' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Letter to Birth Mother or Sibling

Letter to Birth Mother or Sibling

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

My contact information:
email address,
telephone number

your daughter (or son), 


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

We strongly advise you not to contact your mother's relatives or friends FIRST asking whether they think she would be receptive. They have no way of knowing what is truly in her heart. She may not have talked about you to them for years, or at all, and they may take this to mean that she does not want to hear from you, when the opposite may be true. They may truly believe that sending you away is in her best interests. Or the relative may contact her in misguided enthusiasm, before you do, and that may make a woman feel invaded. A reunion is, in the initial stages, an extremely personal matter between the son or daughter and his or her mother.

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

If the letter will go through in intermediary, and you are not allowed to include identifying and contact information, aim to be as personal as possible. Include as many traits and preferences as you can. Probably how much you may include varies from confidential intermediary to confidential intermediary. We hate this kind of letter that must pass through a sieve that keeps people apart, but this is required until the laws in many states are changed.*  And good luck!--lorraine and jane

*If this is the situation in your state, we urge you to get involved in changing the law, and at the very least, to write your state legislator to express your plight at being denied your original birth certificate. Without more people making themselves heard, original birth certificates will stay sealed, and confidential intermediaries will be bound by law to redact contact information--including your name!

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

COMMENTS CLOSED. PLEASE see current posts if you wish to join the discussion.


  1. Thank you for this, I'm in the process of writing and forever re-writing this letter myself. I've never been so scared in my life, but you make some excellent suggestions.

  2. Great article. Thank you for your comments on the do's and don'ts. Do they ever make since. I would have broke every one of them if I did not read this.

  3. I'm a birthmother who was recently contacted. It came out of the blue. I had long hoped to hear from my son, but even so it was quite overwhelming. You want to respond, but you also fear the child will be angry or that the placement was bad. Mostly, it brings back the grief of the original event, which cam be shocking in its intensity.

    The recommended do's and don'ts range true. However, for me, an older birthmother, the sample first contact letter in this article would have been too much. My son kept it very simple and businesslike. Dear x. I am looking for my birthmother and think you might be her. My name is _______. I was born at x on date x. Please let me know one way or the other. Thanks

    The fact that my son kept the tone light and businesslike helped me keep my emotional equilibrium in the intense period of initial contact. I'd recommend only one question per followup email, sticking to topics that are easier to talk about like ethnicity, sharing a childhood memory, siblings, or medical history. You can learn a lot about a person by how they say things, and it lets you build up the trust to tackle more difficult subjects. Remember, it probably took years to get to the point of making contact, and many birthmothers need adjustment time too. Don't rush things; the key to success is to treat it like any other new relationship.

    1. When I first received the contact letter from a "friend of my daughter" I read it and thought was it another scam like the Nigerian Prince letters looking to get personal info and then scam money out of me? After all in 2017 that does happen. My second thought was why didn't my daughter contact me directly if she had found out this much of my personal information, why use some stranger to contact me? My third thought was that I was told 50 + years ago by the state case worker I could never have contact with my daughter as all records are sealed permanently. Just after that I started crying uncontrollably and I have been crying for days off and on while trying to understand what I am feeling and decide how to proceed. I know I am not me anymore. My life has a different meaning now. I do feel I 'owe' her at very least detailed medical background information but I am not sure about anything past that as no matter what I am the outsider, the intruder who gave her up. You see, from the letter it would appear she had a great life and the thought of accidentally disrupting her life or her adopted parent's lives upsets me (because of my personality). I know this because right now I am struggling multiple times every day while crying with questions of "Who the hell am I' and 'Why did I give her up?' and 'I had no choice and no way to support her' and 'I am a failure for giving her up' and 'I missed buying her birthday presents and helping her do her homework'. I am a total mess and my entire life is now in shambles no matter what I do as I know that I use to but now will never forgive myself for giving her up.

    2. Dear CBM--I hope you checked the box to receive notices because you are going through serious reliving of the time you gave her up, even if at that time you held your emotions in check. You need a warm hug from other first mothers who have been through all these emotions.

