' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Different expectations upon mother and child reunion
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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Different expectations upon mother and child reunion

Lorraine
The rash of comments at the last post (Adoptees can't stop first mother's pain) got me thinking about the mother/child reunion dance. It is so fraught with possibilities for missteps that sends the other into a tailspin, or what's worse, may send someone beating a hasty retreat. I had my own do-si-dos with my daughter Jane, but they didn't begin until years had passed, and so I feel that we escaped what so many have written to us about.

What adoptees have said is that when they meet their first mother and she goes on and on about the horrible boyfriend who left her stranded and pregnant, the pain of relinquishment, the years of sorrow and disorientation, the concomitant feelings of worthlessness, the adoptee is left feeling: Geeze, I was the cause of
so much pain...and hearing all this maybe I shouldn't have bothered this poor woman...let me outta here!

The adoptee who searches comes to the reunion with totally opposite feelings: she hopes her first mother will be thrilled and happy to be found. That they they will have a sweet, sharing moment, and possibly build an affirming relationship that will be good for both of them. That there will be unconditional love--not tales of turmoil and heartache--the kind that a baby needs. That she will hear her first mother say she made a decision to relinquish her precious infant, so she, the adoptee, would have a better life. That after years of unconsciously absorbing the message that she, the adoptee, was responsible for the mental well-being of the infertile woman who adopted her, this will be a mother she doesn't have to care for! Who will, instead care for her! The adult adoptee wants a loving, strong mother, not someone acting like a helpless, weepy teenager. Who need the adoptees care and attention.

EMOTIONS ROIL, CONFUSION ABOUNDS
What the adoptee, even as an adult, is seeking is to be somehow is that child that can be loved and cared for without doing anything! Just lying--emotionally--in the warm breast of the Great Mother. I'm generalizing of course, but some adoptee writings touch on this bottomless and authentic need, never quite understood, almost always unexpressed. And because infant adoption happens in the pre-verbal stage, the adoptee is not able to make coherent sense of what she is feeling when she meets the original mother who left her with someone else. She simply is a mass of raw emotion, of hurt and a sense of abandonment, and she wants her natural mother to make "it" all better. And now the mother is saying: I hurt! I hurt so much you don't know!

As Rebecca Hawkes* wrote so eloquently at the Lost Daughters blog:
 “…at this stage of reunion, the adult me is not always in charge. Reunion can cause psychological regression. Though on one level I am still a (moderately) reasonable middle-aged woman—a wife, a mother, an employee –that's not all I am these days. There's another part of me that feels more like a toddler in the midst of a major daddy's-little-girl phase. For this inner-child me, no amount of contact is enough. How much would it take to fill the hole left by a 46-year absence. 
“I'm aware that this is where many reunions get into trouble, and I'm trying not to fall into the trap of expectations that can never be met. I'm trying to acknowledge the child-me and let her have her say without allowing her to be the one in charge. She can sit around wailing "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!" all day long, but when it's time to write an e-mail or pick up the phone, she needs to let the grown-up handle the job.” 
Upon meeting her first mother the adoptee might praise adoption as A Good Thing. Thank her mother for letting her be adopted (rather than aborted may go unsaid), raised in poverty or in an unstable lifestyle. The mother is likely to respond--Wait a minute. Adoption is not good. It caused me much pain. I wish I could have kept you. I gave you up because I had no choice. 

Adoptees may have a hard time accommodating what her mother is saying because her words bring up feelings and thoughts most frightening: Who would I be if I had been kept? Were all the years spent with adoptee angst in vain--when my mother surely could have kept if she had just tried harder! She's saying she wanted to keep me--why didn't she? It couldn't have been as bad as she says it was. Surely there was a way. Adoption must be good because otherwise I would not be who I am! But maybe the life I have is not the life I was supposed to have! Confusion abounds, and the person may be so undone dealing with the living, breathing embodiment of their pain is just too much to handle. The adoptee desires a simple, loving mother, not a mess of inner turmoil--either hers or the mothers. 

BELIEFS MAY ADD TO THE TURMOIL
A deeply held religious component only increases the emotional havoc, especially if the adoptee grew up hearing: You were meant to be my child. God meant for us to raise you. Now what she is hearing the opposite--that her mother doesn't buy that giving up her baby was God's will, and if it was, how come God is so damn harsh? What's right, what's wrong? Or conversely the adoptee may feel, What my first mother is saying going against Gods's will! 

Mothers who have been resolutely in the closet, who have never looked through the crack of that door, who turn off TV programs about adoptee/mother reunions, who have not read anything about what is happening in the world of adoption--or who are even unaware there is anything to read--and who only fear their children may appear one day are the worst off. The rush of grief they feel may surprise them, and they either turn away from the child completely and refuse reunion, or, as they let their raw emotions tumble across the wild terrain of this new country they find themselves in, the returning child/adult is not surprisingly, scared off. Who needs another mother she has to care for? 

One adoptee friend of mine was sending her parents back home in another state $1,500 a month as they were elderly and she had a good job in New York City. She said, What if I found my other parents and they need $1,500 a month? My friend was successful but she wasn't that wealthy, or willing to take on a new set of needy parents. Her focus on real goods may have masked her fear that the emotional needs of her other parents might overwhelm her. She cut off her search midstream, and never went back. She and I remain friends and do not talk about adoption. 

As for the mothers still living in fear that their secret child will one day out them, it is probably impossible for First Mother Forum, or any of the other blogs and books about reunion, to reach those women. They have been in hiding so long, hiding has become their whole facade, their life. Just as some adoptees will not search, some mothers as so terrified of letting others know they gave up a child--it is beyond embarrassing--they can't deal with the pain and the shock of confronting the child. Women have told me that when Birthmark came out in 1979, they saw it in the bookstore, but wouldn't buy it lest the sales clerk think: She's one of those women. Who gave up a child...! What could be worse? 

Another issue that comes up frequently is that the first mother is not as educated or has a life that is as stable as the one the adoptee grew up in. This has come up repeatedly in adoptee memoirs and novels and the writers skirt around the subject as they find the gulf now between them impossible to reach across. They can't help think--there but for the grace of adoption goes me, me who has a good education and the finer (or middle-class) things in life....To those adoptees who face this situation upon reunion, one can only ask that you be compassionate and understanding, even if the gulf between you and your first mother is wide.

FACING THE HARD REALITY
Conversely, some mothers believe that their children will have mental problems, have had a hard time adjusting to life without them, are much more needy than they actually are, and project all of this negativity onto them. Some adoptees truly may only want medical information, and the first mother is not prepared for that kind of coldness--because that is how it feels--and that causes further pain; the mother gives the information, the adoptee pulls back and the mother is left roiling in pain, just as she was at the time of birth. And some mothers are only willing to give medical information, when the adoptee wants a relationship. When the aims of the two sides are not in synch, someone is going to be hurt badly.

