Friday, February 27, 2009

The Secrets That We Keep

Openness in adoption is no longer a novel discussion, but a conversation with a friend has got me wondering how degrees of separation bear on degrees of openness? For example, what if the birth parents want ongoing contact with the child, but the birth grandparents or siblings want to remain anonymous? What if the grandparents are the ones who want contact and the birth parents are against it?

Or in my friend's case: Her cousin, Jim, was adopted at birth and has never expressed any interest in finding his birth parents. Although the adoption was closed, Jim's mother accidentally found out who is birth mother is, that she lives in the next town over, and that knows that she had another son after placing Jim for adoption. The birth mother has raised the second son to adulthood. Neither Jim nor his birth mother are aware that Jim's mother (and several other family members) has this information.

The question is, should someone enlighten Jim against his parents' wishes?

Arguments for: Jim is an adult. He was raised as an only child, and his parents are elderly. Wouldn't it be great for him to find out that he has a brother? Doesn't he deserve to know that his birth mother lives nearby? Although he hasn't expressed any interest in finding his birth parents, he might feel differently about a bio sibling. Give him the information and let him decide what to do or not do. If he finds out later that his family knew all along, he may feel hurt, angry, etc. that he was the last to know.

Arguments against: The adoption was closed. His birth family shouldn't have their privacy compromised just because his parents accidentally have information they're not supposed to have. He's never been interested in finding his birth parents, and surely he's considered the possibility that he has bio siblings. If he finds out that his birth mother raised her other son, he may feel deeply hurt, rejected, etc. His parents are squarely against the idea.

What do you think?

Here's a beautiful quote from :
"We believe in a birthmother's right to choose. If she has the courage to place, she has the wisdom and right to choose her child's parents."


Ellen said...

Someone should tell him than let him decide what to do. If he reaches out to his b.mother and she doesn't want contact she can refuse. Its not right that other people in his family know this and he doesn't. It's his life.

KC said...

Adoptees often don't talk about wanting to find their birth parents even tho they want to. I was adopted and always wanted to meet my birth mother but I never said anything until my parents passed away because I didn't want to hurt them. By then it was too late, my birth mother had passed too, and I still regret waiting so long. Now I'll never have a chance to meet her. SHE SHOULD TELL HIM!!!

sister3 said...

I think it should be left alone... if he wants to know he will find out on his own!!!

Anonymous said...

I think its sad that everyone knows, BUT Jim! He should not have to 'ask' for his information. It is part of his being - it is WHO he is. It belongs to Him. Let him decide what to do with his truth.

I really wish we adoptees were allowed to grow-up, and stop being treated like children that need protection- from our own families!
Why is it that (people and laws) assume we're not able to handle our own personal affairs, contacts, and communications with our family? Would you (non-adoptees) accept this kind of interferance by someone that claims to love you?

Anonymous said...

Did anyone ever tell Jim about his family? I hope so.
It's sad thinking everyone knows BUT him. Sigh