      First of all, understand that many adoptees feel cheated or outright scammed by closed adoptions and are afraid of being rejected to what feels like a second time by you. In response, they have a finely honed defensive mechanism in place and when that reaches us it feels like an accusation and a barrier, making it difficult to know how to respond. Though you are in the throes of your sadness right now, try, try very hard, to look at the situation from an outsider perspective. You well may have been told at the time you relinquished that you would never be in contact with your child, but the last several decades have been full of stories in the media about such reunions, and that is what your daughter is aware of--and she imagines you are too.

      I don't know what you will find with your daughter, but right now the best response to what seemed like an outsider and cold letter--as well as a reference to many others--is to try to look past anything that can be construed as hurtful and respond to your daughter from the heart. She is another person's daughter too but she is seeking you out NOW for whatever reasons. Since apparently there are other letters going out or have gone out, respond quickly.

      Because your daughter may have felt responsible for her adoptive mother and father's happiness by not talking about her adoption, or even bringing it up, hard as it may be, you must not make her feel that she is now responsible for you too. Dry your tears as best you can, forgive yourself for what seems unforgivable, and contact the letter writer by phone or letter as soon as possible. I will try to answer this at greater length in a post.

      As for your own edification and mental health, start reading about both the adoptee and first mother experience--both on line and in the many books written about the subject. Just going through old columns at First Mother Forum will give you some background. Books are recommended throughout.

      Though this advice may be difficult to take at this moment because you are in what sounds like the first stages of grief/relief/fear about how your life is about to change, and has changed, remember that while none of us can shake our past, we don't have to let the wake behind us guide the future. Now dry your tears as best you can and respond to that letter with a phone call, if you can. Nothing is gained right now by putting this off.

    3. Thank you. Your kindness and suggestions means the world to me.

      After many days of tears and some rational thought to evaluate the situation, I know now I would do anything for her no matter what she asks and I just hope and pray I don't make her life worse. That was my first reason for my questioning contact - I owe her a good life and I pray I don't add any grief to it. I figured out that the second biggest (but not that important) reason for my almost constant tears was the realization that my current life would never have been.

      I have been looking on-line since I got the letter and I matched her name, birthday and state and one big detail. Now I am taking that deep breath to write a letter directly to her because I really think it's better to speak to her first.

      In the letter I received from the go between person she described for 3 long paragraphs how they had tried to contact the birth father at home and work and how his wife was insulting and resisting allowing any contact to him and threatened to call the police, etc.. That amount of aggression toward the birth father made me almost not want to contact my daughter back.

      But I am going to choose to ignore the go betweens description of all that silly aggressive repeated intrusions at the birth father.

      Children, here is some advice from a grieving heartbroken birth mother - send the letter yourself, send some photocopied data that can be verified without a long search and offer us many ways for contact. Please realize that most of us birth mothers will do the right thing for you to help you (better late than never).

  4. Dear Anonymous: Everybody's different. You may have responded positively to your son's curt and business like letter--because you are his mother! and share a coolness in emotional affect. For many of us, though we would have leapt at the chance of reunion, the emotional remove of the letter you describe would have felt strange and off-putting, as in, this is what my son/daughter wrote? Happily for you, a child who shares your DNA and emotional proclivities found the right tone to reach out to you.

    We have written a great deal about dealing with the incredible emotional fallout of reunion: start with overwhelming, because, as you say, it does stir up all the emotions of relinquishment. Take a look at this post, for starters:

    'Love' hormone's dark side may explain secondary infertility

    You can find other helpful posts by using key words such as "reunion" and "shame" and "guilt" in the search option in the upper left corner.

    And do try to relish and enjoy your reunion!

  5. I truly mean no harm, but I find these dos/don't to be offensive. I am 26 years old and I was adopted when I was 5. I have little memory of the events that lead up to it.

    Forgive me if I am being insensitive, but I feel as though these given rules are all placed to protect the birth mothers. Regardless of what when on, the fact remains that if we were not raised by these women, they are not our mothers, they are our birth mothers.

    If you choose to give your child up, you have to live with that. I don't think it's fair to refer to the people who chose to raise us as their own to be referred to as anything but a mother/father.

    I think if you need/want answers, you have a right to ask, I don't care what hurts her feelings... She is not the victim. Forgive me and HELP me to understand if I am wrong.

