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How likely is it a birth mother would not want contact with their estranged child?
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How likely is it a birth mother would not want contact with their estranged child?

I've been searching for my birth mother for about five years now. I don't necessarily want a reconciliation but it would be nice to just know that she still existed, maybe see if there were visual similarities etc. She doesn't have a common name, and I've managed to locate about 7 people with her name, 3 of them in the UK (where I was adopted) and the rest in Australia. As it happens, all of the Australian matches emmigrated from the UK at some point in their lives.

I've drafted a letter which explains about my search and includes some details about my birth so they can identify me if they are my mother - to try to prove I'm not a scammer. I also put in a paragraph explaining that if they were my mother but did not wish to have any contact with me could they reply to say so so that I knew I could stop my search. Also to reply if they weren't my mother, so I could strike them off my list, so to speak.

So my question is in two parts. Firstly, how likely is it that a birth mother would not want contact with their estranged child? Secondly how likely is it that my mother received my letter, but did not want contact, she would reply to let me know as I asked?

I want to hear your opinions, but if anyone has access to any statistics or studies performed that are relevant to the first part of the question that would be very helpful too.

Thank you


I also believe the statistic of 2% is not realistic - more like 25+%. If you were adopted prior to 1980 when many people were adopted whereas if they were born 10 years later, society would have been more accepting for the mother to keep them - then these mothers would have a much higher acceptance for contact than mothers who gave up children after 1980.

This is one of those situations where the rights of the mother and child are at an impass - do you as an adopted child have the right to impose your will to meet/contact your Bio mother if your biomother has no wish to have contact. That is why those agencies mentioned by a previous poster have been set up. You put in the contact details saying you wish to be contacted and only if your biological mother puts in their contact details saying they would welcome contact would the two of you be given each others details. That is a much better procedure which removes all doubts.

Yes - contacting her might be something she would welcome, but it might be also something that she would fear (have a new life, moved on, you might have been conceived non-consensually, result in many questions from her new family etc). You need to think about this from all angles not just from your need. Yes she could not answer the letter, or respond NO CONTACT, but you would have still imposed your will on her.

I have three adopted friends and one friend who relinquished a child 25 years ago. Two friends (in their 30s) have no wish to meet their bio parents, the third tried only to find out her birth (affair) was the reason her mothers marriage broke up (and the resentment continued to fester), the other mother has absolutely no desire, even after 25 year to meet with "that kid" and lives in fear that she will contact her (even after changing her last name by deed poll).


I honestly do not know the percentages but I am sure that this is a two sided question. I do not believe that the 1% answer given is true though.


In the US most states have centralized adoption registries. Texas does for sure and both the BMom and Adoptee (at 18) have access to it. If / When the BMom registers information can be shared or either person can refuse contact.

Walter Ford II
Firstly, how likely is it that a birth mother would not want contact with their estranged child?

Very unlikely. Most mothers wait until their child contacts them. They are riddled with guilt and remorse and a mothers natural instinct to protect her child from anymore pain.

Secondly how likely is it that my mother received my letter, but did not want contact, she would reply to let me know as I asked?

Not sure. I don't trust my own Aps never mind agency's when it comes to adoption and communication.

Hi Pete,
I think the decade in which you were given up for adoption has an impact. In the 50's many mothers were persuaded to give a child up with a promise that there would be the end of it. They went on and married and had children and never said a word to anyone. All was their secret. The re emergence of an adopted child into their lives is a horror too hard to contemplate. This was my scenario and I was acknowledged with great fear and begged not to make any further contact. She was terrified of her husband and family knowing anything of her past.

Very sad and can break your heart even when you think you are prepared for a knock back.

Each is different tho but I think it is always useful to prepare for the worst case. You say you do not necessarily want reconciliation or on going contact....I told myself that but in the face of it all I did and do want more but shall never have it.

Feel free to e mail me if you wish.

blue moon
I am adopted and have gone through this, it is a lot higher than you think and I would not EVER have a mediator speak on your behalf.

The psychology of this is that while most birth mothers do yern to know the reality is very different when they get that call or read that letter.

I searched for my mother 100% alone, found grandparents, aunty Dad and then her. I found that I had 2 sisters and 2 brothers all of whom had been fostered out and she had refused contact with them through social services.

I turned up she refused, i talked to her husband who knew of all her children but his parents did not. I met her a few times exchanged letters and gifts ect and all was good in the end but I never wanted a full on relationship just to see her, talk to her and know my roots and get my q's answered, I did and I stopped all contact.

