Connecting your adult adopted children to their birth parents can be a bit tricky. Based on my personal journey with my two adopted children who are now adults, I would warn adoptive parents to be cautious. This is especially important if you have closed adoptions and have not been in regular contact with their birth parents as your adopted children grew up. You have no idea where their biological parents are emotionally. It can also be difficult if they have no desire to meet the children they placed for adoption.
Thankfully, that was not the situation for us. However, neither biological mother was emotionally ready to be a positive influence in my adopted children’s adult lives. I am grateful that I was cautious in how I handled contacting birth parents for both situations, and I’m content with how it turned out.
I recently interviewed both of our adopted adult children to find out their thoughts on the way they connected with their birth mothers. First, they always knew they were adopted. Second, I didn’t push them to connect with their birth parents, but I always let them know that when they were ready, I’d help.
Our daughter said she started wondering about her birth mother when she was in the 7th or 8th grade. She thought about trying to find her on what was the popular social media site then, Myspace. She doesn’t recall if she did so. Then, we moved from Arizona to Michigan and the thought passed in the excitement of a new school and new friends. She didn’t think about her birth father as she knew that I had the name of her birth mother but not her birth father. She didn’t think it would be possible to find him.
I asked her if she felt like she could come to us and ask for help. She said she did feel okay about coming to us but just never did. She always thought there would come a time but was not in any rush.
We had a semi-open adoption with our daughter and a closed adoption with our son. We lost contact with our daughter’s biological mother when our daughter was 4 years old. Her biological mother married and moved and apparently felt comfortable with the adoption. We hadn’t moved, so if she had felt the need to connect, she could have. The last communication we had from her was a congratulation on the adoption of our son with pictures of her recent wedding.
We knew our daughter had an older half sister, but we were told early on that the adoption of our daughter was being withheld from her. As it turns out, it really wasn’t. If we had known that our daughter wasn’t a secret, I would have tried to connect them when we lived in the same city. But it all turned out fine in the end.
When our daughter was in college, I received a message via social media from her half sister. She was recently married and had just given birth to a daughter. The birth of her daughter enticed her to seek out her sister. She asked if she could have pictures of our daughter. I told her I could probably do better and give her a phone number.
I contacted our daughter and asked if she had any interest in talking to her half sister. The immediate response was yes. They connected, and our daughter was able to find out more about her birth mother.
It was a great connection with her sister, but not so great with her birth mother. She found out that her birth mother had recently divorced her second husband and was entering rehab for drug addiction. This is a cautionary tale for anyone considering connecting your adopted children with their birth parents. You don’t know what the situation is, and you need to be certain that their birth parents are in a position to be a positive influence in their lives.
There was a point when our daughter was having some relationship issues while she was in college. Her birth mother contacted her and wanted to talk with her. I guess her birth mother found out through her sister that our daughter was having issues. Our daughter contacted me and said she wasn’t sure what to do with this. She felt uncomfortable and thought her birth mother was being a bit aggressive in pushing communication. As I knew her birth mother had problems of her own, I asked her to let our daughter initiate contact. She complied with my request.
When interviewing our daughter, she did tell me that she wasn’t pleased I intervened. She thought she should be the one to handle it. I maintain that it was my job to protect her, and I would certainly not do it any differently. I felt that it would not have been helpful to have someone who needed to go to drug rehab and was going through her own relationship issues try to counsel my daughter. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this issue.
Our daughter found out that her probable birth father has been incarcerated for several years on drug charges. That is someone she has no desire to ever meet. She also found out that she has more half siblings but no real way to connect with them without connecting with her birth father. She also doesn’t know if they have any idea of her existence.
But this story does have a happy ending. Our daughter did get to meet her sister and her niece when she attended a conference in Arizona. It was wonderful for her to be able to connect, and they continue to have a good relationship, although by long distance. Her biological sister has two daughters, and our daughter has one daughter and another due in December 2020. This is a wonderful connection for them to have.
