Adoption—should I spy on my birth mother?

Judith Land Blog | Adoption Detective

Despite overwhelming evidence that I had finally discovered the identity of my birth mother the secret of her true identity remained delusive, mystifying and technically unresolved. I had found a woman named Rebecca Meyer living on a dairy farm in Wisconsin who seemed like a perfect match. She had led me to believe she might be my mother but she never actually confessed. I was confused by her lack of a definitive response and, even if she were an exceptionally talented person with a generous spirit and beautiful personality, the image of my birth mother living on a dairy farm in Wisconsin was not a lifestyle I had ever dreamed about.

I was slowly coming to the realization that the origin of my life was more complex than an unsolved Rubik’s Cube. I had no idea why Rebecca Maier’s response to my question had been so mysterious and impenetrable when I asked her point-blank, “Are you my birth mother?” I surmised that if she had never told her husband about me before they were married—my identity would be a ticking time bomb certain to cause severe marital distress. This was the only rational explanation I could think of to explain her vague enigmatic non-committal response. The woman living on a dairy farm near Madison, Wisconsin, named Rebecca Maier had to be my birth mother because all the pieces fit together. Most importantly, she had never denied it. What was the real meaning behind her words, “I’m sorry?” Perhaps, she had other clandestine secrets of her own, other adopted or foster children she was trying to protect or perhaps she had given a child up for adoption other than me.

I wondered if I would ever solve this conundrum? My husband nearly gave me a panic attack when he suggested, “Let’s do a stakeout of her house with binoculars to see what she looks like. If she looks like you, that would be a big step in the right direction.” I couldn’t imagine myself participating in a frivolous escapade that daringly dramatic. His idea sounded implausible; more like a melodramatic scene from an old black-and-white movie. Pretending to have a flat tire in front of her house was hokey and unreliable. She might not even be home, but he was eager to play adoption detective, and likely would have followed through with his spying caper, if a severe thunderstorm hadn’t ruined the day.

Two weeks later, back in the security of our Colorado home in the mountains, we called Rebecca Maier a second time. She expressed empathy for me, but remained quietly aloof and reserved. She seemed like a nice person but I couldn’t conceive of a single credible explanation for her reticent response and lack of a rejoinder. She was apologetic for not answering my question directly; leaving me to believe that she was enthralled with other very deep secrets that prevented her from confessing. Why couldn’t she simply respond by saying yes or no? Otherwise, why in the world would she leave me suspended in limbo, wandering aimlessly in search of my true self-identity and family pedigree? Her complete lack of an explanation, devoid of any rational definitive response, left me in a shambles, confused and reduced to emotional rubble. I was despondent and so was she. I was in a complete funk—ceiling zero— thicker than the thickest fog of Scotland.

As the weeks went by I slowly recovered. Without prompting, I curiously wondered how many more women named Rebecca Maier, Meier, Meyer, Mayor, or Mayer I could find living in the United States. What about Henry Walter Maier, the mayor of Milwaukee, who lived just a few houses down the street from my parents, or Oscar F. Mayer the famous manufacturer of hot dogs, bologna, bacon and ham? Maybe, I was related to one of them? I opened the Milwaukee telephone book and resumed the slow tedious calling process… checking each name twice before crossing it off the list.

Judith Land



اعتماد كتاب القصة | libro de historia de la adopción | thông qua cuốn sách câu chuyện

батлах түүх ном | olomo itan iwe | ibhuku story zokutholwa | Buugga sheekada korsashada | whakatamarikitanga kōrero pukapuka

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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4 Responses to Adoption—should I spy on my birth mother?

  1. eagoodlife says:

    Our need to know should never infringe on the rights of others – should it?

    • Judith Land says:

      I appreciate your feedback. The excitement of discovering the identity of someone who might be my mother was overwhelming emotional but the act of spying should always be approached with caution and circumspection. Spying on others is a philosophical problem because on its face (prima facie) it is unethical but there are many nuances from the legal and philosophical sides of the issue and many interpretations. Intensely curious and interested are generally viewed as complimentary terms. Nosy and prying are viewed as negative terms and the word inquisitive is perceived as neutral. One should always keep in mind the ethical limits of our actions while also considering if there are reasons for spying that are good. For example, it is considered entirely appropriate for mothers to covertly keep an eye on their children, elderly parents, and even their husbands, for positive reasons. I was in a moral dilemma because I had arrived at an emotional stalemate without knowing if the woman I had in mind was or wasn’t my mother. She had remained entirely non-committal throughout our entire conversation and I was befuddled by her complete lack of a definitive positive or negative response. I was highly stimulated and inquisitive to know why she continued to lead me on by refusing to provide an answer. A simple “no” would have sufficed and I would have walked away. I didn’t want to be an eavesdropper, a fly on the wall, or a rubberneck but I certainly was curious to know if we shared any physical similarities. The idea of driving past a stranger’s farmhouse to see if I could catch a glimpse of her weeding the garden or mowing the grass was impulsively intriguing but not very realistic. Initially, I was inspired by the Nancy Drew Hardy Boys mysteries about two fictional teenagers who despite frequent danger never lose their nerve. One was a thinker and the other was impulsive. They had many admirable qualities and were very talented at secretly observing the activities, movements, and plans of others that helped real detectives solve crimes. I wonder how others feel about this issue.

  2. Judith Land says:

    This is a true story. I never ended up spying on her because she lived several thousand miles away and I eventually discovered the identity of another woman of the same age with a similar maiden name living in the same state who turned out to actually be my mother. The reasons why this women remained non-committal for so long is an unsolved mystery. She was friendly in every way but she had refused to declare that she wasn’t my mother despite my pleas for either an affirmative or negative response. It was a case of mistaken identity on my part but I will never understand the reasons why she strung me along by leading me to believe that she might be my mother. She was friendly and curious to learn more about me. She was willing to discuss the topic of adoption but her responses were always guarded. The incident and the reasons for her behavior has remained an enigma to this day. I can only assume that this woman, her husband, a sister, cousin or someone very close to her had also relinquished a child for adoption about the same time I was born. I doubt if I will ever know the answer to why she strung me along for so long.

  3. I don’t understand why ANYONE would choose to play someone like that! it’s HORRIBLE! I found my 2 sons on facebook. they were stolen from me 17 years ago by an unethical scheming, lying cps worker. They were both placed in abusive homes. I found my youngest just in time, they had him sleeping on a porch in colorado for 2 YEARS before he turned 18. m oldest is so screwed up from the drugs they forced him to take to keep him compliant, that he doesn’t do well in society. ANY PERSON who gives birth should know that they SHOULD NOT be given the protective cover of secrecy. Children have rights to know who their parents are, who their family is. and if people don’t want to accept that, they should either have an abortion, or keep their legs shut.

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