Sunday, July 8, 2012

When the adoptee says: No Contact

Lorraine
"How is that granddaughter of yours we met?" a friend asks over a crowded table of others, some of whom met her, one new acquaintance sitting on one side of me having no idea whom he is asking about. We are at the beach with the sun going down, wine is flowing along with pleasant conversation. The friend asking had met her at a Sunday brunch two years ago, almost exactly to the date.

I remember precisely how the last minute invitation to brunch came--Come to brunch, Ted and Joanne are here this weekend, they'd love to see you, says Lynn on the phone. Lynn and Robert live a five-minute drive away, Ted and Joanne used to have a summer home here, and the six of us had been close. Ted and Joanne are hoping that we will come. It sounds like a pleasant time, a way to keep the bonds with old friends alive.


But Granddaughter, who had been adopted (out of the family) is visiting for the first time. As her mother--whom I gave up for adoption--is deceased, I am the first blood relative she has ever met, and she just arrived a few days ago, three, I think. Remembering all that I have read about adoptees not wanting to meet friends and relatives of the biological family, I am cautious--at first I say no--but she's sitting there as I am on the phone, Lynn is eager for us to come, and it seems only reasonable to ask Granddaughter if she would like to do this, rather than just say, No, my granddaughter is visiting. (Lynn knows who I mean by this; the granddaughter that I've never known.) She's going to be here for a week (the distance covered was far, she wants to see Manhattan, a hundred miles away) and we are sitting around reading newspapers. We have no plans. It's Sunday. It's summer. So I put it to her, would she like to meet a few of our friends, have brunch with them, it's a pretty house with a pool, we'll be outside, it's nearby.... Granddaughter herself is a poet, two of the people are in publishing, they are all friendly, warm people...I'm thinking, This won't be too much, will it? I am making a mistake here even asking?

All right, I never should have asked her. I should have said, No, Lynn, it's not a good idea. I never should have put my granddaughter in the position of being the decider. Maybe she was just trying to be polite, to do what I wanted to do. Perhaps she was not sure how she felt. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. I never should have sent her an air ticket for a week's stay; I should have been sending her back that very day, I suppose, it was the second or third day, but she did want to see New York City, she'd never been there....Does life always come with hard and fast rules that can never be broken?

I asked her a couple of times--did she really want to do this?--and I got the go ahead without any hesitation that I can read. We go. It is a gorgeous sunny day, we sit outside, the vibe is agreeable, and she totally charms our friends. She is gregarious, at ease with just about everybody, and really, she's got charisma big time, and I'm not just saying that because I am her blood grandmother. It's true. Our friends raved about her. All of our friends thought she was, in a word, great.

Now it is two summers later, a few days after the Fourth of July--she had arrived on the night of the Fourth--and Ted wants to know how she is doing, what she's up to. He's had some Failure to Launch issues with his two boys about her age, and I know he was impressed with my granddaughter. But he's been out of the loop and doesn't realize that she gave me the heave-ho eight, nine months ago.

How is your Granddaughter, that nice young woman we met? Lynn and Robert are there, wondering what I will say; so is Ken, a photographer who she also charmed. He photographed her. He's waiting for the answer too. What do I say? I am not the kind of person that tells social lies to paper over reality. I do not have inconsequential conversations about issues that run deep. I may at times say nothing, but ask, and you will learn what I am thinking. Saying, Oh, she's fine is not an option. An easy out it would be, but also a bald lie, and undoubtedly lead to more questions--Have I seen her recently? Is she coming back this summer? I'd be stumbling for answers while others knew I was making this up.

Do I say, Oh, we're having a bumpy time right now, but I expect it to blow over? Then if he asks, what happened, what do I say then? Besides, that's not the truth either.

Do I say, Oh, why don't I tell you later...leaving the question hanging in the air, the evasion fraught with dark expectation of adoption-reunion problems. 

