I am still coming to grips with it all

In a recent post  I talked about bringing up to my bio mom the possibility of her telling her family about me and have since done so through one of our regular emails. In this post I'm going to share an edited portion of my latest reply to her reply to me. I personally find it very interesting and insightful when I get the opportunity to read other people's reunion communication so I share this here with the hope that it may help someone else to see a different perspective and approach. Also, in including her brave and very honest words about how it feels as a woman who relinquished and did expect confidentiality, I am providing proof positive that this scenario does exist even though some first/birth/bio moms try and convince us all they do not. 

I believe it's important to acknowledge all points of view, to think about the many ways people feel about adoption. 

To deny those who feel differently is to deny our own unique feelings and experience.  

My reply.... 

Morning (bio mom), thank you for this mail. It just feels so honest and real, and I appreciate that. I certainly appreciate your last sentence, "remember I traveled to _______ forty-eight years ago to keep this secret and expected it to remain that way.  I am still coming to grips with it all."

It's easy for me to forget how we're both coming from different perspectives, perspectives we can empathize with each other about but never really truly relate or know how the other feels. I like to know how you're feeling and appreciate you telling me. I hope it's of interest to you to know how I feel too, and that it doesn't make you feel uncomfortable. I am encouraged to know that you haven't entirely ruled out telling your family and that it's possible given the "right" moment. Like I said in the other mail, I know for sure I'd want to know. Also, if you think about (bio mom's daughter's son) and (my son), they are both only children. I wonder if we have the right to keep secret the fact they have a first cousin in each other. Haha, it would be much more interesting as far as (bio mom's daughter#1) and (bio mom's daughter #2) are concerned if I were a "dude", that they'd have a brother and not another stinkin sister.

I won't badger you about telling your kids. As you know, I respect the position you are in in all this, and it's really your best interests and well being that are most important to me. I don't want to cause you extra stress or to worry. 

You know what I think about it all so there's no need for me to bring it up again. Thank you for discussing it and if there's anything I can ever say or do to help you in coming to grips with it all, I hope you'll let me know.


  1. Campbell,

    I don't remember reading that anyone denied that a mother may have been promised confidentiality by an agency, maternity home, etc.

    What mothers are saying is there was no promise of confidentiality in the papers they signed, it was not given or requested.

    And that describes the problem which boils down to agencies, maternity homes, etc promising secrecy and confidentiality but they had no right to make such a promise as it is not explicit in the adoption law.

    Different country but my adoption paperwork I received under court order, the petition to adopt me has my mothers full name on it and my parents signature at the end. The petition to surrender me signed by my mother did not offer her any privacy or confidentiality but removed her right to be my parent. There can be no confidentiality when the adopting parents are provided that information to include in their petition to adopt - the secret is out of the bag at that point.

    We all know that laws change over time, adoption laws in particular where they differ by state or province and have a history of changing. They started completely open where even the public could access birth certificates to being closed to the public but not the individual named, to be closed to even the individual, and no some are being open again, and in both Canada and the USA there are areas where they were never closed. And remember at all times during the different levels of closed they could be opened for good cause.

    It was wrong and is still wrong for those taking part in adoptions to promise something that the laws cannot and will not always support. The fault lies solely on the adoption industries back and they have not changed their practices knowing the laws are changing state by state, province by province.

  2. Wow Campbell, you are so thoughtful and mature in your response to your bio. I don't think I could be quite as understanding about the whole thing. I hope that she makes a decision soon.

  3. I appreciate the notion that your bio-mom may have already made her decision - the choice to be open and assess as time and relationships progress.

    I'm glad your (re)connection is continuing to march forward. As always my hat is off to you for your composure, honesty, and maturity. Perhaps most of all thank you for sharing this. I've never encountered this piece of an adoption story before. To say it is illuminating doesn't do it justice.

  4. Wow, I am a bit in awe of your ability to respond so graciously when you have been open about your desire not to be kept "a secret." I hope for you that she does reach the place where she can bring you into relationships with the rest of her family. And for her that she can feel comfortable doing so.

