' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: When your reunion goes dark, it's best to not chase an illusion

Sunday, November 10, 2013

When your reunion goes dark, it's best to not chase an illusion


I lose things. Right now I am looking a pair of black leather gloves that I know for certain I had yesterday--a trip to the dentist, a stop at the thrift shop to peruse the books, a bakery to buy dog treats for the pooch of the host of last night's dinner party, No luck. Where are the gloves? I searched for them last night leaving the dinner party, but they could not be found--did I even have them when I left home?  I looked this morning in the car and on the street, but still they are not making their presence known. I have lost objects so often that I do this thing with numbers that might give me a clue as to their location; today it says that "much effort will have to be exerted" if the lost object is to be found. It also hinted they might yet be found at the host's home but so far the phone has not rung telling me so.

Last month it was my prescription glasses I lost. After searching high and low, after my husband did the same, I replaced them. Two weeks later they showed up on the ground outside where I had bent over to pull up English ivy that has been choking the hydrangea. I wasn't looking for them, yet there they were. Maybe it will be the same with the gloves. They were only bought last fall, they were not the kind you wear all winter, and so had plenty of life in them. I'm hoping, that like so many objects in my past, they show up when I am not looking for them. Some times things do; sometimes they do not. Nothing can be predicted.

From the good days....

As I was rummaging through coat pockets and looking under the bed this morning, I thought about a comment someone left recently at an earlier post: "When people push us away our automatic action is often to chase after them, but chasing people is usually just chasing an illusion. Stop chasing, the people that are meant to be in your lives don't need to be chased." Think of relationships someone broke off with your for whatever reason: demanding that the individual see you again, or otherwise respond to your entreaties--just made him or her retreat further. Or turn it around and remember when you broke up with someone--the individual was "too needy," in response to your ability to give to that person, or you weren't comfortable around them anymore, and when they came with flowers or phoned or emailed, you retreated even more.


For us reunited first mothers, it is like that with our children once lost to adoption--yes, our adult sons and daughters. Whether they will or will not stay in contact is largely--most often entirely--beyond our control. Just like with other relationships, this one has the same basic parameters, even though we are mothers who wanted reunion hope that they will never again be "lost" to us. Alas, it often doesn't work out that way. 

My daughter Jane and I reunited when she was fifteen, with her adoptive parents blessing. At sixteen, she visited us for two weeks in the summer, and the next year, she came for the whole summer. This was her choice, and based on that, I imagined that she would never purposely walk away from me. But she did. Three or four times, sometimes for a few months, once for more than a year. Sometimes we might have had a mild disagreement, but she could take umbrage if I so much as expressed displeasure at something she did and shut down completely. Other times, my daughter's silence was totally in reaction to something her adoptive mother said, as I related in an previous post. Her own daughter, as a teenager, told me one time her mother announced: We are never going to be in touch with Lorraine again. Her daughter didn't believe her then, because she had witnessed the on-and-off switch before.
What I recognize now is that nothing I did could make her come back to me. It happened on her schedule. I could apologize for things that did not seem that I should apologize for, and she would still ignore me. Or there might be absolutely no clue why she had cut me out of her life. She was totally in control of whether or not we would be like mother and daughter, or not. If she didn't want to be in touch, my phone calls and emails went unanswered; once a letter I sent to my granddaughter then under eighteen and living at home with her mother and step-father, was returned with a foreboding red stamp on the front: Under a pointing finger with "RETURN TO SENDER" several reasons are given for the mailman to check: "Refused." Let me tell you, that kind of message does focus your attention. The letter said nothing of the split between me and her mother, but she wouldn't know that. I was worried that if Jane cut me out of her life, I would lose any contact with my granddaughter, who had also spent summers with me and my husband. I didn't try to write her or otherwise contact her, because any entreaty from me would almost certainly also be "refused." I gave up.

But some months later she  phoned. Out of the blue. "How are you?" she began the conversation after I said hello, as if there had been no break in our relationship at all. What we first mothers who have lived through such vicissitudes of a reunited relationship have to accept is that we can't control this relationship any more than we can make a lover who has left us return. We can't force it. A relationship takes two people. If only one comes to the party, there's no relationship. "The people that are meant to be in your lives don't need to be chased."


As some of you know, my daughter Jane also relinquished a daughter for adoption, and after my daughter's death, I was able to connect with her. She visited in our home;  after that we had a phone and email connection that she seemed to find as gratifying as I did. Then she decided to seek out her father. Something snapped after that, and within a couple of months she simply stopped responding to an email. I bugged her with a few more emails over the next couple of weeks until I got one telling me to leave her alone as she was "in a good place." I was not willing to be dropped for no reason of mine this time, and I'm glad I pushed her to respond, to actually tell me I was being dumped. Maybe I felt differently because I had not given birth to her or given her up for adoption--in fact, when her father wanted to keep her, I sided with him as much as I could without alienating my daughter. I had been through this before too many times, and now I was not willing to replay the scene. Adoptees feelings may be raw and tumbled, as someone else wrote, but simple politeness--an email that stated that she needed some space for a while--would have been, well, polite. Then I wouldn't have felt it necessary to keep "chasing" her to get a response. 

Now I think of her as Jane's distant daughter who doesn't want a relationship. She either said or wrote, You can't force family. Of course in one way, she is still a part of my family, and I am in hers. That's a tie of life, of blood, that cannot be cut, but the emotional pull of her in my life has receded. I opened up myself to her (so then I could be hurt), I made a mistake at the blog in a comment once (don't ask, not telling and repeating it), she didn't let me know she was upset until she was saying "go away." I have. As for my daughter, for those of you who don't know, she died of her own hand in 2007. We were in a good place when she died; I miss her dearly. The anniversary of her death is next month. 