But we mothers have to face a certain reality: In some very real way, we lost our children to a greater or lesser degree the day we gave them up. Doesn't matter how, doesn't matter why. They lived a life different than the one they would have lived had we raised them. They have other people in their lives. And mothers have to accept this in order to have a healthy relationship with their children in the future.

My daughter Jane and I had a relatively easy first decade, and she lived with my husband and my for several summers, even getting a jobs here. We did have the usual teenage girl/mother problems, of course. But we didn't have the issues of push-pull that would come later. My own situation informing her about why and how she was given up, and how I felt, was undoubtedly easier and different because at 15, she was old enough to read my memoir, Birthmark. In fact, she soon did a book report on it for her English class, ending it with the fact that she was the girl in the story. The teacher did not believe her until Jane's parents confirmed this. (FYI: Birthmark ends before I know where she is.)

Regular readers may know that our first meeting was at the airport in front of her father, and I spent the weekend at her adoptive parents's house, and was given Jane's bedroom. We talked about my relationship with her father, and all, but--and though I am a crier--I do not remember crying then, or when she came to Detroit a month later and met my mother, brother and a few cousins. Jane accepted that it had been hard, but it was what happened, and we were to go on from there. It wasn't until the next spring when we really talked about why she was given up. On the back deck of our house one afternoon.

Everybody has to find the way that suits them; how to handle a first meeting with a son or daughter is not a one-suit-fits-all. Crying may be exactly what both parties need. What this post is about are some things to think about upon the first meeting to make the second and third and et cetera easier. No matter how one handles it, the impact is overwhelming emotionally, and you do not want to freak out the other side so much that they retreat.

What's the solution? It's a muddle. Mothers who only weep and moan about their troubles are going to have trouble having a reunion. Adoptees, if they can, if they feel like it, need to express their own feelings, and urge their first mothers to do some reading and educate themselves about how to not dump all their grief on them. Mothers must understand that the returning child is the Child, and they have to be the adult mother and empathize with their baby, no matter the age of that child, fourteen or forty-six.--lorraine  



My Overtime Mind: Who's in Charge of this Reunion?

Rebecca Hawkes,  Lost Daughters blog, Oct.10, 2012.
Adoptees can't stop first mother's pain
First mother reappears after 12 years--after a 'happy' reunion
In adoption, in life, there will always be tears

TO READ
The Adoption Reader: Birth Mothers, Adoptive Mothers, and Adopted Daughters Tell Their Stories
Essays from all three points of view. A worthwhile book for anyone in the triad. Full disclosure: Lorraine's essay, first published in Town & Country, is included.

The Mistress's Daughter by A. M. Holmes
Excerpted in the New Yorker, a talented writer's story of confronting a mother and father she feels little connection to. But of course, she does.

"Critics agree that the first part of A. M. Homes's book, an expanded version of a 2004 New Yorker essay, is a riveting family story. Told in the same taut prose that gives her fiction its stylish nihilismThe Mistress's Daughter offers a straightforward, unblinking account of meeting—and facing—one's birth parents for the first time. The mixed reviews stem from an equally mixed bag of reactions. A few critics decry the dramatic drop-off when Homes expands the scope of her genealogical research outside her two birth parents. Others find the author's indignation and tightly controlled rage poignant. Homes treads the memoirist's paper-thin line between self-discovery and egocentrism with marginal success."--Bookmarks Magazine

THANK YOU FOR ORDERING ANYTHING THROUGH THE PORTAL OF FMF FROM AMAZON OR THE BLOGHER ADD. 

52 comments :

  1. "But we mothers have to face a certain reality: In some very real way, we lost our children to a greater or lesser degree the day we gave them up." Yes we did lose them. I know I did. And I lost them both, more or less, twice. Sometimes, the person or persons you find aren't stable, civil or honest. Count me among the mothers who, for the sake of my sanity, backed away.

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  2. When I found my daughter, seriously by her own posting on adoption.com's website, I called, spent 4 hours being hammered by her "awful" life stories and then silence. There was anger, blame, rage, etc. Yes, I made mistakes, but the ones you talk about are not them.... not really.

    I tried to allow her to take the lead but she wouldn't release me nor would she bother with me unless she wanted something. I didn't need or want anything from her and still don't. But if she wants a new tv or furniture, she has no problem trying to borrow the money from either me (never again) or my family (not going to happen) and to talk about me as if I was garbage to the sister I am closest to.

    To say that she allows the child to run the show is not realistic. To say she doesn't have mental health issues is not realistic. She is aware of her issues, for many years (since early pre-teen years) she has been asked, coerced, begged, pleaded with to get help and she claims there is nothing wrong.

    The problem is this, to say the child takes over and allow that child to be the boss is like raising a child that runs your house, is abusive, needy and clingy. This is not healthy.

    This is why I won't try again.

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  3. What you describe has not been my experience with reunion at all. I found a woman proud of her choice, happy with the accolades she received from random adoptive parents over the years. I found a woman who had pined for knowledge of me but was also deeply convinced that keeping me would have, as she said, ruined her life. We tried for years to have some kind of relationship but her deep feelings of anger and resentment toward me always eventually showed through. She refuses to acknowledge any pain or sadness. She insists that I refer to her as my birthmother. No other term will do. Everything will be fine for awhile and then she goes off the rails. The most recent occurrence was when I tried to help her clean up a plate she had accidentally broken and she just began screaming hysterically for me to get away from her and never help her again. It was then that I realized that she is a person with deep, unrecognized issues. She loves me, she hates me. She hates what I represent in her past and her present. She claims to want a close relationship and then drives me away with toxic and hateful words and behavior. After years of being on this dysfunctional roller coaster ride, I have opted to love my mother from afar and hope that someday she will acknowledge her pain and resentment and make an effort for a healthy relationship. Nothing I do or say will change the situation until she acknowledges her true feelings and accepts me, not as the infant who threatened to ruin her life but as the grown woman who simply wants to spend time with her.

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    1. Bee, actually your situation is the exact flip of mine. Instead of me, the mother, being crazy about pretending all is okay and flipping out, my daughter does. She claims she is fabulous with one voice and screams in rage at me with the other. It is like being in a crazy tornado of emotions and it simply makes a person mad to attempt to deal with that. I think that you are doing the right thing. You have to take care of you first.

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  4. Lorraine wrote:" Mothers must understand that the returning child is the Child, and they have to be the adult mother and empathize with their baby, no matter the age of that child, fourteen or forty-six."

