Friday, July 31, 2009

Telling My Daughters, Part II


This is actually being posted on Sunday at...6:11 p.m. as Jane is on vacation and wrote this before she left.

In my last post, Telling my family about my first child – and then going public, I promised readers that I would write about how my daughters reacted to Rebecca and how she reacted to them. In a nutshell, they are not close and seem to prefer it that way. Rebecca lives in the Midwest; my youngest daughter on the east coast; and the other two in Oregon. They are cordial when circumstances bring them together but make no effort to have a relationship.

Although their physical appearances and careers are similar, their differences in life experiences seem to outweigh these similarities. All the girls have occupations which require gathering, analyzing, and presenting information. This is not surprising since their fathers are both attorneys and I am an attorney, turned government administrator, turned blogger. Rebecca conducts and presents marketing studies, my oldest raised daughter is an attorney, my middle daughter is a business analyst, and my youngest daughter directs communications for an elected official.

While the way they think is almost identical, their information base is vastly different which results in major differences in beliefs and values. Rebecca is a Mormon, who opposes welfare, feminism, gay marriage, and sex outside of marriage. My raised daughters are irreligious and supported Hillary Clinton in the last election. In areas outside the LDS Church’s dogmatism, however, Rebecca and my oldest raised raised daughters have common values: helping animals, protecting the environment, and supporting gun control. Rebecca joined the Million Mom March in 2000. My oldest raised daughter wrote a law review article on the liability of gun manufacturers when guns fall into the wrong hands. She and Rebecca both create an environment of ethnic diversity for their children.

The differences in age and family circumstances also come into play. Rebecca is 42; my raised daughters are 37, 35, and 32. Rebecca is married with four children ages 10 to 20; my oldest daughter is married with two young children; the other two are enjoying their single, childless existence.

In Twice Born: Memoirs of An Adopted Daughter, B. J. Lifton describes an adopted person as “the changeling, the imposter, the double.” When I look at Rebecca, I see two women: the natural Rebecca, so familiar, who would be a great “big sister” to my other daughters, and the created Rebecca, with whom they have a relationship only because of an accident of birth. Sadly, the differences that drove Rebecca and me apart also divide Rebecca and my raised daughters.
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Lorraine here: My surrendered (and only) daughter fit into my family like a pea in a pod she was temporarily missing from. And I know this was part of the emotional backdrop she had to deal with after I found her. Though she had epilepsy, and took a heavy dose of drugs that slowed down her brain, she told her parents she wanted to be a writer. In fact, the first time I spoke on the phone with her, before she knew who I was or what I did, and I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up (she was 15 at the time) she said: journalist. I have been a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and editor since I was in high school. When she went to junior college, what did she excel in? English Composition. She and one of my brothers got along exceedingly well.

But like Jane's first daughter, she never spent enough time with my entire family to ... blend in easily. I had moved from Michigan to New York as soon as I finished college, and the distance meant that she was not around my larger family often.

5 comments :

  1. "describes an adopted person as “the changeling, the imposter, the double.”

    This truly hit home with me.

    I have nothing else to say.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The four children that my mother kept show very little interest in getting to know me, their only sister.

    The last time I visited, only 2 showed up at our Mom's to see me and one was obviously there because our mother insisted. He couldn't wait to leave and go watch a baseball game.

    It's so sick how a lot of adoptees are not accepted as 'real' family in an adopted family and then get the same treatment when reunited with their natural family. It's just sick.

    The adoption industry does not put that on their "Orphan" posters. "Adopt me, the Leper."

    ReplyDelete
  3. I too had hoped for a connection to my siblings. I feel none. They have little to no interest.
    Two of my siblings seem extremely worried that I will take any inheritance and keep me beyond arms length.
    It is disheartening.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good topic! In my experience, adoption has put a wall between my sons who I think would have liked each other pretty well had they met as strangers and became friends. That is sad.

    As it is, my 3 raised sons range from indifferent to hostile to the idea of meeting their oldest brother, and he has expressed no interest in meeting them. His bad experience with the adoptive family has left him very wary of any sort of family connections.

    Unlike Jane's daughter my son was raised in similar social status and the same religion as me and my other kids, Catholic. All my sons are now agnostic, politically liberal, tolerant, love the outdoors and individual sports like hiking, biking, running. All are more or less introverts.

    I do not see my surrendered son as a different person because he was surrendered, his talents and interests are his own, not at all like the adoptive family, some not at all like me or his birthfather, but who he is and who he would have been if I raised him.

    What has put a wall between my kids I think is fear and resentment, not difference in lifestyle or beliefs. That seems even more sad, but there is nothing I can do about it. I feel in the middle of my kids, not wanting to hurt or displease any of them, but still needing to live my own life and do what I need to do to have some connection with all of them.

    My kids are all wonderful guys but they are not and can't be "mini-me" or what I want them to be, nor can they be forced into relationships they do not want or can't handle.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My surrendered daughter is my only child.

    After reuniting with me, and a DNA test she met her bdad and he told his other 4 children about her. His oldest son reached out lovingly to her and they have formed (at this time) a close bond. She was raised an only child so is thrilled to have siblings.

    ReplyDelete

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