    My birth mother reach out to me and demanded to see me and said if I did not cooperate she would stop at nothing. She told me I was selfish not to hear her side of the story, but I feel like shes just making excuses. All I know is what I was told, my parents are now deceased and it;s their word vs. hers. I do not know this women, why should I trust what she says?

  6. Angela: I do not know if you are going to get this response, but please look at the blog proper for one, as I am responding there. (Link Below)

    Your letter deserved more than a comment directed only to you because I know that your thoughts are those of many. So I thank you for leaving the comment. I'm sorry if you received the "Comments Closed" one only, but we meant to not take comments at the permanent pages.

    An adoptee doesn't want to meet her first/birth mother

  7. can i find biological family that have been adopted that are not yet 18?

    1. brogan,
      I don't know of any laws prohibiting you from searching and finding adopted family members under 18. However, registries which try to match people separated by adoption do not accept requests for family members under 18. Lorraine found her daughter through a private searcher when her daughter was 15.

  8. I am an older adoptee, (54) my birth mother is 73 and my adoptive mom is 83. My "MOM" has never wanted me to search for my birth mother and so I didn't for many years, because I'd never knowingly hurt her. I've just recently had the search done and want to contact my birth mother, but don't want my "MOM" to know as this would hurt her very badly. I am an only and have no children, and I'm not sure if I want to get to know my half-siblings. (I have good reasons for that.) Is it safe to make contact in a way that would protect my MOM, but allow me to know my birth mother? There is no way I am telling my adoptive mother about this, (my Dad passed away in 2007.) She'd not understand. Thanks, your page has already helped me.

  9. Kind greetings to all.

    I found this site in order to learn the most appropriate way to make first contact with my birth mother. I am a 48 year man living in Ontario, Canada.

    Access to adoption information seems to be more open here than other places. I obtained my adoption order, adoption application paperwork and even the interview notes for the "un-wed mother" from 1966. Needless to say, I have known my mother's full name for a few years, but haven't been able to locate her since I knew she would have married at some point in the last 48 years. I have been Googling her first name followed by the word "nee" and then her maiden name for several years now. Yesterday I got a hit, but it now begins all kinds of new problems that I need advice on.

    Here is my problem: the Google search landed on the obituary notice for her husband, who passed away two months ago. This gentleman's wife is listed with the same first and maiden names as my mother. The children are listed as three sons with his last name, and another son with her maiden name. So there is a chance it might not even be her, but the geographic location is correct. I put my letter to her in an envelope within another envelope, with a quick note stating who the sealed personal letter is intended to reach - otherwise please discard with my apologies. That SHOULD get around not knowing for sure if it's her.

    The sealed letter follows most of the advice given here, and I am thankful for finding this site. However, given the fact the woman's husband just passed away in May, I think I am introducing too much emotional turmoil in her life - how long should I wait to send the bombshell? Whether or not she contacts me is freely up to her, but no matter what, this could either add more stress to her life. Or she might be grateful I made contact in her time of need.

    I am worried if I wait too long, she might sell up and move away. I think I'm so close but I can really mess things up here by being impatient.

    Can anyone advise? Thanks, Rob.

    1. Gosh, I don't know what to tell you. She may be waiting for you to call, she may be not. Personally, I'd pick up the phone. You may not have much time to wait. She may disappear again. There is not "right" time, no wrong time. Life happens when it does. You just found her. Follow your gut on this one.

  10. I found out my birth moms name this week, after getting a copy of my original birth certificate, after a little online investigation I found her. I have spent the last several days trying to write the letter. I am glad to have found this page, & will use some of the dos/dont's to help me. Hopefully all will go well.

    1. How did it go? I'm in the same position.

  11. I also have found my birth mothers info - she married a few years after my birth so don't know if he is my father. Question..should I include the birth certificate with my letter. This is so unreal especially since it's been over 60 years

    1. You can if you feel that is the right thing to do. However,since she is likely to remember the date and place of your birth, it might not seem necessary. If she is receptive to meeting you, the BC is not going to be necessary. Also--and this is personal--I wouldn't include it if it is not the original one but instead is the amended one.