    I have to disagree with statement, because the person mothers meet is no longer "their baby", but an adult, or at least a teen. It is not fair to either side to think of the adopted person as the perpetual child, nor the mother forever as the young girl who surrendered. It can cause extra difficulties in reunion if either side acts on feelings of regression and behaves as if they really were a child or expect to be treated as one. When two adults meet, even adults with all the baggage adoption has placed on them, both have to see the other as another responsible adult, and try to treat each other as such. The previous several comments illustrate how impossible it is to deal with a mother or an adult child stuck in the past and demanding to be treated as something they no longer are. The concept of regression as an excuse or a given in reunion has done a lot of damage to a lot of people when treated as fact, not as helpful metaphor.

    For mothers, adoptees, and other found relatives, there are limits to what people can deal with and still maintain a relationship. A mother who has done all she can for a troubled and demanding and sometimes even dangerous adult child can do no more, and sometimes she has to step away. Same for an adoptee dealing with a mentally disturbed, narcissistic and demanding mother. This is just as true with raised as with surrendered adult children. Yes, we love our children AS IF they were still our babies, and moms can't help but see all their kids that way sometimes, but we cannot treat our adult children as babies, nor can we expect them to rescue the hurt young women we were so many years ago.

    We do need to empathize with our found children, but as the adults they are today, not as the iconic lost baby they were. Our children cannot expect us to be Mommy or to negate all the bad in their lives. We both have to meet as the people we are at 20 or 40 or 70, and move on from there, not try to play roles we have long left behind and cannot reclaim.

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    1. Maryanne, I didn't meant that we have to deal with infants--adults are adults, adopted or not--but I think that some mothers do not realize how their actions and words in the early part of reunion can scare off the "child" they want to have a relationship with, and acknowledging that we are the mothers should be part of a reunion.

      I certainly learned, as time went on, that there was only so much I could put up with from my daughter. She was in her 20s and 30s, and would decide for the dumbest of reasons, to push me away. But eventually I understood that she was most frequently being manipulated by her adoptive mother, who was ... two-faced with me. She'd give me a hug when we met, but then wouldn't talk to me when I called. And Jane was married and living nearby them, and well, there's more too, and so the way for her to be an acceptable daughter to her adoptive mother was to push me out. After I while , I learned how to be somewhat more inured to my daughter's vicissitudes, and would feel bad but not despondent.

      When I felt my found granddaughter beginning the same pattern (not connected in the least to her adoptive mother) I said: enough. I didn't give her up. I tried to convince my daughter to let the father and his mother raise her. I'm not going through this again. The next move--if there ever is one--is up to her, but I am not the same person who opened myself and my home up to her.

      As you rightfully say, there are limits.
      .

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    2. I believe that if reunion is left up to the principle parties involved, mother and child and perhaps fathers, that it will progress naturally and evolve. I think it is the outside, secondary parties, like the adopters and later siblings that have vested interests of their own that causes the real problems.
      Sandy Young

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    3. So true! I personally was blessed with no interference from my side. My mother was thrilled to meet her, my brothers were hip about it, and a cousin of Jane's befriended her at a big family gathering and just did the right thing by saying, come with me we'll go for a ride. No one expected more or less from my daughter than who she was, how she related.

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  5. This describes to a T my initial reunion with my son. Four years later and there's no change in our relationship, only that I'm "allowed" to send a text now and then. I might get a response from him but more often I don't (I send about two or three per year). I told him during that initial meeting that my grief and pain are mine and that he didn't do anything wrong so I wouldn't lay that on him; it's not his responsibility to heal me, nor is it any of his business; he did ask about the circumstances of his adoption and I told him. He doesn't need to know that I attempted suicide two weeks after they took him. What would that do; make him feel obligated? There was enough manipulation (to put it mildly) in my surrender of him and I refuse to subject him to same. But as much as it hurts to see how close he and his family are, I have to deal with it. What happened back then was wrong -simply wrong- but knowing that now doesn't change current interactions and relationships built upon those wrongdoings (or lack of).

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    1. Maru67, have you considered that your attempted suicide might be an important datum in his (mental health) medical family history? He might have a need to know, just because it is painful to both of you does not mean he does not have to know.

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    2. Most of you know my daughter committed suicide. I have an aunt who did also. And I spent a lot of time thinking about it myself, though I am not a normally depressive person, though I have had my PMDD moments. PreMenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, meaning: Really Really Bad PMS.

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  6. I was like the woman who was afraid to buy Lorraine's book, lest someone ask why she was buying it. I was at the Salem (OR) Public Library one day in about 1988, 22 years years after I gave up my daughter, and nine years before our reunion. I saw a copy of "The Search for Anna Fisher" by adoptee Florence Fisher. I immediately thought it was about adoption. I took it to the back of the stacks to read and finished it in one sitting. I did not want to check it out because the librarian or someone I knew might come by and guess why I was interested in it.

    On another subject, when mothers say they wished they had kept their child, their child might infer that their mother is not proud of them. They might hear their mother saying saying "You would be a much better this or that if I had raised you." This is another reason not to go into with the "what ifs."

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    1. Interestingly, my daughter said that because of her epilepsy, and my rather less-than-stable-and-wealthy free-lance writing career, I would have had a hard time taking care of her due to her epilepsy and because I did not have the kind of health insurance her parents did: He adad working for an insurance company, and her amother was a nurse. I didn't say anything but I thought, she's both right and wrong, but what here we are today. It seemed like a very sensitive and honest comment from her, and I have always remembered it.

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  7. Post-failed-reunion, I still feel as if I am damned if I do and if I don't. She clearly stated to cease contact, but my mind wanders... is that going to be deciphered as me 'abandoning' her again? I waited two years and wrote to her saying as much... and there was no response. I feel like I can't psychologically afford to pursue ANY contact because when it is met with silence, I punish myself for trying and feel sickened by her lack of compassion. I'm just trying to sort this out, but I can't do it alone. I want to acknowledge her pain and trauma as a result of being given away, but she won't go there. She keeps it all wrapped up.

    There seems to be no way to move forward. We're stuck in perpetual purgatory. I want to deal with the reality of where we are now, who we are now and try to harvest a real relationship. She is not a child. I am not a mother. Yet, she is my child and I am her mother... from a biological standpoint. It was such a difficult situation to straddle. I tell myself she is only 26 and when life experiences come her way, she might gain greater insight.

    I'm not perfect and I never claimed to be. It wouldn't have been perfect (far from it), if I raised her, but realize now I was naive about my decision and the life-long ramifications (for both of us). She has her own feelings about me, her adoptive parents, but she rarely shared (when we were in contact), so it was near impossible for me to navigate how to deal with and cultivate our relationship. I tried to keep it fun. I tried to show her my true self, flaws and all. I am real, not the fantasy she may have conjured in her head for the first 19 years. I tried to show her she could talk to me, if she wanted to, but she really never did. On the few occasions when she injected talk of 'what if I raised her', it was limited, but the pain was palpable. She likely resents my decision, but is convinced she needs to excise me to keep her adoptive parents placated - she is willing to lose me to keep them and it is sad that is even the consideration she has to make.

