Saturday, August 23, 2008

An Inconvenient Appendage


During our ten years of reunion, my surrendered daughter Megan and I have had many good moments but we have also had sharp disagreements, primarily over the nature of adoption. I believe--and the more I delve into adoption--the more firmly I believe that natural families are cast. The bond between family members can be stretched but never severed. No matter how much we dislike--even detest--our relatives, there is always a connection, those eerie similarities of expression and thought which pop out like moles in a game machine. We have an obligation to protect family members; ultimately, when all else fails, it is our blood which sustains us.

To Megan, a proper family is a husband, wife, and children. Her views come from – or at least are reinforced -- by her strong Mormon beliefs. If the natural family does not fit this “Ozzie and Harriet”/“Leave It to Beaver”/“I Remember Mama” mold, a new family must be created through adoption. This is the pattern God established for families.

Children adopted by Mormon parents are sealed for eternity to their adoptive parents through a temple ceremony. The LDS church discourages adoptees from searching for their natural families. Church Handbook of Instructions, 2006.)  Despite this teaching and her adoptive parents disapproval, Megan searched for me for over ten years.

The Church encourages its members to prepare a family history – in the case of adoption – it is the adopted family’s history although, according to Megan, they may also research their birth family if moved to do so. Genealogy is rooted in the Church’s requirement that its members baptize their deceased forebears in order to pave their way to a higher place after death. Genealogy has nothing to do with learning one's genetic heritage.

I am an inconvenient appendage -- a line on a genealogy chart that does not connote lineage.

Megan tells me that her adoption was part of God's plan for her although (thank goodness) she doesn’t go as far as Rosie O’Donnell to assert that God put her in the wrong woman’s tummy.

Although our quarrels over adoption have resulted in periods of silence, we have had a continuing line of communication through her four children. Early in our reunion, I asked Megan if I could send the children presents for their birthdays and Christmas to which she agreed. Over the years, I selected small items, often books or videos which I or the three daughters I raised had enjoyed as children. Occasionally I sent more expensive  items-–a scooter, a camera-–the price of which might exceed her family’s budget. When the older children reached 13, I sent checks on their birthdays, $5 for every year of age. I always signed the cards which accompanied the gifts "Jane," never "Grandma" not wishing to usurp Megan's adoptive mother's role. Megan participated in the giving, advising me on what her children would like or telling me their sizes when clothing seemed in order. Megan often sent emails thanking me. On rare occasions the children sent thank you notes.

This week Megan sent me the following email.

“Hi Jane,
Hope your summer's been fine. Aaron's birthday is coming up in a few weeks, and I would like to ask you not to send anything for it. We've always really enjoyed your thoughtful presents, and really appreciated them, but at times I've felt a bit uncomfortable about them. I wasn't really sure how to deal with it, but I've decided just to take the direct approach and ask you to stop.

I'm sorry. I don't mean to offend you. Thanks.

Megan”

Aaron, Megan’s youngest child is almost ten and I have been sending him gifts since he was born.
I replay conversations and actions over the past several months but can only guess at what precipitated Megan’s email.

I debate what action to take. Ignore her, end our relationship, or ask her what’s behind her decision. If I received a similar letter from one of my raised daughters, I would call her immediately. We are family.

It’s different with Megan. In the eyes of the LDS Church and the law we’re not family. Although painful, perhaps it’s best if I let it go. If she wants to extinguish this cord between us, so be it. We will still be connected: She was cast from my body.

What will her children think if I don’t send them presents? I was planning to send Aaron, who loves history, Charles Dickens’ “A Child’s History of England.” He won’t miss it but he may miss knowing that I thought about him. And even if the children are not sentimental about gifts, a teenager can always use cash. Will Megan tell them it was she who stopped the presents?

15 comments :

  1. Oh wow, I am really, really, really sorry :(

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  2. "If I received a similar letter from one of my raised daughters, I would call her immediately."

    I hate we end up treating our children differently. The reunion relationship is like walking on eggshells, never being sure of what to do. I wish you could ask her...

    I'm in a similar position as far as my granddaughter. My son and I are estranged right now and he is not allowing contact with her, now 12, and whom I've known since she was born. I wander what he tells her, what she thinks about my absence.

    (((hugs)))

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  3. This is disturbing to me because it was something I feared so much that I didn't develop a relationship with my grandchild. What is a ten year old going to think if his Grand-Janet simply stops sending things? How could his mother possibly explain such a thing?
    Reunion has taught me that things keep changing.

    I think I would hold onto the presents I would have otherwise continued to send, to have something to share when situations change again.

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  4. Boy, Jane, This really burns me! I have no idea what you should do, but I think this is damned cruel--to you and your grandchildren. As an adult you can deal with this But a 10-year old is a different story. It's like she wants her kids to feel abandoned as she felt abandoned (and won't admit it).

