A 30-year family secret is no longer a secret. My sister was the victim of a violent rape, the perpetrator never known or charged. She hid her pregnancy, and the rape, for seven months. When the family found out we all rallied around her, but the decision was hers to give the baby up for adoption.

After the trauma of rape, birth and recovery, that was that. It was never spoken of again. Until last month when my sister tells us she’s been in touch with her birth daughter. We are all delighted to welcome this new niece, cousin, and granddaughter into our lives, but my sister is not so sure. The re-discovery of her daughter has brought back 30 years of repressed memories of the rape.  The daughter can’t wait to meet her birth mother (she initiated the contact), but my sister can’t separate the daughter from the rape. I understand, and respect my sister’s decision to never meet her birth daughter.

I have friends and even a cousin who re-discovered their birth families after 20 or more years, and all their stories have happy endings.

But none of them sprung from a rape.

This is all made more difficult by the fact that the girl grew up just a few counties away, and her two families (birth and adoptive) have crossed paths before, albeit unknowingly.

Given the circumstances, it would have been best for my sister to never have found her daughter. But it’s too late to unlearn the truth, and we’re left wondering where to go from here.

There are many resources out there for birth parents reuniting with long-lost children, but I can’t find anything that deals with women who were victims of rape reuniting with their adopted children.

If anyone out there has a similar story to share, my sister could really use the support.