' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: When is the 'right' time to search? Wait and it may be too late

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

When is the 'right' time to search? Wait and it may be too late

Should first mothers search? Do they have the"right" to search? We know that reunion is the beginning, not the end, of a long journey, and it is often strewn with pitfalls and disappointments. Yet we both feel that knowing is better than not knowing, that answers about what happened to our children lead to a more peaceful life.

But many birth mothers do not search. They wait. The other day we received a message on Facebook from a first mother who is asking for prayers for her sister, who is dying. Her sister, as you will read, is also a first mother, but a mother who did not reunite. If her son should search, he will join the thousands--millions--of others who reunited with a grave. If you are thinking about searching "some day," that day may be too late.

Dear Lorraine:

I am a reunited first mother since 2008, raising my 15-year-old granddaughter as my daughter continues to struggle with drugs and alcohol. Our relationship has had its ups and downs but we continue the dance as we try to find a way to mold our lives together after thirty years apart. Tonight, I come to you not for myself or my daughter, but for my older sister, Judy. 

My sister is dying and my heart is heavy.  Heavy in many different ways and reasons that I don't know how to even verbalize.  Forgive me as I try.

My sister came to us in December stating she wanted to "retire" and move to Pennsylvania to spend her years with her [not relinquished] daughter and grandchildren. We were suprised, but understood knowing how difficult it has been for her being six hundred miles away from them. At her farewell party, I took a picture as she embraced our 84-year-old mother, unaware it would be their last. 

She called on Tuesday telling our Mother she had the flu and could not get rid of it and promised she would go to the doctor. On Thursday she collapsed, and three hours later she slipped into unconsciousness. The doctors said both of her lungs were full of tumors and that they had metastasized. She was moved to hospice.On Saturday night, while my niece was talking to our mother in the room with my sister, she heard our mothers voice and began to try and speak. Her words were garbled and weak, but on speaker we heard her clearly. "I love you Momma. Indiana. Sissy." She then lost consciousness has been given only days to live.

While I am trying to make sense of why she did not want any of us to know she was sick, consoling my parents as they are too old to travel, trying to make the arrangements for when she passes, my heart grieves for another who will never know just how wonderful his mother was. Yes, my sister too lost a child to adoption in the 60's. She was a girl that went away. My sister is one of the mothers still lost in pain and the secrets of the past, choosing to live a life of denial since she was 17-years-old. She and my parents would never talk about it. In fact, my sister forbid me to even bring up the subject after I found my daughter in 2008. "If he wanted to find me he would have by now. Leave it alone." Those words still haunt me.

I know I will not have time to find my nephew before my sister passes. My heart is heavy with grief at the thought of losing her, and breaks knowing that two more people were denied years of love and happiness, by our broken adoption system. I attempted to talk to my mother about it, but she is inconsolable at this time.
My parents divorced when I was five years old in 1961, and Daddy got custody of me, my sister and brother. My sister was the one that raised me, who got me ready for school each day, brushed my hair and held me at night while I cried for our Mother. After our own divorces, we lived together and remained close. 

As a fellow 'sister", and leader in the adoption community, would you please lift my sister Judy up in your prayers today and ask our BirthMom/First Mom's to do the same? Firstmother Forum was the only place I could think of, where I could share my grief openly and with those who could understand my pain. I want my sister, if only in death, to take her place among the other mothers and remember the loss of her son Brian.

Soon my role will change and I will become the Big Sister. But to me, I will always remain, In My Sisters Shadow,

Marcie Keithley
Southern Indiana

Thoughts and comments about searching most welcome. They will help others make their decision. 
On another topic: Yesterday Fintan Dunne, an independent journalist and broadcaster, taped a conversation with Kathy McMahon, of Irish First Mothers, and myself. You can hear it  here

Adoption Reconnection, Heartbreaks and Joys


The Other Side and Back 
When my own mother was dying in 1999, a galley of this book by psychic Sylvia Browne arrived at our house. I knew that my mother was ready to die, my brothers wouldn't engage the idea, and she ended up having surgery she did not want. My brothers and I ended up at odds about our mother's wanting to say goodbye--because she knew, as 86, that she was dying. As I was going through this troubled time, I found passages of this book incredibly helpful--and comforting.--lorraine

THANK ALL OF YOU WHO TAKE THE TIME TO ORDER FROM AMAZON THROUGH FMF. Please click on photo of book jacket or title to get to Amazon. We have, I hope, gotten rid of the adoption-agency ads!


  1. Of course first mothers and adoptees have the "right" to search. But, as we are learning, it is not always pretty. I do not believe there is a right TIME to search, because one never knows what is waiting for them once the search is over.

    For the sake of illustration, let's say my first mother decided to wait, knowing the approximate ages of my AP's, until she thought they were gone. If she were to find me she would also find that my AP's are still here, and that would cause an explosion the likes of which the world has never seen. So, We would have to proceed in secret, which is ridiculous. Or, I would have to insist that we write or email or Facebook only.

    I think my first mother would be hurt. She would probably feel that I did not want to know her, which is not the case. Because of my upbringing, which I outlined in another thread, and the fact that my AP's are so against anything to do with search and reunion, I think my first mother would get the wrong impression. And I would be in the middle of yet another mess having to do with closed, secret adoption.

    I honestly don't know a good way to resolve this. A good number of reunion stories I have heard went very badly. There is no instruction manual to follow. And the sad thing is, it never had to be this way. It's all due to the secrets and the lies.

  2. I think that my daughter would be pleased if my a-fib finally killed me.

    1. Oh, Lori, I certainly hope not!

    2. No - Lorraine - atrial fibrillation - my heart condition that is genetic! LOL But yes, I think she would be ecstatic.

  3. Marcie, I am so sorry about your mother and sister. Your heartfelt letter is a reminder that mothers and their lost children don't have unlimited time. The only way to help the pain of separation is to reunite, but too many adoptees and mothers are locked in silence or fear. We all had to find ways to cope in order to go on living, but coping isn't living to the full. I want to scream from the rooftops to all adoptees (adult) and birth mothers, "Search now. Don't wait until it's too late." That said, I believe I searched for and found my son at what was the best time for us; I was 64, and he was 44. We were both mature enough to handle the disruption that reunion brings and wise enough to be so grateful to have each other at last.
    Don't be afraid, take a chance, and regain control of your life. No one should have to live with the pain that adoption brings. I wish your family the best, Marcie. Your sister may not see her son, but you can be a loving aunt and his connection to his natural family.

    1. Coping isn't living to the full. Thank you, Pam. You are so right. Unfortunately, it is all I can do right now. Life is not fair.

    2. Life i?s not fair for .. anyone on planet Earth! JE You are the only person preventing the search for your birth mom. If you want to search, search! No one is stopping you Your fear of others viewpoints is stopping you. Why would you aparents need to know ? Even if they live with you, you presumably can go to a computer or the library and search. I doubt they track you around town ?? You often write about being a little baby with no choice Well no babies have any choices. But you have not been a baby for nearly 60 years right? Now you are an adult and you are reponsible for your life. We reach true adulthood when we realize we are responsible for our lives and our happiness. Eventually we have to stop saying I had a tough childhood, adopted or not. We have to own our own lives. No one has a perfect life!! Many people have far worse lives. This may sound harsh but .... take ownership of your life and don't blame others and do what you want to do. Maybe you should talk to a therapist? Sorry this message is not sugar coated but when I read your posts you just seem so passive and unhappy and only you can change that No one else can!

    3. Anon: Why am I replying to you? You obviously do not actually read my posts, as you claim. You pick and choose what you want to see, and along the way you have missed MANY key points that I have been trying to make.

      The most obvious point that you missed: I AM searching the internet. I have my first mother's name. I am working with a search angel and have ordered a DNA kit. I should not have had to explain any of that again.

      Another point: Life is not fair. I did not say only my life....I certainly know life is not fair for most.

      You claim we are responsible for our lives and happiness. That's terrific. But there are consequences to your approach. I am not BLAMING others for the situation I find myself in, but I am trying to deal with it. Your say that one should take charge, and basically to hell with everyone else. You call it taking ownership of one's life. I call it selfish. And it puts me in a position I do not care to be in.

    4. I don't think Julia Emily sounds 'passive and unhappy'. I think she sounds like someone who is negotiating her way through a very complex situation as the person she is.

      It's so easy to make broad brushstoke statements, especially from outside a situation. But life is nuanced, and our relationships with others and ourselves intricate.

      Just before my son and I were due to meet for the first time as adults, we tentatively changed the date, postponing it for a few weeks. We'd both felt the original date wasn't quite the right time.
      The new girlfriend of a close friend said 'Oh, they should just get on with it!'. She probably meant that we shouldn't let fear get in the way. But I felt irked, and still do. I felt like saying 'If it was that easy, we would have done it'. Hers was a simple human error that I've probably done a thousand times - arrogantly thinking that you know the situation, and the solutions, better than the participants - but it aggravated.

      I have, though, started to rethink the whole idea of selfishness.
      I think the very natural and healthy needs of first mothers and adopted people are repressed by accusations of selfishness. I think the adoption machinery relies on us policing our own thoughts and feelings with such accusations.
      I know I lost my son because, among other reasons, I completely believed I would be selfish to keep him. I know he is being psychologically battered by accusations of selfishness in an attempt by his amum to stop him relating to us.

