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Adoption Blog: My Paperwork Pregnancies

“My Mom Tells Them How I’m Doing”

Recently, I brought my children to a friend's house for a playdate. Our kids were sitting at the dining table, waiting for their lunch, while my friend and I assembled sandwiches nearby. I overheard my nine year-old son, Keith, adopted domestically, say to his best friend, "Texas? I was born in Texas!" I looked over my shoulder and saw the two boys looking at a placemat with a United States map on it. Keith continued, "My birthparents still live there."


"What are birthparents?" asked his friend.


"They are the ones I was born to," answered Keith. "Then my parents adopted me."


"Oh, that's cool," said his friend, who has always known that my son was adopted.


"But," said my son, "they don't call or write to me. I'm not sure why."


His friend's face looked shocked as he loudly responded, "Well, that's just rude!"


"Yeah," continued Keith, "but my mom writes them letters and sends them pictures of me. She tells them how I'm doing. But I just want to know if they are OK. I really hope they'll listen to my mom and start to write me."


His friend nodded his head as if this all made sense to him. Then he added, "That's cool what your mom is doing."


"Yeah, it is cool," agreed Keith. Then their conversation returned to their normal boy-talk about their next creative way to torture their younger sisters.


I could barely contain my excitement as I turned to my friend and whispered, "Did you hear that?!" I had just overheard my son have a discussion with his friend about his adoption. It was as causal and natural as I could have hoped for. I was thrilled to hear my son discuss his adoption proudly, and handle his friend's questions and comments appropriately.


I also heard something I had before – Keith is heartbroken that he hasn't heard anything from his birthparents for as long as he can remember. Every year I send a letter and photos to our agency, and then they attempt to contact the birthparents to let them know that the update is available. I am not even 100-percent certain that the birthparents always request that it be forwarded. This is so different from the very open relationship we had before Keith's birth until the time he was six months old or so.  At that point, the weekly phone calls and letters mailed directly to each other began going unanswered. There was one short phone call on Keith's first birthda,y which reaffirmed to me that they were still thinking of him. But since then, our once open relationship has became one-sided.


Has it been hard for me to write annual updates not knowing if Keith's birthparents appreciate my efforts to inform them about our amazing son, or even if they receive them? Has it been difficult to write them with questions, which Keith wants answers to, knowing that they'll likely go unanswered? Absolutely. I always find it emotionally draining to write these letters.


To make it easier for me to write these annual updates, I began mentally approaching them as a "Journal of Keith." I keep a copy of each letter in a safe place, and will eventually bind them together. They will be an accurate portrayal of Keith's childhood. I know that my parents, like most, never sat down each year to recap their child's milestones and memorable events. Keith will be blessed to have these letters to look back on when he's older.


Hearing Keith and his friend agree that I was "cool" for writing letters and sending pictures made my heart swell. It confirmed for me that he truly understood what I was doing and why I was doing it. I know that he desires to hear from his birthparents, and that he recognizes that I'm trying to make that happen by writing the letters. Even if I'm not successful, when he's older, he'll know I never gave up, that I always had faith that I was establishing a connection.


I share this story to inspire you to keep your hopes up if you aren't hearing from your child's birthparents. Keep writing letters. Keep sending pictures. Let your child know that you recognize how important this relationship is and that you are doing all you can to make it work. Your child will notice and appreciate your hard work. What better way to show respect to your child's birthparents and appreciation for your child's adoption than making every effort possible?

Related Posts on AdoptiveFamiliesCircle


Love this story, Danielle. Thank you for giving us a peek into how you and your son are dealing with such a situation.

May Keith’s birth mother find her way back to you all.

By Lavender Luz on Wednesday, February 01, 2012 at 10:36 pm.

This is a really great post. I felt very sad a couple weeks ago when my letter to my 3-year-old son’s birthmother was returned to me by the postal service marked “box closed, no forwarding address.” We had a post-adoption contact agreement whereby I would send photos and letters to her p.o. box, updating her on his progress. Now, I can’t do that anymore. But I am comforted and inspired by the story you’ve shared, and I will continue writing the letters and putting together the pictures, even if they end up bound in a special book for my son instead of in the hands of his birthmother. Thank you.

By LallyFam on Wednesday, February 01, 2012 at 11:24 pm.

