This No Contact Thing

“Have you ever been hurt and the place tries to heal a bit, and you just pull the scar off of it over and over again.” – Rosa Parks

This no contact thing with my daughter. I am assuming, perhaps erroneously so, that it applies to her birthday. No contact is no contact and that means not sending a birthday wish in May, right?

Or wrong?

This feels very precarious to me.  I feel as if I wish her happy birthday (and say nothing more than those two words) that I risk angering her again. I would be violating her wishes. Yet I also feel that if I don’t wish her a happy birthday I am pissing her off too (or falling into a trap that was set for me). Maybe I am dreaming there. Maybe I am hoping she would care.


It violates every cell of my being to not wish my child a happy birthday.  I wont send her a gift. I haven’t in several years (as she requested) but I will continue my practice of making a charitable donation in honor of her. (I am actually in the early stages of forming a scholarship fund. Cool thing is that the name of the fund is a combination of her original first and middle name and her amended names And the word that is formed is “nourishing” in Latin. And that is what I want the scholarship to be – nourishment to a single mom attending school. But, I digress).

But what with this birthday thing?

Important to note that in her last correspondence to me she stated that she rarely thinks of adoption and by extension, me,  and my commenting on her sites or emailing her reminds her of that which she would rather not be reminded.

Should I assume that applies to birthdays or should I just do what I want and wish her a simple happy birthday?

51 Thoughts.

  1. Ok, Suz, I’ll put in my two cents. I believe that in the end all we have is our choices, for good or for bad. We have to live with whatever those are. Having said that, I would suggest that you must do what feels right for you, and you already know what that is, down deep in your soul. She’s going to feel the way she feels about whatever choice you make no matter what that choice is and you have no control over that, however, you do have to live with yourself, and being true to yourself is never the wrong choice.

    • THank you E. Lizard. You make much sense. I appreciate your comment. And yeah, I agree but approach that agreement with certain amount of fear and trepidation. Thanks.

      • I certainly understand the fear and trepidation approach, while it is so easy to write, my advice is much harder to trust and follow for me too.
        I have two grown children that I am in reunion with, so I can imagine how you feel. I second guess every move I make with them, I am so in fear of losing them forever again.

  2. I agree. You should do what you feel is right for you. Years to come, will you be glad or sad that you wish your daughter a happy birthday?

    I know that I sometimes want to push my mother away, but I also know that deep down having her remember my birthday means a lot to me.

    She might not always feel this way, and she might get upset about you doing that in this moment in time, but maybe later when she is older and wiser, she will hold that memory as something special.

    Good Luck.

  3. I agree, follow your heart. Personally I would give a lot to know if my mother is thinking of me on my birthday. I’ve been told that she is, but it doesn’t feel real to me because she hasn’t acknowledged it.

  4. I read her often but rarely comment. I feel I have very little of substance to offer. However, as someone who has recently stopped contact with my birthmother (not that I was adopted – I was given up at 12 but it is still very different).I might suggest sending an email or ecard or whatever you would like to do a day or two early. This way you have still sent it and have also not appeared on her day. In this way you are being true to yourself and still listening to her. Just an idea.

    • Upstatemom – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it. However, I want to note that her day is my day too. It is the day my beautiful daughter was brought into this world. If I send her a greeting, it will be on her birthday, our birthday.

      • I understand. It was just a suggestion – that obviously comes from my very naive view. 🙂 I hope you figure out the right thing to do for yourself. Good Luck!

  5. Hey, I am a new reader to your blog.

    I am an adoptee, my mom has pulled the plug on contact, ugh.

    Anyway, if you feel like sending card, send a card. I would give an arm for a birthday card from my mom. Probably more than an arm.


    • Hi Lisa. Thanks for commenting. I am saddened by your mothers decision. As you may have read I can relate only in reverse. Hugs to you. And an early (or belated) happy birthday from me to you!

