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Before you start your search

If you are looking for your birth mother, birth father or birth relatives, here are some things you should think about, including how intensely emotional it will be.

Birth mothers

In the past, society tended to believe that birth mothers wished to remain anonymous and would not want their identity revealed after embarking on their "new lives". Studies and experience have shown this assumption to be untrue for most birth mothers.

It has also been established that birth mothers do not forget their child. Most go on thinking about their child for the rest of their lives, while many continue to have intense feelings of loss, pain and mourning, intensified by not knowing what has happened to their child.

Although birth mothers crave information, their anxieties and fears often mean they are reluctant to initiate a search. Birth mothers are concerned that their child will not understand the reasons for the adoption and may have grown up feeling rejected and abandoned, or that their child will think poorly of them, or perhaps be angry and resentful at having been given up for adoption.

Many birth mothers were told to ‘go home and forget about the child’, and were led to believe that they had ‘no right’ to know about their child. Some birth mothers never told anyone about their child. For these reasons it is important for adopted people searching for their birth mother to remember that their birth and adoption may still be a secret from members of the birth family, even 30, 40 or 50 years after the event. A birth mother’s husband, her other children, and many of her relatives and friends may not know of the adopted person’s existence and she may fear the consequences of her secret being exposed.

Like some adopted people, a small number of birth mothers choose not to use community services to obtain information about their child. Some may choose to receive only non-identifying information which lets them know that their child is well. Others leave a message for the adopted person on the Reunion and Information Register (RIR), which will be passed on if the adopted person also registers.

Most birth mothers do not want to hurt the adoptive parents and feel that they have no right to intrude into the relationships of the adoptive family. However, birth mothers usually respond positively if an adopted person requests contact.

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019