      At my recent wedding, I learned a great personal lesson and it has really helped me since.
      I found the preparations extremely stressful, partly because it was the first time my son would meet a number of his extended family, and because I knew where all the family landmines were, and the triggers, and I didn't want anything to hurt him. I felt responsible, and desperately wanted it to be good for him.

      But weddings have their conventions, and despite being an unconventional person, I got snared up in them. Looking at the final guest list, I realised we'd included:

      a) people I didn't like
      b) people who had political views that both me and my husband find chilling and repugnant, and that would hurt other guests
      c) people my husband didn't like

      There seemed no way out of it, without offending someone. But eventually, we decided that we were only going to invite those individuals we really treasured. That meant no annoying boyfriends, no kids we didn't like or didn't know, no relatives with repulsive political views.

      The result was that a number of invitees didn't come, including my very best, very oldest friend.

      The other result was that we had an absolutely blissful weekend, where every face was loved, meant something, was sensitive and warm, and who made my son feel respected and treasured. He said it was one of the most wonderful weekends of his life.

      I learned from that that thinking about what I wanted, rather than what others wanted, was essential. That that weekend could not have happened like that if I had swallowed my feelings to accomodate those of others.

      I know it's a balancing act, but I really did learn something through that. If I had done that when I was 16, I could have spoken louder, and had my wish to keep my son heard. I could've yelled for the help I needed.

      Just some thoughts...

    5. Cherry, that was so beautifully written. Cheers to you for making your wedding about you!

    6. I agree! Well done, Cherry!

    7. Thank you Jamie!

      I did, in fact, bawl my eyes out for MONTHS beforehand, worrying about my son being alright (my dad can be a spiky and insensitive person, whose generalised dismissiveness would've been felt very personally by my son if it'd been exercised). One of my friends tentatively said 'Erm...I don't think you're supposed to cry QUITE this much before your wedding...'
      But I couldn't explain the intensity of it all - that my son was actually going to be there, when once I didn't know if I'd ever see him again. And feeling so protective about him, not wanting anything to hurt him.

      But when the day arrived, everything just worked out so beautifully. It was like there was magic in the air. Everyone was so happy, my son was so relaxed it brought out his mischievous side, and my dad behaved.

      My son became part of the ceremony, along with my sisters, and he sat right by my side during the wedding meal, with my new husband on the other side.

      And I truly think it all worked out so well because we found our way through - like hacking through an overgrown thicket - to what we REALLY wanted to do, not what we were supposed to do. I think my son also did that when he set out to search for me.

      It meant some people didn't like or appreciate what we did, but I can and will live with that, because the deep integrity of that weekend nourished the souls of everyone there (they told us!) in a way that pleasing everyone by obeying the rules couldn't possibly have. I've learned that lesson.

    8. Thanks Julia Emily too!

  4. Why is this adoption thing set up so that we have to search? We are not Easter eggs. I should not have to search for my mother and or father, they should be readily available too me my whole life. Anything less is denial.

  5. I found my daughter when she was fifteen. It was not a moment too soon.

  6. I'm sorry Marcie for all that you and your sister and your nephew have been through. You are all in my thoughts.

  7. I searched when I was 48. I didn't want to die without ever seeing my mother's face. I've seen it, and maybe I'll never see it again. It's the most wonderful face I've ever seen. How I wish I had grown up with her. It's such a terrible tragedy.

  8. As with everything in adoption, deciding when/if to search is different for everyone. I was surprised, when I finally came out of the ‘I-am-a-birth-mother-shame-closet’, to find so many varying opinions about this very question. I had a friend reveal (with clear contempt) she was adopted and said, in no uncertain terms said, “I hope she never contacts me”. I even had a friend reveal that she gave up a child when she was 15 and has no desire to find her child and hopes her child never tries to find her. The more avenues I pursued, the more I wanted to be back in my closet. It was a heart-wrenching realization to find more people in pain rather than helped by adoption.

    I was between 2-3 months along when I found out I was pregnant and used the remainder of my term to contemplate my options. I was 18 and already planning to leave the baby’s father, who was diving headlong into addiction. His family was dysfunctional with a capital D and my family was a wasteland of permanently damaged victims (our mother died unexpectedly at 48 and our father abandoned the family ten years before). As soon as I settled on my decision of adoption, I decided I would give my daughter her first year of adulthood to find me. After she turned 19, I would start my search for her. My reasoning was: if she was chomping at the bit to find me, she would start right away at 18 and I was easily found on online registries. If she didn’t try to contact me, I didn’t want her devoting any time to thinking I didn’t care/think about her regularly. This was how I dealt with the 19 years of waiting and it definitely kept me sane.

    When I decided on adoption, I was painfully naive and still believed in the fairy-tale that this was the most selfless, kind and loving thing I could do for my daughter and her adoptive parents. In hindsight – this was the best plan for me – either this or abortion. Conversely, I don’t know if it was the best thing for my daughter. She was raised by loving (to her) parents, but they are the same people who believe I should have stayed away – they will never encourage or support a relationship between me and my daughter and have guilted her completely out of my life. They view my decision to initiate contact with my daughter with disgust, even though I was considerate enough to contact them first. If they had given me an inch, I would have worked with them. But, they told me to go away and then refused my correspondence. I felt I had no alternative but to circumvent them. I’ll never know if I should have handled things differently because 6+ years later, they still wish I didn’t exist. So, I don’t know if all of my planning, consideration, concern, love and good intentions where the best thing for my daughter.

    Julia Emily – I don’t know the circumstances of your situation, but it sounds similar to my daughter’s. I sympathize with your dilemma. At the end of the day, sometimes you have to do what is right for you, regardless of how it impacts others. As long as you’re not being intentionally destructive, I don’t see how allowing this stalemate to continue helps anyone. However, stepping into the abyss is equally overwhelming. I get it. I don’t envy you. I will say that I’ve been told and felt like the less-than party in this situation for many, many years. It wasn’t until I empowered myself, as an equal in my own triad that I had peace of mind. We are all people. We all have feelings. We all have convictions. No one is less than.

    Marcie – I still believe in love. I would try to find him; even if he is indifferent about knowing anything about your sister or her family - you have important information about his medical legacy. But, I am an eternal optimist and every cloud has a silver lining in my life (and thank god for that!). I'm terribly sorry about your sister and wish you strength in the coming days.

    1. Hilary: I just want to address one point that you made in your post. You say you decided to give your daughter until she was 19 to start to search for you, am I correct? As an adoptee, let me tell you that not all of us are ready to search, or even thinking about such a thing at age 19. I certainly wasn't. I had just started a career, was engaged to be married, we were buying a house while planning our wedding, and I was still in the fog. It took the birth of my first child for me to see that something was very wrong. But it was years later, after I had my second child, when I was almost 40, for my eyes to really start to open. And they didn't open completely until my adoptee friend and I really started to discuss it, about 10 years ago.

      Maybe the ages of 18, 19, or even 21 are one of those things that sound good in theory, but the reality many times is very different. It's a very complicated thing. Thanks for listening!

    2. Yes, my decision was to wait until she was 19 to make my presence known. Right or wrong, I thought it was important for her to know who I was and that I cared/wanted the best for her - so she didn't have to wonder or think she was carelessly discarded. I agree she was likely too young to deal with and sort out all of the emotions involved, which is also likely the reason she stepped out of our reunion two years ago (and I have respectfully kept out of contact). I do believe I will hear from her again (and agree having children of her own might be the catalyst), but cannot afford to psychologically invest in it as a definite. 25 years later, my naivety is stripped away. My rose-colored glasses are long gone.

      She confessed to me early in our reunion that she asked her adoptive parents shortly after her 18th birthday about trying to find me, but they shut her down... telling her she had other priorities. I feel very good about how I conducted myself during our initial introduction/developing relationship, but think the constant pressure applied by her adoptive parents to choose sides was our ultimate undoing.

      My Achilles heel was thinking I could demonstrate my integrity and eventually her adoptive parents would see that I was not trying to take their place, nor did I try to mother her or interfere with any of their lives. Everything I did came from an honest, loving place and it was meant with cold, heartless judgment and rejection.

      My intended good and loving decision has turned into an emotional blight for all of us. Not contacting her wasn't an option I was willing to consider. From all research I had done, it seemed most adoptees are fearful to reach out because of what they would find (mental illness, addiction, poverty). I wanted them all to know I didn't have ulterior motives or need anything from them other than respect. I thought that was a simple expectation. Turns out I was never expected to reappear and was told if they wanted to participate in an open adoption, they would have (open adoption was not an option in my state). It feels to me as if she is their property. She is too young to navigate these difficult waters. I understand, but in light of all of this, I would never make this choice again – for any of us.

    3. Hilary: I am so sorry you had to go through all of this. Maybe, as you stated, it might take your daughter having children of her own to start to see that there is another side to this mess, and another person in pain.

      I took a VERY long time to come to this realization. Part of it is my nature, but I see now that most of it was brainwashing and the dismissing of my first mother by my AP's. I tell you, she probably could have come down from heaven with angel's wings and a halo, she still would have been treated badly. They would have, as you say, "shut me down." There would have been the constant pressure you mention for me to choose sides.

      Just judging by how long it took me to open my eyes, there may still be a relationship in the future for you and your daughter. I am still treated as if I am the property of my AP's. That will never go away. It is an unusual situation only the adoptee can even try to understand. But I am now searching for family members in my own home, alone on my computer and nobody has to know. Maybe your daughter will do the same someday.

