Ask Fiona: My birth mother wants to meet me and I'm so confused

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Fiona Caine, PA


I’m 26 and knew from an early age that I was adopted when I was a baby. I completely accepted this, and it’s never been a problem for me as my adopted parents have loved me from day one, and I love them too. Over the years we’ve had our problems, but I can’t think of a single family that hasn’t, and they’ve been good to me.

I think I’ve been very lucky to be in their lives and was quite content with how things were – until my birth mother’s son got in touch. I don’t know how he traced me, but he’s made contact through a social media site and wants us to get together. It seems my birth mother is terminally ill and has said that she wants to see me before she dies.

I suppose I can understand why she might want to see me, but I am really confused about the whole thing. I am happy with the family I have and part of me is angry about what happened, and how this might upset my adoptive parents if they find out. I haven’t said anything to them but I think they know that something is wrong.

On the other hand, I do feel guilty occasionally and wonder if I should just meet my birth mother the once and get it over with. But I am also worried this could lead to them wanting a bigger part of my life, and I just don’t want that.

I understand that birth families have a right to find children they gave up for adoption, but surely the adopted child should have some say in this. Is there some way I could stop them from contacting me?

P. W.


If the social media site is the only way they have contacted you so far, the obvious solution would be to block the profile that found you, or as a last resort, delete your profile from the platform.

Contact between a birth parent and adopted children has historically been very carefully controlled, with the welfare of the child being the paramount concern. Any contact that took place would normally be through an agency intermediary.

With the advent of social media platforms it has become much easier for people to find ways around this protocol. This is made even easier by the fact that people seem willing to include ever more personal details about themselves in their profiles.

However, are you certain that this is what you want to do?

Your feelings of confusion, anger and guilt at the same time are understandable – but please don’t feel that you have to shoulder this alone. If you can talk it through with someone, before making a decision, it might help you to clarify your thinking.

Although you’re worried about hurting them, I think your adoptive parents would be a good place to start. They have probably been expecting this day to happen eventually and I am sure they will be supportive.

You might also find it helpful to contact Adoption UK ( Membership of this charity will give you access to information and support through a helpline. There is also a network of community groups (mostly online) where you can chat with other adopted people who may have had to cope with this a situation like this before. The charity can also steer you towards counselling services, which can be very helpful.

In the meantime, please go easy on yourself. It is understandable and normal to experience a range of emotions with this situation. And whatever you decide to do, please try not to let this anger (or guilt) spoil the good life you have now. If you see your birth mother, great. If you don’t, that’s fine too.

In addition: Adopted people can register a wish for ‘no contact’ on the Adoption Contact Register. For more information visit (


I have heard that the husband of my closest friend is cheating on her. The information came from another friend, who says she saw him walking in town arm in arm with another woman.

She then said that they went into a café together. When she came back after finishing her shopping, she saw them sitting together in the same café and this time they were holding hands. Apparently they were talking in a very serious way and it looked like at one point that she kissed him. She didn’t stay to see anything else but went home and called me.

After thinking it through, I have decided that I should tell my friend, because I can’t do nothing and see her hurt this way. My problem is, I have no idea what to say to her.

K. D.


There’s so much here that could be misinterpreted, that I think you need to be very cautious. The last thing you want to do is be the bearer of misinformation that breaks up their marriage. The meeting in the café could be completely innocent.

The person he met could be a close friend, a colleague with a problem, or a relative. And the fact that the meeting happened in a public place, openly, suggests that there is nothing to hide. In short, there is nothing here that proves he is having an affair.

However, if you feel you must still do something, you should firstly try to establish if there is any truth to what you heard. This will not be easy, as the only person who can give the truth about this meeting is your friend’s husband.

Would you feel comfortable approaching him and saying you’re worried about what you’ve heard? Stress your concern is for his wife and then listen carefully to what he has to say. Hopefully he will have a perfectly good (and innocent) explanation that reassures you at once. In which case, you can stop worrying and forget about it.

The problem is this seemingly innocent explanation could just as easily be a fabrication. Alternatively, it’s also possible that he’ll get angry or defensive. This might indicate that he’s got something to hide but, here again, it could just as easily mean that he resents being spied upon or being the subject of gossip.

What I am trying to get across here is that, in the absence of any real proof or a confession from her husband, you’re on very shaky ground. If you take this to your friend and there’s nothing to it, you could damage your friendship.

Even if the affair is real, it’s the messenger who often ends up getting the blame, so this too might spoil your friendship. I know you feel loyal to your friend but, in this instance, I think caution is advised, at least until such time as you have more information.


I have mood swings all the time. I can wake up in the morning feeling great, but by lunchtime, I’m feeling depressed for no reason. My husband tries to help me through this but never knows how I am going to respond. When confronted with any sort of problem, I will either burst into tears or get angry and throw things.

Last month, after her told me his mother was coming to visit, I completely lost it and stormed out of our flat. I stayed with my mum for a few days and refused to talk to him about it. The silly thing is I have nothing against her, other than a tendency to interfere in our lives a bit too much. But then again, show me a mother-in-law who doesn’t do this.

What’s wrong with me?

T. A.


There are many different reasons or triggers for mood swings. These include changes in diet, stress, poor sleep, certain medications or even trauma. For women, hormonal imbalances are often involved.

For example, serotonin levels fluctuate wildly during a menstrual cycle and affect mood. Or perimenopause or menopause is another possible known cause.

Sugary diets can play a part, wreaking havoc with blood glucose levels. A person’s response to certain foods can also trigger changes in mood. Even the weather can do it!

It’s a complicated area and the best advice I can give is to firstly speak to your GP.

Your doctor will be able to help rule out any underlying mental health issues or investigate any physical factors that might be causing this, and suggest possible lifestyle measures or treatments that could help you.


It’s my husband’s 40th birthday in a couple of months and rather than go out this year, we are having a big family get-together at home. My problem is my husband’s brother, who gets aggressive and argumentative when he’s had a drink or two.

He’s not popular even within his own family, but no one seems to want to say anything to him when he gets this way. Well, this time he’s coming to my house and if he starts up, I am going to tell him what I think. And if he can’t behave, I’ll ask him to leave.

Am I right to confront him?

H. L.


I’d say someone needs to – especially as his family seem to have accepted his behaviour for some reason. But I’m not sure your husband’s birthday celebration is the best time to do it. Might it be better if your husband tackles him about it beforehand? Hopefully, he’ll be able to get his brother to moderate his drinking and behave on the day.

If his brother won’t commit to this, you’ll have to decide whether you want to risk inviting him at all. If he has to come, would another family member be willing to monitor him – and perhaps take him out of the party if he starts misbehaving?

Finally, it’s your home, so if you don’t want him there – or want him to leave if he does come – then you have every right to not have him there.

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.