Though I have been writing as a first mother for first mothers and fathers, of course I am so very aware that some of them have cut off relationships with their reunited sons and daughters for reasons that are as inexplicable as the ones when my daughter temporarily disappeared down a rabbit hole. We've heard from many rejected adoptees and I still find it stunning and amazing what some first parents do, and how much pain they inflict. Reunions are impossible for some. Like us, you can't force a relationship with a mother or father who doesn't want one. I know your hurt is real and raw and never-ending. It's the other side of the coin, the yin versus yang, heads versus tails. Both kinds of shutdowns, both kinds of rejections, hurt. The best you can do for yourself is to step back and stop chasing. Take care of yourself. But the loss of this relationship is due to the limitations of the other party.

An adoptee wrote on Facebook the other day that it was his mother's 84th birthday, but he hadn't been invited to celebrate with her and his siblings. All I could think was that it would have been such a simple, and generous, gesture to include him, and would have meant the world to him. Why are humans so brutal to each other? It's a question for which there are no real answers, only more questions.  Of course, families that have not been broken by adoption have some of the same problems. But I am talking here about the special and frequent bumps in the road of what starts out as a good reunion. 

Should my lost granddaughter ever come back, like my lost gloves, if will be a surprise. But I have stopped looking for them. And I have stopped chasing an illusion.--lorraine

UPDATE: The gloves were located on the lawn in front of the house of our hosts Saturday night. A bit soggy but they will dry out. This morning the host emailed me. As for the rest....time will tell.
Contacting your (adopted-out) adult child when they have gone away
When a birth parent writes a will....
Part 5: Why did my daughter walk away? All is revealed.'

Adoption and Recovery: Solving the Mystery of Reunion 
By Evelyn Robinson
For anyone struggling to understand what drives those who have been separated from family members by adoption to seek them out later in life and the issues that arise in reunions. Highly Recommended. 


  1. Adoptees don't chose that status. We don't ask for our parents to sign us away or to be abused to the point that CPS terminates their rights.

    When a birthparent walks away (as hard as it may be you are adult making a choice) you leave a child/infant to deal with it.

    When a birthparent reappears most don't do as Lorraine did and talk to the adopters. Most just barge in "I'm Here to heal the primal wound I created"

    Of course its not easy for anyone. Adoption is the gift that keeps on giving. At some point though the parent who chose adoption in the first place has to take that call when the adopted away person is ready to make it, even if she refused delivery of letters before.

  2. Lorraine, this happens with kids and their parents who never gave them away for adoption too. Especially in the teen years. I think adoptees though have more pressure on them from adoptive parents and their own feelings of being rejected. And I also think having problems with a child a firstmother gave away for adoption seems more frustrating because many firstmothers feel guilty. Both adoptees and firstmothers have demons they must deal with, but the ultimate answer I think is that they both must forgive. Themselves and each other before any successful relationship could ever exist.

  3. Also, did you look under the driver's or passenger seat in your car? It is amazing what people find under them sometimes lol.

  4. Anonymous, I was going to add that--kids walk away, some kids and parents don't speak to each other. For years.

    I will add that reference in the post.

  5. LOL, right, I did look this morning under the car seats, and in the "glove"compartment, etc. Still nothing. I will let you all know if they appear.

  6. Lo, thank you so much for sharing the experiences you had over the 25+ years in reunion with your daughter. It helps me much more than you will ever know. My son, who is now 41, has severed our 23-year-long face-to-face reunion. His behavior and words are reprehensible and terribly mean-spirited. And I feel like such a failure at times. It helps me know that you struggled with some of the same issues with Jane.

    To be perfectly honest, I don't know if I'll be willing to ever let him back into my life. I'm getting too old for this shit, and I just don't want to keep letting him be abusive to me. Knowing me, though, I'll most likely just suck it up and let him do it all over again. Sigh...

  7. How sad to consider walking away or the idea to 'stop chasing illusions'. Horrible, damaging advice in my opinion. We need to learn to comfort our inner child and stop reacting with immaturity and become the reasonable, responsible, mature adults we are meant to be.

    We need to understand that there is no rejection in reunion but rejection of the pain. We can become insightful enough to figure out that it is our ego that makes us 'stop chasing illusions', it is childish and wrong. It is sad that we can become so damaged, selfish and ego driven that we believe we are diminished in any way if we keep reaching out. Where is the harm in letting people know we're thinking of them, miss them, love them even when we know they may not acknowledge us, back? It is the truth that we miss and love them and are we so fragile to not speak it? It is the child inside that requires ego validation.

    Can we not have compassion and empathy that the one that goes silent may be acting childish and rise above that? Don't we have a duty to understand there may be regression and not place such blame and condemnation on them?

    Mothers, adoptees, please don't give in to such immature and insensitive behaviours. You aren't diminished in being honest and sending the occasional simple 'I love you'. Can our silent one ever hear it enough? Let's start trying to become the mature adult and stop seeking such base ego validation.

    When moms stop trying they are effectively telling their children we are ready to abandon you all over again, it's your fault that you aren't ready, we blame you for not miraculously knowing better, you aren't worth the effort. No wonder such horrible outcomes happen.

    Mothers, do the work, start healing that inner child and stop thinking it's all about you. Keep reaching out, keep telling your children you love them, aren't going anywhere and you'll be amazed at what could happen. Yes, it is sad when they don't respond but it is much more sad to leave you child with the impression and actions that indicate you don't care and they aren't worth the effort. Give in to that inner child and act like a child at your peril.

  8. Buck Wheat, please read a previous post--Contacting your (adopted-out) adult child when they have gone away

    One is always free to send a card, make a phone call (I did on occasion) but for those of us who send a greeting, and hope for a response, there are only so many times it is worth doing, because to do it leaves us--that is, anyone--dangling as we hope for a response. One time someone very young said to me: Why hope for something when I know I am not going to get it? That just makes it worse.

    There comes a time when we have to stop beating up on our ourselves. When my daughter did not want to be in touch, reaching out to her just made the waiting worse.

