Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Reunited? A look at Unalienable Maternal Rights

I enjoyed receiving this email because it broaches a topic most of us can identify with. The writer yearns to reconnect with children she birthed, then during a troubled time in her life, relinquished parental rights. I do appreciated her concise writing and I will also try to get right on topic. The correspondence is printed as written, excepting the name which was changed to guarantee confidentiality.

I Have a question and I will try to make it the short version.

Back in 1995 my ex-husband, well we were married at the time, turned our two daughters over to the state claiming he could not take car of them. When he did this I was in jail for a bounced check. He had no reason for doing this as the kids were not in his care at the time, a friend of mine had them. After fighting with the state of Tennessee for over a year, I lost and my rights were terminated and they were adopted out.

Recently i have found out where they are and who adopted them. They are 15 and 14. I'm at a loss at what I should do now. I fear them rejecting me. Should I contact their adoptive parents and talk to them to see if they were ever told that they were adopted? I don't want to disrupt their lives but at the same time I long to be reunited with my girls, there has never been a day that has gone by that I haven't missed them. I need for them to know that. What should I do? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you


There is this blood tie at issue here. It is greater than any law on the books. Karin's desire to be a part of the life of her children in some way is understandable. At some point in her life, during her troubled young adulthood, she vowed to try to loose her emotional investment of these children. Now she has found that is an impossible thing to do.

So in considering reuniting with the children, the 1st consideration is their welfare. We must weigh the benefits of being exposed to their past versus the simple family life they enjoy at this moment. They are of an age, however, when the discussion of their past may not be detrimental. It is my experience that adopted children should at some point know the truth about their blood ties. The timing becomes important as to when the information is exposed to them, at a time when they are emotionally and intellectually ready to handle the complexities of this issue.

So when are they ready to be exposed to this juggernaut from their past? I would say simply when they begin asking well-formulated questions about their birth rights and family linage. As they reach adolescence and begin to self-actuate, they will at some point see some inconsistencies in the notion that their adopted parents are biological parents. Differences in appearance, physical constitution and inconsistencies between the marital history of the adopted parents and their births are a few examples. So when the children are ready to ask concise and elaborate questions about their past, they are usually emotionally prepared to get honest answers.

Another reason it is important for them to eventually know who their biological parents are is it is a viable part of their medical history. The family genotype has become more and more important information in terms of medical treatment and prevention. Illnesses that are passed on from generation to generation can be addressed proactively and are a vital resource in keeping these children healthy.

So contacting the adoptive parents is a harmless first step in your attempt to be in some way a part of these children's lives. Approach this contact with humility and respect, as you realize the AP hold all the cards legally. If they think it is too early for you to have contact, you must respect this. But the communication will hopefully give you some insight into their development and at worst you will have greater knowledge of how they have reached milestones and the piece of mind that they are well taken care of and provided for and are moving through developmental milestones toward adulthood.

Keep in mind that knowledge of their adoption opens a Pandora's Box. For instance, they will also want to know about their paternal father and if alive his circumstances may not be as good as yours. If they are unable to find or contact him to get answers, this will be cause for anxiety and stress. There are many other issues about their past they will be curious about and you may be uncomfortable revealing this information to them or not be informed yourself of the answers.

So once again, the emphasis is on the emotional and physical well being of these children. If you and the AP can reach a mutual agreement with this in mind and set aside all selfish motives, a beneficial outcome is guaranteed.

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