This feels like an episode of Jerry Springer lol. Grab some tea and buckle up!
So, my birth mother was 18, and hadn’t finished high school when I was born and placed for adoption. I’ve always known that much – my (adoptive) parents were always open about it, and even made my teen mother sound like a selfless saint. She gave me up because she loved me SO MUCH she was willing to sacrifice a relationship with me to make sure I was taken care of.
When I tracked her down almost 25 years ago and spoke to her, I was expecting the joyful reunion you see portrayed so often in the media when an adoptee finds their birth parents. Instead, I found out my very existence could pretty much destroy her life. She’d never told her husband and family, and it was way too late to do so now. The whole thing was a sordid, shameful secret. She’d been assured back in 1970 that there was no way I’d ever be able to find her and expose it.
She had gone to great lengths at the time to hide being pregnant. She dropped out of school, and spent the last few months barely leaving the house. She had even missed her grandmother’s funeral.
But she said she wanted to meet me at least once and see my son, who was just over a year old at the time. She said her husband often went on hunting trips late in the year and we could meet up then. I was a bit awed at what she’d sacrificed for me to be born, so I said I would take no chances on messing up her life. I promised never to call her, and to wait for her to call me instead.
Only I didn’t hear from her for over 20 years. I honored my promise and never reached out, no matter how much I wanted to, and no matter how rejected her silence made me feel.
Ancestry DNA Surprises
Like many adoptees, I took the Ancestry DNA test in order to see what I could learn about my ethnic origins. I’ve spent a lot of time researching my adoptive family tree – I have a wonderful extended family and those are the ancestors I connect with most.
But in 2017 I was shocked to discover a new DNA connection – my birth mother had also taken the test. Had something changed? Was she now hoping to find me? I used the Ancestry messaging service to email her, and this led to a couple more phone calls.
She said it had never occurred to her that putting her DNA online would lead back to me, and she seemed much more interested in CYA than in anything about me. I gave her some advice on keeping her account secret, and she promised that this time she really would call me again. But of course she didn’t. I was devastated.
Then, in 2020, I was contacted on Ancestry by a DNA connection classified as a “close relative.” I’d seen this person for a while on my account, and I’d assumed she was probably a daughter of one of my two half-sisters. Instead, she turned out to be another half sister – birth mom had had another baby before marrying her husband and given her up for adoption as well.
This revelation was like a bomb going off. Bio mom had acted like I was such a singular, shameful, horrible secret. And yet I was one of two! Did she really not think putting her DNA online would lead back to us? I tried to email her, and at that point even tried calling because I figured all bets were off. I was hurt and very angry. I got no response.
Bio Sis Blows It All Open
Over the last several months I’ve developed a bit of a relationship with my “new” bio sis. We’re facebook friends, and chat via messenger. She lives several states away now, but after Covid is under control we are hoping to get a chance to meet.
She of course did not have any obligations to keep our birth mother’s secrets. In order to find out who her birth father is (it’s different from mine), she engaged a group of DNA researchers, and did not tell them she knew anything about her birth mother. So when they saw that bio mom had her DNA online, they believed this meant she was looking for us – a natural assumption. They aggressively began trying to contact her.
They finally got through to the fiancé of the oldest daughter bio mom had kept (she has 2 “legitimate” daughters) and messaged him on Facebook. So now the secret is out, at least for one daughter. The fiancé was very adamant that NOBODY contact bio mom’s husband as “he doesn’t know and don’t need to know.”
So my fellow adopted sister got a phone call from our “kept” half sister. She said that bio mom had “come clean” with her that morning and told her about both the daughters she’d given away. She was able to tell my sister about who her bio father was, saying he and bio mom had been engaged before something caused their breakup. She said he knew our mom was pregnant but never followed up about what happened to his baby.
I (Sort Of) Connect With This Half Sister
After their phone call, I asked for this sister to contact me as well. She began messaging me on Facebook 2 weeks ago. Things seemed to be going well at first – she was very slow to respond but said she was still “processing” and that she was bad for “ghosting” people when that happened.
Last weekend, she said she wanted to get to know both me and my fellow adopted sister. She asked if it would be ok to call me on Saturday after she got off work at 3pm. I said absolutely and gave her my phone number. Since then, she’s stopped reading my messages, and has never called. I’m writing this on Wednesday, over a week later.
What makes me different from my other adopted sister? All I have is speculation and of course my mind is going in a million different directions. The main thing I keep thinking is there has to be some sort of difference between our conception circumstances. And MAYBE bio mom was hoping to hear from the other daughter when she signed up for Ancestry DNA and got me instead.
The “kept” sister told me via Facebook messenger that all bio mom had told her was that she was really young when the two of us were conceived. Yet I know she gave a name and a story to my other sister.
I’m at a loss, and pretty stinking frustrated at this point. I think I know who my bio father is, but I’d really like to know for sure. And I’d really like to know what happened to bring me about, even if it isn’t a pretty story. Everyone wants to know these things about themselves. Even if it’s bad at least I will know.
That’s where things stand at the moment. I am back to hurt and disappointed with the birth family. If that changes I will be sure and update this post.
Update March 18 2021: Got a call from “kept” bio sis after working a bit of magic on the situation. She apologized and said that she is still processing it all. Also that my conception was from a non-consensual act. Not sure where on the spectrum from drunk-and-didn’t-say-no to held-down-and-forced she meant, or that it even matters. I already knew bio dad was skeevy. He was her high school English teacher.
Cue Sting singing “don’t stand… don’t stand so… don’t stand so close to me…”
Update 2022 After the one phone call, “kept” sis hasn’t stayed in touch. When I moved, we drove through the town birth fam is from and I texted offering to meet for lunch. No response. Recently, however, she’s been liking my posts on Facebook. It’s highly confusing.
Any fellow adoptees out there? Tell us your story in the comments!