Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Life Unexpected Is All Too Real

CW's Life Unexpected hit it out of the ballpark with reality last night. First, there was an emotional scene in which the always-abandoned-but-never-adopted Lux angrily tells her mother, Cate, that she is hurt and angry because she, Cate, never checked up on her when she was two and three, and in the hospital without anyone to visit her...."You gave me up like I didn't even matter to you because I didn't," she angrily yells at Cate.

Right! I was thinking, no matter the story told to adoptees, somewhere is this huge mountain of rejection and abandonment they have to get over, if they can. I mostly doubt it is possible.

"I thought I was doing what was right for you..."Cate responds, adding that at the time she was
sixteen herself, with a mother who was drinking herself into her next divorce and a father whose whereabouts she did not know, and had no one to turn to herself at the time--including Lux's father, Baze, who did not even know he was a father. I do wish that Cate had said that once you sign those surrender papers, the state sees you as gone for good. For god-knows-what-reasons, the state--or any agency I have ever heard of--does not follow up and tell you that your child needs help, or was never adopted, all of which so many of us so fervently wish had happened. We have heard many stories of trouble that came later and first/birth mothers who should have been contacted, but the state never does that. Instead, children are shuttled from one foster home to another--or shipped off to boarding school if the adoptive family can afford that--and no one ever thinks, Gee, maybe the mother is in a different place and can step up now and offer this child what he needs.

In my own case, even when my daughter's doctor was writing to the agency for medical information, and I was writing to the agency offering it (about the birth control pills I took during the first trimester), the agency sat on the letters. I got one telling me she was happy with her new family, and I should get on with my life; her doctor's letter went unanswered, though we know the agency received it.

Back to the story: Things continue to go badly between the angry Lux and Cate, daughter and mother. Lux will not forgive her for not taking in one of her foster-care friends; but in the end, the three (Cate, Baze and Lux) decide that they do not wish to jeopardize the arrangement that they have now: that Cate and Baze share joint custody as foster parents. They try to present a united happy front to the social worker, who can have Lux removed and sent to another foster home, but the social worker sees through the facade.

That's when the script got awfully real and the line above is said in hurt and anger. However, the social worker says, Aha! reality here, not maybe you can work this out as a family. As the story progresses, Lux does want to come back to live with Cate (she had been temporarily living with Baze, above the bar he owns, and staying with her boyfriend, who is not exactly college material, or even high school, for that matter). And back at Cate's house, here's where Lux says:
"I can't promise that this is going to work out. Or that I won't get upset and I'll want to take it out on you. I know I seem like I'm okay but I'm more messed up inside than you realize. The truth is, I don't forgive you. I don't know if I'm ever going to forgive you."
Wow, I was thinking. That was my daughter speaking to me, no matter how many years went by. She never really forgave me.
Cate responds:
"Lux, you don't have to. You don't ever have to forgive me. I'm never going to be able to forgive me. I just want a chance with you. What do I have to do to make it right?"
Lux: "Let me come home."
Pass the hanky, I'm tearing up writing this.

What was I reminded of? The day my sixteen-year-old daughter--the daughter I gave up for adoption shortly after birth--and I decided to play act how she felt about...being adopted. She was guiding the action and we two characters ended up in a cemetery looking at some ancestor's grave, which is where my daughter moved the plot line. Ancestor's grave. Her ancestor, and mine--just like in Who Do You Think You Are? And my daughter turns to me and says: Why did you give me up? And a minute later, she's got her hands around my neck shaking me, saying: Why did you give me up?

Does anyone ever truly forgive her birth/first mother for being given up? I don't know. I have heard so few stories about reunions that do not go south that I sometimes wonder if real forgiveness, in your ordinary, run-of-the-mill surrender and reunion, is ever possible.--lorraine
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You can watch whole episodes at the website of Life Unexpected. I love this show and hope it plays for several seasons. It is the baby of Liz Tigelaar, who was adopted herself. We previously wrote about Life Unexpected here and here. Personally, it's one of the best things I've ever seen about the issues adoptees face on television. Even though the main character, Lux, was never officially adopted. Well, now she just might be....

39 comments :

  1. I was watching last night too! Yes, hankies!

    You pose an interesting question...can there ever be real forgiveness on the part of the adoptee?

    I've often wondered if adoptees who have good lives with their adoptive families (and by good lives I mean they are shown plenty of love and attention, aren't abused, live in an addiction-free household, are supported in the things they choose to do, have adoptive parents that establish and maintain emotional connections, etc etc etc) are more apt to have love and understanding for their birth mothers? Forgive them? Be able to move past the surrender and develop a relationship in the present?

