SHESAID resident psychologist Kim Chartres answers your most awkward and confronting questions.
I’m 36 years old and a month ago I found out my mother and father aren’t actually my biological parents. I only found this out because I recently discovered my birth certificate while housesitting my parents’ place while they were away on holiday. As soon as I confronted them, they admitted I was adopted and were apologetic for not telling me, explaining they never wanted me to feel like I wasn’t their daughter.
I can’t help feeling incredibly betrayed and violated though. I feel like I don’t know who I am anymore and everything is falling apart. I’m not sure whether to try and contact my biological parents or to ignore what I’ve learnt and just keep going about my life.
I also don’t know how to relate to my parents anymore because I’m filled with such a huge sense of resentment when I see them now. How do I move past this? I feel like I’m stuck at a cross-road.
My heart goes out to you because this really is an enormous bombshell to be faced with, particularly in your mid thirties. It’s completely understandable that you feel like you don’t know who you are anymore and at the same time feel incredibly betrayed, violated and resentful toward your parents when you see them.
First, let me assure you that your feelings are normal. Plus I imagine they’re very raw at the moment, but I’m not going to sugar-coat your situation and say that your age will make this easier to cope with.
This is because during our thirties we firmly develop a sense of who we are and it’s during this time when we affirm our self-concept and continue to live out of lives accordingly. Your situation has destabilized your core beliefs about that person you see in the mirror. Therefore it’s going to take some pretty intensive soul-searching to comprehend just how much of an impact you want this information to have upon you.
For example, should you wish to seek out your biological parents, it may take many years to find them. Are you ready for such a commitment? Or perhaps you find them relatively quickly, but the outcome is negative. Are you ready to be confronted with those emotions as well? Additionally, how will any decision you make effect your relationship with your parents?
These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself, and although I would love a fairytale ending for you regardless of which direction you choose, you need to be fully aware of your reality.
So my dear Confused, my advice to you right now would be to allow yourself time to process your situation and the intense emotions you’re experiencing before making any decisions. I know this may be difficult because you stated that you feel like you’re stuck at a crossroad. Effectively you are, because whether you know it or not, you’re grieving the loss of your life as you knew it before. That’s gone now and in it’s place is painful uncertainty.
In the meantime, I strongly suggest joining a support group with other adopted adults. This will be a positive step in guiding your direction and to help you work through your intense emotions. Additionally, arm yourself with knowledge so you don’t go into anything blindly. There are lots of great resources readily available online to help you through the process.
My final words to you are this: be kind to yourself and give yourself time to heal. Talk to your parents about your feelings. As confronting as they may be, you are their daughter, they love you and they never wanted to hurt you. Embrace that fact and ask for their help through this. Having their support will also help you in your decision, but make sure it’s your decision, and yours alone.
Best of luck in the future.
Got a relationship dilemma or serious life issue you’re not sure how to deal with? Send your questions to Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org.