The woman sitting next to me is a new acquaintance, she knows nothing of my connection to adoption, or this young woman Ted is asking about. But for that moment, everyone is waiting for my response. Ted is an old acquaintance, he deserves a real answer. "We had a terrific relationship for about a year and half, on the phone once a week or so, emails," I say evenly, "but then she sent me an email that she didn't want to have any contact with my anymore. She wrote she wants no contact."

What? Ted says. "What happened? I'm stunned. Everything seemed so...great?"

Someone breaks in to change the conversation, to lighten the mood, and there are enough people at the table that conversation breaks up into several. However, Ken, sitting on my husband's right, wants more explanation. Thankfully, my husband joins in now, tells Ken that this is not unusual after what seems like great reunions, that Jane, the daughter I gave up and found when she was fifteen, used to drop in and out of my life when she was alive, how she would return after months with a phone call and the words: How are you? as if we had been talking just last week. And we'd pick up and go on like there hadn't been a gap of several months. Ted, from across the table, is listening avidly.

I've had this conversation three, four times already because people do ask, How's that granddaughter of yours doing? Have a reunion that is not secret, and the adoption will reverberate throughout your life.  Friends and family become part of the adoption story too, because it is part of the story of your life. Friends and family will want to know how "it" is going, how you are doing, what's happening, just as they would ask about children you raise. This is one case where I hope the word gets around, that others tell the story so I won't be asked anymore about how she is doing.

I have heard and read enough about adoptee-birth mother reunions to know, as only someone on the outside can know, that reunion for adoptees is an emotional bungee jump, fraught with disturbing feelings that cannot quite be sorted out, that sense of abandonment cannot be quelled with words, it is too deep, too ingrained, it came before language and so there are no words to give voice to the true feelings.

For birth mothers who long for reunion and a relationship, but are "abandoned" by their children after reunion, it feels as if an unquenchable anger that nothing can slake surfaces again and again. You can sense that anger in many of the adoptee memoirs, even if they never come right out and say they are angry. Children return, and then leave, abruptly, and we birth mothers are left stranded on that cliff wondering what happened, wondering what we did wrong, what we can do to "fix" the situation. But you can't fix anything with a phantom. You can't fix anything with someone who is not there, not reachable. You can't fix the unforgivable sin of abandonment. Walking out on us is one way of showing us--the women who abandoned them, for whatever reason, under whatever circumstances--how that feels.
 
I lived through an up-and-down, here-and-gone relationship with my reunited daughter for more than a quarter of a century, and I consider our relationship to have been pretty good. I have too many good memories not to feel that way. I thought this relationship with a granddaughter would be different, for I did not bear this woman, I did not give her away. I tried to talk my daughter out of doing so. And I did not expect after feeling so close to her that she would just up and leave. We had been planning a second visit when the coldness came.

I have no idea if I will ever see her again. We are connected by blood, but after a good year of a relationship, we are now two beings traveling on different courses. The choice is hers. She wrote that she wanted No Contact.

That is what I say when asked, How is that granddaughter of yours doing? --lorraine
---------------------------------
As I am writing my memoir again, I have limited time that I can be on the computer. Too much computer time, in fact, set back my recovery from surgery this spring repairing a torn rotator cuff, and I tore a bicep muscle in the process. Jane and I are both cutting back on the number of posts that we put up, and will try to do one a week, alternating with each other. Things pop up that I would like to write about--the movie People Like Us, the birth-mother plot line on Rizzoli and Isles--but I am unable to do it all now.


From FMF:  Part 5: A (birth) granddaughter's rejection turns into a YES! 
Meeting my "Adopted" granddaughter
Why Reunions Go Awry: What Memoirs of Adopted Daughters Tell Birth mothers

Betty Jean Lifton's book, Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience is an excellent study of the difficulties of dealing with being adoption--and reunion. Highly recommended for both birth parents and adoptees. Order by clicking on the jacket icon or the title above. 

31 comments :

  1. I have gone through the here and gone thing as well. I don't know many mothers that don't. The hard part is when the adoptee says no contact, then won't leave you alone to grieve and get on with life. My child never stops. She has haunted my blog, this blog and several others that are linked to me. It is like having someone follow you around shouting ugly things at you. For me, I have decided it is best if we have no contact. I can't cope with the on and off stuff.

