Finding Adopted Siblings Online

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Dear Megan,

I’m wondering if you could give me a bit of advice. I found out through ancestry.com that my mom had a baby before me and gave him up for adoption.  This is a secret she kept for almost 59 years.

I have spoken to him and he’s very nice. He has two of his own children.  He is not pushing but he did mention he’d love to meet my (his) mom.  Since my mother never told me about this I don’t know how to proceed. She’s almost 80 and she doesn’t handle stress well.  My initial reaction was to never tell her since I don’t know what it could bring up for her. I don’t know if she was raped or if she had a boyfriend. His name is not on the adoption papers. But now I’m wondering if she would want to know she has two beautiful grandchildren.  It’s so messy. Any advice is appreciated.

Thank you!  H.

Dear H,

How amazing for you to find this news, and I’m glad to hear that your brother was so positive about it!  I get so many excited emails from people who are finding adopted siblings online! However, you are absolutely right; these things are a little messy.  But in my experience, the anxiety and worry are rarely, if ever, warranted.  Most birth mothers (at any age) are relieved to get this information out in the open, especially if everyone is so positive and supportive.

You mom might be ready to talk about the adopted sibling

It’s possible your mom doesn’t want this to be a secret, but that it was so shameful for so long that she doesn’t know how to bring it to light.  Adoptions were always closed back in those days, so it’s less likely that your mom had a closed adoption because the circumstances surrounding conception were something she’d want to forget.  It’s more likely that she had the typical closed adoption where she quietly had the baby, it was taken away, and then everyone pretended nothing happened.  She has likely suffered a lot of grief and loss in silence and on her own.  It makes sense to me that she would bury it and not want anyone to confront her on it.  The shame and regret can be overwhelming.

How will her husband feel about the adoptee he may not know about

My only concern in your situation would be if your father is alive and doesn’t know about the adoption.  This could be really hard for them both, though not insurmountable.  There’s a good chance, actually, that he does know.  Regardless, I think you should tell her.  I have no doubt she has thought about her son and wondered what happened to him, if he is even alive and healthy and if he ever wonders about her.

I hope this was helpful and I’d love to hear back from you on how it goes!  Megan

finding adopted siblings online