To look at them, you wouldn't think that there is a difference other than the obvious physical traits. But, imagine that one is a natural mother and the other is an adopter. They both stand the same chance of divorce, dysfunction, addiction, abuse and other things of that nature. That is something that I have never argued.
But there is still something that happens in most adoptive situations that very seldom occurs in natural families. All Mother jokes aside about guilt trips, most normal, natural mothers do not make their emotional welfare the responsibility of their children. Most children raised by their natural mothers don't feel the need to protect their mother's emotional well-being. That is primarily an adoptive thing and here's why.
The adoptive situation is dysfunctional from the get-go because there is no real altruism in adopting, especially in infant adoption. That baby, and it could be any baby because no adoptee is "chosen" by anyone, is adopted, usually, because the PAPs cannot or think they cannot conceive. That inability to conceive is never addressed through any kind of counseling so it is a part of the psyche of the adopter. It is just assumed that adopting will solve the problem. So, from infancy, that baby is there to make the adopters feel better about their life situation. This is what the Industry promises. The very construct of adoption is a fantasy with the idea that "as if born to" means that child will take on the characteristics, likes, dislikes, talents, etc., of the adoptive family. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have heard an adoptee say, "I never felt like I fit in with my adoptive family."
The adopters are usually not very happy about there being another mother "out there" and, should she appear in the flesh, they are often faced with a hard reality. They cannot erase DNA. So they, either subtly or overtly, expect loyalty and a sense of obligation that will keep the mother and natural family at bay. Often conditions are attached to the love the adopters give the adoptee when the mother is in the picture. A lot of adoptees don't like to accept this as fact, even as they are evincing the behavior that proves the point. While they may have felt a sense of not belonging, they cannot risk the only security and identity they have ever known by trusting the adopters to love them unconditionally. So they defend and protect and hold on tight.
In order to do this, they will often try to build a niche into which they can place the relationship with the natural mother. The problem with that is that we mothers don't go easily into the niches, especially those of us who have fought for and regained the self-esteem we lost when we lost our children to adoption. I think a lot of mothers are in a type of fantasy, as well, when we expect to reunite and become "instant Mamas." Of course, we get disabused of that fantasy in a big, hot hurry. For me, I would not want to try to "re-raise" an adult child.
We get a lot of mixed messages from "you will never be my mother" to "forsake all others and be my MOMMY." There is every level in between and when you factor in the lies, the subtle messages and, at times, overt hostility, there is no big, happy, extended family waiting in the reunion scenario for most of us. At best, it is an on again, off again walk through an emotional mine field. Now I don't know how other moms handle this or feel about it, but I am 65, retired and tired and just want some peace. I don't really care if there are those who disagree with me about whether or not adopters act like...well, adopters. But I am not going to pander to the obligation, fixation and dysfunction.
There is no way I will be batted back and forth like a badminton bird in order to have a relationship with any of my children, raised or reunited. But, there are also no conditions on my love. It is there and I am there for all my children. If they are angry with me for any reason, unless I feel that I have, indeed, wronged them, they can just scratch their mad spot, as my grandmother used to say. They will always know how to find me if they need me.
Denying the truth of the fact that adoptees are made responsible for the emotional welfare of their adopters is, to me, like denying the inevitability of death. It is what it is and it is obvious to all who really look. I guess the reason it is denied is a lot like a friend of mine was describing..whatever situation you are raised in , you think it is normal for everyone. She was raised by an alcoholic father and a codependent mother. She was in her teens before she realized that heavy drinking and the results of that addiction didn't happen in every household.
So I disagree that this kind of attachment is as prevalent in natural families as in adoptive. To be honest, in most natural families, we don't need that kind of emotional reassurance from our raised children. Love is most often easy and comfortable and, usually, not questioned. Yeah, there are a few natural parents that lay harsh trips on their children and are dysfunctional. But they are a minority just as adopters who kill the children they adopt are in the minority.
But that emotional obligation thing? Hey, that's the majority in adoptive territory.
*Note: I have put in bold face the sections that I think a few should re-read. Yes, I know that there are some dysfunctional natural families where a natural parent will try to lay an obligation trip on their raised children. I also know that, not being adopted, most of these kids rebel and go their own way without hang ups from "deserting" their parents. I suggest that everyone read in CONTEXT, not just CONTENT. I stand by every word as my honest observations. OK?