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Adoption story....

Discussion in 'Personal' started by hardbastard, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. hardbastard

    hardbastard New commenter

    I'm a 33 year old male. Here's a little tale for you all. I'd like people's thoughts. Will try and keep it simple. When I was 19 and my brother was 21, my mum told us that when she'd been 16 and long before meeting my dad, she'd had a child and given her up very quickly for adoption. Obviously the circumstances were complex - my mum was raised within a strict Irish Catholic background and one can only imagine how the news went down. The girl, some 27 years later, had tracked my mum down and had been in touch. My brother and I were told that she wanted to meet us as she was very curious about things. This was in 1998/99. When the news was 'announced' to us, it wasn't massively shocking - I'd actually discovered that I had a half-sister a year or so before when I'd come across some documents I'd been looking through at home. I remember calling my brother and telling him - he was obviously deeply shocked. I'd said nothing to my mum or dad...how could I?

    Anyway, the following year, by some coincidence, I believe my half-sister had used an agency to track my mum down and her and my mum consequently met up. I have no idea how many times and how successful things were. My mum told us that our half-sister wanted to meet my brother and I. I felt angry at my mum at the time - for one, I felt something that we should have been told about much sooner was only coming out then. I'm guessing my mum felt very ashamed about it all but... anyway, for what it's worth, my half-sister, by this time, was engaged or married and had a successful career and was living many miles away in the midlands. That was all I really knew as that's all we were told.

    However, after being told the news, my mum became very closeted about it all again. I tried to bring it up a few more times in the months which followed (e.g. have you met with X lately?) but she seemed disinterested and the topic became a taboo. To make matters worse, my brother also seemed disinterested - when I raised it with him, he'd say "it's not our business, she has her own life and she's happy, forget it." But I didn't see it like that.

    Over the past ten years or so, I frequently thought about getting in touch with her. I tracked her down on the internet, in fact, but resisted a phone call as I was concerned it would upset my mum and any other family members. It's certainly affected me as a person (I find it difficult to share things with my parents and I honestly think this kind of secretive behaviour is the key reason - it's not the only example either) and I felt even more frustrated that my mum didn't seem to want it brought up again. My dad's empathy to the situation was zilch - his opnion was "you're not kids, you're all gown-up, she has her own life etc..." Nice.

    Fast-forward to a week or two ago when I'm on the phone to my mum who announces they have 'some people' over this weekend. What people? My half-sister, her husband and my two small half-nieces, who, I had never even known existed till that point. She said, "would you like to come over and meet them? I've spoken to your brother."

    Well, imagine how I felt. Well, how would you have felt? I tried to explain to my mum that I felt I should have a discussion with my half-sister first, and answer any questions she might have. My mum said: "What sort of questions?" I explained I felt the situation was quite sensitive and I didn't relish the notion of just turning up for dinner and chatting about the weather with a half-sister and her family who I've never met before. She said "no, no, it would just be an informal thing." I explained it wasn't formal in the slightest; for one, my half-sister must have spent the last decade+ wondering why, for all the time that had passed, neither my brother or I had made any attempt to get in touch with her, even though we'd both known about her existence? My mum's responses were along the lines of 'you're making a big deal out of nothing' and I was deeply p---d off by it all. In the end, I suggested she at least call or text my half-sister and give her the opportunity, if she so wished, to get in touch with me for a chat. My mum agreed, but I have ten thousand pounds that she has not made any attempt to get in touch with my half-sister and pass the above on.

    Tonight, to try and get some way further, I phoned home and spoke to my dad (my mum was at work). His empathy was zero. He was rather rude and angry, in fact. He said I'm making a big deal out of nothing. I tried to remain calm and explained that, to the best of my knowledge, my mum and her daughter had fallen out of touch many years ago. He said no; he's even met her himself. When? About twelve months back.

    I've said enough. What do people think...?
     
  2. hardbastard

    hardbastard New commenter

    I'm a 33 year old male. Here's a little tale for you all. I'd like people's thoughts. Will try and keep it simple. When I was 19 and my brother was 21, my mum told us that when she'd been 16 and long before meeting my dad, she'd had a child and given her up very quickly for adoption. Obviously the circumstances were complex - my mum was raised within a strict Irish Catholic background and one can only imagine how the news went down. The girl, some 27 years later, had tracked my mum down and had been in touch. My brother and I were told that she wanted to meet us as she was very curious about things. This was in 1998/99. When the news was 'announced' to us, it wasn't massively shocking - I'd actually discovered that I had a half-sister a year or so before when I'd come across some documents I'd been looking through at home. I remember calling my brother and telling him - he was obviously deeply shocked. I'd said nothing to my mum or dad...how could I?

