' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Contacting your (adopted-out) adult child when they have gone away

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Contacting your (adopted-out) adult child when they have gone away

Around the time of her birthday one year
Dear First Mother Forum: I reunited with my son a while ago, and he even lived with me and my husband (not his father) for a couple of months. But it seemed that he was only interested in how much money we had and what we could give him. He left six months ago and I have not heard from him since, even though I have tried to contact him, left messages, emailed, etc. No response.

His birthday is in a couple of weeks and I do have an address for him. Should I send him a card with some money?--Confused First Mother

We are asked this periodically--what to do on a birthday or holiday when the reunited son or daughter has not been in touch for a while and has ignored all attempts at communication. What to do when their birthday is looming?

The quick answer is: do what your heart tells you you must.

Because our relationships with our found children (yes, we are talking adult children) are usually so fraught, it is difficult to know what to do: If we send a card, no matter how humorous or lighthearted, it still is nearly impossible not to want some kind of response. We are reaching out hoping that they reach back to us, to show us that the connection is not severed, that they care in some fashion. But ultimately, if we send out a missive, with or without money or a gift, to a son or daughter who is not in contact, we must tell ourselves it may not be acknowledged. We have to expect nothing in return.

I know. Very hard. We send off a card and hope it generates a phone call, an email, a text message. But it may not. We have to recognize that in a very real fashion there is a level of trust and respect that we lost when we gave up our children. Why didn't she do this or that, when we are trying so hard?

Because we gave them up.

In a way, it's kind of a response to being given up: You gave me up and didn't come back. Now I am doing the same to you. I was talking to a first mother friend I hadn't seen in years, and we both had daughters about the same age, and we both have had our share of difficulties in our relationships, and she said, We lost them when we gave them up.

If we have a reunion, we get them "back" in a certain way, but of course it's never like the termination of parental rights was not signed, no matter under what circumstances. It was. We can never be what we would have been had we raised our children. My daughter, Jane, called me "mother" sometimes in cards and gift tags when she sent flowers (she did a couple of times), but never Mom or Mother when we were together. Consequently, though the granddaughter she kept knew me as Grandma from birth, she heard me referred to as Lorraine all the time. She lived with my daughter's adoptive mother, "Grandma", who pretty much hated me and didn't hide it. As soon as my granddaughter hit puberty, I became Lorraine to her too. Broke my heart. I spent a lot of time crying over that when it happened. Now I sign my emails to her "Glo" for Grandma Lo, and she sometimes responds likewise. But Lorraine it is in person, and I have made peace with that. Grandma is someone else.

And one year, when Jane had totally cut off contact after years of a good relationship--when emails, phone calls and letters had been returned with a "REFUSED" in red stamped on it--I did not call. I was blue, but one does get tired of being a doormat. I would have felt bluer if I can left an unanswered message, and that is what I truly expected. She called me that fall.

Where were we? What to do with the upcoming holidays and birthdays when our reunited children are not in contact. One first mother got a letter once saying, Please do not send me a birthday card because I live in dread that you might. Her birth/first mother was crushed, of course, but the daughter in question was still living at home and her adoptive parents were having a conniption whenever "their" daughter got a communication from her natural mother. They threatened to call the police, though I am not sure what the police would do.--the woman only sent a card, after all. After the adoptee moved out and lived on her own, she contacted her first/birth mother, and they began a good relationship that continues. The adoptive parents do not know.

To contact or not on a birthday when there is a rift is certainly something that I lived through. One year it was particularly harrowing as my daughter had lived with us for six months and it was a terribly chaotic time. I worked in Manhattan three days a week, and so was I gone three days, two nights, and my husband--not her father--was here. They had always gotten along, and since she knew him from the time she and I met, he had become something like a step-father. He often listened to her outpouring of troubles when I could no more. She had lived with us for summers before, and they had gotten along well. But everything was different this particular year. Our house had become a vortex of gloom and chaos. He didn't tell me at first, but he had taken to driving around at night simply to avoid being in our home when she was there. He dreaded when she came in, reeking anger and insolence. His solution may have been better than hanging out in a bar, but knowing what he was doing instead made me realize the situation had to end. It was his home, it was our home. My daughter wanted to leave too, and she did.

Nearly a year later, what to do when her birthday came? She was living with her adoptive parents. Her mother had written me a scathing letter. Nonetheless, that year I phoned her, happily her father (and not her mother) took the call, and our daughter was ready to resume a relationship. We made up.

