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The morality of searching for your birth parents

Rhea

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I saw this post about a young woman posting her picture with a sign about which town she was left in a hospital and a birth date. And I can’t help but think about the birth mother, who gave her to adoption for whatever reason. What reason? A rape? Incest? An abusive boyfriend? It being a 10th child that she couldn’t afford to keep? An unintended pregnancy that would have interrupted her future?

Now this young person’s face is on the inernet all over the hometown of the birth mother, possibly looking like her, possibly like the father.

And no idea whether this forced reveal will cause pain or horror.

When I see these things, I don’t feel like it is moral to publicly announce one’s search. And even private searches seem so fraught.
 

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I saw this post about a young woman posting her picture with a sign about which town she was left in a hospital and a birth date. And I can’t help but think about the birth mother, who gave her to adoption for whatever reason. What reason? A rape? Incest? An abusive boyfriend? It being a 10th child that she couldn’t afford to keep? An unintended pregnancy that would have interrupted her future?

Now this young person’s face is on the inernet all over the hometown of the birth mother, possibly looking like her, possibly like the father.

And no idea whether this forced reveal will cause pain or horror.

When I see these things, I don’t feel like it is moral to publicly announce one’s search. And even private searches seem so fraught.

If it was an abandonment, I see no problem with it. If birth mom went through proper channels, and said no to being contacted, that's a different question.
 

untermensche

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Is there any real moral issue here?

A grown person is curious about their parents and family.

Finding out can be a good or bad experience.

This is an issue of wisdom not morality.

Is it wise to seek knowledge that may hurt you as opposed to living without knowing?
 

James Brown

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Learning your birth parents' medical history can be a life-or-death decision.

Learning your birth parents' identities is a different matter, or course.
 

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I saw this post about a young woman posting her picture with a sign about which town she was left in a hospital and a birth date. And I can’t help but think about the birth mother, who gave her to adoption for whatever reason. What reason? A rape? Incest? An abusive boyfriend? It being a 10th child that she couldn’t afford to keep? An unintended pregnancy that would have interrupted her future?

Now this young person’s face is on the inernet all over the hometown of the birth mother, possibly looking like her, possibly like the father.

And no idea whether this forced reveal will cause pain or horror.

When I see these things, I don’t feel like it is moral to publicly announce one’s search. And even private searches seem so fraught.

If it was an abandonment, I see no problem with it. If birth mom went through proper channels, and said no to being contacted, that's a different question.

Is it really moral to bring someone into existence and then declare yourself free from all responsibility toward that person? Are there any proper channels that could resolve the ethical problem of imposing the inevitable struggles of life on someone and asking someone else to foot the bill on your behalf? I realize in many cases that may be the best outcome for the child, but it still occurs within the larger context of an act of violence and disrespect toward her. You would basically be saying, under even the most charitable circumstances: "I was unable to prevent you from being born, and now that you're born, I'm unable to support you, but if I place you in state custody until somebody volunteers to take care of you, I deserve to be left alone by you forever." Not only are all the usual sufferings of life the responsibility of the parents, but the additional pain caused by the residual social stigma of being adopted is also traceable to the parents, even if adoption was the least bad option at the time. This is not to say that they should be punished and humiliated of course, but I dispute the argument that they are entitled to invisibility.
 

Loren Pechtel

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It should only be permitted through a registry, contact information is provided if both sides want to find the other. Doing it publicly could cause problems for a woman who gave up a baby secretly.
 

George S

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My newly found granddaughter was searching for her mother's father and found me on 23andMe. I have moved to be near them, 2 grandkids 25 and 22, and great-grandkids 1 and 3. They have allowed me to be a small part of their life; Johnny and Aubrey will always know me.
My daughter's mother did not inform me of the birth and gave her up for adoption at 3 months. She had said she was pregnant when she left me . . . and said she would "take care of it."
 

Rhea

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Is it really moral to bring someone into existence and then declare yourself free from all responsibility toward that person? Are there any proper channels that could resolve the ethical problem of imposing the inevitable struggles of life on someone and asking someone else to foot the bill on your behalf? I realize in many cases that may be the best outcome for the child, but it still occurs within the larger context of an act of violence and disrespect toward her. You would basically be saying, under even the most charitable circumstances: "I was unable to prevent you from being born, and now that you're born, I'm unable to support you, but if I place you in state custody until somebody volunteers to take care of you, I deserve to be left alone by you forever." Not only are all the usual sufferings of life the responsibility of the parents, but the additional pain caused by the residual social stigma of being adopted is also traceable to the parents, even if adoption was the least bad option at the time. This is not to say that they should be punished and humiliated of course, but I dispute the argument that they are entitled to invisibility.


