Your mother just made an emotional drone attack on you, and I’m afraid someone capable of responding to a fight with her daughter by saying, “Here, go contact your ‘real’ mother!” cannot be induced to apologize, no matter how much it is deserved. What your mother did by forwarding your adoption information, and her whole attitude of belittlement and self-protection, speaks to someone with serious problems who cannot act decently, especially when under stress. Even though you’re a grown woman, of course you would still like to have a mother in your life. But you may have to accept that the one you have is a limited person who will have only a limited role, if that. Your relationship with her needs to be remade, with a ground rule of treating each other with respect. You are going through so much turmoil now that you could use some help before you take any next steps. If a meeting with your biological mother happens, you need to be better prepared. I suggest finding a support group (here's a place to start) for adult adoptees. You may even want to seek individual counseling, given how much you have to sort out. Don’t worry about what you say to your biological mother about your adoptive mother. You two will have a lot of other things to talk about, and when the conversation comes around to your adoptive mother, just tell the truth in a respectful way.
My grandmother passed away several years ago. After she died, my grandfather distributed some of her jewelry among her daughters and granddaughters. He gave me a 1920s gold coin set with elaborate gold filigree and a heavy gold chain. When I was little I used to love it, but there’s no way I can wear it now. I would like to sell it, because I need a new computer and have student loans. The problem is: My aunt would freak out. Now that both of my grandparents have died, she constantly dissolves into tears and interprets any little thing as a "sign" that my grandparents are watching over us. But having a piece of valuable gold sitting in a safe deposit box seems wasteful. However, I don’t think I can sell it without my aunt’s blessing, because she’d have a nervous breakdown. How do I broach this subject with her? Or should I just leave my inheritance in a bank vault?
—Strapped for Cash
Hold on, there’s some static coming through the speakers on my computer. Oh, my goodness, I’m hearing an older woman’s voice: “Darling, I never liked that necklace either. Your grandfather was so proud when he got it for me, but we can agree it’s god-awful ugly. I used to love watching you play with it, however, and I’m glad it’s yours. But please don’t spend money you don’t have keeping that thing in a vault! Of course you should sell it—but do some research and get the best price. I don’t know why you think you have to tell your Aunt Delores. I loved that child, but she was always way too sensitive. It’s none of her business what you do with your gift. Oh, I wish I could convince Delores to take her chill pills. I’m so proud of you for graduating from college, and it would make me happy if that crazy necklace helped get you an Apple computer. I bet you didn’t know Steve Jobs is here trying to convince us all to eat broccoli three meals a day. But I told him now that I’m dead, I’m done with that vegetable!”
More Dear Prudence Columns
"A View to a Thrill: Neighbor boys peep at my scantily clad daughters. Should I have them cover up?” Posted June 30, 2011.
“Loving Thy Neighbor: I have sex with the couple next door. Should I tell my kids about it?” Posted June 23, 2011.
“Fatherly Advice: Dear Prudence advises a dad whose wife fears he'll abandon the family in favor of his long-lost daughter—and other Father's Day advice seekers.” Posted June 16, 2011.
“Businessman on the Road to Ruin: My wife doesn't know I visit strip bars and porn theaters while away on business. But that's not cheating, right?” Posted June 9, 2011.
More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
“All Dogs Go to Heaven: Dear Prudence advises a dying husband on whether to confess his infidelity—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted June 27, 2011.
“Sloppy Stay-at-Home Mom: Prudie advises a man whose wife is great at everything except keeping the house neat—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted June 13, 2011.
“The 40-Year-Old Mean Girl: Prudie advises a former bully whose kids are being mistreated by her victim's children—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted June 6, 2011.
“The Accused: A young neighbor's unfounded claims put my family in danger. Should we allow the girl back into our lives?” Posted June 2, 2011.