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My Mom Won't Tell Me About My Adoption

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I am 15-years-old and my mother still hasn't told me that I'm not her biological child. She said she won't discuss it until she believes I'm old enough to understand. My cousin is the one who told me the truth. I'm so upset that sometimes I feel like running away. I know my mother took me in and supported me for 15 years, but she's been lying to me for the same amount of time. Should I ask her about it or should I wait until she thinks I'll be able to take it?

A: I can understand why your mother has not told you about the circumstances that brought you to her as a baby. She, like so many others in her position, feels that she is protecting you from hurt and sadness by keeping the truth from you. Unfortunately, now that you know that she took you in, as opposed to being your birth mother, it has become impossible for you to just wait patiently until she decides when you are old enough to know these things.

At 15, I believe that you are mature enough to know the facts surrounding your birth and adoption. By keeping the facts from you, she is only making the matter worse. You must try to understand that your mother, the only mother that you have known, is probably afraid that you will want to leave her if you find out the truth. She already knows that you hate the fact that she has lied to you. This is a very serious, complicated situation and I am sure that you might be able to place yourself in your mother's position and understand why she feels as she does.

There are therapists who are specialists in helping kids in your position. Perhaps another family member can help you to persuade your mother to see such a therapist so you can both begin to discuss this issue without blame or anger. No one can make your mother tell you anything. But if she felt that she could help you by telling you the story that you need to hear, maybe she would feel differently. Please keep me up to date on what happens.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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