    I would imagine that an adoptee who had a rough time of it growing up (abusive a-parents, addiction in the adoptive home, a-parents who did not develop a connection to them or were not shown adequate love and support, or those who had overly protective smothering a-parents)...would they be bitter? And because they are bitter, they want someone to blame? And who better to blame than the person who put them in the rotten household to begin with?

    I don't have answers to those questions, those are just thoughts that have crossed my mind.

    As far as myself, I would consider myself to have came from the former group of adoptees. My life certainly wasn't perfect by any means, but I knew I was loved, I was never abused and my small childhood years (when I believe core personality traits are formed, including the abilities to FORGIVE and have EMPATHY) were really really good.

    I never had anger toward my first mother. Ever. I just didn't ever feel that way. That must put me in the minority as far as adoptees are concerned, but I'm telling the truth. I remember being very VERY young and my heart would ache for her. Somehow I was able to feel the agony she was going through. I just always felt that there must have been a very good reason why wasn't able to raise me...and as it turns out, there was. No need to forgive her, in my mind she didn't ever do anything that necessitated forgiveness. She made a decision in good faith that she felt was the best thing for ME. It definitely was not the best thing for her...

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  2. Thank you for posting that. That is the reality. Logically, I can say that I forgive my firstmother for putting me up for adoption - she was young, had no support, etc... And there's another part of me that says, "How could you give me to strangers and not even know what happened to me? How could you turn your back on me again when I looked so hard for you and finally found you?"
    I would think that a lot of us adoptees have very conflicting emotions -- mother/child bond is complex without adoption and other people in the middle also...
    Thanks for acknowledging this. A non-adoptee 'getting it' - to me - seems rare lately. Thank you for 'getting it' :)

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  3. Lisa, in response to your question, I'd have to say the answer is no, adoptees who had secure, stable, loving childhoods are not more apt to love/understand/forgive their birth mothers. By all accounts, my daughter had enjoyed a very comfortable, even affluent life, was the apple of her father's eye, and family friend I spoke to very briefly at her wedding assured me she was loved by her adoptive mother.

    My daughter assured me she and her mother had a cordial, fairly typical mother/daughter relationship, but her mother wasn't the warm and fuzzy type. Sadly, my daughter isn't warm and fuzzy either, and doesn't share her emotions, at least she didn't when we were on speaking terms. While she has told me she always admired my strength and courage, and understands it was all for the best, that primal wound--I GAVE HER AWAY--will always exist, and she's not even aware of it.

    I suspect if she was able to move past surrender and develop a relationship in the present, she wouldn't have ceased contact with me five years ago. However, becuase she's "not the momma," my daughter apparently has enjoyed an intimate relationship with her aunt, my younger sister, all this time, with frequent visits and regular phone calls. My sister has a relationship with my two grandsons; I found out about them through the Internet. My gifts were unacknowledged and unwelcome, and I finally stopped trying six months ago. If my daughter wasn't angry with me pre-reunion, she certainly seems to be now.

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  4. Just from reading on the Internet, I have to agree with Linda. Adoptive parents don't really affect the adoptee's feelings about surrender. Many have loving relationships with their a-parents and profoundly negative feelings about surrender.

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  5. Agreed. With Osolomama and Linda. My daughter's adoptive parent's gave her a stable, loving middle-class home. Most likely they were as receptive as they were to me when she was fifteen because of her epilepsy. Daughter Jane said she understood the reasons she was surrendered; that it would have been nearly impossible for me to deal with her as I was, and especially because of her epilepsy.

    Did that make her truly "forgive" me? No. She would walk away for the flimsiest of reasons--or just to prove to her adoptive mother, who came to, er, hate me as Jane and I continued to have a relationship, that she, Jane, was worthy of her adoptive mother's love. The way to prove that? Pretend I counted for nothing, after 15 or 20 years of a relationship.

    So she walked away for about a year one time, just because she could. Just to show me that I did not count. That is not forgiveness; that is a deep hurt that is so primal nothing can touch it.

    Being surrendered leads to seeming to be okay on the outside but way more messed up on the inside that is almost ever acknowledged.

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  6. Sometimes, as I look back over the years and re-read postings by other mothers and even myself, I see a pattern. It is almost not there, but just enough to be real.

    I am not saying anyone is weak or ignorant or anything like that, figured I better say that first, but I am saying we all seem to make the exact same mistake.

    For those of you that had children afterwards, did you explain your decisions to your children? Not the decisions about tv or house rules, but the ones that made a huge difference in whether or not you were a parent or a buddy?