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  8. When my son found me, we kept hugging and crying and laughing and being overjoyed, for hours. This, every time we saw each other for the first month or so (as it happened, we lived only a couple miles from each other in Berkeley, so could visit a lot). One time, he said that my crying so much, the previous visit, had made him unable to speak of what he had been in; I tried to encourage him to, more, and to cry less, myself, but I didn't know how very crucial that may have been (and am still not entirely convinced, Lorraine) until you mentioned how it could have affected the child persona in him. But I think mostly I was being the tearful loving earthmom to him---but also he to me, to some extent. And I think, for about 3 or 4 weeks or so--that is, for 6 to 10 meetimgs--this oceanic/womblike/newborn-and-mother closeness was eactly what we needed. But--maybe my still having crying times, if that blocked his expression of his--or maybe his adoptive dad's manipulations--or maybe some sort of fear of touching and caring about this "stranger", whether from fear of GSA (not called that or yet much discussed by people, then) or even of GA--or maybe it was a natural next step that he took before I did--but he pulled back and I wasn't ready. I did not then, quivkly enough, step on my own child-persona and encourage his readiness, but instead I tried to hold him close; this was a mistake. Fortunately, his adult persona is very sensitive and caring, and so we worked through this, to an extent, and are still connected after 24 years of reunion. Nevertheless---there was painful loss in trying to hold on, those first weeks when he stepped back; and for his, for the child's sake too, best the mother stay mostly in full-on mothering mode, at least after the first weeks, after the kid starts giving time-I-grow-up-now/again messages,

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  9. it seems whichever way you play this it can be interpreted as 'wrong'. If you express how much giving up your child has affected your life and how much pain you have been through then you can cause resentment. Alternatively if you try to hide this from the adoptee then you are regarded as cold. I am still awaiting the elusive reunion and am still absolutely petrified of the whole thing. I know it will happen (when she is ready and in the right place) I just don't know when........ I guess I have to go with my gut and be very good at people reading.

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  10. After reading the comments this morning, I added this to the post:

    My daughter Jane and I had a relatively easy first decade, and she lived with my husband and my for several summers, even getting a jobs here. We did have the usual teenage girl/mother problems, of course. But we didn't have the issues of push-pull that would come later. My own situation informing her about why and how she was given up, and how I felt, was undoubtedly easier and different because at 15, she was old enough to read my memoir, Birthmark. In fact, she soon did a book report on it for her English class, ending it with the fact that she was the girl in the story. The teacher did not believe her until Jane's parents confirmed this. (FYI: Birthmark ends before I know where she is.)

    Regular readers may know that our first meeting was at the airport in front of her father, and I spent the weekend at her adoptive parents's house, and was given Jane's bedroom. We talked about my relationship with her father, and all, but--and though I am a crier--I do not remember crying then, or when she came to Detroit a month later and met my mother, brother and a few cousins. Jane accepted that it had been hard, but it was what happened, and we were to go on from there. It wasn't until the next spring when we really talked about why she was given up. On the back deck of our house one afternoon.

    Everybody has to find the way that suits them; how to handle a first meeting with a son or daughter is not a one-suit-fits-all. Crying may be exactly what both parties need. What this post is about are some things to think about upon the first meeting to make the second and third and et cetera easier. No matter how one handles it, the impact is overwhelming emotionally, and you do not want to freak out the other side so much that they retreat.

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  11. Lorraine, it seems as though our experiences, first mothers, aps and adoptees, are as unique as snowflakes. Consequently, people don't know how to act and what to say. At my initial meeting, I recall expecting my daughter to "thank me" for my decision to allow someone else to raise her as this is what I was told to expect from the social worker. Of course, I was foolish enough to believe her. While this may seem ridiculous now, it wasn't back then. My daughter, of course, was horrified that I expected this. I think this experience was the the exact opposite of the one your partner Jane had.

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  12. I think everyone is different and may have different reasons and expectations in searching. I know for me I wanted to find my past and about all the things that had been hidden from me including the mysterious "shadow person" who had given birth to me. I remember I was with a friend when I finally confirmed I had located the right person (talking to one of her relatives) and the friend said "when are you going to meet her?" My reaction was what, huh? I really had not thought about that, only that I had solved another part of the puzzle. At that time I had a name, some basic information about her, and that was enough. I really was not thinking about meeting her or pusuing a relationship with her and as it turned out she had no desire to meet me either. I figured she had her life as a wife and mother and I did not want to intrude nor did I think of her as a mother figure in any way. I kind of thought of her as the person who was young and thought adoption was the best option for a pregnancy she had not planned. I think, and it is true for me, that some adoptees really dont have an emotional connection or feelings one way or another about their birth mother, but the mother remembers a living breathing baby she gave birth to and usually had some feeling for. I did eventually make an effort to contact her and had she been willing and desired to meet me I am sure I would have done that and wanted to get to know her but I still would have not really thought of her as a mother figure. From talking to others I discovered she and I did share some traits as it turned out and I resemble her physically, which was unnerving to see. But we were very different in a lot of ways. Anyway I was not looking to join another family and if she had felt differently I could see where this would have become a problem had she wanted to include me in family gatherings or try to adopt a mothering role toward me.

    I also want to add that as far as telling an adoptee that things were difficult during the pregnancy and adoption period IMO some of that is OK and may even be reassuring to hear that she cared and would have wanted to keep you under different circumstances. That does not mean the adoptee necessarily will feel that they would have wanted that to happen. But if the birth mother goes on about how this ruined her life, then for me, it makes me mad and want to say "excuse "me" for being born, but whose fault is that." It certainly would never make me feel guilty.

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  13. Gail's comment:".. it seems as though our experiences, first mothers, aps and adoptees, are as unique as snowflakes. " is spot on. If you're looking for a guide to guaranteed perfect reunions you won't find one. I'm still new to reunion - my first f2f was just last year. All I wanted was to see her (almost in the count her fingers and toes sense), answer any questions she had to the best of my ability ( a lot of my memory about that time is blank), and start to learn about the person she is now. I told her it was difficult being a pregnant teen 30 years ago and left the pain at that. Reunion blasted me out of repression and denial and I'm still seeing a psychologist to sort through it all. I think that adoptees have enough on their plates without hearing how bad the pain is. Mothers of adoption loss are right to feel pain, and should work through it, just not with the adoptee. That's just my opinion, and I am new to reunion. It breaks my heart to read about all the pain on both sides.