      Look at what adoption does. Closed, open....no matter, it is just a mess. Human beings were not meant to be torn apart in this way. I wish you all the best.

  9. I found my son when he was 18, after being shut out of knowing anything about him in a bogus open adoption. It was 11 long, grueling years of now knowing anything of how he was or if he was dead or alive. It became very apparent his adopters, their families/ friends were not happy about me having found him and were very standoffish and cold towards me. (A much different tune than they played when I met them some 18 years before), It opened my eyes to so many things about adoption.

    My child and I do not have a relationship now due to it being sabotaged by religion, guilt trips and blind loyalty, but I am not sorry I found him (I almost was, for a short time). He now knows the truth about his life and mine. I have taken control back of the narrative of our lives and there is not a damn thing they can do about it- except continue the guilt trips and the demanding of gratitude and loyalty. Very interesting, I don't have to demand any of this from the son I am raising. Nothing is forced or phony about our parent/ child relationship. I did and do not even have to be present in the life of my first born son to see that is what is happening in his familial relationships with his adoptive family.

    1. Some adoptive parents are insecure because they know on some level that blood really is thicker than water. If they didn't think that to some degree, why would they feel threatened at all? Why would they need to guilt trip the child into thinking they are the child's 'real' and 'only' parents? I think that the very nature of adoption itself creates insecurity all around. And the insecurity is too often flat out denied. And that denial in turn causes even more problems, such as an open adoption closing or an adoptee feeling torn when trying to have a relationship with both his bio and adoptive families.

    2. I don't think it's denied, just not admitted. Why do APs (who adopted due to infertility) try for a bio child first? Why do some infertile APs keep trying for a bio child even after they've adopted? Because they know blood matters. When I was 17 my amother said to me of my afather "If it wasn't for him we could've had our own children in the first place". Ah. Another satisfied adoption customer.

      As a side note, I find it interesting no one ever calls APs who still try for a bio child after they've adopted "selfish". In my way of thinking, trying for a bio child is the APs' version of searching (only they're not searching for a biological connection, but attempting to create one). If they still want a bio family even after adoption, does it not follow that adoptees want to know their biological families after adoption? If adoption was a second choice for APs does it not follow that adoption was a second choice for adoptees? I don't know why everyone acts like babies hang out in their cribs just waiting to be separated from their families and be re-assigned to random infertile couple #672.

    3. I just have to say blood is not thicker than water. When I hear statements like that I just cringe on behalf of my adopted children. Will they think my parents don't really love me after all? I cannot imagine loving anyone more than my children. I don't think I am an insecure parent any more than any other mom -- I worry about the right decision for summer camp etc -- but I feel secure as a mom in my love for my kids. I think of how harmful such a statement such as "on some level blood is really thicker than water" to innocent children who are adopted because their birth parents gave them up. That is enough of a burden to deal with in my mind, without having to think that my aparents can't really love me because I am not blood. I visit this and other forums only to help my children, to know what they are up against, and what they might hear. Next time you say things like that, please think of the innocent children who might hear and suffer from it. I do think for some blood is thicker than water and they are not suitable to adopt, nor do they . But for those of us who do, blood be *$&#ed! We love our kids wholeheartedly.

    4. Dear Anonymous,
      I love my daughter with every ounce of my blood, and she truly loves me. It is because of that love, I want her to someday know her first family.
      Your children will hear "blood is thicker than water". When they do, please value their first families with them and reinforce anything positive about them.
      You sound like a great amom! You are ready to defend them and love them with a passion.

    5. And once again the adoptive parent's love trumps all. Well, I wish it did, but unfortunately it doesn't for many adoptees. I do believe that adoptive parents can love an adopted child as much as bio-parents do, but their love cannot ameliorate the pain of being given up in the first place. And many adoptive parents oppose open records and/or close open adoptions because of an underlying fear that the child will feel more of a connection to his or her original family. I have seen too many APs, especially those from the BSE, who really do fear a reemergence of the first family into the adoptee's life. And why else would they feel this way except for an underlying fear that the bio-connection is incredibly powerful and can never be completely replaced?

    6. Robin it is not an "adoptive parten''ts love triumphs all, but more of a mother's hope that love will provide the foundation for a good life. we cannot fix all of the wrongs in our children's lives; we unfortunately don't come with magic wands to wipe away the hurts All we can do is offer our unwavering unconditional love and support and be there. I so wish my children did not have to have a life experience of being given away by their birth families. But that is their history. I cannot fix that but I can offer them the security of a loving committed mother. I can be there for them. I can support them. I suspect all mothers in their hearts do wish that love trumps all because we want our children to have wonderful lives free of pain. But as we know, the world does not work that way. But love does indeed help, and I am all for it! The world is not black and white, this is not an either or situation. But a life filled with love is certainly better than one not. And a loved child has a much better foundation for success in dealing with life's traumas than an unloved child. So does love trump all? Yes and no. I don't think many of us would opt for a life without love, while we clearly know that love does not wipe away hurt. But it surely can help us cope and flourish.

    7. Anonymous, my comment was about my life, how adoption has effected ME and MY child. I don't give two s**** about how you feel about a statement that rings true for many of us. This is not about you and don't tell me you don't make it about you. You replying to my comment in the manner you have proves that and it happens to make me cringe. I never go to adoptive parents blogs and comment over them or try to put them in "their place". Why do so many adopters feel the need to do this? Insecurity, that's what. You should be. You are not the natural mother to the child you are raising and you know it.

    8. Sam: In response to your original comment--yep yep and yep. While my daughter's adoptive parents started out accepting me totally, as time went on her adoptive mother did move away from our daughter emotionally, throwing my daughter into a tailspin as she tried to "win" back her amom's love. It was difficult to be on the receiving end and a friend once joked--Aren't you glad you found her?" but I always was. It was the healthiest and best outcome for the both of us. There was a lot of turmoil but I never regretted for a second that I found my daughter.

    9. Anon 11.16

      I can't quite make it out, but I hope you aren't equating a relinquished child with an unloved child. That would be false.

    10. Cherry - what i am saying is that I find the statement blood is thicker than water to be potentially harmful to adopted children. it might make them feel insecure. I would not want my adopted kids to hear an adult say this. Robin responded saying something to the effect that the old aparent line that love trumps all. I responded that it is a parent thing in general to hope that love helps our children better cope with the challenges of life, does love trump all in life? yes and no both, life is not black and white.

      Sam - I was not replying to you, I had not even read your post, I was responding to Robin so I don't know what you are talking about. I don't know why my post makes you so angry. I also don't care if you don;t like my dislike of that line. I still don't like it because I think it could be hurtful to adopted children. It is about them for me, not you. You are entitled of course to your feelings and you can say I am insecure. It doesn't change anything. I am not but I am curious and interested so I check out blogs so I can know more about adoption since I am involved in it forever. I do find adoptee blogs most useful but I check this site out too. I actually think it is more useful as an amom to check this stuff out so I can see what my children may hear and come across so I can better understand. Of course I know I did not give birth to them But I am not ashamed of adopting at all nor do I feel I should be insecure about it at all It is a fact of life for us, the very fiber of our family. I am thrilled to be their mom. I am not trying to put anyonoe in their place, I am making a comment about how life and how adoption has affected our family. Our story is true for us. I don't know why an amom saying she loves her kids causes so much anger or ire. Wouldn't it be worse if we did not?

    11. @anonymous:

      And what about the line "blood does not make a family" or "blood doesn't matter?" You don't think that isn't damaging to children who were adopted? Blood DOES matter. Without "blood" you would not have the child you adopted. It matters more than many of you care to admit. That is why you troll these blogs and chime in when something "makes you cringe."

      You are actually loving someone else's kids. They are children of another family that you happen to be raising. It sure seems to anger so many adopters when we as mothers of adoption loss post our feelings about OUR children and how losing them has affected us and our lives.

      Blood IS thicker than water. Get over it.

    12. @Sam,
      I agree with what you say. I don't appreciate it when APs come to blogs like this and tell me what I should say or think about adoption. Having lived being adopted every day of my life, I think I am qualified to speak about the experience.

      I never suggested an AP should say to an adoptee's face, "Blood is thicker than water". Only that, imo, many (though certainly not all) APs do seem threatened by the enormous power of the biological connection. The shared looks, the similar mannerisms, the shared talents and interests, etc. BSE adoptive parents were even told that these shared traits (with the exception of looks) wouldn't even exist.

      As another example, let's say that I had been raised by my natural parents. Would I have ever wondered " Gee, what if I had been given up for adoption, who would my adoptive parents have been? What would they be like? " Would I have had a yearning, a strong sense of connection to these hypothetical adoptive parents? Most likely, not. The strong, enduring tie for most of us is with our natural parents. And if we had not been adopted, we would probably not give much thought to fantasy adopted parents. I apologize if this analogy is not clear but it's the best I can do at the moment.

    13. Sam -- I am "actually loving someone else's kids." Exactly! Very very much. That is why I say blood is not thicker than water...it is not for our family. Adoption is not a secret or bad thing or shameful thing for our family at all. It is who we are. In your notes I just pick up this sense that i should be walking around with my tail between my legs, for my analogy. I don't. we don't. We are just a family. I don't consider myself a troll on an open blog. If the owners want to make it private I guess that is their decision. I am free to speak about adoption too. I thnk that particular statement could be harmful to adopted children so I wanted to point that out. I don' think it means we are threatened by the biological connnecton at all. Maybe in the "olden days" this was more of an issue when adoption was often a secret for all concerned. Now it is surely not.. My comment was based upon the point that adopted kids have enough on their plate w/out hearing adults say comments meaning that they may not be loved enough by their APs. J.

