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Found out my mother was adopted, she doesn't know yet. Should I tell her?

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This topic contains 38 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by avatar What?! 1 month, 1 week ago.

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  • #814674 Reply
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    Maha

    I was contacted several days ago by a woman who introduced herself as Dr. X a therapist who does individual and family counseling. The things she told me about my family were a big surprise for me. First of all, I am half Irish & half Somali. My mother is an American-Somali, she was born in Mogadishu. Her father worked as a diplomat and they traveled with him around the world while she was growing up. The family moved to the United States in 1980 and settled in Florida. That’s all I knew from her past. My grandfather died long before I was born but I had the chance to know my grandmother as a child and she died in 2004. My mother was their only child and she loved both of her parents terribly. However, this Dr. X had a different story for me. She said she has been, for the last couple of years, counseling a woman who claims to be my mother’s sister. The woman is a Somali-British who moved to the States a couple of years ago. She’s about 6 years older than my mother, and she claims that my mother was adopted (she actually used the word sold) when she was only 3 years old. She says they come from a very poor family and her father couldn’t afford to raise all of his kids, he had many boys and 2 girls but since girls were considered disposable in that culture, the father sold them to childless couples longing for kids in order to be able to raise his sons. This mysterious woman claims that, at age 12, only 3 years after her younger sister (my mother) was sold, she herself was sold to an old married couple who considered her more of a servant than a daughter. Dr. X said that this woman spent most of her adult life looking for my mother, using her contacts within the Somali community to track down my grandfather, and only found her a couple of years ago and even moved to the States to be close to us but then she never had the courage to reach out to us. She has been in therapy for almost 3 years and Dr. X thinks that she should try to contact us. However, since this woman apparently is so afraid of contacting us, she doesn’t know what to expect or if we would ever want to know her. She convinced Dr. X to reach out to me and see if I’d want to be a bridge between the two long-lost sisters and help prepare my mother and facilitate things for them, that if we’d like to meet this woman.

    I’m totally shocked and gutted beyond words. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of months ago so she has a lot going on in her life now and I’m not sure if this is a good time to drop this huge life-changing revelation on her (Dr. X says it’s the reason they reached out to me instead of going directly to my mother, so I can decide if they should go forward with this whole thing or not). The thing is I’m upset they contacted me, I don’t know what they expect me to do. Is it even legal for therapists to do that? Like is that part of their job or something?
    What do you think I should do? Should I talk to my mother about this or should I try to maybe meet this woman first and see if she’s for real?

    #814675 Reply
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    JD

    This is prime example of why I think this dna testing is just a recipe for disaster. Your mother really may know this. Adoption was a lot more secretive back in the day and people just didn’t talk about it. That could be the case. Either way, I don’t know that I’d personally wish to share this. I think you should tell the dr that it isn’t your place and you find in innapropriate for her to contact you. I do wonder if she has to be violating some boundaries or ethics on this but I could be wrong. I just don’t think therapists ever interject themselves in people’s lives like this. Pretty sure that’s a no no. I’d tell her to not contact you again.

    #814676 Reply
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    Kate

    No. I don’t even have to read this. No way.

    #814677 Reply
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    Essie
    Participant

    You don’t know if any of this is true. You only have the word of someone claiming to be a therapist, who called you out of the blue. I’d be concerned that it was some kind of scam.

    You say that they contacted you instead of your mother because your mother was recently diagnosed with cancer and has a lot going on. How would they even know that?

    The whole thing sounds off to me. Way off. I would not say one word to my mother until I’d done a lot of investigating on my own.

    #814680 Reply
    Skyblossom
    Skyblossom
    Participant

    I’d research the therapist because I don’t think they should call you that way. If an online search makes them appear to be okay then try calling the number listed online and talk to the therapist briefly to confirm that they are actually the person who called you. Someone could look up a name and us it as part of a scam.

    If you think the therapist is legitimate and you want to know whether she is your mom’s biological sister I’d ask them to submit a sample to a DNA testing company. You pick a company and tell them to take the test and you also take the test then see if this woman comes up as a biological match to yourself. If she won’t take the test or she doesn’t match then there is no relationship. If her story is true she should be very happy to take a test.

    Even if her story is true about the events happening, she may have found the wrong person. Your mother might not be adopted.

    You can also decide that you don’t want to deal with this and tell them to leave you alone and to not contact your mom.

    I would in no way have any contact with this woman unless you are absolutely sure that she is actually your mom’s long lost sister. Then if you want you could proceed very cautiously. Even if you determine that she is a biological relative you don’t have to have a relationship. You can change your mind at any step.

