reaching out to son's other mom

Birth Mom: Help Me Write Letter to Son’s Adoptive Mom

Can a Birth Mom and Adoptive Mom from the Closed Era Coexist?

And if so, how?

Clare is a first mom who was found this year by her adult son. She left a comment recently, one that led to our email exchange. She recognizes that the readers here are savvy and sage, and that she might be able to tap into well-considered viewpoints from all parts of the adoption constellation.

birth mom adoptive mom coexist

Clare says:

I am considering sending a letter to my son’s parents and asking if they would like to meet with me for us to get to know each other a bit more and to help clear the air.

My son reached out to me in January and we have messaged back and forth, had phone conversations, and have met and spent time in person 3 times since then. His Mom is having a very difficult time dealing with this.

I feel called to reach out to her and to offer my love and understanding. I’m just not sure it will be well received. I don’t know if this could make things worse, which I absolutely do not want to do.

I’m just wondering what other’s perspective are on this situation. His Mom is having a hard time understanding why he wants/needs a relationship with me. She feels threatened and vulnerable. My son loves his parents and doesn’t want to cause them hurt & pain, but also wants to develop a relationship with me & my daughters.

To be fair his parents really don’t know much about me. We only met once, the day legal documents were signed and they picked up our son. I don’t want them to feel like I’m inserting myself into the middle of their family. I just would like to find some middle ground so we can all to have a better comfort level with each other.

I’d really like perspective from other adoptive parents so I can try to approach this situation in a more informed way and to help make it a positive interaction.


How Do You Help Someone Stop Being Afraid?

When you read Clare’s comments on the previous post, you can see she is motivated by a desire to help her son be whole, to not split his love or loyalties. She knows that his mom becoming further antagoned will hurt him, so she wishes to tread carefully, mindfully.

So Readers,  what are some ways to help an adoptive parent move from an Either/Or mindset to a Both/And heartset? What is within Clare’s power to do to help her son’s adoptive mom shift from feeling fearful of her and insecure about her place in her son’s life to being open to her son’s emerging relationship with Clare? 

Help Me Help My Son

My main concern is that well being of our son. Obviously if his parents feel better about the situation it will also be easier on him.

I would love feedback from varying perspectives. It really helps me process the situation. I’m an analytical thinker so breaking down everyone’s emotions and feelings would be therapeutic for me.

What are the main points you would make in Clare’s letter?

I thank you in advance for offering your insights. Please remember that the goal of your comment should be to help Clare.


This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. Whazzat? A post that’s not too long. Head to Stirrup Queens to join the fun.

22 thoughts on “Birth Mom: Help Me Write Letter to Son’s Adoptive Mom”

  1. I would suggest she keep the letter brief inviting contact and making it clear she is motivated by making the process easier on their son. I will suggest she mention that she understands how his mother might feel and make her stand clear. I will also ask her to be prepared for no replies and rest easy knowing she did her part.

    Having said that, I wish the adoptive parent realizes that their son needs all parts to feel whole.

  2. I think this is a “handle with care” type of situation. I agree with the above comment in that the note should be brief. As a birthmom fortunate to be in an open adoption since day one, I can only put myself in the shoes of this birthmother. My guess is that while she’s in communication with her son, she also yearns to know more about the people that cared for her son. Not in a probing or accusatory way – but just out of sheer curiosity.

    I remember early during the first few years of my son’s life, I corresponded with his parents and we met a few times in person – but never at their home or mine. It was just a function of circumstance – it wasn’t as though there was opposition to a home visit. As a result, I examined every photo and video (this was the late 1980s/early 1990s!) they sent me for clues into their life. Again, not with any bad intentions – just to know everything about my son. I noted the dishes they used for dinner, the kinds of cars they drove, the sorts of toys he played with, the books his mom was reading, the little knickknacks around their home that revealed their personal taste and preferences. Such little details… but they helped me fill the holes that I didn’t realize were in my heart. It helped reassure me that he was loved by good people.
    I was able to first come to their home when my son was about 5 or so and it was remarkable for me because I felt as though I’d already been there. It comforted me and gave me a sense of peace.

