Reunified: today our relationship involves more than cards on birthdays

Dear Megan,

I placed my son for adoption over 20 years ago. We met this year, and other than the birth of my two daughters many years later, this has been the most amazing experience of my life. There was an instant connection, an instant BOND between my birth son and I. Over the past month we have spent a lot of time talking, catching up, sharing. It’s been an utterly amazing month. My birth son and I are in complete agreement that we want our relationship to be more than just cards on birthdays and special events. That we want to move forward as part of each others’ lives and families.

I have two younger daughters, ages 9 and 14, who do not know about my birth son. I am anxious as to how this will change their perception of me. I’m committed to telling them, just a bundle of emotions, which is not something they are used to from me.  Never have I imagined the emotional roller coaster ride. Can I ‘talk’ to someone who has been thru the process before?  I would love your guidance. – T.

Dear T.,

I am so happy for you and your son! I’ve been an adoption attorney (and a birth mother!) for many years, and I never get tired of hearing these stories.  My daughters were almost the same age as yours when I told them.  Here’s how it went.

My husband and I told them together.

The girls were super curious and immediately had lots of questions about my son.  They weren’t judgmental and didn’t think less of me.  Both had lots of questions about my son’s father.  One of my daughters was uncomfortable with whether my son would now be an integral  member of our family (he is not), the other one wasn’t concerned.

I receive emails regularly from kids who find out that their mother is a birth mother and that they have a half sibling.  Some are very afraid that this new person will somehow change their family unit.  A few have felt betrayed that they were not told sooner.  If your daughters feel this way, be ready to explain to them that this is your information to share when you’re ready to share it.  You might also explain that you feel they are old enough now to understand all of the implications, including how private this information may be.

Ask how they feel about integrating your son into your family.

So, my advice is to tell them what you and your son are thinking in terms of moving forward, and ask your girls how they feel about it.  What do they want and what are they comfortable with?  Above all, take it slowly and keep the conversation going in the future.  As they process the information, their feelings, potential fears, and curiosity may evolve.

Remember too that they will likely tell their friends, so this is something you’d want to address.  If you don’t want them telling others, say this and tell them why.  They need to know that you aren’t embarrassed but that it’s private information and sharing it with someone is like giving a gift.  You carefully choose who, if anyone, is deserving of such a gift.

How will you talk about this with people outside your family.

You might remind them that once this information is out, people will talk about it.  Some might say ugly things or ask inappropriate questions they aren’t ready to answer.  Others might feel uncomfortable or awkward knowing this information they might not necessarily want to know.  They need to know this is the risk of sharing the story with others.   If they do want to tell a few friends or other family members, maybe you can agree on who this would be and when the sharing would happen.

Again, this is such a wonderful story!  I love hearing from women who have reunified with such great success.  Please keep me posted on how things go.

All my best,

Megan

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Sincerely,

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Megan Cohen, Birth Attorney

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