    My parents, or at least my father never explained the things he did. He would discuss them, but in a definitive way. As if to say "this is the deal, now leave it alone" sort of. My grandmothers and mother were much the same.

    I went through a lot of dark times with my daughter. Many, many of them. And then it struck me. I know that she is an adult. I see her as the adult. I also know she is a toddler and see that too.

    Children, as a rule, want to know what is happening, not necessarily why it is happening. It is kind of like explaining how child birth occurs - in detail - to someone who just is not ready to know exactly how excruciatingly painful it is and what exactly happens physically. In other words, the clinical side of it.

    We first mothers tend to give the whole shot - the "clinical" side of it with the assumption that these are totally adult persons. And, please don't think I mean every single adoptee, most of the adoptees I have talked to, regardless of age, tend to be around that 2 or 3 year old mark in emotional behaviors with their first mothers.

    Now, I don't know everyone's story or experience, but I do know that when the light went on and I realized that no matter what her mouth was saying, her actions were much louder. She wanted an adult parent that acted like a parent - not one that acted like her best bud.

    Then I put my foot down and said ENOUGH.

    My daughter came here to my home for my husband's funeral, a man she never met, talked to more frequently than I knew and called Dad. She still does somethings I don't like, but then, I did not raise her so she would not know that it irritates me and I would not have her behave less than who she is. She stayed a week and has been keeping in touch since, making sure I eat, etc.

    I guess I am saying this - Stop being their buddies and try being an adult parent. Don't pretend you can tell them what to do, but don't pretend it is perfectly ok for them to behave in any fashion that is unacceptable to you. Stop being what we have all been trained (by adopters no less - think about it after all Verrier is an adoptive parent) to be. The dispensible person, the birth mother.

    Just my thoughts.

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  7. How someone else feels about me is none of my business. What someone thinks of me is also none of my business.

    My business is how I behave to other people.

    It's also not for me to try to be a mind reader and decide what someone thinks or feels about me.

    Not only that but I believe that feelings change and have intense times than others. Events may trigger in a positive or negative way.

    A visit seeing me face to face is going to be different from us emailing and me writing letters.

    When and if she has children that may very well trigger.

    If her parents are feeling stressed out about the very fact that I exist, that may or may not be a trigger. And yes I understand that they wouldn't be parents if I didn't exist but we are not dealing with logic here.

    I believe it is possible for my daughter to love me and not forgive me at the same time.

    I do not need for her to forgive me, I don't know if it's realistic. I don't know if it is even possible. I don't know if I can forgive my mother for her part in the relinquishment. If I can't forgive my mother then I am not going to expect my daughter to have no feelings about me relinquishing her.


    I don't watch that tv show, I can't relate a tv show to real life so perhaps it's just as well I haven't seen it.

    I don't like these posts with comments discussing what adoptees may or may not feel. It seems disrespectful and patronising.

    Do we forgive ourselves? Now there's a controversial question.

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  8. @Lori - even though my firstmother refuses any contact and has led a brutal media campaign -- I definitely don't feel 45 when it comes to her. I feel like a teenager who gives her the finger and rolls her eyes...

    @KimKim - I often wonder how a firstmother forgives her mother if she feels like she was part of her having to give up her baby -- I don't know the right term for 'give up'... I know it's not 'surrender' anymore...

    And -- is forgiveness necessary? I've read a lot (non-adoption) that says forgiveness IS necessary, but is that reality?

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  9. Elaine, give up is ok with me, I find the word place ikky so there you go!

    It is my belief that forgiveness is good for the soul and brings more abundance of good things into life. For that reason I work hard on forgiveness. My mother is one of my bigger challenges but I haven't given up hope there. I recently began to see her differently which is good. I am not so angry anymore but still have not fully forgiven her.

    I have forgiven myself for relinquishing but still feel a huge sense of shame around it.

    I am sorry about your mother refusing contact and having a campaign that's totally alien to me. I am shaking my head in dismay.

    Today has been a day of me reading things on blogs and thinking OMG....

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  10. Elaine, what a point about forgiveness. You are right--everyone seems to say it's necessary (again, speaking in a non-adoption context) and that it achieves something for you rather than the forgiven person. But there are definitely a few people I haven't forgiven and I'm OK with that. A great deal of the time I don't think about them. Perhaps that means I have forgiven them or have at least released them. I don't know.