    Anyway, the following year, by some coincidence, I believe my half-sister had used an agency to track my mum down and her and my mum consequently met up. I have no idea how many times and how successful things were. My mum told us that our half-sister wanted to meet my brother and I. I felt angry at my mum at the time - for one, I felt something that we should have been told about much sooner was only coming out then. I'm guessing my mum felt very ashamed about it all but... anyway, for what it's worth, my half-sister, by this time, was engaged or married and had a successful career and was living many miles away in the midlands. That was all I really knew as that's all we were told.

    However, after being told the news, my mum became very closeted about it all again. I tried to bring it up a few more times in the months which followed (e.g. have you met with X lately?) but she seemed disinterested and the topic became a taboo. To make matters worse, my brother also seemed disinterested - when I raised it with him, he'd say "it's not our business, she has her own life and she's happy, forget it." But I didn't see it like that.

    Over the past ten years or so, I frequently thought about getting in touch with her. I tracked her down on the internet, in fact, but resisted a phone call as I was concerned it would upset my mum and any other family members. It's certainly affected me as a person (I find it difficult to share things with my parents and I honestly think this kind of secretive behaviour is the key reason - it's not the only example either) and I felt even more frustrated that my mum didn't seem to want it brought up again. My dad's empathy to the situation was zilch - his opnion was "you're not kids, you're all gown-up, she has her own life etc..." Nice.

    Fast-forward to a week or two ago when I'm on the phone to my mum who announces they have 'some people' over this weekend. What people? My half-sister, her husband and my two small half-nieces, who, I had never even known existed till that point. She said, "would you like to come over and meet them? I've spoken to your brother."

    Well, imagine how I felt. Well, how would you have felt? I tried to explain to my mum that I felt I should have a discussion with my half-sister first, and answer any questions she might have. My mum said: "What sort of questions?" I explained I felt the situation was quite sensitive and I didn't relish the notion of just turning up for dinner and chatting about the weather with a half-sister and her family who I've never met before. She said "no, no, it would just be an informal thing." I explained it wasn't formal in the slightest; for one, my half-sister must have spent the last decade+ wondering why, for all the time that had passed, neither my brother or I had made any attempt to get in touch with her, even though we'd both known about her existence? My mum's responses were along the lines of 'you're making a big deal out of nothing' and I was deeply p---d off by it all. In the end, I suggested she at least call or text my half-sister and give her the opportunity, if she so wished, to get in touch with me for a chat. My mum agreed, but I have ten thousand pounds that she has not made any attempt to get in touch with my half-sister and pass the above on.

    Tonight, to try and get some way further, I phoned home and spoke to my dad (my mum was at work). His empathy was zero. He was rather rude and angry, in fact. He said I'm making a big deal out of nothing. I tried to remain calm and explained that, to the best of my knowledge, my mum and her daughter had fallen out of touch many years ago. He said no; he's even met her himself. When? About twelve months back.

    I've said enough. What do people think...?
     
  3. If your Dad has been very unsupportive of your mother in the whole thing, it isn't really easy for your mother to negotiate you all, is it?
    And if her upbringing was a strict as you say, it isn't easy for her either.
    Why insist on meeting or speaking with your half-sister first? Why not just go along and take it as it comes, then arrange to meet up with her after that?
    You don't know why your sister was not in touch with you - and she doesn't know why you were not in touch with her (you chose, for whatever reasons, not to do so, although you knew how to contact her).
    Your Mum, in her way, which may not be perfect but is perhaps the only way she can see of dealing with it, is giving you both the opportunity to get to meet. A first meeting is not the time to discuss deeper, family issues - that would be quite intimidating, don't you think? (for all of you).

     
  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    I think you're over-thinking it.
    Although the circumstances were rather different I met my older half sister for the first time about 2 years ago and it's been a lovely experience. I'm one of four siblings and she has one brother and a half sister. Three of us have met my half sister and get along very nicely, the other isn't interested (unless he's changed his mind). Her brother isn't interested in meeting us either.
    For what it's worth, next time your half sister is going to your mum's go along and meet her - if you haven't frightened your mum off telling you about it. If you don't hit it off you don't need to see her again.
     