  9. Buck Wheat, when you have been in a face-to-face reunion with your son for years and years...not just contact via email or Facebook...then you can lecture me. I have always been there for my son, ever since his adoptive parents contacted me in 1986 when he was turning 14 years of age. I gave up EVERYTHING to move back to my hometown so it would be easier to forge our relationship when he turned 18. He's now 41 and back in his addiction to crystal methamphetamine. I will not allow him to continue using me as some sort of whipping post. He's not a helpless little boy - he's a grown man who has had his mother back in his life for many, many years.

  10. Lorraine, yes, I did read that post.

    Raven, I'm glad to see you've taken some time off your perch at adoption.com - the leader of kool-aid pushers. That you want to take every comment of mine personally is quite a compliment although I'm not interested in why you are so insecure.

    I hate Dr. Phil with a passion but this is apropo 'how's that working for you?' I'm smart enough to listen and hopefully learn from others' experience and mistakes. It is clear this approach hasn't worked for Lorraine with her daughter nor her granddaughter. CLEARLY. Yes, it may soothe our immature inner child but at what cost?

    That we aren't grown up enough to put our own feelings aside and think of others is sad. It isn't right but it is understandable. That we may be too damaged to do the healing inner work to the point that we can deal effectively with our feelings when we don't get a response is understandable too.

    Follow the advice in this article? Hell no - it didn't work for Lorraine why would it work for anyone else? Maybe we feel a little better for shutting ourselves off but that's not a way I choose to live. If condemning and blaming the adoptee for their inability to deal with their pain and act the way you want them to works for you, great. Doesn't look like it from here, but as long as you feel better about it - cool.

  11. Oh, I forgot to mention, Raven;

    My son and I have a face to face reunion. We've spent time in each others' homes, vacationed in Europe together, speak regularly, and yes FB plays a big part of our communication.

    It is exactly because I didn't heed the type of advice in this article that his silence was broken and we're back on track :) I followed the advice of those that have good reunions.

  12. Your latest entry about chasing an illusion-It struck me hard but having difficulty expressing all the pieces. My mother broke off the reunion for good in Dec.1997 (told everyone that I had broken if off)- after she briefly stopped it in Feb. 1997- after we had just met 1 Sept. 1996- I had tons of grief that needed to be processed- probably still do. I had tried to give space but my heart kept saying that I need to send a card or flowers or a donation on her birthday to keep lines open & let her know that I was still here and ready to work on our relationship. When I was quite ill between 2006-2010 & needed med. history- she refused multiple times- My postman, Ricky- was baffled by the amount of red-refused stamped letters he had to deliver back to my house during those years since I was writing her and her family asking for help. Later- in my anger about being denied health information & the stress of being sick, I did resort to emailing her & her family with pleas, links to adoption blogs, adoption posts, & information about myself like that FB note sharing “25 things about yourself”- in hopes that something would seem familiar to them (for then they may be able to see me as a deserving human being and possibly accept me as part of their family). Then, the need for the health information would sink in. Nothing ever did and I never got any response besides saying these emails are blocked. The entire family ignored (rejected) me, my mother, aunts, uncles, first cousins.
    One therapist continue to suggest that I was chasing after something that didn't have the possibility of existing- ie. you can't have a relationship if only one side shows up. I like the wording of illusion better. This type of chase is emotionally exhausting for me. It struck me that over all these years- I have had a certain vision in my head of a woman and what she was like and what our relationship would be like- unfortunately, I don't believe the woman in my vision actually exists- more of a combination of what I had hoped for than what is reality. Yet, still the hardest part is to let go completely and consider it all lost so another year, another batch of flowers on her birthday with my card “my continued best to you.”

  13. @Buckwheat:

    "Mothers, do the work, start healing that inner child and stop thinking it's all about you. Keep reaching out, keep telling your children you love them, aren't going anywhere and you'll be amazed at what could happen. Yes, it is sad when they don't respond but it is much more sad to leave you child with the impression and actions that indicate you don't care and they aren't worth the effort. Give in to that inner child and act like a child at your peril."

    In other words, be a door mat? We know it is "not all about us". I for one don't need to be told that but allow yourself to be dehumanized and degraded, over and over again is NOT the answer.

    After many years of not knowing if my own child was dead or alive thanks to the actions of the selfish people who raised him, I found him when he came of age and was treated with suspicion, coldness and apathy, by all of his adoptive family, including my own child.

    The people I trusted to honor me and our agreement all those years ago turned my son into a shell of a human being, who could not do anything without them hounding and hovering over him, including having a relationship with myself and his other family members. The whole thing sickened and disgusted me to the point where is was impossible to keep trying, for my own sanity and health.

    Let this be a cautionary tale to any young, vulnerable woman who is contemplating the same fate, especially an "open adoption". Don't be so trusting of people you choose who smile in your face and tell you how much they care about you and the potential relationship you and your child may have in the future. Most adoptive parents don't want that after they make off with your child. They want it all for themselves and will do anything in their all encompassing power to make sure it does not happen, regardless of that they tell you while you are pregnant.

  14. Buck Wheat, I respect your point of view on this matter, but you see, pulling back and not repeatedly contacting my daughter when she did not want me in her life did work for me. One time I hesitantly called her on her birthday because our break was more or less by unspoken but mutual agreement. She had been living with me and my husband and making our lives--especially his--holy hell when she left our home. Nearly a year later when her birthday came around, I reluctantly called and it was good that I did. That was once, and after nearly a year of silence between us.

    Other times any entreaties of mine were met with deafening and defeating silence. Apologies, emails, phone messages all had gone unanswered. It was mentally unhealthy to metaphorically keep banging my head against that wall. How to make the hurt less? Stop contacting her and hoping for a response. No matter how much hurt was inflicted by the initial adoption, continuing to send out greetings--hello I'm here, this is another opportunity to ignore me, go right ahead, hit me again--was way too emotionally damaging to my own mental health and peace of mind. I was crying enough as it was before I came to a place where I could be calm. Eventually, she would call, out of the blue. But as I said, I had been the doormat often enough. I got tired of that, and I now, as a grandmother--not her mother--I am not willing to go through that again.