    Thank you for sharing. And, yes, it's rare to read online about a first mom not being sure she wants to bring her adoptee child back into her whole life. But that it occasionally happens is the reason we're not searching for our kids' birth mom right now. We want them to be developmentally ready if she doesn't want a relationship, in case she doesn't, to process that without thinking they've done something wrong or that she never loved them. I've been questioning us on that recently, given all the first-mom bloggers who are dying to see their kids again (and I think I understand that better, so I was starting to waver...hubby wasn't). You've posted a very personal thing, and yes, it has been helpful for me to read over here. So thanks.

  5. "I am providing proof positive that this scenario does exist even though some first/birth/bio moms try and convince us all they do not. "

    I don't think that's what the whole discussion is even really about, if you are referring to the arguments which "deny" these situations exist.

    In my opinion, it's not so much about refusing to admit they exist, because obviously they do (ie. your personal case). It's about acting like these cases are the majority.

    It's a bit like saying "Well, some mothers are abusive" and then acting like the majority of mothers out there want to abuse their children and backing it up with a "Well then, what about children who ARE abused and are in languishing in foster care?"

    The point isn't about the children who are languishing about foster care or that people refuse to believe some mothers are abusive.

    It's just - going on the standpoint as if *most* mothers are abusive, and getting the response, something like "Well I didn't mean *most* mothers are abusive, I just mean to say what about those who ARE?"

    No one is denying there aren't abusive mothers, much like no one is denying some mothers wanted confidentality *even if* there are no laws to support this.

    (Disclaimer: Haven't done much research about confidentality in domestic adoptions, but according to some adoptees out there who are heavily involved with adoption reform - Joy, Triona Gundry, FirstMotherForum, Addy, to name a few - there is no legal law code to support this.

    This of course does not take away from the fact that some mothers do want privacy and do not want their families to know about the child they surrendered. However, I would hesitate when assuming this is the majority standpoint.)

  6. It sounds like your original mother is processing. She hasn't made up her mind, and she does sound reasonable. Time will tell, and as you said, it's all about what you and she want, as long as you can come up with a compromise.

    There are many, many different adoption stories, and those stories do change with time. Six months ago you were a "fair-weather daughter," now an eager correspondent with the woman who gave birth to you.

    My original mother was also promised confidentiality all those years ago, but it is not a legal issue, as the adopted ones said. My aparents could have filed for my OBC anytime before my adoption was finalized in the year between their bringing me home and my adoption day. They could have had my original mother's name in black and white. They didn't know they could do this, or they would have. But it was no accident that they weren't told this was an option.

    When I first contacted C (my fmom), to say she was unreceptive would be an understatement. But over the past 11 years and particularly over the past 18 months, she has had a chance to "come to grips with it" and is now open to a friendship with me. If I had been a "fair-weather daughter," I would have given up 11 years ago, when the CI first told me she was not interested. But I am not you. I persisted, and things have unfolded that have been good for both of us; she says that she is relieved to have the secret out, that she was really happily surprised by the support of her extended family, and that it feels like a weight of great magnitude has been taken off her chest. Which isn't to say that I am completely over the moon or that things are perfect. Just as your correspondence has given you reason to be glad, I have become more cautious around my blood relatives for the reason that I have discovered many types of dysfunction (alcholism, etc.) that make relationships difficult. I have to protect myself, and now be more of a "fair-weather daughter" myself.

    So I cautiously agree with you in saying that not all babies were ripped heartlessly from unwilling mothers' breasts, not all women mourned and wailed and beat their bosoms until they could reunite with their placed children, and not all women want reunion at all (neither do all adoptees). There are many shades of grey.

    We all must do what is ethically resonant for each of us.

  7. Thanks all for commenting. I don't want to say too much as I really posted this to enlighten and I feel all of your comments really added to that objective, so I'll just add a few things for clarification.

    Legalities and confidentiality. I really know nothing about the actual facts of law and as they vary, as stated, over time and geography, they are not what I'm talking about here. Whether requested, implied wrongly, assumed out of naivety or ignorance, be aware that people believe they should have it and wanted it.

