' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Does my birth mother think of me?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Does my birth mother think of me?

Adoptees often ask us whether their natural mothers think of them, "at least on my birthday." Lorraine and I assure them that their mothers think of therm often, likely everyday. "Then why doesn't she try to find me?" they ask. "She may be thinking about searching " we tell them, but there are reason why she is hesitating. She doesn't know she can; she promised the agency she wouldn't; she had it drummed into her that she's shouldn't. She doesn't know how to search. She can't afford a searcher. She doesn't want to disrupt your life. She doesn't want to disrupt the lives of her raised children, her husband, her parents.

These thoughts coursed through my mind for years. I'll search later I told myself, when my youngest daughter graduates from high school, when I have more money, more time. Then 19 years ago my lost daughter Rebecca found me. I'll write more about this on her birthday, November 17.

For now I want to encourage mothers who haven't searched to begin. I've never met a mother who wasn't happy, or at least relieved to know their child, no matter what happens after the reunion. We in reunion can help these mothers.

Let mothers know it is okay to search.  Encourage mothers to register with the International Soundex Reunion Registry (ISSR.org) as well as write to their adoption agency that they would like contact if their child contacts the agency. Respond to articles in the media about adoption and reunion by telling your story. Speak up at social gatherings when adoption comes up. I know this is hard. Mention the International ISRR when possible.

Encourage progressive adoption-related organizations such as American Adoption Congress, Concerned United Birthparents and local search groups to publicize themselves. Even though Lorraine had been on national television several times and in numerous magazines and newspapers by the 80s and 90s, neither her book, Birthmark, nor her story of search and reunion had not reached me. In 1988 I learned about ALMA (Adoptees Liberty Movement Association) which had been in existence over a decade by then when I came upon founder Florence Fisher's book, The Search for Anna Fisher at the Salem, Oregon public library. I took it to the stacks and read it in one sitting. I even joined ALMA but quit within a couple of months when it sent me newsletters but not in a plain brown envelopes. I was terrified that a family member would see the newsletter and ask questions I did not want to answer.  I had never heard of the AAC or the local search group, Oregon Adoptee Rights. I had heard of CUB through a New Yorker article* which excoriated it but paid it little attention--until after my reunion. I thought of search as something adoptees did.  That mothers would search and be open about it was something I could not relate to.

Today I continue to be contacted by natural mothers and adoptees who learn my story through FMF or news articles, but who have NEVER heard of ALMA, AAC or CUB. Some mothers suffer in silence for years, believing that they are alone in being unable to confine their child to the past. All have Facebook pages where mothers can find support. First Mother Forum also has a Facebook page of its own.

Now that the elections are over, it's time to resume the fight for opening sealed records. If your legislator was elected or re-elected this week, send him or her a congratulatory note--and include a sentence or two about the sealed birth certificates of adoptees. If your state is one of the 28 which has not yet allowed adult adoptees to access their original birth certificates (OBC), become part of an organization seeking to change the law. If your state allows adoptees to access their OBCs and gives mothers the opportunity to state their contact preference, try to publicize the law and encourage mothers to file a "want contact" notice. And when you can--this is most important--speak about the subject when adoption comes up.

If  your state has opened OBCs to adoptees, pursue laws that allow natural mothers and adoptees to access court adoption records. The most important document for mothers is the judgment of adoption, sometimes called the adoption decree. It makes the adoptive parents the child's legal parents and contains the names of the adoptive parents and the child's adoptive name. Mothers can also seek legislation to access their children's amended birth certificates which will have their names and the names of the adoptive parents.

It may take many attempts before mothers succeed in having a bill passed opening court or birth records. Adoptees, natural parents, and adoptive parents have been fighting for over 40 years in New York and some other states for laws allowing adoptees to access their original birth certificates. Times are changing, however. The quest for openness which decision makers considered an assault on the institution of adoption in the 1970's is now becoming the norm. Twenty-two states allow adoptees to access to their original birth certificates, albeit some state laws have some restrictions.** Open domestic adoptions have become the norm. Legislators can be convinced that mothers have the right to know what happened to their child.

Let mothers know how they can make themselves easier to find through postings on social media. If their last name is different from the one of their child's original birth certificate, they should let relatives who have the same last name as their original name know they would welcome contact. Because the subject of the lost child rarely comes up in families, brothers, uncles, cousins--both male and female, but especially male--may think their sister doesn't want to hear from that child. And more connections will happen like this because of the growing use of DNA. Just a month ago, we heard that a woman who had been searching for her family of origin since the Seventies found a half sibling through DNA. It was a second cousin who had done the DNA test, and the family, who knew nothing about her existence, welcomed her wholeheartedly.