    You see, leaving my granddaughter alone does work. She doesn't want to be in touch with me. So we are not. A relationship works two ways or there is no relationship.

    Perhaps it is different being a grandmother--and not the mother who gave her up--perhaps it is different at this stage of my life. I have made peace with the status quo. My last email to her said that I would still be here if she changed her mind. Admittedly, the length of time that has gone by has created emotional distance--which is good for my mental health. I don't want to spend another Christmas season crying, as I did the first year. Someone wished me Merry Christmas in the supermarket the day before Christmas Eve and I burst into tears. I don't want to do that again. My granddaughter and I were both hurt by adoption. Now we both need to treat each other with respect. Basically telling me to f%*k off did not do that.

  15. .....how many times must mothers ( or fathers ) slam their heads against the brickwork? I refuse to hold myself responsible for another adults choices.......I cant change what has happened but I do expect a semblance of decorum....I do expect not to be held hostage over a situation that was totally out of my control.
    My door is always open but to make it work you must stop using emotional blackmail.
    I am getting too old now....I need some peace before I die....

  16. Kathleen Moran,from IndianapoilsNovember 11, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    Thank you, Lorraine . I've been in reunion since 2006, and the last 4 years chasing. I'm tired and weary. Under any other circumstances, I would have walked away a long time ago. The first few years we got together at least once a year due to the long distance and her work schedule. Then all of a sudden, things went sour. I have a number of chronic illnesses and can't take this kind of stress without it greatly affecting my health. I'm weary and tired. I'm ready to ask her if she has any interest in keeping the relationship, if one could call it that?, going.

  17. My mother says I'm abusive also, but I honestly don't know what she means. I would never intentionally abuse my mother. I love her very much, and wish with all my heart that we could be mother and daughter again.

    I did speak about my lonely childhood and adoption pain. My parents faked my death, and I wondered what happened to unclaimed stillborn babies back in 1962. I researched and found out they were buried in mass graves on a lonely island in the big city where I was born.

    I shared this information with my mother, and she reacted violently. I guess that was a mistake, but my pain overwhelmed me and clouded my judgement.

    I had a disagreement with my father's sister, and my mother told me that I was a horrible person to tell my aunt that I was hurt by her actions, and that I would never contact her again.. My mother told me it was as if I went to my aunts house and chopped her up with a machete.

    Mom screamed at me over the phone. I think these are the abuses she speaks of.

    Are the things I've done abusive? Many mother say they are tired of being abused, but what do they mean? How do your children abuse you?

    My mother expects forgiveness for leaving me, but she is incapable of forgiving me. My birthday is day after tomorrow. I got nothing from my family last year, but I still have hope.

    Sometimes hope is the worst thing of all.

  18. adoptomuss, your comments always are so sad, your situation is awful and I know a Happy Birthday from a stranger like me is sweet but not what you need to heal. I don't understand why you need forgiveness, you have done nothing wrong. Both first mothers and the adopted need to take care of themselves and not take abuse. Like I said, hope can hurt more not having hope and chasing what cannot be. I remember one year before I knew where my daughter was--when I was worried I might never know her--my boy friend at the time, said, don't spend the day in mourning, let us go out to dinner and make a toast her. We did. I know it sounds stranger, but his words were able to change the whole tenor of the day.

    Your situation is different but you do need to stop beating up yourself. Move on without them. And Happy Birthday too.

  19. Buckwheat said: "Raven, I'm glad to see you've taken some time off your perch at adoption.com - the leader of kool-aid pushers. That you want to take every comment of mine personally is quite a compliment although I'm not interested in why you are so insecure."

    Buckwheat - no idea who you are but two comments...

    Raven has helped so many people over the years because she has grace, and, a way of listening and hearing behind the message. At least she is there for the newbies like I was once, and, to educate others in a way they can hear it...

    Why the need to target Raven who has managed to ensure she still is there for those who need her?

    Apparently, you go to a.com to read...why would you go there if you feel such a disdain for the place?


    Lorraine - good post - there is no reason for people to beat themselves up when "they" didn't do anything. You (general you) have to protect yourself first and foremost and adoption causes such a rift - what should have been - what was. Sometimes it can never be reconnected and sometimes both sides want it - but it just can't be done. No one's fault - it just is. Life just is and we all just muddle along.

  20. Today is Veterans Day and I would like to ask all of the readers of FMF to contact South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley, and ask her to Support Veteran Dusten Brown by dropping the excessive charges brought against him in the state of South Carolina."



  21. @ anonymous:

    'as hard as it may be you are adult making a choice'.


    At 16, in the 1970s, dependent both emotionally and financially on my mother who said she'd find a crying baby irritating (not a crime, but I NEVER wanted my newborn baby to feel like a pest), and kept unaware of any state help by social workers who remained tight-lipped despite my clear need and my entitlement to it,I believed - through constant repetition by those in trusted and powerful positions - that the only way my baby could be happy was for him to be adopted by a married couple.

    The thing about the constant reference to the idea of 'choice' is that it removes any politic or context from a situation, and places the full weight of an unjust system and skewed social engineering policy onto the individual. Most often that individual is socially powerless.

    If anyone's not taking responsibility, it's those with power in society who reap the benefits of such immoral social forces while describing the actions of those cornered into the resulting terrible places as a 'choice' of theirs. Nice.

  22. Cherry, thank you for your response. I was surprised it took so long for someone to react to the statement you picked out. Jane and I don't feel we should respond to everything, but hope our readers will. She and I were both older when we gave up our children, but neither of us felt we, in the context of the mores and pressures of the time, had any real "choice." Of course I kick myself for not thinking I did... as my baby's father was telling me that I did not.

  23. Thanks for the Happy Birthday wish. It actually helps a lot. My 30th wedding anniversary is this month too!

    I have a wonderful family that I made, so I wouldn't be alone anymore. It worked, and they help me cope with my losses.

    It's not sympathy I want, but empathy. It's nice to get it sometimes.