Each case is very different but as I only wanted answers the fear of rejection was not an option which is why i knocked on the door myself, she had no idea no choice, but there could be as in her case other people who do not know of someones background and they need to be protected, although as my mother said she always expected it after i turned 18.

I left it until mid thirties when in her mind she'd given up.

The main issue facing the birth mother is the feeling of failure as adoptees often go to wealthy families and there are many reasons for the decision your mother made, good or bad you must be open minded, nobody takes such a decision lighlty.

I wish you all the very best and with the unusual name just order all birth/marriage certs and piece it together, your almost there

Im adopted, and my birth mother has no interest in having contact with me whatsoever. After being reunited with my birth father last year, the natural step was to find my birth mother, with the help of my father who knew all about her. When i finally found her, a letter was sent and I had a reply that was not directed to me, but to my father requesting that I made no more contact.

Its hard as I grew up my whole life thinking she would be the one I found first, and who would accept me, and believed it - so its hard when thats not the case.

Good luck honey - but please remember things dont always go the way you hope to, even after you meet with your birth family. I hope that you have the happy ending that you want.

It is highly unlikely that your birth mother would not want to contact you. Just as you are wondering about her, she is probably wondering about you. Most likely if she knew you are looking for her and she received a letter from you, she would at least send some type of reply. I know a person who was trying to get in contact with a child she placed for adoption many years ago. A lot of time went by, and she hadn't received any replies. More time went by and she received a letter from her daughter. It turns out that her daughter had been searching for her for years also. Keep trying!

I have no idea how many bmoms wouldn't want contact, all I can tell you is that mine did, but didn't know where to start looking. As for your second question *shrug* it's down to the same kind of thing really... everyone's an individual, and whether such an individual would be willing to reply to such a letter would again be nothing more than a guesstimation.

I'd say go for it anyway. I spent most of my adult life sporadically searching, and didn't find anyone until I tripped over them all on Facebook September last year. I only hope you have faster results than I did, and that none of them are as nutty as I appear to have (well at least I can S-D my insanity's hereditary :p).

I believe statistics show that approximately 1% of mothers are not open to contact from their adult child.

In the UK and I believe, Australia a mother or adoptee is able to register their contact preference with the contact registry, this does not prevent an adult adoptee from accessing their original birth record though - it just gives people the opportunity to state their preference

The USA does not offer this option and, despite sealed and secret records, people find each other anyway but go in blind as to the person's preference as to contact (if they choose to contact anyone, it's mistakenly assumed that every person who wants the truth of their origins automatically wants to go and contact someone!)

So, to answer your question, the vast majority of mothers want to know (in fact yearn to know) what became of their child.

Personally I think phone calls are the best way to establish whether or not a person is the one you are seeking. Most people I called were very interested and wished me well in my search.

It is a very small percentage of natural mothers who don't want contact.

If your natural mother doesn't want contact I cannot answer that question as I personally haven't got to know any that wouldn't want contact. My son searched for me and found my family quite quickly who, unfortunately, lied to him and told him that they didn't know where I was. I found my son 5 years after he started searching for me, he had tracked me to a couple of addresses but unfortunately I had moved so didn't receive his letters. If I hadn't found him my family would have continued to lie to him.

The refusal rate, from what I have seen after working in search/support in my area, is about 20%. It is higher than the 2% rate which adopted people are often told.

Twenty years ago, I found my son. I joined a search/support group. It was a face-to-face group and I was surprised at how many adopted people were turned down by their mothers. The adopted people contacted their mothers themselves.The group met once a month.
The refusal rate stayed at about 20%, no matter what approaches were taken.

At the same time, my state passed a Confidential Intermediary law, which allowed a non-profit group to do searches with access to court records. The CIs were adopted people, natural parents, and adoptive parents. The mothers they contacted have refused at a rate of about 25%.

This has been in force since 1989.

Your chances are better than average. Most mothers do want to be found.

Most mothers want to know their children, because they always wanted to know them, and they never stopped.

There are those mothers who are hiding, and they will always hide. There are those mothers who are still ashamed of "sinning" and there are mothers who are afraid of retribution from society, even now.

One group that I never thought about were the ones whose children were conceived in an adulterous relationship that they managed to hide, somehow, and relinquish. These are often still hiding. There are quite a few of them.

I'm sure there are some birth mothers that are not interested in ever meeting the child they gave up, just like there are some adopted people who have no interest in meeting their birth parents. However, even if this is the situation, I would like to think she would still write and let you know, perhaps give you any medical history you might need to know. Good luck to you!

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