    #814682 Reply
    Skyblossom
    Skyblossom
    Participant

    @jd I’ve done DNA testing and I’m glad I did. No surprise parents for me. I do have two first cousins who were adopted out of the family and that has been a surprise. One of them has a daughter with an undiagnosed genetic condition and he was searching for biological relatives to see if he could figure out what condition she has. Since he is a biological first cousin I would like to know if there is a condition in our family. We could test for it and family members could know whether they were a carrier. Now that we are in contact if he does get a diagnosis we are in a better position to not have more seriously handicapped children. If there is any way I can help him I would be more than willing.

    I’ve had some personal benefit because I have found out that I have three genes that cause me to make less and less insulin. Finally I know why I am having blood sugar issues even though I am slim. I don’t make enough insulin. I’ve given my results to my doctor and we’ve discussed that at some point I may need to take insulin. Right now I am controlling my blood sugar with my diet.

    I have found that I don’t carry genes for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases. That’s a huge relief to me because both of them run in my mom’s family. I have found that I am a carrier for Cystic Fibrosis and my kids have been tested. It’s good to know if you are a carrier for a serious disease. Everyone has genes that will cause genetic diseases but until now we wouldn’t know what diseases. Now we know. My husband and I are both carriers of hemochromatosis. It causes the body to retain iron at high levels and in men especially it causes liver and pancreatic cancer. As soon as I realized that my husband and I were both carriers I had each of my kids check their results and luckily neither are carriers. We had a 25% chance with each pregnancy that we would have had a child with hemochromatosis and we didn’t know.

    #814684 Reply
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    Kate

    Is there a way to just find out about what you might be a carrier for (if you care about that stuff), and not like, who you may or may not be related to? I just keep hearing about all these painful situations that people would have been a lot happier not knowing.

    #814685 Reply
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    JD

    I for sure think if you feel you won’t find skeletons, or are ready to deal with them if you do and for genetic reasons, it can be great. I just see so many articles and posts now about peoples lives being turned upside down. My mom and I both have no desire even though my aunt kept pressing us. We know our family history and have no questions about that, and although not exact since it is not actually us, so many of our relatives have done it now that we actually have a good idea on our health too. There’s actually a good chance husband and I will have to do genetic testing soon to become pregnant (although I hope not since that’ll mean our surgery didn’t work) so if so then I’ll know a lot more then!

    Son wanted one for Xmas and we got him one. We teased that if he isn’t ours he’s being sent back. Haha. Of course there is no doubt, he is a mini version of my husband, no denying that he’s the parent. Hah

    #814686 Reply
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    Kate

    My cousin did one for a sketchy reason involving her brother, and I had zero interest in knowing what it said about our background. I don’t like that someone can do one to find stuff out about you. Although I do like that they caught the Golden State Killer that way!

    #814689 Reply
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    ron

    You can get medical DNA tests which test only for specific medical conditions. That’s what I did. Talk to your primary care physician.

    #814690 Reply
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    JD

    Ya see that is my thing. It kind of makes me insanely uncomfortable to have people getting info about me! Yuck. Plus I won’t do it until i decide for sure I am not going to murder anyone, don’t need my DNA on file. 🙂

    I was so enthralled with the Golden State Killer stuff. I called my husband at work telling him they caught him. We had watched the series about it. So crazy. We are pretty big crime TV fans all around. Fall asleep to Forensic Files every night. I think the hosts voice just puts me to sleep now (in a good way). I love all of the shows! I could not live without those channels. First thing I checked when we moved and set up our cable.

    #814693 Reply
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    dinoceros
    Member

    I’m not a therapist, but if I were, I don’t think I’d think it was a good idea to break the news about someone’s adoption to their kid and I wouldn’t be the one to do it.

    I mean, what if the kid doesn’t get along with the mom? Or is tactless/makes it worse? Or what if this creates conflict between them? I’ve also never heard of a therapist actually intervening in personal relationships of their client. That seems like a supremely bad idea. If this person is a real therapist, they are probably a bad one.

    Honestly, I’d probably just tell the therapist that I am not interested in being an intermediary and let the therapist and the lady make their own decision. If the story is true, then I empathize with this lady, but if she’s too afraid to do it herself and go directly to your mom, then maybe she’s not ready to get into this situation. If I were worried about my mom finding out I knew ahead of time, I’d probably just tell her “this weird therapist contacted me because a woman thinks she’s related to the family” and then see if they ever reach out to her individually.

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