Demons in Adoption

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Part two: Navigating the first meeting between birth mother and child

A continuation of Sunday's post (June 24, 2012) about how best to manage and survive a first-time meeting with your surrendered son or daughter.

Lorraine
MONEY AND GIFTS
As we noted in the first section of this double-post on reunions between mothers and their surrendered children, you may spend some time sight-seeing if either of you have come a long distance to see the other. But that can turn out to be expensive, and the question of who pays for what can be a tricky one. While you, the mother, may feel as if it is your job to pick up all the costs--event tickets, meals, transportation--just like a parent, that may not be the best course of action. Your newly found son or daughter may feel that taking gifts implies a continued relationship--just as in a courtship--and he or she may be not sure if that is how they want to proceed, and feel that the gifts of tickets, expensive meals, whatever, places him under more obligation than he feels comfortable with. 

One mother wrote how she spent a great deal of money sightseeing with her found daughter in an expensive city, and her daughter seemed to enjoy it and not mind having the tab picked up. Over the course of the next few months, she and her husband sent her daughter presents; not enormously costly, but meaningful. A year later when the daughter disappeared from the relationship, the mother was left feeling as if she had been taken--perhaps not on purpose, but still, taken advantage of. 
Jane

On Jane's first visit to meet her surrendered daughter Rebecca, Jane paid for dinner the first evening they met, and the next night took both Rebecca and her husband to dinner and a play which Rebecca selected. Jane believed that with three young children and her husband in graduate school, Rebecca's finances were likely stretched and that they would appreciate a night out. Too, Jane hoped it would give them a "meaningful shared experience" although if truth be told, Jane was so overwhelmed with meeting her daughter, she hardly paid attention to the play. On the other hand, it may have appeared that she was trying to impress them, perhaps a bit show-offy. (Wealthy relative--actually Jane's not wealthy--comes to town and spreads around the dough). Perhaps an evening with the children would have been more comfortable, or if it had been summertime rather than a snowy January, a day at the park. In subsequent meetings Jane always picked up the check, and when Rebecca came to visit, Jane paid for her plane ticket as well. Later, Jane learned Rebecca was not comfortable with these expenditures.

In Lorraine's case, since her daughter was underage, there was no question that she and her husband picked up the tab for her visits, which included shopping (for clothes for her daughter), dinners out, a Broadway play. But over an extended visit, there was a lot of time for just hanging out with the dog, and going on bike rides and the like in their small village. 

Best advice we can give is to find things to do that aren't too costly, or just make it one event that you will both enjoy, or suggest splitting the cost, and doing things that the less well off individual can afford. Sound out your child about what he might consider reasonable--dinner at Chili's for example--might appear extravagant, even coercive to your child who is used to McDonald's for a night out. On the other hand, your child might expect dinner at an upscale steak house and feel Chili's is cheap and insulting. Allow your child to offer to pick up or split the check. Sound out your child about gifts.  Ask if it's okay to spend birthday and Christmas gifts to her children and keep them small, a book or a game for young children, a small check for teens.  Hold off on passing along family heirlooms until you know they will be appreciated.  As with all our other advice, go slow.

MEETING FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Extraneous people--extended family members, your friends and neighbors--are likely to make your child feel she is on display. In fact, she or he will be; friends and family will be understandably curious about this child who is yours, but you did not raise. Everyone will be interested to see whether your child looks or acts like you.

A month after Lorraine met her daughter in Wisconsin, she flew to Detroit by herself to meet Lorraine's mother and husband, not Jane Ann's father. She flew by herself, and they all met her at the airport. She was much more effusive and affectionate when she got off the plane--the only person watching was the man Jane Ann sat next to on the plane whom she had told about what was happening. Since Lorraine had only recently married her husband Tony, in New York, there were relatives in the Detroit area who wanted to meet him--and of course this mysterious daughter no one previously had known about. So Lorraine's two brothers, and their families, and a few other extended relatives came to Lorraine's mother's apartment a few days later. Fortunately, they were checking out both Lorraine's new husband as well as her daughter. Tony was aware of Jane's sense of strangeness and being observed, and kept her company on the couch and made funny remarks to her privately that afternoon, which saved the day for her. After everyone left, Lorraine, Tony and Jane Ann went out to dinner alone at the revolving restaurant Detroit had at the time at the Renaissance Center, an event they both relished. Jane Ann loved heights--and revolving restaurants in big cities--as much as Lorraine. Who cares if they are full of tourists and the food is often just okay for the price? Look at the view! It was one of many things they shared, and discovering that so soon was a gift.

