Why do I feel so guilty almost 50 years later?
Post adoption guilt is common and really complicated.
I’m feeling guilty. My son who I gave up 49 years ago contacted me. He found me because adoption records are now open in my state. In his email he says he had a great upbringing, wonderful parents, and has a great job and partner. I was 19 and still in school when I gave him up. He contacted his bio father first and his bio father turned him away, and I think this bothers him. I have been married for over 40 years and my husband knows about my son, but my other children don’t. I have been crying off and on since he reached out to me, feeling so guilty. Any information would be helpful. – C.S.
Feelings of post adoption guilt at any time is absolutely normal
Reuniting with the child you gave up so long ago is almost certainly going to cause all of the feelings you’ve described–sadness, feeling guilty, and suffering the loss. These feelings are very normal. I gave my son up 30 years ago in an open adoption. I have seen him grow up and we have met several times. He has also met my husband and daughters. I tell you this because to this day I have feelings of sadness and grief over the loss. For most women it never really goes away; we just learn to cope with it. Some of us better than others depending on where we are in our lives and the strength of our support systems. While I don’t feel post adoption guilt today, likely because my adoption was open, I did feel a lot of guilt when my son was younger. I found counseling to be really helpful.
Find emotional support and connection in other birth mothers
In my experience, many birth mothers have found great comfort in connecting with a community of birth mothers. Knowing you are not alone can be incredibly empowering. As you sort through feeling guilty, you can better talk with your son about the things that are possibly bothering you both. His bio father, for instance. Sometimes birth fathers get more comfortable with reuniting over time. Your son should be patient with him, and perhaps you can offer some insight or stories into his bio father’s life that will satisfy his need for information in the interim.
There are two organizations who work directly with birth mothers to offer community and support, and ultimately, empowerment. These are onyourfeetca.org and birthmombuds.com.
I’m so glad you reached out to me today. It’s a really important first step. I hope you will continue to reach out and find a community of support as you process these complicated feelings. Please stay in touch and let me know how you’re doing.
All my best, Megan