For the Birth Mother Who Doesn’t Want Contact with her Adopted Child

when the thought of your adopted child finding you freaks you out.

What Happens Your Adoptee Contacts You?

I hate feeding into the cultural idea that there are mothers who relinquish their children to adoption and dread being found. While I know that the less than 1% of birth mothers who are registered as not wanting contact seems minimal and certainly doesn’t warrantee the unneeded concern and oversight of the state laws to “protect” her,  the fact is there are enough adoptees who find themselves with an unwelcoming family at the end of a search or experience secondary adoption reunion rejection. Lord knows, I heard from all too many adoptees who are told “No” to be able to excuse the phenomenon of the unwelcoming birth mother. I think of all the adoptees I just adore who just happen to have the bad luck of being born to a woman who has been so damaged that she refuses them and it’s just horrible. And the sad thing really that the denied adoptees, they tend to be the sweetest nicest most wonderful folks who actually accept the rejection heaped upon them by their very mothers. They live a life knowing that the very person that created their existence on this earth refuses to even acknowledge that they breath at all! They all, collectively, deserve so much more. I guess this is what this post is about.

Thousands of Mothers, 15 years; The Two  Birth Mothers That Didn’t Want to be Found

About two years ago now, I received an email from a mother who had relinquished. We ended up talking on the phone because I was thinking based on her email that what I had to say might come out kinder and gentler in person rather than the written text.

One of the first things she said to me was how she was reading on the site and could “not find anything that referred to mothers like her” who didn’t want to be found by their adoptees.

I had to honestly take a step back and I carefully explained that I was sorry she didn’t find anything to relate to but, that in all the years I have been active in adoption and all the mothers I had spoken to, I had never ever spoken to another mother who didn’t want to hear from her relinquished child. And that was 100% true. She was the first mother I had directly spoken to who told me flat out she didn’t want to be found by the adoptee.

About 6 weeks ago, I  received another email from a different mother who  was actually pretty upset that she was contacted by her adopted daughter.

Both mothers were probably, I would say, mostly angered by the fact that they had been contacted at all. They just didn’t understand HOW they could have been located and I think both even stated that they felt it was illegal. Of course, I did explain that there is nothing in law code that makes it wrong for one person to contact another and that in adoption, people search and find all the time.  After that, though, I have to say, these birth mothers reacted to the surprising reality of being found by their adoptees in very different ways.

Birth Mother Number One: Found Against Her Wishes, But OK

The first mother was rightfully upset that somehow her sister had found her child earlier behind her back and meddled about for whatever reasoning. It was a legitimate grip as the sister had bad mouthed her behind this moms back and created unneeded stress with the adoptee. However, aside from that and despite that this mother never expected to, nor looked forward to the day that her lost child found her, she rose to the occasion. Thankfully,  while adoption wasn’t something she spoke of often as she followed the Birth Mother Rules of the day and tried to put the adoption experience behind her, her husband and her children did know about the relinquished baby. So when she was contacted, she called her gown kids who  were excited and welcoming of a sibling. I had actually thought the conversation was going to be much harder as the email had eluded that she was rejecting her child, but really, she was more worried about how to explain to  the adoptee that she was conceived through rape.

This mother might not be the most open armed huggy mother in reunion right away, but she did not reject her adoptee and does not fit into the 1% of mothers who say no.  Rather, I see her of a perfect example of how the current legislation is not needed.  She “didn’t want to be found” but when she was, she went with it and her life was not destroyed by any means.

Birth Mother Number 2: Not  Really OK

Now the other mom; she wasn’t quite as gracious. Granted the situation was less than ideal, but I can’t say she  made the best of it. I’m going to share some of her email just because I don’t feel like rewriting her story.  I took out some unneeded details and identifying information.

