Our oldest family friend had a baby when we were in our mid-teens. Nobody knew but we and her parents that she was pregnant and had to give the baby up for adoption. She was sent away to have the baby and came back when she had “lost the baby weight.” Since that time, for the past fifty years, our friend has been plagued with physical aliments not resolved by dozens of operations; she is a semi-invalid. The quality of her life seems unfair for someone who is such a genuinely good person.
We’re wondering, if we helped her reunite with her child would it alleviate some of the physical-emotional pain that our dear friend (and possibly her first child) endure because of the adoption? How do we politely offer to find her long lost first child?
We know the first name of her daughter (named after one of us), the name of the adoption agency, and the important dates. Our friend is married to a different man and they have three adult children. However, we feel that she would like to know about her first child — the one she unwilling gave away. If it will make her better, we’d like to reunite mother and daughter before what could be her last operation. Are we totally crazy? The killer is that she is a really great mom and wife. That’s what she is: a great mom.
–Anonymous, Rhode Island
In my opinion, it is none of your business. However, the fact that she confided in you both all those many years ago makes you silent partners in the story of your good friend’s teenage pregnancy.
Tread lightly. Go slowly. Your friend may not be able to handle a reunion. What if the now adult child has no interest in meeting her birth mother? What if your friend’s husband and children know nothing of their mother’s teenage pregnancy?
This is heavy stuff to surface, and explain, all these many decades later. Then, if you find the now adult child, do you tell her about her birth father? Will she want to discover who he is and meet his family — her half-siblings? Does the birth father even know that your friend had his baby? Let alone, does his family know about any of this? Be cautious. Assume that they know nothing.
You need to find out why this has been such a the huge secret ever all these decades. Why dose it remain so today? Because your friend is afflicted with physical — and one imagines, psychological — pain makes her life seem perhaps unbearable at times, take the initiative?
You both know your friend, so be cautious. Do some ground work with the agency about the possibility of finding her first child and to learn if she ever sought out the identity of her birth mother. She may have tried to find her, but your friend may not have been strong enough to handle a reunion.
Your right to any facts will be limited so you will have to enlist the cooperation of the birth mother in order to find out any information about the child who was adopted. It is quite possible that she has never been told that she was adopted. If the daughter knows, and has a family of her own, does her own family know she is adopted? The impact is complicated.
Put it this way. If you don’t have your friend’s full cooperation, your pursuit may be fruitless.
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