She did not get to meet with her birth mother but did find out that she moved to California after successfully completing rehab and is doing very well. She joined a church and was rebaptized and is in a very good place with her father’s family. Our daughter is leaving an open door for contact but hasn’t yet reached out to her.
Our son’s adoption was supposed to be closed. However, the social worker who handled our adoption was an advocate for open adoptions and was about to retire. His biological maternal family sent him cards and gifts through the adoption agency on his first birthday. Any identifying information was supposed to be removed before being sent on to us. The social worker did not check the cards, whether intentional or not, and the full names of all were in the signed birthday cards. At first, I was a little dismayed, but I’m really glad now that I had their names.
I asked my son when he first thought about connecting with his birth family, and he said when he was in his early 20s. He’s now 25. He would really like to meet his birth father, but unfortunately, I don’t know his name, and his birth mother has not volunteered that information.
I wanted to make sure that I knew how to contact our son’s biological mother after we moved away from Arizona. I had her full name, so I searched her out on Facebook. I found her very easily as she did not have her privacy options turned on. I’m sure now that she was hoping our son would look for her.
After finding out our son’s birth mother lost her mother at an early age and had recently lost her father, I reached out to her. She accepted my friend request, and we communicated for a while before I let our son know I had found her. Our son was having some issues of his own: depression and difficulty negotiating college life. He also had not voiced to me any desire to find his birth family. Because of his emotional state, I didn’t push the issue.
I did let his birth mother know that he wasn’t ready to connect with her, but when he was ready, I would certainly let him know how to do so.
As he matured, our son completed college and met a wonderful young woman he will marry on October 10, 2020. With his engagement, he did start to become more interested in finding his birth mother. I gave him her information to connect with her via Facebook. It took him another year or so before he reached out to her. Their relationship is not very close, but at least they do communicate. His birth mother has bipolar disorder that does not seem to be properly controlled, and our son is cautious about getting too close to her. I continue to maintain a friendship with her as I know she is without family where she lives. She is not married and does not work. I think this is a concern for my son and his fiancé. They are not in any hurry to meet her in person as they don’t really know how healthy a closer relationship would be.
My son has said he really would like to meet his birth father. That is something he will need to bring up with his birth mother. His birth mother’s relationship with his birth father did not end well, and he didn’t want anything to do with the pregnancy. I’m not even sure his family is aware of our son. But I don’t disagree with my son wanting to find him. I won’t step in now as my son is 25 and quite capable of negotiating this journey on his own. His fiancé is supportive of any decision he makes, but she is very protective. I trust that they will be able to handle this, and it will become more important to them when they start their own family.
Both of our children know that we do not have any issues with them having a relationship with their birth families. We are confident adoptive parents, and we know both of our adopted children love us and do not see us as anything other than their parents. We have never had any fear that we would be replaced.
We adopted our children in our mid to late 30s. Their birth parents were in their late teens, early 20s. This is quite a big age gap. Realistically, their birth parents will outlive us. I think it’s important for them to have a connection with their birth families after we are gone. This may be morbid thinking, but we think it is realistic thinking. There is also the issue of family health history. We were not given much information beyond the basics when we were adopting them. Medical history changes over time, and it is vitally important for our adult children who were adopted to know as much as possible as they have children of their own.
I also asked our children if they would have wanted us to do anything differently to connect them with their birth families. The resounding answer was no; it was handled as well as they could have expected given the information that we had.
Now, I ask myself if we should have done anything differently. My answer is yes. I wish that I had maintained contact with them over the years. Knowing the difficulties they experienced in their lives, I often wonder if they suffered any emotional distress not knowing how the children they placed for adoption were doing. I put myself in their shoes, and I think I would have wanted to know. I was perhaps a bit selfish. But as I have aged and matured myself, I can see that I could have possibly been a positive influence in their lives by being more assertive in seeking them out. I’ll never know. But I am happy for my adult children that they can move forward with a relationship if they want to. We’ll always be mom and dad and Oma and Opa.