In the end, one's first reaction to write or send a card, or not, is probably the right one. Your instinct is telling you what to do. If you will feel worse not sending a card or an email, in short, if not acknowledging the birthday--a big day for adoptees, after all--do go ahead. Some adoptees say even when they cannot be in contact for any number of reasons, the fact that their birthdays are acknowledged--by their first mothers--was important to them. In other words, even though emotionally they were unable to respond, but they appreciate that you thought of them on the day they were born--to you. You are the "birth" mother, first mother, you were the mother there when they came into being.

Gifts in the face of no contact are something else. I advised the woman above to not send a card stuffed with money, if she sent one at all. Her son may not want a relationship, but only money, and she will always feel ripped off. Other adoptees take the completely opposite tack, and are uncomfortable with gifts, especially expensive ones, because they say they feel as if their first mothers are trying to buy their affection. We in turn are surprised at that, because we are merely reacting like a mother--trying to be generous to our children, trying to do for them what we feel we should be--because they are "our" children.

So, one's first reaction is probably the right thing to do, but it you really feel conflicted, err on the side of generosity. Don't expect a return. Your missive, whether an email, a card, a text message, a Facebook hello, may be just the opening your son or daughter has been looking for, and get in touch. You never know.

Just don't count on it. Reunions--as we all know too well--are tricky.--lorraine

PS: As for our children who were adopted remembering our own birthdays? Speaking for myself, it never happened. At first I wished that she would, but after so many years she she did not, I gave up expecting that she would remember--or even ask when my birthday was. It would have meant the world to me if she had remembered with a phone call or a card. I had to remind myself that since she had not been in my life as she was growing up to celebrate my birthday, it was not glued into her memory. It's also possible that she had no idea how much it would have meant to me to be remembered.

Finally, after about two decades, after she was happily married, I did tell her that all those years she forgot my day did hurt--as did not getting some acknowledgment on Mother's Day. That did help--but she still never remembered my birthday, not once. Then we hit another patch of more than a year when she was determined to show her adoptive mother--who by now hated me 24/7 and made that clear to Jane--that I didn't count. My birthday? Mother's Day Surely you jest. She wasn't even acknowledging that I was alive.

Then, of course, she did.
From FMF
About the day we find upsetting:
It's 'Mother's' Day again. And 'Birth' Mother's Day too.
Does Mother's Day make birth mothers blue? YES.

The Search for Anna Fisher by Florence Fisher (now available in paperback)
"Florence Fisher is an Adult Adoptee, adopted at birth, who searched and found both of her first parents, and who founded the Adoptees' Liberty Movement Association (ALMA Society). ALMA is one of the first Adoptee Rights organizations to fight for the rights of Adult Adoptees to gain legal entitlement to the first chapter of their lives: their life pre-adoption. Published in the early 1970's, this book is still relevant today. Although time and increased education over the decades has assuaged some of these issues, the misunderstandings, stereotypes, and assumptions Fisher faced are still faced by Adoptee Rights Activists and searching members of the adoption constellation (often called "triad") today. It is hard not to be drawn into Fisher's story of her devotion to activism and search for her family. She is extremely transparent and honest about her journey and feelings--something the reader grows to know is important to her as part of Fisher's life was held in secret, and she desired no secrets any longer."--Amanda at Amazon. I think I know who this Amanda is. 


  1. Whether or not to send a card on birthdays and holidays is a personal choice.

    But, if one feels used for monetary gain by the other party involved, I would not send any money with the card.

    By sending money, 1) you say to the other person that on some level you accept his/her treatment of you as an ATM, and 2) you create an expectation of future monetary rewards.

    Instead, I would recommend not sending any money. You can then establish healthier boundaries.

  2. Ah yes, us greedy little bastards. There is a flip side to what that firstmother relayed in her letter. That maybe adoptees want our real parents to spend money on us because they ARE our parents. Non adopted adult children ask their parents for money or material things too. It is a delayed reaction for us wanting to be taken care of by our real parents. I also think that all firstmothers even if a reunion is on pause should send b-day and xmas cards even if it hurts them. Being a parent is about sacrifice and doing for the child they had first. If they are asked not to by the child they gave up, well, then that is different but I don't think adoptees should tell their real parents not to send them cards to begin with.

  3. Added to blog as one of my first mother friends comes upon her birthday in a few days:

    PS: As for our children who were adopted remembering our own birthdays? Speaking for myself, it almost never happened. At first I wished for her to remember, but since that did not occur for fifteen or so years, I certainly gave up expecting that she would remember--or make an effort to say, ask when my birthday was. I won't say that it didn't hurt--because it did. It would have meant the world to me if she had remembered--with a phone call or a card. I had to remind myself that since she had not been in my life, the date of my birth was not glued into her memory. And maybe she had no idea how much it would have meant to me to be remembered by her.

