Friday, November 7, 2008

Understanding

I have been out on the blogs after reading the comments on my last post. Yes I am one of those stealth readers who seldom comments. I have been trying to understand the hurt mothers and angry adoptees and why reconcilliation is so hard. I am sure I will get plenty of disagreements with this but I think I am begining to understand at least a part of it. Mothers and adoptees are both hurt and both want that hurt to be understood. As a mother the hardest thing for me to come to terms with is that I caused the hurt. All of the reasons/excuses/justifications are really beside the point. That is not an easy conclusion to reach nor is it particularly easy to live with but it is real and I need to understand that and come to terms with it.

Before I get jumped too badly on this, I am not advocating sackcloth and ashes for all mothers. At least most of us did not intend to cause harm, usually just the opposite. As adults (or at least teenagers) we got through a lot of the pain of relinquishment by telling ourselves that we 'did the right thing for the child". We learned to cope one way or the other with that as our mantra. Lorraine Dursky said it best, "you don't stop hurting you just stop crying every day." We reasoned through it. We tried to get on with our lives as we were told to do. Our children didn't have that luxury. They were told that their mothers gave them away because their mothers loved them. What the hell kind of a message is that? How do you reason through that one when you are 5 years old? Our children did not choose to be adopted into a nice family. We made that choice for them. There is absolutly no way that you can explain relinquishment to a child so that it makes sense. The only thing that makes sense to a child is that their mother didn't want them. It is not helpful to be told you should be grateful that you weren't wanted.

I had a hard time getting to the point where I could accept responsibility for my decision and tell my daughter that I had made a horrible decision that hurt her and I was sorry. It doesn't solve everthing but it is a start. I can understand why she pushes me away sometimes. I can understand her anger. That doesn't mean I don't get hurt by it. It just means that I can undertand. I think she is starting to understand that I always did love her and always will (except on her really bad days). Our hurts are both real. It helps to face them. No sackcloth and ashes, just a dose of reality.

10 comments:

Julie said...

As one who has sorta adopted- I am convinced that it is trully best for my daughter to be with me than with her birth mother. Her birth mother is an addict who has not gotten it together. She does not put her daughter first- or even second or third. She visits when it is easy. It is confusing to my daughter who even at 2 can articulate that she doesn't want to go to see her "other mommy" and for all I can guess at this point is because she really doesn't have much of a relationship with her- bc she isn't a priority to her. I am thankful that she is not with her full time and has to fight for moments of attention. What would that do to her self esteem? How would she feel of value? With me- she IS first. She will have lots of questions as she gets older and figures it out but I hope and pray that she never has to wonder if she was loved and cared for. Yes she will wonder about her "other mommy" and I really hope she is still around to tell her for herself but I am doubtful. I am thankful that you have found eachother and I respect the pain you have both had and hope that isn't the same for all adoptees. I have a friend right now who is pregnant and is going to give her child up for adoption because she knows she can't handle another child. SHe has already lost one to the system who her parents adopted- and has custody of a second one but is JUST now getting her life back together. She doesn't want to risk anything with the child she has already. She knows that she can't handle 2 and that the new one would be better off with a family who could focus on him/her and she can't. It is hard. All sides of it is hard. If a child stays with a mom who doesn't want or can't care for him/her- it is hard- if a child is given up for adoption- it is hard. We all just need to give each other a little grace. None of us are perfect. Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Well I'm certainly not going to jump on you - but then again, I'm an adoptee - hehe.

Thanks for this post - it definitely means something from my perspective. Just because hurt is unintentional does not give someone the free pass to not acknowledge the hurt they caused.

My response to Julie would be that the truly best thing for your daughter would have been for her mother to get her act together and step up to the plate and be a parent. Okay, so she won't - but that doesn't make adoption the truly best thing - it makes it a necessary thing. And her daughter will still deal with self esteem and feelings or worth simply based on her first mother not parenting - it's not going to just vanish simply because someone else stepped in to love her.
-dory

The Fuzzy Duck Daughter said...