    14. @Anonymous-You never answered my question...

      "And what about the line "blood does not make a family" or "blood doesn't matter?"

      I hear that particular one all the time and it is all over the place on adoption sites. Do adopted children not see this?

      I am not the blog owner and am not saying you can't comment, I only made note that the only thing I saw from you on this post (whoever you are, anonymous) is that something you didn't like "made you cringe" and you did not hesitate in stating that. Don't see you chiming in in support of natural mothers who are in pain without their children...

      @ Robin-DITTO and (((HUGS)))

    15. All I ask, Anon AP, is that you be willing to listen to your children and let them tell you how they really feel about being adopted. I understand that for you (and everything you write is from your perspective) adoption has been a wonderful way to build a family, that there are no insecurities and there is an enormous amount of love. But I hope you are at least willing to entertain the possibility that the adoption experience may look very different to the children who, after all, are the ones actually living being adopted. Their feelings about adoption may be a lot more complicated and less positive than the "our children our adopted, we know how to handle it, our family is fine" neat little box you describe.

      (((Hugs))) back to you, Sam.

    16. right like everyone, I write from my perspective but I do my best to learn what I can. I visit blogs like this and keep my eyes/ears open to learn all that I can to be the best mom I can be. I especially find adult adoptee blogs useful and enlightening. We are in couple of adoption related groups and they have guest speakers and special events and just fun events;, I carefully selected a pediatrician who has lots of experience in working with adopted kids. We'll do the best we can. The "neat little box" is as messy as anyone's box, I suppose; we are a regular family. We work to have open communication and express / hear feelings. Do we make mistakes. Certainly. we are only human. But we work hard at having a good and loving and secure family.

  10. In my experience, there is no "right time" to search. It is always a gamble, and some win, some lose. I contacted my son years too early which delayed any chance of real reunion by many years. People search when they feel they must, when they feel they can deal with the outcome, but there are no guarantees, and some never want to either search or be found. There is no way to know a right time, or to tell others when their right time has come.

  11. Wow! there's a lot of wisdom in all of these comments, and I wish I could answer everyone directly. Let me say, however, that I don't feel I am stalled, at all. I am much further along in finding out my history than I was when I found FMF. I have a fair amount of information I never had previously, and the DNA kit is ordered. I have an instinct, and that's all it is, that my first mother is no longer alive. But if DNA matches me with any of her family members, I will certainly communicate with them. I can not dive into anything head first. No matter what went on in the past, my AP's are at the very end of their lives, and it's not pretty. There is no sense in destroying them with any of this. Hopefully, if I find any members of my first family, they will be willing to work with me, until the situation changes. I am not proceeding this way out of guilt or submission to my AP's, I am proceeding this way to keep my sanity.

    1. JE: I think it is great that you are on ancestry.com. If that doesn't pan out, there are a couple of others: 23andme and familytreeDNA.

  12. I applied in 1989 at age 18 to the government for my non-ID info and to the provincial registry. I decided to search at 24 and started attending Parent Finders meetings. At the time, records were sealed. The Adoption Order provided the adoptee's birth name where the surname was the mother's surname. Unfortunately in 1970 Ontario started replacing that surname with the first initial and a number. Parent Finders said I had more than enough info in my non-ID info to search, if only I had my surname. I was born in December 1970 and adopted in May 1971. If only I'd been born or adopted just a few months earlier I'd have had my surname.

    Back to the government to apply for a search in 1995. Fortunately my application in May 1989 to the provincial registry acted as a "placeholder". They had a number you could call that had an automated voice message saying what month/year requests they were working on. The message changed the first of every month. I used to sit by the phone at midnight the first of every month. I kept going to my Parent Finders meetings (and kept watching them reunite people adopted before 1970 who had their surname). I wrote my MPPs to open records. I bought newspapers for the classifieds on every birthday. (This was pre-Internet). No one ever looked for me.

    Finally a month before my 26th birthday they got to my request. I applied in May 1989. They got to my request in November 1996. I spent 7.5 years all told waiting on that list.

    In a lot of ways those years were worse than being given away -- the fact that no one ever came back for me. All the time I was on the provincial registry. All it would have taken was 30 minutes to fill out an application. Apparently I wasn't worth 30 minutes in 26 years.

    A few months into reunion my mother started taking "you left me" pot shots at me. Every sentence was appended with that phrase. "I went back to school after you left me". I never said anything because I'd just spent 7.5 years on a list, and didn't want her disappearing again. I started trying to get back to her the first year it was legal. I went to meetings. I bought newspapers. I waited on a list for 7.5 years, my entire adult life at the time. *I* left *her*?

    I've never gotten over not being searched for. Especially after the things that were said to me.

    1. Every part of your story is sad. Adoption, and the way it is practiced, did a number of many people, including mothers such as yours. I am so sorry.

  13. zygotepariah, I am holding you close right now, though you don't know it. Your mom's spiteful "YOU left ME" may be how she processed watching her baby being carried away, possibly forever, in the arms of a stranger.

    My own mother used the exact same line on ME shortly before she cut off all contact with me, which she stonily maintained for the last ten years of her life. I "left" her, I'd imagine, as I no longer could maintain the frantic one-sided dance to please her that I'd been jigging away at for thirty years. Newly married to a man who loved me (and fortunately still does), I'd learned to recognize self-abasement, and how this behavior damaged me while "pleasing" her remained an unattainable goal.

    I first came to FMF in order to understand how adoption ravaged a branch of my family tree of origin, and continues to haunt my dearest and closest blood relative, whom I loved long before I had children. The stories of now-grown children and the parents they missed out on, in so many ways, mesmerizes me. One reason why I can relate was that there was never enough to go around in my family of origin, and mine simply dumped me. To those who remain I am still, I suppose, what I was: a person who didn't fit in, an object of ridicule, someone to whom one automatically could feel superior.

    In short, the past few family deaths have become known to me through Google Alert, not via a phone call, letter, e-mail, or telegram. That's how I find out.

    1. Mrs. TB,

      I am so sorry to read this.

    2. Thank you, Jane. The phrase "forever families" gives me a rictus grin more suitable to the monkey house at the National Zoo.

  14. Replies
    1. You guys mean the world to me. Thanks for all you do.

    2. Mrs TB, I just wanted to say I am really glad you are here although I wish you had no reason to be.

    3. Thank you, Cherry. I always look for your posts though I wish that you, too, had no reason to write them.

  15. We all have our own reasons and timing for why and when we search. My own took twenty nine years. The day I began my search, I remember sitting down at my computer, just staring at a blank screen. What was I scared of? What did I think was going to happen? Just the thought of typing the words on a screen intimidated me.

    A D O P T I O N S E A R C H (enter)

    When I opened my eyes and saw all the links I was amazed. What the hell? Where had I been all these years? Organized groups, resources, articles, stories, testimonies. It went on an on. All these lost people looking for loved ones. It was as if someone threw cold water on my face and told me to wake up after sleeping for 29 years. I was clueless. But I remember the terror of right before I hit the word (enter) on my computer. What did I think was going to happen? That being said, I understand how some moms don't search. Like my sister, they are afraid of uncertainties, of being judged, of revisiting a time when they were totally helpless and in pain.

    My sister passed away yesterday in her sleep. She died believing, because she had never been found, her son has never wanted to find her, but we know that is not always the case.

    Thank you for FMF, Lorraine and Jane for allowing us a safe place to come and share our stories. A place to come and find comfort from the aftermath of adoption.

    1. My deep condolences x

    2. My sympathy, Marcie

    3. Marcie, I'm sorry to hear that. My condolences to you and your family.

  16. Quote OP:
    We know that reunion is the beginning, not the end, of a long journey, and it is often strewn with pitfalls and disappointments. Yet we both feel that knowing is better than not knowing, that answers about what happened to our children lead to a more peaceful life.

    I gave up my daughter in 1969; and I remembered the promise I made to her when I last saw her 18 days after her birth - "that I would try & find her one day!"
    Forward to 2004: I was working with an adoptee & search came up by her. "Why was I not searching for my daughter?" I told her I wouldn't even know "where" to start - she set me straight. I found adoption dot com and sent away for my non-identifying information. I received just basic info and a letter from the amom written before my daughter's first b'day! WOW! I thought... she remembered me and wrote such a nice letter! I found a VERY nice lady that matched up my surname with the births of that day, and getting a Birth Cert # of my giving birth to the "adoption" # - they are the same, at least in California. The day I received my daughter "new" name and that she "might" be alive brought my mind at "peace". This was a day after her 36th birthday. I did make contact in a round-about way. There was no actual direct address to contact my daughter, so I had to go thru her aparents. Unfortunately, I did not know that the lady I sent my first letter to was her step-mother married to her adad. After like 3 months had gone by not hearing anything - I found the "correct" a-mom and sent the same letter to her, with a letter to my daughter. I received a response first from the amom, saying basically, "It has been somewhat surreal to have something I feared happening for 37 years, suddenly recome a reality. That I had put her daughter in an emotional turmoil! That she would write to me when she chooses. I ask that you give her some time to process this, as it has disturbed her immensely..." Shit I thought to myself - WHAT have I done. I finally did hear from her 3 months later. Not a good letter - she wants some time, so please do not contact her ever again - she would do the contacting. But she was grateful that I had given her up for adoption and didn't need another family. She was 36 at that time. She said I had signed an "agreement" that I would never search for her - which of course I did not. So I waited for another year to pass by and in 2008 before her 37th birthday I sent her a 12 page letter explaining "how it was" in the BSE era, her birth, all medical info (because she said in her 1st letter to me that she had none of this), and the papers that I signed that no where in than it said "I couldn't search". She did send a email to me in response to that, but still did not want ANY contact and for me to "let it go!" So I have since than...
    Lots of "If only..." came to mind - If Only I could have supported us... If Only the times could have been "different" than 2008, when single women were keeping their babies, and single women were adopting babies, and they weren't call "bastards"...
    Anyway - sorry this is so long... just venting like other bmoms here!
    Happy 4th of July everyone!