    After about two decades, after she was happily married, I did tell her that all those years she forgot my day did hurt--as did not getting some acknowledgment on Mother's Day. That did help--but then we hit another patch a couple of years later when she was determined to show her adoptive mother--who by now hated me 24/7 and made that clear to Jane--that I didn't count. My birthday? Surely you jest. She wasn't even acknowledging that I was alive.

    Then, of course, she did.

  4. Just to clarify, the woman who said her son only wanted money had a drug problem.

    After I got a letter from my daughter was returned with a REFUSED stamped on it, in RED I could not bring myself to leave a message on her answering machine that would go unanswered. First mothers are human too.

  5. Again, it goes both ways. I found my mother 25 years ago, she wanted nothing to do with me. Made several attempts over the years. One visit, then cut off again with a devastating "I don't know why I don't love you but I don't.". do not know her date of birth. I do not want her (substantial) money which she loves throwing around on her two othe children. I have a successful business and need nothing from anyone. If I somehow were to receive a card at this late stage, I would return it. Agree with anonymous and am offended at your characterization of adoptees as wanting money from their biological parents. I make plenty. This has never, ever been about money, but they always think it is.

  6. I am talking about one particular case in that first letter. Not every adoptee.

    Of course, as I say, some adoptees are turned off by expensive gifts. They don't want anything. As I said, reunions are tricky.

  7. I was devastated last year when I only got one birthday card from my family, from my mother's half sister. It was my 50th, and nothing from Mother, Father, sister or brothers. Not even a text or facebook message. I don't know why. What could I have done to deserve that? It hurt me so much, but I survived. My birthday is Nov 13, and I'm so scared. I don't want to hope, but I can't help it. I don't want to live through that again.

  8. And why did he have a drug problem? Because she gave him away..

  9. Lorraine, no offense but you seem to blame Jane for a lot. Have you ever thought that maybe you acted in ways that upset her? That made her feel bad about herself? Maybe you expected her to act the way you wanted her to and wouldn't let her do things her way or be herself. Maybe your journalist ego got in the way too. If she blew you off then maybe it was because of how you were acting and it wasn't because Jane had an attitude problem. I'm not saying of course that it was all your fault, so please don't take my remark that way, but maybe you were more at fault then you realize. Despite all that I am still very sorry she took her life, and neither of you deserved that pain.

  10. Part One:

    Okay, back on May 14, 2009 (my daughter's 40th birthday I sent her a 12-page letter explaining her birth and my feelings and all medical info that I knew, as she said she didn't have medical info, and of course wished her a GREAT 40th birthday!) This is what I got back...

    Dear Lee,

    I was mad because I am not supposed to have to deal with this. I was very angry that you did not “hear” me in my first letter to you, although you fully acknowledge it in your letter to me from last year. You write: “I should NOT be sending this letter to you…but I will respect your decision…” But you are not respecting my decision. I told you that I do not want any contact.

    I do appreciate the last letter you sent. It was very touching to hear about my birth. I am sorry for what you went through, with your parents, society & your guilty feelings. And I thank you for the medical information. I have never been angry with you for not keeping me. I have never felt abandoned. Quite the opposite, I have always felt your love for me, for making such a difficult decision!

    I have always thought of you in my head as a special angel that God provided for me and my parents. You mention in your letter at the time you gave me up, “How can this be in God’s plan for me… God is all-forgiving.” I feel like one of the reasons you were put on this earth was to have me, so that my parents who desparately wanted a child, COULD have one with your help. THAT was His plan for you!

    looks like I typed too much - will post rest in next post!

  11. The fact that this adoptee has a drug problem is crucial to any advice given about sending him money. Parents should not give money to anyone with a drug problem, as it will just go to drugs and further self-destruction. You can't stop him, but don't enable him with money. Sometimes you have to take a hard line, but enabling his habit will do him no good, even if it makes him mad now.

    He lived with them for 6 months so they probably have some idea of a gift he would like and could use. I'd say send the card and an inexpensive but thoughtful gift, and do not expect an answer. Let him know you will always be there for him with love and emotional support, IF you actually feel this way. Dealing with an addict of any sort is heartbreaking and very frustrating.

  12. Part two of daughter's letter:

    You say in your letter, “ I tired of feeling like I am a bad birthmother.” Please stop feeling like this, and don’t ever think it again. I think you are an amazingly strong birthmother! I am so grateful you did this. I have had the best parenting, and the best life with my parents. I have always known how loved I am by both you and my family I was raised with.