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  5. The word incovenient describes how I feel with my daughter to a "T". I almost feel like she found her medical history and answers to her questions and now my continuing to be here is incovenient. She has never been unkind, however she has never shared herself with me either. I understand how you feel. Keep those presents, she may be living within the mormon guidelines now, but give it time...
    Hmmm, the whole mormon/adoption thing is interesting, I have read books that talk about their belief on the whole soul vessel thing... Things that make you go hmmmmm!

    Kristy

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  6. I think you should call or write her and ask her why she has changed her mind. Also, do your other daughters talk to her? Maybe she would tell them why. Mormonism is a scarey religion. I think it should be illegal. I never understood, why they think bigomy is alright when it is nothing but adultry, according to Christ. Mormons views on Adoption are just as screwed up as their views on marriage. It makes me mad too, that they hog the whole state of Utah. Poor Camira Bailey has had her life ruined because of Mormoms. I think it is sad your Grand Children have to be raised in such a twisted religion.

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  7. Did you consider asking Megan to let Aaron know .... why you aren't sending a gift? That would seem to be only fair, since he is ten and will probably notice that you didn't send anything.

    All I can hope is that her children drift away from Mormonism eventually.

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  8. “I am an inconvenient appendage -- a line on a genealogy chart that does not connote lineage. A bastard mother. Megan tells me that God ordained her adoption although she doesn’t go as far as Rosie O’Donnell to assert that God put her in the wrong woman’s tummy.”

    I have never thought of myself as an inconvenient appendage (whew reverse thinking).. I am about to select a gift for my grandson.. son of my birthson.. and I do my best to stay one step apart from them.. (I usually feel guilt but maybe I need not feel it)
    My bsons wife has no contact with me and my bson and I have drifted apart.. and I have accepted this..
    They do send pictures and sometimes the kids write a thank you card.. I treasure them..

    Maybe in your situation the truth is hidden.. the why of it..
    I no longer ask for the why of it..

    I am so sorry this is happening it must hurt..

    I enjoy your blog.. thanks for writing it..

    Jackie

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  9. Wow, how infuriating, how shaming, how awful.

    I would never have refused a present from my mother to my child. Even when our relationship was strained, I didn't deny her access. I really felt that my child and my mother have/had/will have a relationship that is actually none of my business.

    If my mother had been a criminal, I am sure I would have felt differently, if I had reason to suspect she would harm him. I don't. I do feel protective and upset that he has his own 'adoption issues' watered down albeit.

    I think personally, and take my advice, I am not using it,(ha ha) but that you should be able to tell your grandson why you are not sending him a present, and if that is not amenable to your daughter ask that she do it for you.

    That is really wrong, and I don't care if she is LDS or LSD, that is not okay.

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  10. god, i'm jealous.

    i'm jealous that she has kids to share with you and that you want to share them.

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  11. I am lds and also and adoptee. The difference is that I was not adopted into an lds family. I joined the church at a later date. Anway, I am so sorry that this is happening to you and your daughter, but as a reunited adoptee, I wouldn't lay all the blame on the church. She might still be trying to come to terms with her reunion. Its a hard road.
    The only way to find out is to ask her. I would. Instead of just wondering.
    Good luck, and I hope you two can come to an understanding.
    I would say try to please try to understand her and her religion. If she in an active member, its a very important part of her and her families life.

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  12. OMG, Jane. I just realized WHICH Jane you were!! Knowing that, knowing you, make me cry even harder over this.

    How do any of us survive?

    Hugs.

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  13. I also feel that you should be given the respect of an answer as to why? It won't hurt to ask.
    Dawn
    P.S. I have no experience in this. I am a birth mother who has not been reunited but just as a human being, I think you deserve and answer.

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  14. Hi. I just read your post. First, I am a daughter of an adopted Mom and dad. My Mom was adopted at 3 days old, and my dad was adopted by 'my Grandpa' at age 12. I am also Mormon who can't have children and in the process of adopting a child.

    Your daughter's religion, I guarantee is very, very important to her. I doubt it had any bearing on her decision to ask you to stop sending gifts. My advice is to ask her why she has decided to ask you to stop. Your comment on how extra activities in the church is a doorway to having doubt is inaccurate. We Mormons, are always busy. ALWAYS!

    The best thing you can do is love her and wait till she's ready to talk again.

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  15. Jane I am so sorry to hear this. I would be devastated if my son asked me not to send anything any more. I have no grandchildren so am not dealing with that one yet.

    Indeed, the LDS Church has some strange views on family....only those who pray, pay and obey can be "together forever" or even attend family weddings in the Temple....everyone else is second class and more families are split for eternity under this doctrine than remain together.

    What your daughter did in forbidding presents to your grandchildren is cruel and was probably inspired at least in part by her religious beliefs. Not much you can do.

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