    1. Lee:

      Although I only started posting recently, I've been reading here for a long time, and am familiar with more of your story. Fearing your return for 37 years tells me all I need to know about your daughter's adoptive mother. It sounds to me she was the one in "emotional turmoil", not your daughter. I don't understand adoptees who say they don't need "another family". Your daughter's adoptive mother is clearly an insecure woman, and it's obvious your daughter's views on reunion have been influenced by this. I'm so sorry.

    2. Thank you Z! My "door" is still open for her - just hoping the amom dies soon (I know, not nice, but...) she is 7 years older than me, and I'm 66.
      I did say I did not want to be another mother to her, just a friendship - so - I wait, but not fretting about it. It's now been going on 6 years since I last had contact. She did have a child, and am hoping it "could" change her mind about me!

  17. Every story here has a sadness that only a person involved in adoption can understand. Obviously there are very few "Happy Adoption" stories. While I read these posts and my heart is breaking, I can at least assure myself that I am not crazy, I am not making any of this up, and I am not guilty of anything. Adoption tears people apart. It is unnatural. And it never goes away. But, thanks to FMF, and Lorraine and Jane, I know that I am not alone.

    1. I feel the same. I come here and I am not alone.

      And I also learn things, vital things.

    2. Beautifully put, JE. But so sad and frustrating that we rarely do seem to be able to make others understand. I get so tired of hearing the same old worn out clich├ęs about how wonderful adoption is. When for so many of us who have lived it, it really sucks.

    3. I feel exactly as you do, Robin. The same stories over and over started me thinking that I was really going nuts!

  18. As a mother that searched, the one thing I am sorry for.... searching at all. The truth is that I have yet to see the "positive" in the reunion/crazy weird crap that my life became. I have been called names, publicly, ripped off, stalked, and honestly, I never know/knew were I stood. Then a few weeks ago - true to what I have recognized as a cycle of behaviors - my daughter shut me out again. Not a word why but the same old crap.

    No, I am not perfect... I am 52, widowed, opinionated, educated and far from willing to let anyone step on me emotionally, financially or in any way. I made mistakes.... apparently that is the only thing I did. I love my daughter and always will - but even a person that likes being beat on doesn't like being abused forever.... and honestly, I feel bad to say it... but I am sorry I looked.

    1. Lori - none of us are perfect (even "them")... and you should never punish yourself for it.

      My take-away from putting myself in this situation (giving up a child for adoption) is we are set up to fail no matter what. I could never have measured up, been strong enough, been great enough, been intelligent enough, been nice enough to be accepted or respected as an equal. I'm not sorry I searched and am confident that I conducted myself in a fair, decent and considerate manner. Regardless, my reunion was an abysmal failure.

      It feels wrong to say, but if I am completely honest, I'm sorry I did this to all of parties in my triad. I was the one who made the first choice, which set in motion this horrific emotional spiral that won't end until we die. If I only knew, I wouldn't be here now. I think that is the biggest most tragic thing of all.

      I acknowledge that all of the above sounds awful, but I am really in a good place emotionally and have "accepted the things I cannot change". Even if my daughter had a change of heart in the future (which I honestly hope she does not), I can't imagine what she or her adoptive parents could say that would break down the massive wall I've constructed to protect myself from them.

    2. Hilary, I get that. I truly do. I have begun the wall anew after this 6th or 7th shut out for no apparent reason. I don't not want her to change her mind. I want her to be happy, live her life and leave me out of it. Her adopters are horrible people and she has more of their traits than mine or my family's traits. We aren't perfect but we will never get an honest chance.

    3. Lori,
      I appreciate your honesty. I bet there are many people who regret searching. While I don't regret it, I also was not able to go back and become a member of my first family as if I had never left (which I think I was secretly hoping would happen). No one knows what they will find and I don't think I could have handled something as devastating as what happened to Elaine Penn.

  19. Perhaps some of us will enjoy this column:

  20. Ladies:

    May I offer a bit of advice? In regards to aparents being insecure during reunion, may not be the case. Has it ever occurred to you that may the aparents are thinking: " oh, now that all of the hard work of raising the child is done, you want to be mommy/daddy!". I can see that especially if the bparents are coming on too strong during the first stages. For example, telling the aparents the child has TWO sets of parents( as if you helped in raising them), or calling yourself "MOM/DAD" when addressing the adoptee or aparents. In fact, I would be pissed too!

    Not everything in reunion is due to aparents being insecure, maybe its the tone that is being set.


    1. MYA, This is a very real deal. However, you are forgetting the biggest thing of all.... raising a child can be done by a nanny - only a mother can give birth. My daughter's adopters were lovely to me, to the idiotic CI that gave away everything, etc., and then went off on my daughter. I had no idea. The adoptive mother actually invited me to come and stay in her home so that I could meet "her daughter"......Then booted my daughter out of the rental that they were renting from them as a punishment for me being "alive".

      It is impossible to tell what kind of person is raising your child or what kind of person your child is. What may be "coming on too strong" to them, may not be even remotely what the mother thinks.

      Also, for those adopters that purchased their child and then pushed and pushed the mother until they had the child - how can they even consider the ignorance that comes with the statement that you made about now wanting to be mommy/daddy. The truth is, since the end of the BSE, any child born was wanted....

      Interesting that the mothers have to kiss ass and be something they aren't to supplicate the adopter.


    2. @anonymous- you said: ( as if you helped in raising them).

      Well, as if the adopters had anything to do with this child walking the earth. If not for the women who made this child's life possible, you wouldn't have had the opportunity to raise someone else's child. Moreover, as if some of us would have given our very souls to have take it all back and had raised our children ourselves. I sure would have. As if I was ever given any chance to even know my child. I would have dropped everything in a heartbeat to be there had they asked or invited me. Myself, like most other natural mothers are dumped and left for dead; many of whom were promised otherwise; but I suspect you already knew that, didn't you?

    3. MYA

      I once lived with my sister and niece.
      For years I got up in the middle of the night to look after my infant niece, fed her, changed her nappies, tended her when she was sick, went to her first school play, sat in outpatients with her etc etc.
      I'm still her aunty.

      I have recently wondered if what makes people like you a parent is simply the fact that the individuals you adopted see you as that. Nothing more.

    4. I was given away without my father's knowledge or consent. Almost three decades passed before he learned of me. He had no other children and wanted a relationship, which as far as I'm concerned is his right. My adopters would never have had a baby to "do all the hard work" had his rights to *his* child not been violated in the first place. In the first stages of reunion every time we'd talk on the phone he'd just cry. Terribly sorry if his grief over missing out on most of his only child's life is "coming on too strong".

      My father's doing an ancestry test to provide me with my paternal haplogroup to supplement the test I did last year. He will then also appear as my Father under "DNA Relatives". Only one man in the entire world could be listed here; my adopters could have been anyone.

    5. MYA – blanket statements are dangerous. I haven’t met a single person touched by adoption who has the same story.

      While I’ve never parented a child myself, I have tried with all of my might to understand what it would be like to be an adoptive parent. I think it would be very difficult to raise someone else’s child only to have them return and want to be involved. But, I think it is reckless to not prepare for this to occur eventually. Of course I’d be cautious, I’d be careful, but I would take the time to get to know this woman and help my child navigate this emotional situation to the best of my ability. Ultimately, I believe I would be confident enough in my relationship with my child to believe it couldn’t be dismantled by a third party. It is a tidy supposition and very hypothetical.

      I never tried to mother my daughter and never claimed to have had a part in raising her. I was simply trying to be part of her life, on terms she determined. During the initial stages of our reunion, I learned I was manipulated, deceived, followed by a (unbeknownst to me) private investigator, hired by her adoptive parents. The two people I entrusted with my baby, who said they would/could do a better job than I could, ended up being deceitful, insecure cowards. While they were kind and loving on paper, they were tracking my every move like an unpredictable and dangerous criminal. While by all accounts there were loving, concerned parents, but I learned I gave them their most prized & coveted POSSESSION that they guard like a bird in a gilded cage. Instead of being remembered with love and compassion, I was used as a teachable moment throughout my daughter's life of what not to do and who not to be. It makes me cringe. It makes me detest these people. It makes me very sorry that these are the people I helped choose to raise my daughter (as if reading a three page document about 5 couples is really enough to make this choice).

      In a lot of cases, adoption being a better alternative for children is a scam. People are buying children via adoption agencies born of uniformed young women who believe they cannot possibly provide for their babies like a wealthy couple can. It is simply not true.