It means a lot to me to read these words from my mother. She's right - I do lash out, do pullbacks, act out my adoptee angst in various ways. I don't make a conscious effort to hurt her, but I know that I do. Do you know how she reacts to it? She calls me or emails me and tells me she loves me. She doesn't ask why I don't think about her and her pain, she doesn't say, "But I did the best I could for you..." She doesn't hide. She is consistent, she is there, she's not leaving. She's not giving up. And when I screw up, I tell her I'm sorry. She allows me to make mistakes. I allow her to do the same.

Julie, I'm glad you are there for your daughter and am very sorry that her first mother is going through difficulties. There is no question that your daughter needs stability and unconditional love that her mother cannot provide her right now. But as dory said, she may be faced with many of the same issues a lot of us face - low self-esteem, people pleasing tendencies...the list goes on. I firmly believe that a child should remain with his/her natural parent(s) if at all possible. In your case, your daughter needed the love and stability you are able to provide her. In my case, my adoption was not necessary. I was relinquished because of social stigmas that existed in the 1960s. My mother, my adoptive parents and I were all lied to and all suffered unneccesary hurt. My adoptive parents expected a baby "just like their very own". Instead, they were disappointed. I was threatened with "being returned to the home" every time I made a mistake. They didn't know what else to do with me. I've spend my life trying to redeem myself. My mother spent half a lifetime missing me and feeling guilty about it because she was supposed to move on and get over it. My adoptive parents spent a lifetime feeling like failures as parents because I didn't turn out the way they hoped I would.

I'm only now learning what unconditional love feels like. I wish every adoptee knew what that was.

KITE KAMP GIRL said...

Oh I so hope that you two are around when and if I ever get access to those elusive documents. Thank you for saying this. I am not angry at my natural mom for relinquishing. I am upset with her for not owning her responsibility. We owe our children truth. I am not sure all of it is her fault. I do not want any mother to feel overwhelming guilt that she can't recover herself. We all need to give each other a break

Wendi said...

My mother and I are in the beginning stages of reunion. We have not spoken or met yet. She wishes to remain anonymous to me for the time being, so we exchange letters via the CI. We're learning about each other, and that's wonderful, but we haven't gotten to the rough stuff yet. Reading this post made me realize how much we have ahead of us. Thanks for this blog and for being so open. It helps.

Julie said...

I agree with you all- it is absolutely best if she could be with her first mom- birth mom- or as we call her- her "other mommy" but given her circumstances- that won't happen. I am sad for G as she does/will suffer because of it. I am just trying to make it as painless as possible given the circumstances.

Cristy said...

Thank you for sharing your story.

unsignedmasterpiece said...

It is, I think, one of the worst things about adoption that you delivered your child into this believing at the time that he/she was going to people who could give him things you could not.

I continually wonder where my head was. Why did I believe this stuff?

I agree with no sack clothe and ashes but I have acknowledged it was a big mistake.

I appreciate you two blogging together. It's very helpful.

elizabeth said...

I think a little understanding can go a long way.

If my mother had just spent a moment trying to walk in my shoes, I suspect our relationship might be very different today.

We both lost because she, for whatever reason, could not face the reality of what she had done.

(And the same goes for my father as well.)

I hope that someday she can gain some understanding, compassion, and empathy. But until then, life does go on.

I applaud you for your efforts Fuzzy Rat.

Cedar said...

"Our children did not choose to be adopted into a nice family. We made that choice for them."

Except for those of us who did not make a decision. A coerced decision is not a decision at all, and the surrender of my son was definitely coerced. The pressure from the social wrecker, my parents, and the hospital withholding him from me all meant NO choice.

My son has never been angry at me -- and the only "pullback" was after his adopters had held and tortured him for 4 hours one evening until he was too emotionally damaged to connect with anyone.

I have never felt guilt or shame, as I am not responsible for an act that was forced upon me. No support, no way to keep my son, and no truth about what my rights were = no choice.

I hope that other mothers can also see how the demand for babies fueled an industry that perfected a host of techniques to separate us from our babies. It is time to stop blaming ourselves.