I am one of those birth mother’s you talk about…I was horrified and shocked that the adoption agency I went thru called my Mother and told them who they were and they were looking for me!  Of course, my Mother knew I had given a child up and had always been concerned and she basically made me talk with this child ……I tried to explain my situation and she just never let go…she would call my Mother to get to me.  I finally gave in to my Mother and met with her and I had a son that did not know about her and other family members did not know…I had to tell all of them after 35 years!  It was awful…I had to relive all I had to go thru when I got pregnant… it was so very hard on me…it did something to me that I never got over…

After meeting her and going thru all that with my family…the child was in contact all the time and sent me things and told me what was going on in her life…I would send her cards and sign my name Mother…then one day she just said “I already have a Mother”…she was getting married and my Mother and I had planned on going…she said “I don’t need another Mother there”! and we were not invited.

I found out that she had been contacting my sister and my sister did not tell me, but I found out and told her I did not want her to have any contact with the child…but she did not listen and it has destroyed our relationship …the child and I have had no contact for a long time and my Mother recently passed and I know my sister told this child about it and she didn’t even have decency to call me …now I am stuck with all this in my life…my Mother is gone and I have no sister any longer because of this child.  I have tried to contact this child a few times since Mother passed and she will not respond.

I think this mom wrote me thinking I would be a sympathetic ear, but all I could do was feel for her poor daughter and imagine how sad it was for her to find a welcome like this at the end of a search. Needless to say, I didn’t choose spare the truth about what I thought ( since she asked!)  and she didn’t really respond well to my advice at all. Actually she told me I was a terrible person who didn’t know what I was talking about. I responded that, of course, I had no idea what I was talking about, she had emailed a complete stranger, but that’s neither here nor there.

What I Would Like to Say to The Rejecting Mothers

These are the two mothers that have contacted me, but again, I hear from so many adoptees who are at a loss with their own families. So many who are frustrated when mothers won’t tell them anything about their fathers, or are like Mom #2, are trying to keep the adoptee from talking to other family members. Mothers who keep the adoptee secret from their siblings or turn the kids against each other.

I can say based on my own interactions,  yes, most birth mothers DO desire to know about their relinquished children, but then, again and sadly, again, I hear the anger and the heartbreak from this adoptee, and then another adoptee, and then a new one…doors slamming shut, mothers keeping them a dirty little secret,  moms forbidding other family members to  have contact with the adoptee. I just hurt for them and I know there is pretty much nothing I can say or do to make it any easier at all, but I will not pretend that it’s Ok or acceptable to be one of those mothers.

So, for  the other handful of  birth mothers who don’t want to be found and might think to turn to me for hugs and handholding, I say please think again.  For the mothers that are making their adopted children do some weird ass dance where you control the knowledge of their existence and keep trying to deny the reality of their humanity, this is for you.  For the birthmothers who “close the reunion door” but “don’t lock it” and just keep your adoptee on some thin emotional string, hear my words and be happy that they are not showing up in your inbox!

An Open Letter to the Birth Mother In Hiding from Another Mother

Dear Birth Mother That Doesn’t Want to be Find by Your Adopted Child;

I’m sorry to hear how difficult this has been for you, but I’m going to have to say what you probably don’t want to hear:

First, it’s not illegal for your adopted child or someone on their behalf to get in contact with you. The legality of adoption confidentiality really only goes towards the sealing of the original birth certificates by the state and that’s it. People, even separated by adoption, do have the right to contact anyone they so choose.

Now, maybe you were lead to believe otherwise. We know for a fact that many of the things said by adoption professionals are wrong.  They are known for openly lying and especially during the Baby Scoop Era, they used threats and  inhuman mistreatment to  force mothers to relinquish their babies. For instance, I am sure they told you to “forget” you ever had a child. Chances are they told you to “move on” and chances are you did the best you could to do just that. But you didn’t forget and move on, because if you did then you wouldn’t be feeling this way at the thought of this person calling you up. You survived, and that is nothing to sneeze at, but now it is time to test yourself again.

They might have told you that you would never hear from your child again, but adoption agencies have been known to disregard the power of mother child bonding. They want us to think that who a mother is doesn’t matter, but it does matter. It matters a whole lot. It’s natural and normal to need to know where you come from and how your child is. It’s human nature and the fact that your adopted child  has searched for you is a testament that they are actually quite normal.

