We can never be "the same as" a mother who raised a child from birth. I know that seems obvious but in the dealing with that reality, lots of tears are shed. Our daughters come, they go, they refuse to meet us, or they meet us and all seems well, and then they leave, usually without a word. They are just gone. Something we may have said that offends them--but we don't see how it might--is ostensibly the reason. Or nothing at all that we did is the cause of their leaving. Outside
forces, especially difficulties in dealing with the feelings of the adoptive parents, are typically the real reason, and while hey know that, but do not tell us. Why should they?
We didn't tell them why they were being involved in an "adoption plan." They just knew that one day they were living with people who were not their true, original, biological kin.
ACCEPTING BEHAVIOR WE WOULDN'T FROM OTHERS
We see how our daughters and sons were educated and brought up differently than we would have raised them, and in least in the cases I'm familiar with, the stings and arrows of that haunt the relationship. They may not share our religious and political choices, even though they look like us, or resemble their father in striking ways.
And through it all, we who want to have a relationship feel: condemned as guilty, so often we accept behavior that we would not expect or tolerate from a child we raised. We often find it hard to raise our voices against such behavior, for we feel they may walk out at any moment. We feel we are always on shaky ground so we often are afraid to voice a true opinion, or have a natural reaction. The times I would relax with my daughter, after things had been going smoothly for a couple of years, would just as well as not lead to another break in our relationship. Up and down it went, it was like a dizzying merry-go-round when you are riding next a person who is there one moment, gone the next, then back again. And gone again. After a while, it just becomes exhausting. Some of us simply give up.
Because my daughter was raised with people of the same religious and political views as my own upbringing, we did not have major cultural clashes. We both were middle class. She was attracted to the life I came to have, with a large circle of writers and artists as friends. Yet she came and went in my life so many times with the attitude of I'm-never-going-to-speak-to-you-again-until-I-want-to that it was just exhausting. A friend of mine, another first/birth mother, who knew Jane through the years, said, "She loved you and she hated you at the same time." Bingo! It felt like she got it totally right.
This friend has sustained a relationship with her reunited daughter nearly as long as I. Yet she too always feels a remove from her daughter, whom she found. Another friend, who was located by her daughter, had a few heady years with her, and then was rejected. Yet the daughter remains in contact with other members of my friend's family, even sharing pictures of the woman's grandchildren with them, and being invited to some family functions, where the daughter makes it obvious she is not speaking to her mother. That has to be the most painful of all relationships; it would feel like such a betrayal by my siblings, by my own family. It is the daughter's family too, that is true, but it feels as if her participation in it is designed to make her own mother--a smart, generous woman--feel terrible. Another first mother had a relationship with her daughter for several years, until her adoptive mother moved to a retirement community closer physically to the daughter. Then my friend was relegated to an occasional phone call. With the grandchildren she feels less than a grandmother, though she is their actual biological grandmother.
'SHE LOVED YOU AND SHE HATED YOU'
Then there is me. My daughter died five years ago; I have two granddaughters. One I am in touch with, and feel close to, but she lives near the adoptive parents, and has a very good relationship with them, for which I am glad. If my daughter Jane had married someone from New York, the situation would probably be reversed. I found the other granddaughter whom my daughter placed for adoption after my daughter died, and we had a good relationship for nearly two years when she chose to fall off the radar of my life. After an email went unanswered, I emailed a couple of times asking for a response, and I got one: she had decided she was in a good place and didn't want to be in contact anymore. I thought things had been going swimmingly, I did not feel the same guilt with her as I had not given her up and tried to prevent the closed adoption Jane entered into, and my life was enriched when she was in it. (As I had some sweet and affirming contact with her adoptive mother, she was not threatened in the least by me. The granddaughter was in her twenties at the time, and not living in the same state as the adoptive parents.)
She had met her father some months earlier, and since she was born when I was not in contact with Jane, I can only imagine what she said about me. What Jane said about her father I did not repeat to this granddaughter, but he would have had no reason to not tell her what Jane might have said about me, and knowing what she said about me to our friends while she was living here, I can only suspect the very worst. She loved you and she hated you at the same time.
I know some parents don't speak to their children, and some children don't speak to the parents, in the real world, outside adoption. I know many parents and their children have lifelong problems. Children move across country to get away from their families. There are as many different kinds of relationships as there are people. Many birth/first parents do inexplicable things too, and after years of secrecy about the birth, cannot sustain a relationship with their reunited children, and choose to walk away. I know all these things. Adoption is painful. Adoption is always painful. No matter how much happiness it may bring a couple or a single person longing for a child, adoption is borne out of someone else's body and pain.
But what is also true is that after a mother makes an "adoption plan" for her baby, whatever relationship that occurs after reunion is never quite what many of us hope for. Maybe it does happen for some; but I've only had brief contact with one woman who said her relationship was all that she could hope for. Her daughter called her every day. I haven't been in touch with her for years so I don't know the current statues. Yet for most of us, once we gave our children up, we lost them. Whatever relationship we might have later on is never going to go back to what we hope for, or be sustained over the long haul. We lost them when we gave them up.--lorraine
Why first mothers walk away from their children after reunion
Birthbond: Reunions Between Birthparents and Adoptees - What Happens After
"In 36 interviews with women who relinquished their children to adoption, the authors present anecdotal documentation of what happens when birth mothers and their children meet. The case histories are bittersweet. For some, reunion provides enrichment and release from guilt; for others the event is wrenching, especially when it occurs in the adoptee's adult life. In considering the many facets of adoption--including the views of birth fathers, adoptive parents, grandparents--the authors of this helpful study allow us to hear voices and attitudes that could change future adoption practices in this country."--Reed Business Information. Authors: Judith Gediman is a Connecticut-based marketing consultant; Linda Brown is legislative director of American Adoption Congress.The book was published in 1991 but is still relevant today.