    I hope your granddaughter grows and comes back into your world without backing off again.

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  2. Lorraine said:
    I've had this conversation three, four times already because people do ask, How's that granddaughter of yours doing? Have a reunion that is not secret, and the adoption will reverberate throughout your life. Friends and family become part of the adoption story too, because it is part of the story of your life. Friends and family will want to know how "it" is going, how you are doing, what's happening, just as they would ask about children you raise. This is one case where I hope the word gets around, that others tell the story so I won't be asked anymore about how she is doing.

    Yes, I know how that feels - I told a few of my close friends when I was first starting to search for my daughter. I guess I should have just waiting to inform everyone AFTER I had actually had contact with her... oh well! LOL! I too just say - she wants "no contact" at this time...

    Lorraine:
    I have heard and read enough about adoptee-birth mother reunions to know, as only someone on the outside can know, that reunion for adoptees is an emotional bungee jump, fraught with disturbing feelings that cannot quite be sorted out, that sense of abandonment cannot be quelled with words, it is too deep, too ingrained, it came before language and so there are no words to give voice to the true feelings.

    That is one of the things my daughter said in her first letter to me; which was actually written by her mother, but according to the letter they both had input into this letter; anyway, she (daughter) said she had too many emotional feelings to go any further, to giver her some time - which of course I did! I contacted her again - I believe a year later - to wish her a 40th birthday wish. And BOY did I get pounded!!

    Lorraine:
    For birth mothers who long for reunion and a relationship, but are "abandoned" by their children after reunion, it feels as if an unquenchable anger that nothing can slake surfaces again and again. You can sense that anger in many of the adoptee memoirs, even if they never come right out and say they are angry. Children return, and then leave, abruptly, and we birth mothers are left stranded on that cliff wondering what happened, wondering what we did wrong, what we can do to "fix" the situation. But you can't fix anything with a phantom. You can't fix anything with someone who is not there, not reachable. You can't fix the unforgivable sin of abandonment. Walking out on us is one way of showing us--the women who abandoned them, for whatever reason, under whatever circumstances--how that feels.

    I was actually the one who was angry - and I know I shouldn't be - remember - I signed that "no search" thingy when I gave her up! NOT!!!
    And my daugher said she did not have any feelings of abandment from me - she said she always knew that I loved her... so I really don't know the "why" in why she doesn't want to get to know me... maybe after her amom dies?? I really don't know.
    Glad to posted something about this subject, as I guess nobody wanted to answer my post back a few days - and was wondering what should I do - NOT send her a Happy 45th birthday wish in 2014 - or I should?? I know - it's two years away - I like to think ahead!! LOL!

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  3. I'm so sorry Lorraine. I hope that one day you will have your granddaughter back in your life again.

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  4. @Lee July 8 7PM I'm not one to give advice-have enough trouble with my own reunion issues- but I would still send her birthday wishes every year,unless there is some legal issue with doing this?sending a birthday card to your own kid!! My son doesn't answer my calls anymore after more than 10 years of what I consider a very good reunion but after sending him a birthday card he did call one day and talk for an hour Now it's back to incommunicado Then again, depending on where your daughter is at, it might just make her angrier So, my only advice is don't give up There's no telling what event or just the passage of time,curiosity or whatever will melt her heart .She may surprise you

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  5. The one thought that keeps going through my mind after reading this is....Adoption just F&*@ing never stops causing pain.

    @Lee,
    I don't know what to tell you. I can't identify at all with adoptees who don't want to know their original parents. I mean, unless the natural parent is acting totally nuts, I am just totally baffled by adoptees who don't want contact.

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  6. I had a sweet realization during recent holiday socializing, with so many people asking "How is your daughter?" I am sick of 22 years of rehashing the sorrow and frustration and my failures at "fixing". So I said "She's doing great"! I can see that she is doing fabulous in so many ways (via the internet). She's also amazingly loyal and consistent when I look at the larger picture. She is teaching me to accept the things I cannot change and to love her just the way she is. Her feelings towards me are exactly right for her right now.

