The Birth Mother Search

First, let me begin by telling you that this newsletter is very personal. I want to talk about an ongoing discussion I have with my son about finding his birth mother. You may have already had this discussion, made a determination on how to deal with it or have even found your child’s birth mother. If you have found your child’s birth mother (or family) I’d be immensely grateful if you could share your insights with the rest of us. If you haven’t but you’ve had these conversations, we’d love to hear about that as well. This newsletter will be spread out over three weeks. I am hoping to create a forum for comments and discussions through this thread.

The Birth Mother Conversation Challenges

Yesterday I had a difficult conversation with my 12-year-old son, Jac. He has been very vocal about finding his birth mother in Guatemala for as long as I can remember but lately his sense of urgency has increased dramatically. It’s been a difficult year for Jac so I am not inclined to put any more stress on him than is absolutely necessary.

Jac had two significant bullying incidents at school this year that have left him with lower than normal self-esteem and a need for a lot more one on one connection – with both his father and me, as well as his therapist, his school counselors, his teachers and even his close friends. His grandmother passed away in the midst of the tumult at school, which further complicated his ability to rebound. Jac adored his grandmother. Watching her suffer through years of dementia that left her barely recognizable to the rest of us did not faze him. She was his person. Her death hit him very hard.

Jac creates and maintains very deep, emotional connections. He is one of the most affable, kind, loving, empathetic kids I have ever known and events like he has been through this year have caused him great distress. I don’t know if you are familiar with the term but his first-grade teacher told me he was an “Indigo Child” – the same thing his beloved grandmother used to call him. I call him an old soul and it pains me to see him suffer.

When Jac and I were at lunch yesterday he asked if I had found a company to help us search for his birth mother. I said I had. He wanted to know when we would begin the search. I explained to him that I have deep fears about his health right now in the aftermath of so many big, life-altering events. He told me in no uncertain terms that this was his decision and it was absolutely necessary for him to begin this search. He made it very clear to me that it is essential for him to figure out “how he fits in”. He said he is different than anyone he knows and he needs to explore his roots. Jac went so far as to accuse me of keeping him from knowing his birth mother because of my fears about what that will look like. It is clear I need perspective.

Birth-Mother-me-JacAs a parent I have to consider what I think my child can handle. I also have to evaluate my own fears about this search and be certain those are not overriding his need to know. I must consider the fears my child has expressed independent of my fears and weigh that against what we actually do know. I have to weigh the impact of finding my son’s birth mother on how it will impact the rest of our family. Finally, I have to weigh what the impact of not moving forward with a birth mother search will have on mine and Jac’s relationship.

To be quite honest, I have been reluctant to even begin a search because if Jac asked me (which he does often) what I know, I would not be able to tell him anything other than the truth. And what if that news isn’t good?

The fears I face with regard to a Birth Mother Search

  • Fear that my child may have been taken illegally from his birth mother.
  • Fear that my child’s birth mother was in the business of making babies to climb out of poverty.
  • Fear that she was a prostitute. Statistically, the area where she is from has a high rate of prostitution.
  • Fear of finding my child’s birth mother. What if they want to have a relationship? How will that impact me and the rest of my family?
  • Fear that my child’s birth mother might reject him. He would be crushed. How would I spin that?
  • Fear that my child’s birth mother/family would want something (maybe money) that I was unwilling or unable to provide. Or that in the future, my child was unwilling or unable to provide.
  • Fear that she or someone is sick or in dire need and how that would affect Jac.
  • Fear that it was wrong to take my child from his or her homeland, from his culture?

Before I continue with the discussion I had with Jac, I’d love to know what fears you have and if they are the same things that keep me up at night. Feel free to respond via email or in the comments section of this post on my website under “Blogs”. Next week I want to share the thoughts that Jac has expressed. He started a Google Doc of his thoughts and he has categorized them by what makes him happy, sad, scared, etc.

Thank you so much for participating. I look forward to reading about the experiences you have had.

All my best,

Bambi Wineland is the mother of two internationally adopted children, a traveler, the Founder and CEO of Motherland Travel. Motherland Travel designs Heritage Journeys for families with internationally adopted children. The emphasis of these Heritage Journeys is on family bonding, building self-esteem and cultivating pride in a family’s multi-cultural heritage. Read more about her here >>

As always, when you are ready to begin planning your child’s Heritage Journey, I’d love to help. You can sign up for a 30-minute discovery session with me at


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