February 11, 2011

My Mother’s Secret: An Adoption Story


MY MOTHER’S SECRET: An Adoption Story

I’m certain my mother would have strongly opposed SB335 as it progressed through the New Hampshire Senate and House in 2004. The Bill, which became law effective January 1, 2005, concerned access to records available to adult adoptees who were born and adopted in New Hampshire. These adoptees now can gain access to their own original, pre-adoption birth certificates…

 Why would she have opposed this law?

Because she had a secret.

Her secret was revealed to her family on January 19, 2011.


     Darlene, a woman fitting the law’s criteria, received her original birth certificate on January 11. Darlene’s daughter, Sara, using this document, was led to my blog,, almost immediately. On it is a category bearing the name of Darlene’s biological mother—and posts on her biological father. Putting all this information together, Sara posted three comments on three separate posts on my blog. She included her phone number.

     I called her. She immediately offered to send me a copy of the birth certificate and a photograph. The information on the birth certificate matched all my information on the blog, as well as other personal data which was not on the blog. The picture reflected back to me my mother’s face. There was no mistake—Darlene was my parent’s child, given up for adoption.

     We will never know how my mother would respond to the news of Darlene’s entry into our family. She is probably turning over in her grave. Or, perhaps in her afterlife, she has a changed perspective.

     Nor do we know, if she found herself in the same situation in today’s world, that she would make the same choice as she did in 1953.


What if my mother were in the same predicament today that caused her to place her third child for adoption in 1953?

   There is a likelihood that Darlene’s reunion with her new-found family would never happen. Our mother might have had an abortion.

     Or maybe not—not all women in these circumstances choose that road.

     She might choose to follow through with the pregnancy and keep the child. Today’s attitudes have changed dramatically—the attitude of shame connected with pregnancy out-of-wedlock has done a complete turn-around.

     However, being a single mother struggling to raise two preteens without a support system might still encourage her to place the child for adoption.

     Or, perhaps, with all the means of birth control available today, she would have avoided the predicament altogether.


     How would our Mother respond to having her secret revealed, to being discovered by the daughter she placed for adoption over fifty years ago?

     The responses to this question reflect the experiences each one of us had with our Mother. Initial outbursts reflected the extremes:  She’s human. She’s a slut.

     She would probably be angry with me, because our family was discovered through my blog. She’d ask, angrily and self-righteously: Why did you do that? Why do you want me to meet her? On the other hand, were she living she might have her own Internet site, and have been the primary person discovered, bypassing me altogether.

     Additional anger would be directed toward the state of New Hampshire, which passed the law allowing adoptees to access their original birth records. After all, the adoption laws of 1953 guaranteed the birthmother’s secret would never be revealed.

     Her reaction would probably depend on how she learned about the daughter she released for adoption. If Darlene contacted her first, directly, she would probably be upset. However, it would allow her the time to come to terms with the situation on her own before she told the rest of the family, if it was her decision to share the secret. If I was contacted first, she’d likely be truly angry.

     Perhaps she would be relieved—after all, it’s hard, very difficult, to live a live with a secret. The truth removes the fear of discovery.

     Our Mother, most agree, wouldn’t be real happy. In fact, she would be horrified, mortified. She never told anyone, except, perhaps, her best friend. Suddenly all her friends would know her secret, all her family would know her secret.  What if Darlene wanted to visit her? Her biggest fear was that the bubble of propriety she surrounded herself with would burst, causing people to think less highly of her—especially in her newest community, the small town where she retired. And her priority was the opinion of other people—her neighbors and church people—rather that the opinions of her children.

     She definitely wouldn’t like that Darlene’s husband is of another race. She wouldn’t come around.

     Or perhaps she would. Perhaps after a little time, a lot of time; a little thought, a lot of thought, her curiosity would win and she would want to know about this daughter that she released for adoption, this daughter she probably never saw.

     Her children will never know. All we can do is wonder.

     In spite of the secrecy, all her children are excited to have gained a new sibling, have greeted her with open arms, and are waiting to meet her.



Oprah and I: Adoption Reunion Experiences

Adoptee Finds Biological Family: Mine

Can a Mother Forget Her Infant?