  5. I'm not sure what is worrying you?
     
  6. ....... read again......
    is it possible that your mum felt your reactions when you initially talked about it meant that you were angry and didn't want to know your half sister?
    ....... and that mum has continued to see her daughter but you have been unaware of the meetings.... and this not knowing has made you angry again?
    I suppose the first thing would be to talk to mum again and clear the air. It seems as if there has been 'crossed wires' ...... mum thinking you were thinking........ and you being confused.
    Once you and mum understand each other better, then perhaps it would time to meet your half sister - if you want to.......?
     
  7. modelmaker

    modelmaker Lead commenter

    Families are such strange things. For some, they are the whole purpose of life, for others the source of all evil.
    I can understand the predicament. If I were the OP, I'd make contact privately, probably by email or whatever initially, and if and when a rapport develops, arrange to meet.
     
  8. But unless I misread, he had the chance to do this and decided not to.
    So I am not sure why he now has a problem with his Mum's suggestion to meet.
     
  9. modelmaker

    modelmaker Lead commenter

    He's still got the chance if he wants to take it.
    I could be wrong, but I'm reading this as though he feels a sense of deception and manipulation on the part of his parents. If that's the case, it would be better for him to build the initial relationship with his sister away from them whist keeping his parents informed about it.
     
  10. Reading your story, I felt quite a pang myself. In your position I would feel angry, bitter and confused. It is a tricky situation because if you don't play 'happy families' you risk being isolated on the margins but I also think that in the first instance you might be better to independently contact your half-sister. Briefly tell her when and how you became aware of her existence. Let her know that you wanted to get in touch much earlier but explain your reasons for holding back. Tell her that you were shocked to discover that your mum has been in regular contact over the years and taken aback to be invited round to meet her out of the blue (without saying how upset and angry this has made you feel). Say that nevertheless you would very much like to meet her on another occasion and give her your phone number, email address etc. so that she can contact you easily herself. If and when you do meet up, try not to blurt out too much stuff until you get to know her better. She may take after the rest of the family and be quite chilled and unemotional about it. However, the fact that she went through the process of tracing your mum suggests that she also has questions and meeting you may be an important piece of the jigsaw. Good luck, whatever you decide to do.
     
  11. Hi OP.
    No matter what anyone else says, this is a big deal and difficult to deal with. You have to do what you feel comfortable with, as does everyone else involved. I'm 27 and still wrestling with whether I should try to find my biological dad. Unfortunately I'm not in a position where this would be easy. I don't talk to my mother or step dad any more so don't have anyone to ask the questions to. (Step dad abusive - mother took his word over mine). I do often wonder about him though and whether I have any siblings out there at all. There is clearly some desire on your part to get to know your sister and that is great, but do it at your own speed. Talk to your mum and explain that your reaction was because it was a shock, that you don't blame her for the situation but felt you should have known sooner. Get your sister's email/phone/address and then explain the same to her. A family dinner as the first time you ever speak to her is a big ask and I'd imagine she feels as awkward and nervous as you do. These things take time, so let it happen naturally, don't force yourself into a situation you're not ready for. And I say this purely because it helped me (situation a little different obviously!) but maybe talk to a counsellor...

    GOOD LUCK!!!
     
  12. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    I'm going to be hard about this -

    This is something your Mum has to deal with from her past and all the complex feelings she might have. It is also about her forming a relationship with a child she gave up for adoption and all those complexities. This is not, in my opinion, about your feelings. You are not central to the complexities even though you sound as though you want to be.
    There is no right or wrong way for anyone to deal with things like this as a family and you need to respect the decisions and rationale your Mum has decided upon.
     
  13. hardbastard

    hardbastard New commenter

    Thank you for all your contributions. The only one I disagree with is DaisysLot and this is because she's wrong.
    My mum has had nearly forty years to 'deal with her past.' The fact that she told us about the half-sister, finally, in '99 would indicate some sign of being able to open up, but her decision to go all cagey about it again was selfish and unnecessary, as well as completely confusing. How would you feel to be told this information and then had it kind of forgotten about? How would you then feel to learn, that, during that 10 year period, two nieces (my first!) have been born and mum, by the sounds of things, has been in regular contact with her...even leading to meeting my dad?!
    This is very much about MY feelings - she's my half-sister and therefore a relation. The fact that I decided not to get in touch this past 10 years after being told (I could have easily gone behind her back) would indicate that I've always put my mum's feelings first, despite her, in my view, rather poor behaviour.
     