      : )

  6. Hey Suz, I agree with everyone on this thread and just like Triona and Lisa Marie, I also automatically think of my Mama whenever I turn a year older. To be honest, I start to feel pangs of sadness around the week before my actual birthweek, it lasts until the day itself and usually with a river of tears on my pillow. I also would give anything for a card from her.

  7. I agree that you should do what feels right to you and not worry about the repercussions, i.e. your daughter’s reaction. Knowing you (if only online) I suspect you’ll regret letting the day pass.

    Hugs to you. D.

  8. Suz, you are strong and wise and will no doubt do the thing that feels best for you. If I can share my feelings, though, I might say that no contact should extend to her birthday. You love her, and you are there for her, and you’ve been clear about that. She has asked you for no contact — I don’t understand it for the life of me, but it seems to have been a clear request. I think it will feel wrong to you not to contact her, but it might be what she truly needs.

    And maybe there’s a little part of me that feels like if she doesn’t hear from you, she may start thinking about adoption on her own terms and may — at some point — feel inclined to reach out herself. She sounds like a girl who needs control, and reaching out may be more comfortable to her than responding…

    Sending you warm thoughts.

    • Nina? Are you the adoptee Nina I used to read. If so, how are you! If not, hello anyway Nina! Appreciate your thoughts (and hope you are well if you are the Nina I am thinking of..and if you arent, I still hope you are well!)

      • Hi, Suz, no, I’m not that Nina… thank you for the warm wishes and I return them to you!

  9. Hi, I’m delurking to leave you my two cents! First, I’m so sorry for all the pain and loss you’ve experienced. Thanks for sharing your experiences and insight with strangers so that we can learn and work towards justice. If I remember correctly, you send a donation in her honor, right? I think that if it were me I would send through an agency that notifies the person that a donation has been made in honor of them. You wouldn’t be “contacting” her per se and still honoring her request (which I think you need to do). She would still know that you were thinking of her though. Best wishes to you and your family. I pray that your relationship with your daughter can begin to heal and grow.

    • Suzanne – Thank you for delurking and sharing your thoughts. They are very good ones. You are correct. For the past two years for Christmas and Birthdays I have donated to organizations that support values or areas my daughter appreciates (music, photography, fashion, literature to name a few). And you are also correct, they send her an email noting a donation has been made in her honor. Your suggestion is a good one. I may indeed do that. They dont send it on her birthday though, sometimes before, sometimes afterwards. Will have to keep in mind. Fairly confident I am damned if I do, damned if I dont with either option but I like your reminder the best to date. Thanks.

  10. Dearest Suz, send the card- if she is as you said setting some sort of trap (gods I hate that sort of stuff) you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Even when J and I were having problems I called, I sent a card (yes it was late but that is another story) it’s about you doing what is right for you. Even though she has said no contact, you still need to let her know you are there, you are waiting, and you love her. No matter what restraints she has placed on you-

    I love you so much, and I so wish I could make all of this better for you, easier- I wish she understood what she is missing by cutting you out of her life-


  11. I tend to agree with Nina.

    I think you should honour the day in some way that is meaningful for you but I am not sure you should contact her. I think Nina may be right about the non-contact registering.

    Everytime time there has been trouble with my son it has started right around his birthday. After about 5 instances of this happening, I said that the upsetting times seemed to occur at that time of year. He got very angry and absolutely denied it. I think there is a lot of denial. Caring can be very frightening.

    I know you will come to the right decision for you. I think one hand clapping still does make a sound or at least a little disturbance in the air.

  12. I think you should respect your daughter’s wishes and not contact her. I think she has made herself clear on this. She has set her boundary and you should respect it.

    I see that others are giving you different advice however they are not the ones who will have to deal with the fall out of you violating your daughter’s wishes.

    I am sorry that this is the way it is and I wish it were different for you.

    • LG – Thanks for your thoughts. You are right. You and everyone else is not the one that has to deal with possible fallout. I do. My situation is not yours or theirs. As we can see from the varied responses, there is no easy guaranteed answer. Be who I am or be who she wants me to be. That is the question. Still mulling over my thoughts. Thank you again for sharing yours.

