We have worked hard to make this blog a safe place for all sides of the adoption triad (first parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees) to share their triumphs and concerns. It easy to find safe places to share the hearts and butterflies parts of adoption, but far harder to find a place to share the fears. I take that responsibility seriously.
Ever since I posted a blog response to a question from a mom who was struggling with her adult son’s reunion with his birth mother, we have received several other emails from parents in similar positions. There are so few places that they can reach out for advice. I feel their pain.
My husband and I have been blindsided by our adoptive adult daughter. She has invited us to attend a Dinner honoring her and her husband for philanthropy in our area. After she invited us reluctantly and we accepted the dinner invitation, she indicated that her birth Mom and Sister would also be attending.
We have been aware that she found her birth Mom and sisters 20 years ago. At the time her birthmom indicated she didn’t want to build a relationship with her. We supported her finding and expressed a desire to meet the birth mother; we also met and welcomed one of her bio sisters during that time.
What’s troubling is that we had not known that our daughter had been building her relationship with her birth mom over the years. And, now without any previous discussion, we will be meeting her birthmother (oh, by the way) at this fancy dinner. I am not sure how to explain my feelings, except to wonder why it is that this birth mother relationship comes as a surprise to us the adoptive parents. Any comments? Is it a reflection of our upbringing? We are full of fear and puzzlement. What`s happening?
I don’t know why your daughter hasn’t told you. I completely understand why you would feel hurt that she has not mentioned something that obviously is so important to her. Secrets hurt. We preach that all the time to adoptive parents, but the reverse is true as well. I suspect that what’s happening now is that she is trying to rectify this situation.
Why Not Share a Birth Family Reunion with Adoptive Family
I tried to put myself in your daughter’s position and imagine why I wouldn’t want to share this info. These are some of the ideas I came up with:
- Maybe she was embarrassed, feeling rejected and disappointed when her birth mother didn’t want the relationship 20 years ago and wanted to try again without anyone knowing to spare her future public embarrassment.
- Maybe she sensed relief from you or her dad when the first reunion didn’t take and wanted to spare you the second time around.
- Maybe it happened very gradually. At first it didn’t seem like a big deal, but then when it developed into something, it became too big to just casually mention.
It could be other reasons or a combination of reasons. In an ideal world, your daughter would have told you in a different way, but it helps to have some compassion as to why she might not have. You didn’t mention why she was “reluctant” to invite you to the dinner, but I wonder if it was because of the weight of this secret.
Don’t Speculate, Ask
All my thoughts are just speculation. Why not ask her, but do so in a way that shows compassion for her struggles.
“I know that establishing a relationship with your birth mother was important to you in the past, so I’m happy for you that it has worked out. I can’t help but notice that you haven’t mentioned it before now, and I wonder why. Did you worry that I wouldn’t be supportive? Or did it just feel awkward to bring it up? It troubles me if we have given you any reason to feel the need to keep this a secret. In any event, I want you to know that we are happy for you, and that you can share this part of your life with us.”
Live Up to Her Trust
Your daughter has opened the door to invite you into this part of her life. You were hurt that she kept her relationship with her first mom from you, but now that she has opened up, you are afraid and also hurt. Life is funny like that, isn’t it?!?
Do you see that in some ways your daughter is in a “darned if she does, darned if she doesn’t” situation? I understand your fear of the unknown, but would you rather be kept in the dark? Try your best to put aside your fear and live up to her trust in you. I hope your love for her will carry you through.
Image credit: Diamondduste