Friday, March 9, 2007


During a weekend visit to see her first child, Sonia's birthmother Jane found herself having to come up with an excuse about being out of town to satisfy the curiosity of her younger daughters. They did not know about the existence of their older half-sibling and Jane aimed to keep it that way. An unexpected phone call from the girls almost disrupted her plan.

Back home, as we later found out, Jane's older daughter Pat hung up the phone, turned to the last-born girl and said "I think Mom had a baby before us and is visiting her for the weekend".

What?!? How on earth could Pat guess her mother's secret? The only family members who knew that Jane had given a baby up for adoption before starting her own family were her parents and husband, and they weren't telling.

If your mother told you she was visiting a friend out of town, would you leap to the conclusion that you had a half-sister you had never known about? Me neither. So how did Jane's daughters know this without ever being told?

Pat and her sister Stacey, raised by their mother to be evangelical Christians, had their own theory. As they put it later, "God prepared our hearts for the truth by revealing it to us before anyone told us."

OK, that could be one explanation. For me, a slightly more plausable reason Pat knew about her half-sister before her mother confessed the truth was the difficulty most people find in consistently lying for any amount of time.

Over the years Jane must have discussed the baby she gave away with someone when she thought Pat was still too young to understand. Or a shadow may have crossed her face when someone mentioned that Pat was her older daughter. However Pat intuited that Jane was visiting a child she had given up for adoption, I think it is significant that it was the older of the two daughters Jane had raised who figured out the truth.

Lies always make themselves known in a family. If you adopted your child, s/he deserves to know that. If your children has another sibling, it is their right to be aware of this. And if you are using donor egg or sperm to conceive you owe your child the simple decency of telling him or her the truth about his or her origins. You can instead choose to lie to your children. But eventually they will -- or should -- know the truth. Sooner is always less painful than later. If you want to raise a truthful, respectful child, respect her and tell her the truth.