Five States Allow Adoptees Access to Original Birth Certificates

Women, the Super Bowl, and Heart Attacks

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women




Have you visited my latest blog site, set up to participate in the WordPress blogaday 2011 challenge? Click on





(to subscribe see upper right hand post on this site—

Notification will begin after you confirm your subscription

on the e-mail you will receive from )


  1. Speculating on your mother’s reaction is a waste of time for you all. It can bring more questions than answers, and perhaps cause Darlene to question her birth even more. It’s hard to find out one is adopted, I know, my daughter has gone through the same issues, finding out at 43 she was adopted. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. In the end, the past is the past, it needs to stay there since none of you can know what your mother was thinking, or why. Go forward and enjoy the new relationship. Keep the information for Darlene to the facts. Give space, give time, give love and support. In the end, it finds a way to work out. Good luck to you all.

    Comment by Fran Welts — February 11, 2011 @ 7:07 am | Reply

  2. Fran, I felt some of those same things after reading this. Mostly, because she is here, I hope it won’t cause Darlene any pain or doubts about doing this.
    Darlene, what matters now is what you, and your new family that is still living thinks, and I believe this is a miraculous event that has happened. Searches don’t always work out this way. You are my sister and always will be.
    I know I contributed some thoughts to this, and I guess I just didn’t think it through. I’m sorry for that. If we want to speculate there’s plenty of time once our groundwork is solid. Now I see that this is something that I would rather just talk to you about, if you wanted to.
    All I can think right now is that I am ashamed of myself. I really don’t want to publicly lay bare our Mother. Things were what they were. I did learn a lesson in the power of the written word.
    I would be interested in hearing what others think, especially after the Saturday “sister” gathering of the sisters.

    Comment by Jane Driver — February 11, 2011 @ 8:42 am | Reply

  3. The person being on the other side of the coin, it is important to me to gain a sense of who I am through who my parents were. I have speculated myself how my birth mother would react when, and If, I were to ever find her. One of my most important lessons of life learned is that we all do the best we can. Whether or not I would have liked my mother’s reaction to this change of events, it helps me to come to terms with my own issues if I can have an appreciation of her…the good, the bad, and the ugly….whatever that may be. Unfortunately, life did not present us with a time to meet face to face so I have to get to know and understand my mother (and father) through my siblings who did. And, as with my own children, each sibling will have their own story, their own opinion, their own perspective, which when put together, will create a more complete picture of who she really was. I look forward to this journey with an open mind and open arms.

    Comment by Darlene Aslam — February 11, 2011 @ 9:20 am | Reply

    • Darlene,
      That’s good to know, but I did not bother to find that out before I contributed to this.

      Comment by Jane Driver — February 11, 2011 @ 9:46 am | Reply

      • Jane…I did discuss posting this with Darlene beforehand, and understood she knew there would be a variety of perspectives on the issue. Most of the comments were made not only by one person, but by several. And the comments allowed space for the positive as well as the negative. Even so, I recognized this post could be controversial.

        Comment by carolyncholland — February 11, 2011 @ 10:39 am

  4. Hi Carolyn,

    I did not know what or if you said anything to Darlene when I talked to you. I didn’t ask. I didn’t know if she would be reading this. I didn’t think about it til I saw it in print. I know the comments were made by several people. I did not criticize what you wrote or that it was controversial. I criticized my contribution without even asking what Darlene knew or thought of this, beforehand. And I commented on my reaction to seeing Mom laid bare in public. That surprised me, actually, and I feel pretty bad about myself for my contribution to that.

    Comment by Jane Driver — February 11, 2011 @ 11:51 am | Reply

    • Actually, Jane, the comments are pretty much what would be expected to come from anyone in a situation like this. I can’t believe they are unique to our situation. I could have written this post independently of our situation, in reference to the general population involved. Somehow, I don’t feel anyone was “laid bare.” It is what it is, whether in our situation or others like it.

      Comment by carolyncholland — February 11, 2011 @ 5:51 pm | Reply

      • carolyn, i think you need to leave your opinions to yourself and not post for all the world to see. i think you are making an ass of yourself and sombody needs to tell you. if i were darlene i wouldn’t want anything to do with her new found sisters after reading your totally one sided story. remember it takes two to make a baby.

