No don’t panic, this hasn’t happened…yet. But it is something I have worried about and have spent time considering.
Mini's adoption was a UK domestic adoption. We adopted him through our local adoption agency/social services, and he comes from the same county as us. We only have limited letterbox (i.e written) contact with his birth family, and that is sent to/from the letterbox co-ordinator at the adoption agency so neither us nor the birth family knows each other's addresses.
We live in a large town within our area, birth family live quite close by and would certainly visit our town to go shopping, to the cinema and similar activities. We know that birth mum has relationships with people who live here, some quite close. Of the few buses that operate between our town and where she lives, one of them passes *very* close to our house, and it often passes me when I’m out and about with the kids. On top of that, she knows what town we live in.
A few years ago when Mini was still in a pushchair, I had a major panic as I was convinced that birth mum had just passed me on the bus and had seen and recognised me. (We have met birth mum, so it’s a possibility…I haven’t changed much since then). I legged it home as fast as I could, shut the curtains, locked the door and phoned hubby. Then I waited for someone to knock on the door.
The knock, thankfully, never came. I still don’t know if it was her, but I’m 90% sure that it was and I hope I never have to experience that panic again.
Knowing that it’s quite likely birth mum comes into our town, I must admit that I don’t hang about when I need to go into the town centre, although I’m not really one for traipsing around the shops for hours on end anyway. I only tend to go with Mini if the NC and Dollop come too (they’re my ‘security’), otherwise it’s usually just me and Dollop during the week. I had thought about pimping Dollop’s buggy with spikes and the like so I can take out ankles if we are approached, but I think that might invalidate the guarantee!
I do have a loose plan too – lock self and children in a changing room such as M&S, immediately ring hubby, and if under threat – police too.
Now, years down the line, I’m less worried about it happening. I am Mini’s mum and I will protect him fiercely. I would have always fought for him and never let anyone take him, but in those early days I think I would have found the confrontation much harder and I wonder what the after effects of such an event would have been. These days, woe betide anyone who tries to get in between us. Emotionally I’m much stronger and could cope (for both of us) better. I would also like to think that after all this time, Mini's birth mother could now recognise that he is settled (ish) and happy here.
It might sound like paranoia to some, but it’s been a real possibility for us. We do as much as we can to protect his identity – he’s not allowed in school photos in case they are seen by birth family, he can’t have his photo in the local paper, we changed his name, we don’t include photos in our letterbox contact letters with his birth family. I hope that is never jeopardised by a chance meeting…