So second, both adoptees and birth families, including mothers, fathers and siblings, search all the time and have for decades.  Now, with DNA and social media and computers and search angels, people find faster than ever. Even the adoption agencies could not have foreseen the rapid rise in technology to warn you that this would be coming. I’m sorry if this is shocking and you need to adjust, but this is the reality that we live in. There is no confidentiality anymore in adoption and pretty much anyone can be found.  Now, I dare repeat some painful words, but if you thought you managed to “get over” the adoption relinquishment ( which I personally feel is pretty impossible to heal from completely) , then please think about the idea of “getting over” the fact that you were found. It happened. Now move on.

I’m sure that the agency or lawyers or social workers  sold you a false bill of goods and made you pretend that you had never had this child, but the reality is that you did. No matter what they said or what they did or how you kept the secret up all these years,  you did have this baby. You did bring another human being in this world and  not matter what lies the agencies told, you ARE the mother and you have a responsibility to your child. She or he is not a child anymore, she’s not an unknown baby and a dusty memory,  he’s a real human being who has a RIGHT to know from which he came.

Yes, a right, I said that.  The adoptee has a RIGHT to know where they come from.  No adoptee should not have to be a banned as a dirty little secret their whole life. No one should have to have their very existence denied to protect another’s feelings, even their own mothers.

That piece of paper changed  your child’s legal parents, but did nothing to alter their DNA. I know it changed the trajectory of your life, but it didn’t erase the truth that you had given birth. No matter what, you are still a mother to this real live person. This person was created by you, of your blood, of your cells, of the very air you breathed, of the food you ate.  This person, this human, is the results of the thousands of years of DNA flowing down through you and into them. Paper cannot break this connection, no matter what the intentions of circumstances. The cells of her body still swim in your veins. This is your child.  Dig deep within yourself and find that love, find that compassion, find that caring.

Yes, we are their mothers. It doesn’t matter if we raised them of not. It doesn’t matter that they have another set of perfectly wonderful parents or not. It doesn’t matter that you view them as a stranger now, they were not meant to be strangers, they were not strangers, your child is not a stranger!  You are still the only person in this universe that created this human who dares to want to talk to you. You have a moral responsibility to BE there for your adoptee. Mothers DO for our children. We sacrifice our own feelings and desires. That’s the job description, so even though you think  you fulfilled your part of the deal by walking away, you really didn’t. You signed away your legal rights, but you still have a moral and human responsibility to the person you created.

I know what you went though was horrible and traumatic and for that I am truly sorry. I don’t know how you have dealt with the ramifications of relinquishment over the years, but if it rested on following the rules and keeping secrets, I need to tell you that you are now free from following those rules. They were not there to serve you anyway and they are certainly not serving your child well now.   They wanted you to keep quiet to protect their own interests and you are now only serving the masters that oppressed you to begin with. You are protecting the very people that caused this pain to begin with. Stop. Just stop.   I would say get over the shame and  begin to deal. Get OUT of the adoption closet. You are not alone anymore. It’s not some shocking secret. No one is really going to think less of you. It shouldn’t BE embarrassing that you, too, are a birth mother.  There are MILLIONS of us.  Literally, millions. We get it and we’d love to be here and help you, but you can’t, you just can’t, be so cold and unwelcoming to your adoptee! Have a heart!

Stop pretending you don’t know who they are or that you are not the person they are searching for. Have the decency to, at least, confirm their story and let them know they can stop searching.  So many adoptees have spent years, decades even, searching for their families. I promise it will NOT kill you to answer them and say that yes, you are their mother. You gave birth to them. This adoptee IS your tiny baby. Give them the truth so they can have a small bit of piece. It really will not hurt you and it will mean so very much to them.