  21. The adoptee HAS two sets of parents. To deny that is to lie. Without the first parents, AP's would not have the child st all. It's time they all realized that.

    1. BRAVO! Julia Emily! That is the facts! And yes, there is no way that any adoptive parent of only adopted children - and some with bio-children of their own would ever have been a parent except for the woman that lost their child....

  22. As an adoptee who is raising 3 elementary-aged children, I acknowledge that parenting can be a lot of "work." But it is such a labor of love, I literally marvel at everything about my kids everyday. I'm crazy about them.

    Which is why I'm dumbstruck by APs who moan, whine, and complain about how "hard" it is to raise their adopted kids--so much "work!" How many times on forums, lists, and blogs over the years have I read about "cleaning up vomit" and "changing dirty diapers?" Too many to count!

    My guess is that when they're your own kids it doesn't feel like work, it feels natural. When you procure children through adoption, it often seems like a job and not the "better life" that the AI promises. Yet they call us "bitter."

    1. I agree with your sentiments here.

      I think all the bellyaching about 'hard work' by those APs is really a demand for endless gratitude.

      As far as my son is concerned, whoever had the great fortune to be allowed to raise him, knowing him as a baby and a little boy, and watching him grow up into a young man, was utterly utterly blessed.

  23. I think they moan and groan to pin medals on themselves. Look at all the hard work we do for the child we adopted! I think it's because they are insecure. Just a gut feeling.

  24. This brought back a line my A-mother would use when I was sick or wouldn't sleep or whatever. She " wanted a child so much she would suffer the consequences." I had buried that line deep in my memory. It's an insecurity thing.

    1. I'm reminded of something a woman told me about the adoptive parents of children in a drug treatment program. A common refrain was "This is not what I bargained for" or "I didn't sign up for this." Natural parents whose children were in the program did not express these sentiments. .

  25. Ladies:

    In regards to my comment on 7/6@8:12 am:

    As hard as it maybe to admit, many adoptees see their aparents as their only parents ( if they are good parents). Yes, the adoptee has two mothers/fathers but to many of them, they only have one set of parents (which is true because they are raising or have raised them). I think this is another reason why many reunions fail because the bparents (through no fault of their own) have to realize that their bchild has been raised by other people who they consider their parents. In short, they have parents and don't need another set. However, when reunion is successful, the bparent and adoptee can have a relationship that is based on mutual trust and love but I serious doubt it is the parent/child relationship that many bparents desire. Also, in regards to aparents doing all the “hard work” and becoming resentful of some bparents wanting to “share” the title and credit of raising the child, I would probably think the same way too.
    Think about it, suppose you were a single mom who has successfully raised a child without the father’s help and now that all of the hard work is done, the father wants to claim all/some of the credit despite not having helped to raise the child.


    1. There is one major difference between natural fathers and natural mothers and that is that mothers give birth. They go through pregnancy, labor and delivery. Mothers put their lives on the line in pregnancy and can suffer health complications, or even die as a result...it still happens, even today.

      Adoptive parents, like natural fathers, do not go through pregnancy, labor and delivery.

    2. MYA - I would like to agree with you.... but I can't. First, I have attempted to be the "friend/relative" with my daughter and she only wants me to be "mommy" which is confusing and painful to me at best. I never claimed to share credit for "raising" her - since I haven't, prior to reunion, seen her or been the parent since she was almost 4. But to say that reunion can be good if the biological parent can just accept that they don't have a "parent" role is ridiculous. The facts are, even the single mother that raises a child alone has to accept that the father is still the father. BLOOD makes a difference.

      When an adopted person tells me that they have no "need" for another parent, my thought and question is - immediately - then why don't you just get the medical and non-identifying information and forget the OBC and meeting the biological parents? If you don't want to connect with them, you should not torture them with any connection at all.

      Honestly - Are you an adopter or an adoptee? Because you talk in generalities as if you get the conversation - but they are so broad as to be ridiculous.

    3. Lori:

      I am an adoptee and I am speaking from my experience. I try to be neutral when seeing both sides of the equation, but when I heard " the aparents are jealous or threaten" I can agree and disagree. As I stated before, not all emotions are based on insecurities. Maybe its the tone that is being set. And I do believe many reunions can be successful if the bparents realize that the child already has parents and acknowledges and accept it. Then, the relationship can grow holistically based on love and trust.


    4. MYA wrote "many adoptees see their aparents as their only parents ( if they are good parents)."

      That is the deathless MYTH of adoption and it is not true. It was especially prevalent during the BSE when PAPs were told that babies were blank slates and that as long as the child had enough love, s/he wouldn't feel any connection to her natural parents. And it's all a total LIE. An adoptee's feelings are not only predicated on the quality of the adoptive parenting. If you look around the adoption blogosphere, you will find many blogs and comments written by adoptees who had fantastic APs and love them dearly, yet they still feel an enormous connection to their bio-parents and wish they had never been given up for adoption.

      So please stop spewing the ridiculous stereotypes and lies that should have died long ago. As Julia Emily said, people have been brainwashed with the beliefs that the adoptive parents are the child's REAL parents and even ONLY parents, but this was not true at the height of the adoption era and it are not true now. And we have a whole generation that is paying the price for these mistaken beliefs. I don't want to see another generation fall victim to them.

    5. As hard as it maybe to admit, many adoptees see their aparents as their only parents (if they are good parents).

      -- Some adoptees *do* see their adoptive parents as their only parents. (Wow, that wasn't hard to admit at all!) I feel sorry for those adoptees. And I'm a little unclear how the aparents being "good parents" magically wipes out an adoptee's DNA. I must have missed that in the genetics classes I took at university while getting my science degree.

      Yes, the adoptee has two mothers/fathers but to many of them, they only have one set of parents (which is true because they are raising or have raised them).

      -- In your first post you said "telling the aparents the child has TWO sets of parents (as if you helped in raising them) [. . .]". As if the adoptive parents helped in creating them. I guess that *does* mean two sets of parents were involved.

      In short, they have parents and don't need another set.

      -- You don't speak for me, and many other adoptees I know.

      However, when reunion is successful, the bparent and adoptee can have a relationship that is based on mutual trust and love but I serious doubt it is the parent/child relationship that many bparents desire.

      -- You "seriously doubt"? Based on what? How many reunions have you personally studied?
      -- I am a million times closer to my first father than I ever was with my adoptive father. I will never stop wishing my actual father could have raised me.

      I would probably think the same way too.

      -- You also used the future tense in your first post. Are you even going through a reunion?

      Think about it.

      -- No need. Adoptive parents consider the adoptee a possession, want gratitude for all the "hard work", said "hard work" magically erases DNA, fears return of first parents. You're not telling us anything new.

    6. Zygotepariah:

      I didn't say anything about DNA all I said was that the aparents, if their good parents, as seen by many adoptees as their only parents because they have provided or are providing the social, psychological, physical and emotional needs to the child. If you have shared memories of love and trust with your parents wouldn't you too see them as your only parents? There's nothing wrong with acknowledging that many adoptees claim their aparents as "mom/dad". Does it mean their "brain washed or in the fog?" No, it just means they love the people that raised them and see them as mom & dad. I acknowledge my bmom as a special person in my life but she's not my "mom" nor do I see her as my "other parent".
      I was not raised by her and do not share/have the same history that I have with my mom.


      Once again, if the bond was so strong, then why do so many reunions fail?

  26. MYA: you say many adoptees see their parents as their only parents, providing they had been good parents....


    Many adoptees, myself included, see their parents as their only parents (until the fog lifts) because that is what had been drummed into them from a very early age. See my previous posts here. My A-mom was pretty quick to sing her praises as she did all the basic work in caring for me. To this day, when she hears of adoptees searching, she will proclaim that a mother is "the person who stayed up with you all night when you were sick. The person who dried your tears, put band-aids on your scrapes, etc." This is what I heard my entire life, and am still hearing. I guess she honestly believes this nonsense. But, without the girl who gave birth to me, where would she have been?

    The treatment, or rather the lack of treatment, of my first mother all my life was wrong. It took me almost 50 years to figure it out, because the brainwashing was pretty thorough.

    And, just like Kitta says here....you can not compare a first mother to an absent father. Mother's give birth. There is a bond there that I don't believe can ever be broken. I never realized it until my own children were born.

    You are trying to compare apples to oranges...they are two different things entirely.

  27. Julia:

    That's you in regards to adoptees and their bparents being their only parents.

    Think about about it, if many adoptees see their bparents as their parents then why do so many reunions fail? If the bond is so strong then why aren't two people able to sustain the "bond" they have despite being separated? And, yes, I do think you can compare a first mother to an absent father when seeing reunion through an adoptive parent's eyes- I know I would, it's human nature. I can see some parents being upset if the bparents were addressing themselves as parents, calling themselves mom/dad, or dismissing the afamily and not respecting them as a family unit.

    I realize that everyone is different but as I stated before, not all emotions are based on insecurities.


    1. That so many reunite despite the almost insurmountable physical, psychological, emotional, bureaucratic and social hurdles determinedly thrown in their way is a success in itself. Few other relationships have to contend with so much.

      Adoption mangles natural relationships. Yet two extraordinarily hurt parties try their best to understand and be understood by each other - the mere attempt at that is a success in itself.

      Despite many decades with absolutely no contact, and often no identifiable memory to sustain it, the connection between a separated mother and child endures, and is often very apparent in reunion. The successful survival of that connection is one of life's mysteries. It survived across time and in environments that were far from neutral. It was meant to survive.

