Thursday, 30 September 2010

Two tales of adoption, search and reunion


From an early age I was aware that I had been adopted. While I was always inquisitive it was not until I turned 30 that I decided it was the right time to trace my birth mother. The main reason for waiting this long was the feelings of guilt attached to my adoptive family, particularly my mum with whom I have a very close relationship.

As a result, I decided not tell my parents that I was going to trace my birth mum. It was a daunting task to take on all alone though, so I contacted an adoption agency who helped prepare me for the journey ahead.

Reading my adoption file was such a bombshell. The biggest shock was finding out that my name had been changed from Anne to Karen. Reading about Baby Anne was surreal. It felt like reading about a complete stranger. If I had not had the support of a social worker sitting alongside me at this point, I don’t know what I would have done.

From my records I read about the difficulties my mother faced in keeping me, as back then illegitimate pregnancies were not socially acceptable. I felt no bitterness or anger towards my birth mother, which when we finally did meet made things easier, although it was still very emotional. We shared photos and information about our pasts and got on well. Although we haven’t met again we do communicate through Facebook. Other than this I would find it difficult to fit my birth mother into my life, as she does not know me as my friends and adoptive family do.

I am extremely grateful for my adoption. I have had a wonderful life, meeting my soul mate, as well as an extremely close circle of friends and family. I do not want to lead a different life. I am also sensitive of the people around me, and wouldn’t want to do anything to upset them.

The thought of an adopted person searching for their birth family on social media sites concerns me, as they do not know that what they are being told is true. The internet can make adoptive people extremely vulnerable as they are often desperate for a quick answer. I was lucky, my search and reunion took only 6 months in total. During this time I was able to find out every detail of my birth, knowing that it was completely accurate. I know for other people it can be much longer, and there is the temptation for shortcuts, but I just don’t think it’s worth the risk. In all circumstances adoption involves pain and loss on both sides. Who knows what may be in your file - it could be deeply unsettling.

My advice for other adopted people is always have an intermediary such as a social worker, on hand to prepare you for all possible outcomes.


Since beginning my search for my birth mother I hae realised that there are no guarantees in life. I knew this before I started. But when you're about to search for the person that, in society, should always be there for you, I guess I thought it might be different.

I spent ten years searching for my birth mother. The reason it took so long was due to the amount of information I needed to work through. With each new bit of information I found I had to take time to process it and consider what it meant. It was a long and hard process and one where the final outcome was not positive. However it allowed me to put things into perspective with my adoptive family, my husband and most importantly my son!

My birth mother was not young when she had me - she was 26. But she came from a Greek Orthodox background, where having a child out of wedlock was not acceptable. She was sent to the UK on her own to give birth. After she had me she went to back to Greece. A year later she went to Sweden, and has stayed there for the past 35 years, not once communicating with her family back in Greece.

When I got it contact it came as a huge shock to her. She wrote a very angry and hurtful letter to me saying: "It doesn't happen this way. You don't get in contact with your biological mother and some sort of magic will change everything." Following the letter I spent a lot of time crying, and feeling very angry.

Since receiving that letter two years ago I have wondered whether sometimes things are best left to the unknown. However, for me this is very hard to accept. When you're adopted you are always searching, and have all these questions that only your birth mother can answer.

Oh dont get me wrong, I would love the answers (i.e who is my father and what is his name) especially now that the Pandora's box has been opened. Maybe one day she will write and tell me... but suspect she wont.

The experience has made me stronger, however there will always be a longing to know the answers to my questions, but one that I know that I no longer need to pursue.

If you are interested in tracing birth relatives visit

1 comment:

Cleanknickers Fulltummy said...

The emotions that must be stirred up when these people search for their birth mums are huge. How strange I feel so sorry for Alice. I do hope that one day her mother will have a change of heart. Also, how odd for Karen to realise that she had started life as "Anne"... To be that person but not be that person...

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