DEAR NATALIE: We adopted our daughter when she was 3 years old out of foster care. Her mother had a bad drug problem and couldn't take care of her, and the father was never in the picture. Fast forward and she is about to be 20 years old. She is really interested in finding her birth mother. I know who her birth mother is and I could give her that information, but I am afraid to. What if she is disappointed by what she finds? I want to protect her, and it hurt me a little to know that she wanted to know her. Are we not enough? -- MAMA DRAMA
DEAR MAMA DRAMA: When I was working as a therapist and worked with kids, especially teens, who were in foster care or had been adopted, many of them talked about wanting to know their birth parents. It's like a piece of the puzzle inside their hearts that needs to be completed in order for them to feel whole. Do not take it personally that she wants to know who her birth mother is. As much as you may want to protect her, keeping her from finding out a part of her truth and her past will only make her feel isolated. This moment isn't about you or your relationship with her, this is about your daughter understanding herself on a deeper level.
Instead of holding back information, go on this journey with her. She may want the support and not know how to reach out. You can always talk to resources such as the agency that helped you go through your adoption process. The more she knows, the more she can put the ghosts to rest and move forward in a healthy, fulfilling way. (And she will have you right there by her side to laugh and cry and talk things through, and that's what a mom is for, right?)
Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Whatever you do, do it with a positive attitude and a smile. People are more attracted to how you speak and make them feel than exactly what you say. Get people excited and motivated and see how many mountains you will be able to move!
Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)