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Letter writing tips

PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 6:34 pm
by Timbo
Hi Everyone,

I am about to bite the bullet after years of procrastinating and send a letter to my bm. I have never felt so fearful about doing something in my life but it has got to the stage where I am more fearful of not doing anything so here I am. My bm is 70 this June and there is no record of her ever marrying. There is a good chance that I am her only child and it seems the right thing to at least make some effort from my side. I don’t have any great expectations but I would be very disappointed if I cannot at least have some information about her life as well as the name of my bf. She lives in New Zealand so anything more than this will be less likely.

I thought initially about using an intermediary but I am determined to do it myself so I don’t ‘waste’ even more time. I also contemplated phoning but with the added factor it would be an international call with a big time difference I thought maybe to stick with a recorded letter.

I would appreciate anyone’s opinion on whether I should include any photos at this early stage or how I should even address my bm or even whether it should be typed or handwritten. Any tips would be much appreciated. I would especially like to find out the name of my bf who will be about 76 years old if he is still with us.

I requested my birth records 14 years ago at the age of 30 and also traced where my bm lived. For whatever reason I didn’t feel ready to make contact. I couldn’t rationalise the upside of doing so. I could not see beyond the fear and the expectation that I would be rejected all over again. I was inquisitive of course but I felt I would be intruding and just be an unwanted reminder of a careless mistake made all those years ago.

I was born in London in 1966 to a New Zealander who was off on her ‘Overseas Experience’ and obviously got more of an experience than she bargained for. She was according to the records ‘anxious that the news not leak out to New Zealand’ and I can only assume that she was successful in this aim. It mentioned that only one of her friends new about the situation. Unfortunately she did not give much information about my bf. I do know he was Australian, about 5 years older than her and was either a travel agent or cabaret musician or perhaps a bit of both. He was unaware of the pregnancy and had already returned to Australia by the time I was born. When I was in Australia 20 odd years ago a stranger approached me mistaking me for someone else so when I found out later my BF was Australian it intrigued me that I might have a look-a-like down under. Poor sod :lol:

What niggles me a little from the records is that apparently my bm showed more emotion towards my bf who she had only a brief relationship with in contrast to me whom ‘she had shown no emotion whatever and had been extremely rational in her conversation’. Although initially reluctant she did look after me for 10 days and felt it was a ‘valuable experience’ and she had ‘given something to the baby’. I know you cannot base everything on something a social worker has written over 40 years ago but when that is all you have to go on then you can’t help interpret it from a glass half empty perspective.

Thanks for taking time to read this. It feels good to get it off my chest. I have never spoken about my plans to anyone except my wife and kids. I don’t think my adopted parents would take it the right way so I feel more comfortable not involving them.

Re: Letter writing tips

PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 10:37 pm
by ladyarcher
Hi Timbo and welcome.......... difficult to pitch a letter to someone so far away geographically, as well as in time.......I think you are right to get on with it now as time is pressing. My greatest regret is that I did not contact my b.father in time. I knew his name and roughly where he was, but I was three years too late...... what was worse was that I found out from my 'halves' on his side that he had never forgotten that he had two English daughters, and had begged his later children to try and find fact we had been split and gone to different adopters, and I only found my full sister two years ago.

Please try not to be influenced in any way by the Social Worker's comments about your b.mother....... your b.mother was 25, not actually a young girl at the time, and was probably far better at hiding her feelings than a girl of seventeen would have been. She was also in what to her would have been a foreign country despite the shared language, and would have been guarding herself against breaking down by appearing totally 'matter of fact' about the whole thing, and also showing that she had feelings for the man, and that it was not just a 'one night stand'........... so a lot of mixed messages going on there I think......... wanting you to know that your father was loved, but also that she was being responsible in doing the best for you she could under the circumstances. She may also have been told that she could not take the baby back to New Zealand as it was 'English', having been born here....

....the 1960s were supposedly 'swinging', however they weren't very lively really, only in London and some of the bigger cities........the sixties never really reached the rural areas until well into the seventies, and the popular view of New Zealand is that it was, and is still, at least 25 years behind us ......... a good thing some would say ........ but if that is even slightly true, then 45 years ago the general view would have been pre-war....... so you can see that she would have been very aware of her position had she gone home with a baby.

