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Wedding Woes

You owe her nothing if it's too high a cost to you.

Dear Prudence,

I am in my 40s and successful by any measure, but a nightmare from my past has come out. At 16, I gave up a baby girl. She was the product of years of sexual abuse by my half-brother. I tried to commit suicide when I found out I was pregnant. I failed, and the authorities got involved. My mother blamed me for all of it, and I haven’t spoken to her since. I would have had an abortion if that had been possible. I feel nothing for this girl maternally but I wouldn’t push my past onto anyone. Even though the adoption was closed, she was able to find me and wants to know about her birth. What do I owe her? My mother and half-brother are both alive, to the best of my knowledge. I wouldn’t send a serial killer into their arms, let alone a child. I don’t want a relationship. I am not this girl’s mother in any way, but I owe her something. What do I tell her? I have told no one in my current life about my past. You are the only one I can tell.

—What Do I Owe Her?

Re: You owe her nothing if it's too high a cost to you.

  • mrsconn23 said:
    Dear Prudence,

    I am in my 40s and successful by any measure, but a nightmare from my past has come out. At 16, I gave up a baby girl. She was the product of years of sexual abuse by my half-brother. I tried to commit suicide when I found out I was pregnant. I failed, and the authorities got involved. My mother blamed me for all of it, and I haven’t spoken to her since. I would have had an abortion if that had been possible. I feel nothing for this girl maternally but I wouldn’t push my past onto anyone. Even though the adoption was closed, she was able to find me and wants to know about her birth. What do I owe her? My mother and half-brother are both alive, to the best of my knowledge. I wouldn’t send a serial killer into their arms, let alone a child. I don’t want a relationship. I am not this girl’s mother in any way, but I owe her something. What do I tell her? I have told no one in my current life about my past. You are the only one I can tell.

    —What Do I Owe Her?
    This sucks.   The child is probably seeking some kind of resolution and this isn't some kind of story of mom and dad just being too young.

    This is really tricky and I'm not sure what I'd say if at all.   I obviously wouldn't want someone to get in contact with toxic people however I also don't know that I would want my horrible past brought up again.  
    short+sassyahoyweddingOliveOilsMomeileenrob
  • CasadenaCasadena member
    500 Comments Fourth Anniversary 250 Love Its Name Dropper
    baconsmom said:
    "I'm very happy to know you're doing well in life. I pursued a closed adoption for reasons of my own, and I do hope you'll understand and abide by that wish. If you ever need medical information, I will be happy to provide it for you. 

    "I wish you the best." 

    I know the instinct is to tell this girl all the "whys", but honestly, I think it's best to be polite and to-the-point if she doesn't want a relationship. I, personally, would offer the medical info bit, but she doesn't have to even give that if she doesn't want to. She could add that she has zero contact with the father, as well, but I wouldn't bring him up if she doesn't want to give the reason. 

    It's tough, but no one's getting out of this without hurt feelings. Better to be slightly frosty from the get-go, rather than raise anyone's hopes. 


    I agree with everything you said.  If LW knows she doesn't want a relationship, then I think it's best to be very up-front (but polite) about that.  

    As an aside - I don't know much about the adoption process, but how is it possible to find a birth parent with a closed/anonymous adoption?  That seems like a huge violation.

    baconsmommrsconn23charlotte989875ahoywedding
  • Casadena said:
    baconsmom said:
    "I'm very happy to know you're doing well in life. I pursued a closed adoption for reasons of my own, and I do hope you'll understand and abide by that wish. If you ever need medical information, I will be happy to provide it for you. 

    "I wish you the best." 

    I know the instinct is to tell this girl all the "whys", but honestly, I think it's best to be polite and to-the-point if she doesn't want a relationship. I, personally, would offer the medical info bit, but she doesn't have to even give that if she doesn't want to. She could add that she has zero contact with the father, as well, but I wouldn't bring him up if she doesn't want to give the reason. 

    It's tough, but no one's getting out of this without hurt feelings. Better to be slightly frosty from the get-go, rather than raise anyone's hopes. 


    I agree with everything you said.  If LW knows she doesn't want a relationship, then I think it's best to be very up-front (but polite) about that.  

    As an aside - I don't know much about the adoption process, but how is it possible to find a birth parent with a closed/anonymous adoption?  That seems like a huge violation.

    Is this a result of DNA analysis?
    charlotte989875
  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    yikes. This one is a tough one, but i love what @baconsmom wrote.  Best scenario is to say she has no contact with the birth father.  Which isn't a lie.

