How to Connect With a Birth Mother

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr Google

    The emotional life of an adoptee can be a little more complex than for someone raised by her birth parent or parents. The emotions that arise around one's birth mother can be particularly complicated, according to Lesli Johnson, a marriage and family therapist specializing in adoption issues and an adoptee herself. While adopted children often feel a strong loyalty to the parents who raised them, there are questions only a birth mother can answer. Many adoptees fear their birth mother won’t want any contact, or hope the contact resolves questions. In short, connecting is complicated.

    Finding the Birth Mother

    If your adopted or foster parents had contact with your birth mother, they can make finding your birth mom easier by providing whatever information they have, according to the Independent Adoption Center. That could include her name, former address, the agency that placed you, city and hospital where you were born and any other helpful information. You can use this information to join databases that connect birth parents and their children when both parties want to be contacted. It might take years to locate your birth mom, so be prepared for the search to take time and realize it could be unproductive.

    First Contact

    Once you locate your birth mother, send correspondence asking her to meet with you. The type of correspondence will depend on how you locate her, such as through regular mail, social media or an adoption registry. If you located her through an adoption registry, you know that she is open to contact, or at least she was when she registered. If you found her information through birth documents, a professional investigator or the placement agency, be prepared that she might not want to meet or that she has reservations about the meeting. Explain why you want to meet, such as curiosity, need for medical or psychological information or finding out about your birth family. Correspondence allows your birth mother to set some boundaries and prepare for the meeting and can be far less traumatic that just showing up on her doorstep with no warning.

    Face-to-Face Meeting

    If your birth mother responds positively to your overture, set up a meeting. You can bring pictures of you growing up, any mementos you have that she left for you and your birth and adoption paperwork to verify that she is your birth mother. Try not to set up high expectations for the meeting or bombard her with questions she might not yet be ready to answer. Allow her to warm up to you by treating her with respect. Listen to her story and try to understand how she felt relinquishing you to someone else.

    Open Door

    If your birth mother is open and willing to build a relationship with you, provide her with your contact information and let her set the pace for the relationship. She might be willing to answer your questions, but not want on-going contact or she might welcome you with open arms. You could find out that you don’t want an open relationship with her after meeting her. Respect whatever decisions are made, don’t push for more than she’s ready to give or give more than you're comfortable with. It might take time to create a connection you both want and enjoy.

    About the Author

    Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

    Photo Credits

    • Marc Debnam/Digital Vision/Getty Images