Question from Kate: I’m close to my son’s birth mother and a few of her family members. But his birth father is incarcerated and is a violent man.
I have some things I’d like to send to my son’s birth mom and her family but I’m concerned about disclosing our address because I don’t want it to get back to the birth father. I’m uncomfortable discussing it with his birth mom because it makes it seem like I don’t trust her with the information. I don’t know what to expect long-term with her and her relationship with my son’s birth father. Suggestions? ~~ Kate
How to Have Contact with Birth Mom & Privacy with Birth Dad
Dear Kate: Would it be possible to get a box at a nearby mailbox rental store? UPS and the US Postal Service offer them, as do other packing and shipping places (non-USPS ones look like street addresses). For an annual fee you may be able to keep in contact AND maintain some privacy, until the time you feel more comfortable.
How To Communicate with a Birth Parent
While an offsite mailbox may solve the surface issue, it doesn’t address the deeper issue of communicating clearly with your son’s birth mom. Perhaps the reason that it sounds like you don’t trust her with the information is because you don’t trust her with the information.
Would it be possible to take the very brave step of talking this over with her? Of telling her your concerns in a way you’d like to hear them if the roles were reversed?
Try Something Like This:
I’m looking for ways to keep you in the loop, Gina, without exposing us to Rick. Because of all you’ve told us about him, I am sure you can understand why we’re not ready to give him access to us. One day we might be ready, but for now, we feel it’s best that he not have our contact information.
What are your thoughts on that? (pause to listen.) Are you in touch with him, or do you plan to be? (pause to listen.) Where do you think the line should be drawn on what information he has about us? (pause to listen.)
Listen to what she says and attune to her. Do you sense that she is able to maintain a wall of privacy for the sake of the son you both love? If she doesn’t perceive Birth Dad as dangerous as you do, why might that be? Do you get the sense that she is trustworthy on this subject?
Simply having this conversation has the potential to take you more deeply into a trusting relationship with your son’s birth mom, which will serve your son well in the coming years. If you end up still feeling unsettled about the safety of your son and your family, you can still fall back on the offsite mailbox solution.
Dear Readers, what say you?
About this Open Adoption Advice Column
- I may occasionally call on others to help with answers, to tap into group wisdom.
- I am not a therapist. Please do not rely on words in this space to make your own major or minor decisions.
- I encourage readers to weigh in thoughtfully and respectfully. Remember that this is a teaching endeavor rather than a shaming endeavor, and we aim to bring light rather than heat. People do the best they can with what they have to work with, so let’s 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.
Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a young adult daughter, writes from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.
Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.