  24. Man, I so understand that about empathy, not pity or "sympathy." We want an acknowledgment of our pain, not pity. We are stronger than wanting to be pitied. It's something outsiders don't understand.

  25. 'Man, I so understand that about empathy, not pity or "sympathy." We want an acknowledgment of our pain, not pity. We are stronger than wanting to be pitied. It's something outsiders don't understand. '

    Couldn't agree more, Lorraine. Thanks for putting it into words.

  26. Thanks for this, Lorraine. I searched and found my now 31 year old daughter about 9-10 years ago and made a passive attempt to reach her via an alumni bulletin board. She did reach out to that post and we had a few very brief and for me ultimately disappointing, emails between us. She was very strong in her need to not have any contact between us and when I did try to reach out on birthdays, etc. I was asked to please NOT make any other attempts to contact, so I have not....it breaks my heart daily, but I have always felt it would need to be her choice. It is like any other unrequited love...it hurts like hell! I say I am now at the intersection of acceptance and hope.....I accept her choice and hope she someday changes her mind....

  27. Let me preface this by saying that I know this statement will not be generally appreciated.....

    With that being said, here goes:

    For me ( and I stress only for ME) going into reunion and the subsequent roller coaster ride it entails, was easier because I approached it in the mindset that I was not truly my daughter's Mom. Her Mother, yes.....but not the one who raised her, held her tight during the adolescent storms, instilled values and guided her into adulthood. I just wasn't.

    I could rage, scream of the injustice, pass blame to anyone and everyone willing to take a dose, but I don't.

    Instead I offered just myself with no expectations or illusions. I offered what I could; my friendship, family/medical background and even a form of unconditional love.

    Our relationship is not great; I don't blame her, myself or her family. It simply is what it is.

    It may change one day, flourish or diminish, but I will remain, eager & willing for contact & a relationship, but not feeling entitled to it.

    I suppose if there were one piece of advice I would give: meet them where they are at. If it's the crossroads between anger and blame, then accept it, without internalizing it. If it's open arms/forgiveness, then all the better. Understand and expect it may change and you may never know the rationale. Take from others what they have learned along the way, without expecting it to go exactly like that for yourself.

    Be at peace,


  28. Disagree with this. Yes two people are needed for a relationship. But it was never an adoptee's choice to be adopted. So everyone in the relationship need to be adults, face facts, and talk to each other. Why do adoptees have to be punished for being born?


  29. Liz said: (respectfully snipped)
    I was asked to please NOT make any other attempts to contact, so I have not....it breaks my heart daily, but I have always felt it would need to be her choice. It is like any other unrequited love...it hurts like hell! I say I am now at the intersection of acceptance and hope.....I accept her choice and hope she someday changes her mind....

    Me too, Liz, me too... (re bold)

  30. Christina, what are you disagreeing with?

    I agree--as does the original post--with what you say. A relationship between two people takes two people. I am merely suggesting that continuing to hope for something that may never happen is a sign of mental health.

    Yes, it was never an adoptee's choice to be adopted--so? Many first mothers never had a choice either.

  31. "Yes, it was never an adoptee's choice to be adopted--so? Many first mothers never had a choice either."

    That is not entirely true. As an adoptee I had no say whatsoever in what happened to me. While my mother did not have a choice in adoption being the only outcome for our situation, she did have a choice in whether or not she would have a sexual relationship with my father when they were not married. She knew full well that he had no intention of marrying her, or anyone else for that matter. I was conceived from a consensual relationship not rape. My mother also knew how the culture viewed out of wedlock pregnancy.

    She has asked my forgiveness for her poor judgment in this regard. That made all the difference in the world to me. And helped our reunion as well.

  32. Christina needs to listen to the speech given by PM Julia Gillard. The same exact shit happened in the U.S. (Presuming that is where Christina is from).

  33. Buck Wheat, thanks for your post. It has given me very valuable food for thought.

    Robin, thank you too. I have apologised profoundly to my son for having him adopted, but I hadn't thought to apologise to him for conceiving him (if I have understood you correctly). I have very mixed feelings about your post, and need to think about it more, but am very glad you posted it.

    I can see that conceiving him while I was in no real position to mother him was irresponsible. However, it has never crossed my mind to apologise to him for his actual existence as he is so treasured by me and many members of his original family (my parents feelings are unknown on this as they are still swamped in a great deal of denial). But maybe he doesn't feel the same gladness at his existence that we do. That thought saddens me deeply.

  34. Re first Anonymous post..

    This research article is enlightening:
    The Culture of Poverty and Adoption: Adoptive Parent Views of Birth Families'.

    Here's a snippet:

    "Adoptive parents portrayed birth parent relinquishment or placing of children as a choice. The focus on birth parent choice puts the onus on individual birth parents for their circumstances without taking into account larger structural factors that shape that decision (such as lack of financial stability due to lack of access to quality jobs) or cultural norms that limit birth control options or the ability of single women to raise children. Rothman (2005) argues that the focus on birth parent choice neglects the fact that everyone involved, except the adopter, does not have a lot of options to choose from. "


    " As indicated by the findings of this paper, the focus on choice may stem in part from how agencies portray birth parents."

    Here's the link to the full article:


  35. I was too hasty in a previous comment when it ended with "so?" It came off as too glib. What I should have said--and what I meant--was--Yes, it was never an adoptee's choice to be adopted--but when we first families meet them as adults and hope for some kind of rapprochement, does the initial act of their birth and adoption give bad behavior and continual rejection (while mothers continually try for acceptance) a free pass? Let us accept that their emotions in dealing with their natural mothers and fathers is extremely complicated--adoptees have written how they feel like very young children in regards to their first parents--but at what point does bad behavior become untenable? First mothers have been horribly damaged too, so the whole situation is fraught with the possibility of failure in understanding. But no one--mother or child--should have to continue to stay in a relationship, or continually try to have a relationship, when the other party is absent, disrespectful or outwardly hurtful.