    As I said before I am very grateful that you had me and sacraficed your feelings by giving me up for adoption. I never felt rejected by you, and I do not want you to feel that way now. On the contrary, I know you truly loved me and cared for me enough to make sure I had a loving family that could provide for me. And your wish came true, that is exactly what happened. I am with a wonderful loving family. I could not be happier. As I said in my previous letter, I do not have any holes that need to be filled, I do not or have never felt abandoned by you. I have known about you & my heritage all my life. I even know that you have twin sisters, and that I could have twins someday.

    I am very happy with the way things are right now. I know more about you, you know more about me, but I still do not want to have a relationship with you. My wish is that you will let this go now. If I want to contact you in the future, I will, but please do not contact me in any way again-not email, letters, Facebook, phone calls. I do not use this email address, so do not respond back to this address. I only have it for junk email. Do not contact any of my family members again. It really disrupts all of ours lives, and makes me angry that you do not respect our privacy. Thank you.

    Thank you for giving me life.

    The bold parts in the letter are hers! And so, I have not contacted her since then. You seen the reason I wrote the 12-page letter, after her first & last letter to me for no contact, is because she said she didn't have medical info. It just turned "into" a 12-page letter!! LOL! But I'm glad I DID send it - now she can sit down anytime and read it and maybe, just maybe things will change for her; especially when her a-mom dies, who DEFINITELY does NOT want me around, and I believe that is why my daughter doesn't want contact "at this time". I do follow her on Facebook! I know I am a grandmother!! A Grandson!!

    Anyway - I wait for ANY change! She can always reach me by phone, snail mail or email... BUT come next year we will be moving to Northern Europe, but if she REALLY wants to get ahold of me, my email will never change. Her 45th birthday is coming up next year, but I will wait until she turns 50 to wish her another Birthday Wish! I think 10 years would be long enough to "break" that "no contact" request - no??!!

  13. '..This has never, ever been about money, but they always think it is. '

    No 'they' don't. I don't. Not ever.

  14. I made my mistake when I gave my daughter up.

    One time she stopped talking to me to prove that she was worthy of her mother's affection. It would have been better to know that she was making that choice rather than suddenly, after crying to me on the phone about something her mother said--and what she said was the reason Jane cut off contact for such a long time after several years. Even her adoptive parents were baffled--but of course for a year no one told me what had precipitated her withdrawal. Her adopted brother took the opposite tack and stopped talking to their adoptive mother for a very long time. (He had not been able to find his first mother.)

    No offense taken. I don't know you, you can only interpret from limited facts.
    I know our relationship is complicated to understand because here, at the blog, the whole picture is missing, so readers who drop in and out do not know all of it. So I am finishing the memoir, that Hole in My Heart

    Good lord, I was never perfect in our relationship; I can go back over the mistakes I made but, times when my patience ran thin, when I was coming apart at the emotional seams when she lived with me and my husband. The lapses I am talking about here came directly from her being given up, not what happened between us. After we had a great relationship for quite a while, it was Wham, bam, I'm outta here. Without an argument, a word, a disagreement. When her adoptive mother said some pretty brutal things to her, she would call me and cry. Then they would make up in a week.

    How do I know a year of silence without a word was caused by proving herself worthy to her mother? Because she later told me.

    Because she lived close to her adoptive parents, our relationship was very complicated by her mother. And I believe as her adoptive mother's Alzheimer's began, her true feelings about me emerged more and more.

  15. Point taken Lorraine. Conclusion: Adoption fucks kids up.

  16. Lee, your letter was heartbreaking to read last night when I posted it. It was similar to the letter I referred to in the post sent to another first mother. There really isn't anything you can do except take care of yourself, and accept your daughter's feelings--and stay away.

    One of my good friend's birthdays is tomorrow. Will she even hear from her daughter--who found her? Last year it was a late night email that said only Happy Birthday. My friend responded but heard nothing back. Yet oddly, this woman is in touch with an aunt and other members of her maternal biological family--I don't mean siblings, there are none.

    Yes adoption is the cause of behavior that is often unfathomable. But then, perhaps the pressure that made my friend give her daughter up for adoption is what is truly unfathomable. There is a horrible picture on my Facebook page from Peta, I believe , that is the human equivalent of what happens to cows whose calves are taken from them immediately after birth to be raised for veal. It is shocking and sickening to look at, but it reveals an awful reality about adoption.

  17. Expecting common courtesy from people, no matter who they are is not something anyone should be asked to just forget about. We ARE talking about ADULTS - not children who can't express themselves. Neither party in reunion should be made to feel or act like a doormat because an adult can't be bothered to act like an adult.

