Adoptive mum explains why she reported her daughter's birth mother to police

When Hilary and her husband adopted their daughter, she had been through trauma.

The child had been through a difficult start in life, followed by several placements that hadn’t worked out.

Over time, Hilary (not her real name) and her family helped the young girl get help and start to deal with her attachment issues.

But as she reached her teenage years, Hilary’s daughter joined Facebook and it was through the social media platform that her birth mother was able to track her down, leading to a series of events which would impact her for years.

Speaking to for Adoption Month, Hilary explains: ‘She had always had a curiosity about her birth mother. We had always been very open that she, and her older sister, were adopted and talked about it.

‘It seemed inevitable that at some point she would make contact with her birth mother but we expected that to be done in a managed way.

‘In our daughter’s file, it said that her birth mother didn’t want to make contact. A letter drop, where she wrote the first letter, was offered to her but nothing ever happened.

‘Then one day, out of the blue, when our daughter was 14, she came downstairs and told us her birth mother had made contact on Facebook. She was very excited about it.’

Having gone through careful training before adopting, Hilary knew that there needed to be support given to both sides to make contact between an adopted child and their birth parent work.

She says: ‘If it’s going to be successful it needs to be managed. I was absolutely never against my daughter having contact but just wanted it to be done through the proper channels.

‘I knew there needed to be someone professional helping and guiding both sides.’

Quickly, the relationship between Hilary’s daughter and her birth mother became ‘very intense’.

She explains: ‘It was very overwhelming for her. Her birth mother was telling her she had to come and live with her and our daughter tried to pull back but when she did that, her birth mother said: “Well if you won’t, as far as I am concerned, you are dead.”

‘That was a re-traumatising statement.’

Her birth mother had started to understand the teenager’s routine and would go places to try to bump into her.

‘It was very difficult for her. She became very conflicted about loyalities and was so fearful about what one press of a Facebook button had done,’ Hilary says.

‘She’d been having some very good support in school with her attachment and trauma issues.

‘Sadly, after this encounter with her birth mother, it was like all the work that was done was just sort of ripped apart.’

Hilary and her partner had a meeting with the birth mother and social services, without her daughter present, which she describes as ‘civilised’.

The birth mother promised not to make any further contact and they explained how their daughter needed to mature and make decisions about it when she was older.

Sadly, the birth mother was not able to stick to the agreement and the contact carried on. Eventually, the family had to get the police involved and she was warned under stalking and harassment law.

Hilary adds: ‘It was a horribly uncomfortable thing for our family to have to do but at that stage, it was the only thing our daughter had available to protect her.’

After that point, the situation calmed down but the distress of the period has had a lasting impact on Hilary’s daughter, who is now a young adult.

She says: ‘She still has a lot of issues around the trauma that she is still working on. Her birth mother still lives in the local area and they do encounter each other from time to time. She has an ongoing dread of that happening but it is still every few months.

‘The unplanned contact has been very, very damaging and probably means there will never be a relationship between them. I feel immense sadness for both my daughter and her birth mother.’

Hilary says that social media is a big problem for families with adopted children, but admits she isn’t sure what the solution is.

There are no exact rule around adopted children and social media and it is up to the family to decide what is best in their particular situation as circumstances can be very different.

Hilary explains: ‘It’s hard, because social media is a difficult problem and I’m not sure what we do with it. All parents have worried about controls around social media and what is going online no matter what but particularly for parents of adopted children.

‘You are putting a lot of information online and need to talk carefully about what that means.’

She does feel that the one thing she has learned from the encounter is that there is not enough support for parents who choose to or have to give up their children.

She adds: ‘I think one thing I do feel is that there needs to be better support for birth parents. They might be helped in the short term but these people suffer terribly years and years down the line.

‘Our daughter’s birth mother said she didn’t want contact but in the fullness of time, I think the grief and regret caught up with her.

‘Increasingly, adopters are encouraged to have contact with birth families when it is safe to do so. I think that if it is safe, we should do that.

‘Throughout everything, I felt a huge amount of empathy for our daughter’s birth mother because of what she had been through.’

*Hilary’s name has been changed to protect her and her daughter’s identity.

Hilary was supported by Adoption UK, a UK based charity helping families looking after children who cannot live with their birth parents. For more information, visit their website.

Adoption Month

Adoption Month is a month-long series covering all aspects of adoption.

For the next four weeks, which includes National Adoption Week from October 14-19, we will be speaking to people who have been affected by adoption in some way, from those who chose to welcome someone else’s child into their family to others who were that child.

We’ll also be talking to experts in the field and answering as many questions as possible associated with adoption, as well as offering invaluable advice along the way.

If you have a story to tell or want to share any of your own advice please do get in touch at [email protected].

  • Why we’re talking about adoption this month
  • How to adopt a child – from how long it takes to how you can prepare
  • The most Googled questions on adoption, answered
  • How long does it take to adopt a child in the UK
  • Adoption myths that could be stopping you from starting a family
  • How to tell your child they are adopted 

Visit our Adoption Month page for more.

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