  14. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    Are you saying you would like to build and develop a relationship with your half sister and her family?
     
  15. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    I'm broadly in agreement with daisy.
    If you want to meet your half sister do so. Blaming your mother or your half sister or even yourself for anything is pointless.
    So meet her.
    I've know my entire life that I had half siblings out there somewhere. My half sister knew that she had half siblings too. We all knew. We did nothing about it. Then we did....
    Punished for her sins at the time and punished all over again now...poor woman.

    My mother chose not to be communicative about my father, she didn't encourage questions. We could have tracked him down if we had chosen to. We discovered that he had died not long before and not that far away - we could choose to be angry with mum for not sharing information, angry with ourselves for not looking sooner, angry with him for leaving in the first place etc etc but we choose not to let it blight our lives.
    As adults we can, to an extent, choose what to do with our emotions - my advice is to meet your half sister, stop trying to blame anyone for anything, and have a nice time. If you get on it's a blessing, if you don't you've lost nothing.







     
  16. Is she? I don't see that.
    It is YOUR MUM's past...and yes....she was a mere girl when she had a baby and there was I am sure at the time, lots of shame surrounding her birth.
    YOUR MUM has had the trauma....the feelings to deal with.
    She has kept a secret, felt the pain, agony, shame, guilt - whatever.
    She did the right thing to let you know you have a half-sister...but as your Mum, she brought you up and cared for you. The half-sister no one knew much about was too, an adult. You aren't children in need of playmates.
    Your father is right. You are all adults and your half sister has lived a life without you in it. Your Mum has been spending time building bridges, making overtures, and for her, it's not about intoducing her two boys to a grown woman they are related to...it's about HER security of feelings, her well-being...reaching out.
    After all, your new half-sister could have insisted she met you immediately but I expect she too had to come to terms with having a mother. She also had a life to lead, with husband and children in it and maybe a job too.
    I think you are making this all about you...when it's not.
    It's a "Me, me, me... I've been hard done by" cry for attention imo. Sorry if you don't like that, but you are grown, she is grown and as for your 'nieces' - that seems like clutching at straws. You don't know your sister...never mind her children.
    Think about this from your Mum's perspective and your half-sister's. You are not three children who have been cruelly torn apart...you have no history.
    You can however MAKE history between you when the time is right. Your half-sister may not want such closeness now - who knows? You may have blood relating you, but the truth is, you are strangers.
    Don't blame your mother. Tread softly and see how you can make your own progress if this half sister really does mean so much to you.
     
  17. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Spot on, AE!
     
  18. lurk_much

    lurk_much Occasional commenter

    why don't you invite her to your wedding?

     
  19. modelmaker

    modelmaker Lead commenter

    I think it's wrong to judge in this manner. Ultimately, everyone is selfish and at the same time wants to have a sense of their own identity and past. For some, finding out about their ancestry and parentage is an obsession, especially if there is a conflict they need to resolve.
    I dated a woman for a short while who whilst on the surface appeared to be a perfectly loving single parent, had a personal history that would bring anyone to tears. One of 3 kids, her mother threw her father out when she was young to make way for another man. The last words she remembers hearing her father say as he was banging on the door was "Do whatyou ****** like, just let me take the kids with me."
    It transpired that the new step father was a member of a paedophile ring whose abuse of the children, assited by her mother was appalling. Things came to the attention of the police when she turned 20 and her younger brother commited suicide.
    Her lifelong goal ever since has been trying to trace her real father. This was hampered by the fact that he is Hungarian and may have returned to Hungary. She told me later that she had discovered a good lead to where he was living but having done so, was at a loss about the best way to approach him. By the time she'd gathered the courage to contact him, he'd moved on.
    Without doubt, HB has the right to feel in whatever way feels appropriate to him. Somehow the barriers have to be removed, whoever is responsible for putting them up if he wants to progress.
     
  20. kibosh

    kibosh Star commenter


    Although I agree with your post in the most part, I disagree with this. He's not making it about him, he just wants his feelings acknowledged and recognised with the hope that he can feel less confused and sort it all out in his head; surely that's why he has started this thread. I don't think he wants his feelings to take priority over other people's . . . . he's just fed up, imo, of being kept in the dark (like a child) but expected to just deal with it like an adult. It sounds like he has 'taken' his feelings to members of his family only to have them dismissed. But they are his feelings and therefore of vital importance to him.
    Absolutely. Someone else mentioned counselling; this could be really good on an emotional level and help put things in perspective.
     

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