    Oh lordy – I didn’t mean to go off on such a tangent. I guess I just understand where the birthmother may be coming from. My advice is to approach cautiously and openly with zero expectations. If there’s resistance, let it go for now. Perhaps the growing relationship with her son will pave the way for more openness.

  3. I feel for Clare so much. Interesting that I am an adoptive mom who would like my son’s birth mom to be in his life and she does not share my desire. I agree with other comments that a short note is the way to go. Separately, I wonder if your son could not ask his mom to read Lori’s book to help her with her mindset? Wouldn’t want her to feel ganged up on, but it would be really nice if she could get herself to a place to know that this would be good for her son, and, in my opinion, for her as well.

  4. Adoptee here…

    There is no mention of the age of the adoptee that would have been helpful in regards to offering suggestions.

    I don’t think you should write a letter. The only thing that will help his mom with her insecurity is his consistency in proving he’s not going anywhere, visiting, talking on the same frequency as before. And that takes time to happen.

    Writing a letter may very well be seen the opposite of what you intend it to be, in a way, asserting your right as his mom. Not the message you want to send. I think any like that will back-fire.

    With my mom, I didn’t have any insecurities to be concerned with, it also was my aunt, not my mother – what I did do though when I was visiting, was to ask mom if I could invite my aunt over for tea. That way, if mom had even the whisper of insecurity, she didn’t have time to build it up in her mind, instead, it was two people meeting each other who had me as the common denominator.

  5. It seems to me that Clare has already sent a beautiful message to the adoptive mom, in which she said she “reassured her I had no intention of putting myself in the middle of their family and that they would always be his parents.” So I actually wonder if it’s necessary to repeat that. The adoptive mother will be going through a lot of emotions, and maybe just needs time to see that nothing is changing in her relationship with her son.

    My other comment is that the son is at least 25, which is when his adoptive parents finally gave him some letters from his birth mother, and he decided to find her. He’s a father too. So I think it’s up to him to decide really, to choose how the relationships between the two mothers should be managed, especially if one is reluctant. He knows her, after all. And besides, he’s an adult, not a child who needs to be protected. So if I were Claire, I might hold off on this, or at least ask him whether he thinks it would be helpful or counterproductive. After all, he may feel angry with his adoptive mother, but at the same time, protective of her too.

    Besides, he shouldn’t feel he has to mediate between the two women, one who wants to have contact, one who doesn’t. If he’s forced into this role feeling stuck in the middle, they both risk alienating him and causing resentment.

  6. In adoption, you literally can’t prevent someone from being afraid. I think the only way to truly remove all threat of ALL and ANY insecurity is to (from the relinquishing mother side) not exist. The only way to end up not making comparisons between adoptive family ties and biological family ties, is if hypothetically, the adopted child was born naturally to the adoptive parents and kept. Even in online blogs, I would constantly get people asking me, “Do you love your parents?”

    I said “Do you honestly, truly think I don’t?” And they said “Well, I would like to think you do, as you seem to be a fantastic, well-educated eloquent writer who has posted wonderful things about having a great childhood – but here you are, talking about loss and grief and trauma and wondering if your life would have been better if you could have stayed in your birth country. So yes, forgive us, if we really want that extra bit of reassurance that you do love your parents?”

    To which I pointed out “Is it not a given that the adult child would end up loving his/her adoptive parents? Is it not a given that the parents would have loved the child *as if* s/he is *their own*? I thought this was the assumption for adoption conversations. Why does this need a disclaimer?”

    And they responded “Well, obviously your adoption was clearly not good enough, because you felt something was missing. As parents we do our best, and sometimes that isn’t enough, and we would like to avoid that and be acknowledged that we ARE doing our best. The fact that you are writing about all the negative aspects of your adoption indicates what your parents did was clearly not enough, and that isn’t reassuring for any parent to hear. It means someone made a mistake somewhere on down the line.”