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  7. Why is it that when adoptees refuse contact, it is assumed to be done out of malevolence and revenge for being abandoned but when first mothers do the same thing everyone here says they must be doing it because of their own trauma?
    Adoptees who refuse contact are deemed as childish, selfish ingrates who just don't know what is good for them but first mothers are just protecting themselves from their past. Huh?
    Why do first mothers get a pass but adoptees are villains for doing the exact same thing?

    I have many adoptee friends whose mothers will not speak to them and have threatened them with harassment charges. One friend of mine received a letter from her mother saying that she wished she had aborted her. Now that is truly vicious.

    With that said, Lorraine, I am sorry that your granddaughter has asked for no contact. Did she give you any reason for doing so? I feel badly for both of your and I hope someday you will work it out.

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  8. I do not give first/birth mothers a pass who do not meet their children. One can analyze their decisions, but that does not give them a pass. Every person deserves an answer about who he is, and what his story is. No exceptions. Women who bear children have a moral responsibility to them, to give them their identities and tell them their true stories, no matter that the state indicated at the time they signed away their rights. Women who refuse to do so are cowards, and cruel.

    As for the "reason" for cutting off contact? If it were not so difficult to handle emotionally, adoptees would not do it so often. The specific reasons are nothing but wallpaper to cover the initial hurt, anger and frustration. People have been known to do it because they got the wrong kind of Hallmark card. I am not discussing my granddaughter's email further.

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  9. I didn't think Lorraine said adoptees who cut off contact are malevolent. Is that what you read, Bee?

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  10. Anonymous@ 12:56pm said:
    @Lee July 8 7PM I'm not one to give advice-have enough trouble with my own reunion issues- but I would still send her birthday wishes every year,unless there is some legal issue with doing this?sending a birthday card to your own kid!! My son doesn't answer my calls anymore after more than 10 years of what I consider a very good reunion but after sending him a birthday card he did call one day and talk for an hour Now it's back to incommunicado Then again, depending on where your daughter is at, it might just make her angrier So, my only advice is don't give up There's no telling what event or just the passage of time,curiosity or whatever will melt her heart .She may surprise you.

    Well, I really don't want to chance sending her a card - and getting her REALLY upset...

    RObin said:
    @Lee,
    I don't know what to tell you. I can't identify at all with adoptees who don't want to know their original parents. I mean, unless the natural parent is acting totally nuts, I am just totally baffled by adoptees who don't want contact.


    No, I'm not nuts!!! LOL!! Yea, me too, a little baffled as to 'why' not??!! Such is life, eh?!

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  11. Yes. That seems to be the underlying feeling I get. That contact refusal is done out of malevolence. More so from commenters than this particular post of Lorraine's. That the ending of the relationship is done out of spite. I think there are many reasons one would cut off contact.
    I do not believe in cutting off contact once a relationship has been established unless the relationship has become toxic. And unfortunately, that happens a lot. I believe in talking things out...this has actually bitten me in the butt in my own reunion but that is how I handle things. I also find it unfair to ask for no contact in an email. An email? Really? That's harsh.
    But I do think there are people who search out of curiosity and then simply cannot handle what they find. Like their brains just can not handle it so they end contact. I'm not saying this happened in this situation but I have seen it happen and while it is unfair, it is not malevolent.
    Regardless, people need closure when a relationship ends for whatever reason and email cheapens that. Especially when the person has asked for the B.S. of "no contact". Talk about one sided. Now you can't reply because you will overstep the "no contact" request and then YOU are the jerk. It's unfair. It stinks, Lorraine, you deserve better than that.
    One time, when my mother and I were having difficulty and I needed space, she asked me for a date when we could reconnect. She said she could not handle the not knowing. So we did that and it was mostly successful.
    I am not sitting here acting high and mighty, this stuff is hard. It takes a lot of patience. I am still not sure it is worth it.
    Regardless, I have always left the door open a crack for my mother because I learned very quickly that's the only way I could live with myself.
    I hope your granddaughter comes around Lorraine. I really do. But in the meantime, the waiting is agony, isn't it?