    Pretending that adoption negates the idea that manners matter perpetuates problems by causing more questions and hurt between parties, IMO. It's not mentally or emotionally healthy for anyone involved. If a person doesn't wish to have contact or needs time, they should have the class and cajones to say so - not just leave the other party hanging. Especially when they know full well that the other party is emotionally invested. This behavior isn't ok with an acquaintance, a crappy boss, an annoying neighbor, etc. so why is is ok if the word adoption is involved?

    Does that mean everyone is mature and classy enough to be courteous? NO, of course not - but telling people not to EXPECT others to act with proper etiquette is different than helping people cope with those who do not. I don't believe in giving people a "free pass" for poor or hurtful behavior towards others. It perpetuates a nasty cycle.

    Yes, I do understand the anger, confusion, sadness, and internal feelings of "you didn't come back" can make it very hard to express feelings or deal with things, but healthy ADULTS in REUNION need to recognize that reunion IS "coming back" and work on the negative feelings from the past - not be encouraged to use them as an excuse for childish, vindictive, poor, or hurtful behavior. It's especially ugly if the person they are being rude to has also been victimized. What if Mom was raped and forced to surrender her child. Does that still mean she shouldn't expect to be treated with a shred of dignity? Victims re-victimizing other victims is just horrible all the way around.

    Yes, I agree that parents who lose a child to adoption alienation shouldn't *expect* "normal" parent-child relationships with their reunited adult children - but that doesn't mean they shouldn't *expect* some basic manners any more than adult adoptees shouldn't *expect* basic courtesy from them. NEITHER party should be rude to the other. PEOPLE shouldn't be rude. Period.

    I'm tired of adoption being allowed to make exceptions from basic human etiquette and common sense.

  18. This Be The Verse
    (with apologies to Phillip Larkin)

    They fuck you up, your mums and dads.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

    But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another's throats.

    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don't have any kids yourself.

  19. I forgot to add how much I love your Blog page! The one today was great for my sister who found her daughter '91, had a relationship of sorts for about 2 years and then she cut it off. My sister tried friending her on facebook a few years ago, but heard nothing. Just a few weeks ago she responded. My sister who never had any other children found out that she's the grandmother of 4 but still not a lot of conversation going on. I wish I had never heard the word adoption. It's never-ending!

  20. This post captures the complexity of the adoptee - natural parent relationship so well. I also love how graciously you handle the comments, Lorraine. You keep it real, you welcome differences of opinion, and you do not hesitate to accept your own role, positive or negative, in the very personal stories you often post. It is one of the reasons why this blog fosters such lively discussion.

    And, Lorraine, you are a strong, strong, woman!

  21. Cards can be tricky. How do you find one with the right message when you're not even sure what your message is?

    Betty Jean Lifton's first mother sent BJ a card that upset her. In her memoir, "Twice Born," BJ wrote: "She should have known there were no Hallmark cards for a relationship such as ours." After receiving the card, BJ ceased contact for ten years.

  22. Lee, my heart goes out to you. I am so sorry to read your daughter's letter. To me she seems in denial or completely brainwashed. What she wrote seems straight out of a religious-based adoption agency's playbook. If things were so wonderful in her life, she'd have no problem having a relationship--at least letters-- with you.

    I cringe any time I hear an adoptee talk about God's plan. It would be a capricious god, not a loving Christian god, who would make one woman bear the burden of infertility and another bear the burden of bearing and losing a child for the first woman.

  23. This is a hard to read post, as are the comments. It reinforces in me the constant desire I have to maintain a relationship with our daughter's other parents. I never, never want her to go through this, and I never want her other mom and dad to go through this either.

    I don't get adoptive parents who are jealous or disapproving or whatever negative feeling towards their child (especially an adult child) having a positive relationship with their first mom or dad. To me, it can only be a good thing if both parties are happy and want a relationship. How wonderful it is that your child can have a biological connection. How wonderful it is that your child's other parents can have a relationship with their son or daughter. Love only ever adds to our lives, and I cannot fathom being disapproving of more people loving your child.

    I have two daughters, and I am completely capable of loving them both, to the depths of my being. If I had 2 or 3 or 7 more, I would still find my heart growing to love them each with as much love as the first. To assume that our children are not capable of loving two moms or two dads is not only illogical, but it does them a great disservice. How are they to believe in our love for them when we place limitations on its capabilities? Such parents, adoptive or biological, should be ashamed of themselves if they try to enforce limitations on love (all assumptions being made here that it is a healthy relationship, which I think can be assumed to be the case 99% of the time).

