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(15 Posts)
macooper Tue 05-Nov-13 19:59:41

I am a damaged survivor of adoption in the 50's, safe to say it was a disaster I am now mother of son and daughter, and devoted nanny to 2, expecting number 3 in december. My quandry is when and how to divulge my past to my grandchildren, they believe my now long dead( 52 and 42 years) adoptive parents were my birth parents, this is because my daughter and son in law have forbidden me from telling them the facts. This I understand and accept as my 11 year old grandson has behaviour difficulties and the last 11 years have been extremely difficult.They are the parents and I must respect their decisions certainly until they reach majority age. My birth mother is still alive (83) as are 4 of my 5 half siblings. The last time I had contact was 20 odd years ago and it did not go well. I am severely damaged by my upbringing, they all live in the USA and I have come to the decision that I am happy to close the door.
This is causing me immense worry as I am extremely close to my granson and grandaughter and I believe strongly in honesty in all things but by the same token I am scared witless of doing some damage, my grandson is a child who is never satisfied with one answer he wants to know everything about anything particularly about my past, you know the kind of stuff, school, etc and is absolutely fascinated by recent history, the war, money, communications travel etc. Grateful for any advice

Kate13 Tue 05-Nov-13 21:56:30

Hello *macooper".sorry to hear that you are in such a stressful dilemma and understand your need to be truthful . My immediate reaction is that you must respect the wishes of your GCs parents. It would very probably cause unnecessary arguments if you went against their wishes and they could make it difficult for you to see your GCs as often as you do. How important/urgent is it to tell them?. Do they need to know right now? You obviously have a great relationship with your GCs.I don't think I would risk rocking the boat. Hugs .

Aka Tue 05-Nov-13 22:14:03

Live in the present not the past. Easier said than done but nothing is to be gained and much could be lost. The important people are the family you have created for yourself and against all odds after your awful childhood. The family that you love and that love you. Kate is right, don't rock the boat.

Granny23 Tue 05-Nov-13 22:21:59

macooper This is obviously preying on your mind to a great extent. I can understand why it would because it has had a huge effect on your life and remains unresolved. However, I cannot see that the fact that you were adopted should be important to your DGC. A matter of passing interest for a brief time and then on to thinking about something else. You will not want to burden your DGC with the angst that you still have nor do you want to lie to them directly. Can you explain to your son and daughter that you will not raise the subject deliberately but that if it should come up you will explain that you were adopted and later found your birth mother but gloss over the trauma this has caused you. As your DGS is unlikely to ever meet any of these people the subject may never come up.

Jendurham Tue 05-Nov-13 23:50:10

Have you thought of writing letters to the grandchildren, but keeping them until they are older?
Is there some reason you feel the need to tell them now?

Iam64 Wed 06-Nov-13 08:40:13

Good suggestion, and question from Jendurham. Reflecting on our childhood history, and the influence of ancestors can be a theme as we age. Have you talked this issue over with anyone outside your immediate family. After Adoption is an agency that may be a starting point for you as you continue to ponder this. Best wishes

henetha Wed 06-Nov-13 15:06:43

Very sorry about your dilemma, Macooper. Why do your daughter and son-in-law feel so strongly about their children not knowing the truth about your background? I realise that obviously I don't know the facts about their 11 year old son who has problems, but I don't think it would affect him much at all, to be honest. Indeed, from what you say, it sounds like he might be absolutely fascinated by it. He isn't going to judge you badly by it, is he, especially in this day and age when there is no stigma attached to these things.
I can empathise with you because I was illegitimate at a time when it was a dreadful stigma (late 1930's) and after some fostering was adopted when I was four. My childhood was a complete disaster and I didn't know the truth about my background until I was 14, which then caused me to become a very insecure and difficult teenager. Even after that, I had to keep it a secret and never tell neighbours or friends the truth.
But my two sons and four grandchildren have always known the truth about my background and it has never been a problem for them. In fact it has made us closer I think and they are very protective of me because of my bad start in life.
I do hope you resolve this, Macooper, and I do understand that you feel you cannot go against your daughter and son-in-laws wishes in this.
I think Jendurham's idea of writing a letter to give them when the grandchildren are older is a very good one. I wish you well.

henetha Wed 06-Nov-13 15:10:54

P.S. I forgot to add that my two younger grandchildren are themseves adopted, and they enjoy comparing my experiences to theirs.