At first mother Jane's (yes, this name same business is confusing) third meeting with her daughter Rebecca, this time in Salem, Oregon, where Jane was then living, a friend offered to host a lunch for her and Rebecca--and five other friends. Jane wanted her friends to meet Rebecca before the Salem rumor mill took hold. Besides, Rebecca was a fine young woman and Jane was proud to show her off. Before Rebecca arrived, Jane mentioned they'd be having lunch with a few friends and Rebecca voiced no objections. She went with Jane while Jane shopped for food to bring to the event. Rebecca helped prepare the food, cutting the stems out of strawberries while Jane made a broccoli salad. Although Jane's friends were understandably curious about her, Jane thought the get-together went well, and Rebecca said nothing to dispel that. One friend remarked how much they looked alike and took their picture; she thoughtfully sent Jane two copies so she could send one to Rebecca. Years later, Rebecca told Jane she had expected only a couple of people (her definition of a few friends was different from Jane's) and was unaware that the purpose of the party was to introduce her to Jane's friends, although Jane recalls telling Rebecca about the party before Rebecca came to Salem. Regardless, Rebecca was uncomfortable being on display. Clearly Jane should have been more clear with Rebecca about what was planned and been more explicit about giving her the chance to nix the event. On the other hand, stares and remarks about similarities will happen any time a birth mother and adopted child get together with others regardless of the nature of the event. Mothers would do well to forewarn the child--yes, our children remain out children no matter the age--that these reactions are inevitable. 

If your son or daughter is coming to visit for an extended time, and relatives live nearby, it is probably likely that he or she will meet them. The birth mother's family, in most instances, wants to welcome this long-lost member to their fold; but the adoptee may feel this attitude is too presumptive. She feels she already has a family and does not need a new and "second" family of people who seem like strangers, even if they are related by blood, that this feels too much. Go slowly, if possible. Be aware that even if you ask your child what she wants--to meet and greet relatives and close friends or not--you may not get an accurate answer. The adoptee is dealing with overwhelming feelings and probably wants to please you, and so it may be impossible to get a straight and true answer about what she wants. She may not be sure herself. Just as you are dealing with overwhelming and complex feelings, so is she.

And of course, some adoptees will want to meet the other people in the family, particularly any siblings. Try to be guided as much as possible by the adopted individual's desires.

If you the birth mother is traveling to meet your child in his or her home town, you may be asked to meet a great many members of her adoptive family as well as close friends. And it will be uncomfortable too--now you are on display and everybody is looking to see how much you resemble "Mary's daughter," when they know you are the biological mother. So it is. People are curious. You can get through this, and it will be over in a couple of hours.

NAMES, NAMES, NAMES
Early in your reunion, reach an agreement on what to call each other and how to introduce each other to third parties. Adoptee Jean Strauss writes in Birthright  that her birth mother suggested Strauss call her "'Mom." Of the request, Strauss writes:  "Of course I told her I couldn't. But I found myself angry that she would even suggest it. My adoptive mother was the only person I wanted to call Mom." Strauss also objected when her birth mother sent a birthday card to Strauss' son and sign it "Grandma."

Both Jane and Lorraine's daughters preferred calling them by their first names, and neither women had a problem with that. Both of them, however, struggled, however, with how to introduce their daughters to people who did not know the story. Introducing a much younger woman who looks like you simply with their first name would raise questions. Who was this person that looked like family? A niece? A cousin?--both which would have been included in a normal introduction. On the other hand Jane didn't want to get into the adoption story with casual acquaintances. She finally decided to say: "This is my daughter Rebecca. We're been separated but now we're back together." After a discussion about how to introduce her daughter, Lorraine simply introduced Jane as "her daughter" and let the person figure it out; with the publication of Birthmark and several media appearances, as well as small town chit-chat, most people who knew Lorraine even slightly knew exactly who this young woman with her was. What neither woman did was use the phrase "birth daughter," a noxious appellation if there ever was one.

