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Reach out to cousin? Advice needed.

To make a very long story short, my uncle got his girlfriend pregnant 36 years ago.  When his son was two, his mother married her husband and my uncle let him adopt the little boy.  I'm about 4 years older than cousin and I remember him, although in small doses.  What I do remember is that in the adoption agreement, the mother promised my grandmother that she would send her pictures and keep her included, and she didn't.  No blame, but it didn't happen and my grandmother was heartbroken about it until she passed away.  She would bump into them occasionally (very small towns and few stores) and would buy him something from the "nice lady". Anyway, my mother found his address about two years ago and wrote him an overblown letter, lets be family, I want to reuinte you with your father, would have freaked me out letter.  No reply.  My aunt recently found him on Facebook and I was wondering if I should send him a note.. just like a hey, just wanted you to know that you weren't forgotten and I'm here if you would like to know anything about your family, no pressure kind of thing?  We're close in age and I know what it's like to not have bio dad in life and have step dad be your DAD.  I can relate to him.  Reach out or no?

Re: Reach out to cousin? Advice needed.

  • There's no reason why you couldn't send him a private facebook message to see if he's interested, however, you already know he hasn't responded to your mother.

    Consider your cousin's perspective. He may be perfectly content with his situation. I don't necessarily believe a family has to consist of bloodlines. Some of my friends are more "family" than my actual relatives. He knows his stepfather as Dad and that's fine. That's how the relationships were conducted and maybe that was for the best. For whatever reason, the uncle didn't marry the girlfriend, or the girlfriend didn't marry your uncle, and people made their choices years ago. Everyone moved on and established their relationships.

    Maybe it's just me, but if my bio dad didn't have much of a relationship with me, I would feel weird about extended family members. I wouldn't want to hear stories about him or funny childhood memories if the guy wasn't going to cultivate a relationship with me. Nor would I be very interested to hear reasons why my mother didn't stay with him or whatever. Not saying that is your agenda, but I know how stories can be told and retold in families.

  • I agree with what Lyn said.

    Though your intentions are nothing but pure and good, does your cousin really need to get to know an additional family at this stage in his life? He probably feels like he HAS a family, and a dad. I think that since your uncle was fine with letting the stepdad adopt him, that sends a pretty clear message that he wasn't really interested in being in that kid's life. Just because he was the sperm donor for all intent purposes doesn't make him the child's "Father". The man who raised him is his father. 

    I don't speak to my father at all, and I see my aunt/grandmother on his side once every 2-3 years. It's always awkward, even though they are wonderful people, and I can't blame them for my dad's life choices. But honestly I don't know how much it adds to my life. I feel like my real family is my mother's family.

     So, yes you could send a message, and let him know that you are there if he ever WANTS to know about this side...but don't be heartbroken if your cousin chooses to keep his distance.

  • I don't see anything wrong with sending a kind hearted note.

    Your expectations need to be rather low, however. He may or may not write you back. Even if he does, there might not be a relationship that comes out of this.

    One of my friends went through this a few years back; got way overly excited about it and everyone had some mini family reunion. After that, they pretty much didn't care to keep up contact again.

    ETA: Best wishes for your pregnancy.

    Hope is not a strategy.
  • I agree with sending a friendly but very low-key message on Facebook or something, but definitely keep your expectations very low.  My perspective is more to the tune of: even though you know a lot of details, you don't know that you know the WHOLE story here.  The big events in this story happened when you were between 4 and 6 years old, and there may have been some details that really shaped his life that you are completely unaware of.  I'm not meaning to suggest anything unkind about your uncle, or about your family or your cousin's mom or anyone.  I'm just saying, it's important to tread lightly here because there may be things going on that you aren't aware of.  

    I've thought about this with my own family and facebook- there is one relative who I am estranged from, for some pretty big reasons, but my extended family isn't close enough (read, we maybe see each other once every few years.  Maybe.) that I would be comfortable revealing anything so personal to them.  I would wig out if any of them suddenly wanted to reconnect or reunite me with this relative or his part of the family- I don't know who knows what or know them well enough to know what their motivations are.  I'd want to believe they didn't know any of the situation and were motivated by purely good and kind things, but I wouldn't be able to respond to them because it would open up a huge can of worms if they weren't.   

  • No.

    He isn't interested. If he needs a kidney, I'm sure he can find you.

  • You can try....but I think his reply is pretty evident, since he did not reply to your mother's ovatures before. 

    I am not trying to be snarky here, but as a member of the blended families board here and other boards on the web, I am going to be frank here.  

    This was not the typical adaption scenario here.  Your uncle gave up all rights to his son, to include paying any support.  That has to be a very hard pill to swallow. 

    So please recognize that the odds of reconciliation are slim.

  • Yeah, I wasn't exactly hoping for a joyous homecoming or anything like that.  But I can relate to him, having my own bio family that was not there.  I guess I just wanted to offer the connection if he wanted it.  If not, that is totally fine and I get that too.  I would have loved someone from my bio family being available for medical info or whatever.  I wasn't expecting us to become BFF's...I really don't know all of the details of the adoption, other than she was very young when she had him (15) and my uncle (at 18) was very irresponsible and thought he was doing the best thing for him.   I'm sure there is much more to the story.  My grandma was my best friend and I am sorry he missed out on her though.  And I know she loved him, even though she didn't know him. 

    I'm going to think about it for a little while longer.  I'm just not sure yet.  Thanks for all of the advice!

  • My story is very similar to your cousin's. If a cousin or aunt from my bio dad's family contacted me I would feel awkward and not respond. It would put me in a very awkward situation. I wouldn't want to get to know some of the family and have to worry about anything getting back to bio dad or for him to feel obligated to make contact. The only contact I would accept would be from bio dad, maybe his children (my half siblings).
  • I never met my biological father. If his sister reached out to me and I didn't respond, then his niece reached out -- I would be very weirded out. This poor guy deserves some privacy.

    I don't know, JMO. I might be the only person in this situation who has no desire to know anything about her bio family though.

    74 books read in 2011
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