  24. Lorriane and Jane – thank you for your sound minds and sage words on this perpetually frustrating and emotionally exhausting subject. Excellent comments from Kate Dahlquist, who knocked it out of the park! Common courtesy and respect from one human being to another would be novel, wouldn’t it? Adoption isn’t a get out of being considerate card – for any of the parties involved. Since it is such an emotionally charged situation, it calls for even MORE consideration. I don’t pretend to know what it feels like to be adopted, because I wasn’t. However, I was abandoned by my father at 7 and lost my mother (she died) at 15. I DO know what it feels like to struggle with abandonment and loss, but I NEVER made anyone pay for it (except myself). I suffered, but endured while I was forced to become an adult much sooner than I should have. I didn’t use my unfortunate situation as a crutch to explain bad behavior or wallow in pity parties. And when I became pregnant at 19, I did what I thought was best for everyone (whether it was or not) given the information/resources I had. I chose to have my daughter and I selected an infertile couple (who it turns out made a ton of unfulfilled promises) to raise her. I believed they would love her and respect me. They did love her and for that I’m thankful, but that is where it ends. Unfortunately, my daughter cut me out of her life almost a year ago after a (initially) very successful reunion that slowly degraded, mostly thanks to her adoptive mother’s insecurity, jealously and unjustifiable paranoia. My daughter’s last words to me were “I ask that you please respect my wishes and do not contact me. If I ever feel ready to resume a relationship, I will reach out and let you know.” I feel like there is no way for birth parents to be worthy of the respect they deserve because they ‘gave up their rights’. If I reach out to her, she’ll condemn me for not obeying her request. If I don’t, I’m the piece of garbage her parents portray me to be. If there is ever to be reconciliation, our relationship will be on equal footing or not at all. Having experienced the alternative, I’m not willing to sacrifice my emotional well-being again. I have paid such an extreme emotional price for my sacrifice, my “righteous decision”. My well is tapped and my heart can’t endure it.

  25. Lorraine said: Respectfully snipped!
    I made my mistake when I gave my daughter up.

    Me too, Lorraine. Me too...

    Jane Edwards said: (my bold!)
    Lee, my heart goes out to you. I am so sorry to read your daughter's letter. To me she seems in denial or completely brainwashed. What she wrote seems straight out of a religious-based adoption agency's playbook. If things were so wonderful in her life, she'd have no problem having a relationship--at least letters-- with you.

    I cringe any time I hear an adoptee talk about God's plan. It would be a capricious god, not a loving Christian god, who would make one woman bear the burden of infertility and another bear the burden of bearing and losing a child for the first woman.

    I totally agree! I really don't know "how religious" she or her parents are, but it sounds like a brain-wash to me. Thank you for your post, thought it was just me! LOL!

    I had sent this 12-page letter to her amom (unfortunately) as I didn't my daughter's address. Her reply STILL to this day stinks!! She said:

    As I said, I will forward your letter to M to follow-up on as she wishes. I will wait, however, until after Mother's Day and her birthday. Those two events are being celebrated with a new triad - M, I and her new mother-in law. It's a very special time for her, and I don't want anything to detract from the happiness and joy she is experiencing.

    I SO wanted to tell her - this TRIAD can NOT change to a "mother-in-law".... God that pizzed me off...

  26. Do not get me started on "God's plan." What a bastard she is if giving up a child was Her Plan.

  27. @ Kate

    I love your post, Miss Manners Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Adoption Behavior.

    I agree courtesy is great, but sometimes our feelings about adoption get really gutter-dirty and raw.

    I've made some mistakes with my parents, maybe I showed my pain too much and too soon. I'm still their child though, and they wouldn't turn their backs so fast on the ones they raised.

    But I'm disposable. Always was and always will be. They've learned how to live without me long ago.

  28. Lee, So even though your daughter is old enough to be married, her adoptive mother still decides when she should get mail. The adoptive parents have really done a number on her.

    Please try to keep in mind, it's not about you. You did not do anything wrong.

    I'm wondering if the adoption agency had a connection with a particular religion.

  29. Lee, perhaps your daughter never actually received your letters and it was the A-mother writing to you pretending to be your daughter. Just a thought.

  30. Jane’s point is key:
    “How do you find one with the right message when you're not even sure what your message is?” Best not to rely on a poem on a card for the message.

    What IS the message? As your thoughts spiral into ‘what they will think’, ‘will they respond’, etc., your message may already be lost…

    So simplify. Be genuine, be clear, concise, and be kind. Your card won’t require a response or acknowledgement, because your message is simply a gesture- an expression of how you feel about someone, and an opportunity to honor that person by sharing your good wishes. It has integrity, and needs no justification.