  12. I also just found my birth mother and want to follow the guidelines you posted for the letter. With her being in her 80's should include copy of certificate that was sent to me so she knows I am real?

    1. Yes, for all of us birth mothers out there please please please include some paperwork as that allows us some factual data to focus on to keep the emotions in check to make moving forward easier. All I got was a letter from a 'friend of my daughter' with vague information about their sending out multiple letters to all my former addresses and distant relatives.

  13. its funny because what "you shouldn't say my daughter said it thank you for giving me up for adoption I love my parents etc ............ but after when I met her she told me she never had a good relationship with a amom they never told her she was adopted I think she just got was mad at me and fear of what I had to say

  14. Lorraine & Jane, thank you very much for posting these guidelines. I finally received a copy of my original birth certificate after 40 years and have just found my birth mother, or who I believe to be my birth mother. I suddenly had a blank, what do I say to this woman?? How do I approach her?? This gives me a general idea of at least where to begin with my particular story. I don't know where it will go, but it begins with the first step. Thank you.

  15. Hi- Thank you for making this site available- I located my Birth Mother's information through DNA cousins , but she is deceased- Wrote a letter to her Sister- explaining that do not want to interfere in her life, or my half-siblings lives- Her sister appeared to be very nice pictures and would like to know a little about her maybe , maybe see some ancestor pictures, as well as share pictures with her if she'd like as I feel there is a good family resemblance and would like to find out medical family history... Iknow she has received letter... but I feel may have not intent of responding? A very kind Search Angel has volunteered to contact her soon- I had not intention of reaching the half-siblings and "shaking up their world" if not needed but if he is still uninterested,I just may....afraid that on contact she may say to not contact anyone.... would you still? That is my only other alternative....

  16. Interesting article, it brought back all of the unaccustomed anxieties of that first letter that I had to write all those years ago. Some of my circumstances were extremely unusual; I went through a CI and I knew a meeting was scheduled at the end of the week, so I only had about seventy-two hours to forumlate a letter about a lifetime of events and emotions. I also knew in advance that after I was born, my birthmother & birthfather did get (and still were) married. This being the case, some of the items in the not to include catagory were simply not applicable.
    Comparing and contrasting my experience to the guidelines in the post, I would say I hit a happy medium. My letter was typed out on a word processor and about five pages long, I did this for reasons of time constraints and composition; my spelling is awful and I did not want them to think I was an idiot. I did include photos, which they seemed to enjoy very much. I did try to include a timeline of my academic and athletic endeavors without going overboard, and I also tried to descibe my work and family life as best as I could at the time. I also tried to be light and inject some humor at certain points; my first six words of the letter was "How have you been? Ah, levity!" This seemed to go over fairly well as my birthfather began his letter with "To answer your opening question, we are fine." It's pretty clear from poking around this blog that everyone's circumstances are a little different, while the guidelines are a big help, one is going to have to adjust to one's personal case.
    One small piece of advice or encouragement I would like to add; during my high school and college years I was told on many occasions that I was not a very good writer. This kind of stuck with me and I can remember that being in the back of my mind when I was trying to compose this letter. However, the final product seemed to OK at worst. Try to make this letter come from the heart, not from your high school English class. You might be surprised at where you end up.

    Good Luck!

    1. dAVID--THANKS FOR writing about your experience. I think we will go back and include some of your thoughts in the post, as not everyone will read all the comments. Thanks again!

  17. Hi Lorraine, thank you so much for all the valuable suggestions. I found them all extremely helpful when I drafted a letter to my birthmother.
    I have an odd situation now and I'm not sure how to handle it. A member of my birthmother's family read the letter I hand wrote and mailed my mother a month ago. My mother has not contacted me, but the relative contacted me without my mothers knowledge. I was told, by accident, the letter was opened in error. This relative has been very kind and has coresponded with me on several occasions but has told me our conversations are confidential. My relative has not told my birthmother she read the letter or that we are communicating. I asked the relative today to tell my birthmother we are talking since I don't want her to find out and feel we've disrespected her in any way. I don't want cause any harm but I'm afraid this relative may not share the truth. She has asked me to wait now until Christmas so she can come up with a plan. I think I should write my mother a second letter explaining the situation but I'm afraid she'll be further shamed by her family sneaking behind her back and decide not to contact me all together. Also, my mother lives with this relative, so there's s chance the relative will read my second letter. Not knowing the family dynamics, my relative may actually be helping me if I am patient but there's a chance I could ruin the chance of meeting my mother. What do you suggest?

