A Delicate Balance

I think it is entirely understandable for an adoptee to want to make contact with the people who contributed to their conception. With fathers, it can be a delicate balance – the how to go about it. This example illustrates some of the challenges that may be present.

I was told my biological father passed away before I was born. I have discovered that he, is alive and well. However, he is married and has children. A nonprofit found my father for me. It has been several months now that I have known and I’ve thought about it a lot. So, I sent him a Facebook message. We aren’t friends, so I know it’s a long shot he will never see it. It has been a month now. That was the amount of time I decided to patiently wait for a response. I’m torn about the next step to take. I wrote in the message that I have no intention of causing him harm in any way and I do sincerely mean that. His wife is very active on Facebook and has a public profile but it feels wrong to reach out to her. Trying to add him as a friend feels even worse. In his “about me” section, he lists a daughter but I’m reluctant to reach out to her. I have a whole lot of “who-the-hell-am-I-to-start-shit” feelings. But I am dealing with some rage. Actually, a lot of rage, though I am unclear as of yet as to exactly where that feeling is coming from.

I deeply wanted to make contact with someone in maternal grandmother’s family (both of my parents were adopted and all of my grandparents are dead, so I didn’t have such a delicate line to try and walk as this woman). I had a testy exchange once with the step-daughter of my paternal grandfather who accused my paternal grandmother basically of being a whore (though she used more polite language from a long ago public school book I had read – The Scarlet Letter). He was a married man. I don’t know that she knew that when she started seeing him.

Anyway, I discovered the lovely daughters of my mom’s youngest uncle. I did go the Facebook Messenger route and I don’t remember how long it was but literally months. I do remember when I saw a reply – it totally knocked me into bliss. They did provide me with some personal memories of my grandmother, who was they very favorite aunt, that were comforting to my heart. My parents are both deceased now but my belief that there is a continuity of the individual soul means that I do believe my parents reconnected with their original parents after death and now know more than I have discovered. It brings me some comfort.

Some of the advice the woman here received –

Messages from non-friends in Facebook can easily be lost in their labyrinth inbox system. In fact, I remember one from my nephew’s step-mother that it took me months to see. It happens and it doesn’t necessarily mean a rejection but adoptees feel a deep sense of rejection regardless from the simple fact their parents gave them up for adoption.

Another added – I would not reach out to his wife on Facebook.  It wouldn’t be fair to your biological father if you went around him.

Someone else with some success noted – I found the addresses of my biological parents using a combination of Facebook info, google searches and looking up some things on ancestry using a two week trial free pass. I think it took me two days. I hope you have as easy a time as I did.

Ancestry brought my own first real break – my mom’s half-sister (they had the same father) has only died a few months before I found her grave. I found a slide show from her memorial service and got my first glimpse of that side of my family tree including a photo of my maternal grandfather. A friend of my cousin’s posted about her mother and through her, I was put in contact with her, met her and discovered they had long wondered about my mom and hoped she would be in contact with them someday. That totally turned around my feelings about my maternal grandfather. My mom had not been very inclined towards him (I suppose feeling like he contributed to her becoming adopted which was actually true). However, that he made certain his other children knew about my mom changed my own feelings toward him. This cousin was so warm and over one afternoon, we went through the many family photo albums she left behind. I felt as though I had lived decades of that family’s life by the time the afternoon ended.

Someone added a resource I didn’t know about – True People Search is the site I usually use for addresses. White pages can be helpful as well.

The perspective from a birth mother – I would like to think that he would want to know. Maybe he wasn’t told about your existence?! Maybe he does know about you, but doesn’t know where to begin? My heart goes out to you no matter what you decide.

In support of this possibility of not knowing comes this story –  I met my birth father 2 years ago. I had been told he was a nasty piece of work by my birth mother and I should never contact him because he wouldn’t want to know me. Well turns out she never told him. I had someone on one of the lost or search for family Facebook pages help me. She located him, sent him an email once she established his email address. Now the only reason why they opened the email, is because they thought they recognized her name. She connected us. I am so thankful. From there, we did a DNA test to confirm. Then they told their 4 kids. Before the person that helped me, I had previously reached out to one of his kids, but both him and his wife both put it down as a scam. Its incredibly hard to connect with people these days because there are so many scams happening.

In my dad’s case, I don’t believe his father ever knew about his only child/son. The self-reliant woman that my paternal grandmother was simply handled her pregnancy (though she did try to keep my dad and definitely knew who the father was – it is thanks to breadcrumbs she left me in her photo album that I now know. The family has been a bit surprised to discover me – thanks to DNA matching (which really does add legitimacy when one begins to contact family who didn’t know you existed for literally decades).

An adoptee notes that the woman at the beginning of this blog is the innocent party here. It’s not her job to coddle or spare the feelings of other people. Sorry/not sorry – as an adoptee, we are told from the start to think of others before ourselves. We put our feelings and needs on the back burner and try not to rock the boat. I say rock the boat. You don’t owe anyone anything. You owe yourself peace and certainty regarding your place in this world. It’s not anyone’s job to tell you what to do or how to do it. But know first, can you go on without any contact with him. If not…do what you must.

Yet another perspective – at arm’s length but observing – in the case of my current husband… His issue was through adoption. He didn’t know his son had been put up for adoption, only that the mom had refused contact. He never told his current wife or kids about her, and so, it was a huge shock for the whole family to learn about the son. Eventually, they did build a very positive relationship. I agree that I wouldn’t contact his wife.. She’s not a party to this.