  31. Just saying…there are two sides to every story and every situation is different.

    After my bio mother broke off all contact, calling me names and projecting her qualities onto me, I began to put the pieces of my life back together. After all, I was the one to reach out. Answers I wanted and boy, howdy, did I get them. I realized any relationship with her would always be one sided and bring me nothing but grief. She was still 19 and unable and unwilling to put effort into anything (except men), even her egg donor son conceived at the age of 48, aka, "the imposter".

    Sadly, things were not better for me with my bio father, aka, sperm donor. His wife wanted to control all aspects of our relationship. She was to be called "stepmother". Not a good fit for me.
    I offered that he fly in and that we see my therapist as a last ditch effort at negotiating some sort of relationship. He stuck me with the $900 bill, did not hear a thing either of us said. Within 2 weeks he and his wife sent nasty letter after letter recasting all that was said in therapy telling me that they were my "parents" and that I had to step in line. I called him, said goodbye, thank you, and wished him well in a very kind way. Then the letters continued at a rapid pace. They were all written by the "step mother", who was 2 years older than my husband, and signed by him. They said the same things over and over so I started sending them back "return to sender, unopened". He still didn't get the message. I felt stalked and eventually my husband called him after he made a surprise visit to my city--9 hours away from his hometown. Scary.

    For my birthday in a previous year he had given me ceramic Chinese Foo dogs that he owned. All his gifts were All About Him. I put them in the basement.

    This past year I received a card from my bio mother. I cried and thought to myself "this is the best she can do." After pulling myself together, I grabbed the foo dogs, took them out to the front yard, put her card into one of the mouths, and kicked them to the curb, literally and figuratively.

    They were gone within minutes--I guess they were adopted!

    My preference on my birthday is no contact. I don't need a generic card that says nothing and makes no effort. To me this is a selfish attempt for bio mother to appease her own guilt at my expense.

    Newsflash--if you want to have a relationship with me, you can. It's yours to earn. Call me up, fly into town and talk with me. Repair things, or another attempt would be to actually apologize for once that you did not take responsibility in your life and that that choice had an impact on me.

    Sending a card as a passive aggressive attempt at making me do all the work, once again, will not be a successful. I have done and continue to do my work. It's time for the bios to work on themselves.

  32. Jane Edwards said:
    I'm wondering if the adoption agency had a connection with a particular religion.

    Actually, it was through the Los Angeles County Dept. of Children's Welfare - or whatever it was called. I am a Lutheran, and the adoptive parents are Episcopalian. Don't know too much about that religion personally.

    Anonymous @ 11/4 7:45pm said:
    Lee, perhaps your daughter never actually received your letters and it was the A-mother writing to you pretending to be your daughter. Just a thought.

    Well, actually, you are not the only one that has said this; SO!! I have a friend on a "Missing Persons" forum and who is a handwriting expert look at both the letters, and the handwriting on the envelopes I received. Yep! Two different people wrote each letter. And my daughter "sounds" just like me - in personality wise!!

  33. @Lisa

    Days late here
    You ever been in a relationship and afterward sent a "get well" or "thinking of you" card and not hoped for a response unless the person was nearly dead? You are clueless about how mothers and adoptees feel when the door is slammed in their face. We can also tell the wind that we hope it is well. That would be more satisfying than what you suggest.

  34. My heart breaks for other mothers who have found their children, only to "lose" them again on the slippery reunion slope. After my daughter found me after 40 years, we were able to meet for a brief time as she was passing through town. Reunion went well, but two months have passed, and I have not heard from her since then (no call, letter, text, or email). I sent her a text on Christmas Day that said "Merry Christmas", which was not acknowledged. Does this indicate that she wants nothing to do with me? She mentioned when we met that she doesn't want her a-parents to know anything about her finding me. (More silence and secrecy....that's what first mothers from the 1970s are used to.) My question to you is: does it seem that my found adult child wants nothing to do with me (after two months of excruciating silence)? Should I try to contact her or just keep waiting?

  35. Susan: This is an old post, not active; please repost at the current blog, you may get more answers than I can give, particularly right this minute.

  36. Susan: In your case, I would send her a birthday greeting, but prepare yourself for no response. But whether you want to send a birthday greeting is now totally up to you. I have done it both ways when my daughter was not speaking to me. Once it worked out well; another time I think it was better that I did not.

    If a child who was adopted (or kept) wants no contact with a parent there is nothing to do but move on. As a friend, also a first mother, once said to me, Honey, we lost them when we gave them up.

    We may get them back to some degree after reunion, and for some of us this is a blessing beyond compare, but just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to have a relationship. As someone said at an earlier blog about contact, The people who want to be in your life will be; you don't have to go chasing after them.

