*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told by a family friend, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
Is it ever okay to conceal the identity of a child's biological mother to suit your own needs?
There are a few instances where it may be okay to conceal the identity of a child's biological mother. For example, if the child is adopted and the adoptive parents do not want the child to know that they are not his or her biological parents, then it may be necessary to keep this information hidden. However, it is best to be honest with children about their origins so that they can make informed decisions about their own lives.
Decades ago, my mother knew a young woman who was raised to believe her grandmother was her biological mother and her biological mother was her aunt. My mother met this young woman on the bus.
Taking the local city bus to work was a way of life for my mother in the 1960s. She met some interesting people on her daily bus rides. They came from many backgrounds, and each had a story to share.
My mother has always been a good listener. She feels fascinated when she hears people's stories, and so she always enjoyed striking up a conversation on public transportation and learning more about strangers' lives. Often, they didn't remain strangers for long.
One day, my mother sat on the bus beside another young woman her age, and they started talking. They both had the same destination in the heart of the city, and they began sitting together more often when they took the same bus.
On one of these long bus rides, the young woman told my mother about her favorite aunt. She said she loved her aunt very much, and she appreciated how her aunt was always there to support her through hard times, no matter what.
My mother's new friend confided that her own mother never showed much interest in her, and she didn't know why. That's why having such a loving and supportive aunt meant so much to her. She just didn't know how she would have survived without her, and she visited her often.
The woman had a key to her aunt's house and let herself in and waited for her aunt if she arrived for a visit before her aunt returned home from work. Then one day, she had a brilliant idea.
Her aunt had been complaining about needing to clean and organize her dresser drawers, so the woman from my mother's daily commute decided to do it for her, as a surprise. She felt positive her act of kindness would delight her aunt.
The sixth and final drawer didn't contain clothing like the other drawers. It held paperwork, old newspaper clippings, photographs, and documents.
"My aunt still wasn't home," my mother's friend told her, "so I figured I'd try to organize her papers for her, too. It was a big mistake."
There among the discarded receipts and old bank statements, lay a birth certificate that revealed the truth hidden for so long. The woman's aunt was actually her biological mother.
And it was at that very moment she heard her aunt turn the key in the front-door lock.
She confronted her aunt through tears and learned the truth. Because her aunt had gotten pregnant so young, her aunt's mother (i.e. the young woman's cold and detached grandmother) had sworn the single teen mom to secrecy and raised the baby herself to keep up family appearances.