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  11. @KimKim -- My firstmother doesn't feel that she nor her husband have anything to be forgiven for. They stand behind their name calling and viciousness. Matter of fact, when I wrote to my firstmother for breast cancer history, it was ME asking for forgiveness - for contacting her. Even though my breast cancer specialist said it would change the course of my treatment, it was me who was the offender. So, how do you forgive someone who believes that they have nothing to be forgiven for? Lorraine blogged about my firstmother last year.

    http://www.firstmotherforum.com/2009/11/wacky-website-of-woman-in-hiding-from.html

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  12. @osolomama -- maybe that's the case... I don't walk around angry all the time, so maybe a part of me has forgiven - or - it's a fluid situation and when things crop up, I get angry all over again...

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  13. Linda...I am sorry to hear that you have not been in contact with your daughter. That must be very hard, esp considering that she maintains relationships with other members of your family. (((hugs)))

    I would never attempt to speak for any adoptee other than myself (although I may speculate). All I can say is that I don't feel like I have or have ever had this huge gaping primal wound. I just don't. I don't feel "messed up" inside. Sure, I have insecurities and shortcomings like all people...but all in all, I am happy and content with myself and my life. I know my own heart and I know with absolute certainty that there is no hatred, resentment, etc for my mother. None.

    One thing about last night's episode that made me very sad was the part where Kate confessed that she did not hold Lux after she was born. You know, that made me think that I never did ask my mom if she held me and she never, to my recollection, told me:( She passed away 15 months after we met, so I guess that's one question that will never be answered. I remember her telling me that they had told her that I was a boy. She already had a child, a 15 month old boy, and so perhaps they lied to her in case they thought she would be more tempted to keep me if she knew I was a girl. But somehow, before she left the hospital she knew I was not a boy, because in the letter she sent along with me, she called me by the girl name she had given me...Amy.

    Anyhow, I'm betting she didn't. How sad for both of us:(

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  14. kitta here:

    I have always found all of this talk about forgiveness to be out of place in adoption with regard to the mothers.

    Telling our children why they were lost to us and what happened in the process is important to some of them. My son wanted to know the whole story. And I told him all of it. My parents also told him how they sent me away and made adoption arrangements before he was even born.

    Adoption is and was a government social program that was set up to permanently transfer children from mostly middle-class unmarried white mothers to married middle-class couples. So, why isn't there any talk about the guilt of the government, the adoptive parents who lobbied for sealed records and easier adoptions, the adoptive parents of our children who were not forced to adopt, the lawmakers, judges, and social workers, and all of the other guilty parties.

    I never asked for forgiveness from my son. Once I told him I was sorry for all the pain he went through in his abusive adoptive home. I was being empathetic, but he thought I was apologizing.

    He became angry and yelled," It is not your fault!!"

    I couldn't apologize for surrender: I was fighting to keep him at the same time. I lost the battle. I couldn't beat the goverment.I shouldn't apologize for that.

    I went to work in legislation for parents' rights, family preservation,restoration, and access to identifying information for both sides. This I have done because I believe in the right of families to remain together, not because we are guilty of breaking up our own families.

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  15. Did I ever "forgive" myself?

    I don't know. I have tried to get to
    "acceptance" without too much guilt. And then I realized I had to stop thinking about it that way.

    I simply had to accept what happened, and my role in it.

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  16. @Elaine, I see you got the point! Sometimes it is hard to look at ourselves and see how childish we are with our parents. My father, to the day he died, could say "get me a cup of coffee..." and me, my sisters and my brothers would jump up and get it, even if he was sitting next to the pot. Often we forget that while parents are forever in status, so are children and the weird part - we are, usually, both at the same time.

    I knew I liked you for a reason.

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  17. kitta here:

    "I often wonder how a firstmother forgives her mother if she feels like she was part of her having to give up her baby "

    Elaine, this point you have brought up is significant, especially for those of us who were abandoned by the fathers of our children and could not get child support(no DNA testing in those days).

    Our families were the only real source of help if we were still underage, and if they refused to help us, then we had nowhere to go.

    so, forgiveness came hard.I wanted to know "why" they did what they did..what were the reasons. So, I could understand.

    Were they trying to hurt me? Did they hate both me and my child?

    They sent us both away, and they told me I couldn't come home with my baby and they said don't come home even after the baby is gone..you remind us of failure.

    So, I wanted the truth, first, more than an apology.

    My father admitted he was wrong to have forced the adoption after he''saw how much pain it caused all of us..including my son." And he said he was sorry for hurting me. He also said I was right in saying that we could have raised my son.

    My mother, a much tougher nut to crack, finally caved in after a second family tragedy caused her to see that "problems" cannot be swept under the rug.

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  18. About forgiveness, I don't want to say that other mothers should feel like they need to be forgiven. Every story is different. No disrespect was intended.