      Adoption is so cruel that it is hard to survive it as a person, let alone as a relationship. Yet reuniting relationships are still formed. Some may falter because of the injuries sustained by adoption. But I love that the spirit of that profound relationship consistently refuses to be extinguished, and against all odds.

    2. Mya, a relationship that is not based in history, no matter what the bond is, is one that is always filled with pitfalls. No offense to the very nice adoptees that I know, but a lot of adoptees that I have talked to admit that they are so overwhelmed by the emotional and the guilt and the entirety of finding out that most of the things that they had built their relationship with their adopters on was a lie, that they can't even begin to sort out the relationship with themselves.

      Also, for me, and solely for me, I can tell you that to have a relationship is a two way street... one that my reunion has only one way and that way is filled with ugliness for me and revenge from my daughter for all her imagined or blame placed wrongs. No matter how I tried, I was never going to be good enough for her. The only time she was even remotely proud of me was when I lost a great deal of weight.

      So the values taught to her by her adopters are the ones that run her relationships. I wish her well - but I won't pursue anything with her - ever.

      If you are not in reunion, then you are simply guessing.... I hope you have a good relationship with your adopters and that it is enough for you. Be well.

    3. Mya: it is impossible to make someone like you see reason. So I won't even try. I hope you have a nice life in "Happy Adoption Land".

  28. Mya, that kind of division saddens me. I hope my daughter never feels that way, but feelings are feelings, and they will be what they will be. I can say she won't ever hear it from me that she is only allowed one set of parents. I don't believe in limiting love. I have more than one daughter, and my love is more than enough to hold them both in my heart with equal strength. I believe her love will be enough to hold both sets of parents in her heart with equal strength.

    I have given birth, and it's an amazing connection. I can honestly say i don't feel any differently between my two daughters in that regard, but I can say that I do realize that there is a bond that exists between mother and child that doesn't break. I had that bond instantly with my daughter I birthed, and I developed that bond with my daughter I adopted. I cannot fathom minimizing either bond in any way, and in acknowledging that, I am also acknowledging that my daughter that I adopted has that bond with her first mother. I hope it means something to her someday, more than just a casual relationship.

    Finally, I hate that concept that a mother is someone who does such and such and so and so. A mother is someone who loves, fully and completely and with total abandon and self-sacrifice. That love is what drives the kissing skinned knees and packing lunches at 3 am and holding hair back from the toilet. But those things can be done without love, too. It's the love a mother has for her child that separates her from being just a caregiver. Anyone can kiss a boo boo, but it the a mother's love that heals it. Anyone can cook, but it is a mother's love that makes it taste so good and fill your memories long after childhood is over. And I believe that first mothers can love their children with just as much fullness and deepness, even if they are not able to do the caregiving. It's love that makes a difference, and first mothers are equally capable of that love as adoptive mothers. It's love for my daughter that makes my heart open to her receiving love from her other parents. I renounce the competition your post, and so many like it, creates.

    1. Tiffany:

      You wrote "That love is what drives the kissing skinned knees and packing lunches at 3 am and holding hair back from the toilet. But those things can be done without love, too."

      That's not true because if it were then you wouldn't have parents charged with neglect because they REFUSE to do the above mentioned things. I have no doubt that many first mothers love their child but parenting ( good parenting) is based on the physical, psychological and social needs that the present parents provides for their child. That's why I believe sometimes adoptees feel guilty about searching because they do not want to hurt their parents who they love very much.


    2. Mya, parents are charged with neglect all the time, and some of these parents do indeed love their children but are not capable (for various reasons) of providing for them. Some parents charged with neglect don't love their children. I'm not sure you understood at all what I was saying. Perhaps you have the luck of never meeting parents who don't love their children and pay someone else to take care of them, but I have. There are certainly parents who make sure their children receive what they need, but they do not love them.

      If I didn't love my children, I wouldn't do what I do for them. Sure, I'd make sure they had what they needed, but I wouldn't go beyond for them. It's LOVE that drives the going beyond the basics. That's my personal opinion based on what I have seen and how I feel, and as I said, I don't like the statement 'a mother is a mother because she sits up with you at night and kisses the boo-boos.' For me, it leaves out so much and makes it all about what a mother does rather than the reasons and feelings behind it. Why does kissing my daughter's booboos make her feel all better? I don't have medicine kisses. It's because I love her, and when I kiss her, she feels that love and care that I have. If I did it without the love behind it, what good would it do? Nothing.

      As a point of FACT, the Webster's Dictionary defines a parent in several ways, one being "one who begets or brings forth offspring" and "a person who is a mother or father: a person who has a child." I didn't give birth to my adopted daughter. By that first definition, I am not a parent. Another definition is "a person who brings up and cares for another.' Under that definition, I am a parent. My daughter factually has two sets of parents. Period. "Parenting" is the action, which is not the same as the noun "parent." You are completely confusing the situation. If you do not feel your birth parents are really parents, that is your right, but to paint with a broad brush is simply inaccurate because the fact remains that parents are indeed the people who give birth to a child as well as the people who bring up that child. Two sets in this case.

      As for hurting their parents, that is fully and completely on the parents for their attitude then. It's a pretty poor parent who makes their child feel guilty for doing something that is not wrong or dangerous. I have a lot of problems with adoptive parents who make their kids feel bad for searching out their first families. That kind of selfishness has no place in parenting, which is precisely the point I was making about a parent being some who loves selflessly.

      I don't know why it is so important to you to try to make it otherwise?

    3. "As for hurting their parents, that is fully and completely on the parents for their attitude then. It's a pretty poor parent who makes their child feel guilty for doing something that is not wrong or dangerous."


      Before I started my search my main concern was my parents, they never insinuated that they were my only parents and that searching would break their hearts. It was simply the deep love that I had for them that made me concerned. I think, by nature, if one has good parents they automatically will be priority when it comes to reunion, its human nature. And you're right, it is selfish for an aparent to make the child feel badly for searching, because everyone knows that searching is not a reflection of the relationship between the child and aparents.

      Also, I think you're misunderstanding what I am saying.I said was that maybe the emotions in reunion aren't based on insecurities.

  29. Mya said '...if the bparents realize that the child already has parents and acknowledges and accept it'

    You're saying that with no trace of irony, aren't you...

    Adoption: truly a place through the looking glass.

    1. Cherry:

      I realize that you are in pain and I am truly sorry for that, what I meant was it would make reunion much easier and successful if bparents acknowledge that their adult bchild has parents already. It's not to be dismissive of the bparents feelings, but realizing it allows a relationship between the bchild/bparent to grow into something special because you ( the bparent) acknowledge/respect that the adult child has parents already.


    2. Mya, I entered into reunion entirely respecting that my son was also son to someone else, and brother, and nephew and cousin, and that when he says the word family it is this landscape of people he sees in his mind's eye, and feels love for. I never, for one second, thought I was any threat to that, or sought to be. I thought they would at least be interested to see me as it would give them even more knowledge about their beloved son, brother, nephew, cousin etc.

      It NEVER crossed my mind not to do so. The ONLY people saying he has one family, when clearly he has more which also include my family and his first father's family, are his adoptive family. That simply isn't fair on him, and is actually painfully cruel on me and the rest of his family of origin.

      We missed him and we never, ever forgot him. He was the great empty space in our family that could never be filled by anything other than him. When he returned into our lives, we were overjoyed. Can't you see that he is a family member of ours too, one we grievously lost, as well as of the family who adopted him?

      He sees it. And he says it makes him happier about who he is. He now has additional people in his life that offer him unconditional love, and a level of understanding, for exactly who he is.

    3. I think many of the problems arise from the simple fact that some aparents simply do not - to paraphrase you - acknowledge/respect that the adopted child has a family already.

    4. Mya said "I realize that you are in pain and I am truly sorry for that, what I meant was it would make reunion much easier and successful if bparents acknowledge that their adult bchild has parents already."

      The converse also follows: it would make reunion much easier and successful if adoptive parents acknowledge that their adult child had parents already when they adopted him or her.

      It's a whole lot simpler all around if both sets of parents act like adults who care about their child and simply allow both relationships to develop without competition. I feel like you are putting the blame for failed reunions completely on the first moms where I have often heard that it is the adoptive mom who is insecure, jealous, and sabotages the relationship between her kid and the birth mom because of the loyalty the child feels to the adoptive family.

      It goes both ways.

    5. Cherry & Lori:

      Of course I see the love you have for your children, just like I did when I met my bparents ( I saw the love in their eyes). However, when I met them I was a grown woman who had a loving relationship and history with my aparents/family. It didn't mean that I had no use for my bparents, far from it. It just meant I already had parents who raised me that I love very much, and was very protective of them during my reunion.

      Now I have a loving relationship with my bparents ( my children call them grandma/grandpa too), but they know that MY aparents are my parents, at least to me, and are very respectful of that. Which I know for me, made MY reunion a beautiful and loving relationship ( 10 years later and still going strong).

      I wish you and Lori the best in your journey and I am truly sorry for the heartache you all have endured.

      Much love,


    6. Cherry on 7/9@ 12:14 PM:

      If the bchild had a family already then why didn't they raise them? No disrespect, but anyone can say their family BUt how many step to the step to help keep the "family unit" together?


    7. Mya, you said:

      'If the bchild had a family already then why didn't they raise them?'