DON’T DWELL ON YOUR PAIN
Like many mothers, Jane was compelled to tell her daughter about her pain. It wasn't rational, she knew, but she believed that understanding her loss would tie her and Rebecca together. She thought that Rebecca was the one person in the entire world who would understand her sorrow.

Of course Rebecca didn't seek Jane out to hear of Jane's pain; she wanted information for herself. 

It’s fine to let your child know you regretted giving her up and you’ve missed her. You don’t want her to think you walked out of the hospital with an empty womb and empty arms singing a happy tune--but don’t dwell on it. Talk of pain may put a guilt trip on an adoptee, making her feel guilty for existing; it certainly made Jane look weak, not the all powerful mother adoptees often fantasize about.

Maybe because of Lorraine's daughter's seizures, maybe because she said she had always wanted to find Lorraine, maybe because she was young, Lorraine didn't dwell on her tsouris, but just that she always had to find her daughter. That is what Jane Ann wanted to hear because she knew from the first moment she understood that another mother was out there, her reaction, she said and her adoptive mother confirmed this, was to find Lorraine as soon as she could. Her parents were never against Jane Ann searching once she turned 18, and in fact, had tried to find Lorraine through their doctor because of the epilepsy. (They had been unsuccessful.) Because Lorraine had published Birthmark two years earlier, she gave her a copy and signed it to her daughter, who was in the tenth grade at the time. Now there is plenty of pain in there, but her daughter's reaction was to immediately wrote a book report on it. She told the teacher and her friends that she was the daughter in the story. The teacher did not believe her until her parents confirmed it.

The best course of action is probably to talk about how you felt at the time of surrender, about your desire to reconnect, the search (if you did it), and your relief at finding your lost child.

SAYING I'M SORRY
No matter what else happens at the reunion, you might consider simply saying, "I'm sorry." Don't add  your parents made you do it, you were young, it was the times or any of the million reasons running through your mind. Say "I'm sorry you were adopted," with add-ons, which are really excuses, tells the adoptee that you are sorry this life-shattering occurrence happened to him. It acknowledges the disruption in his life due to being adopted; no one is born hoping to be separated from his natural mother and be "adopted." A lot of first mothers have trouble with this statement, but it clears the air for a lot of adoptees. Of course you will eventually tell the story of why, and that includes the reasons you had at the time, but separate the two. If a person falls down in front of you because you pushed a bit and you help get him back on his feet, simply saying I'm sorry goes a long way. Acting as if he is stupid for falling down, or adding other excuses negates the "I'm sorry" and turns it into double-talk. After hearing these two words, unadorned, some adoptees let down their guard, and are more accepting of their first mothers--and fathers. But say them once; saying them over and over again will put the adopted individual in an awkward place, and makes you too much of a supplicant for a relationship based on mutual respect to proceed.

Even if you have been reunited for years, but never stated an apology this way, it may still be healing to hear. Lorraine did it after she and her daughter had known each other for years. Did it change everything? Not really, but the words were said, and accepted with grace.

ALONE TIME AFTER THE MEETING
Reunions require down time after the initial meeting for mother and child to sort out their feelings. Expect to be overwhelmed, and much of the buried sorrow of so long away will come to the surface. You are likely to begin remembering details of your time in the hospital, the birth, holding your baby (if you did), and the actual moment of relinquishment. You are likely to be emotionally exhausted, and not know why. Staying at a hotel gives you the privacy you may crave after the initial first meeting, or throughout an extended visit. It also allows you to make private phone calls to your spouse, your children, or your friends, all who will be anxious to know what happened. Likewise you child can unwind in her home and share her experience with her family.

But again, there is no one-size-fits-all here. Some mothers will stay with the family of their long-lost child, and find that is okay too.