    1. I suggest you phone your mother. When is up to you. Waiting until after Christmas is a bogus excuse. See recent posts about calling instead of writing.

  18. Hello,
    I have a circumstance that isn't about a birth mother/first mother first contact, but about a biological grandma first contact. My mother was born in IL in 1943 and passed away in 1993. I recently obtained her original birth certificate and I have her mother's name from the birth certificate (although it is false). The reason I know it is false is that I had taken the AncestryDNA test and had already made a tree of my matches. I determined who her mother was before I received the birth certificate.
    Now, I want to contact her, but I have no idea on how to go about that. This is the letter I have drafted. I have omitted personal information.

    Dear Mrs. ------,
    My name is -------- -----. I truly do not have a clue on how to word this letter, so please bear with me. Please understand that I don’t want anything from you. I truly don’t want to interrupt or intrude into your life. If, you don’t want any further contact from me I completely understand and will not contact you again, just please let me know. If you do not wish any further contact, would you be willing to share medical information?
    I recently obtained my mother’s original birth certificate from the Illinois Dept of Public Health, because I wanted to trace her side of the family. I would like to know if you had a baby girl on -- --- ---- in ------------? Did you name her --------- --- ------? Do you know who her father is?
    What started my search was I had taking the DNA test via Ancestry.com and I matched a person called --. I did some more research and deduced that this person was your sister. When I received my mother’s birth certificate and she was named --------- I knew I had the right family. I also matched a person that I believe is a child of yours named ----- ------, please correct me if I’m wrong about this.
    Please know that my mother had a wonderful upbringing. She was loved by her family and everyone that she came in contact with. She never harbored any ill feelings about her birth parents. She was told that her mother was very young and already had a small child and her husband was away at war. That she couldn’t keep her, because of her circumstances. Her birth mother was never talked about in any bad way. My grandma even told my mother that she used to babysit her before they adopted her. I apologize that these sentences seem so general, but I don’t want to assume that you are my mother’s mother, until you say that you are.
    I’m sorry that this letter is short, but I really am confused about what to say and I don’t want to overwhelm you with a bunch of facts and such right away.
    If you would like to contact me my home address is:

    Best regards,

    -------- -----

    I know that my letter could be put my eloquently, but I have no idea how to write a letter to a grandparent that I have never met. Please, if you could give me suggestions it would be most appreciated.

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Unknown,

      I know you have good intentions but your letter comes across as confusing and defensive. To be clear, your mother was born in 1943, making her 74. You're writing to her mother who would be in her 90's?

      I suggest you re-organize your letter. Acknowledge that she may be surprised to hear from you. Explain who you are and your connection to the woman you're writing to. My name is ____. My mother was born in 1943 and adopted as an infant. I obtained my mother's original birth certificate and did an DNA test. From this information, I believe you may be her natural mother, my natural grandmother.

      Explain that you will accept it if she doesn't want contact. Don't be defensive.

      Tell her a little about your mother and tell her a little about yourself, where your mother lived her family, your family, etc.you live, your family, etc.

      Don't go into your mother's adoptive family, her feelings about her birth parents, what was said or not said about your mother's birth mother.

      Don't make any assumptions about your grandmother being concerned that your mother's upbringing or that your mother did not harbor any ill feelings. Don't ask about your mother's natural father at this point. That can be a very sensitive and painful subject. Don't write about what your mother was told by the adoptive parents. All this stuff can be discussed later. Do show that you're interested in your granddmother, not just for information as as a human being.

      Hope this helps.

  19. I found my adopted daughter on face book after a few days searching out details. I made first contact on Facebook. She was very open, happy and polite. It went better than I thought it possibly could. I have her email and she has mine now and I will write a detailed medical history and send it to her. Then we will see where it all goes.

    Thanks to everyone on this site that helped me.

