I've been living a lie for 44 years...

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 confirmed this to be true. I cannot believe they have hidden such a crucial piece of information from me. 

I met with the woman who gave birth to me, as I wanted to establish how she could possibly have given her baby up, and how she had located 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. She insisted that when I was born, I was put up for adoption at my grandparents’ wish, with a firm instruction that my whereabouts should never be disclosed to my mother. 

I feel such mixed emotions, but mostly anger. Anger towards my adoptive parents, my actual mother, my actual grandparents, even anger towards my husband as he is so dismissive of the enormous impact this knowledge has had on me. My birth mother wants to meet up again, and as much as I want to question her further, particularly about my father, should I go, and would I feel better by lashing out at her for abandoning me? I feel I no longer know who I am. How ever will I recover from this?

 Patricia Marie says...

You have 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. 

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

Call Adoption UK, for support and guidance from their dedicated team.  They can also 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: (07539 733079)  www.adoptionuk.org