  13. She has made her wishes clear. They are different from your wishes, unfortunately. If you send her any card or notice of donation, you are clearly violating the boundary she has set. That causes people to move AWAY from the person doing the overstepping, not towards them (which is what you want). My opinion? If you give her enough space, she may one day move towards you. If you continue chasing, she will continue feeling persued and continue running.

    I wish it was different for you, as I can hear the pain in your writing. But for now this is what she has asked for. I think you need to honor her wishes.

    • Mika – As you can see from my other commentors and reply, that is the decision I have come to. I will do this for my benefit first and hers second. As with crashing airplanes, I need to put the oxegyn mask on myself first and her second. I must save me and those that do want contact with me from further damage and hurt. I need space from her behavior and presence as much as she needs space from mine. In the worlds of Charlton Heston, so it is written so it shall be done. : )

  14. I haven’t read everyone else’s responses…but my own personal feeling and gut reaction to your question is that you should – this birthday – give her the space she has requested.

    I know that you’re wondering…ok, will she be pissed? But…have you also considered that perhaps this could even be a test? Like, will you respect her no-contact request? Or will you ignore that and contact her anyway. I think birthday’s are significant for ALL involved in adoption…especially for the first mom and the adoptee. I know it is for me…it has the ability to throw me completely off of my feet.

    I say do your regular stuff…but give her space and make no contact. Let her feel it out for herself. This birthday. You could be closing the gap with her…by giving her the space she’s requested…and maybe you don’t even know it…y’know? I’m not saying to never contact her ever again…but, I do think you should step back.


    • Thanks Laurel. I am inclined to agree at this point. Not only for her benefit but for mine as well. I need space from her behavior as much as she needs space from mine. She has only herself to think about. I need to think about me, her, my other children, my darling fiance. In short, pay attention to the people who do want contact with me and stop thinking about those that dont. This is not by any stretch of the imagination easy but it must be done. For me.

  15. You really think this is about your daughter’s bad behavior?
    You were the one leaving inappropriate comments on her blog.
    There are many people who know the truth, who have seen the comments.
    You are doing your daughter a disservice by casting in her in a light she does not deserve. What you are doing is unfair.

    • LG – Did I use the qualifier “bad”? I dont believe so. You did. My daughters behavior is neither good nor bad. Just like mine. Same with feelings. They just are and should be respected. It appears as I have triggered something in you personally for you are making leaps that dont exist. Inappropriate comments? Unless you are my daughter, you have no basis for that. They werent and even if they were that is for her to decide, not you. My apologies for triggering something in your own life or experience.

      • Suz, some of your comments triggered me as well. You didn’t have to use any qualifiers. In saying that you need space from your daughter’s behavior, “bad” was implied, several times no less. I’m sure you didn’t intend it that way, but that’s how it came across to me. When this LG called you on it, I read your “apology” as passive-agressive, and that’s at best.

        No, I’m not your daughter either, but the very fact that you have stated that your daughter has insituted the “no contact” rule with you, well, there’s your basis.

        I’m not trying to hurt, insult or criticize you, but rather as an attempt for you to consider something else. Did it occur to you that “LG” is very likely someone who knows your daughter? LG may even be her one of her best friends, her adoptive mom, or could even be your daughter herself. No? Read it again. How else would this LG even know about your daughter’s blog, much less that you’ve commented on it?

        LG’s comments may have been hurtful, but If absolutely nothing was more important to me than reunification with my daughter, then any and everything else is irrelevant, including my pain and my pride. I would assume my daughter was going to read my response, and used it as an opportunity to reach out to her, by extending my most sincerest apology, and all my love.

        I know that sounds easier said than done, but consider this. You are aware of the fact that IP addresses can be changed through the use of proxies (such as hidemyass), right? See, I would automatically suspect this LG could very well be her adoptive mom, and was intentionally “baiting” and pushing my buttons–to get ammunition to use against me with my daughter, and I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction.