    Best Regards,
    Crying Birth Mother who has Quit Crying

  20. A fiend of mine from high school pointed me to this blog post (she is a fellow adoptee). I did my AncestryDNA test and matched with a 2nd cousin so sent her a message on Ancestry (I know it is listed as a don't but we were trying to figure out which of my parents we were connected by. I requested my original birth certificate and got it and sent my cousin my birth mother's name. My adoptive dad (who i love to no end obviously) found my birth mother's address and phone number online. Is it crazy for me to feel "violated" that he looked her up?

    My cousin and I agreed we could stay in touch but I'm terrified of contacting my birth mother. I wasn't raised with a lot of outward affection that I craved and that feeling that birth mom could "reject" me ways so heavy on my heart.

    1. Hi Amy--Don't feel violated, even though you feel your dad overstepped his place. What his action reflects is the assumption that you would have the normal curiosity that he would have (if he were adopted) and feel no compunction about following up on the information you already have. After all, you did go so far as to do a DNA test. Adoption today, even in the best of families--by that I mean liberal--as adoption is set up, tends to quash a natural curiosity. But your "unadopted" dad (am I right?) is curious as to who could have produced such a lovely cool person as you are. He probably thought he was being helpful since he saw you stalling. He was also giving you tacit "permission" (not that you need it) to go forward and contact her. To him it felt okay to do; from what you say he certainly didn't mean to do it to overstep boundaries or control you.

      However, if you don't want him to know what's going on, tell him, Thanks Dad, but I'll take it from here. I need to do this alone.

      I get ill when adoptive parents tell me that they have asked their children if they are curious, and the answer is "no," and these selfsame parents then go on unwittingly to tell me what they didn't enter into an open adoption (I'd be too involved with the birth mother, one said, I couldn't handle it) or insist that when I referred to my daughter, she would interrupt and correct "daughter" to "birth daughter." You think she made her incurious daughter she should express interest in her "birth mother?" I think no.

      As to whether you should contact your natural mother, that's up to you. I won't sugar coat it and say that every mother is waiting with an open heart; some are not. But unless you do contact her, you'll never know.

    2. Thanks Lorraine! I won't bore you with how I found out I was adopted because it wasn't pretty but as I said I love my dad to no end. Ive contacted someone at the Midwest Center about getting non identifying info (even though I have her name. I sat down and wrote her a letter but waiting on sending it until I know whether or not she is also on the IL adoption registry. I have seen a picture of her and I look like her which I knew I would to some degree but not almost exactly like her.

    3. Dear Amy--Remember that you could call, if you have her number. Letters can be lost, put off, etc., and sometimes hearing a voice on the phone that sounds like yourself cuts through a lot of hesitation, fear, turmoil. Tears can plow right through to the heart of the matter. And good luck!

  21. Amy, I encourage you to contact your first mother. Do it on your own and involve your adoptive parents later if you're comfortable in doing so. Most adoptees fear rejection as do first parents when they search and find their child. Rejection may happen but even so adoptees tell us it's better to know than not. Further, your first mother may be taken back initially but after time to think and absorb her feelings be most responsive. I would also encourage you to join a support group. Reunion is hard to do alone.

  22. To Angela,
    I respect your feelings and don't know your circumstances, but to say that a birth mother is not a victim is just not true in many cases. I was a minor. I was not asked for my opinion or if I wanted to keep my precious baby. It was dictated. I didn't have a choice. My baby was taken from me at birth. I did not get to see her or hold her. Yes, I signed papers, but again not of free will, but of obedience. Much like when your parents tell you, "Go clean your room", or " Go do your homework", it was "Sign these papers".

    Times were different then. I was raised to obey my parents and that is what I did. Today, teenagers can be defiant, disobedient, and even seek emancipation. That was just not the case fifty years ago.

    I do feel that I was a victim. I am not saying that my daughter didn't have a better life with her adoptive parents. They were loving, caring parents and gave her a wonderful life. But, we will never know what could have been.

    I accept what happened, but not a day has gone by since her birth, that I didn't think of her and love her. I did not abandon, relinquish, or give her away. She was STOLEN from me.

