mom."

  11. I know everybody is not me, or a mother who is waiting to be found, but Elizabeth, if I had received a letter like that, I would have been over the moon with happiness.

    Jane and I tried to cover all the possible bases, and she and I came at it differently: I searched; she was found.

  12. PS: Well, I would have been somewhat freaked out that her family had not been .... loving, comfortable for her, whatever. Yes, that would have scared me but I would have wanted to come in and "fix" whatever I could.

  13. The first time I contacted my first father, I wrote a letter and sent it to his office. I received a letter back telling me that he did not want any communication with me. But he did give me a lot of information, which I cherished.

    11 years later, I wanted to try again to establish contact. At the advice of an online friend, I I phoned him instead of sending a letter. I approached the conversation exactly as this person advised, and it worked! I didn't apologize for intruding, or gush emotion. I matter-of-factly told him I wanted to meet him. Then I asked him to check his calendar over the next two months and let me know which weekends were convenient for me to visit. "Sure, you can come," he said. "Why not?"

    I'm not sure if a phone call like that would work for a first mother, but perhaps some fathers might appreciate the business-like, direct approach.

    Waiting 11 years was also significant, because by then his children were all grown and he was divorced. So he had little to loose by meeting me.

    Based on my experience, I would advise, start with a letter or FB message, and if you don't get anywhere, try a phone call.

    Jane mentioned that I sent a letter to a relative of hers. The first two times I sent letters c/o Jane's aunt, they never made it to Jane. The third time I attempted contact, I sent another letter and then followed up with a phone call to the aunt. Whatever I said over the phone motivated the aunt to tell Jane that I was trying to contact her.

    The rest is history.

    I think in the era of Social Media, a lot of contacts in the future will be attempted through Facebook.

  14. The following are documents from PARC - post adoption resources centre - for NSW in Australia:


    Though PARC is an Australian organiation (part of the Benevolent Society of NSW), there are some good resources re reunion on their website:


    Btw when I reapplied for my OBC and info from New Zealand a few years ago, they sent along an excellent booklet about reunion, what to expect and the pros and cons of each way of making contact(unfortunately, there is no online copy of this booklet available). I think a similar booklet should be mandatory for anyone applying for their OBCs.

  15. Thank you, Robin! I appreciate the good wishes. I am excited but the nerves are just starting to kick in. It's surreal, to say the least. I am thankfully off work now until next Wednesday.

    I agree with Robin that Lorraine's comment along the lines of "Chances are your mother has been waiting for this all her life and will welcome you with open arms" is problematic. Chance are, but all too often we've seen the opposite. It's so easy to get hopes up, and then have them (and yourself) dashed to hell. It's better to admit that you don't know the temperament/expectations/issues of the person at the other end, what their thoughts are on the subject of adoption, and what their life looks like when you are sending the letter or making the call. The important thing is to be satisfied that you're doing what's right for YOU at that moment, and hope for the best. This goes for both adoptees and mothers who reach out.

    I did very much like Lorraine's sample letter. Mine looked quite similar to it. It turns out that although my mother froze me out for a long time, she kept that letter in a safe place and treasured it. Words do matter. I did make sure that it was a letter that was true to me, what I sound like, and what I feel. I think that showed.

  16. For a mother like me, who was searching or eager to be found, it really would not matter what the letter said, or if it were a letter, phone call, or knock at the door. Hey, my son could have shown up with a marching band, it would have been cool:-)

    I always wanted to know my son, no matter what, all my family and friends knew, so the method of contact was irrelevant. There is nothing he could have said that would have made me not want to meet him. As it turned out, he was not interested in knowing me for many years, and I fear that my early contacts to him made him even more leery, due to circumstances I did not know about until years later.

    But that is just me, not all mothers, and the problem is that the searching party does not know what they will find or how that person feels. I agree with Priscilla that it is wrong for those of us eager for contact to assure searchers that all or most mothers also feel that way. People need to be prepared for anything, because anything can happen in a search. For many searchers, a response is already there waiting for them, open arms or rejection, no matter what they do or how they do it. It is out of your hands as the searching party,which is a hard thing to accept for most of us.

    Where the tone of a letter or method of contact matters is if you find a mother who is undecided what she wants, or fearful, but still open to some contact. That is where the advice not to overwhelm, not to spill your guts, not to presume anything comes in.When you don't know, it is always better to err on the side of caution. Sometimes a very vague enquiry, "does the date June 12, 1969 mean anything to you? I believe we met many years ago...."followed by your phone number, email, name and address is the safest way to go.

