Expert Answers: The pain of giving up my son for adoption

It's 25 years since I gave up my son to be adopted. I've never told my husband. He and I married 15 years ago. I do wonder what my son is like, and I did wonder if he might try to contact me but nothing has happened. It hurts that I can't talk about him.

There is one thing you can do, and that is to make sure that if he does start to look for you, he knows how to find you.

Make sure that the adoption agency you placed him with knows your current details.

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Just because he hasn't contacted you doesn't mean he never will.

While some people never seek out their birth parents, others do so as soon as they can; still more wait for a trigger in their lives.

For example, this may be the death of their adoptive parents, or the birth of their own children.

There is little, or nothing, you can do to make your son contact you – it will be down to him to decide whether or not to do so.

While you may have a long wait, only you can decide whether you want to continue hoping, but it will be very hard on you.

Ideally, you would be talking to your husband about this, and perhaps

now you have started by writing, you will now feel ready to.

As well as your husband – or if you cannot bring yourself to tell him – you could help yourself by contacting the Post Adoption Centre.

Around 3,000 children are adopted each year in the UK, and with changes in legislation in recent years, many of them will wish to trace their birth parents.

The PAC provides counselling, therapy and support for birth mothers, and, of course, for people who have been adopted.

It may be all that is needed is advice and short-term support, but sometimes in-depth counselling and on-going support is necessary.

The advice line is staffed by experienced counsellors, and can refer callers to a range of services which are provided free in areas where the local authority subscribes to the service.

In addition to advice and adult counselling, there is a programme of groups and workshops on adoption issues.

Contact information: The website, www. postadoption centre.org.uk, is full of useful information and leaflets. The advice line number is 020 7284 5879 and is open from 10am-1pm Monday to Friday, as well as 5.30pm-7.30pm on Thursday.

Paul Charlson, GP from Brough

It is a dilemma whether to tell your husband. I think, on balance, it is probably better not to until your son does contact you.

This will give you the perfect opportunity to broach the subject. I think it would be a little odd and quite difficult to bring up such a major subject "out of the blue".

In the meantime, I wonder whether you might benefit from some support there are many support groups out there, for instance, http://www.afteradoption.org.uk/ is a useful website.

Alternatively, or as well, you could confide in a friend, which might be easier than discussing it with your husband as it is likely to cause less disturbance in your relationship.

I was wondering from your story whether you are actually struggling with a few issues relating to the adoption of your son. It may be that you would benefit talking to your GP who could put you in touch with a counsellor either within the NHS or in the private sector. This would be helpful in teasing out and addressing some of the issues.

Elaine Douglas, A chartered psychologist who specialises in family and child relationships

The whole issue of adoption is an emotive one from all perspectives – the birth mother, the child and the adoptive parents, and it isn't always a topic that is easily spoken about or discussed.

It must have been very difficult for you to bring up the subject with your husband, especially since you met and married him some time after your son was adopted. As time goes by, it becomes more and more difficult to talk about it.

In my experience, some birth mothers try to block it all out and push it to the back of their mind. However, even those who try to 'move on' never really successfully bury their past, and there are always triggers such as birthdays and Christmas.

Thinking of this from your son's point of view, it is very possible that he has thought about you and what you are like, just as much as you have thought about him. It is also possible that he will at some point try and get in touch – perhaps when he has a family of his own (often a trigger)..

Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University

You seem to have two issues here. First, should you tell your husband; and second, should you try to find

your son.

In terms of the latter point, I think this would not be a good idea. If your son comes to find you, that is a different matter. You don't know his circumstance in terms of his adopted parents, for example, have they told him that he is adopted.

If and when they do tell your son about the adoption, he will obviously make up his own mind about whether he wants to get to know you.

As far as the first point is concerned, I really think it is important that you should tell your husband, unless there is some real concerns you have that it might adversely affect your relationship with him.

I think if you don't anticipate a very negative reaction, I would tell him because there will always be this black hole between you, and you will continually worry that your son may turn up, and then what will your husband feel about not being told?

Dr Carol Burniston, Consultant Clinical Child Psychologist

It must have been tough to think about your son everyday and wonder what he was doing.

It has probably been even more difficult to have kept this from your husband, when you have been close for so long. You make no mention of any children you may have had with your husband, and I found myself wondering whether your son was your only child.

I think there are several issues here; your continued longing for your son, or news of him, considering whether to tell your husband or not and perhaps some anxiety that if your son contacts you without your husband knowing, he may be very upset that you didn't feel able to confide in him.

Your son may or may not choose to contact you and you have no way of knowing how this will turn out. However, you are with your husband, and your relationship is currently the most significant in your life.

I suggest you talk this through with a close and trusted friend; only then will you able to decide which path to take.