Contacting A Birth Parent

QUESTION

I need to know whether I should attempt to contact my birth father, age 54, and half brothers. I am 37 years old. We have never met but they all know about me. The last time my birth father had contact with me was when I was 2 years old. I recently located one of my half brothers and he and his family live near my home.

My maternal grandmother raised me, from birth. My birth mother spoke with my birth father occasionally during my life. Her last contact with him was in the year 2000. He resides close to me. I have done research and know their addresses.

I would just like to see if I look like them or if we have any common interests. I am gay and I believe that both brothers are heterosexual.

I am very stable, professionally successful and self-reliant. I am fearful of rejection. I have always felt a sense of rejection deep inside my soul although I was always loved and had a good childhood.

ANSWER

JILL:
That is a lot of people to try and connect with and will at best be draining. You need to lay a strong emotionally foundation. So first let’s take care of you.
1. Where your father is concerned your feelings of rejection are understandable, as is your fear of possible further rejection from your father if you meet him. The best place to start is just being in the truth of those two feelings. Give yourself permission to feel them. Then breathe a deep cleansing breath as you take them in.
2. Take time to be proud of the “stable and professionally successful and self reliant person that you are today”. That will be the inner reserve that you will need to draw on.
3. Accept the fact that your desire to meet your father & half brothers is not an act of disloyalty to those who gave you a loving childhood.

One or all of these initial steps may take the support of good friends and if you have a partner share your thoughts with him. Consider support groups or a counselor, the important thing is that you don’t make any move to contact your father until you are feeling as whole and strong as possible.

4. When you feel ready to proceed (and there is no rush) you need to honestly review why you want to meet them. What are your expectations? I respect that you wrote “I would just like to see if I look like them or if we have any common interests.” On an intellectual level those words are true and genuine but meeting them is going to arouse emotions and you need to know how to deal with them. Is there a desire to reunite and stay connected on a regular basis? You need to be honest with yourself so that you can cope and so that the loving people who are in your life now know how they can best support you.

Only after this mental inventory will you be able to decide if you should contact them. If you choose to proceed, you might consider phoning first to see if they want to meet. Appearing on someone’s door step can be a shock to the person answering the door and their reaction might not be the best one. A phone call might be a better way to ease into a conversation. If you can only contact them in person be prepared for their reaction and don’t push. Have a card with your contact information on it and hand it to them with a “Get in touch with me if you want to.”

I wish you luck on this journey and hope that your father and half brothers want to get to know the person that you are.

VICKI:
Jill answered your question perfectly, I would like to talk about the deep sense of rejection that you feel within.

It is normal for a child to question the reasons their parent(s) are not in their life. Most children blame themselves deep down and assume that there is something wrong with them. They then internalize a mental list of all they feel is wrong with them. As an adult you know that you’re not responsible for their actions and given the age of your father I can only assume that they were too young and not responsible enough to look after a child.

The fear you have of rejection is that mental list from childhood that consciously or unconsciously still plays in your mind. To overcome this you must become aware of when you think these thoughts and when you have one you must replace it with a positive and true statement. Remember that these thoughts were your childhood thoughts, which were founded on childhood insecurities. They are not your truth and they do not serve you in adulthood.

My heart is with you as you make this important decision..

Coming Out Over The Holidays

Dear Too Real Women:
How do I break it to my family that the significant other that I am bringing to Christmas dinner is actually a man. They don’t know that I am gay.

ANSWER

JILL:
I cannot help but wonder why you want to use the family holiday dinner to ‘come out’; it seems a bit dramatic. It would be much better to get together quietly with your parents before hand. You want to be listened to and treated with respect and I suggest that you give them the same courtesy.
Maybe you should also consider that although your partner is going along with this because he cares for you, perhaps he would prefer not to be the centre of a family discussion.

You are feeling vulnerable and nervous but I urge you to take into consideration the other people involved and by doing that you allow for more honest interaction. The outcome of which will provide you and your partner a more authentic foundation to build a future on.

VICKI:
Congratulations! Just asking this question says that you are ready to come out to your family and that you have someone so special in your life that you want to share him with your family.

I would love to tell you that there’s an easy way to tell your family, however I can’t do that. I can tell you that from my friend’s and client’s experiences most of their parents already knew intuitively, and the difficulty for everyone involved was more just being able to finally say it out loud.

You don’t mention your age and whether or not you’ve had girlfriends, which your family knew about, in the past. Yet certainly the older you are the more the odds say that your family does know deep inside that your gay. After all there are always clues. Past girlfriends can be a great argument for family members that chose denial over seeing the clues for what they really were.

The bottom line is that the only way to tell someone something is just to telling the family. I do suggest telling them before Christmas dinner.

One suggestion that I do have is if you have specific fears about their reactions I would let them know first thing that you have been worried about ____, _____, and _____.

On a spiritual note most people forget that as souls we have no sex/gender. Male and female are part of the duality that is an element of our existence here on Earth. Most importantly we are all one. Because of that there is beauty in every loving relationship that exists.

I wish you and your partner every happiness.

Too Real Discussion:

VICKI:
Uummmm Jill – aren’t you being just a bit hard here?

JILL:
I have a problem with people wanting to use the holiday season to bring up things that may cause a disruption – it’s just not the right time.

VICKI:
Where I do agree with you that bringing it up before the holidays would be beneficial to all, I’m pretty sure that it isn’t Anxious’ intent to cause a drama. I would bet that he’s presently not thinking about the others and more just his own fears around this is the right time to come out.

JILL:
Assuming you’re right and he did ask us how the best way to break to the family at this time – let me say this, first he should make every effort to arrive at the gathering early, before everyone else, so he can talk to his parents as privately as possible. Secondly he should ask his partner if he wants to be there or not. Anxious has to remember that this is going to affect his partner too.

VICKI:
I think that’s sound advice. And for all we know that was his intention. What’s difficult is that in the e-mails we don’t usually get all the information. As a spiritual psychotherapist I just really want to honor Anxious’ feelings.