    Priscilla's comment that anyone can open a letter is a real concern. It has happened. What seems to be happening much more today though is contact through Facebook and other social media, or through email. In this area like so many others the letter has become obsolete for the most part. Also getting a phone number is a whole different issue today as so many people only use cell phones, no land lines, and the person can be anywhere when you reach them on a cell phone.

    I think we need some younger adoptees and mothers to write about the joys, problems, ethics and etiquette of modern contact and reunion, to supplement the experience of us oldies!

  17. "My name is Samantha Smith. I was born on January 15, 1972 at General Hospital in San Francisco, California, and I believe you may be the mother who relinquished me for adoption." Waaay too much revealing exposure in the first sentence! If we're going to err, it should be on the side of caution and too much discretion. That alone would have sent most of the mothers I have found right through the roof. Many of them would be scared to death their husbands and subsequent children would see it.
    If you can't call on the phone, a simple, hand-written note, "Mrs. Smith. I am researching the [birth name] family history and I believe we might be related. I hope I have found the right [maiden name/married name]. Please call me or let me know when will be a good time to call you. I am looking forward to reconnecting with family."

  18. Ah....except that I was the mother, how that letter is written is what I said to my daughter's mother when I called: My name is Lorraine Dusky and on April 5, 1966 I gave birth to a girl at Rochester General Hospital, and I believe that she is Jane....

    She said: What did you say your name was? Where are you calling from? She wanted to get the information down, in case I got cold feet and hung up, because they had been trying to get in touch with me.

    All I can say, is that every case/every person is different. Those of us who want reunion would take a call or letter in any form. Mothers in hiding want more discretion.

    Like Maryanne said, if I had heard from my daughter Jane first, she could have said anything--or shown up with that same brass band. Hell, I was already so far out of the closet that she was far from a secret--to anybody. Secret children really are a bad secret to keep.

  19. I came across a short online article on "The 5 Biggest 1st Date Mistakes You Can Make." These really hit home to me. I think these could be altered to read, "the five biggest mistakes you can make when embarking on an adoption reunion." It might be helpful to keep these in mind initiating First Contact.

    1. Trying too hard
    2. Assuming too much
    3. Unpacking your baggage
    4. Having bad hygiene/manners
    5. Bringing a sidekick

  20. When I got my son's name from the searcher, I called one night when I got up enough nerve. His mom answered and said he wasn't home(I didn't know that he no longer lived there and she didn't let on either.} She had an unlisted number. Then I started getting scared and said it was just a courtesy call and hung up. I immediately called back and told her who I was.She asked me a few questions to make sure the facts as she knew them matched,we chatted vaguely about my son's interests and what he was doing, her work and my work, just very polite and pleasant. He was away. When he got back she told him and within a week or two he had called me and we had gotten together for our reunion on a beautiful summer day. It's been great. We were lucky for the first couple of years since we lived 15 miles away. He got a job working with me(I think it was my idea-don't remember everything anymore but he took the test and got close to 100 on it and I gave him the name of someone in personnel to call but told him not to mention my name or he probably wouldn't get the job(HaHa) So the personnel lady thought someone important had referred him.(This was a federal government position) He was much better at the job than I was, but he has since moved away and it's a lot more difficult tokeep in touch, but we do the best we can.

  21. I disagree with the phone method. A) What if the mother in question isn't the one to pick up? and B) Writing a letter gives the recipient time to read through, process any emotions and then compose themselves if/when they feel like responding.

    "My name is Samantha Smith. I was born on January 15, 1972 at General Hospital in San Francisco, California, and I believe you may be the mother who relinquished me for adoption."

    That may be "too revealing" for some here, but there are millions of people out there, and you would need some sort of identifying information to be sure that the recipient wouldn't confuse you as being some other "lost secret."

    The above paragraph I quoted is almost exactly how I worded my first letter - granted, I had a language barrier, this was going overseas, but still - I remained very casual and polite, just giving enough info and a picture so they could be sure it was indeed me, and then reject me if they so wished.

    It's not like I was going to show up on anyone's doorstep and barge my way in. Come on.

  22. I think that is really sound advice. I have tried to help other adoptees grapple with this my advice is always, do what suits you best as you probably are more like your mother than we are.