Thank you, Danielle. I needed this so much today. My daughter’s birth mom recently made contact for the very first time after 2 years and 4 months.

By Maru on Thursday, February 02, 2012 at 1:20 am.

I could not love this more if I tried! SO powerful, and SOOO true! I agree, a 1,000 time over I agree. As an adopted child, it would have been so powerful to know that my birth parents at least knew I was okay. It was always a bit troubling to me that they were able to continue on withou knowing that I was okay. It made for a lot of what if’s. What if they were at the park and saw a child, did they think of me? Or when they met someone who shared my name, did they think of me, etc, etc, etc. It is all of these things that make the relationship with my son’s birth mother so important to me, and why I work so hard to maintain it. Thank you, this post is so perfectly done!

By Maximilian's Mommy on Thursday, February 02, 2012 at 3:07 am.

Danielle, I cannot thank you enough for helping to inspire us to write the letter for our son’s second birthday to send to his birthmother.
My husband had struggled; I looked at the first draft he wrote and hesitated.
He felt he had “written himself into a corner” with that first draft so today he happened to start the second one.  I read your piece, cried a bit and a couple of hours later, finished our letter.  My husband called the letter brilliant, so I told him he should read your blog, since you helped spark my thoughts to her.  As usual, I added my statement at the end of hope that she will write something for him to read when he gets older or send us something to tell him further than the paperwork from the hospital.
Who knows? Even if she never does, we will do this annual photo/letter project.  Perhaps we’ll start to place them into albums or boxes for him too - in addition to saving them on the computer. Thanks again Danielle.  Your writing is so moving.

By Renee Hoyt on Thursday, February 02, 2012 at 5:41 am.

Renee, I was was brought to tears reading your comment!  I know that feeling you were experiencing so I’m SO happy I helped you get through it all.  Changing perspective can make such a huge difference.

Lallyfam, my heart aches for you and your son.  I’m glad you are keeping up the letters though.

Maximillian’s Mommy, I love hearing from adult adoptees on this topic.  So thank you very much for your words.

Maru, I am thrilled that your child’s birthmother has reconnected with you.  Cherish and record every moment.

Lavender, thanks so much for your kind words.

By Danielle Pennel on Friday, February 03, 2012 at 1:36 am.

Thanks Danielle, I like the idea of writing, sending and saving a copy for myself and family.  My story is a reverse of yours!  I’m both an adoptive mother of 2 and a birthmother to a bd, now 28, married and with a 1yr. old!  So actually, a birthgrandmother!  We had a great open adoption experience up until my bd turned 20 or so.  Some I knew was that things we’re different after she turned 18 and I did not arrange things with both her mom/dad, myself & bd.  Now she does not reply to my calls, emails, or rarely any acknowledgment of my letters/photos sent.  I have more than once asked her if I had done something/etc??  She said no, she just not good at corresponding.  It hurts, though my entire adoption experience has been filled with much emotions, letters I would receive and jump for joy, visits I loved and uncontrollable tears I shed when I would leave.  Adoption is not for the faint of heart (??)!  I’ll keep sending a card and photos, maybe yearly and pop in an idea to get-together (though I’ve stopped that for now), though I will save a copy for myself! 
Great idea! 


By Kt. L. on Sunday, February 05, 2012 at 10:29 pm.

Here are some comments from over on our Adoptive Families Facebook page:

Honey B Love she is cool for doing it smile Not many people are blessed with the ability to know BOTH sets of parents smile

Kierstin VanScoten Weber That’s awesome! I will forward this on!!

Jean Bibee Brockmeier Love the article. Respect all aspects of open adoption, your child will appreciate it. Wonderful story.

Rebecca Einem Wagner As a birth mom I sometimes feel like they don’t want me to write to them as I am “getting in their way”...but I LOVE when they write me!!!! I send one letter a year (usually at Christmas). They write me much more often.

Sharon Risner-Pheifer ‎@Rebecca…I can only speak for myself, and my own situation, but I LOVE hearing from my son’s birth mother. I love that he will know how important he is to all of his family. Hugs and love to you!

Christina Marie White I love hearing from our son’s birthmom tool

Laran Despain Sometimes we do the right thing because it’s the right thing and let the rest just happen.

By Danielle Pennel on Monday, February 06, 2012 at 7:00 pm.

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Danielle Pennel

Danielle Pennel


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