“Adoption—making contact with the birth mother by telephone” —Judith Land, author & adoptee

My first contact with a biological relative was a telephone conversation with a maternal aunt. I found her name in a telephone book. She had the same last name as my birth mother. Pleading with strangers for assistance dredged up deep psychological wounds of abandonment and isolation I had never fully learned to overcome. I had a horrible feeling of anticipation that something bad might happen. My face was flush. I felt faint. It was difficult to constrain my fear. I wondered if the early part of my life was a dark place with evil people that I didn’t want to go to. I was poised like a track star, tensed and primed to sprint to the bedroom and jump under the blankets for security. It took tremendous willpower and internal strength to overcome my stage fright. I dialed the telephone number and listened intently. I held my breath for six slow rings—I panicked. I suddenly forgot how to breathe and speak.

Judith Land | Adoption Detective

Cold-calling a stranger to ask if they are your birth mother is a daunting task for an adoptee. I had the habit of never diving into cold water, and had always entered slowly one foot at a time, but there was no gentle or gracious way of introducing the topic of adoption to strangers.

“Hello! How may I help you?”

She sounded pleasant but cautious. I stopped breathing and held onto a kitchen chair to keep from fainting. The door to my cage was suddenly flung wide open. I panicked. I could fly into the unknown world outside, but I frantically clung to my perch instead. I was physically crippled and mentally paralyzed by the thought of exposing myself to others. I was having panicky second thoughts about cold-calling strangers to ask if we were biologically related. I felt guilty because I thought I might be violating legal adoption protocols, privacy laws, or causing unexpected problems for others who might be highly disapproving of my actions. I suddenly had cold feet. Was it really important and even appropriate for me to uncover my past? Was I about to cause problems for others by doing something unethical or immoral? What would this mean to my adoptive parents, if they found out I was searching for my roots? A thousand thoughts were racing through my mind, yet I couldn’t speak. Was this a classic case of selective mutism? My heart skipped a few extra beats as the enormous weight I was feeling was miraculously lifted when my curiosity finally got the best of me and pent-up words unexpectedly flowed out of my mouth.

“I am adopted and I am searching for my birth mother. Can you help me?”

“There is something I need to tell you right away. Your voice is giving me the chills. I was certain we were related as soon as you started speaking,” she said tenderly. “Your voice sounds so eerily similar to my niece’s voice that I was certain I was speaking with her.”

Chills shot up my spine. It was a provocative thought and an intriguing comment because I had never been aware of my own voice. Was the sound of my voice proof of a biological connection? The longer we talked, the more eager she was to assist me in any way she could to help me contact my birth mother. I was surprisingly proud of myself for successfully crossing such an enormous emotional chasm. It had been an epic moment, but I was now reeling from the aftereffects of total immersion and displaying classic symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. My eyes were wide open. My legs were weak. I was much too excited to act rationally. I dizzily twirled around the kitchen like a whirling dervish throwing my arms up in the air and yelling “twist and shout” as an expression of joy and celebration. Thinking about the ramifications of what I had done sent chills up my spine and caused my heart to race—I hoped my childhood dream of contacting my birth mother by telephone was about to become a reality.

Part 2 – Contacting the Birth Mother by Letter

Part 3 – Using an Intermediary to Contact the Birth Mother


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About Judith Land

Judith Land lives in Colorado and Arizona with husband and coauthor Martin Land. Judith is a former nurse, retail shop owner, college instructor and avid outdoor person. Her book "Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child" is a true story detailing the journey of Judith Romano, foster child and adoptee, as she discovers fragments of her background, and then sets out to solve the mystery as an adult. She has reached readers in 192 countries. "Mothers and fathers everywhere in the world need to understand that children are forever and always." --Judith Land
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10 Responses to “Adoption—making contact with the birth mother by telephone” —Judith Land, author & adoptee

    • Judith Land says:

      When I first contacted my birth mother by telephone her demeanor alternated between panic and rage. I could visualize her facial expression when she scolded me. “No! I don’t want you intruding into my life. I would be afraid of what might happen,” she had responded unyieldingly. She was particularly concerned that her other children (my younger full blooded sisters and brother) would disrespect her, if they found out about her past. I refused to back down even though she treated me as her inflatable dummy with a weighted bottom that returned to its upright position regardless of how many times it was struck. Her uncaring rebuttals and initial refusal to accept me kept knocking me down, and deeply hurt me, but I was resilient and refused to be dissuaded. Eventually, I convinced her that I was a good person. After many weeks she relented and changed her mind. We finally met in person on a Thanksgiving weekend. We hugged, and became lifelong friends. It was a joy to see the emotional burden of a lifetime be lifted from my birth mother’s shoulders, along with the angst and genealogical bewilderment I had experienced all my life.

  1. Pingback: Adoption—making contact with the birth mother by letter | Adoption Detective | A Novel By Judith Land

  2. Childcare Proceedings Exposed says:

    Reblogged this on .

  3. truthaholics says:

    Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:
    Forcible child removal, usually for adoption, is both disproportional and unnecessary which the state should only resort to as a matter of last, never first resort.

  4. Pingback: Adoption—using an intermediary, friend or relative to contact the birth mother —Judith Land, author & adoptee | Adoption Detective | A Novel By Judith Land

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