    I drove over to her house at like 9 or 10 at night and she wasn't there. She had rented her home to a friend and he wanted to know who I was and I said, "her daughter" and he said that is funny her daughter is about 4 years old and I said, very casually, "oh yeah, that is because she gave me up for adoption" He said "Let me get her phone number for you" he gave it to me and said, But don't call her tonight, there is a three hour time difference"

    He didn't warn her and I called her the next afternoon and said, "Hi I am calling because I believe you may be my birth mother" and she said, "That is entirely possible" all cheerful like, then I told her my birthdate and she said, "At 1:11 am"

    I was too casual about negative info, I mean I still am. I mentioned that I had enjoyed drugs and married very young, and had a baby and definitely the "not looking for another mother" and my adoptive parents are perfect.

    She told me everything in the first conversation, how she met my father, what happened when I was born. Everything. She talked for like 2 hours straight.

    But then I am *her* daughter. She did things too that could have been handled differently like telling me I am a *gift* to the world, etc. Am not a gift kind of thing.

    Her and I are connected in our own unique way. How I would do it differently with the advantage of hindsight, I think I would be more careful about what I told her, what were just the facts of my life shattered her fantasy.

    I wish I hadn't put my adoptive parents in the forefront by saying, "not looking for another mother" I wish I had not told them right away either.

  23. Joy, Mei-Ling: Thanks for adding to the list of ways we go about this reunion business.

    Joy, your advice that stems from that fact that our children are going to be more like us than we suspect rings so true. My daughter was young, we had to have our first phone conversation while her parents were in the room, and she had other issues such as the epilepsy and what that does to an individual socially, but ye gads, once we got to know each other on our own terms, on our own, we were so much alike in so many ways, and I could recognize her father's traits in her too. That's what I was trying to tell Ms. Marginalia about not worrying too much about what to wear when she met her mother. Florence Fisher loves a shade of blue that is between aqua/turquoise, and her apartment is painted that color, or at least was when I was there. And when she walked into her mother's place: same color!

    My daughter's mother said it was really strange meeting me because I looked to much like Jane. I could wear her clothes, and she mine, and she did. Same DNA causes same size, same coloring, some of the same mannerisms.

    I remember seeing a story on television about Barbara Walters' adopted daughter and her mother, and they showed the girl's, ahem, real mother. Both were kinda hippie types who preferred living in the country and both wore long jangling earrings with jeans, something I can't imagine Walters has in her jewelry box unless for a big night.

    With the children of celebs, you often see that they go into the same business--Kathy Gifford's daughter is becoming an actor and has two magazine stories this month--but with the adopted children of movie stars or personalities, they do not follow in those footsteps.

    For me, one of the great gifts was knowing--though I found my daughter--she was planning to get on a bus and come to New York when she was 18...to look for me.

  24. Oh this is all so sad for me atm, hormonal though. So that may be the reason, my mom remembering the moment I was born. Which I always remembered, because it is a wish number.

    Her description of my birth, which was all natural, that the room filled with a golden-bubbly light and she had never experienced such love.

    I wish I could have had the awareness to hear what she was telling me at the time. I did not. I was filtering everything through rejection.

    Through what my culture had told me was my life story that my mother was wanton, did not care, was feckless and unloving. She did not want me.

    I am the only adoptee I know that never had to breach the father question, everything, every detail she could recall was told to me immediately. It was almost like a rehearsed Good-Housekeeping-Seal of Approval Birth-Mother story.

    She told it to me in such a beautiful and loving way, but I took it as indifference. Ouch. Ouch to the more aware me for her and me now, for her and me and Tomtom and my sibs, for everyone now.

    I wish she hadn't been so good. I wish she hadn't felt the need to be so "good" I needed her to be transgressive, I needed permission to feel what I felt, but she was so concerned with my well-being she wouldn't cross those lines.

    I have her now though, I do, I knew she would never leave me again from the first moment I talked to her, but I have her in my heart in a free way that feels so divine.

    Adoption has taken so much from us, but it hasn't won.

    Oh and when she did meet my aparents, I was so disturbed by so many things that were happening, other adoptees who may be reading this, DO NOT FEEL OBLIGATED FOR THEM TO MEET. But I felt my aparents were so cool and aloof but my amom did hug her as she left and later remarked, "It was like hugging you, same bony back"

  25. I am an adoptee. I mailed my mother a letter less than a week ago.

    Now, the long wait begins. . . .

    For those of you who have already gone through this, how long did it take you to write back? (Or, if you are an adoptee, how long did it take to receive a response?)