        Comment by sally — February 12, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

      • Sally, she is working her way through this in the way she knows best – writing about it. Her family understands, and Darlene certainly does, that what she will get will be different views of the same person. Yes it does take two to make a baby, a split second in time, but it took one to carry it and to make what she felt was the right decision to place her in a good home. No one can get inside the mind of someone who is gone, but they have a unique opportunity to get the chance to truly learn how each other feels – each from a different side of the coin, but in the end, one family regardless. Carolyn has discussed everything with Darlene and she wouldn’t have written it if Darlene had objected. Darlene clearly understands that she will get wide and varied opinions of the same person – as always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

        Comment by Fran Welts — February 25, 2011 @ 9:16 am

  5. I guess it’s time for my two cents worth. I was able to get to know Mom very well during the time we lived in Maine. I know that you, Carolyn, and Lee had very different experiences growing up from what I’ll call “the final 5”. Some of our experiences were similar, while others differed. I’m not going to get into rebuttals and arguments, just want to say that when I look into myself for some peace of mind, I’m always drawn to the feelings of safety, security, and happiness from my childhood so Mom couldn’t have been doing too bad of a job for those feelings to linger after all these years. I’ve made plenty of mistakes as a parent too, but I hope in the long run that if people decide they have to judge me, they will do so remembering the good things as well. I just hope we can move on to the future and get to know Darlene as well as we know each other. Cynthia

    Comment by Cynthia Lipsius — February 22, 2011 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

    • I think you all have a very unique opportunity to get to know each other, as well as Darlene, in a more open way. You all had a different view of the people involved because you all had completely different interactions with them. Some had wonderful times, some didn’t and thats just a sign of what was happening at that point in time with the people. It doesn’t make it right or wrong to remember what you remember, or for someone else to remember what they remember and its different – of course it is! The time was different for you all. Hopefully you will all, including Darlene come to a better understanding and move forward to some wonderful new times.

      Comment by Fran Welts — February 25, 2011 @ 9:11 am | Reply

  6. Carolyn – Your family is expanding – enjoy all of it. Barbara (on Carolyn’s computer)

    Comment by Carolyn — February 27, 2011 @ 4:27 pm | Reply

  7. The following comment was made to the post THE SWEETNESS LASTS A LIFETIME!!! An Adoption Reunion Story found in the Beanery Online Literary Magazine. I’m copying it over to this post due to its relevant content. I appreciate any and all comments. Thanks, Dora!
    Carolyn Cornell Holland
    NOTE: You might be interested in checking out the following categories on my personal writing magazine, CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS, and its supplement, CAROLYN’S DAILY POSTS: 2011, both of which have adoption categories with posts that speak to all sides of the adoption issue:
    Submitted on 2011/07/26 at 8:27 pm
    I just found my birth mother last month and it is GREAT! I feel like I have ‘roots’ now and know where I came from. Knowing the circumstances, my genetic history, meeting my birth mother, brother and extended family face-to-face, as well as understanding my birth mother have been an incredible experience. I have always been so different from those in my adoptive family — in so many ways — I don’t feel like I just dropped from another planet like I used to — I actually know where I came from. I am looking forward to forming a relationship with my birth family that will be good for all of us. Reading your story is so inspiring!

    Comment by Kathleen — August 3, 2011 @ 10:31 am | Reply

  8. […] that if you have to tell someone you are wise, you really are not. Are owls really wise? Read: My Mother’s Secret: An Adoption Story  More adoption articles: […]

    Pingback by Rethink Church Lenten Photos: Week 3 | Carolyn's Online Magazine — March 5, 2015 @ 1:43 am | Reply

  9. I think of the Scripture that reads “To everything there is a season” which I hope I can correctly apply here ( Maybe the Bible scholar Monte could help !). I’m just glad that your later in life sister reunion was a happy one. I have heard of other birthparent/adoptee/sibling reunions that were disasters. No family is perfect. I’m sure that in reading your story others will find peace, forgiveness, understanding and reconciliation with their families during this Lenten season when we should be focused on Jesus.

    Comment by Grace ( & Fred) Wells — March 5, 2015 @ 11:10 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

What is your opinion?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: