I'm 44 and just found out I am adopted

Agony Aunt's picture


Dear Patricia Marie

I am 44 years old, married with two children, and have just found out that I was adopted as a baby.  
This has shaken me to the core.  I received a letter two weeks ago purporting to be from my birth mother, desperately pleading to arrange a meeting between us.  I immediately drove round to my parents’ house to confront them, and they hesitatingly confirmed that I had been adopted.  I cannot believe they would hide such a devastating piece of information from me.  I met with the woman, as I wanted to establish how she could possibly have given her child up, and why she had wanted to locate me after such a long time.  The meeting was very awkward and I found myself feeling nothing for her at all, other than extreme anger when she explained that she had become pregnant as a 15 year old.  Her parents had insisted she have an abortion, but apparently she had not agreed and so had run away from home, only returning when her pregnancy was too far advanced to be halted.  When I was born though, despite her protestations I was put up for adoption at my grandparents’ wish, with the express instruction that my whereabouts should never be disclosed to my mother. I keep thinking perhaps I should go back to visit my birth mother again to get more answers, but not sure if this would help.  I feel such mixed emotions, but mostly anger. Anger towards my adoptive parents, my birth mother, my maternal grandparents, even anger towards my husband as he is so dismissive of the enormous impact this knowledge has had on me. I feel I no longer know who I am. Was I right to visit my birth mother or should I have ignored her letter, and how will I ever recover from this?

Patricia says....

You have only just received the most shocking news, and are clearly struggling with such a revelation. Finding out in adult life you were adopted can throw up a range of turbulent emotions. It is perfectly understandable you are angry with everyone, and wanting answers from those who you feel have betrayed you.  I notice that when you referred to your meeting with your birth mother, you significantly called her 'The Woman' for clarity. 

It's common to want to know more about one's origins, and even if you have a close and loving relationship with your adoptive parents, it's perfectly natural to want to know about your birth parents in order to forge some sense of identity. However, rushing into confrontations without allowing yourself time to come to terms with this disclosure may result in saying things you don't mean, and could cause you even more upset. 

It seems as well as being angry, you are feeling hurt, rejected, confused, and lost. Expressing how you feel to your adoptive parents may help to resolve such painful emotions. Remember, you can still love them as well as be angry with them for not telling you. They may have been trying to protect you by withholding the truth. Perhaps they were bound by your grandmother's instruction to remain silent. Be gentle with their feelings, as, after all, they have been there for you from the very beginning, and I feel sure because you're hurting they must be too. 

I doubt your husband is being deliberately dismissive, rather it is possibly a case of him not knowing what to say or how to support you, which is why I urge you to seek professional help, and I promise you then won't feel so alone. 

For help, support and guidance from their specialist team, do call Adoption UK.  They can put you in touch with local support groups where you could meet with others who have been adopted. Hearing their experiences, I believe, will benefit you greatly to feel understood and will help to reinstate your sense of belonging.

Adoption UK: (0844 848 7900)   www.adoptionuk.org 

Patricia Marie, our Agony Aunt, wants to hear your problems, dilemmas, and quarrels. Just email them to patricia.marie@lady.co.uk