    For me, I understand how little personal power I had then and how non existant my self esteem was. I truly felt that I had to let her go to give her a better chance. That girl that was then is not the woman that is here now.

    Even so, there is some feeling that I could have chosen maybe, this is logical rather than emotional BUT for many mothers there was not that feeling and they really had zero choice.


    I don't know if I should even have to forgive myself because I know my intent was to protect and better my beloved daughter. That said I still feel this huge sense of shame about the whole thing. I also feel very vulnerable about it and don't like to talk about it with people.

    If my daughter forgives me or not I love her the same. If she ever wishes to express anger and disgust at me for relinquishing her then I will try to listen without minimizing her feelings.

    I am very sad that we were seperated, I miss her. I do my best my very best to live a joyful life and to be someone she can be proud of.

    Sending out a lot of love to all the mothers and adopted people who experience loss because of adoption.

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  19. Cate said "I thought I was doing what was right for you..."
    It's not always that simple. There really are some women who aware at the time that what they are doing is wrong, but they sign away their rights to their children anyway.
    Just saying.

    I feel the same way about forgiveness as the others who said it's not really to the point for them.
    I do not think a person should try to forgive just because it will be good for their own well being. That seems to contradict the whole idea of forgiveness as an act of grace.

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  20. Kitta and all:

    Adoption is a bottomless bucket of sorrow that is always filled, always grows larger as more sorrow drops in.

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  21. It would be really nice to have a post asking mothers what actions they take to really feel like mothers towards their relinquished sons and daughters. I remember Jan Baker writing that she used to bake cookies and post them to her son.

    There is a lot of focus and attention to the painful aspects of adoption and reunion it would be nice to focus on some of the joyful aspects. I know not every mother experiences joyful moments, but even then I'd like to know what actions those mothers take to acknowledge that they are mothers and what they do to stay sane.

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  22. I thought it was a terrific show. I also thought the way that the mother told her it was okay was wonderful too. It was unconditional love, accepting her daughter for where her daughter was emotionally even though it must be difficult.

    I think that acceptance can be road to genuine, not obligatory fogiveness, although I can't really relate to forgiveness but acceptance, yes.

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  23. Acceptance, yes, that might be more of what is needed.

    Re: KimKim's post
    "It would be really nice to have a post asking mothers what actions they take to really feel like mothers towards their relinquished sons and daughters. I remember Jan Baker writing that she used to bake cookies and post them to her son."

    I noticed that providing for the food is something I feel compelled to do. I suspect it allows me to feel like I'm the caretaker/nurturer.

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  24. Kim Kim wrote"It would be really nice to have a post asking mothers what actions they take to really feel like mothers towards their relinquished sons and daughters. I remember Jan Baker writing that she used to bake cookies and post them to her son."

    I agree it would be nice to have a separate post on this subject, so the comments do not get lost in this one on another subject. I such a post possible here?

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  25. Happy aspects of reunion: Will give it a go.

    Stay tuned.
    lo

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  26. Hi all I have enjoyed reading these comments - i am an adoptee that recently found my birth mother at 40 years old. I may be in denial, but i don't feel ANY feelings of needing an apology or resentment at not being kept.

    Actually since I met her I shudder at what my life would have been like if she had kept me. I am so thankful for my life and my adoptive parents (even more so now).

    The thing is my birth mom is not a horrible person - she is just not well educated, very needy, seems to view herself as a victim and quite a drama queen.

    I don't want her to mother me - I had my mother, i just want to be friends and to share the stories of our lives and stay connected in the coming years.

    I don't have the desire to talk on the phone with her every day, to hear about what she is making for dinner every day etc. But she expects this - and she keeps buying me things clothes, furniture without yet knowing my tastes or even asking me if its okay. And then asking when she can bring them to me or when i can come get them.

    She also keeps talking about how much she regrets her decision. For me this makes me feel like she thinks she could have done better for me - which is a total joke!

    I need her to look at my life and see the college grad, the well balanced, healthy living, intelligent accomplished professional & good mother that I am - and say "wow the sacrifice was worth it look at how great you turned out." Instead she says - "look at how great you are I wish I had I kept you, Your brother needed you in his life" - well if she had raised me I would not be who I am today, a whole different world of influences would have created a totally different person.

    I would probably be a high school drop out with a drug problem (just like my new found sibling). But its like she thinks who I became was genetically induced - and gives my adoptive parents no credit for who I am!

    So I am having trouble getting her to NOT be my MOM and to just be my friend and to understand that I have a very full life already and that i don't have the desire or the bandwidth to talk 30 min daily or travel 3 hours one way once a month and spend a weekend with her. LOTS of strong expectations - i have no clue how to manage all this...