    I totally understand apologizing without caveats simply because the child--the adult child--has been adopted and not raised in her or his natural family--once. It's a situation over which he or she had no control.

    First parents, and parents whose children were not adopted, typically withstand more bad behavior from their children because--because that is the way it is. Parents are geared to protect and forgive their children, more than children are infused with the same innate feelings towards their parents--adopted or not. But at some point, everyone, whether in the parent or child role, needs to take care of themselves and protect their own mental health.

    That is what I meant.

    Since every situation has many nuances, in what is a very complicated situation, it is difficult to cover everything in every blog and comment. Please give us some forbearance.

  36. Lorraine,

    Did you mean to say that natural parents and families where adoption has not taken place suffer more instances of bad behaviors at the hands of their children and are more accepting and tolerant of it? Did you mean to suggest or infer that they are also more protective and forgiving?

    That just simply cannot be said, not by you or anyone. No one can know the depths of love, devotion, protectiveness and forgiveness another can have - yes, even Adoptive parents are capable of those things in a mighty big way.

    To imply otherwise is simply erroneous and harkens back to that old argument that adoptive parents also cannot "love" their child in the same way. Baloney!

    If anything I believe my parents (yes, I am adopted ) were even more fiercely accepting, protective and tolerant of me than parents of my non adoptive friends. They were so grateful to have me, their love and devotion knew no bounds. I don't say that to brag, merely to state how I felt growing up - utterly cherished.

    Please don't suggest otherwise or cast such a wide exclusive net.

    If in fact that was not your intention, then I withdraw my comment but not my intent.


  37. No, Jade, I only meant that some of the same kind of behaviors that are hard to deal with (rejection, silence) happen in families not broken by adoption. They happen in adoptive families too. Sometimes first mothers like myself who did not have other children we raised have a vision of unbroken relationships are pure, loving, no major problems, et cetera, when of course that is not true! I was always willing to accept my daughter back--and I did when she returned and I always would have. She was my daughter, and I knew she had been hurt by being adopted. I also would like to make clear that we were together way more than we were distant, by a factor of about 20. Or more.

    The original post was directed to both first mothers and adoptees who sit on the edge of their emotions every day hoping to hear from their children or mothers and fathers, some of whom will never make contact. Eventually, it is better to stop hoping for something that is not going to happen. It is simply healthier. This post has stirred up a lot of controversy, from one person who thinks, as far as I can tell, that I am telling people not to be receptive to their children after a period of silence, or periodically contact them if we feel like it. That's not what I am saying at all. But some people simply find it too hard to send a birthday card, say, to someone who, year after year, never responds. NEVER. When my granddaughter told me to go away, I responded to her charges and told her that I would be open to her always. She has not chosen to get in touch. So be it. And now, a few years later, I no longer expect her to. She got the information she wanted, and face to face questions answered--she was here a week--and doesn't want more. So be it. She said said was in a good place. All right. That place does not include me.

    I have also heard from several first mothers who are glad to know they are not the only ones who feel they cannot keep waiting for the phone to ring, the email to arrive, etc. As the commenter from an earlier blog said, the people who were meant to be in your life will be. We stay open to our children, but if they slam the door, how long do we stand there knocking without getting a response? It's great if they come back, but in the meantime, emotionally we have to mentally shut down the hope, walk away from that slammed door, and get on with our lives.

  38. I would change "people meant to be in our lives will be" to "people who WANT to be in our lives will be." It is a matter of choice on the other person's part, once we make an overture to them. "Meant to be" implies a kind of predestination that neither party has any agency over.

    It is certainly hurtful and depressing when a family member we very much want to know wants nothing to do with us; I know, I was there for many years and I did not appreciate anyone saying this was "meant to be" any more than the surrender was meant to be as some cosmic lesson or divine bad joke.

    We are all in such different situations and dealing with different personalities. That my son eventually came around is good for me, but does not say anything about anyone else. Sometimes hope is justified, sometimes it is futile and even self-destructive. Not all reunions can be condensed into a simple formula. As was said we all have to do what we have to do to survive and go on.

  39. This post strikes a chord with me - and I am heavy-hearted as I write this. I am not a natural mother. Nonetheless, as a foster mother who has maintained contact with my much-beloved former foster daughter Nina (now 7 years old) and her mother Rayna, I have been in the vulnerable position of depending on Rayna for the contact to happen. When she contacts me, I am joyful. When weeks go by and there is no contact, I feel a void. And during those "empty" periods, I numb my mind and keep going, of course - it is all you can do.

    Except right now. In the past several weeks, after years of steady, loving and positive contact, I sensed Rayna was withdrawing. She mentioned feeling stressed out, she lost her job, I could tell all was not well. I offered our help, repeatedly, and the offers were refused. Instead, what I would get after our meetings were anxious e-mails assuring me that she was holding it together and was not a bad mother.

    I wondered about these e-mails. Rayna cares about Nina's well-being deeply, she has shown a consistent ability to be a good mother to her, and I have told her that at every possible opportunity.

    It took me a while to figure out that what might be happening is in her stressed out state, she is worried that if she admits to any weakness, I will find a reason to report her to Child Protective Services as an unfit or neglectful mother - and adopt Nina. As someone who once accepted her daughter as a prospective adoptive placement because because she, Rayna, was unable to take care of her, why would she not think that I might use this opportunity to regain custody of Nina? I wish I could convince her that is the farthest thought from mine and my husband's minds, but I doubt she would believe it. After six years of knowing one another, I am hurt that she would not be more trusting of us, but I also understand her position.

    A few days ago, I received an e-mail from Rayna saying she and Nina are now homeless. Our home and our support have again been refused and I am sick with heartbreak and worry. I have no way of contacting her - no phone, no home address, just an e-mail that I hope she is still somehow accessing. I send her periodic e-mails telling her that I know she and Nina will pull through this time together and to please accept our help in the meantime.

