Posted by: Biological Father | 2009/05/13

Adopted Child with Problems

About 40 years ago my girlfriend fell pregnant despite the fact that she had been prescribed " the pill"  and was a nurse and therefore would have been expected to somehow be more aware. I felt I was being manipulated and, having already been through one unhappy marriage did not wish to marry again at that stage. The baby was given up for adoption. Her mother and I split up and didn' t communicate again. The baby was adopted by an Afrikaans family with two other children. As far as I am aware she received a good, loving upbringing in a staunchly Afrikaans community and a religious household where the mother &  father were both involved in church work. About 15 years ago (she was married at the time) she started making enquiries in order to contact her biological parents and through her maternal grandmother made contact with both of us. At that stage I was (am) married with 3 children and had never mentioned her to my family at all. (In fact to no-one at all). When I did do so &  my wife asked why I hadn' t mentioned her before I told her the truth which was that I felt very guilty and ashamed of what had happened back then. She was very understanding and our children did not seem too phased about it at the time. However the mother of the child was apparently not pleased to have been contacted and did not want to start a relationship (possibly her current husbands doing, but not sure). I agreed to meet her and her adoptive father and we have since kept in communication and she visits from time to time but lives about 500 kms away. A number of years ago her husband divorced her as he was convinced that she was having a lesbian affair with a neighbour which we thought was nonsense. However it came about that this was, in fact, true and she now has been in a lesbian relationship with another woman for a few years. She has at one stage attempted to commit suicide. Besides the lesbianism she is totally different to us &  our children who have grown up in a very relaxed, casual way and although they were given a religious grounding we have never pressed this on them and when they reached their teen years they were allowed to decide for themselves if they wished to continue going to church. Anyway, besides the language barrier she is totally different to all of us and we have little in common with her.
She dresses in what looks more like mens clothing than womens and seems to be trying hard to look like a man. None of our family feel comfortable about this and feel embarrassed to be seen with her and her partner. We do not feel at all close to her and our children, while originally quite tolerant of the " new half-sister" , are now feeling quite anti. Both her adoptive parents have passed away. Of late we notice more intrusive behaviour on her part and are also not comfortable about this. With our other children, if we were not happy with their behaviour we would merely let them know how we feel but in this situation we feel uncertain how to react. We are concerned that if we should speak to her about our feelings/discomfort she is going to feel rejected AGAIN and may also end up trying to commit suicide once again, which is the last thing we want. Any suggestions as to how we can try to resolve this matter will be appreciated. Thanks.

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Our expert says:
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Wow, a very complex situation. Obviously you would wan t to be gentle and tactful, but you can't feel forced to put up with embarrssing or even invonvenient behaviour on her part for fear that doing so might make her feel rejected, or attempt suicide again. Isn't it possible for whichever of you she feels most comfortable with, and you yourself, to sit down with her and, emphasizing that nobody wishes to reject her, point out that her behaviour is becoming intrusive and embarrassing, and ask for her suggestions about how to relieve this problem. She may decide that she refuses to change the way she displays her life-style, or whatever is embarrassing you, she may choose to see much less of you all, and that's OK.

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