So, abortions then?


As I outlined in the OP, in the case of rape? You gift that someone with life and that’s not enough?

I’m surprised by those who say birth = forced parenthood.
For those who care about abortions, this will increase them.
 

Rhea

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My newly found granddaughter was searching for her mother's father and found me on 23andMe. I have moved to be near them, 2 grandkids 25 and 22, and great-grandkids 1 and 3. They have allowed me to be a small part of their life; Johnny and Aubrey will always know me.
My daughter's mother did not inform me of the birth and gave her up for adoption at 3 months. She had said she was pregnant when she left me . . . and said she would "take care of it."


And if you had been a rapist? Would the woman who was raped be glad to have you at the dinner table, do you think?
 

George S

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My newly found granddaughter was searching for her mother's father and found me on 23andMe. I have moved to be near them, 2 grandkids 25 and 22, and great-grandkids 1 and 3. They have allowed me to be a small part of their life; Johnny and Aubrey will always know me.
My daughter's mother did not inform me of the birth and gave her up for adoption at 3 months. She had said she was pregnant when she left me . . . and said she would "take care of it."


And if you had been a rapist? Would the woman who was raped be glad to have you at the dinner table, do you think?

Strange you should ask. Y'see good old Beth made up a story about having been raped. As it happened we lived together and I'd taken her home to meet the folks. I think she made up the story to justify her pregnancy to her family. My daughter did manage to find Beth and was told that story, too. She couldn't even tell the truth to her birth-daughter. She said she was raped by a boy named George from California at his fraternity's party. My birth-daughter never did believe the story she was told. She is very good at detecting lies. Nevertheless our meeting was held on neutral ground and she had her son with her and I had my sister. It was my sister who verified that there was no way she could have forgotten my last name. And noted that I never joined a fraternity. I had lived in California for 3 years in grade school, the rest in Wisconsin.
 

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I saw this post about a young woman posting her picture with a sign about which town she was left in a hospital and a birth date. And I can’t help but think about the birth mother, who gave her to adoption for whatever reason. What reason? A rape? Incest? An abusive boyfriend? It being a 10th child that she couldn’t afford to keep? An unintended pregnancy that would have interrupted her future?

Now this young person’s face is on the inernet all over the hometown of the birth mother, possibly looking like her, possibly like the father.

And no idea whether this forced reveal will cause pain or horror.

When I see these things, I don’t feel like it is moral to publicly announce one’s search. And even private searches seem so fraught.

This is a tough issue. I have an amazing daughter. She is greatly loved by her family and her friends. She has tons of friends. I think that she'd say that she has a great life: full of adventure and fun. She's very happy and hardly ever is sad or emotional (even as a teenager). One day we were going through baby pictures of myself. I told her look how ugly a baby I was! Then my daughter got upset, and said that at least my birth parents didn't abandon you underneath a tree and give you up.

I'm very active in the adoption world. We have lots of friends with adopted kids. We get them together, go to camps, and etc. I can tell you that as these kids age, being abandoned at a young age is a very traumatic event that stays with a kid for their whole life. Even in happy families. So, I completely understand kids seeking answers.

Having said that, if birth parents were exposed against their will, fewer would be willing to adopt.
 

Rhea

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My newly found granddaughter was searching for her mother's father and found me on 23andMe. I have moved to be near them, 2 grandkids 25 and 22, and great-grandkids 1 and 3. They have allowed me to be a small part of their life; Johnny and Aubrey will always know me.
My daughter's mother did not inform me of the birth and gave her up for adoption at 3 months. She had said she was pregnant when she left me . . . and said she would "take care of it."


And if you had been a rapist? Would the woman who was raped be glad to have you at the dinner table, do you think?

Strange you should ask. Y'see good old Beth made up a story about having been raped. As it happened we lived together and I'd taken her home to meet the folks. I think she made up the story to justify her pregnancy to her family. My daughter did manage to find Beth and was told that story, too. She couldn't even tell the truth to her birth-daughter. She said she was raped by a boy named George from California at his fraternity's party. My birth-daughter never did believe the story she was told. She is very good at detecting lies. Nevertheless our meeting was held on neutral ground and she had her son with her and I had my sister. It was my sister who verified that there was no way she could have forgotten my last name. And noted that I never joined a fraternity. I had lived in California for 3 years in grade school, the rest in Wisconsin.