    1. Thank you for sharing your position as a first mother 50 years ago. I was adopted in the 60's and often imagine what it was like for my first mom then. She did try to get me back when I was 3 or 4 years old but they told her all adoptions were final. I can only hope that she feels the same way and will accept communication from me.

  23. I just came across this forum, and so happy I did. I believe I have located my birth mother. Based on the Non-identifying information that I requested from the adoption agency and my DNA results on Ancestry, the genealogist has identified my birth mother. Needless to say, it was very overwhelming. He was able to give me her address and mobile phone number. He wasn't able to find her email. After trying to digest this information for a few days, I finally got the courage to call. It rang and range and finally went to voicemail. It was a generic message that answered. I left a short message stating my name, my birthday and were I was placed for adoption, and if I had reached the right person, or someone that could give me more information about my birth mother, I would greatly appreciate it if they would consider returning my call. It's been two days, and I haven't heard back. Of course I'm thinking all kinds of thoughts...did she even listen to the message, is she just trying to process this information, does she have any intentions of calling back, etc.

    1. Dear Donna~
      My thoughts are with you for it must be so hair to wait. I pray that your mothers answers you soon; but it is unknown how often she checks her cell. I know I am of another generation, but since I don't need to use my cell often, it's often unchecked and if I don't recognize the number I may not bother hearing the message. If you don't hear in a week, call again and if you don't hear then, you may need to try another route. Good luck!

  24. I am getting ready to write my birth mother a letter. I found out in the search she is married. Should I use here maiden name or married name.


    1. Dear Unknown--If you can, find out what name your mother goes by--and use that name. Or if you can find her phone number, pick up the phone and call her. I can't imagine the anxiety that goes into sending off a letter, wondering if she received it, waiting for an answer. Letters can be set aside to deal with later, and that turns into a long waiting game. As I understand, state confidential intermediaries don't write letters and wait for a response; they phone. Say you have something personal to discuss and ask if this is a good time to talk--by then you will have whetted the appetite of anyone, and most likely she will say, Yes. Read up above on how to start that phone conversation. Yes, it is scary, but the control is in your hands now--no one else's. Good luck! And let us know how it turns out.

  25. Hello Jane! I just recently contacted my birth mother after 32 years thru facebook. We exchanged messages thru facebook for almost 6 months. She got married and have two kids. She was planning to come see me next year.(Philippines) She is permanently residing in Canada for 25 years now. I was so happy and was looking forward to our reunion. My problem started when all of a sudden she stopped contacting me thru facebook.It's been more than a month now. I have been messaging her and tried calling her number but it just go straight to her voicemail. Her husband doesn't know about me. I am getting depressed. I am afraid she will go MIA on me again. What should I do? How long do I have to wait?

    1. I wish I could give you the answers, Sarah. Your mother is going through a lot and she likely is not be aware of the toll it is taking on you. A month of silence in a reunion is not a long time. The only thing you can do is to send her brief messages every few months to let her know that knowing her is important to you and that you care. Eventually she may resolve her own issues and respond.

      Write us again and let us know how it is going.

  26. Hi,

    I was born in 1965 and have just found after 35 years of searching the person I believe to be my first mom. I hope I haven't made a mistake by sending her a message via facebook asking her if she had any information that might lea to my first mom. ( this FB message was sent just prior to receiving confirmation it was her). In the message I had told her my name at birth, my birth fathers name and how she was sent away to another state to have me. Well it's been a week and she hasn't responded. I believe she is on FB almost everyday and I am concerned I contacted her the wrong way and she won't respond. How do I correct this.

    1. You know, sometimes a private message via Facebook is the simplest way to contact someone, it's unlikely someone else will read her messages. You can tell if the person has read the message, you know, right> If she had and not contacted you, you might try again, assuring her that you don't want to hurt her, etc. I know it seems dumb to have to say those things, but I'm dealing with the reality of someone who may have been in the deep closet.

      Since it is done, don't berate yourself. You really did nothing wrong. If you can find a way to call her, do that, but as someone pointed out to me the other day--who answers their land line anymore, or if they even have one.