THE FUTURE
You may not have given much thought to the future. You may have assumed that this meeting is the first of many, the beginning of a lifelong relationship. Your child, on the other hand, may have thought of this as a one-time event, a chance to get answers to burning questions—“why did you give me away, who’s my father, why didn’t you have an abortion”--and move on and away. Whatever the preconceived ideas were, they may have changed over the course of the meeting. If you hope to maintain a relationship, bring it up before you leave. Ask if you can meet again, but don’t press for a specific date. Your son or daughter has a lot to comprehend, and while you will feel raw and exposed and happy and amazed, the adopted individual is putting together a new idea of self, and that may be harder than you can imagine. He is thinking about who he might have been, thinking about loyalty to his adoptive family whom he loves, he may be in an emotional tailspin. Let him know he or she was loved and that you will be there for him, but understand he may need time.

If you child tells you she doesn’t want to see you again, you’ll have to swallow your disappointment, probably with tears, but relationships take two people. Years may go by before you hear from him or her again. Keep in mind this can change. Sometimes an understanding spouse of the adoptee helps facilitate a relationship.

Jane and Lorraine, the first summer, 1982
On the other hand, your child may ask to come and live with you. Wait until you return home to make a decision. You need to consider whether this is simply a way to escape from an undesirable situation or a genuine effort to re-join her birth family. It may depend on your own situation, other family members who live with you, finances, et cetera. Give it a bit of time. If your child is underage, it may be possible for her to spend a good part of the summer with you; that is what Lorraine's daughter did for several years.

Not all reunions run the course of smooth waters, but if you try to look at it from the adoptee's point of view, you may find that the water runs a lot smoother than if you are only thinking about yourself, and what you expect to get out of it. Try to understand that while your (adopted-out) son or daughter may have been eager for the initial meeting, she may need to retreat a while back to the safety of what he knows. Yes, that is going to sting if you want more, but it's only human, after all. Being adopted is such a complex and emotionally treacherous terrain that we mothers can only comprehend the edges of it. We may wish it were not so, but that does not make it so.--lorraine and jane
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For the first part:

Navigating the first meeting between birth mother and child
and also: 
Adoption Reunion: The Gift/Card Quagmire


Lorraine's memoir, Birthmark, the first of the birth mother memoirs, was published in 1979. She had hoped writing the book would lead to her daughter, but the letter or phone call she hoped for did not happen. Two years later, with the encouragement of her new husband, she found her daughter by paying a searcher $1,200. He had already found her, using the information in the book.




35 comments :

  1. My first mother did not say "I'm sorry you were adopted". She asked for my forgiveness for her bad choices that led to the relinquishment. That may be controversial but it worked for us (and it fit our particular situation). I appreciated that she took responsibility for her part in the situation. I also appreciated that she explained about the thinking of the times. I didn't feel that she was making excuses. I felt it explained why she gave me up in the first place.

    I think different people respond in different ways to reunion and it's best to ask what the other person wants or to try as much as we can in such an emotional and overwhelming situation to read the other person's cues (easier said than done, I realize).

    For example, I liked seeing pictures right away. Although at one point this did lead to an emotional breakdown. It was pretty overwhelming seeing pictures of what looked like me in someone else's photo album.

    One thing I find so interesting is that of all people, my natural mother understood the effect that adoption had on me better than anyone else. I guess I did inherit her nature.

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  2. And Robin, you inherited a good nature. :)

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  3. Again, thank you for posting this advice. Stuff I wish I'd known/considered when I reunited with my son 16 years ago. When I decided to write a book, my original plan was a guidebook to reunion. Then I got talked into a memoir (Second-Chance Mother). While there have been guides published in the last decade, none are truly comprehensive. I hope those who are searching and newly reunited are reading FMF.

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  4. I am an adoptee in reunion. My reunion has gone well and my birth mom and I have developed a good friendship at this point. I have to say that I would have been offended if my birth mom had said she was sorry. I'm not sorry that I was adopted. Then again, I'm not NOT sorry that I am. It just is. It's neither a positive or a negative thing....it's just my life and I wouldn't change it because I believe that God has a plan for my life and that I am right where I am supposed to be in my life. I do wish that she didn't have suffer so much pain and anguish after placing me but she believed then, and still believes now that she did what was best for me and I love her all the more for feeling that way. To have someone tell me that they wish my life had been different is hurtful. One of the biggest thing that helped us when met for the first time was that we agreed to let the past be the past and build our relationship from here. We can't make up for 28 years apart so why try? I can't speak for her but from our many conversations, she is at total peace with her decisions and I can say the very same thing. I know that to some members of the triad, I have most likely "drank the kool-aid" considering my positive attitude but I disagree. I am happy and at peace and my birtmom is too. There are no negatives because we both choose not to live in the past and with no regrets....it is what it is. Simple as that.

