We recently heard from Rachel, who had a baby when she was 16 and then put the baby up for adoption. When she was 28 and dating "a wonderful man," she told him.
She said: "He said he could have accepted a child of mine as his own. He said he could have understood if I would have had an abortion. But he could never be with anyone who cold-bloodedly gave up her own child. He broke up with me and I've been heart-broken ever since."
Here's what you had to say:
NANCY: I'm an adoptive mother. Ever since my children became old enough to understand, I've stressed the bravery and courage of their birth mothers and the pain they endured by relinquishing their child.
To all the birth mothers and fathers, please know we adoptive parents are forever grateful. Rachel: Do not be heartbroken over this heartless loser. Also, do not keep this secret again. Adult adoptees don't want to be treated like they were some shameful skeleton to be forever hidden away.
ALLIE: Rachel is well-rid of the jerk. I'm a birth mother. Making the decision to allow my baby to be adopted was one of the most difficult in my life.
I told very few people for fear I'd face the same kind of judgment she did. I only revealed it when I was in a relationship that had gotten serious. Not one person ever thought badly of me, and in most cases, I went up in peoples' estimation in recognition of the fact that I had done a difficult and loving thing.
Fast-forward 26 years. My daughter found me! The night I found out she was looking for me, I totally blew the lid off my deepest, darkest secret and blogged about the entire wonderful experience. My family fully embraced my daughter. My friends all embraced the joyous news. I didn't get to see my daughter get married, but I got to see her graduate from law school. I got to be there when my grandson was born. I get to be in their lives.
I can't imagine what it would have been like revealing everything to a spouse or significant other after my daughter found me. That would have been unfair and hurtful to an intimate, trusting relationship.
I send Rachel a great big hug. I hope she finds someone who will value her for the difficult choices she faced long ago, and for her courage in sharing that information. She deserves nothing less.
RAYNA: Rachel had to let her fiance know before she ever got engaged. For starters, a pregnancy is an important part of a woman's medical history that becomes significant if she gets pregnant again. Then there's always the possibility that she may want to resume contact with the child at some future point. Any man who loves her would be OK with that.
I have a friend who went through something similar. She found a husband who loved and accepted her, and she was eventually happily reconnected to her son, who had been raised in a loving home. She said the worst thing about her experience was that she had been told never to talk about it. She said she wished she had been more open about it with everybody.
Have you shared something difficult? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to [email protected] And check out my e-books, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front" and "I'll Call You. Not."