        That knowledge would enable me to resist the urge to defend myself in any way, and instead, to take advantage of the opportunity that “bait” offered, to rise above it, and be the better person. I would make very sure that there was absolutely nothing in my response that could be misinterpreted or misconstrued as “snarky” or motivated out pride or self interest, a personal agenda, or used in any way against me whatsoever. I know that you feel traumatized, hurt and victimized by the adoption system, and as true as that may be, I feel you should exercise great caution in how you express this, especially to her, as well as anyone who knows her, as it may be counterproductive to your goal of reunification.

        I feel you may acheive greater results if you could try focusing strictly on how you feel reunification would benefit your daughter. Ask yourself, what’s in it for her? Myself, even if I found out her adoptive parents were “badmouthing” me, I would let it go in one ear, and out the other. If you can’t get them on your side (for her sake, of course) then at least try not to piss them off, or give them any kind of ammunition that they can use against you.

        No, you’re right, I’m not adopted, nor do I have I ever adopted. I ran across you blog last night while researching adoption traumas on the internet because I have a friend who is suffering her own adoption traumas. Some of your comments triggered memories of the “passive-agressive” remarks I used to endure from my inlaws, until I finally instituted the “no contact” rule with them over 10 years ago.

        • MyTwoCents – Since you have opted not to leave a valid email address and have never commented here before (?), your comment was held in moderation for some time. I have no comment in response (other than the reason for the hold) since your comment is so full of contradictions/mixed messaging/judgement I dont know what to say.

  16. beautiful suz, I’m not an advice giving kind of person, but what the hell I’m going to give my honest view here and leave it with you.

    I truly feel that no contact means no contact what-so-ever, in any way shape or form (even a notification of donation). First, you deserve more than to keep giving and chasing and reaching out. I agree with some other commenters here. The more you continue to do this, the more she’ll pull away and run away. So much of what you’ve given so far has been deemed ‘too much’ by her. She is not in a centered grown up place emotionally. She’s reacting. I feel the more you give her to react to, the more she will react in the opposite direction.

    As wrong as it feels, I feel the more space you give her the more opportunity she will have to grow and grow into her own view and concept of adoption and it’s place in her life and possibly your place in her life and that of your family. I think this is something she needs to do on her own. Birthdays are triggering for all parties in adoption… but possibly no more triggering whether unwanted contact is made or whether you follow her wishes to no contact. She has asked for no contact and needs to be responsible for the implications of this and what feelings that raises in her and what it means to her. It sounds the more you give, the more she doesn’t need the grief and instead can feel like the one who’s in charge and the one who’s calling the shots. This is a protective stance, one that keeps herself protected and safe and in control and you in the opposite place.

    There needs to be some more balance.

    Just remember it’s a journey, this place you’re currently in is not the destination and not the final outcome.

    • Jane – Thanks so much. I appreciate your adoptee perspective as well as your professional expertise. I agree completely, intellectually. I do understand. In my head anyway. I am working on getting my heart to understand.

      Additionally, what a sad testament to adoption it is when you contact your child once a year, to utter two words, happy birthday, and it is considered a threatening “chasing” action. Very sad. Add that to the book of things “professionals” withhold from expectant mothers considering surrendering their child to strangers.

      Thanks again my friend in Oz.

  17. Absolutely understand Suz. Reconciling what the head knows with the heart is the hardest thing in the world. So painful. But I think sometimes we need to be reminded and need to remind ourself of the rational, head stuff otherwise we just get lost and keep the difficult, painful cycle going.

  18. Also… just a thought… maybe it’s not about getting the heart to understand… but just to keep a balance between head and heart without letting either completely run the show. Certainly doesn’t mean the pain will go away, but maybe helps not to be overwhelmed by it to the same extreme. At the same time, you don’t want to be completely devoid of heart either… that would be fucked.