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    1. Aimee,

      So your mother placed you for adoption? May I ask why?
      Personally, I think all my regret the loss of their baby because god intended for you to be raised in your family not an adopted one.
      I would never say I am sorry to my son because I know I was forced and coerced.
      I as a mother will never get over it it is a painful thing to deal with when you know you were the best mother for your child and others thought different.

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  5. Aimee, I suspect that your reunion has gone well largely due to the positive attitude that you and your mother have in conjunction with your outlook on life. Couple this with a satisfactory adoptive experience, and chances are that your reunion relationship will be a good one. My child entered our reunion relationship full of anger toward me and a strong feeling that there was a debt owed for what I "had done." So obviously our relationship was not a positive one.

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  6. I thought my reunion was going well but flashes of my daughter's anger over being given up and raised in a different family and somewhat different culture emerges now and then, and always surprises me. It does not sseem to matter what I do, because sometimes she disappears without us having any sort of disagreement. Months will go by. Then she'll call and act like nothing is wrong and we had been in touch yesterday. I always go along with this because what else can I do? I can't "reject" her again like I guess she feels about being given up. But each time she "comes back" in my life, I know it is only temporary. I've come to feel it's pay back for having given her up, even though I don't think she's not really aware of that. But some part of her wants to show me how being adopted feels.

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  7. @ Aimee & anon 6;43 pm:
    It must be gratifying to know the mind of God, and that it always agrees with what you want to believe.

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    1. Anon

      Guess you don't think my baby was meant for me. Or God made a mistake like Rosie the adopter calls mothers tummy mommies.
      I don't believe in God but if one believes our babies were put in the tummies intended from the get go.
      It was man who decided adoption was the way to go so why does any woman have a baby because she wants her own baby even adopters prefer their own!

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  8. and let me add: and punish me.

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  9. According to my bmom, she placed me because she was not ready to parent. She wanted to be married and in a stable relationship before having children. She said she just felt like she wasn't ready and couldn't take care of me the way she felt I deserved to be taken care of. She had one other child that she parented 5 years later when she was married and stable. I think she would have raised me just fine but what's the point in dwelling on that when we can't change it.

    On a different note....I want to be CLEAR on one very important thing. I DO NOT believe that God made my bmom pregnant so that she could place me for adoption. She did not become pregnant so that my parents could become parents. I DO believe that it was her free will to place me for adoption but that God had his hand in bringing her and my parents together (although they never met at that point) for my benefit. Like i said before, I DO NOT believe that Gode planned for her to become pregnant and that I was never meant to be hers BUT I do believe that He knew what she would choose and planned for me accordingly.

    I definitely do not claim to "know the mind of God" and trust me when I say that I am very well aware that His ways are not my ways. I feel so incredibly blessed to have an amazing adoptive family who loves me and an amazing birth family who loves me. So much love....what's there to be sad about?

    In an interesting turn of events, I became an adoptive mom almost three years ago and am blessed with an amazing relationship with my daughter's bfamily. Btw...before I am crucified here for being an adoptive parent, my husband and I never stepped foot in an adoption agency (I am very well aware that they are corrupt) and nevert pursued adoption. I was approached by the daughter of a family friend who ASKED US to adopt her beautiful baby girl. She wanted me because she felt that I would be able to relate to our daughter being that I was adopted as well. We agreed to it ONLY after months of talking about it with her and her family and making sure it was something she really wanted to do. Ultimately, her decision was based on the fact that she wanted to be able to finish college and be able to support a child independently before having children. Again, it was her choice...no one forced her and she was very adamant in what she wanted and she wanted us. In fact, her family was against her placing and offered ti support her in every way she needed. Again with this situation, I do not believe that God made her pregnant so that I could parent her daughter however, I believe that God brought us together because HE knew what she would choose. We have a VERY open adoption and an open door policy. They attend all major events in my daughter's life and we visit as much as possible and just hang out. Adoption is not perfect by any means but I do believe if done for the RIGHT reasons and with love, there will be MUCH more positive than negative.