I believe that every adoptee has the right to access their birth families. Maybe you don’t feel you own this person any more. Maybe you feel you did your part by suffering through the pregnancy and giving birth. Maybe you feel that life alone was payment enough, but I will disagree with you.  You might want to believe that this is all “in the past” but the “past” is a living breathing human being and they are still around right now. They need you.  As their mother you  still OWE them. You own them answers to their questions and you own them the chance to at least once, see you in the flesh. Let them look into your eyes. Let them hear your voice. Let this lost child find their way back to the source at least once in their lives.

Maybe you cannot understand how it is that YOU are actually important to their lives, but I don’t care how may rotten things you say about yourself or how many mistakes you think you made, if you are fat, if you are poor, if you  pretend to be so perfect that the world will fall off it’s axis thinking you once made a mistake and got knocked up, it won’t matter. You are still worthy enough to your child that they need to know you and that is all that matters. Accept that and please, count your blessings. Forget the pain of the past and think instead of the possibility of the future. This is more than just a second chance, it’s a chance for you to heal. It’s a chance for your child to heal. You owe that to your child and you also owe that to yourself.

In the same vein, your family and the adoptee have a right to have their own relationship independent of you. Even if you continue to insist that YOU want nothing to do with this “adoptee person”, you cannot ( well you can, but it’s really wrong) use fear and guilt and manipulation and emotional threats to keep people apart. The need to connect is so strong in folks that either they are going to ignore you and then you will get upset, or they might listen you and be resentful. Neither is a good solution. Just let it be. It’s a good thing. If you cannot partake in it, allow it to happen on your own. Step away if you must, but stop making it worse. Don’t continue the separation that got you here in the first place. Allow others to come together if they so choose.

Siblings have a right to know each other. Aunts and Cousins have a right to know each other. Father’s have a right to know their children even if they did behave badly many years ago. I know plenty of adoptees whose mothers did reject them on reunion and I regularly encourage the adoptee to reach out to other family members like aunts, grandparents, siblings. I  advise them to give you a heads up first out of courtesy, usually name a future date, but if you don’t tell Junior about his long lost sister by New Years, yeah, I think the adoptee is in their right to go around you and contact junior directly. Let junior make his own choices.   See, adoption didn’t just affect you;  other folks also were affected by it.  And the reality is.. the adoptee is their family member, too.  Again, more basic reality. You cannot control that.  Stop trying.

Anyway, the point is that I think mothers who reject their kids upon reunion are just plain wrong.

I’m not going to sympathize with you. I’m not going to say that you are in your right to reject your own child. I’m not going to throw your child under the bus so that you can stay in you happy little bubble of denial and false reality. If an adoptee is horrible and mean, and I mean like truly  vicious, then we have the right to draw boundaries and not take true abuse, but the “no contact”.. I cannot ever agree to that. At least give your kid a chance. Get to know them before you judge.  We OWE this to our children. We are supposed to provide unconditional love for them. That is our job and  the relinquishment was not a discharge from service.

Again, I promise that having contact with your adoptee will not “ruined your life” unless you make it the case.  You DO have a choice now. Please take the time and perhaps it would be a good idea to really double check into what exactly did alter your life in such a way; was it the loss of your child? Was it the trauma of hiding a secret all those years and not being allowed to grieve at all?  Or was it that you tried to follow their rules and forget, but reality wouldn’t allow that anymore?  Was it because you tried to keep forcing a secret? It’s not the adoptee who did any of these things to you. It’s not their fault that they were born and adopted. They were only a little baby with NO control at all over the situation. Don’t make them suffer for something that was forced upon them too!  Be angry with those that hurt you and made this happen, but know that they hurt your child too!  Don’t make your child pay for others mistakes!

See the thing is.. you are not a scared little girl anymore. You are now a grown ass woman. Things are not “done to us” anymore. Things happen. We make choices. We accept reality or we fight it, but we have to own our parts. I’m guessing you spent decades hiding from all things related to adoption, from  leaning anything about adoption. If I was you, I would start reading now. Read some adoptee blogs and try to find some compassion for your adult adoptee’s pain and longing for their natural family. I know you feel you were wronged… and you were… You were dealt a cruel hand of injustice when they took your child away from you for adoption, but you cannot change that now. You can,. However, change how you deal with this form here on out. They wouldn’t let you be the mother then, but your child needs you to be the mother now.  I know it’s scary and it can be hard, but you can do it. You have to. You survived losing your child, you can survive  being found. Embrace the future with your child. Be the mother you should have been then and accept your adoptee now.