I get that, I remember your story. But yours is not the only type of reunion.

My question was about the mother who gave the child to adoption for a better life. A mother whose memory of the conception and birth is trauma and pain. For whatever reason. And that the pain is not one that goes away because time has passed.

That is what I wondered about when I saw that young woman's picture on facebook. I imagined a mother that was not storybook. And that the reason she gave that child to a better life was because she offered that alternative instead of abortion.


What I'm hearing is, "if you have trauma in your pregnancy, or would have trauma from raising a child, you should abort instead of giving to adoption, because needing to cut ties after adoption is not a right that you have."
 

George S

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The reason she gave for giving up our daughter for adoption was that she would always remind her of me. Perhaps she had a better life with her adoptive father. Can't know for sure but her adoptive father was very good to her and her children; her adoptive mother not so much.
 

Rhea

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The reason she gave for giving up our daughter for adoption was that she would always remind her of me. Perhaps she had a better life with her adoptive father. Can't know for sure but her adoptive father was very good to her and her children; her adoptive mother not so much.


And again, my question to you is what you think about women who had severe trauma like a rape and decide to complete the pregnancy and give the child a chance through adoption. Always at risk for re-living this? Or should they get abortions instead, as the only way to actually remove themselves from the return of the trauma?

I guess I should assume, since I’ve asked 3 times now and you’ve declined to address the question, that you feel yes, women should always be forced to be parents, you cannot terminate your parental responsibility ever; the child owns you - if you choose to complete a pregnancy.
 

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The reason she gave for giving up our daughter for adoption was that she would always remind her of me. Perhaps she had a better life with her adoptive father. Can't know for sure but her adoptive father was very good to her and her children; her adoptive mother not so much.


And again, my question to you is what you think about women who had severe trauma like a rape and decide to complete the pregnancy and give the child a chance through adoption. Always at risk for re-living this? Or should they get abortions instead, as the only way to actually remove themselves from the return of the trauma?

I guess I should assume, since I’ve asked 3 times now and you’ve declined to address the question, that you feel yes, women should always be forced to be parents, you cannot terminate your parental responsibility ever; the child owns you - if you choose to complete a pregnancy.

I agree with you, women should not be forced to be parents. They should be able to remain anonymous if they so desire.
 

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Gee.
First World Problems much?
Such a simple existential question.
So much 'trauma' for selfish parents in hiding from their own children.

IMG_0003.jpg
 

Rhea

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Gee.
First World Problems much?
Such a simple existential question.
So much 'trauma' for selfish parents in hiding from their own children.

That is a remarkably unfeeling response to a scenario of a person traumatized by rape, then doubly traumatized by pregnancy from it. You even used the mockingquotes to laugh at her pain.

Yes, she may indeed want to hide from the child of her rapist.
Although, that is certainly NOT just a first world problem...
 

Harry Bosch

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Gee.
First World Problems much?
Such a simple existential question.
So much 'trauma' for selfish parents in hiding from their own children.

View attachment 19347

Very insensitive post. I'm very involved in the adoption community, and adopted kids do not feel this way. A women in distress giving her child up for adoption is incredibly not selfish. Very easy for some to judge I guess.
 

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Insensitive would be telling your own "unwanted" child to eff off because you never want to see them again.
 

untermensche

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If your child will suffer things like hunger and isolation and the dangers of poverty with you is it immoral to give the child a better life?
 

Rhea

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Insensitive would be telling your own "unwanted" child to eff off because you never want to see them again.

You don’t thnk of rape and abuse as traumatic at all, do you.
Your privilege is showing.
 

steve_bank

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To be form not to be..

Hamlet had a choice to seek the truth or step back and live in princely comfort. He sought the truth and destroyed himself and people he loved.
 

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If your child will suffer things like hunger and isolation and the dangers of poverty with you is it immoral to give the child a better life?

It doesn't cost a cent to say to a long lost child;
I love you,
I've missed you,
I wish I could have raised you.

Not one cent.
 

Rhea

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If your child will suffer things like hunger and isolation and the dangers of poverty with you is it immoral to give the child a better life?

It doesn't cost a cent to say to a long lost child;
I love you,
I've missed you,
I wish I could have raised you.