    ShesSoColdbaconsmomahoywedding
  • You don’t owe her any explanation explanation. 

    I’m all for using technology to learn more about yourself but I feel bad for LW; she took steps to ensure a closed adoption (which presumably the daughter knows) and her privacy and choices aren’t being respected. In this case I feel LW’s right to privacy and to not be contacted trumps the daughters desire to know more about her lineage. 
    ahoyweddingCasadenaILoveBeachMusic
  • I don't think the LW owes her anything.  But it would be a kindness to at least reply with verbage like @baconsmom suggested.  I'd also mention any medical history, even if it is "no hereditary conditions known of".  I'd possibly mention that I haven't been in touch with the father for years and can't help her there.

    And, ya know, many of these reunited adoption stories aren't the Hallmark movie they seem to be publicized as.  Both my H and one of his cousins were adopted.

    His cousin found her birth mother when she was about 17 and reached out.  Just like you all are suggesting, the birth mother sent a polite...but curt...response that she was glad the young woman was doing well, but did not want to be contacted again.  My H's cousin was devastated.  She felt rejected and abandoned a second time.

    My own H had one of his bio-brothers contact him.  There were 4 boys who had all been put up for adoption, when their mother left their abusive father.  He visited this brother once and they've kept in casual, sporadic contact.  Through this brother, he found out who is mother and father were.  The father had already passed.

    The brother chose to never contact his mother.  He is older than my H.  He remembered her and never forgave her.  My H contacted his bio-mother and visited her a couple times, when they lived in the same state.    He said they actually had a conversation about how, although it was pleasant to have reconnected, they were really just strangers to each other and didn't feel any "tie" to each other.  Still, though.  They every once in a great while will exchange "how are doing", type e-mails.

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    baconsmom
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited July 12
    There's a reunited adoption story in my family. Before she was engaged to my father, my mother placed her first child, my half-brother, for adoption. My father, all four of my grandparents, and my three aunts (two maternal, one paternal), knew of my half-brother's existence, but no one else did, including me and my younger full brother, for many years. The only one I know of who knows the identity of my half-brother's biological father is our mother. She won't discuss it with anyone, including my half-brother. (She says it was consensual but that's all.)

    My half-brother did some research and got hold of an unadulterated copy of his birth certificate which lists only our mother's name. He got in touch with a distant relative of our mother's, who connected him to one of her sisters, who notified our mother that he had been in touch. Then, and only, then, did our mother tell me and my younger brother and the other members of our family and friends that he existed. She also met him, his wife (now ex) and their infant daughter. My younger brother and I decided to open the door to a relationship with him and his family, and we personally met them. My mother was not there when we met the first time, but we were together at some family events.

    I used to see them from time to time because I previously lived a couple of hours away from them, but he distanced himself from all of us when he divorced his wife. My younger brother recently reconnected with him and his kids (he had two more before the divorce), but I don't currently have a relationship with him.

    In the LW's situation, I'd probably handle things the same way as @baconsmom suggests.


    baconsmom
  • VarunaTTVarunaTT member
    Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Please note:  I'm like the only person to not have a kid before I was 20 in the family for quite a few generations back...oh hell and forward too, so my family is WAY young.

    My family's adoption story is one that is rough, but still worked out.  My grandmother gave up a baby that was born from what I think would be acknowledged as date rape now.  My aunt found us when my grandmother was probably in her late 30s, early 40s.  

    My aunt's roommate in college was the daughter of a judge.  After they graduated, he got enough of my aunt's records to know where she was adopted from (it was an "unwed mother" house at the time).  My aunt went there and the worker refused to share anything with her.  However, my aunt's file was in the worker's hands in front of my aunt.  To this day, my aunt will tell you that she doesn't know if the worker did it on purpose or not, but my aunt could see my grandmother's name.  She memorized it, hired a PI, and found us.  It could have gone really differently, but my grandmother wanted her in our lives.  

    Now, I know we're a romance story and that my grandmother is a helluva person.  I think LW is exactly right to do what she wants and what baconsmom said if that's what she needs to do.

    Oddly enough, my aunt's entire adoptive family has passed.  Her older brother died in a tragic accident, her father passed from Alzheimers a few years ago, and her mother passed in another tragic accident about a year after her father.  We were always the secret family and kept our distance and were hidden because aunt's adoptive family would've been hurt.  Once my aunt's mother passed, she was suddenly introducing me as her niece to friends and calling my grandmother, "Momma" in public.  It's been weird to make the change and I still feel unsure of it, but I'm happy she's not really alone in the world.
    short+sassy
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