So, as we all keep saying on this site......keep an open mind....... it may be that her past coming to find her is a wonderful thing....... it may be that it has been so well buried that it is a step too far......... I have always advocated that it is the adopted person's responsibility to do his or her best to find the b.parent(s), just to say 'I'm ok....I hope you are too.'.............having done that, any continuing relationship is a bonus, but not something to be assumed will happen........neither the adopted child, nor the birth parent, are the same people that they were 20, or 30, or 40+ years ago.

Good luck, and keep coming back here for help and shared feelings.

born 1944 - adopted 1946 - found b.mother 1972 - sadly missed b.father who died young but who had told his subsequent children that they had two English sisters, so when I found them in Canada it was not a shock....... finally found full sister adopted separately, two years ago, having searched for her for forty years........

Re: Letter writing tips

PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 7:31 pm
by Timbo
Hi Lady Archer,

It’s sad to hear that you didn’t contact your birth father in time. It must have been really tough and frustrating to deal with, especially knowing that he was looking for you. Did your ‘halves’ try and find you? It still amazes me how heartless people were to split siblings for adoption. I hope that doesn’t still happen nowadays.

I guess in my case what my bf doesn’t know he won’t miss but all the same it would be great to find out who he is and whether he has had a happy life with a close family etc. If I was in the same position I would like to know that I had a kid kicking around somewhere even if he was a pom. :lol:

I have found it very therapeutic to trace my ancestors back through my bm’s side and I don’t think I will ever be satisfied if I can’t do the same through my bf’s line. I even have a Canadian connection myself as one of my great great grandmother’s was born in Canada before marrying and returning to Scotland and then on to New Zealand. Someone’s even written a book about it which I would love to get hold of.

Your take on my bm makes a lot of sense. Her dad was a retired lawyer so it would have definitely set tongues wagging if his only daughter had waltzed back from her travels with an illegitimate child in tow. Also, being 25 and having worked for several years overseas I expect she would have a fairly mature way of coping. Going through the whole pregnancy and only telling one other person must have taken some strength. It would have been nice though if she had been encouraged to write a letter or something to pass on when I was old enough. My adopted sister’s bm was a lot less mature at 17 and she had written a letter which was a nice touch.

I do try and ignore the social workers comments but it is hard when most of the file is based on their opinions. I had to be pretty thick skinned to deal with a lot of the information. I learnt that my a.mum was still not convinced with going ahead with the adoption until a very late stage. Also, I was born with a broken arm and it wasn’t picked up by doctors until weeks later presumably after I had been crying out in pain. On top of that the foster home I had been parked in was raided by social services and I was put under a place of safety order with nine others. No evidence of neglect was found but the mind boggles. I hope it wasn’t triggered when my foster carer took me to the doctors about my arm. :oops:

Re: Letter writing tips

PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:51 am
by cariad1
Hi Timbo

I definately think a hand written letter is better, its more personal. Also sending a letter recorded is best at least you will know that it got to its destination. I have met my b.mum three times now and have sent many letters/text and even a mother's day card and I still address her by her name.

Lady Archer is quite right about no taking what a social worker wrote at the time at face value. My b.mum was 23 very nearly 24 when she gave birth to me. I think its important to remember that maybe 40 years ago they weren't as streetwise as we were at that age or people are now. Your b.mum's situation could be very similar to mine. On reading the information that I had about the circumstances surrounding my birth, I decided that my b.mum hadn't long come over from Ireland to work in London met a boy who she dated for 6 months and then found herself pregnant. In fact my b.mum came over from Ireland in 1966 (I was born in 1970) went to Manchester to work found it very drab and quickly moved to the bright lights of London which she loved. I also know that the nationality of my b.f is not English as in my info but Irish. In fact he did not live that far away from the town she was from. I believe (you might see from earlier posts of mine that my b.mum and I have not really talked about my b.f or circumstances this is just what I've gleaned) that my b.mum might possibly have fed the story of my b.f's details and the fact that they had dated for 6 months to the social worker to "cover her tracks". She has told me she did not want to marry him and did not want to return to live in Ireland. I bleieve if my b.f or her parents had found out about me this is what would have happened. Rural catholic Ireland would have been very much like New Zealand, as my b.mum told me "trouble was not bought to the door". Also the stigma of illegitimacy for the child was awful, again something in todays liberal society we have probably forgotten. Our b.mum's were trying to protect us from what they would have seen as a life of stigma.

