Ask AF: Contacting a Birth Mother

At what age is contacting a birth mother a good idea?

Q: I have always been open and honest about my children’s adoptions, and have felt secure in sharing the information I had about their birth mothers and birth fathers. They know that I will help them contact their birth mother, if they choose to, when they turn 18, but my 12-year-old daughter has shown an interest in contacting her birth mother now. She wants to write her a letter. Do you think this is a good idea?


A: Writing to her birth mother may be a good way for your daughter to explore her feelings about adoption. The process of writing the letter can be therapeutic by itself. Thus, it might make sense to keep the letter, rather than mailing it right now, for a time in the future when your daughter might be ready to meet her birth mother.

If you feel it is important for your daughter to have contact with her birth mother now, you need to do what is in her best interest. But I feel that, if you actually do mail a letter to the birth mother at this point (after checking with your agency to see if she is open to contact), it should come from you rather than your daughter, given her young age.

In that way, the adults can work out the arrangements and expectations on both sides before you involve your daughter.