macooper Wed 06-Nov-13 16:54:41

Thanks to all of you for your genuine caring comments, I really really appreciate themTo be able to talk to you all like this annonomously is so good I dont know why I havent done it before.
To answer some of the points made I think my desire to tell them personally comes from the need to answer any questions they may have as I am the only one alive now who can answer those questions. My daughter harbours extreme animosity towards my birth mother so much so that she has said that if she ever came face to face with her again she would do her some damage. She knows the absolute trauma I have been through with these people and I am not exaggerating here they have treated me very badly. She is very protective of me overly so perhaps as I am disabled with chronic pain and I just want to be honest with them and not put negative spin on it to the best of my ability.
I am struggling with the adoption thing moreso now as I get older strangely and I have tryed to access counselling but cannot afford to pay and try as I might I cannot access free service.
Thankyou all again smile

Riverwalk Wed 06-Nov-13 17:33:39

macooper my wider family has experience of adoption, long time ago, which turned out traumatic for all concerned so can understand your feelings.

It seems that you have a lot of unresolved issues which have caused you much pain and that must be very hard to bear.

To be honest, it's of no concern or even interest to your grandchildren at this stage of their lives. It would be of direct interest to your grandson if he were adopted and that would need to be explained; it would then be of moderate interest that one of his own parents was adopted; but it's of absolutely no interest/concern that a grandparent was adopted.

Your daughter is quite right to not want you to burden your grandson with your worries.

I think you need to concentrate on your own healing and not be concerned with telling your young grandchildren of your origins.

embralady Thu 07-Nov-13 19:23:24

Hello Macooper - Although you seem to be asking just the one question (should I be honest with my grandchildren about my adoption?) it seems to me that the whole question is much more complicated than that. I, too, am adopted and grew up with the secrets and lies philosophy when all I wanted was the truth and information insofar as it was possible to have it. I can understnd completely why you would want to be honest with your grandchildren. After all, why not? Being adopted is nothing to be ashamed of. I am curious as to why your daughter is so against stating the truth. She may be protective of you, but this is your life and I feel that she should allow you to do what is best for you. As for your young grandson, I really don't believe that the truth would hurt him or influence him in any way. He may be curious and ask questions which you may or may not be able to answer, but I don't see the harm in that. Your experience of contact with birth family sounds dire but in reality we have to be prepared for that when we set off to find them. If you live in Scotland, you could access counselling from Birthlink in Edinburgh Payment for the service is according to your financial means. Check out the website for more info. In Glasgow Barnardo's provide an after adoption service as well so a look at their website may be of help. In England NORCAP used to provide this service also, but sadly no longer exists, leaving a huge gap. Finally, it so happens that an article I wrote about my personal experience was printed in the Scotsman newspaper only yesterday, so feel free to take a look at it if you wish [[]] . I hope this helps a bit.

Faye Thu 07-Nov-13 21:40:33

embralady your link didn't work for me so I googled it. I found your story very interesting.

Iam64 Sun 10-Nov-13 09:12:49

macooper - your GP can refer you for counselling or psychological input. Many GP's now have an in house counselling service, they will also have a list of free counselling services locally. GP's can refer patients to the local psychology department, where excellent services are available, free of charge,under the nhs. That would be my favoured option, as you are guaranteed a properly qualified and supervised person. There is often a waiting list, maybe 12 weeks, but well worth the wait.

macooper Sun 10-Nov-13 10:16:15

Thanks again to you all for your comments, its interesting that there is a mixture of responses which I feel endorses my struggle with my decision. Each situation is different and as in our family and extended family there are other things which influence decisions. I will not go into detail for obvious reasons but safe to say we have had psychologists, social workers and police involved and there is another ffamily member who has serious mental health problems which all influence my daughters reluctance to put more burden on my grandson at a transitional time for him as he approaches teenager years.
The GP thing is not an option as regards counselling we have no confidence in the GP and moving practices is not an option so no joy there. I will do hat I have been doing and just take each day at a time, hopefully things will improve
Thanks again to you all.

Iam64 Wed 13-Nov-13 18:20:16

Expanding on your op has confirmed, that as with most family disagreements, there is a lot going on alongside your desire to be honest with your grandchildren. Most areas have free counselling services available, which are easily found on google. Best wishes in managing the feelings macooper