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  14. If you believe, as I do, that Jung's dictum " Image Is Psyche" is the operating principle of consciousness/Self, then there is, by definition, an underlying distinction between Mother and child at point of separation: That is that Mother is embodied with an "image"- a perpetual, concrete image, however nascent - something the child lacks- a void- no anchor upon which to tether any fantasy of "Mother." This "pre-verbal" assault on the psyche, among others, leaves in my opinion the adoptee as child/adult particularly vulnerable @ point of contact with Mother; regardless of age. Lorraine ' s emphasis on pre-verbal experience is spot on. Have yet to meet an adoptee who is able to clearly articulate "how" or "what" they truly are feeling.

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    1. I guess you have not read many adoptee memoirs, particularly those of Betty Jean Lifton who articulated her feelings and and their motivation beautifully. The idea of pre-verbal trauma from adoption is controversial to say the least, and tying it in with Jungian psychology is a stretch. My understanding of archetypes, including that of the Mother, is that they are universal and innate, and not dependent on personal experience.

      Also I know many very articulate adoptees including my son. Don't know who you are talking to.

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  15. it seems to me that the searcher, whether first parent or adult child, is going to be more emotionally prepared than the found person, and consequently has an obligation to make generous allowances and not hurry or harass the found person.

    Also, if the finder wants to meet and possibly start a relationship, they need to allow the found person to make their own decisions about how, where and when - and even if - without pressure.

    Perhaps some searchers/finders want to maintain control of the situation, possibly to compensate for not having control before. I think they may also unwittingly impose their experience and "story" onto the found one (thereby co-opting them into their narrative) as a way of recovering the lost years. But it is important to remember that all experience is individual and that, while connected through birth, both finder and found are different people whose lives, until reconnecting, have followed a very different trajectory.

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    1. But even when we birth moms are the found, there is enormous pressure put on us (see the blog, "Birthmother Do's and Don'ts in Reunion") to be perfect fantasy moms who have the emotional wherewithal to cater to the adoptee's needs. This is more than unfair. If I need to put my adoptee in the "adoptee closet' because of my own level of comfort or because of that of my husband and my real children, then I'm going to do that! (that's right, I wrote "real" children. Just like most would say I'm not the "real" mom to the adoptee, well then I guess the adoptee is not my "real" child because I didn't raise him.)
      Of course, the adoptees want us to feel obligated to them, but yet we will always be second fiddle. I just can't believe there is not more information out there about the birth mother's needs and rights in reunion. We are the ones most deeply affected in reunion and also exploited. It's just like at the time of birth; reunion is potentially dangerous as a way to exploit the birth mom.

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  16. Lisa, your thoughts and observations ought to be -right at the top- of any search and reunion guide. Very sound.

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    1. Yes, this is valuable advice to anyone who searches and wants to reunite. Well said and to the point, I agree it should be the first thing to consider in reunion.

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    2. Mothers have a greater responsibility to meet their children than vice versa. Like it or not, that is the natural order of the world. Mothers take care of their young. Though the circumstances are different, and the "young" may be middle aged, the burden is greater on the parent to extend the milk of human kindness and compassion.

      But no one need put up with endless abuse or emotional blackmail. Everyone has the right to avoid that and to live a sane life.

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  17. Yes, Lorraine, mothers do have a greater responsibility to meet their children and this is especially true when the meeting occurs at a youthful age as was the case for you and I. Due to the fact that my daughter was a teen, I overlooked certain behaviors at the time that I might not have overlooked had I raised her. I suspect similar situations might arise with today's teens who are dealing with open adoption scenarios.

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  18. My feeling about this is that the mother has a greater moral responsibility to meet her son or daughter, but only if the child wanted to meet her. I think the idea that the searching party has to give the found party a lot of time and patience is still valid no matter which side searches. Some adoptees have no interest in their birthfamilies, which is their choice. Some mothers have no interest in their surrendered children, which to me is not right, but it is not something that can be forced. People feel how they feel.

    When my son was not communicating with me, the song lyrics "I can't you love me/if you don't/I can't make your heart feel/something it won't." kept coming to mind. As to contacting young teens, in my case it was a bad mistake, so I can't recommend that as universal advice.

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  19. I think most of us can agree that the biggest deal breaker in any relationship is dishonesty. Be it an adoptee or birthmother once you lie you cannot be trusted. The next deal breaker that comes to mind is the "don't contact me" or "don't contact me again" statement. If you hear it or say it, there is rarely any going back.

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    1. In fact, some of these do turn around with time, but a lot depends on circumstances out of control of the person who searched. Time does help, and maturity and life lessons. The one thing anyone who gets a firm "don't contact me again" should do is respect that and not make another contact. No means no. But sometimes the contacted person has a change of heart and comes back around. Not often, but never say never.

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    2. I am familiar with several reunions where the "don't contact me again" party came around as they became more mature. However, I encourage readers not to hold their breath, sit by the computer waiting for an email or race out to the mail box each day. Get on with your life. I know it's easier said than done. Counseling may help.

      In my more cynical moods, lines from a poem by Sir John Suckling come to mind:

      If of herself she will not love
      Nothing can make her
      The devil take her!

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    3. Right. After I got a "I'm in a good place" email (and so leave me alone), I said, sure, no problem, but you are welcome to come back it you like.

      3 years passes.

      If she comes back now, the welcome will be different than it was the first time.

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    4. My welcome never changed when my son came back after years of silence. If anything, it was even more joyful. We are all different.

      Jane, I too tell people not to hold their breath, to move on, but always leave room for hope and forgiveness if things do change someday.

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  20. It would be wonderful to have welcomes be joyous no matter the circumstances. To give people space and have them come and go at will, without judgment. At the same time, some people are cruel.

    In my situation, dishonesty has colored too much. There is not only distance but untruth. I believe I am kept at a distance because I have discovered dishonesty, and because I said, "I don't feel comfortable being treated this way." Silence. I can forgive, but that requires discussing the dishonesty, which unfortunately I do not believe my family is capable of doing: in fact, they have said they are unwilling to discuss it. Things like that have a bad way of festering, and I know they project unspoken frustration onto me; it's easy to belittle and tar and feather outsiders. I used to think, as the adoptee, that it was my job to bear the weight of their confusion and anger. It isn't.

    My adoption was part of a dysfunctional environment that persists. I didn't cause it. I find this sad, but yes, moving on is all I can do. People say that perhaps my brother will open up to me when our mother is gone (he has said the same). That seems like a terrible condition to lay on someone: "I cannot deal with you in *this* situation, but in *this* potential situation many years from now, maybe." Okay, it's his truth. But I don't have to accept conditional love. We will see when the time comes.