    I loved my adoptive mother dearly and I could never ever have another mother daughter relationship - I don't want one...I know this will hurt my BM as she is so over the top about it - She says "Now i have the daughter I always wanted" "we will be best friends" "you will have to go through all my stuff when I die, cause your brother wont","you will inherit this table this lamp","I can't ever go another day without hearing your voice" HELP HELP HELP! OVERWHELMED and EMOTIONALLY EXHAUSTED

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  27. If it's ok with the forum owners I have some suggestions/advice for the "desperate and overwhlemed" person who is new in reunion.

    I think you just need to be firm and kind and set boundaries.

    The way you write about your mother makes you sound a bit mean towards her, BM is a derogatory term, it's insulting to all first mothers, maybe you don't realize that?


    It's very early reunion? It will be super intense for her right now I know it was for me early on. I feel much more at ease and safe now it's been seven or so years.

    Let her know what you can and can't cope with. Be honest and firm but kind and respectful at the same time.

    There is not much to be gained by trying to make her see how great it was that you were adopted and how your parents did a better job than she ever could have. That's just going to hurt her and what is the point in that?

    Let her know that you do not have any bad feelings about her relinquishing you and maybe let her know that you understand it must have been a huge trauma for her (or don't, because it's not your responsibility to make her feel better!)

    It must be super hard for you to set boundaries, if it wasn't you wouldn't write such a post. The trick is to first write down all the things you want or don't want her to do. Then find a way to very diplomatically word it and either tell her or email it.

    Whatever you say and however you say it she will be upset and hurt, but she will adjust and cope with your boundaries. It's important that you don't feel cornered or hijacked in reunion.

    I don't recommend saying things like you already had a mom and don't need another one or things like that. Just let her know this is all new and very overwhelming, you need time and space to digest all the information.

    Think about what is realistic for you, once every two months or more or less....it's all ok.

    What you could also do is have a public blog and have photos on there and some news so she can see how you are doing and not feel so left out or be fretting in silence. You can even make it a password protected blog only for her to see, or a photo page account? Only if this is something you are comfortable with.


    Try to see the good qualities in her too, you are seeing her at her absolute worst right now, it's so overwhelming for the mother in early reunion too. It's like being on the highest state of freak out possible.

    I hope this helps?

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  28. Agreeing with some of what Kim Kim is saying, but only mothers deeply involved in adoption politics and political correctness find the word "birthmother" insulting, so I would not worry about that in this case. That is not the issue here.

    Setting boundaries is very important, also realizing it is ok not to like your birthmother or relate to her if you have little in common other than biology. It does happen, especially when there are large class and cultural differences. And you have every right not to want another mother and not to want to be treated like a child. It is disappointing when the relative you find has very different values and lifestyle, and it is not something easily accommodated in most cases.

    Try to get to know her, and see if there is any common ground you can meet on. Maybe you have very different tastes, but there might be something you share that you both could enjoy. You might both like gardens or the same pets, or the same sports. At least try to find out if you share any interest.

    It does sound like things got off to a bad start and she has made a lot of assumptions about getting her baby back, which is not really possible. It might be helpful to her to communicate with other mothers in the same situation, in CUB or one of the many online forums for mothers who have surrendered a child. She no doubt means well, but does not have a clue how you might feel or how her actions are making things worse.

    Don't give up on it yet, but do start setting those boundaries and letting her know what you feel comfortable with. It may upset her, but it is the only way to move forward. Best wishes to both of you that you can work out a relationship more acceptable to you both.

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  29. To Anonymous March 25:

    Reading your post is like a knife in the heart. I’ve been a triad member more than half of my life and I know first mothers can’t imagine what it’s like to be an adoptee and adoptees can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a child to adoption.

    Your comments about your biological family sound as though you’re relieved you dodged that bullet, and smack of elitism and entitlement. Describing your mother as “not well educated, very needy, seems to view herself as a victim and quite a drama queen” makes me wonder if you’re not my daughter; she has described me as crazy, unstable, and unpredictable, and you know what? When it comes to her, she’s right. Losing her to adoption was the worst thing in my life; nothing before or since comes close. And I realized decades later that it’s post traumatic stress that is manageable, but incurable.

    Did you ever stop to think that if your mother had chosen a different path, she wouldn’t be the woman she is today either? Who’s to say you wouldn’t have graduated college and become an intelligent, accomplished professional if your mother had raised you? Yes, of course you would have been a totally different person, but so would she. The world will never know.