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  12. Bee, I think you are reading into the comments, or at least what I am saying. The adoptee having trouble with a birth mother relationship does not consciously think, I am going to be evil and show that bitch what abandonment feels like....From the outside, however, it appears that when an adoptee finds the birth- mother relationship discomforting--there but for the disruption of adoption, go I, a different person--she may cut off the realtionship, like slicing a loaf of bread, and do so quickly, often without any sign that the birth mother can read or be aware of.

    From what I have read and personally experienced, the reason the adoptee uses as the reason to end the relationship is of small consequence, and the birth parent is left confounded: What happened? My daughter pulled back for a couple of years because her adoptive mother said at a funeral of one of her biological sons: He was my favorite. She and I had been no argument, no discussion--Just Bam, you're too much trouble right now. I need to prove to my (adoptive) mother that I am worthy. It took me years to understand what happened. It was the only span of time during the 26 years we knew each other that I did not contact her on her birthday. I could not deal with the rejection anymore; I could not leave a message on her answering machine. I knew she did not want to hear from me.

    Was my daughter being malevolent? Not really, but you can imagine how it feels to be on the receiving end.

    The relationship that a birth mother has with her reunited adoptee is like no other that is in the birth mother's experience, and the vicissitudes are heart-breaking, often inexplicable, and do feel as if the adoptee is being unusually mean, or acting outside of the bounds of a normal relationship that a normal person has with another. In fact, the adoptee is most likely just trying to live his life without the uncontrollable and uncomfortable emotions that reunion may have unleashed. Life is simpler without this extra relationship--I did quite well without it before, right? I owe this woman nothing. She left me once, right? She'll get over this. I had to.

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  13. But that is your experience Lorraine...it is not every experience. Personally I HAVE seen first mothers malevolently push their adoptee away. I have held my adoptee friend as she cried over the nastiest rejection letter I have ever seen. It was cruel. But that does not mean that I think all first mothers treat their adoptees this way.
    Reasons for pullback can not always be generalized as the other person acting up.
    But of all the adoptees I personally know, often their reasons were justified at least by them and often by others. That doesn't make the pullback right, especially when it is done through email but sometimes pullbacks are justified.
    I don't know your granddaughters reasons (nor do I really care to as I respect your right to keep that email private) but to *her* they are justifiable. I asked if she gave any reasons because I do believe it is unfair to dump someone without providing them with any explanation.
    But let's face it, it always hurts to be rejected especially when we have high hopes for the relationship.
    But is it fair to dismiss the other person's feelings and reasonings out right? Especially when adoption is involved.
    There's a big difference between "I never want to see you again and I wish I had aborted you!" and "I want no contact because I just can not deal."
    I have said it before, "reunion" is a myth. It is just another part of the adoption lie. These relationships that should have been natural are now foreign and forced and sometimes conflicted by perceived loyalties to others.
    Have you considered responding to your granddaughter's email? As I stated previously, the way she handled it was one-sided and you do have a right to say your piece. After all, what is the worst that could happen now?

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  14. I am a first mother who has been reunited for over a decade. My child found me and the reunion started out great. However, the loyalty issues loomed large, and too many people in his circle found our reunion a source of entertainment and power. It became a circus, and it has been an extraordinarily hurtful and damaging situation for me.

    I have been reflecting on Mothers who say they wish they had had an abortion. Is this a horrible thing to say to someone and a horrible thing to hear? Absolutely. However, I, who have been horrified by the act of abortion most of my life, have now begun to wish that I had taken that path (if parenting could not be an option).

    I am sure we all wish for "do-overs" with the gift of 20/20 hindsight. All I know is that the loss of my child as a young girl has been an ongoing grief that I have never recovered from. I have moved on in other ways in my life, but I never recovered from the grief or got over it enough to have another child. I lost my entire future family when I lost my son.