  19. I came back to read your responses and I’d like to say how impressed I am at your ability to remain kind, polite, and own your own stuff while not taking on others’ stuff. Some of the comments would have hurt me, or at the least stung a bit. You answered maturely and calmly. Just wanted to say I noticed.

    • AdoptedOne – Thank you for your kind comment. I am generally not someone who reacts immedately and harshly. That doesn’t mean that some comments dont sting or ruffle me. What it means is that I tend to absorb, ponder (could they be correct?) and look inside myself before I respond or take things in too deeply.

      Additionally, when you have been blogging and acting in adoption circles as long as I have you encounter alot. I have had adoptees see me as their mother – good and bad. They either glom on to me (and sometimes I, to them) and have me fill the gap of their mother, they idolize me (“I wish you were my mother”) or they demonize me (“You are just another bitter stupid whore who abandoned her child. Your daughter is far better off without you. It is no surprise she wants nothing to do with you”). I have had my own “kind” call me awful names for having adoptive parent friends and relegate me to an “adopter sympathizer” that deserves to be shot. I have had others start vicious, though amusing, rumors that I was dating my daughters adoptive father (can i get a round of WTF?). I have had my own family and friends say awful things to me about my adoption experience and my daughter.

      It takes all kinds. Through it all I am able to keep in mind that all of us have been effected by adoption – some of us more negatively so than others – and often we speak from a place of deep wounds not a place of a caring and compassion. I get that. I dont take it too personal. And I have developed a bit of a thick skin! Nasty comments, trolls, etc. really do say more about the person leaving them than they do about me!

  20. just my 2 cents…
    I’d love to hear that my mother even had a thought of me, especially on my birthday.
    I did tell her (my 1st mother) (over 10 years ago) that I too did not want contact, (she said it to me too)Yet… I find I have said things I didn’t really mean. Out of my hurt, but she won’t let me say I’m sorry now.
    That’s the one thing that completely eats me up on my birthday every year, “Is she thinking of me?” “Did my birth make even the slightest impression on her?”
    And when I hear nothing, well I think she’s not, and that I am meaningless.
    I’m speaking completely out of my issues here, but I’d give anything, to know that my mother even thought of me on my birthday. Even after I told her to keep out of my life. (I say this as my 40th birthday approaches)

    • Hugs to you Mybirthnameisallison. And thanks to you and many other adoptees, I have likely had the benefit of your experiences and thoughts. As such, it has helped me and shaped me and my thoughts and approaches. I would never tell my daughter not to contact me and I would always be there for her. That is partly who I am but partly what folks like you have taught me and therefore helped me to incorporate. In my experience, I have had far more therapy, support, introspection, and emotional fortitude than most mothers have had access too. I personally strongly believe even mothers that deny contact WANT that contact but the pain is so overwhelming, so confusing, so problematic, they push it away and by exntension all that represent it – their child. I suspect many adoptees dothe same thing. Challenge for those of us that are denied is see that and understand it – and not allow it to eat to the core of our being. We are good people. Adoption is wrong. We (or I must) remind ourselves of that.

      As evidenced from this thread alone and my own massive confusion, it is far easier said than done.


  21. I came back to see what commenters had said since my initial read and comment, in which I supported acknowledging your daughter’s birthday, regardless of her “no contact” request. Those who said you should honor your daughter’s boundaries got to me.

    I have set similar boundaries with my son — that he not contact me until he has begun to address his issues (i.e. furious anger) in therapy, as well as change his behavior (threats, mistreatment of women, negligence of his children).

    Every now and then he emails me and asks if it’s been long enough that we might start again. But nothing has changed. Sometimes I answer him and say “no” and sometimes I don’t answer.

    I appreciate that he still wants to have a relationship. But because he hasn’t made any steps toward what I’ve asked, I also consider these attempts an intrusion.

    Totally different situation. Still… maybe it’s best that you hold off, follow her wishes, even if it means denying your own.

    I still believe that you will make the best decision by following your own instincts.