    Your mother lost you once, she’s afraid of losing you again. When she has some reassurance that she won’t things will settle down. Boundaries are fine, KimKim has offered sound advice. The only thing I’d add is read some adoptee memoirs, if you haven’t already. Educate yourself as much as you can. I think you’d see a lot of yourself in Sarah Saffian’s Ithaka. I consider Betty Jean Lifton’s Journey of the Adopted Self and Twice Born and the adoptee’s Torah/Koran/Bible. Sounds as though your mother can use an adoption support group and some reunion advice herself. Encourage her to take those steps, and please, cut her some slack and count your blessings. Read through some of the old posts here and count the number of adoptees who’d be happy to switch places with you to have their birthmother in their lives.

    Good luck to you both.

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  30. Maryanne I said BM is derogatory, not birthmother.

    And I don't see the point in being mean to the adopted woman who wrote here asking for help. She's just being honest about how she feels. I think we ought not to take it personally.

    She's feeling overwhelmed and freaked out in reunion, if she can't get some advice and support here then where can she get it?

    I don't have a high opinion of my mother either.....

    I don't think our sons and daughters are supposed to be burdened with our grief I really don't. It's hard enough dealing with being adopted and dealing with reunion freak out (at least I imagine it must be).

    If the mother in question was behaving like a mother and not overloading her daughter with all this neediness then the woman wouldn't be coming here writing this desperate anonymous comment.

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  31. "Maryanne I said BM is derogatory, not birthmother."

    But the Anon didn't say "BM".
    She didn't even say "birthmother".
    She said "birth mother" and "birth mom".

    This language police stuff is so OLD.
    And so time and energy wasting.

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  32. Hey, KimKim, I thought you were just using BM as internet shorthand for "birthmother", not that you meant that specific abbreviation was insulting. That did not occur to me, sorry:-) I am just not big on political correctness and word policing.

    I agree with you that there was no need to attack that adoptee like the last anon did. The only adoptee that could "put a knife in my heart" is my son. Other people's opinions about their mothers and difficulties in reunion have nothing to do with me or the rest of us and are not an insult.

    I saw the adoptee as you did, sincerely asking for help in dealing with an overwhelming situation. Scolding her is not helpful.

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  33. I agree with you MaryAnne, I thought my comment was a bit preachy so I asked for it not to be published but oh well...

    Anon read the post again, it says BM.
    And I am pretty sure no offense was meant either when it was written.

    I don't want to give this too much energy. It would be cool if other adopted people or mothers had advice on how to cope with reunion freak out. Maybe that's a good post too? I know I freaked out big time early reunion, I was really stressed out. I'm glad that's behind me. I think my saving grace was that we don't live in the same country. I'm grateful for my daughter that she was so patient with me.

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  34. Anonski says,

    You are right, KimKIm. I am sorry.
    It's there, right at the end. I missed it.
    She used all three, "birth mother" birth mom" and "BM" (which, among other things, is short for British Museum, a place I love to go).

    I'm sure you are right too about there being no insult intended, and I especially don't think her comment deserved to be described as a "knife in the heart" (Talk about "drama queen " language), especially as she was talking about her feelings and how she is experiencing her situation.

    Your suggestion for a discussion about how to deal with reunion freak-out is an excellent idea, and I like your other suggestions for coping too.
    I think many adopted people and first mothers in early reunion need to be reassured that the emotional roller-caster ride is typical and normal and will eventually slow down and finally stop, so that people can gather they wits, take a breath and reclaim some degree of normalcy from which to build (or not) a relationship of their own making.

    I also like Maryanne's idea about searching for commonalities among the differences. It is through common interests that recognition grows.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Part 1 -
    Hi Everyone,
    Thank you so much for all your frank advice. I had not thought that she probably feels that SHE TOO would have been a different person if she had kept me - That really gave me pause and touched me!

    I know I need to learn to set boundaries and its good to hear it again. My post may have sounded mean, but in truth I care so much for others' feelings I have a very hard time sharing my own. Which is why I came here - where I guess i feel i could let it all out in a safe place; and in venting here I would protect myself from "losing it" and accidentally hurting her. I NEVER WANT TO HURT HER OR MAKE HER SAD.

    My history is that I was very close to my adoptive mother and she lived with me from the time my father died (I was 25) until she died just a year and a half ago (16 years later). She was ill and grew progressively worse - my entire 20's and 30's revolved around caring for her and being a single mom (my daughter is now 20).

    Although I am now married. Losing my mother made me feel very alone in the world. So when I turned 40 I decided to look for my birth mother. I had no idea it would take just 3 weeks to find her so i was very unprepared.