Not one cent.

You really do not understand trauma at all, do you?
 

Loren Pechtel

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If your child will suffer things like hunger and isolation and the dangers of poverty with you is it immoral to give the child a better life?

It doesn't cost a cent to say to a long lost child;
I love you,
I've missed you,
I wish I could have raised you.

Not one cent.

And if that child is a symbol of her rape do you think she is going to feel any of these things?
 

steve_bank

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If your child will suffer things like hunger and isolation and the dangers of poverty with you is it immoral to give the child a better life?

It doesn't cost a cent to say to a long lost child;
I love you,
I've missed you,
I wish I could have raised you.

Not one cent.

What if the mother is so distraught in meeting her kid she then turns to drugs or suicide? Are you god passing judgment?

If the daughter and mother both have good lives, what if the meeting destroys the mother's life?
 

Rhea

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...
 
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PyramidHead

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Is it really moral to bring someone into existence and then declare yourself free from all responsibility toward that person? Are there any proper channels that could resolve the ethical problem of imposing the inevitable struggles of life on someone and asking someone else to foot the bill on your behalf? I realize in many cases that may be the best outcome for the child, but it still occurs within the larger context of an act of violence and disrespect toward her. You would basically be saying, under even the most charitable circumstances: "I was unable to prevent you from being born, and now that you're born, I'm unable to support you, but if I place you in state custody until somebody volunteers to take care of you, I deserve to be left alone by you forever." Not only are all the usual sufferings of life the responsibility of the parents, but the additional pain caused by the residual social stigma of being adopted is also traceable to the parents, even if adoption was the least bad option at the time. This is not to say that they should be punished and humiliated of course, but I dispute the argument that they are entitled to invisibility.


So, abortions then?
I'm not sure what you're asking. I twice said that it may often be the case that, following a pregnancy (that the mother does not wish to terminate) the best of many bad options is to put the child up for adoption. That doesn't make it any less bad in terms of its impact on the child and the parents' direct responsibility for it, despite doing everything in their power to mitigate it.

As I outlined in the OP, in the case of rape? You gift that someone with life and that’s not enough?
I don't share your assumption that life should be uncritically regarded as a gift. Life is precarious, boring, frustrating, and terminal in even the best cases. It's something the living are obliged to make better, because in itself it doesn't have much going for it. Being born into the adoption system doesn't help matters much.

I’m surprised by those who say birth = forced parenthood.
I'm saying no such thing. There is quite conceivably no equitable outcome that does not violate either the autonomy of the parents or that of their offspring. I'm just pointing out the difference between that interpretation and the one that allows the parents to remove themselves from the moral analysis.

For those who care about abortions, this will increase them.
I care about abortions, and I hope that society advances to regard them as morally laudable compared to giving birth to someone who must be submitted to a state bureau until they are adopted, which may never happen.
 

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Before developing an opinion, I read numerous articles and reports about adoption and rapes which resulted in pregnancy. What I learned is that about 32% of women decide to give birth to a child that was conceived due to a rape. But, only 5 or 6 percent of those mothers give up their babies for adoption. When I worked as a maternity clinic nurse, I only had one very young girl who conceived as a result of being raped, and I only had one who opted to put her baby up for adoption. She had not been raped, and I had wished that open adoptions were more common back then. So, the first thing I learned is that there are an extremely small number of children who are adopted due to the mother being raped.

Next, I learned that most mothers find it easier emotionally to have an abortion then it is to give up a baby after carrying a fetus for nine months, that they may have already developed an attachment to.

Then, I learned that adopted children as well as mothers who opt to adopt out their own child usually suffer from serious emotional issues throughout their lives. The children often become very distressed if they can't discover who gave birth to them. The mothers often suffer emotionally from guilt or from simply worrying whether or not the child they gave up has been loved and cared for.

I also found that about 70% or more of adoptions in the US, are now open adoptions, meaning that the birth mother and the adopted mother maintain contact and the child is visited by the birth mother about once or twice a year. This is now considered the best option when it comes to the emotional health of both the birth parent and the adopted child.

So, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to this dilemma. But, to me, it makes sense to allow the adopted child to discover who her birth parent or parents are. There is only a small chance that the child is the result of a rape and for all we know, the birth mother has still suffered emotionally from not knowing what happened to her child, perhaps even more so than the trauma that she experienced from being raped, if that was why she gave up the child.