My b.mum has been delighted that I found her, she has said how hard it was to give me up. The day she had to go to court nearly killed her - I assume this was to make me a ward of the court. I can understand why your b.mum would be reluctant to look after you being the mother of three I know how the bond grows the more you are around your child. Your say your b.mum was unsure if she should go through with the adoption, I am sure that threw the social workers in to a panic as they probably had a "nice respectable couple" lined up!! Again I have said in my previous post the practicalities for our b.mum's had to come into it. There was no "benefit " payable to single mum's, child care was not an option you had your baby and gave up work whilst your husband went to work. How would they have managed to feed, clothe and look after a baby. I remember how terrified I was when I found out I was pregnant and I was married, aged 27 and with a supportive family.

I think you should try and contact your b.mum because as we know "time waits for not man!". Even if the outcome isn't as positive as you hope at least you will have tried to get some answers.

Good luck, keep us posted

love Cariad xxx

Re: Letter writing tips

PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:25 pm
by sarah 1971
Hi Timbo,

I agree with the other posts. Write a hand written letter and send it recorded so that you can at least know that she has received it.
When I wrote to my bm in November, I told her who I was and who I was born to and that I thought she was my bm. I then proceeded to tell her a little about me, age, married, kids, where I had lived etc. I then ended it by saying that I would like for her to get in touch and that in no way was I looking to cause an upset just to find out about myself.
I was lucky in that I got the warmest of responses within a week and things are going from strength to strength.
The one thing I found after talking to my bm is that she was a bit of 'a devil' towards the nuns in the home that she was sent to when she had me. She did say that she wouldn't show her true feelings to anyone and after she returned home she did refuse to speak about me. I do know that this was to protect herself as she found the whole experience painful and upsetting and so built a barrier and I can understand this. So do not take it too much to heart and think of her as being quite cold, I am sure it would have been her way of coping with a very difficult decision.
Good luck with your letter and please keep us posted.
I have never told my a.parents about finding my b.mum, you will see from a lot of these posts that it is something which we have all had to deal with in our own ways and it is difficult. I sometimes feel like I am living 2 separate lives!
All the best Timbo, I hope you get the reply you are longing for,
Sarah x

Re: Letter writing tips

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 6:10 pm
by Timbo
Hi Carriad and Sarah,

I will definitely go handwritten although my writing is not the best. I totally agree about using her name. It seems weird but it would feel a lot weirder saying Mother/Mum etc, especially if things don’t pan out as hoped.
Yes I also imagine that 60’s New Zealand would be very similar to Ireland with conservative close knit communities where everyone new each other’s business. My adopted sister’s bm was from Ireland as well but as far as I know she hasn’t shown a desire to make contact.
I am trying not to take the info about my bm’s emotional state at face value but I suppose I am being negative as a sort of comfort blanket in case my approach goes pear shaped. I try to be cool but inside I am churning. I know what I hope for as a minimum but if it is less than that I will be pretty gutted for a while until I get over it.
I love my adopted parents but I have never been very close to them on an emotional level and I would not be able to talk to them about what I am up to. By the way it was not my b.mum who seemed unsure but my a. mum as to begin with the file mentioned that she still regarded me as a last resort although by the end of the process she wanted to cancel her holiday to pick me up early.
Thank you both for your advice. I’ll be back, don’t you worry and hopefully it’ll be with champagne and not tears.