    What perspectives are the majority. I would think this is something near impossible to know for certain. Someone who doesn't want to be found out about is not going to be vocal. They will likely lay low as possible, resisting surveys and online contributions. They likely try to not even think about their secret, some maybe not even having to "try".

    Fair weather daughters, eagerness, and desire to not be kept a secret : )

    I used the term fair weather to try to describe my interest in searching and the resulting communication with my bio mom. I questioned whether my interest was frivolous because I only felt like doing it when I felt like doing it, that the possibility of seeing her number on call display and not feeling like answering existed. That emails would be read later, and replied to even later than that. Although it isn't as prevalent as I anticipated, if I'm being completely honest, I am still a fair weather daughter with bursts of eagerness ; )

    I wouldn't describe myself as having a desire to not be kept a secret. I am being completely honest when I say being a secret does not bother me in the sense of being "a dirty little secret". There's not one ounce of that feeling in me.

    I question the fairness of secrecy to others, her children and grandchild, and it's just more work to keep things secret for me. It's a little tiring to try and not reveal what I know in conversation, especially when I am extremely open about being adopted when it comes to myself and my family.

  8. Oh yeah, and the secret of me to my bio father, whoever he may be, not nice. For all I know he wouldn't care to know, but there is a chance he may and I am pro paternal rights and consideration.

  9. "be aware that people believe they should have it and wanted it."

    Who believes they should have it? Is there a movement or a gathering for this? An official, I don't know, movement geared towards legislation?

  10. I'm not clear on the tone of your question(s) Mei Ling, if in fact you're really asking something. Maybe you just don't understand why I said "Whether requested, implied wrongly, assumed out of naivety or ignorance, be aware that people believe they should have it (confidentiality) and wanted it."

    The "who" is parents who have given up kids for adoption. As far as a "movement" or "gathering" or anything "official" I wouldn't know.

    I say be aware there are people who feel that way for people who may be planning to search or are searching. People who may have an expectation that whomever they are searching for is dying to be found.

  11. Agree that it's impossible to know how many women believe they were promised confidentiality and still want it today. The nature of the stance makes it difficult to poll. Like you, though, I question the fairness of the secrecy because of the position it puts everyone else in but I would include you in that too. Hope you can continue to be so open and gracious and honest as you move forward.

  12. Campbell, I am also a secret from my ndad. It makes me more than a little mad. While I can understand why women might not want to share their unplanned pregnancies with sexual partners, I don't think it's ethical to have a child and place her without at least giving the father the knowledge that the child exists.

    Maybe if I were the product of rape or incest I would feel differently, but my nmom has so many different stories circulating that I have my doubts. My nfamily is pretty much either all alcoholic or codependent, so lying is rife. Oh well.

    All I know is that I inherited a very bad clotting disorder from him (which I figured out by process of elimination since nmom doesn't have it), and I am in the hospital right now with two new clots in my right lung. Some medical history would be nice, right about now. But no, he's a secret, too.

  13. I agree it's not ethical ms. marginalia even though I can empathize with a woman's reasoning in some circumstances. Doesn't make it right though.

    Wishing you a very speedy recovery, and hope you're as comfortable as possible while receiving treatment.

    Well wishes to you from here!

  14. "remember I traveled to _______ forty-eight years ago to keep THIS secret and expected IT to remain that way. I am still coming to grips with IT all."

    That was before IT became YOU. She is still coming into the reality that there is no it. There is you, flesh and blood breathing delightful funny you. There is a parallel that you might wish to entertain; there are many single parents out there dating that do not introduce their dates to their relatives or other friends until they know the person likes them very much, the feeling is mutual and it appears that there might be a significant mutual desire to have an ongoing relationship.
    Now I do feel its different because you are in fact a relative. But if she feels bad for having kept you from them for so long and knows they will be upset with her about it, she may be thinking that if you don't turn out to really like her and would not stick around anyway then, they'll be double upset with her if she tells them but you decide to go away.
    Get to know each other. She knows that there is a you where there once was a secret. That is a very nice thing.

  15. You make some good points Marilynn. Thanks!


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