And there was this alternative approach through Facebook – my birth mother refused to respond to my contact – just left me hanging for over a year. I am firmly in the camp of adoptees having a right to know our relatives and also for them to know of our existence. So I made a Facebook group, added all my half siblings, then sent them all a carefully worded, respectful group post message. Frankly, I had nothing to lose and possibly much to gain. (They had no idea I existed.) This also prevented one person from becoming the gatekeeper, as all were told at the same time.

I will close today’s blog with this reunion story – I wrote a snail mail letter to my son, which was given to him by a search Angel that was the intermediary. (It was a closed adoption and so had to be done this way to protect privacy until release forms were signed). My son appreciated the written letter. He’s very private and so am I. Certainly, he’s glad I didn’t try to find him on the internet. This approach worked very well for us. He wrote me back. We had time to process a bit before we ever spoke on the phone. I’d keep his wife and others out of it. Go directly to him and express what you want to say with clarity and ease. I spent several months preparing mentally before I reached out. Once I did, I was ready. And fortunately, so was he.

Opportunistic Dependency

In life, one often learns who they must say “no” to, because to say “yes” is never a temporary response but an open door to repeated requests, that eventually cause resentment and regret. Sadly, this is often the case in families. I’ve seen it more than once as I am certain most readers here will have as well. Today’s blog is focused on the story of an adoptee reunion. The young woman is somewhat like my mom was – always knew she was adopted and though she yearned for contact with her mother, was unable to achieve that before she died. From what I have learned from my mom’s cousins about my maternal grandmother, she would not have been like the one in my story below –

I was adopted at birth and raised by a wonderful family. From birth (or old enough to understand) I was told about the adoption and what that meant, it was a closed adoption. I never thought about it much while growing up. I just knew I was adopted and the chances were low I would ever get to know them (birth parents) and I was ok with that. I know others deal with it differently, I didn’t have much of a desire to know the back story.

Fast forward to when I was 27, my husband and I were googling our birthdays and the first post I saw was from an adoption website from a birth mom trying to find her daughter. Low and behold that daughter was me! I was shocked and overwhelmed, and thought it was my duty to reach out to say thank you!

I learned she was only 13 when she had me, others choices were available and she chose life for me. On my first attempt to reach out, she needed more time. She admitted she was on drugs and didn’t want me to know her like that.

A couple years passed by and she reached out again. It has not been a happy 5 years. She constantly pesters me with – can you give me money ?, can you give me shelter ?, can you help me ? And when I kindly say no, she responds with rage. Complete and utter anger. She doesn’t want to know anything about me, just wants to exploit her relationship with me.

I’m a super kind person but I know better than to give her anything monetary. It has reached a point where the relationship is toxic and I don’t want to be a part of it any longer. When I try to break it off, she says she is suicidal and will kill herself if I don’t comply with her requests.

To be honest, I wish I had never opened the reunion box. But I did. Now I don’t know what to do. What if she kills herself ? I would feel so responsible. All of this is so so so hard on me!!! What would you do ? And could you live with that choice for the rest of your life ?

Tomorrow, I’ll share some of the advice she received from sharing her story.

When A Child Kills

Learning about these statistics fascinated me the way a car accident often fascinates us (in horror) as we pass by and are grateful we are safe.

Adoptees are 15 times more likely to commit parricide (kill one or both adoptive parents) than biologic children.  Of the 500 estimated serial killers in U.S. history, 16 percent were adopted as children, while adoptees represent only 2 or 3 percent of the general population.

Dr. David Kirschner has been an expert witness in 20 homicide cases in which the accused was adopted, usually as an infant, or in early childhood. In every case of these adoptees who killed, he found a remarkably similar pattern, including a history of sealed original birth records, a childhood of secrets and lies (re: birth parents and genetic history), frustrated, blocked searches for birth parents, and untreated, festering adoption issues of loss, rejection, abandonment, identity, and dissociated (split-off) rage.

This sub-group of adopted killers who he has seen consistently had a strikingly similar fantasy of the birth mother: That she was an all-giving, all-loving, nurturing, wonderful, perfect being. He had expected to find conscious anger/rage directed at a malevolent, rejecting bad mother – but instead there was this paradox of an idyllic birth-mother-fantasy image. The anger and rage toward birth parents was there – but deeply repressed, often dissociated and cut off from consciousness, and ultimately acted-out with violence toward the adoptive parents or others. In these extreme cases, the split, false, secret self described by many adoption experts, had evolved into a more malignant, clinical Dissociative Identity Disorder (aka Multiple Personality Disorder).

Adoption has long been neglected by mental health experts, as well as the criminal justice system, in the search for causes of eruptions of extreme violence.  Some adoptees believe that they have been conceived out of wedlock in the back seat of a car or by a prostitute.  One adoptee who has written about her search for answers was conceived in an act of rape.  Regardless of the sad circumstances that lead to a person’s birth and relinquishment – truth is always the best policy.  In the absence of truth (due to sealed adoption records and changes in identity details) an adoptee and even their children are left to make up stories to fill the gaps in real information.  I know that happened to me and within my own family.

Not every adoptee will suffer in the extreme this way but every adoptee deep inside has issues of abandonment and rejection.  For this reason, I do believe we have to find a better way to care of children who need a stable home with loving, caring parental figures.  No identity changes, no hidden familial truths.  Honesty is the best policy going forward.