    I hope my daughter has a positive attitude like me but I am prepared to help her through it if she happens to feel differently. Right now, all she knows is that she grew in J's belly and that J asked us to be her Mommy and Daddy. She knowsk that J, Mommy, and Daddy all love her more than all the stars in the sky. What else really matters?

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  10. Back on the track of money and gifts; never give anything you can not afford, nor anything expensive or elaborate at a first meeting, and never give with resentment or with an expected payback in mind. It is best not to give a family heirloom or something deeply personal until you really know the person and if they would want it.

    Once you are in a relationship and know your son or daughter, you can ask what they would like. For a first meeting, offer to pick up the check, but be gracious if your kid wants to pay as well, and let them.

    Don't let money be seen as a means to buy love, but also be cautious if you are asked for any large amount of money, as you would be with any family member or close friend.

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  11. Totally right, Anonymous. Because my daughter came from another part of the country to a big city, I spent way too much money sight-seeing in an expensive city--after buying her air ticket. I knew she didn't have a lot of money and could not afford even to split the cost of what she wanted to do. But then I felt foolish when she shut down our relationship. And yes, resentful. If I had known she was not going to stay in my life, it would have been a very different visit. Much cooler on my part. But you can't know these things, can you? And so you pour out your heart, and your wallet.

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  12. When discussing the exchange of money and gifts, I suspect that the age factor plays a role. Like Lorraine, my reunion took place when my daughter was a teenager. So naturally, my husband and I footed the bill for everything. We even sold our car so we could afford to take her to Disney World and to meet relatives living in the area. Since individual situations vary so much, it's probably wise to keep money and gifts to a minimum during the process of working to establish a healthy relationship.

    Aimee - I wish your positive attitude was contagious! Reading your last comment brightened my day. Thank you.

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  13. Yes, my daughter was a teen-ager when we met and so sharing expenses was not an issue. Her retreat from me (and then back again) came so many years later that the expenses involved when I first met her, and for the next decade, really, never were an emotional issue for me, and I think, not for her. I never felt ripped off or anything like that. And I don't think she ever felt I was trying to "buy" affection or a relationship. Everything just felt normal. In looking at the picture I found (posted on this blog)--well, that closeness really sums up the first several years of our relationship, and again, even after we had our periods of coolness and her retreat. I have a sense she said bad things about me to others back in Wisconsin, but isn't that what happens when family members have a tiff? In pictures all through our relationship, I can see that her arm finds it way naturally around me, and me her, and none of these were staged or was it ever suggested that we touch. It just happened. Where she shows great discomfort is in a shot of her two mothers (one adoptive, one birth) and her. Oddly enough, neither of the mothers look uncomfortable.

    While we are on the topic of reunion, I don't know if I would have done anything differently. Even meeting family members (an uncle of mine, a couple of her cousins, my brothers) the second time we got together ended up on a positive note that night. As I have stated elsewhere, people were just as interested in meeting Tony as they were my daughter, and that took the pressure off her, and Tony kept her company throughout the couple of hours of the visit. She told me she had a reaction when my uncle referred to me as her "mother," but she didn't harbor any ill will about it, or use it against me. And the evening ended so well. I have a very vivid and pleasant memory of us driving to downtown Detroit to the Renaissance Center for dinner, and she thinking that we were kidding her when the sign said "Ambassador Bridge to Canada." And then pointing to Canada when we were at the revolving restaurant that used to be there. Pity that it no longer is.

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  14. So much emotion can attach to gifts. Of course different when dealing with a teenager, but that is not the common age of reunion for most of us.

    Resentment seems inevitable when the gift or money spent did not have the desired result and the relationship fails. Maybe we need to ask ourselves before giving anything, big or small, sentimental or impersonal, will we still feel at peace with having given this gift if there is only this one meeting, or the relationship ends? If the answer is yes, give what it is in your heart to give, but if not, wait and see what develops.

    There is no right answer, it will be different for each of us. None of this is easy.