I read an account of one woman who kept the child that was the result of a rape. She said that although there were times that the child reminded her a little bit of the rapist's physical appearance, she loved him as much as she did her other children.

I think the best thing would be for the adopted child to be permitted to find her birth mother, as long as she doesn't put any unrealistic expectations on her birth mother, once she is located. At least, knowing who her birth mother is would help her deal with her situation. And, hopefully, knowing that her child was successfully raised to adulthood would also ease the mind of the mother, regardless of the circumstances of her pregnancy. I have a hard time seeing this as a moral issue. Both the birth mother, assuming she doesn't want to be found, and the child have legitimate reasons for their positions. So, I can't make a value judgment on one of them being wrong or right, or on who will be most harmed if the child successfully finds her birth mother. We really don't know. I do think the mother would be well within her rights to tell her child that it would be too painful for her to meet in person, if that's the case.

But the more I consider this, as a mother myself, I can't imagine, regardless of how my child was conceived, not wanting to know how that child was doing.
 

Rhea

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My Thoughts on this are not only about rapes, though your experience is appreciated as part of the puzzle, even if it is only one experience. But I was thinking also of those with psychiatric issues, personality disorders, those with condemnation from family or church.

I have always thought it would be great if there was a registry, so those who want to be found can be found and those who want to find can try to find. A matching database of people or just medical histories.

But I was struck by the young woman in the OP, putting her picture out to the whole town which sort of advertises her mother’s youthful (probably) choice to every neighbor, every person. And that doesn’t feel right.
 

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There are those who are adopted who do not wish to find their birth mother after being adopted.

My brother was a foundling. He was left on a hospital door step when 2 days old. There were no identifying marks on him or the clothes he was wearing.
My parents adopted him and he is as much a part of our family as myself and my sisters.
Victoria changed its laws quite a few years ago to allow adoptees to find out their birth parents if said parents were willing.

My brother does not wish to know. He says he was abandoned by his mother and has no wish to find her. Unless she came forward with date and time of my brother's leaving it is not possible to find her.

My brother was left in 1968. It is surmised that she was very young and had lots of pressure to give up the baby. My parents have told my brother that his mother probably had no real choice due to the times and the circumstances. I am very glad he was not aborted.
Adoption always seems to be to be preferable to abortion in almost all cases.
 

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Sure Tiger. There will always be exceptions to most things in life. My opinion was just based on my reading about the experiences of people in these situations. And, of course there are children who have no desire to know who their birth parents are, but from what I've read, these may be in the minority.

As far as abortion goes, I think we should leave that decision up to the woman who is pregnant. It's her choice to make. Naturally once an individual is born, friends and family value them.

As I said earlier, it's difficult to say who is right or wrong when it comes to what each individual wants in cases like this. But, Rhea does have a point. There is probably a less public way of searching for one's birth parent. But, since the rise of social media, a lot of people seem to think it's fine to put every little problem and detail of their life out there for all to see. It's certainly changed our culture, imo, for the worse.
 

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I'm confused. Until the last few generations there was essentially no evidence of such pursuits taking place. From what then is morality established.

I guess one can argue about one side or the other if one wishes, but, morality? Right and wrong in current context doesn't rise to anything like being a moral issue.
 

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Is there any real moral issue here?

A grown person is curious about their parents and family.

Finding out can be a good or bad experience.

This is an issue of wisdom not morality.

Is it wise to seek knowledge that may hurt you as opposed to living without knowing?

Of course it is an issue of morality. Any action that can cause harm to another is the definition of an issue of morality, and actions taken to contact or publicly reveal your birth parents can cause them harm.

Gathering knowledge for oneself is not in itself an issue of morality, but it can be if you use tactics that expose others to such potential harm.

OTOH, morality is also impacted by whether the person harmed contributed to it and/or lacks fault or innocence. I agree with others that when child is simply abandoned (like in the OP case), the parent has contributed more to problem and thus is responsible for more of the negative impact that any such search for them entails. Birth parents owe their offspring information about them, not just for medical reasons but for psychological well being. Of course, there are situations where the birth parent fears harm if they go through the formal adoption channels to supply that information. That doesn't excuse it, because we don't except fear for oneself as an excuse to harm an innocent third party. But it does mean we should take steps to ensure that mothers are shielded from such harm and feel as comfortable as possible going through formal adoption channels. IOW, the process should be completely confidential and private for mothers of any age.
 
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