Finding it hard to let adopted daughter go

Thirty years ago my husband and I adopted a baby girl. They gave us very little detail about her background, except where she was born, and that the mother had decided to have her adopted because she felt she couldn’t cope. She had been abandoned by the father, and needed to get on with her studies.

All the information we were given, we kept in a folder for our daughter to see when she was 18. As it turned out, she was the dearest little thing, and made our lives complete. She was just so beautiful and sweet-natured.

We were in our early 40s then and knew that the birth mother was only 17. My husband passed away in his late 50s, and our daughter was my rock. By this time she’d grown to be a very beautiful young lady, with a good head on her shoulders. I was, and am, so proud of her.

When she graduated with a brilliant degree, from a top university, there couldn’t have been a prouder mother on this earth at the degree ceremony. Then she did a research degree, got married to a fellow post-graduate student, and is now well on the way to being highly respected in her field.

Everything my husband and I had done for our beautiful daughter was rewarded a million times by her devotion and her brilliance. She is a truly exceptional human being.

When she graduated with her PhD, she introduced me to another lady who was at the ceremony, with me and her (then) fianc�. She said that this lady was a leading business expert who had advised and helped her in the PhD. I didn’t think much of it at the time, there was a wedding to organise, and all that. But when she invited the lady to the wedding, and I looked at the photos afterwards, there seemed to me to be a striking resemblance, in every way, between my lovely daughter and this lady. I thought about it a lot.

Last year I had a nasty health scare, and for a while my life hung in the balance. I’ve recovered, but while things were touch and go my daughter admitted what I’d worked out, that she’d traced her birth mother, who was the “lady” at the ceremony and at the wedding.

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My daughter is now in pieces for confessing. I’m not sure how I feel. I’m in my 70s. Part of me is delighted that my daughter has her mother at her side, should anything happen to me. Part of me is reluctant to let go.

My daughter and I have spoken about this. She’d now like me to spend time with her mother, and for us to talk about the past, and the future, and be friends. Do you think this is a good idea? I haven’t really worked this out. Can you help?

Barbara says: You need counselling. So does your daughter. She has to live with the guilt of not telling you that she’d found her mum, and you have to live with the knowledge that your daughter, as all adoptees are, is a shared child.

So get counselling from one of the major adoption agencies, who are skilled in this negotiation. All I’ll say is that there’s a helpful way to look at this. Think of your daughter as a kind of granddaughter. Think of her mother as your daughter. Be a family. Find a new way of life and love for all of you, because this will strengthen everyone’s support systems.