Re: Letter writing tips

PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 11:47 pm
by Timbo
Hi, This is crazy. More than 6 years have passed since I last posted on here. Well to cut a long story short i bottled it and never sent a letter to my bm but the story does not end there and I am finally in contact with BM at the the grand old age of 50 through an intermediary. In the meantime I have lost my Dad (adoptive) and gained a grandson. It is early days and I have not seen her in person yet and have only had two long phone calls to the other side of the world but she is charming to talk to and I have just sent off a load of photos and a short letter. She travels a lot and was in the uk this summer while the letter from the intermediary sat on the doormat. A bit annoying to say the least. I found out from her that I was the result of a 1 night stand with an Aussie which I kind of new already from my adoption records but at least I have a first name and a few other nuggets to work with. The real bombshell is that there is another mini me in that she also gave up a younger half brother for adoption as well. I found this exciting news although he has never made contact with BM as yet. Strangely his BF is English but he was born Downunder the opposite to me. Anyway things are certainly looking up and I'm determined to make what time we have count and sod the distance. I didn't follow the great advice I received on this forum but I suppose life got in the way and the main thing is we got there in the end so keep the faith and Bro we'll be coming for you.



Re: Letter writing tips

PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:26 pm
by ladyarcher70
Hi Timbo........welcome back.......sorry not to have replied before, I don't come on here very often these days..... partially 'cos general 'life' is always hurtling round me in the shape of school runs, grandchildren minding, gardening, belonging to several interesting organisations..... stuff generally......
.. also After Adoption no longer has a link to the Forum on its home page, despite me contacting them and moaning about this a lot, so I can only access it at the moment via the Facebook Message bit, which is a bit of a faff.

Anyway, it is lovely to have an update on your search. So often one gets to know someone and their story, and then they just disappear and one never knows if they have gone because things are ok, or if it is because things are very not ok.

With regard to finding out you had a half brother ........ I too had a younger half brother turn up years later, after our mother had died, and although I had traced my bm and known her quite well for around ten years, she had never ever mentioned this child at all. There were a lot of things I would have liked to ask her, but she was rather fragile and the past upset her a lot, so I kept putting it off, and of course then it was too late. Some things she would talk about, the main one being her love of my father....... she never talked about my full sister either now I come to think of it. I did find my full sister, as I said in my previous post, so I have sort of known her for seven years now, but see very little of her and that is always at my instigation.......we had adopted lives that were similar in many ways, but our grown up lives are very different. Sadly, she does not seem to have the same idea of how sisters are to each other as I did. But until she was over sixty she did not know she had a full sister, whereas I had known about, and searched for her for forty years. I guess my view was based on an unrealistic desire, and of course, many sisters do not get on at all. At least she is vaguely civil to me but there is not the closeness that I had envisaged.

Wandering off my topic your half brother ......... it is a well known statistic that men are far less likely to search for their birth mothers, and if they do, it is more likely to be when they are around sixty, i.e. around the age of thinking about retirement, and perhaps not wanting to leave it too who have had a full on working life with family and mortgages to pay for, don't have as much time to think as women do......Have you put a message on the Adoption Contact doesn't cost much, and your message stays there forever, and if he, or indeed anyone else puts a matching message on, then the two are linked. That is how, in the end, I found my sister. I had put a message on soon after the Register started, and there it sat for fifteen years. When my sister's social worker sent an enquiry as part of the routine general searches, it 'triggered' the response of my message, and we were linked.

The other thing is that your brother may not know he is adopted..... this still happens, even now, it is possible to not know. If you know his original name, and his adopted name you can probably find him yourself. But if you don't know his adopted name, it is a lot trickier. Are you sure he was officially adopted..... often these things did not go right to the final legal adoption. If you send for a copy of his birth cert. ....... which you can do as you know his name at birth,........ when you get the cert. it will have the word 'adopted' written on it if it all went through. If it hasn't got this on it, then he will probably still be using his birth name.....just a thought.

Anyway, I had better stop wittering on as it is getting a bit late, and we are supposed to be getting ready to go down to Cornwall on Tuesday for a few days to see our younger I should be making lists, and getting stuff out to take down to our caravan which we keep down there. We live in Wales so it is a bit of a hike, and we can only get away in half term when our daughter takes some time off work and we are not required for school runs.

born 1944 - adopted 1946

Re: Letter writing tips

PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:11 pm
by Timbo
Hi ladyarcher,

Thanks for replying. It is such a great shame that this forum has been left to gather cobwebs. I hope something can sorted about the link.

