Utne Blogs > Hi Tim

Hi Tim

Advice column by Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC.

Whose History Is It Anyway?

by Tim White

Tags: Advice column, Family, Relationship advice, Ethical advice, Sex,


Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC offers advice on family planning and parenting, LGBT issues, disability issues, education and work issues, relationships, ethics and "unusual" social issues. Send questions to Tim for future columns through his website

Hi Tim, 
I am a grandmother who adopted all my children and I have been blessed with many grandchildren. All our adoptions happened back in the 50's and they were completely closed with sealed records. One of my daughters initially asked for the names and personal information of her birth family and I gave her everything I had, which was very little. She decided she was not interested in finding any biological relatives and dropped the subject over 30 years ago. However, her son is in his thirties and has had some health issues, and he has pleaded with her to give him information, but she refuses and says it's too painful for her to think about any contact.

Now, he has come to me looking for information and is put off by my reluctance to be so generous with my daughter's personal information. She will be offended by me if I help him, and he will be if I don't. I see this as a matter between mother and son that should not concern me, but how do I make my grandson understand my awkward position?
- Third Party

Hi Third Party,
I am personally and professionally familiar with adoption, and dilemmas similar to your own. However, I will refer you to The Children's Bureau—a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services— for specific details for your state because restrictions do vary between jurisdictions.

In general, only non-identifying information is provided to adopting parents and this often includes medical information, but it sounds like yours did not. When an adopted child turns 18, they have this access. Identifying information for birth parents may be available by mutual consents between birth parents, adoptees and even birth siblings, or a court order for compelling reasons. However, without these conditions, provisions are likely only going to afford the adopted adult access. In this case, your daughter to whom you already gave said details.

You are, in fact, not the conservator of your daughter's birth records simply because you adopted her. She and her son are adults and they must work this out between themselves. It a troubling indicator of the state of their relationship that they cannot, and although you did not mention any other struggle between them, I would suggest both see a counselor to help them process these distressing circumstances. Any contribution by you would only be interference. You can tell them this, make a referral to a therapist, and reassure them both that you love and support them. But you cannot make decisions that belong to someone else.

Couger Bagger

Hi Tim,
Mid-20s man in a relationship of three weeks with an amazing cougar who is almost 60. She is smart, funny, active, and sexy with a high libido that I love to satisfy. I have always preferred older women but I think she might be my soul mate. She is kinky and I am mostly game but one kink turns me off. She lives with her mother who is in her 70's. Both of them are fit, aged really well and look 20 years younger than they are. I made the remark that her mother was hot, and this managed to arouse her. Now she wants me to seduce her mother and tells me it would turn her on to know I was also sleeping with her! She tells me her mother is agreeable but she does not seem to know. This has made my girlfriend much less attractive to me. Why would she ask me to sleep with her mother?
- Cougar Bagger

Hi Cougar Bagger,
Congratulations, you made it across Age Gap but it looks like Kink Mountain may be insurmountable. Somehow I doubt that cougar is a term your beloved enjoys hearing shouted during the throes of your routine and vigorous lovemaking sessions. I also doubt that her geriatric mother would want to hear it, see it, or join in it. Soul mate means different things to different people, indeed, but I am willing to bet it does not mean "that lover whose mother I occasionally shag" to you. I am understanding you to have different relationship goals, and at three weeks you may simply be realizing this is not the right partner for you. If so, it is better to part ways now before she tries to pimp you out to her bridge party or bingo buddies.


Hi Tim,
I can’t really express what I need to say ... It’s like, when you prepare and build up to something and you're ready to give it your best, and in the end there’s always a reason why it can’t go your way and something intervenes and causes you to go off track, on an endless loop like history repeating itself. I see what's ahead like crystal clear, but I can’t convince anyone else or by the time I do, it's too late. I feel like I carry that around all day like this big, heavy weight that's a burden, or is that my gift and I haven’t been able to acknowledge it so if I just owned it I could be deliberately making the right small decisions every day like the one I'm faced with now. Which route do I take? What's happening to me?
- Puzzler

Hi Puzzler,
I am going to be as direct with you as you have been with me. I feel as puzzled as your letter leads me to believe you might be unless you are not. One the one hand, you have that thing, and over here you have this thing. What you have to remember is that the two things can be done separately or together or not at all, but no matter which way you choose you will have to give it some careful thought because you are going to have to live with the results. Remember; no matter where you go, there you are.

I would tell you to sleep on it but I fear you may already have been mostly asleep as you penned this mysterious prose, or at least fairly stoned, so I do not want to encourage you to get any fuzzier, in hopes that someone may come along and be able to extract from you the crucial information that you withheld from me. Next time, try cutting that brownie in halves or even quarters. Good luck to you.

Editor’s Note: The opinions offered in this blog are the author's alone. Tim White, and any experts he may consult and/or quote in responses to letters, will never provide medical or psychological advice, diagnoses, treatment, or counseling of any kind. General advice, opinions, and suggestions may be offered with no obligation on the part of readers to accept or act upon the content published within this column. Anyone in immediate crisis and/or mental/physical distress should call 911 or related resources of assistance.

Photo courtesy Evelyn Giggles, licensed under Creative Commons