Sunday, October 19, 2008

this Birth Mother Is Uncomfortably Numb

Since I joined the virtual world nine years ago I’ve referred to some of the citizens as walking wounded, i.e., most people are in chat rooms, blogging, etc. because they’re striving, seeking, finding. Honestly, all is well in my world and I’m considered a happy, upbeat person, except when it comes to my life as a firstmother. Last week while I marked my daughter’s birthday I was thinking about this passage from The Giver, a futuristic young adult book by Lois Lawry that I read in the aftermath of 9/11:

Lily sighed. I hope to get assigned to be a Birthmother.”
“Lily!” Her mother spoke very sharply. “Don’t say that. There’s very little honor in that Assignment. The birthmothers never even get to see the new children.”

Very little honor indeed. And a simple phone call to my sister this morning was a grim reminder that in the world of adoption, we birthmothers are merely, to borrow a phrase from Lorraine’s July blog entry, “reproductive agents.”

I phoned my sister, Judasina (the name Lorraine and I call her, you’ll see why in a moment), to ask her if she wanted to join me for a Sunday drive to a craft show, and we caught up on the past week’s events. She knew from her daughter, my beloved niece, that I had sent myself a bouquet on my daughter’s birthday. She knows that’s always a difficult day for me and she leaves me alone until she’s given the all clear sign. I told her I had discovered my daughter’s address but that I wouldn’t use it because I didn’t want to upset or anger my daughter any more than I have, but that it was a comfort to me to have the information.

And then my sister confessed what I knew all along, she’s been in touch with my daughter over the past several months. This soap opera began over three years ago, up to and during my daughter’s wedding. My sister basically usurped my role…she met my daughter’s adoptive mother before I had the chance, despite knowing what a huge moment that was for me. She’s visited my daughter, who lives several states away, and bounced my grandson on her knee, yet I’ve never seen a photo of either of my grandsons, let alone told about their births (like everything else over the past three and one-half years, I discovered that information on the Internet) While my daughter has cut off all contact with me, she sends my sister photos of her two young boys (whom I jokingly refer to as my sister’s grandchildren), they e-mail occasionally, and apparently they tried to have a clandestine get together this past summer while my daughter had a month-long stay at the family home at the Jersey shore. My sister’s back stabbing and secrecy over the past several years has earned her the moniker Judasina. Suffice to say her ongoing relationship with my daughter (she’s not the firstmother so it’s OK to connect) has caused me a lot of heartache and long estrangements from my sister, and my sister ceased being my confidante long ago.

So, while I calmly let my sister share all the details of my daughter’s life, she saved the best for last: my daughter was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer. There’s absolutely no history of cancer on either side of her birthfamily, so I suspect it may be stress-induced. When I heard the words “cervical cancer,” all I said was, “that’s a shame,” as though my sister was talking about a work colleague, or an acquaintance.

I went to my craft show, did some errands, and by mid-afternoon I was just dumbfounded. If my daughter is so angry, so hurt, so overwhelmed that she can’t share serious health news with me, then I’m screwed. She really, really doesn’t want to have anything to do with me. I know and understand adoptees' struggle, but this—not being able to tell me she has a serious, life threatening illness, is just more than I can bear. One of the comments in my previous post told me to keep fighting, but I have no fight left in me.

I was going to send my grandson a first birthday gift this week, but decided against it. Jane commented in the previous post, perhaps we’re being spiteful. NO! This is self-preservation; I need to protect what’s left of my heart.

When my daughter’s first son was born, I--crazed, stalker birthmother than I am--phoned hospitals in my daughter’s city, and I found her on the second attempt. My sister, unable to keep the news to herself, told me she was having a Caesarian and the scheduled date. I just wanted to know that mother and child were well, and was it a boy or girl. Before I had a chance to react, the receptionist connected me to her room. My daughter answered the phone, and all I could say after not hearing her voice for nine months was..."Congratulations. And what did we have?”
It took her several moments to recognize my voice, and all she said was “Thanks for calling,” and hung up. I immediately sent an-email to Lorraine that I felt as though my heart was cryogenically frozen and it shattered into thousands of shards. Thankfully, I don’t feel anywhere near that at the moment, actually, I don’t feel much at all, and that hurts even more. I’m not angry, I’m not sad, I’m not wistful. I’m just numb.