Yes, yes, adoptees. Your mother thinks of you. We encourage her to search--but we also urge you not to wait for her to find you--jane

*Written by adoptive mother Lucinda Franks, married to the then New York City District Attorney, Robert Morgenthau.
**Resources: Laws, Searching, Reunion


Searching helps first mothers heal
When a first mother decides to search
Do birth mothers/first mothers have the right to search?

BE A SUPPORTER OF FMF! Order books or anything from AMAZON through FMF. Just click on the links here or the book jackets. THANKS! 

The Search for Anna Fisher
By Florence Fisher
How one woman's 20-year search for her natural mother led her to awakening the sleeping giant of adoptees and biological parents who were part of the great social engineering project of sealed birth records. She founded the Adoptees Liberty Movement Association, which ultimately had chapters in several states, and appeared on numerous TV and radio shows, in newspaper and magazine stories, all of which led to the modern-day movement to unseal the original birth certificates of adopted individuals.

The Adoption Reunion Survival Guide: Preparing Yourself for the Search, Reunion, and Beyond
by Julie Jarrell Bailey and Lynn N. Giddens
Written by two adoption specialists, one of whom is a reunited mother, and draws on the real-life experiences of others to help readers prepare for the emotional turbulence of the reunion experience

The Adoption Reader: Birth Mothers, Adoptive Mothers, and Adopted Daughters Tell Their Stories
Compiled by Susan Wadia-Ellis
With eloquence and conviction, more than 30 diverse birth mothers, adoptive mothers and adoptees tell their adoption stories and explore what is a deeply emotional, sometimes controversial, and always compelling experience that affects millions of families and individuals. A great read for anybody in the triad, you can take it in doses. 


  1. I reached out directly through the mail and then via phone as soon as I became aware of who my child was. I was threatened with the police at first and later by a member of the placement family. this was not a normal adoption. I reached out again through an attorney and heard back from the attorney that the family of my child think I am a stalker. A life of not hearing from a mother can damage a child. I hope all mothers reach out and tell the truth about what happened in our individual cases. My actual purpose in posting on this site today is to respond to Lorraine's "now that the election's over" call for more focus on adoptee rights. Based on Pence's statements in the VP debate, I believe that now that the election is over, first mothers, natural mothers, birth mothers and mothers should speak out about our experiences because Pence stands ready, as he has stated, to replace "abortion" with "adoption." These two separate issues have become conflated in political discussion. I personally experienced what I believe were attempts to cause me to miscarry and these attempts were violent and committed within the larger community around me including at the Roman Catholic facility for wayward girls where I at age eleven was tied flat on my back, barely able to breathe with the near full term pregnancy pressing on my bladder and guts for a prolonged period of time. It was torture that can only have been to cause miscarriage and it was not the only attempt to press that fetus/baby out of me. Legalized abortion as I remember it being discussed was intended to save women's lives and prevent back alley abortions and the like. Also, adoption, as we all know, is not the opposite of abortion. Placing a born child for adoption is the opposite of mothering a born child. While I am sure many natural mothers are anti-abortion, reproductive choice involves good, reality based biological knowledge of one's own reproductive system and today, perhaps knowledge of how neurotransmitters fire and wire together in differing emotional contexts, the ability to say no, the capacity to say no, access to contraceptives with good information about side effects, access to Plan B if contraceptives fail and contraceptives DO fail, and if needed, access to safe termination of pregnancy. Those who don't believe in terminating a pregnancy shouldn't do it. That too is autonomy. There are many, many young women who do not know, and in my experience, do not want to hear what it was like for many of us who had our bodies and psyches demolished because of gender bias, sexism and religious patriarchal notions of purity back in the day. Well, back in the day is just about here again. I'll be focusing my letter-writing, blogging and commenting on the rights of women because before we were exiled mothers, we were women denied our rights.

    1. I wish to add to my final sentence here: women who were coerced through shame and economic blackmail to "surrender" children for adoption were denied the basic human right to raise, or in my case, be cared for and care for with help, our own precious children.

  2. Jane,
    Everything you said, is of course, very true. But for me and others the reason we didn't search is because we felt we had NO information to help us. We had a gender and a birth date. You think how can I find someone - who could be any place - with just that information.
    The truth is that MOST adopted people have more information to go on than we do. Many times the adopted parents have detailed descriptions of the natural parents. In Illinois the mother's name is on their adoption decree so if the adopted parents will share that information, they have a maiden name usually.
    My son's adoptive parents freaked out when I found him when he was 24 years old. They made him chose between them and me. They called the adoption agency and blamed them for me finding him. (like The Cradle really helped me???LOL!)
    BUT they never questioned I was who I said I was. He was adopted in Illinois and they had my name.
    Searching is difficult even once you decide to do it. But adoptees should understand that it really is easier for them to find us than it is for us to find them.