      The answer to that is complex. Many of us, right at the heart of it, who were there at the time, can't understand it either.

      In my personal life, I can trace back to his great grandparents the influences that ultimately resulted in my son's adoption.

      Socially, I can see the dregs of the Baby Scoop Era enacting itself on us. As well as alsorts of attitudes about women - who is worthy of approval and motherhood, who is not etc.

      Familially, I can see my mum falling apart for countless reasons, and my dad's inability to care, and generations of being poor.

      And I see myself, newly 16, making decisions with absolutely no understanding of the situation or of the help available.

      I've kept these sentences short because they don't even touch the surface of my own reasons. They are just the opening sentences to a world I don't know that you can understand. It's always hard for us to understand a different time.

      If you genuinely want to get an answer to your question, you are going to have to do some reading around, as I did when I began trying to understand some of the experiences and words of adopted people. There is just no simple answer.

      You will find many articles on this wonderful blog that can help you become informed. There are also other first mother blogs listed on the left hand side of this blog too. Musings of the Lame is a well established one, and includes a detailed description of what led to her first child being adopted. I have just started reading another heartbreaking one at everyoneactdead. I hope you will tread thoughtfully there as she is writing with courageous honesty from a position of great and recent pain.

      You can learn a great deal by reading around from people who have actually lived the experience, but you really will have to read with an open mind and heart, rather than with answers already assumed.

      I don't think I can write to you anymore. I think I have said all I can now.

    8. Cherry:

      I do understand. I was born in 1067 the BSE and I know the main reasom why girls/women were force to place was because of their PARENTS. Just like my bgrandparents, my bmom was forced to place because of the social stigma of being an unwed mother. I also grew up in the 80's and I can assure you it was the same way when I was in high school: to be a unwed teen mom was horrific. So I understand WHY my bparents were force to place me and I have no ill will towards them.

      But for me to see them as my "first family," I can't see that because they didn't raise me and their parents didn't want to help raise me ( I can't say I blame them, it would have been hard to support my bmom, her siblings, themselves and me).

    9. Mya:

      ETA: I meant to write I was born in 1967 not 1097

  30. MYA: If you continue to comment here, it will make it easier if you choose the "Name/URL" choice and just type in MYA. You do not need a URL to use that choice. Thank you.

    1. Mya,
      You're presenting a simplistic answer to complex issues. I don't know any first mothers as you describe. All the ones I have met through support groups, CUB, and so on are extremely deferential to their child's adoptive parents. The only instance I know of anything close is what Jean Strauss wrote in "Birthright": Her first mother wanted to be called "mother." Strauss set as a condition for their relationship that the first mother acknowledge Strauss' adoptive mother as her mother.

      In my experience and that of other first mothers I have known, adoptees often start off with a defensive position "I have a family and I don't need another" Sarah Saffian stated early in her memoir Ithaka". Her first mother gave her space and never demanded anything. By the end of the book Saffian recognized that she did indeed have two mothers.

      Defensiveness on the part of adoptees can start a reunion off on the wrong foot. Some adoptees search for years and then when they meet their first mothers, they spend a great amount of effort in claiming the first mothers are not important. It may be that these adoptees don't want to admit that knowing their first mothers goes beyond having a source of medical history as these adoptees claim. Adoptees are hurt that their mother gave them up which they believe meant she put other things in her life before them. They want to punish her by insisting they have another family and she is not important. I've known first mothers who go for years accepting rude mean treatment so that they can have at least some contact with their child.

      The obvious answer to all these problems is trust and honesty between first mother, child, and adoptive parents.

    2. Jane:

      I think most adoptees don't need another mother/father/parent ( mom/dad) unless the aparents were bad parents. And I agree, that the bparents should follow the adoptess lead, as I was saying that all along. However, has it ever occurred to you ( and others) that the adoptee when searching, wants answers, are mindful of hurting the afamily they love?

    3. Anonymous (we are considering not publishing any more anonymous comments, BTW, so people should be aware that if we get a whole bunch we may end that option) you must be new to First Mother Forum. We are so very aware --and have been for DECADES--that adoptees are constantly mindful of hurting the adoptive family. What is interesting in many of the relationships is that in the quest to not hurt the adoptive family, the natural family--who may have been searching themselves or waiting to be found--has feelings that are quickly and frequently trampled. Natural parents are people too, with feelings, but that often is ignored in the desire to never "hurt" the feelings of the adoptive family or even ask them to be real about where the individual came from.

      Yes, I know, natural mothers deserve it, right?

    4. Yes, I understand adoptees are conflicted; they want answers but fear hurting their adoptive parents. However, if the adoptive parents really cared for their children and wanted the best for them, they would encourage the search. In fact, many do. Once an adoptee found her natural family, conscientious adoptive parents would accept their child's relationship with her natural parents and try to develop a relationship with them.

      In other words, adoptees should not feel caught in the middle or be concerned with hurting their adoptive parents because they know that their adoptive parents want the best for them and that includes knowing their natural familiy. Truly loving adoptive parents should not put their child in a "them or us" position. I can understand this is difficult for adoptive parents--particularly those from the BSE who were told they would be the only parents. It may take some soul-searching to begin to accept the natural parents. Rather than accepting that their adoptive parents are hurt, I'd suggest adoptees try to help them reconcile to the fact that adoptees have two sets of parents and each offers them something different.

    5. Hi Jane: Everything in your post makes perfect sense, in a perfect world. Unfortunately, the world is far from perfect.

      You say : "adoptees should not feel caught in the middle or be concerned with hurting their adoptive parents because they know that their adoptive parents want the best for them and that includes knowing their natural family. Truly loving adoptive parents should not put their child in a "them or us" position."

      I am sure my A-parents always felt that they wanted what was best for me. That did not, however, include anything to do with my first mother. And now that I am an adult, nothing has changed. I could move a mountain more easily than I could ever make them see that "the girl" might have something to offer me.

      It may have had to do with their infertility. But I think it had to do more with the fact that the adoption took so long to be finalized. To this day, my A-mother gets very agitated if I ever bring up the almost four-year wait, and the problems it is causing me legally. She will scream that the girl disappeared. My A-parents were left to wait and wonder. A-mom was so worried that someone would take me away. The obvious feeling is that my first mother acted the way she did deliberately to hurt my adoptive parents.

      Even though I was present at the finalization proceeding, once it was over we never spoke about it again. The judge actually asked me questions as I sat there in my finery, clutching my favorite Bugs Bunny doll. I always asked my AP's why we had to be at such an important meeting when none of my friends ever had to do such a thing. My questions were never answered.

      I find it telling that A-mom will always say she was worried that someone would take me away. Did she never think that someone took me away from my first mother? Did she never think that the poor woman was probably distraught, and "disappeared" because she couldn't cope with what was going on? I can assure you she did not. It was always all about my adoptive parents.

      I am rambling, but the main point is that this is how a great many BSE adoptive parents think. It is a monumental task to try to change such thinking. I personally know a lot of adoptees and all of their parents are exactly like mine, some even worse. How are we adoptees supposed to cope with this? I feel like I am in the middle of a giant tug of war, and I am about to snap.

    6. Julia--Your adopters sound awful, unkind, and most certainly not "loving." I'm getting the impression that you are one of those adoptees who is waiting for the inheritance to roll in (not that I think there's anything wrong with that, I know 2 middle aged adoptees doing the same thing) because there doesn't seem to be much mutual respect in your relationship with them. Is it really just "duty" on your part?

    7. I'm really shocked by that reference to an inheritance. I've not seen anything whatsoever in JE's posts that would indicate that.

    8. Cherry, why would you be shocked by a reference to inheritance? My daughter has no interest in me because I have "nothing" to give her.... at least that is what I have been told repeatedly - and once even by her!

  31. We are trying to find a way to end the endless anonymous comments, which drive many of us crazy. Pick a name! Any name. Choose the NAME/URL selection. You do not need a URL. Your name does not have to be your name IRL though we appreciate those who do, and we understand due to the sensitive nature of our subject, many will prefer to use a nom de plume. Okay with us, but the endless Anons are tiresome for everyone. If you post as "anonymous" you run the risk of not being posted.

    1. I'm assuming there's no option to change the NAME/URL category, as I think that throws people who are new, since they think they need an URL, so they plump for the Anonymous option instead. It would be great if there was just a NAME category alone. All the other categories are so complicated as to be off-putting.

  32. Lisa J: I am most certainly not waiting for an inheritance, thank you. Any money my AP's have is being used for their medical issues and rent, as I moved them out of their house 6 years ago.
    If you have been reading, I have outlined how they think. I have also stated that at this point in their lives I see no reason and nothing to be gained by fighting with them. I do not have the patience to start a war. I will plod along searching at my own pace.

  33. Quick update: everyone in my house has a weird stomach flu thing, including me. It will take a few days to get back on my feet!

    Search angel says she can find nothing on my first mom or her family. DNA results in a few weeks, I guess. Back to bed!

  34. Lori, so sorry to read that... from what you've written, your daughter's aparents appallingly diminished you and your role in forming your/their daughter. It strains credulity to imagine that a bparent would reappear in an adoptee's adult life solely in the form of Glinda the Good Witch with a Powerball payout to share, doesn't it?

    My gran, without whom I would have turned into a female Ted Bundy, used to say to me, "Silver and gold have I not, but..." and then she'd open her arms. Theatrical? Yes, but she meant it.



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