    Being a caregiver for almost 20 years prior meant always "being there for someone else" never having time for me, focusing on other people's needs rather than my own. And after my adoptive mom's death, although I had always expected to embrace time for me, I suddenly I felt lost and alone because I had not learned how to have a relationship with myself.

    See part 2...

    ReplyDelete
  36. Part 2

    Slowly I had begun to put me first, not feel obligated to overly care for other peoples' needs, expectations, feelings, rather than my own. I was beginning to define and walk my own path.

    When I imagined finding my birth mother I expected her to reject me, or at best to be like "Oh it's so nice to meet you, let's stay in touch, write letters, share pictures from time to time."

    Instead I met a woman who came across to me as having a lot of pain and regret and wanting to make up for lost time. I heard: "I have gone 40 years without you and I wont go another day without hearing your voice EVERY DAY" - "You and I will be BEST FRIENDS" "I always worried that my son would not take care of me when I was old and sick, and now I don't have to worry about that anymore" (she said this to me the first day we connected),"I want to see you at least once a month, I cant go any longer". And since Jan when we met she has kept buying me things and giving me family jewelry" -- I accepted a few things as not to offend, but protested that I did not need her to show her love monetarily. I am at a point now where I am just plain saying NO.

    The hardest thing for me was that I inadvertently set her expectation that i would call her everyday (and she would IM me at 4 everyday and ask me if I was about to leave for work. (this is still going on but not as bad as before since i told her i have a new project taking my attention) But in general, I don't like feeling like I AM EXPECTED to do something for someone else EVERYDAY - that has been my life for the last 20 years.

    I have recently realized that I put much of my identity into HER long before we ever met - I told myself "I was more like my birth mother than my adoptive parents" and upon meeting her and realizing that is mostly false - my self-identity took a hit. If I am not the best of her and not the best of my adoptive parents then who am I (am i the worst parts of both). I have begun to realize I am part of her (we have similar characteristics some I like some i dont) and much of who I am that I like about myself did come from my adoptive parents.

    I am making a point not to feed the expectations by always being agreeable and I am trying to share with her when I feel compelled, not obligated still learning to recognize the distance).

    Bottom line I felt very guilty my whole life feeling like i had to repay my adoptive mother for "Saving Me." And now I am repeating that guilt habit by feeling guilty that i need to repay my birth mom for "giving me life and giving me up."

    My guilt i think comes from wanting to heal my birth mother's pain by not causing her any more loss than she has already had. She talks so much about tremendous loss in her life first with me, then with her young marine husband. I can't bear the thought of hurting her.

    What is odd to me is that She Too is a caregiver to her mom - and it seems she has never really had anyone to be there for her - so when we talk its like I feel she wants me to be there to listen to her (she talk on and on about her day, herself, what she watched, cooked cleaned) but she hardly asks me about my past or my values or my life (she does on occasion but never am i allowed to go on long without an interruption and the talking going back somehow to her) Funny but I realize this is one of things my daughter criticizes me for ;-)

    There are few deal breakers and I have not seen any yet - I just feel so torn all the time.

    Ah the catch 22 -

    Anyway I am working through it all by writing and therapy and hoping that in time things will settle down. To a large degree they already have. I realize I have the power to choose how I react and feel about things and to learn from them and to grow as an individual.

    Again I fully appreciate this forum and welcome all viewpoints - Thank YOU ALL!

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  37. Dear anonymous in reunion and freaking out:

    Your very honest comments have given us all food for thought,and in the very near future I will be addressing what you have to say in a post. I hope coming her can give you some release to admit how your feel (which I think you have) and some help in understanding your first/birth mom.
    hugs to you in this trying time.
    lo

    ReplyDelete
  38. Anonymous, reading your follow-up parts one and two, I see a lot of similarities in your search/reunion and my daughter's; she expressed many of the sentiments you have. I'd be happy to discuss privately, if you like. My email is listed on my profile.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Anonymous,

    Check out the blogs of adoptees in reunion, see if you can get some advice and support there as well. They might have some good tips that will help you. Ask Joy at joy21@wordpress.com and then maybe ask Issy who is on her links list. Others are there too. That way you won't feel so alone in this situation.

    Reunion is insane, especially the first year that's just crazy.

    Your mother will calm down eventually. If you reassure her you are not going to disappear and let her know the boundaries it will be easier. Be realistic about what you can and can't cope with.

    Encourage her to join a support group for mothers in reunion, maybe someone from here knows good links even for online support groups.

    Check out reunited dan's blog too, he's a good soul and has been in reunion for a while as well.

    ReplyDelete

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