23. You didn’t know your parent had another child

Two children going in opposite directions in silhouette. didn't know parent had another child

You didn’t know your parent had another child.

This leaflet is written to support people if we have contacted them about a sibling they did not know about. This will have been a surprise for you if you did not know that your parent had a child when they were younger that was subsequently adopted.

First, can we advise you to re-assure yourself of our identity as an Ofsted Registered Adoption Support Agency and of our absolute intention to comply with the regulations and legislation relating to adoption intermediary work and our obligations to protect and support people. You can do this by going to our website www.joannanorthadoption.co.uk where you will find our unique identity number as well as our Outstanding Ofsted Logo. You can then check our registration on the Ofsted website. (Our Unique Reference Number with Ofsted is 2617067).

Also be assured that we will have checked and double checked that we have the right person before we contact you. However, if you feel we have made an error please let us know immediately and we will check again and liaise with you on this. We are always open to feedback, and we never mind checking or double checking our information to make sure that we are correct. We will also talk with you extensively about the process of our search and how we have concluded that you may be the sibling of a person who is searching for you. We will explain how we have traced you in detail if you wish.

Please be assured that you are not alone. This is quite a common occurrence for us to be asked to find siblings who do not know that they had other brothers and sisters who are the children of their parent. In our work we are here to support you if this has come as something of a surprise and the first thing, we can do is re-assure you of our engagement with you while we help you to identify what might have happened.

You will see from the extensive leaflets on our website that we come across many scenarios regarding contact with adoptive relatives that have come as a surprise. We are very experienced in helping people with this and we have qualified counsellors ready to give you advice on how to manage and cope with this new information.

Usually when parents have not told their birth children about the birth of a child in their younger years it is not with the intent to be untruthful or any intentional deceit. It is more commonly the case that the parents concerned may have felt upset and distressed that this had happened to them at a time in history when to have a child at a young age would have been shameful. We of course do not consider this to be shameful, but it is without doubt that teenagers having children between 1927 and anytime up until 1990 were subject to more social rejection and shame. Many young people will have tried to forget about such a difficult scenario in their lives and they are likely to have wanted to protect you from this.

It can be heart-breaking to think that a parent might have gone through such a difficult experience and as their child you will likely grieve for what they have been through. We would advise that this kind of emotion for your parent is natural and healthy and that of course you will feel for them. We can help you through this immediate response.

When you are ready you will want to decide about whether or not you want to be in touch with the person trying to trace you. As an intermediary agency we strictly protect your identity and contact information unless you instruct us in writing that you wish to connect with this relative. We would strongly advise you not to rush into a decision on this.

We will usually ask our clients for a letter that we can share with you. This will help you understand a little bit about their lives and motivation for looking for their birth family. It will also let you know what their hopes are, so what they are asking from you. We hope this way you can make a more informed decision rather than basing this on any thoughts you might have had, which may not reflect the situation.

What we know generally is that most adoptees looking for family other than their birth mother, do so because it is very important to them to find their real identity. In our experience people are not looking to impose on anyone’s life or even to become part of it, though this can happen in time when it is wanted. Most adoptees have questions around their own identity and want to know who they look like, who they might take after as well as wanting to know what kind of a life someone has led.

This means even if you do not wish to be in contact you might be able to provide those answers in a letter along with carefully chosen photos.

Some people will naturally worry what contact from such a close relation, yet complete stranger, will mean for them. Do they want a share of an inheritance or some other financial gain? Or perhaps do they want something you feel you cannot provide. We can assure you we would never work with anyone who had what we would consider to be a negative intention and we do scrutinise this through our risk assessment.

You will see on our website further information.

Leaflet 22 What to consider before you say yes.


Leaflet 8 When you do not want to be in touch.

We are not here to influence your decision. We are here to support and advise as an Adoption Support Agency with expertise on the subject. We would suggest that you talk with people close to you about this so that you gain support and can listen to their views about how this may affect you. People have various responses from excitement to dread and everything in between. We stress that the decision is entirely yours and we advise that you take your time before moving forward. We will not move forward until we hear from you.

Please don’t forget that our counsellors are on hand to talk with you and keep you informed on this process. We are here to help so please e mail us with your questions.

Dr. Joanna North

Consultant Psychotherapist (Adoption).

September 2024.

Joanna North Adoption (Ofsted registered)

Two children going in opposite directions in silhouette. didn't know parent had another child