    DNA doesn’t necessarily mean a relationship will be good or bad – biology does not exist in a vacuum and can/will be affected by a number of good/bad factors that shape who a person is or what relationships they end up having. Also, there are certain traits/mannerisms that can be traced back to hereditary bloodlines.

    But biology will NOT and CANNOT be the link that ties a parent to the adopted child so I suspect that is the reason for the fear: It’s something they can’t have, good or bad. It’s something that could possibly make them wonder “Why does my child clash with me” or “Why does my child exhibit certain mannerisms?”

    Plus, they are always aware, on some level, that their child was birthed by someone else, and that isn’t always easy to come to terms with. You don’t get the nine months of pregnancy, you don’t get to feel your baby literally growing inside of you. It’s an experience you actually can’t relate with other moms, because they conceived their child, and you get reminded that you have to share your child. (Unless of course you were pregnant before, but I’m mainly talking about missing the experience of pregnancy with *that* specific adopted child.) No moms who kept their intact, biological child have to compare with a ghost mother.

    We also like to say DNA does not matter, blood does not make a family – love does. But that’s just because DNA/blood *CANNOT* matter in an adoption as the biological link is severed, both legally and socially. It isn’t *SUPPOSED* to matter.

    And whether or not the adult child/biological mother have a good, awful, decent, fantastic, semi-OK relationship, there is no denying there is a biological link that once connected them while baby was growing in mother’s womb. That is something the adoptive parents don’t get to experience with *THAT* particular child, and why they feel insecure.

  7. I think Clare’s sensitivity to this matter is wonderful and perhaps she can write a letter based on how she would like things to go moving forward from her perspective as her son’s first mom. There isn’t a formula for this and it’s been my experience that first parents aren’t often given a voice. Relationships aren’t fixed in time but instead, constantly evolving. All parties involved are now adults and the tip-toeing can stop to allow healing and new relationships to form. Who knows what might transpire when fear is eliminated from the equation.

  8. As an AP to a toddler, I would love for her birth-mother to reach out, saying she’ll work with us on promoting and preserving AD’s emotional and mental health, that she wants to be sensitive to her needs.

    I would love to hear her say that she isn’t threatened by me, that my being AD’s mother makes her no less AD’s mother, too. That she understands certain circumstances kept them apart.

    She has told us thank you, one time. It meant a lot to us… ‘thanks for everything, thanks for loving on AD.’ Saying that she loves AD and wants her to know it.

    Our situation is very different to Claire’s, so I don’t know if any of that would help.

  9. Don’t write to her. You can’t help her. Your relationship is between you and your son. Adoptive parents will always have the position of power, and therefore the responsibility of reaching out and fostering relationships. If she hasn’t done that, she is not interested in you; don’t give her any more power. All parents should care about their children first, unfortunately a huge number of adoptive moms are too insecure to do so.

  10. I understand the fear your child’s parents are experiencing. I think I felt it when we first brought my daughter home, and the fact that birth dad constantly pressured us for more (and inappropriate, under the circumstances) contact really made it difficult to work past that fear. I think reaching out is worthwhile, and your letter should include some kind of affirmation of adoptive mom’s role in his life. For me, hearing that from birth mom would have gone a long way toward easing my fears. I agree that keeping it short and sweet is ideal as well, but I know that affirmation was what I would need to hear. Also be prepared for rejection or a non-response. If she still wants nothing to do with you, then you’ve done all you can do and you’ll have to let your son and his mom sort it out between each other from there.

    1. Have you seen a professional counselor/therapist about your fears?

      It seems quite plausible that these fears affect how you raise this daughter and interact with all those related and connected to her. It’s important to be able to make good decisions regarding her upbringing.