    Then there's still the issue of the dishonesty...

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  21. There is also a HUGE difference for the adoptee in terms of our feelings towards one whose name is listed on the OBC and one whose name was redacted from the OBC (I believe redacted names will still be found due to cyber resources). The natural fondest feelings in me would turn to outrage at finding that! The poor guidance given by lawyers and clergy to first parents never ceases generations later.

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    1. It's like a modern day holocaust. I once read that Hitler wanted to destroy every trace of evidence of the Jews, their entire genealogical history. That's what is done to the birth family when the OBC is sealed away and a fake one is created. So crazy. Why not just use and official adoption certificate that is seen as being equal to an OBC when it comes to legal matters.

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  22. Yes. "Out of wedlock" pregnancy leading to giving up a child was so shameful that legions of women were told to forget and act as if this chapter of their lives was over and pretend that it never happened. Consequently, so many women never told their husbands, never told their other children, never told their friends, and when the secret comes out, do not have the courage to face up to the lie they have been living. It is not small factor to "have that courage," as we know. Today, all these many years later, in most instances it is having lived the lie that leads to asking for one's name redacted, or refusing to meet or acknowledge the lost child--not the act or the child that is the issue.

    Of course, some women (and certainly some men) simply can't deal with the the guilt that will certainly surface upon meeting a child one relinquished. It is my hope that as more stories about reunions in real life and in fictional narratives on television more women can summon the will to meet their children and move forward, without dishonesty, and let them have relationships with all the adoptee's natural siblings.

    Fortunately for me, my social worker told me that I "would never forget" my baby, but I had to find a way to go on. A friend of mine was told by a priest that she had to think of her daughter as dead. Using the same searcher I did, she found her daughter a few months after I found mine.

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    1. It wasn't only shame. For some of us it was extreme disappointment and sadness with ourselves. Some of us were dumb enough to become pregnant to young men we didn't even love -- we just loved how they made us feel loved. And for this false sense of self-worth, we took risks. I question anyone who says that adoption leads to feelings of low self-worth. I think the self-worth was in many cases already there; hence the risky sexual behavior leading to unwanted pregnancy. I mourn the loss of my reputation and my innocence and I cry over the pain of being shamed and being treated with a lack of compassion more than I mourn the loss of a baby that should have never been conceived. Sorry, but I think I speak not only for myself but for many others. I am a great mom to my raised children -- after over a year in reunion, I am at peace with this and it is my truth: I am a great mom even though I didn't want the first baby I gave birth to. (One of my raised children shared this with me a couple months ago, without coercion! We were enjoying a day together and she told me just out of the blue what a great mom I am, always there to listen and support and encourage). I will not pretend that the child I conceived decades ago on a drunken college night by a selfish, foolish boy was something that I wanted. I have not spent my life thinking about this child every day, as some b-moms claim. I really don't believe that is true, unless these moms went on to continue making poor relationship choices and therefore dream about "what might have been." I moved on and never again dated anybody as "loser-like" as the b-father. I have an amazing husband (told him about my stupid mistake when we began dating and he was happy I hadn't chosen abortion). My life went on as it was supposed to, and no...I am not in denial. I am speaking truth, and I think a lot of b-moms feel this way. I gave my child up for adoption for all the right reasons, and if he doesn't make the most of that life and wants to blame adoption for his poor life choices, then that is his mistake, and it's between him and God, him and his adoptive parents, and between him and himself.

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  23. Yesterday I came across the cyber video "four mothers for mothers' in support of OBC access. As an adoptee I can't say enough how DEEPLY touched and proud and supported I feel from you and women like them and the moms here who share their stories and struggles and guidance and support legislation across the country. Thank you all !!!

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  24. Quien fui/quien soyFebruary 19, 2015 at 7:23 PM

    At age 50 I found my bmothers name in a pile of papers that were going to be trashed. I looked for her and did not find her and I was ok with that. I never felt that overwhelming urge to meet my natural family. I was curious about my medical history but felt that I would have nothing in common with my birth family. A few months later a friend called to tell me my bmother had passed away. I was sad that I had not had a chance to meet her but did reach out to her son. We met. My half-brother took awhile to respond, that was ok. My half-brother and I met and I spoke with my other brother and aunts, cousin and an uncle. They are lovely people but I am a product of how I was raised. It was nice to hear that my mother never forgot me and that she did want to meet me but I don't hold any rancor. She did what she had to do and gave me up to who she thought would best take care of me. No anger, no recrimination. I am sorry I never had the chance to tell her that I did not resent her actions and that my life turned out ok. I do not feel the "psychic wound" other adoptees talk about, I firmly believe that you have to grow where you are planted and life doesn't always work out the way you want it too, but the way it is supposed too. I had always thought that I would not be interested in meeting my birth family, but I am not so sure of that now. My little brother is a kick and I have the sweetest niece and nephew and loving family members. I have been told I look like my mom and apparently I sound like her. Since I was always very different from my afamily, this makes sense. I realize that not every situation is the same and finding out where I come from gives me great peace but it does not change who I am. It took me 50 years to realize that who gave birth to me and who raised me are not as important as who I think I am and after all this time I am ok with that.

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  25. This thread, and board, have been a great help to me. I am a birth mother who gave 2 boys up for adoption, in private placement, with some friends from school. My children were going to be 4 and 5 respectively, in a few months, at the time.

    I was contacted by my younger son, after 35 years. We are scheduled to meet in about 6 weeks. My older son wants nothing to do with me, which I can understand.

    This reunion will be particularly painful, The emotion and psychic pain my children have undergone is beyond anything I can imagine - they DO have memories of “the mother that they lost.” They may see it as abandonment.

    Still, I have no doubts that I did the right thing for them. Their father was on hard drugs and was emotionally and physically abusive (he beat me, and my oldest was at risk for "shaken baby syndrome" due to my husband's actions). There is much more, but this is the shortened version of purposes of this post.

    He went to jail for the beating, and I divorced him and thereafter had his parental rights terminated, for drug use, violence and lack of any child support. I carried on for 3 years, without emotional support or even friendliness from any family, Everyone wanted to stay as far away from this situation as they could - and they did.

    I eventually broke under the financial/emotional strain, and was heading down a path of serious abuse and possibly worse, for my sons - now, from me. They needed a stable home with two parents, without drugs, poverty, abuse, or neglect. I am so glad that they grew up free of violence, drugs, deprivation and poverty - and free of being scared.

    Each time I see an item on the news about a man who kills his wife and kids - I think, that could have been us. When I see an item about a woman who kills her children - I also think, that could have been us!

    My two sons are both healthy and happy, with families of their own, and seem to be stable, at least as far as I can tell. I wrote a letter to my older son, in care of my younger son. It was mailed to him several weeks ago. I realize no answer may be forthcoming from him soon, if ever.