    There is nothing more that I can do, it is up to Rayna now. If it simply was a matter of her being angry at me or rejecting me for lack of trust or a multitude of other possible issues, I would swallow my hurt and put up a wall of survival. But I think of how these two people whom I love are out there with possibly no shelter, possibly unsafe, and it truly is a crippling anxiety that I cannot move past.

  40. Oh Jay, I am so sorry about this turn of events. I know how stressed out you must be.

    Maryanne, you are right about the words. Want is a better word, though I am somewhat of a long-term fatalist. If a person wants to be in your life, I suppose we could say she or he was "meant" to be. But I get your point.

    Every relationship is different, everyone is different.

    I do miss my daughter. I was in a thrift shop today and I must have seen something that reminded me of her, and I was aware that...I could not call or email her. We discussed sports (certainly we would have talked about the mess in Miami with the Dolphins, she watched football), cooking, politics, family life, movies, and what she was reading, especially when she was taking a women's lit course. Usual stuff. The same stuff I talked to my mother about. It was good.

  41. Jade, I think I figured out what you were asking: I will answer with a rather crude comment that a young man once said after he had a child: They have you by the balls. Meaning: No matter what happens, you always (okay, in general here) accept, protect, care for your offspring. They are the next generation, and keep the world going. But offspring--any kind, kept, adopted out, adopted in--do not have that same depth of emotional response. I think this is basic psychology 101, animal behavior etc. Most parents--all parents, all kinds, have a built-in mechanism to protect; the kids eventually have to be free. And then the cycle starts over when they have offspring. That is the basic outline of life.

  42. Jay, I'm so sorry too, and am thinking of you all.

    You said ' I am hurt that she would not be more trusting of us'. It sounds like fear is trampling over everything she knows. Fear seems to do that - overriding all that we know on a deeper level.
    I do hope that somewhere she can hear your offer of love and help.

  43. @Cherry,

    My mother was not really apologizing for having conceived me but for conceiving me under such circumstances. We both wish I had been fathered by someone who was a good man. A stand up man. A man who would have been there for my mother (and me). I realize that means that the me that is me would have been different since I would be half-her and half-someone else. But I was willing to take my chances.

    As Lorraine said, her comment came across rather glib. My point was that my n-mother was not just using the big, bad society excuse. Her choices and actions directly led to my being an adoptee and her losing her only child to adoption.

    As someone who is pro birth control, pro-choice politically, and disgusted by the never ending attempts to control female sexuality, I do agree that it was a big, bad society that separated us. But it is my personal opinion that it is not healthy or accurate for my n-mother to refuse to take any responsibility for what happened to us. Adoption does affect another person--the child. And the child is put into the life of an adoptee through no fault of their own.

  44. @Jay,
    I am so sorry for what you are going through. Sometimes when we are in a crisis it is easy to get tunnel vision. Rayna must be incredibly stressed and is not able to see that help is available to her in a way that she might not have thought of. It can be hard when we are in survival mode to clearly see what our options are. I hope you will keep reaching out to her. I do think there is still hope that she will see that you and your family are the lifeline that she and Nina need at this time.

  45. Thank you, Lorraine, Cherry and Robin, for your thoughts. My biggest fear with Rayna's stress is she will stop taking her medications that she really needs to keep up with daily. If she does not, it will be disastrous for her and for Nina. My husband says I must go wait outside Nina's school and see if they show up and seem well. But it's a fine line, you know - if Rayna thinks I am stalking them it might make the situation worse. In a way, it is oddly comforting that she actually wrote me a note, although very brief, to tell me she is homeless. She didn't have to write to me at all.

    *Sigh* it is so hard to want contact and not get it - especially when you are consumed with worry. Thanks for letting me express that on this forum,during these hard, hard days.

  46. Jayler,
    First mothers live this way some their whole live wanting contact and never get it.
    We dont knw of our child is alive or dead needs us or doesn't need us.
    Horrible way to live our lives for the mere act of giving life then being forced to surrender. My sons adoptive mom told him I didn't want him after I found him.

  47. Lorraine, I didn't think your comment was glib at all. As a matter of fact, I found myself nodding in agreement because I actually thought it was spot on!

  48. Buck Wheat is completely right, and I will add this: True love is unconditionally, and it involves dying to self, it involves sacrifice, and suffering. True love isn't driven by an expectation of reciprocation of mutual benefits. It's about one person, having within them, the realization, and drive, to speak and do good or the benefit of another, with no expectations, no need for reciprocation. It means knowing that what you speak and do may not be well received, if at all - knowing you may suffer silence or abuse, and taking it with mercy and grace, not responding in kind, not shutting down yourself, nor abusing in return. It means continuing to pour out the good, wanting to benefit the other. It means holding onto hope, never losing faith that some day, they will believe, accept, embrace, your love, and also, that you too will receive the same unconditional love, and enjoy the benefits of it.

    I have learned the difference between a carnal human love, that is conditional, and rooted in selfishness, and divine love, that is unconditional, self-less, and sacrificial. It is solely about what you give, not what you receive. It isn't dependent on mutual satisfaction, it is self motivated, the goal always, strictly about benefiting others.

    I have loved many people who are abusive, who not only don't appreciate my unconditional love, they take it for granted, they take advantage of it, to use me for their own gain, their own pleasure, and/or to get away with abusing me, because they know that I always forgive, and continue to love them, continue to do good to them, continue to want them to benefit. I have known the abject rejection, to repeatedly reach out, to get no response, or threatening responses, and only to protect myself from serious harm, have I pulled back, only enough to protect myself, while not ceasing to love, and wanting, watching, waiting for another way, and another time, to reach out again, because that's what it means to love truly. It means never giving up. It means soldiering on. It means even if you have to come up with a different strategy, even if you have to pull back, a little, briefly, you don't just stop, you don't just think of self and say "well that sucks, i don't deserve to keep being rejected, abused, hurt, i'm worth more than that, so i'm just gonna close the door, turn my back, and i'm not gonna turn around until they realize they're wrong, and they come to me". I I I, ME ME ME, PRIDE PRIDE PRIDE. Pride is wrong, it is vanity, it is driven from selfish ego. Having confidence in ones worth and knowing you deserve goodness, is different, and it's not wrong. Thinking so highly of yourself and demanding only goodness or majority goodness, and turning your back on someone with wounded pride, is wrong, it doesn't make you a better person, it makes you just as immature, petty, selfish.