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  15. Lorraine, I'd like to ask if I could post your What We Think About Adoption Post on my blog, Death by Great Wall. I blog about older child adoption in real life and try to include the point of view of first moms and adult adoptees when I can. I would simply copy this post and post it under the same title as a guest post by your and Jane. I'd also link to your blog at the end. You can see what I write at www.deathbygreatwall.com and contact me at Dana@deathbygreatwall.com Thanks for your consideration. I've enjoyed reading your blog.

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  16. Thanks for the comments about gifts and paying for expenses. We added a few sentences to the post incorporating these thoughts.

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  17. @Aimee,
    You wrote that your first mother thought it over carefully, weighed her options and decided that adoption was the best course of action. Well, my first mother did not CHOOSE adoption, society forced her to give me up. She knew and I do, too, that she was perfectly capable of being a good mother.

    And not everyone gets loving APs. It is really a crapshoot whether a child gets loving APs, emotionally distant ones or outright abusive APs. Not every adopted person ends up with 4 parents who live him or her so much.

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  18. I did tell my adult child I was sorry not to have been able to be there when so much needed, because I WAS sorry. Nobody had suggested that I should, and nobody had advised me not to either. It was spontaneous and I believe my apology was understood in the spirit in which it was intended.

    I gave some small pieces of antique family jewelry and a few of my favorite books that had been formative to my development, some of which dated from my childhood and had my name and the year in which I'd got them written inside, as well as a half completed painting I had done a few years after the relinquishment (I never had the heart to finish it, but it was interesting). I don't feel it was out of order to give these personal gifts. They were given without strings attached.

    I did bring a few photographs of me as a child, my immediate family and the house where I grew up, but not many. I didn't want to overwhelm with pictures of weird looking people, many of whom where dead anyway and few who were ever likely to meet my child.

    I'd travelled a long way, so that was my financial contribution.

    I don't know whether you could say that crying a lot was "dwelling on my pain" but I couldn't help it, so that was that.

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  19. This talk of pictures and albums makes me wonder about "reunion" in the age of Facebook and other social networking sites.

    Obviously, some photos of the two parties (adoptee and natural family) are already out there, in the Internet soup of 0's and 1's. How might this affect the sharing of picture albums, etc.,? Will it still be the "That's so bizarre those strange people look so much like me?" type of experience so many adoptees have talked about when seeing pictures of their natural families? Or does it make it easier for them to digest them privately, on their own terms, via a social networking site or a blog instead of a paper-based album poured over while sitting side by side in some hotel room (or where ever it might be)?

    From a natural mother's perspective, does it help to or hurt to see the photos of her relinquished child's growing up years via social networking? I would think it might help because she has the option to process/grieve/rejoice/whatever at her own pace, in the privacy of her own home without worrying about how her immediate reaction may or may not affect her relinquished son or daughter.

    Just something I have been thinking about. Thoughts? Ideas? Comment? about how social networking may have changed the experience of sharing large numbers of family photos for the good or bad?

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  20. I told my that I am totally at peace with her being adopted. I keep lying so that I don't burden her with my pain and regreat.

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  21. K. That is an amazing comment--and I assume you inadvertently left out "birth mother." I wonder how many adoptees do that.

    But might it be too much pain to bear for yourself? And add to your own stress? In the long run, being truthful might be the best solution--for both of you.

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  22. I don't think K. meant "birth mother", and I don't think she's an adoptee. I think she left out "child" and that she is a birth mother.

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  23. Hmmm, Anon. You may be right.

    Yet I find it odd that telling your child that it was not painful giving her up is not what most want to hear. I would imagine the opposite--that they want to know it was hard, it hurt like hell, that you loved them and didn't walk away without regret and sorrow. One shouldn't go on and on, right,and make they feel guilty, but not saying anything about your sorrow is a way of saying, Giving you up was not big deal--see how totally adjusted to it all I am? I'm fine, and you? You too, right? No issues? I really am for reality here. And in all things.

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  24. I wrote my daughter a big check on a credit card(which I later paid off) after a few meetings with her and after determining that she did not have a drug problem or anything I simply wanted her to enjoy herself(She spent it on trips,computers,paying off credit cards-what the heck you only live once)I felt I owe her more than I can ever give her, and,yes, maybe it was partly out of guilt. I was warned by professionals not to do this,but I don't regret giving her anything. My boyfriend disagreed with the "professionals", saying "She's your kid" and,in a way I'm lucky that she needed it,otherwise she may have been all high and mighty and told me to take a hike.

