34. You didn’t know your parent was not your parent

Puzzle with missing piece parent not your birth parent

When you didn’t know your parent was not your birth parent.

In our work we often enjoy being part of nice surprises in people’s lives that benefit them and open their world to lost or new relationships. It’s not always that simple, sometimes we complete traces and searches that reveal news that people never previously had in mind. For example, we are in contact with people where the evidence we reveal from the search indicates that the person they thought was their parent was not in fact their birth parent. This leaflet is written to help if this happens to be you.

First of all, please be assured that we take this situation very seriously and we are aware of the impact on people’s lives if this shocking news is uncovered. We can’t change the facts, but our team will be working hard to manage the situation with as much sensitivity as possible. We are grateful to all the people we have come across in this situation as they have taught us how to manage and we have learned with them.

People’s first response is usually disbelief, and we totally respect this. We are thankful to all the people who understandably disbelieve what we have found, but at the same time have born with us with an open mind and moved forward to check the information. People have found their way forward in the following ways.

  1. Please check our credentials so that you can be confident that you are dealing with an Ofsted registered organisation who comply to a set of minimum standards in Adoption Intermediary work set by the government. Please go to https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk and put in our unique reference which is 2617067. This should confirm that we are a genuine intermediary agency with proven skills at tracing and genealogy.

Once you are confident of working with us, please then double check the facts from your own information. In previous cases people have gone through old files, spoken to relatives and been online to uncover information that will help corroborate the life story from their own perspective. This is important. Whilst we have never made mistakes in our searches, we are open to the possibility that mistakes do happen and we don’t expect you to take our information at face value. We think it will feel far more secure for you to find your own information. We will also give you the tools to double check this if it helps…for example availability of birth certificates etc.

Our team will talk you through all the ramifications and they are used to doing this, but it is for sure that you will have moments experiencing various emotions, ranging from shock and disbelief to curiosity or even to anger and upset, that people have not kept you in touch with the truth of your life story. We should point out that stories about parentage are hidden rarely for bad reasons but because people believe they are doing the best they can for their children. These sorts of situations usually arise in studies ranging from the 1940s onwards. They rarely occur in the current time because parentage is so easily proven whereas in the past it was not. Our society is also more open to complex life situations whereas in earlier times there was a lot of judgement about children born out of wedlock etc. We often find these complex situations arising for example in the war years and not long after the end of the war when people’s lives were full of uncertainty and relationships were changed due to the war.

Aside from this there is just the shock and surprise to deal with. We find that many people eventually start to realise that there have been indicators in their life all along as to a different parentage. It is a gradual sort of ‘dawning’ on them. It is essential that you have someone with whom you can share this experience, and we strongly advise you not to try to do this on your own. You will just think yourself round in circles.

We will want to know if you have a support person in your life. Aside from this we will help you with our counselling service.

Please don’t isolate yourself if you have come across this news, let us talk you through. It is a lot for the mind to process a complete change of identity in parentage, and it will take weeks and months to make sense of this. We are most concerned that people do not feel alone.

Don’t forget that the people who loved you prior to this new information will still love and care for you. Hold on to the strong things about your life as you adjust to this new information. Do email us for help:

Dr Joanna North

Consultant Psychotherapist (Adoption)

September 2024.

Joanna North Adoption (Ofsted registered)

Puzzle with missing piece parent not your birth parent