    1. I have been trying to get a piece published on the adoption not abortion" comparison this for over a year. I am ready to throw in the towel.

    2. Please don't stop trying. The world needs your insight. I know getting published can be dauntingly discouraging, but your subject is too important for all editors to continue to be blinkered.

      (My iPhone keeps urging me to post emojis of emergency vehicles. See? It agrees!)

  3. Oh, and as far as thinking about our child. I did all the time. There wasn't a friend who did not know about my baby. It was something I wanted and needed my friends to know about me so they would understand me better and know my hot spots.
    I even told the daughter I had in my marriage about her brother when she was only 3 years old. I wanted it to be something she always just knew and wouldn't even necessarily even remember when she was told.
    She wrote papers in school about adoption. When she was in college she said there were 3 classifications of men she would not even consider dating. 1) Policeman (too much trauma and danger for her comfort level 2) A racist (for obvious reasons) and 3) and adopted man. When I asked her why the 3rd category she said if they got serious and wanted to get married that she cold never do that to me -- to have her mother-in-law be an adoptive mother. (the issues it would cause)
    I expected he would search for me and I wanted to always be ready and had my name out there in as many places as I could put it. After he did not do that by age 24, I took it upon myself to search as soon as I found an avenue to do so. Joy

  4. Yes, it's more difficult for mothers to search. Mothers have less information and less sympathy from those who might be in a position to help. Mothers can take some actions such as signing up for ISRR and other search websites, and writing to the adoption agency.

    Even if mothers get nowhere in their search, it can be meaningful to their child that they tried. My daughter told me this when I told her I had signed up on a registry.

    Another reason for advocating the laws to be changed to allow mothers access to adoption records is that opening records to mothers give legitimacy to their search. Even trying to open records sends a message to the public and other mothers that mothers care about their child and have a right to search.

  5. I always think about all my children day and night wish I could find them my boys know there adopted I love all my children my first born daughter didn't get adopted but social worker told her that I didn't want anything to do with her at all and told her that I didn't want her which is obviously a load of rubbish I was looking through Facebook and found her again we are in touch every day and she has even started to stop at my house all my children I love and wish I could find them all and not wait until there 18 year's off age

  6. When I was searching for my mother I checked every adoption search posting I could find looking for a sign that she or someone out there was searching for me and found nothing. I wondered why she wasn't out there looking for me or didn't want to be found.

    When I finally did track her down and made contact, she told me that she felt she didn't have the right to look for me and disrupt my life but she was overjoyed that I found her and always wished that I would find her.

    My advice to mothers is that we need to find you!!!!
    Put something out there, we don't need much, our birthdate, city, hospital....you don't even need to put your name out there, just set up an email address for us to contact you.

    I now understand why my mother didn't try to find me but when I was searching I couldn't, I just took it as a sign of rejection and it just delayed my making contact with her.

  7. I wish my mom thought about me before she made me. That would have been a great thought.

  8. Great post. You inspired me to write a new blog post ~ first one in quite a while!

  9. I think a fairly large number of people (including birthmothers) believe that we adoptees have access to our records at 18 and simply choose to not pursue finding them.

    1. I thought the same thing. I was told at the time of the adoption that my son could choose to search and contact the agency at 18 for information. Whether that is true or not, I don't know, but I later found out that my son's adoptive mother forbade him to contact us and threatened to disown him if he did. Nice lady.

    2. The agency was willing to help me search for a crazy sum of money that I didn't have at 18. Heck I would be 40 before I had the resources to even consider it. My non-ID was a few hundred as it was.

      Some bparents send update letters to the agency and far too often adoptees contact the agency and aren't informed or given these letters.

      Sounds like your sons amom was an insecure piece of work...sadly

    3. I'd say she was a bit more than insecure.

  10. Blanket statements are rarely true for everyone. I would guess that most mothers do think about their child(ren). I think the best anyone can say to an adoptee who asks, "Does my mother think about me?" is "most likely."



COMMENTS ARE MODERATED. Our blog, our decision whether to publish.

We cannot edit or change the comment in any way. Entire comment published is in full as written. If you wish to change a comment afterward, you must rewrite the entire comment.

We DO NOT post comments that consist of nothing more than a link and the admonition to go there.