    • Denise – I know the details (sort of) of your situation. I feel for you. Tough stuff. I find myself wondering if all those here that told me to honor my daughters boundaries would feel the same if it was in reverse – meaning more like yours. Are mothers entitled to have no contact orders issued? Set boundaries? It seems that most people in adoption circles feel that our children can say, do, set whatever they wish but we as their mother/nonmothers are held to a different set of standards. I always find that interesting. Have you encountered this?

  22. I am not LG. Someone asked me if I am LG, I am not. I don’t hide my feelings here. I always do my best to word them gently and respectfully.

    • Did someone say that here KimKim? I musta missed that. I can confirm that LG appears to be resolving to San Jose, CA area and you are in Europe. Of course, people can mask their IPs and use fake IDs (someone regularly views my blog from which is a site used to hide where you are coming from), but my guess is that LG is not KimiKim.

  23. Great question Suz concerning the ‘double standard’ over children setting boundaries and such then why are Mothers held to a different standard…it’s a interesting
    situation concerning Denise and the ‘boundary’ she has set with her son…is that ‘tough love’? I don’t know, I would guess it’s enormously difficut to say the least for her…

    Now as a parent myself I tend to follow my instincts and go with what I feel in my gut, what if that’s ‘wrong’, what if my kids ever felt like they wouldn’t want to have contact with me, I won’t go into the circumstances concerning my divorce but you’re aware of them Suz & it scares the crap out of me wondering IF they decided they wanted no contact with me, I might be taking some of this out of context, but my overall long-winded point is as we try to navigate some of these ‘minefields’, WHAT IF TRUSTING OUR INSTINCTS AND GOING WITH OUR GUTS IS WRONG??
    Me personally I don’t know what else to go by…

    And you are one hell of a exquisitely fantastic writer Suz…

  24. No someone emailed me privately. I have never masked my ip number. First of all I don’t know how to and second of all it’s never seemed necessary.

    I had no idea Lay Gaga was reading your blog and is interested in adoption!

    • L

      KimKim :

      I had no idea Lay Gaga was reading your blog and is interested in adoption!

      That would make my fiance very happy. He loves Lady GaGa.

  25. Lady GAGA freaking ROCKS, got her jamming on the CD player right now in fact, ‘the fame monster’ is one in-freaking-credible cd, actually it’s a double cd..oooh btw, little tidbit of info, she took her name from the Queen Song, radio gaga, it’s true, look it up, : )

    • I love Lady Gaga! She’s my piano playing hero. Love Missy Higgins too. I just got a new (2nd hand) Yamaha YUS piano and I play it all the time. So happy with it.

      I love Queen too. I love playing bits of Bohemian Rhapsody.

      Got some free time tomorrow I intend to play lots of piano. Now that’s got me all curious about Lady Gaga sheet music.

  26. Suz, now that you mention it… I think there may be a double standard in terms of bparents (especially moms) and adoptees when it comes to refusing reunion and/or setting boundaries in the relationship. Perhaps I have had one. Whenever I’ve heard about a mom “rejecting” their son/daughter, I say, or at least think, “how could she turn her back on her child?” I’ve met women who have confided that they gave up a child and hope never to be contacted, would refuse even to talk to or meet them, and thought that was so wrong, that they at least owe them their history. On the other hand, when I’ve met adoptees who don’t want to search and find, I’ve only felt sad (being a mom myself and glad that I found, regardless of the result). I respect their wishes, while not so much the mothers’. I still question my own decision to no longer tolerate the abuse.

    As with most situations, there’s no “one size fits all” and shouldn’t be judgements about decisions when we don’t know the full story.

  27. First stipulating that of course I don’t know your daughter and that you’re in the best place to make a decision: if it were me, I’d write her a birthday card and then put it in a drawer. I’d make a cake, light candles, and then share it with friends. I’d not cross the boundary that she’s put in place, but I’d still honor the day–like you said, it’s a special day for you, as well, and you deserve the opportunity to celebrate it.

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