      I know that these fears are quite common for adopters, but it should be quite expected that these children have other significant relations/connections to others, yet you still chose to adopt. Or were you unaware of how babies are made before signing adoption paperwork?

      Sorry to be kind of snarky, but it seems that one’s love for children and their best interests should be the major driving force for raising children (including adopted children). That daughter is in no way responsible for your emotional fears, nor should her childhood be compromised to assuage for your emotional fears. Her father is very much a part of that girl, whether good, bad, or both. It might help you to read more adult adoptee perspectives.

      Or perhaps he wanted to raise her within her original family and never consented to her adoption? I don’t know her/yours/his actual situation, but even if you have very reasonable fears (like for her safety – again I don’t know), a professional therapist can help you sort through these complicated issues that you invited into your life when you made the decision to adopt and signed paperwork.

  11. I think the closed adoption era brought on a lot of fears for all. Has Clare asked her son what he thinks would be best? I would like to think Clare letting it be known she isn’t trying to take his parents place would help. It’s hard to know what’s going through his Mom’s head. Maybe she’s afraid the biological tie will trump her? I wish there were a way to educate her without her feeling offended. I agree with others. Maybe a brief letter. I am hoping adoptive mom just needs reassured that she is not being replaced!

    I would love for my youngest son’s birth mom to reach out and want contact!

  12. I’m not really sure that a letter is a good idea, especially without input from her son. I certainly wouldn’t be doing it without his knowledge.

    I think that the best way for reassurance to happen is for them to all meet because then they can see each other as human beings but it sounds like her son’s mum is reluctant to do so.

    I’m fortunate that my own aparents have always understood why we might want to reunite and have never had a problem with it. I have thought about what I would say if they had had issues and trying to reassure them without having to justify or radionalise why and thus I suppose that I as an adoptee would say to my mum or dad something like “Mum/dad, I believe that my relationship with you is something that is strong and stand on its own merits and is something that will always be strong because of our love for each other. I have now also decided to meet and get to know my bfamily and however that relationship develops, it will be a separate relationship that the one I have with you, just like other relationships I have with other people.” Of course that isn’t particularly relevant to the above question except perhaps in that no-one really has to be rationalising/justifying their relationships to anyone else.

  13. Oh Clare – you sound like a very lovely person with a huge heart and wants what’s best for all. What a wonderful space to be in for all involved, but mostly for your own personal peace and center in the midst of a bit of a storm.

    It’s unfortunate that there are so many unnecessary storms in adoption. So much could be avoided if both parties took their “adoption chains” off and bravely faced the obvious truths…vs trying to hide those truths and cover them up. Thus, letting insecurity win and rule their life.

    With that said, you will not be able to ease this woman’s seemingly irrational and deep-seated fears. It sounds as though she has spent many years feeding them. Letting go of that kind of mindset is her responsibility alone.

    I personally would not write her a letter or entertain insecurity that has absolutely nothing to do with you. You’ve gone through enough with relinquishment in a closed adoption. This isn’t something you can fix. She has to work on her own heart/thoughts. I hope she will for her own well-being and for her son and how this impacts him.

    Now, that doesn’t mean I’d close the door (as they did to you) for contact and a possible relationship. Let her extend the first olive branch, which in my mind would mean that she’s working through her insecurities.

    I would not open myself up to those kind of shenanigans after enduring relinquishment. No way. I would welcome healthy contact. Personally, I would do this with the help of a counselor.

    Believe in yourself and trust your instincts to do what’s right for all.

    Wishing you nothing but the best.


    1. “It’s unfortunate that there are so many unnecessary storms in adoption. So much could be avoided if both parties took their “adoption chains” off…”

      Which “both” parties and their “storms” are you talking about?

      The son and whom?

  14. Definitely a sticky situation. An adoptee in reunion needs to run the show and be in control of things. They had no say so in having two sets of parents so it’s only fair that we give them this.

    Before sending any letters to your sons other mother I would definitely consult with him and see how he feels about it. With his blessing, and input, only then would I proceed.

