' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Getting to Know You: Good Times with first mother leads to guilt about (adoptive) Mom

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Getting to Know You: Good Times with first mother leads to guilt about (adoptive) Mom

Lorraine and Jane at Rockefeller Center, 1982

Continuing the story. After our visit our Detroit over Christmas/New Year's break (link below), my found daughter, Jane came to visit me on Long Island. She arrived a day after her birthday, and would be visiting for more than a week. From Hole In My Heart, my memoir in progress.

Copyright Lorraine Dusky 2013
She’s never been to New York City, and so off we go. For three days and nights we are enthusiastic tourists, racing from the Empire State Building to the United Nations to Chinatown to the Statue of Liberty. We sprint off the first boat of the day from Battery
Park, and tacitly agree that if we are quick, we can be the first up the steps to the crown.

Walking as fast as we can without breaking into a run, we beat out another family with the same idea. Later we laugh over how silly are, but relish that we both came to a decision to get up those steps first without saying anything to the other. Dismiss it if you will, but this event is one that we will warmly return to often over the course of the years.

The reticent girl I’d met in Wisconsin is gone; this girl is chatty, fun, full of life and ready for adventure. We do not feel like strangers with each other. Our reactions to the sights and incidents of those days are in synch, as if we had been together since she was born.  She feels like the daughter she is. She is my daughter. 

We spend two nights on the roll-out couch of a friend—and we shop at Macy’s cavernous 34th Street store, on the lookout for clothes for her. Cool clothes. “From New York” clothes. We discover that we have similar taste in clothes: tailored and chic, isn’t that swell? We eat hot dogs on the street, and have our makeup done, about which she is as cool as if she’d done this a million times before, when it fact, it is a first for her.

Yet on the third day, guilt rolls in like a rainy day fog. It is the last day of our Manhattan excursion. We meet Tony with two shopping bags full of stuff, our faces courtesy of Clinque, done by the ladies at Macy's. She’s wearing one of her new outfits, black pants, a white cotton shirt with a tuxedo-styled bib, and a pin-striped vest and a black patent leather belt with a shiny buckle. Tony chose Benihana, the Japanese steak house where your own personal chef slices and dices and saut├ęs at the table because he thought she’d get a kick out of the flashing knives. We know she likes steak. We are going to see Evita on Broadway after dinner. It’s going to be a great night.

Not so fast. Jane is suddenly monosyllabic, nothing is amusing. Tony, who can pour on the charm like heavy cream, cannot break through her gloom. At the theater, same story. It is impossible to enjoy the show, as I steal sideways glances at her, hoping she wouldn’t notice. She enjoys nothing. She does not smile. She falls asleep on the long drive back to Sag Harbor, Tony shrugs, says not to worry; I don’t know what to think. Maybe she is merely tired.  

Later Jane would tell me that the days in Manhattan—in fact, the whole visit—had felt so joyful and comfortable, that now she felt intensely disloyal to her family back in Wisconsin. What’s wrong with her? She should be more aloof. She should not be enjoying herself this much with these people, with Lorraine! She loves her parents, doesn’t she? Mom is who she watches Little House on the Prairie with. And Mom, not Lorraine, has taken care of her through the seizures, been there, and where was Lorraine then?

But still. So why does this feel so right, why is she having such a good time, why does she feel so comfortable? And why does she feel like she is coming undone?

The next morning, Jane is her normal pleasant self.

Me? I am ecstatic pretty much the whole time, except of course when I am worried and I was only worried that one evening. I am someone from a deserted island brought back to civilization, wanting everything all at once, wanting everything to be like it might have been. I want the world to stop and rejoice. I am thrilled, excited, tense, wanting everything to be perfect. I am having such a great renaissance I do not even stop to think: What if. What if I’d kept her. 

Because, really, there is no answer for that. I had not kept her.
A first mother brings her daughter 'home' to meet 'Grandma'

Lucky Girl "Mei-Ling is different from many of the girls who were adopted in that she had a link to connect her with her birth family, if she chose to do so. She learned of Sister Maureen early on, when she was told the story of how she came to be adopted . When in her twenties, the nun who was almost a storybook like figure to her once again got in touch with the family to let them know that her birth family was interested in meeting.

What followed was the story of two families coming together, and bonding. Sometimes it was painful, other times loving, and there were times it was hilarious. There were brothers and sisters and a gentle birth mother. Her birth father was something of a conundrum. This is a wonderful book, about good people, families and love. I recommend it.
"--Kathleen Wagner, at Amazon

This is on my list, and it starts out very inviting. It came out in 2010, and is available in hard copy and for Kindle.--lorraine


  1. Ahh. This is resonating with me big time, even early in my reunion. So many emotional landmines. I can see now that, for better or for worse, I will forever straddle two worlds. Learning to navigate it is going to be a challenge.


  2. Terri:

    Yep. Unfortunately that is one of the side-effects of reunion: parent navigation. Sucks. Openness and Honesty is the best policy and hurts everyone the least in the long run. Yes, it seems to me that a lot of adoptive parents, however, cannot handle honesty, and how you handle that is up to you.

    I'm going to try to find time to write a follow up for the blog about this.

  3. An adoptive mom just recently forced her adopted 14-yr-old daughter to get pregnant, using a donor sperm.

    She had adopted 3 children, counting the 14-yr-old. She was prevented from adopting a 4th so created a plan to use her 14-yr-daughter as an incubator. It's all over the news. And this adoptive mother happens to be an American woman, living in the U.K.


  4. Yes, I saw this in the am, I just don't have the time right now to follow up on this. It is so sickening that I am pretty much speechless. How many, er, natural parents do you think might do something quite so sickening? The woman is deranged. And a forever family adoptive mother.

    This reminds me of Jane's blog a few posts ago:

    Adoptive parents encourage daughters to give up their babies

  5. Lorraine, at the beginning of our reunion I thought it would be best for my son to let his aps know about our reunion. Turns out, his refusal to let them know anything at all has been a huge blessing. He isn't being forced to choose (which he is absolutely certain will happen once his amom finds out) and isn't being browbeaten for details by adad. He's must more relaxed knowing that they don't have any clue.

    It's been squirrelly a few times, when he's in my home and his cell phone rings, but he's handling it the best way he knows how. Much to my shock and fury, they rarely call him so he doesn't have to fudge accuracy often.

    In some situations it's best for a newly reunited mother and adoptee to keep the APs out of it altogether, especially when the adoptee knows that the afamily will attempt to force a choice on the adoptee. As my son says, he doesn't ask their permission to have x or y as a friend, so why must he ask permission to know me, the woman who made him andhis many other family members--his brother and sister and grandparents and greatgrandparents, etc.

    He promises me that when they finally do discover his secret and try to force him to choose between us, he will refuse to choose and if given no alternative, he will NOT give up his mother, siblings, etc. I trust him but a small piece of me still worries.

  6. CaseyA:

    Your son is obviously doing what is right for him--and probably you! The having to chose option is terrible! and APs do themselves a great disservice--if they want to have an honest relationship with their child--when they force people into that. Stay cool, hope it never comes to that for you and him, and we are all rooting for you.

    My daughter was 15 and she and I had no choice. Obviously.



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