      Since you have already waited a week for a response, it's perfectly okay to go ahead and contact her again, offering up consideration of her feelings, her possible secrecy about you, as you proceed. And I'm sending all the good vibes to you and your first mother I can.

      Life is a puzzle, and never more so than this twisted relationship. May you find the key.

    2. I followed up with this FB private message yesterday.(see below comment) She has not responded. Am I getting my hopes up only to be rejected? What should I do now?

      Hi kxxxx, This message is sent to you with a kind heart and much understanding. I have been searching for the beautiful woman that gave birth to me on November 11, 1965, in San Bernardino, CA. Through DNA and genealogical search angels (volunteers), I believe I have found you. Please know that I mean no harm nor do I want to disrupt your life. I had a good childhood growing up in Lake Arrowhead, CA. and a daughter at the age of 18, today she is an LMFT and I am very proud of her. I also have a granddaughter which is 9. I would like very much to connect with you, should you wish to do the same here is my phone number: and email: . I hope to hear from you soon, take care. -

    3. Your note is fine. Your mother is likely both happy and scared. Give her time.

  27. Hello! Just a follow up on my previous post. My birthmom contacted me again December 15,2018. Then we exchanged messages for 3 months. Here I am again, November of 2019 having the same issue. She stopped contacting me but we remain friends on facebook. I called ang messaged here but to no avail for 8 months now. It really hurts that she left me hanging here not knowing what happened. I also learned that my grandma passed away last august and she went home to her hometown here in the Philippines. I saw the post on her facebook and I messaged her immediately.I even called knowing she is online on fb but no answer. I was even begging her if I can come at the funeral just to see my grandma for the first and last time. But she just ignored me. She flew back to Canada after a week. I feel like crap. Until now, she haven't responded to any of my messages. Sometimes I am thinking that I just block her on facebook or just delete my account so that I won't see her posting on fb of how much she loves her daughter (my biological sister) and their vacation here and there. I just feel unwanted again. What should I do? Should I just leave her be? Help please.

    1. Dear Lil Sarah--

      There is a lot going on here. First, your grandmother. And the funeral. It is possible that your grandmother --in the Philippines, not Canada, may have never known about your birth or your existence. I lived in the same country, but a thousand miles away, when my daughter was born and because of my sense of shame, I did not tell my parents, and kept her birth a secret until I decided to find her when I could and write about so others would know the pain of giving her up. So if your grandmother, and all the family back in the Philippines did not know about you, you showing up at the funeral was more than she could handle. Not only would she be grieving with family members, now she has to deal with shocked family members--some of whom may have already been critical of her for god knows what reasons.

      Now she feels embarrassed--and guilty--about everything, especially knowing that you wanted to come. The separation and the secrecy involved and the years that have passed make presenting a secret daughter hard for some women, and the funeral--which would have of course been a huge family gathering--was too much to deal with. To move forward at all, you are going to have to understand and accept that. I'd also say that the Philippine culture may be more strict and unforgiving than anything in North America.

      Give her some time, and when you do contact here, I would think about being her her shoes and tell her you understand. I'm sure all this has hurt you and I'm sorry for that. Secrecy in adoption leaves such a long trail. It may help you to read stories by natural mothers, including my own as I hid the truth from my family.

  28. Hi I'm am an adoptee me and my twin sister it was a closed adoption in Vermont . My twin died when I was 23 . I recently did a dna test because my sister was all I had . When she died apart of me did I was lied To by my adopted parents about her whole death IAsked when the services were and they didn't even let me say good bye they wouldn't let me attend . So from that day on I haven't spoken to them . I have gotten the results of my DNA and I have a half sister and brother and my mom still alive. Right know I'm mixed with emotions I've spoken with my half sister . I just don't know what I should do now . I've searched my whole life for this and for my twin . I could use some help here please .

    1. Unknown, check out the FMF Resources page on the right hand side. Just scroll down until you see it.

  29. Hi - I'm helping my adopted sister compose a letter to her birth mother - in your suggestions you mention sending the initial contact letter registered mail - I supervise a large mail operation; registered mail is for items that have value in themselves, like stock certificates or cash, or are irreplaceable, such as cremated remains - certified mail is used for communications like letters, and is several times less expensive than registered - good luck and take care



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