13 comments:

maybe said...

Your sister's behavior is disturbing.

Suz said...

Agreed with Maybe. Altho, I have a sister like that myself. She would, I am confident, do the same. My sister is a bit, umm, well, off.

KristySearching said...

Your sister's behavior sucks!

I'm not sure how she can justify that.

I'm sorry...

INDIANA OPEN said...

I have adoptive sisters who would do the same thing because of my Texas accent. They feel that I do not come off intelligent enough. Your sister is wrong.

Your daughter is just as wrong for allowing this to continue.

I too had that cervical cancer scare. That is what started this road for me. I am sorry. I am on the other end of the spectrum. My mother supposedly doesn't want me in her life. That is okay. Like you I am uncomfortably numb as well. Hugs

The Improper Adoptee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Kay, Fla said...

I hate to even write this, but Whatcha wanna bet your sister has painted a picture for your daughter depicting herself as the "good" sister and you as the "bad"/whack-o/mean/whatever-she-can-think-of-at-the-moment one.

This disturbs me so much. Your sister would deserve empathy, even sympathy at her utter and complete lack of self-esteem. Unfortunately, her misguided efforts and her completely out-of-bounds target to use to finally being "better than" you at something, or finally has something that you don't, just make her look like a selfish, self-absorbed bit%&. She earned that title.
Please, Lord, tell me that there is a special place in hell for those who allow their sociopathic tendencies to hurt others with intent.

Bless your lovely, loving, strong, and diplomatic heart, Lorraine.

Lisa Kay
FL Adoptee - born Jan 1963 - Gainesville
ISO bParents

The Improper Adoptee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
unsignedmasterpiece said...

My son has made attempts to carve out portions of the family. I have taken the position that he is welcome to be part of the family but not attempt to detroy and divide it.

I think your daughter knows full well that this behaviour hurts you. She angry.

In my son's case this is exactly the type of behaviour he was on the receiving end of from his adoptive family. Maybe she had a similar experience and this is where she learned to behave this way. I don't know what your sister's excuse is. Shame on her.

unsignedmasterpiece said...

My son has made attempts to carve out portions of the family. I have taken the position that he is welcome to be part of the family but not attempt to detroy and divide it.

I think your daughter knows full well that this behaviour hurts you. She angry.

In my son's case this is exactly the type of behaviour he was on the receiving end of from his adoptive family. Maybe your daughter had a similar experience and this is where she learned to behave this way. I don't know what your sister's excuse is. Shame on her.

Linda said...

Sadly, I agree with all of your sentiments about my sister and can't defend her behavior. She's the youngest of four, and, not surprisingly since they share DNA and are just 13 years apart, she and my daughter are a lot alike.

I've tried to explain to my sister that she's making a bad situation worse, but she thrives on chaos and has always preferred stirring the pot to confronting her own life's issues. To her credit,she successfully raised my niece and nephew as a single mom and acknowledges she couldn't have done it without help from my mother and me, and yes, apparently she has self-esteem issues and compensates by enabling others (my brother, my sister, the list goes on). Being a size 2 with two walk-in closets and 43 pairs of shoes apparently isn't a panacea to whatever issues she refuses to deal with. :)

Thank you all for your candor and insight. And now that I've lost a day dwelling on this, I'll forge ahead and continue to change the world of adoption with my emotional support, letters to the editor, and support of open records.

Lorraine said...

Hi Linda, though we share emails several times a day...I wanted to say publicly, BRAVA for turning your attention to helping others and working to open records. I asked myself long ago what can all this hurt and sorrow be for...and all I can come up with is for us to work to see that all adoptees and first parents have the right to know one another.

We might not have a relationship, and so many of our posts indicate that, but we --all of us, adopted people AND FIRST PARENTS--have a right to know who the other one is.
--lorraine

Sandy Young said...

I am so sorry about your daughter and your sister and all the aching you are doing right now. My son with whom I have been reunited for 19 more off than on again years is also facing a life threatening illness and has cut me from the scene. I know how that feels, Linda, and it isn't nice.

DENISE ROESSLE said...

Linda, this post so upset me that it has taken days for me to be able to comment. Every time I think adoption and reunion can't possibly get more depressing, it does. My heart goes out to you.