    So true. I know how much this kind of behavior hurts--huts to the bone. I can't help but think sometimes our children want us to understand what it felt like to be given up. It might have happened when they could not object, but now, as adults, they can.

  37. Lorraine, 30 years ago I made an adoption plan for my son. He was adopted by a high-profile couple and because of that I was able to watch my son grow from a distance. Though I knew where he was and who his parents were, I never interfered; I loved him and respected his parents too much.

    After conducting an internet search this month, I found him: including his company's website, email, and phone number.

    Over the decades I've stayed in touch with the attorney who managed my adoption; sending letters, pictures, updates and even a copy of the first fictional novel I wrote, but I never heard back, from my attorney or from my son - nothing. I worked very hard to become the woman I am today; professional, respected, loved - not only for my 1st son but for my other children, too. I've achieved a lot during the past 30 years, strived to be more than just that scared and abused 18 year old girl who had to make an adoption plan.

    I'm uncertain of contacting him directly. I vowed to never interfere, to disrupt his life, but I found him and a part of me wants to reach out, to let him know that not a day goes by without thinking of him. He was very blessed in his adoption, and though he was more than adequately provided for, he has found success on his own. It's been hard seeing him in magazines and on TV, and not reach out, but now he's an adult. Should I contact another attorney and or just accept the reality that I made an adoption plan, therefore, this is my fate?

    I've never contacted a forum like this before, mainly because my sons adoption was so high-profile that I couldn't discuss it with others, but now I am. Thank you for this platform.

    1. Please see the current post. About contact. Go for direct contact, it is the only way you are going to be able to control how contact is made and what is said. And since you never got any responses before, this is not likely to be any different.

      This is an old post and you are not likely to get responses here. See the current post:

      Contacting one's child after the photos stop


  38. This week-end is always hard on me. I know it is my Karma and I accept it. I am one of the lucky bio-mothers who knows where my children are. I could not imagine never knowing how they are!! But I do not really KNOW my daughters even if we have spent physical time together. Sadly they only know a version of me on social media and during those precious minutes I have had with them. I think THAT is the hardest part them not having any emotional connection with me. Feeling like an intruder, not ever knowing what to say to them, if anything unless I am around them because then it is like 3 Kelli's at once and natural.
    I am thankful to have those times. I am sooooo proud of what they are doing in life. But it is bittersweet and I know I deserve the pain as an on looker.
    2 of my daughters were not adopted out at birth. I was a practicing addict who in the end had no other choice because I couldn't stay sober, couldn't stay out of the courts and prison. When I finally did get completely out of the penal system my mom was dying. I had no one to try to help keep them. I knew they deserved more. So I taught them their first words, to walk, to sing and heard their first laughs, bought their first clothes, had them baptized Catholic.
    I also have another child by the same man (all 3 same dad except my oldest, I have 4 kids) that was given up at birth. I have no contact with that child except their mother called me once last year, they both were on the line, telling me they now identify as male and gave me his new name. He never spoke. All I could think to say is I always wanted a son! Please always know I love you no matter who you are! So yeah, that is my truth about what I go through on a daily basis.
    When I saw them again for the first time it was like a dream come true and a nightmare KNOWING the depth of what and WHO, as a human, I am missing out on every day, every minute and every second of THEM!!
    It is ironic in my life that my first husband was adopted, my second relationship has an adopted sibling and my current husband has a a fully bio older sister. Now me. I have seen every possible adoption situation in my life. Some birth mothers are so ashamed they never tell their current families. Then when their child tries to find them as an adult they decline contact through adoption people because they have lied so long I suppose. Heart breaking!!
    I pray to some day really know my daughters. But mostly I pray about abandonment issues and heredity addiction genes don't EVER do to them what I let mine do to me.
    Life is one choice after another. I am still paying for mine. When I lost my dad almost 4 years ago I thought drinking beer was ok. Instead of knowing I should NOT. It became daily after Covid hit and I was let go from a job I really liked, but a horrible boss.
    I put on a pair of my mom's pink socks that day to roller skate after about 6 or 7 beers. I believe SHE and God spiritually intervened bc breaking my ankle made me realize I CAN'T even drink beer. Then surgery and pain meds. Thank God I am off them ( bc I KNOW me) and have 6 weeks alcohol free.
    I also believe telling MY current truth is my responsibility as a birth mom to myself and my children. I will make this post public so if my son ever wants to find me he can.
    ...I want them ALL to know I will forever regret not raising them. I am still battling forgiving myself. I gave up my posse, my tribe.



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