Friday, July 31, 2009
After the adoptee/birth mother reunion: Is Secrecy Necessary?
What I've learned from all the comments on the last post, When the adoptee keeps the reunion secret, is that openness is often undesirable and best to keep the reunion a secret...because there are too many problems if the adoptee/birth mother reunion is out in the open. And that everybody--first mother and adoptee, need to find his or her own way.
We first mothers need to learn to trust that the adopted person is doing all that he or she can to handle two mothers (yes, one is enough trouble), and maybe, two fathers, or a combination of them. But what this discussion has reminded me of is something that I read elsewhere: how we birth mothers are "thanked," but when we come back, are then often feared, denigrated, and dishonored. And really, there is nothing we can do about that. That is out of our hands.
We are feared because adoptive parents fear our children will somehow prefer us. We are feared because they find it upsetting to see how alike--physically and psychologically--we may be to the "children" in question, who are now teens, young people, or fully formed adults. We are feared because the biological link by its very nature can not be broken; and the adoptive link, because it is based on proper conduct and associations, can be.
I can hear the chorus of people disagreeing with this statement, that the bond of love and relationship between adoptive parents and their children can never be broken, but we have seen indeed that it can. I know of too many situations where the adopted person has moved away, and rarely, if ever, maintains contact with the adoptive parents. And over at Cedar's Blog, On a Little Island in the Pacific, she has just written about how she adopted her grown son back; screen writer Joe Esterhaz spoke at the last American Adoption Conference with his daughter, about how he did the same thing.
If that is the sum of the relationship with the adoptive parents, is it any wonder that such individuals do not feel the need for a close relationship and frequent contact with their natural parents? And while you may cut off contact with one's biological child, or mother, the link is still there and will always be. Disinheritance does not break the biological connection.
But back I'm rambling here, and to go the topic of how adoptive parents deal with us:
We are denigrated because they fear us. So the way to deal with that is to put us down. And we are dishonored because they fear us. Most adoptive parents are now, after reunion, after years of raising the adoptee, not going to be willing to save a chair for us at the dance recital, as adoptive father Brooks Hansen wrote in The Brotherhood of Joseph talking about why he chose to adopt from Siberia.
But now we are talking weddings, christening, graduations. After years of "thanking us" for our child (but being glad we were no where in sight), they are not going to say, Hey, here's a spot up front at the wedding!" And we need to be mindful not to put extra pressure on the adopted person to make sure it happens.
In my own case, I was amazingly fortunate, and indeed, not only did I attend my daughter's wedding, I was asked to read a psalm during the ceremony. Since Jane was my only daughter, I got to freak out over what to wear to the wedding. There is no "birth mother of the bride" protocol. I sat right next to her other mother in the front row. We even had matching corsages. When the parents of the bride danced, there were three parents on the dance floor. I danced with my husband (whom Jane saw as a kind of step-father), and nobody threw eggs at me. My brothers and their wives and some of their kids were also there, and we sat with them at our own table--fortunately we filled the table.
Yeah, I know, amazing.
But there were some hairy moments. The bridegroom's mother was cool (very); I wouldn't say most of the adoptive family relatives were friendly (curious, but not friendly) and two days--hell, at the rehearsal the night before--the wedding, the bride's other mother was not speaking to me over a side issue. I've gotten off here on a tangent, but I just wanted to say there are a million ways to have a reunion.
Let's all just try not to further hurt each other.