    Being a nice person, kind and as honest as possible, may not be enough - if we are to be realistic. It still is a very bad thing that happened to my children, and there is no way to escape the ugliness of the situation. It is really scary, but it probably is 10x more scary for my youngest son. Still he is very anxious to see me in person, and it will happen. I’ll be as kind as I can, honest and reassuring and will hope for the best. When we meet, it will be about 5 months since the first contact. I said to them that I need a little time.

    I have been so lucky that his wife is very sensitive and nice, she has been “counseling” me, along with my husband, who is understanding and supportive. I worry that my younger son is presenting a too-perfect picture of how his life has turned OK, maybe he thinks that I’ll just bolt or flake out, if he says anything that is less than positive or nice.

    My son had already met his birth father, prior to finding me. He discovered on his own - that his birth father is, evidently, mentally unstable. Still, he has a right to know his birth father, as does my other son. I have related to both my sons the facts, and have tried not to editorialize too much - In this case, with public records (police reports, photographs, court hearing, jail sentence for battery of a woman), I think it speaks for itself. Still the reasons why I chose to give them up later on, may be a very difficult bridge to cross. It may not be possible.

    I just try to let my instinct and conscience be my guides at all steps. There really is nothing else that can be done.

    Any advice or comments would be welcome. I am in professional therapy also. But - there’s no way to tell what might happen. At least it will all come out in our personal meeting and visit of several days, I hope so anyway. I will just try to be the best person I can. Hiding is easy, and that’s what I don’t want to do.

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  26. good luck with your reconcliation new and old, my thoughts are with you as i know how brave you are to try and assuage hurt that can never really be healed. i am anxious that, having met my child/Grown woman a few times, she doesn't feel able to see or communicate with me at present. she has told a third party to convey to me that she will contact me when she feels better. i can only hope that what i suspect is a feeling of abandonment in her might eventually be over come by curiosity about her genes and siblings. i can't expect compassion, mercy or pity from her - nor love and understanding. i dread to think about the negative emotions she will surely have held or still holds about me. if she wishes to castigate and revile me i will accept it - it can never be as painful as giving her up and not knowing how (or if at all) she was situated for so many years. so she is entitled to do as she sees fit and do what makes her feel better.
    but if i may offer you any advice it might be just to hug your son. hug him as much as you can (without frightening him). hug him and tell him you love him, you are sorry you had to give him away and that you thought, at the time, it was your only option. hug him, let him tell you his story and what he feels about what happened. make arrangements to see him at regular intervals (monthly?) or for skype or 'phone calls if that is not possible. you must establish a method of regular two way communication - writing, txting or face booking is dangerous as the lack of immediate response can lead to misconceptions and misconstruing the writers intent. person to person in real time gives you a chance to query and make clear the precious words he and you exchange. i wish i had taken the opportunity to talk less and listen and hug more...maybe write a short note and read it or hand it over in person - i can't be sure that i told my daughter i am sorry i gave her away and that i've always missed her; i can't ask her and i don't know when or if i'll ever see or hear from her again. meetings with her were so fraught, intense and surreal, and, unfortunately, public. you two need to meet and talk privately, although you may need someone else to collect you after and take you home - i felt like i'd had a general anaesthetic! best wishes old and new, after all this sadness you both deserve happiness in the future.

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  27. Hyacinth: Thank you for your kind words and advice. It went well - not all happy, not all sad. I thought of you as I hugged my son, following your advice - Otherwise I may not have (I'm not a "hugger" as that is not how I was raised), and my son made no effort to hug me and kind of seemed a bit scared of me! The visit was friendly and pleasant; there was no real outpouring of emotion from either one of us, good or bad. Perhaps that will come later. Or maybe it won't. Too soon to tell.
    I know it is easy to say, but please hang on, I don't think there is anything you could have said or done that would have made it OK with your daughter, as opposed to anything else. It's a process that will take time. you don't deserve ANY castigation or reviling - you did your best, as we all do. I think with some time your daughter may come around, I realize it may not happen. But I am reading a lot, even on this thread, that I didn't really understand a few months ago, or even a few weeks ago. I read, but did not actually understand. But Lorraine and a few others above made very good points. The relationship starts out as, and I guess may always be, primal for our children. This surprised me as I thought it would amount to a conversation and a meeting of the minds. Perhaps that sounds naive.

    My son is not interested in Skype calls, emails, or even phone calls. He just wanted to see me in person. And so I went. Sadly some bad things were going on (and still are) so I was not able to see him very much. The bad things have nothing to do with our reunion or me, so I won't mention it.

    But Hyacynth, it seems (to me so far) that you should not spend a lot of time waiting for your daughter to decide she would like to know you - but I think it could happen, if she has some space and as she matures as life goes on. To our children, we must seem like martians from Mars, maybe a wicked witch, maybe just a big question mark. My hope is that we will become less of a question mark with time, and our children can have some peace of mind, which we can provide.

    My other son wants nothing to do with me and was not present for the reunion. With him it may take years, or may not ever happen. But I have some hope, and I want you to have hope also. I am thinking of you, as your advice above really helped a lot, more than you could have expected. I thought of you often during the visit, and since. I'm sorry it took me so long to respond, but it took awhile to think about what to say. Don't be so hard on yourself, you deserve respect and the love of your daughter, if she comes to a point where she feels it's a good idea to know you and can help her have a happier or fuller life.

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  28. I've been in reunion for over a year now, and I'm fed up with these websites telling us birth moms that we need to be superhuman and super strong for the sake of our full-grown "babies." I jumped through hoops because I let myself be influenced by this crap. Well guess what? This reunion is a lot more about ME than it is about him! I am the one with all the conscious memories, the one who was emotionally and socially abandoned, fed bullshit to by the father, etc. etc. Do you know how dumb I was at the start of my reunion? I even found the "birth father," (he was neither at the birth nor was he anything of a "father") because I felt obligated to emotionally take care of the young man I gave birth to. The social worker who found me, an adoptee herself, did not have the decency to counsel me as to what to expect in reunion, what it would be like for me. It was all about the adoptee. All about his needs. Well, screw that. Now, all these months later, I see that I need to put ME first. The adoptive mother promised to be the one to love him and take care of his emotional needs. And guess what, ladies. No matter how crappy she was or is at mothering, she was the one who was at least there for the adoptee. So no matter how ecstatic it begins, the adoptive parents win in the end, and you were just used as a pawn in the adoptee's game to make his adoptive parents jealous so that they will get closer to the adoptee. Reunions are NOT a good idea for birth mothers. Put your own emotional health first and do not allow yourself to be pushed around by other birth mothers telling you all the things you "owe" your child. I gave birth AFTER Roe vs. Wade. I owe NOTHING!