    Best of luck!

  15. This post touches me … my thought is to keep it short and simple. Other thoughts, from my a
    opinion only … Thank the adoptive mom for loving him and raising him well. (I have such a thank you note FRAMED.) Reassure her that she will always be valued as his mom and that you in the picture won’t change that. (Both And, not Either Or.) … And that you’d like to connect with her as a friend, woman to woman, with the most precious thing in common, the eternal love of one young man. …….
    hope this helps. All the best.

  16. Hello,
    I am an adoptee who at 49 years old met my birth mom. Our reunion happened 3 years ago this month. My parents have always been very open about my adoption, I have know since I was 4 years old. I was told “I came from mommy’s heart, not her tummy.” I never had a huge urge to search for my birth mom because I have a really great family and a wonderful life. In other words, I didn’t have a hole in my heart like so many other adoptees do. However, I was always curious about so much. 3 years ago I took a DNA test and that broke open the curiosity box, so to speak. Because of that, I found my birth mom with the amazing help of my parents and the agency I was adopted through. The first meeting and every one since has been magical. After meeting my birth family and getting to know so many new members of my “tribe,” I set up a meeting with my birth mom and my mom. My mom flew in from OR and my birth mom took the train from L.A. We all met up in my city of San Diego. We cried, laughed, and were in awe of the meeting. My mom made a photo album from the time I was a baby to present day to give to my birth mom and they both sobbed. I left the two of them alone for 2 hours to talk, ask questions, share, and just be together. Then we all had lunch and continued to be in awe!! Each mom feels she was given a gift. My mom who raised me was given the gift of a child and my mom who birthed me was given the gift of knowing her daughter was loved and cared for. Spending time with my birth mom does not take away from the mom who raised me, it only adds more love to my life. I love them both and what could be more amazing then adding more love to an already very full life? I love my time with my birth mom because she IS me….I finally make sense! I love my time with my mom because she IS me….she raised me. I have so many parts of both and now not only do I make sense, I am whole. I hope you can take pieces of what I have shared and use them in your letter. If you need anything or have any other questions please reach out to me on Facebook. I am happy to help! Wishing you joy on this journey!!
    Amy Wise

  17. Adult adoptee here too.

    I agree with the many who suggest letting the adoptee direct his reunion and relations from his reunion, especially because he’s a grown adult, father, of at least 25 years old. I see this as an imperative, not a suggestion.

    He is the only one who has spent his entire or majority of his life developing into someone who has been severed from his origins, while being raised by another/others through no choice, voice, or actions of his own doing. It really is up to him to reflect and decide how all these people will continue to be related to him in his life.

    While it would ideally be great if everyone got along, he knows his adopter quite well and has figured out how to deal with her on many levels. And quite likely, his adopter does need reassurance (many seem to), it might not be appropriate or reassuring for it to come from possibly her biggest emotional threat, especially unsolicited, unwelcome from someone who really doesn’t know her.

    A letter from first mother might be well-received (or not), but without the permission, approval, and/or introduction of their son, it feels to me more like excluding the son from his own reunion and significant connections. Adoptees are already excluded from the decision to get adopted/severed and transferred to strangers and everything else adoption leads to. IMHO, no one should be suggesting forming relationships connected by an adoptee behind the back of that adoptee, especially an able, adult adoptee. Adoption has serious, lifelong consequences for adoptees and adoptees shouldn’t be ignored, dismissed, forgotten, or used for gossip or to “build bridges/connections” for others.

    We have voices, feelings, ideas, opinions, and are able to direct our own lives and relationships (we can ask for help if we want/need help, although when we ask for our own unaltered birth certificate, people don’t seem to listen or comply). Our personal lives and relationships should be respected, especially by those who we care about and we expect/hope they care about us. Including us in central decision-making discussions about us as adults should be a no-brainer. Following us/our lead should also be a no-brainer.

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