Letter Writer: I came across your post “He Wants to Live with His Birth Mother. Now what?” — because I’m living it.
I am an adoptive mother of three. My son, now 23 , graduated from college this past May. Throughout his upbringing his father and I would talk about adoption from time to time and always told him (and the other kids, too) if they ever wanted to search for their birth parents we encourage and support and will help in anyway possible.
None of our kids ever took an interest, until earlier this year when my son was in his senior year of college. It seemed from out of nowhere, but all of a sudden he wanted to reach out to his birth mother. I knew her last name and the state she last lived in. With that information, voilà, he found her on Facebook.
My son met with a counselor who specialized in adoption search and reunion and we met with them to navigate the process. My son asked for my help, asked if I could message her through Facebook. At first I was hesitant but after composing what I thought was a thoughtful , acceptable letter, the message was sent.
That was February of 2016. We held our breath. Will she open the message, will she be open to corresponding, will she reject him? What will happen???
Fast forward a few months. We flew her and her entire family to his college town to attend his graduation this spring. They stayed for a week. Four weeks later my son decided to move to another state and live with them.
So this has been a whirlwind. It has been such an array of emotions. I am so grateful his biological family accepted him and immediately loved him and were open and kind and appreciative towards us.
On my bad days I feel like….. what. just. happened.
But then I ran into your post. I have it printed and hanging in my office to remind myself every day to “remain vigilant of my own fears and insecurities and deal with them.”
My son has only seen my (and his dad’s) appreciation and happiness for all that is going well in his life and how exciting this adventure is for him. I have never wavered from that in front of him.
But on the inside it’s confusing , not every day, but sometimes, and sometimes the confusion gets the best of me.
Hi, Charlene. Thanks so much for your letter. Kudos to you for keeping your own issues your own issues and leaving your son free to deal with only his. What a gift for him.
You didn’t actually ask a question but one arose in me when I read your last two paragraphs. I don’t know the answer to it, so I’m going to ask readers — especially adopted people — here.
My question stems from conversations we’ve had here recently (thanks, TAO), conversations that reiterate that children are not responsible for their parents’ feelings, nor should they be made to feel responsible for their parents’ feelings.
At the same time, I see value in modeling for our kids how to work through hard things. That usually means acknowledging that you’re facing a hard thing and are trying to do your best to work through your own emotions about it. It’s through this modeling that a son or daughter (a) learns that dealing with hard things is something everyone faces, and (b) sees how their primary role model gets to the other side of a formidable issue. Qualities I want my kids to see when I do this include tenacity, self-reflection, mindfulness, self-forgiveness, compassion for others.
So given those competing ideas — not laying your feelings on your kids, yet also being open with them about your own emotional journey — here is my question to you (yes, you here reading).
It’s one thing to not lay your own issues on your kiddo. It’s another to hide from your son or daughter that you have issues of your own around insecurity and “ownership.” How much of this mom’s inner processing should she keep from her son, and how much should she share with him as she’s going through it?
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About this Open Adoption Advice Column
- I occasionally call on others to help with answers, to tap into group wisdom.
- I am not trained as a therapist. Please do not rely on words in this space to make your own major or minor decisions.
- Readers are encouraged to weigh in thoughtfully and respectfully. Remember that this is a teaching endeavor rather than a shaming endeavor, and that we aim to bring light rather than heat. It’s my belief that people do the best they can with what they have to work with, and our goal is to give folks more to work with.
Send in your own open adoption question. I’ll either offer an answer or find someone who can address your issue.