I am flying out to New Zealand in March next year to see my birth mum and will be staying in the country for 2 months. Very excited but also apprehensive. She has sent me some photos now and I’m fairly positive that we will be able to forge some kind of relationship. She is in her mid 70’s but touchwood is healthy and although the distance is a bit of an issue I think if things progress well next year we should still be able to meet at least once a year. I think she is very interested in searching for my half brother as well. He was adopted in New Zealand so not sure whether they have a similar contact register. I will have to do a bit of research. Unfortunately we don’t have a birth name for him, only his birthday and the area. I believe it was a convent.

Sounds like you are keeping very busy with your family. I’m pretty much the same but it is scary how the years have flown by and I just kept putting off trying to contact my birth mum. Now I’ve done it such a huge weight has been lifted. I’ll try and pop back in when I’ve met birth mum and give an update.

Don’t work too hard. All the best.


Re: Letter writing tips

PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 6:44 pm
by JJ
Hi Timbo

That's really great news! I'm looking forward to news of your meeting with your birth mother and also hoping that you are able to find out something about your half-brother.

It took me many years before I was able to find my birth mother; sadly now dead, although we were able to meet a few times and I am in touch with her three children. She gave me details about my birth father, and I was able to trace him with the help of a few wonderful people on this forum. He lives 3,000 miles away unfortunately, but we have met twice; the first time for a day, and earlier this year for three days. He's planning another trip in the new year, but he's 80 now, and so I know these visits are not forever. He has two sons; one of whom he has told so far, but no interest! Sometimes this just takes time - it's a lot to take in for some and processing the news can take a while...

I agree it's sad that this forum is so quiet - it used to be alive with people helping each other in whatever capacity they could.

Anyway, I was thrilled to hear that you are forging a relationship with your Birth mother - and I'll keep a lookout for your update!

Merry Christmas, JJ

Re: Letter writing tips

PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:56 am
by Timbo
Hi JJ,

Sorry to hear about your birth mother though It’s great that you have a relationship with your birth father. I believe mine is a similar age but he is Australian and I only have a first name for him so will be difficult to trace. I have tried DNA testing but only got close matches on birth mothers side so far. I will definitely provide an update on my reunion. I have already booked my plane tickets but I haven’t had the chance to tell my birth mother yet. Hopefully she won’t get cold feet before March as I won’t be able to get a refund:-)

Hope you had a great Christmas and all the best for 2018.


Re: Letter writing tips

PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:15 pm
by JJ
Hi! My birth father is also Australian; although since early adulthood he has lived in Europe, S. America and now in the USA. It made tracing him quite difficult, but I received help from a wonderful member of this forum - may, just maybe, they might read this and get in touch with you if you would like some help...

When I met my birth mother for the first time, we were both incredibly nervous but from the first second it seemed the most natural thing in the world - all the nerves disappeared rapidly and the next three hours passed by in the space of about three minutes!
We had a slightly difficult relationship thereafter because she was unable to tell her family - she had never told her husband and was terrified that anyone would find out, so the whole thing was covert which didn't exactly make for spontaneity... That side of things notwithstanding, she was incredibly grateful to have been given the chance to meet the baby that she had been pretty much forced into relinquishing, and to be reassured that she had 'done the right thing', having spent most of her life with doubts and regrets. I'm glad I found her in time...

I have a feeling that that 'huge weight' that was lifted off your shoulders will also be lifted off your birth mother's.

Hope you had a fabulous Christmas - and very best wishes for an exciting 2018.

Re: Letter writing tips

PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:51 pm
by Timbo
Hi JJ,

Small world your birth father being Australian as well. Yes I’m sure I need help in tracing mine. I know in the US they have search angels who might be able to help as well. I’m sorry your relationship with bm had to be so covert. I’m also worried about that a bit but at least her partner of 40 years seems to be totally in the picture. She has a fairly broken relationship with her only brother so I’m not too confident how things will develop on that front. It will be a shame if she doesn’t tell him as I have two cousins my age as well. Only a couple of months and things will hopefully become clearer.

All the best.


Re: Letter writing tips

PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:10 pm
by JJ
Hi Timbo

I have been in touch with the person who helped me in Australia and she's more than happy to help you too - she asked me to send you her email address so I'll do that by private message.

All the best and fingers crossed!! JJ