Question: We have a 17-year-old daughter whom we adopted when she was just a couple of days old. Starting when she was very young, we always let her know that she was adopted. Now she would like to find her birth mother.
We have been hesitant to share any information with her about the circumstances of her adoption, and quite frankly, I’m not sure why. You’re the psychologist. You could probably tell me why I have not wanted to share much information with our daughter about her birth mom. I know I’ve been afraid for her to get hurt.
Now my husband and I have been considering this, and we are wondering if you think we should share the information we do have with our daughter and whether we should help her look for her birth mother.
She really seems to want to know information about her. We don’t specifically know what her birth mom is doing now. But 17 years ago when we adopted our daughter, her mother was headed in a very poor direction in life and she was making some very bad decisions.
Should we help our daughter connect with her birth mother? I just don’t want her to get hurt.
Answer: Of course you should. Yes, with a capital Y.
Your daughter has a need to know – just like other kids who are adopted – information about her birth parents.
If she does find her birth mother, she may not like the circumstances she finds her in. So be it. But I would do nothing to prevent her from figuring out who her mom is.
Many adopted children have reported back to me that it was just something that they had to do. It was an itch that had to be scratched. They had so many questions, and they needed answers.
Let’s be clear about this: You and your husband are the parents of your daughter. That’s not going to change.
I know you must have insecurities and fears over the unknown. But rest assured, they are not going to come to fruition. You are her mom and you always will be.
Your daughter just needs to find out for herself, and she certainly is old enough to travel that journey.
Finding a birth parent can be good, but it can also be very difficult. We have a friend who is 24 who found her birth mom, and it was a mess.
But at least she knows. She’s not left wondering who her birth mother is.
So allow your daughter to figure things out. Allow her to try to find answers to her many questions. Give her the emotional support she needs in this journey.
But know that you will always be her parents.
Dr. Kevin Leman is a Tucson psychologist and author of more than 30 best-selling books, including “Have a New Kid by Friday.” Photo by Tom Spitz Photography.