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  25. Lorraine, I totally agree with you about telling the truth about what you feel, whatever that may be, including the part about not making your child feel guilty, which of course they aren't. I am for reality too.
    I was just surprised that you assumed K. was an adoptee.

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  26. Yes I meant daughter sorry. I have told her in the past how painful it was but I can see that it's stressful for her to know so I pretend now that I'm ok. She recently had a baby and I'm going through a heavy grieving period and I'm hiding that from her too.

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  27. I hide it from my husband too, I can tell he has heard enough of this and it is stressful for him too because he can't fix it.

    Recently a not close friend came to stay with me and I told her. She really lacked empathy and said but that's how adoption is.


    I guess it's how adoption is but it doesn't make it not hurt.

    It's painful to be witness to a baby coming home from the hospital I think of my baby now and I'm sad. I'm also sad that someone else gets to be his grandmother and see him and be the one he knows as he grows up.

    I live far away. I don't want to go and see him because then I have to leave again and I will get the feeling that I am close to her like I did last time. After my last visit I was not allowed to have direct contact because my visit had been emotionally disruptive.

    I do not blame her or myself for any of this, it's not her fault and I do the best I can.

    I feel this grief in my body as I do sport it comes out and I want to cry. I will be ok. I'm putting my energy into things that I love to do.

    Nobody knows I am going through this right now so I wanted to come and tell you so that I had a witenss if that makes sense.

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  28. I also thought that K was a first mother and that the missing word was daughter. I agree with what you wrote, Lorraine, at 11:31. One of the most painful things about being adopted is thinking that your own mother didn't care about you at all, that she was perfectly happy to give you to strangers and never even know you. It certainly did help me enormously to know that my mother had always loved me and wanted to keep me.

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  29. I did tell my bdaughter that I did not want to give her up and always loved her, also told her I was sorry that it had to happen. I wrote her all this, plus medical info in a 14 page letter when she did not want further contact. People urged me to do this - and I did want to give her her medical information, so I explained how it went, her birth etc. She did thank me for all the information, especially about her birth, but STILL does NOT want ANY contact... So I have left that door open for her, of course, and continue on with my life...

    But I have been thinking of writing to her on her 45th birthday, which is in 2014 - I know - long ways away!! LOL! I like to think ahead!! Should I, or shouldn't I??? if she hasn't contacted me yet, of course! Or should I just "let it be"?

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  30. Oh, the sadness pouring out in these last few comments from Lee and K. break my heart! K. is it possible for you to find any other natural (aka birth) mothers in your area you might connect with? You need a good friend--or a new friend--who understands. Some of my friends who did not relinquish children understand, but no one understands as well as another birth mother. Try to find someone you can talk to.

    K. I so totally understand what you mean about the sadness flooding up when you are involved in sports that require a lot of aerobic activity. Before arthritis took its toll (inherited), I used to be a jogger and run in 5K races all the time, and though the feeling at the finish could be euphoric at times, other times something would happen inside and the painful memories would surface and I'd suddenly be remembering and weeping...

    Hey, I feel a whole blog coming on about this.

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  31. I am new to this. So please bear with me. Thank you for the these posts. I am a birthmom. Your posts have been very helpful. We have met, one on one, and tomorrow, my children(19,18 and 10) will meet my relinquished son(24). All the emotions you have mentioned have hit me, and are so overwhelming. I am hoping our day goes well.

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  32. GOSH, SUSAN, THIS IS GOING TO BE OVERWHELMING, AND PLEASE TELL YOUR OTHER CHILDREN TO BEAR WITH YOU. You can write me at forumfirstmother@gmail.com or post here.

    Good luck!

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  33. I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful piece...I am an adult adoptee, had a reunion at age 19, where my first mother talked at me for two hours about her pain, her horrible life after being forced to relinquish me...never even asked anything about me...I was left feeling guilty, responsible and completely overwhelmed. If she had only taken some responsibility and said she was sorry...that would have meant the world to me. I thank you for saying it. You have helped me to heal a little more.

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