You are a mother. This is your child.  You do owe them and they have a right to truth, reality and to know the person who gave them life. Find a therapist, find an adoption support group, find your understanding, and open the door to let your child find their way home. This is what you need to do.

Then we can talk.


PS. Get reading. Really, it will do you good.  Have some adoption reunion advice and make it work already.

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About the Author

Claudia Corrigan DArcy
Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy has been online and involved in the adoption community since early in 2001. Blogging since 2005, her website Musings of the Lame has become a much needed road map for many mothers who relinquished, adoptees who long to be heard, and adoptive parents who seek understanding. She is also an activist and avid supporter of Adoptee Rights and fights for nationwide birth certificate access for all adoptees with the Adoptee Rights Coalition. Besides here on Musings of the Lame, her writings on adoption issue have been published in The New York Times, BlogHer, Divine Caroline, Adoption Today Magazine, Adoption Constellation Magazine,, Lost Mothers, Grown in my Heart, Adoption Voice Magazine, and many others. She has been interviewed by Dan Rather, Montel Williams and appeared on Huffington Post regarding adoption as well as presented at various adoption conferences, other radio and print interviews over the years. She resides in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, Rye, children, and various pets.

5 Comments on "For the Birth Mother Who Doesn’t Want Contact with her Adopted Child"

  1. I am a birth mother whose daughter will not communicate with me at all !even though I have tried and tried …and she gives me no answers whatsoever ,no reasons for her coldness :maybe she wants to pay me back so that I feel like she has felt all those years :maybe feeling rejected.I thought I was doing what was best for her: I was in true abject poverty. My life never improved enough for me to change thingsI was truly helpless my heavy burden will go into my grave I think …I am 83 and she is 63 . I wish I could convey “life of needless pain to pregnant young girls ” so they could think more than twice about their actions The bond of a mother. and child can never be broken by anything !!:as it well should be !!!! The loss and pain is eternal♥️😭💞💔❣💌J

  2. I was the unlucky 1% that found her birth mother and her response was pure anger. She told me that I shouldn’t want a relationship with her because she was more a surrogate and my “real” parents were my adopted parents. She said she didn’t want to be found, didn’t want to pursue any kind of relationship with me and she wasn’t about ready to tell her daughter or family about me. She told me it was a very unhappy time in her life and basically blamed me for it. I have a wonderful family but have always wondered about my birth family. I know everything and thought she would at least open the lines of communication, but nope. She made me feel like crap. How can I be be blamed for making her life unhappy when I wasn’t the one that conceived myself? I have tried putting myself in her shoes. I understand she felt horrible when my birth father just took off and left her alone. Still not my fault. I understand she was 19 and embarrassed, still not myself, but to simply deny that I exist all these years. I have a half sister, that I would love to get to know, but I was asked to abide by her wishes. I don’t want to disrupt her life, but I want to know her so bad. 🙁

  3. Name Witheld | October 3, 2016 at 12:44 am |

    Treated like utter shit by my immediate biological family. Some of the comments above make me want to vomit and show how badly some people need therapy. I feel and know I am being punished solely for being adopted. My natural mother has no right to privacy and treats me horrifically.
    I am beyond angry right now. If things don’t improve in a few years I will tell you right now I will out them (knowing by then I’ll never have a relationship). But then again that’s a consequence they chose to have. If I’m a bitch for it, oh well.

  4. Name Witheld | October 3, 2016 at 12:49 am |

    I hate adoption agency workers with an undying passion. If I saw one choking in a restaurant I’d walk away laughing. Look how many lives they have ruined, look how many have committed suicide because of them, look at the 50% of natural mothers who are infertile because of them, look at some of the comments above which show how much mental health issues arise from adoption.

  5. *Rolls eyes* Oh please

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