    It's not about being the better person either, it's simply about being a decent, moral human being, who loves truly, and that means no condition, it means open ended forgiveness, it means fervent hope, it means dying to self, sacrificing, serving - selflessness, not selfishness.

  49. Unselfish love also means stepping back and away when the other person requests that. Continuing to harass anyone who has asked you to leave them alone and calling it " a different strategy" or "unconditional love" is just wrong.
    Real unconditional love takes into account what the beloved wants and asks of you and does not lead to stalking.

  50. There may have been a time when one's tribe or marital status was so integral to one's emotional life that your only hope of holding your place in society was by sucking back whatever your abusive spouse, parents, in-laws, adult children, or theology dished out to you. It's different in the modern world, though. People have choices and more autonomy. Even from a theological standpoint, allowing people to abuse you doesn't really stand up. Why would God want you to do something so *not* in your own interest? Agreeing with Anon 9:27 that your unconditional love sounds suspiciously stalkerish. Leaving someone alone because he or she requests it is not the same as turning your back.

  51. BeeHive and Anonymous, thank you (and the others who did) for understanding the intent of this post and commenting. Thank so again and so very much.

  52. "We both wish I had been fathered by someone who was a good man. A stand up man. A man who would have been there for my mother (and me). I realize that means that the me that is me would have been different since I would be half her and half-someone else. But I was willing to take my chances."
    It's illogical to suppose that the you that is you could have been fathered by anyone other than your father. If your mother had had a child by another man, that child would not have been you - in any sense of the word. To put it simply, you would not exist.

    "Her choices and actions directly led to my being an adoptee and losing her only child to adoption."
    It's admirable that your mother takes responsibility for *her* part in the events that led up to your adoption. However you make it sound almost as if for her to gain your forgiveness, you expect her to carry a greater burden of responsibility than any of the other players. IMO there's more than enough of the heavy stuff to spread around without loading it all onto one person.

  53. IMO,
    It worked for my reunion with my first mother. If you want to be hostile to me about how I feel and what I think and what works for my mother and I, that's your choice. Actually, I think my natural father was most responsible, but you'll probably have a beef with that too.

  54. Anon @ 3:27 p.m. on November 15, I meant to write to you earlier that what you say about many birth/first mothers living their whole lives in uncertainty about the well-being of their children is so true. I also am so sorry you have been treated with disrespect by your son's adoptive family. Parents whose children are in foster care also are often treated this way by the foster parents. I hope your reunion with your son is good.

    A quick update on my story. We now know where my former foster daughter Nina and her mother Rayna are. They are not in good shape and we have communicated to Rayna our offer of help to get them both through this time (but received no reply, and we do not wish to intrude on their space). And we have invited them to Thanksgiving dinner too - it remains to be seen whether Rayna will accept.

  55. Jay--Our fingers are crossed multiple times hoping for a good outcome--if Rayna will come to Thanksgiving, that would be a good start.


  56. Yes, I was thinking that if Rayna could just accept one meal, or a bed for her and Nina for just one night, it might break any fear she has once she realises the help is unconditional and based on love. It might quell any fears she has.

  57. Thanks, Cherry and Lorraine. I think, based on our communications leading up to the current sad situation, that Rayna is terribly afraid I view her as having failed as a mother. No matter what I say to the contrary, she does not believe me - perhaps because of her own inner anxiety regarding her inadequacy. Anything she accepts from me, however small, would reinforce her own feelings of failure.

    Thus, my husband suggested I give her some space for a few days and then contact her (if I am able, I don't know where she is and am reaching out through the involved social workers right now) next week, maybe a couple days before Thanksgiving. I am keeping my fingers crossed - thanks for adding your own good thoughts to mine.


  58. @ Jay

    When your self-esteem is low, it's hard to really believe the good things people say about you. But repetition helps. Your description of how you see Rayna is so clearly full of respect and love - no-one can hear that enough, and it can antidote fear for a while. So I say don't hold back on telling her how well you think of her. She may understand that that is your motive.
    Good luck and warmest thoughts.

  59. Thank you, FMF blog and posters and commenters, for your warm thoughts. Rayna just (seconds ago) contacted me after the social worker spoke with her. She and Nina are coming to Thanksgiving!!! I am ready to jump off the rooftops with joy. Nice way to begin the weekend.

  60. That brought tears to my eyes, Jay. I'm so glad for all of you.

  61. Jay,

    If I were you I'd be careful that Rayna is using you. She only seems to show up when she needs something and doesn't appear to be interested in a relationship which is common on parents reunited with their children after being in Foster Care. I've Foster 4 children over the last few years all have been reunited with their parents and despite my wish to remain in contact with them as our family did develop a bond with their children they have not been heard from. It's unfortunate because we would have loved to maintain a relationship with our Foster children and their parents.

    For all the talk of helping young expectant mothers all you are doing is enabling bad behavior rather than them step up and not have to rely on others. They are most likely going to take their help using anyone they can and then disappear no different than the APs who close adoptions.

  62. Anon @5:54 p.m., thanks for your concern. We have been in extremely close contact with Rayna and her daughter Nina for almost 6 years now. We have seen each other at least every other week, and Nina has stayed over at our place countless times since reunification. In all this time, Rayna has never asked us for even one penny. Right now she has just escaped an abusive relationship and we are helping her help herself (i.e., resources so she can find a job,etc.) We are not providing her with anything other than necessities and information to equip her to provide for her child. We are not providing money, nor has she asked for it - or anything else. In fact it is us who tracked her down through a social worker to offer our help.

    I published our story in the Huffington Post last year. Nothing about our relationship has changed since then.



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