    Was that his fault? No, but now my reunion has turned into hell on earth. There are huge gaps of years where I hear nothing, and then I am contacted and attacked by him or one of his family. I was never so happy as the day my son contacted me. I could never imagine my child not being in the world. Now, after decades of hell, I would accept the abortion that was pushed so hard at me by my parents, boyfriend and doctor, so that I could have a life filled with family instead of grief, and so that the screaming at me would stop.

    Does that make me a horrible person, because I would like to have a family and love too? Why does only the adoptive family get to have their need to have a child/my child met? I finally began to understand that my life was important too, that my child is now an adult, and that he does not have the right to be cruel to me or scream his anger at me any longer. He was loved and delivered into this world, despite those around me trying to prevent that. I met he and his entire family with open arms and welcomed them as my child and his family. I was rejected, cruelly, when reunion became uncomfortable and I stopped allowing them to manipulate me. I have a right to peace in my life. If having had an abortion back then would erase the life long grief and prevent these people from coming into my life to vent their rage on me, then yes, I would go back and have an abortion if I could. Of course, my first choice would be to have a loving relationship with them, but that does not seem to be possible.

    We do not know the story of those Mothers who now wish for abortion. I myself never imagined that I might one day be one of them. There is always another side to a story.

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  15. I agree with Bee. It is not always the adoptee being unable to sort through difficult emotions or punish the first mother. It would never occur to me to try to punish my mother for what happened 43 years ago.

    It could be that the other party has access to parts of you (or emotional information about you) that can be used in cruel ways. That *does* seem malevolent. And pulling back in those circumstances does not seem clearly trying to injure the adoptee or first mother in payback for whatever initial injury, but more like justifiable self-preservation. No one needs to allow anyone else to be cruel to them, as you all have mentioned quite regularly. If people cannot be respectful of boundaries, it is all right to walk away. That said, people should do their best to communicate their emotional needs and boundaries, if possible, and not play games. Too many people don't have the courage to face their fears and be honest with the people they love. For many, it is easier to leave than be left: that includes both mothers and adoptees.

    Anonymous 1:50, I do understand about your wishing you'd had an abortion. I wish my mother had aborted me, to this day. There is always another side to the story, as you say: what's broken sometimes stays broken. Hell is hell.

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  16. It is quite chilling to read of mothers who wish their children were dead, and adoptees who wish they were dead; because that is what you are saying when you wish you had an abortion or that you were aborted. You are talking about a living human being who has now lived many years of life, who has feelings and may read what you say, not about a choice about a fetus many years ago.

    It is one thing to wish you never got pregnant,or had raised your child, or that you never existed at all, but wishing you had aborted or been aborted goes beyond that and is disturbing and ugly.

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  17. The abortion that might have been erases all the years of grief and, well, more grief and all the attendant health and family issues that endure throughout an individual's lifetime as a result of giving up a child.

    It is not the same was wishing the child who lived now dead.

    The other day in the NY Times there was a short piece about mothers who lose a child through death; they face an increased rate of death themselves in the years following. I would love to see solid research on the health of birth mothers. If divorce and death et cetera can have a deleterious effect on health, surely giving up a child leads to long-term health issues. Surely it leads to longterm psycological issues, as we well know here at Firstmotherforum. And it is a given that psychological issues impact overall physical health. I remember the red scaly rash that developed on the back of my knee the year I gave up my daughter; the doctor, who knew about her, said it was a reaction and prescribed a cortisone cream.

    Child’s Death May Raise Mother’s Mortality

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  18. I can agree that the idea of a person wishing for her own destruction is disturbing. My own mother said to me once when she was angry, "I wish I had aborted you!" I agreed with her, and I think she was taken aback. The supposed violence of abortion doesn't bother me, perhaps because of where I work. Babies die all the time. I could also say, "I wish my mother had never gone to the party where she got pregnant, or that my father had never gone to that party, or that she wasn't ovulating just THEN," or a thousand other things. All the same to me. I would not have had conscious knowledge of this life that has been so painful to me. Not that I don't love many people in it; I have many friends, and I love my families, and I have had great experiences. I understand the moral behind "It's a Wonderful Life." And yet I believe adoption is so harmful that I'd rather have been chucked out in a surgical procedure before I drew my first breath. I know others have different opinions, and that's great.