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  29. It's me again, Anonymous. I'm the same person who posted all of the anonymous comments on November 23rd. Thank you, Lorraine, for letting me vent. I really admire the fact that you went ahead and posted my comments, especially this last comment (!)

    Anyway, today I'm writing with a "cooler head," so to speak. I think my issue has been my confusion with my role in my b-son's life now that he has found me. Believe it or not, but in spite of my confusion and the trauma of being catapulted back into the past, he and I had a wonderful face-to-face meeting and have had a lot of great conversations as our personalities are so compatible. I think my problem is that I tried to be a mom to him, but taking on that role will only result in agony, I believe. Some adoptees and b-moms like to believe that a person can have two mothers, but I really don't agree. I know how this feels first-hand -- to try to take on any semblance of a mother role will only have me in an internal emotional conflict with his adoptive mother (who by the way he has never spoken poorly of. My previous comment was only meant to explain that even those a-moms out there who made huge mistakes will come first for the adoptee. This makes sense, because that mom is the one they can count on. I wasn't implying that my b-son's a-mom was a bad mom, so I just wanted to clarify that. Even though this is all anonymous, it didn't feel right knowing how that came across. On the other hand, I will never apologize for insulting his b-father. lol)

    A company can't have two CEO's, but it can have a multitude of employees. In the same way, I don't think a person can have two people they call "mom," but yet one mom can have a multitude of children. This is just the way it is, so that the authority figure (the mom) actually has the authority. It's not something that can really be shared. It's taken me a long time to realize this in my reunion, and I only came to that realization with a lot of kicking and screaming. I hate to admit it, but I think I resisted mainly out of pride or out of a sense of "vengeance." My attitude was: "Now I finally get something for all the hell I went through back then! I get to have all the glory and I get to be his mom (or at least a mom on equal footing with his a-mom)!"

    I think if we focus on what we lost many years ago and become angry and resentful, it just keeps on adding salt to the wound. I have to remember that I made the choice of adoption not only for my son, but for me as well. (Ultimately we all act in our own self-interest.) Was I given complete information about the possible effects of adoption on my son? No, I wasn't. Would it have changed my mind? I can't say. But I can say that I made the best choice possible in my situation with the information I had. I truly believe that. I made it because I did not want to live with the choice of abortion, although I don't judge any woman who takes that path. In fact, since my reunion, I've become pro-choice. Sounds awful, right? I don't regret my choice at all; I'm glad that I saw the pregnancy to its fruition. But since reunion, I have felt all of the feelings associated with adoption 100%, the feelings that I "numbed out" decades ago and for decades. For that reason, I believe that women should always be guaranteed the right to a legal and safe abortion, because their bodies are their own and if they don't want to suffer the pain of adoption, they should have that right.

    Of course, the best thing is to not even get a "bun in the oven" until you're really, really ready!

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    1. Honestly, since I went through so much with my daughter after a "good" reunion, I think you would find Hole in My heart, my memoir, enlightening and helpful as you navigate a new relationship with him. Good luck. The link is on the sidebar of the blog.

      I let you vent because I know how hard it is.

      Have a happy thanksgiving--at least you know where he is, and all the rest. Truth is always better than blankness.

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  30. You are so right, Lorraine. It is better to have the gift of knowing. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! God bless. xx

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    1. Anonymous, I like your posts and I like your candor. I'm very glad that Lorraine published your posts.

      Some of your comments reflect not completely, but generally, some of my own thoughts and worries about reunion. I'm not sure I'm 100% on board with this reunion, but I'm in at perhaps 95%, so that's very good. Still, I get so very emotionally tired since it's such a roller-coaster on my end (my thoughts), and sometimes I wish my son had never contacted me, life would be so much easier. If they all just disappeared, maybe I could relax. Or maybe not. It's hard to say.

      But yet, whatever my issues are, they are not his fault. As it happens, we live on opposite sides of the country and he is not interested in e-mailing or phone calls, so things are going slowly - but they are going. And that's good.

      Like you, I chose not to have an abortion and am glad I didn't. However, I don't want any young woman to go through what I went through, and I fully support a woman's right to choose. A long-standing dear friend of mine advised me to get an abortion of this son (back in the 70's). I considered it and decided not to, and she stopped speaking to me, and completely cut me off! I learned a good lesson about friendship from that experience. A friend is a friend, unless you don't take their advice on an important issue - then the friendship is over within a day. Family is family, unless you are facing difficulties and trouble. Then they are all gone and try to stay as far away as they can. That's one thing in life that is steady and predictable, and I learned not to depend on family in any way.

      Having said that, I am so glad that my son (and my older son) are in the world and walking around! That's the only thing that matters to me. I am having a lot of trouble and difficulty, I think because of shame - I was abusive to my children and cannot live with the person I used to be. I told my son I was abusive right from the start, as I assumed both my sons would remember everything, and I wanted to apologize and explain that there was a good reason why I placed them for adoption. As it happens, they don't remember any of it, and I'm glad for their sakes. Still, I feel that I have no right to be their mother, and I still get angry, and wish to want to take out my anger and sorrow on my son. I am not sure, from my own experience, that abusive parents can change. I have to be very careful what I say, and keep it light.

      I have not had any more children, and in fact have not even been able to have a pet around It took 12 years of therapy before I could say that this violent, abusive impulse was resolved and buried. It still manifests itself, in small ways, now and then. I am still in therapy and trying to keep it tamped down, if it cannot be fully resolved.

      Anonymous, I agree, it's better to know; sometimes the truth can be better than our fears, which can be darker than necessary. My sons were raised well by their adoptive parents and are both happy and healthy, with families of their own. We have been very lucky.

      Best wishes to you and I admire your plain speaking. There are a lot of things whirling around in a birth mother's head, some of them very bad, and it is not caused by their child or can be helped by their child. I say this if any adoptees are reading, your mother may have terrible issues which are beyond your scope, and please don't think they are caused by you or the fact that you were born. Your birth is a good thing, no matter what!

      As first mothers, we must try to improve our self-image as people, if possible. I have my doubts that it is possible, but am trying.

      Delete
  31. New and Old, and Anonymous, your comments speak volumes about the long-term psychid damage that giving up a child does--to us, the first /birth mothers! There's research to back this up too--we are not alone. I hope that others who are thinking about relinquishing their child--and goggling--should I give up my baby + adoption--will find their way to these comments.

    Everybody now should be able to make their own decision--unlike how we felt twenty. thirrty--fifty years ago--but no matter what, the hurt lingers on and on. You don't get out of here unscatched. You don't "put it behind you" and go on with your life.

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