    I realize this is a very individual process, but I am just trying to get a feel for the average response time. (Since you are on this forum, you probably were quicker to respond than the average parent, but I just want some idea of how long this could take.)


  26. Oh Anon...there's no general answer to your question..Everyone is different. We'll be thinking of you and hoping for the best.

  27. I was put up for adoption at birth 33 years ago. I love my family but have never quite fit with them. About 15 years ago I started looking for my bio family and had no luck at all. All I had to go on was the non identifying info from the adoption agency. Within the last 2 weeks something got me thinking about it again. With the advances in technology and the internet it took my fiance all of 2 hours to find my bio mother! I now have a pic of her from facebook and a phone number! I have sent her a message through facebook but it looks like the last time she posted anything on it was around Christmas! I am now trying to figure out how to make the phone call. All these years of looking and now my fear may keep me from picking up the phone and knowing one way or the other if there is a relationship to be had with her! Any advice? I am driving myself crazy trying to figure out what to say so as not to scare her away!

  28. Hi: all I can say is that the first phone call is the hardest and you need to steel yourself....and try to be cautious--My name is XX and is this a good time to talk?

    Yes...who is this?

    Answer: I was born on XX in XX this many years ago XX and I was adopted. Pause.

    I hope I am not scaring you--that is not my intention at all--but I wonder if you could be my mother?

    If she wants to know you, you will be off and running. Good luck. You can email me at forumfirstmother@gmail.com


  29. Thanks for the advice...I tried to make the call and got no answer. So I guess I will just have to keep trying. It is really nice to be able to talk to people who know what this is like. My wonderful fiance tries to help but he really has no idea what this feels like. Thanks again for the advice and this forum!

  30. Support from someone close to you is great, even if they cannot feel the same way because it is outside their personal experience. My husband has been a rock though all of my turmoil before and after reunion.

    Be glad you have that and give him a big hug.

  31. I always think about how hard it would be to write a letter to someone you've never met before, but have always possibly wanted to meet. Thanks for sharing this. It got me really thinking about how hard it would be.

  32. Hi, my situation is a little different. I found my birth father recently. He is quite a damaged person. He comes from a large family which he broke with many years ago.

    He has 7 brothers and sisters. I contacted them all - with the same letter via facebook - very respectful - ( I am 42 years old) and made the mistake of saying that I would respect there wishes and would not contact them until I heard otherwise at the end of the email. This is complete torture - as I have not even had one response from any of them to say that they even do not want to have anything to do with me. I have children - I am married, I have a good job - I just wanted to connect via email. The family have completely ignored my letter -nothing! I was thinking I actually want to ask them to at least respond to tell me yes/ no - in a week or so - if I ahven't heard anything. They all seem quite functioning people - and I can't understand how they would not even bother to respond to say no they are not interested ( i even live in a different country - so it's not as though I am going to turn up on their door step and claim to some bond...I just wanted to know about my heritage - connect on some level..I was so open - positive - not too much personal info - my brief family back ground. I was not negative about my birth fathers extreme mental illness. I really wonder if you could advise me on whether it is ok for me to contact them again - at least for an acknowledgement that they received my letter so that I can begin to move on and - i hate to say it but kind of own this grief and rejection I feel

  33. Hi, my situation is a little different. I found my birth father recently. He is quite a damaged person. He comes from a large family which he broke with many years ago.

    He has 7 brothers and sisters. I contacted them all - with the same letter via facebook - very respectful - ( I am 42 years old) and made the mistake of saying that I would respect there wishes and would not contact them until I heard otherwise at the end of the email. This is complete torture - as I have not even had one response from any of them to say that they even do not want to have anything to do with me. I have children - I am married, I have a good job - I just wanted to connect via email. The family have completely ignored my letter -nothing! I was thinking I actually want to ask them to at least respond to tell me yes/ no - in a week or so - if I ahven't heard anything. They all seem quite functioning people - and I can't understand how they would not even bother to respond to say no they are not interested ( i even live in a different country - so it's not as though I am going to turn up on their door step and claim to some bond...I just wanted to know about my heritage - connect on some level..I was so open - positive - not too much personal info - my brief family back ground. I was not negative about my birth fathers extreme mental illness. I really wonder if you could advise me on whether it is ok for me to contact them again - at least for an acknowledgement that they received my letter so that I can begin to move on and - i hate to say it but kind of own this grief and rejection I feel



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