    Lorraine, I think you are so right about there being long-term somatic effects to placing a child, depending on the individual and immune responses, etc. The damages go on and on. We just try to live with them, somehow.

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  19. Lorraine, you said the doctor knew that the scaly rash behind behind your knee was a consequence of giving up your daughter.
    He knew that how?

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  20. @Bee OUCH!! Maybe what you say is true, maybe we do assume the adoptee is acting out of spite and we give ourselves a pass that we as mothers are doing it out of trauma. All I can think of is that the adoptee was the child so we are projecting behavior of a child onto them while they are just trying to deal with the pain too in their own way. Also, one other thing you said that the adoptee may not be able to deal with what(Who?) they find. OUCH!OUCH!DOUBLE OUCH! Can any human being be that bad. All I know is that my in-person reunion could not be explained by thoughts or ideas or imaginings It had to be experienced and was truly an incredible feeling that I have no words for and feel lucky to have had Your posts gave me much to think about-so thanks

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  21. Anonymous: The doctor was my shrink (psychiatrist) and he knew the whole story of giving up my daughter to be adopted in a closed adoption to strangers I did not know and that I would supposedly never know her.

    If it makes you feel better, let us say that he thought it was probably a reaction to the emotional stress I was under. Just as my depression and bad dreams and suicidal thoughts that year were also PROBABLY a reaction to giving up my daughter. I had never had a a rash like that before or since. It was red, itchy, scaly and about six inches in diameter. Satisfied now?

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  22. Lorraine, I think your psych was correct. The fact that emotional trauma can trigger a physiological response is well documented. When my husband's father died, he (hubby)developed a rash that covered his back. It never disappeared and at times became very severe and disabling. The rash was later identified as psoriasis most likely triggered by the death. During the course of my reunion relationship a related event occurred that caused nightmares, high blood pressure and sleepless nights for more than a year.

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  23. Giving up a child is stressful, stress can have physical repercussions so it is not surprising some mothers who surrendered are affected that way.Some health problems may be traced back to the stress of surrender,but certainly not all.

    Life is full of stresses, and everyone reacts differently; some people thrive on lots of stress, some can hardly take any. After living a long life and surviving into old age, it would be very hard to say how a stressful event in youth affects life-long health. So much depends on a combination of weaknesses and resilience and which wins out.

    @Lee, stop thinking now about what to send or not send your daughter in two years. If she has asked you not to contact her again, sadly you have your answer. No means no.

    'nother 'non

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  24. @Bee I am having a reaction to your comments.You didn't like what you found?@Anonymous1:50 My found son has never in any way been abusive to me -he just withdraws and no,despite everything I never wish I had an abortion-I was so messed up when I got pregnant and having him was the happiest day of my life and the beginning of understanding -but I made a big mistake by not feeling good enough to be his mother. Signed Anna Phylaxis

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  25. "How should we like it were stars to burn
    With a passion for us we could not return?
    If equal affection cannot be,
    Let the more loving one be me."

    This is from a poem by W.H. Auden,
    "The More Loving One". I had the little quote about equal affection for years on a bookmark, but was delighted to find the whole poem which puts it in context.

    The poem was about unrequited love, but isn't that what reunions sometimes become when the adoptee withdraws? As a Mom I have tried to be "the more loving one" and to do this with understanding and patience, not resentment. It is not easy but it is what works for me. I have never wished my son to be otherwise than he is, only that he be happy. No matter what, I am glad and grateful that he is in the world, just like my other kids.

    In tough circumstances love is a choice not just a feeling.

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  26. The other day in the NY Times there was a short piece about mothers who lose a child through death; they face an increased rate of death themselves in the years following. I would love to see solid research on the health of birth mothers. If divorce and death et cetera can have a deleterious effect on health, surely giving up a child leads to long-term health issues.

    Reading the comments on that article by the poor ladies who have lost their children, it seems that a lot of them didn't look after themselves because they were so stricken with grief so that may be a factor. Someone also asked whether the study included suicides which is a good point. Also for those mothers that smoke, they might increase their smoking to deal with stress and if any of them had underlying hypertension, stress might exacerbate that hypertension, and the combination of smoking and hypertension is certainly not good for one's health.

    I think Ann Fessler would agree with you, I once sent her an email about her book and explained my story and she answered, in part:

    "Thanks for your note about my book. I’m sorry to hear you never got to meet your mother. She MOST CERTAINLY thought about you through the years. It sounds like she suffered a lot of losses. Makes me wonder if that had anything to do with her early death. They say that trauma can effect health."

    (my twin (half) sisters died at birth (I sometimes wonder whether she was told just to forget about them and move on) - her only other pregnancy ended up failing too (molar pregnancy perhaps?). She ran out of time after that, she didn't see 40)

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  27. I did not write this post to say that adoptees who cut off contact are being purposely "malevolent," however that is how many adoptees are reading it. I intended to show how adoption, no matter what, permeates a birth mother's life, especially if the reunion has been public. When someone walks out of a relationship, it leads to questions from friends, just as it would if an engagement were broken off, and an individual often has to deal with those questions in quite public venues.

    I also stressed that adoptees find reunion and a relationship emotionally disturbing and often cut off contact, and may use a seeming slight, the smallest of disagreements--or no reason at all that makes sense to a particular birth mother. It happens.

    We are not publishing comments that imagine what is going on in the emotional lives of others. I am not publishing comments that would otherwise be interesting if they also include such speculation, or ask further questions that I do not intend to answer here.

    Many other blogs have protected posts; Jane and I will not do that. This post was about how one feels when one is asking about a person who was once in my life, but is no longer.

    Adoption is the wound that goes on giving. But I would like to add that what I am writing about here does not have the same emotional intensity as the relationship with my daughter did. As many of you know, she is deceased.

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  28. @Anna: I liked what I found just fine.
    See this is the thing...it's not that personal. It's not that I don't like,my first mother at all. It is not about that. I think this is a common miscommunication in reunion.
    In the beginning, It was still overwhelming to find at all. The situation was overwhelming, not the person. For example, my first mother and amother are polar opposites in many ways but have disturbing similar tastes and likes in other ways. Freaky! It blew my mind!
    It is not about what you find or WHO you find but about the entire situation. It can be joyous but it can be overwhelming. I for one, struggled with the duality and duplicity for quite some time.
    It is not only first mothers who live with adoption trauma. I can not speak for others but I will say that finding my mother brought to surface all of the feelings I had been burying so deeply for so long. I didn't want to lash out inappropriately so there were times early on that I would hibernate from the relationship. Thankfully, I learned to do this more respectfully as time went on. But reunion is still very much a struggle.

    As a side note, I agree with Lorraine on the futility of speculation. I am pro-choice...strongly pro-choice but I still think it is very highly dysfunctional to tell any person that you wish they had been aborted. I wish that phrase could be removed from any adoption debate. It's just mean. Especially in hindsight. What use is it to even fantasize about that? It is a dark path indeed.
    The reality is that we adoptees are here. I am here and I am making the most of my life. Deal with it.

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  29. 'nother 'non said:
    @Lee, stop thinking now about what to send or not send your daughter in two years. If she has asked you not to contact her again, sadly you have your answer. No means no.

    Yeah - you are quite right! I have actually reconsidered, and trying to get on with life...
    I like to read here to get some perspective of what the adoptees have to say also!

    Now, I see you guys talking about medical problems connected to stress. Yes, I quite agree - as I began losing weight-150lbs about all the way down to 95 lbs!! After I sent the letter to my daughter the first time... !! It was my thyroid - all fixed now!

    Carry on...

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  30. I often wish she had said no to contact. IF she'd sent a photo and told me her life was going well and had refused contact would that have been easier? Probably not, but I often wonder if that would have been easier.

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  31. Maybe the family member cuts off contact not because they don't care but because the other person means so much and the pain of their loss is too much to bear.

    ReplyDelete

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