Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Twilight Of The Moms

"When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it." ~Bernard Bailey
I awoke to a very poignant post on Musing Mother's blog, all about reunions ending, entitled "Love You Forever." If, 10, 20 or even 30 years ago, we were the pioneers of the search and reunion phenomenon, we are now the pioneers in the results of that phenomenon. For too many of us, the results are both sad and freeing. The dichotomy is livable, though. When you reach the seventh decade of your life, you have a bit of sadness from a lot of sources in your make up. You learn to live with it. You learn to acknowledge it. You learn to not dwell in it or allow it to master your existence.

The sadness is something we had all along, from the time our babies were appropriated for adoption up to the day we realized, through our adult children, that our babies were never coming back. Sadly, we have no baby pictures and fond memories of their infancies. All that was taken by another woman by virtue of social workers, judges, attorneys and all the other players that took the joyful birth of a child and made it into a business deal.

On the upside, that freedom from walking on eggshells, biting our tongues while the adopters are worshiped at their thrones or their shrines, and feeling constrained to withhold the truth is a very big relief. It has made me realize, even more, how our children were raised in a lie. In reunion, our adult children often want to require that we participate in that big lie. Some Mothers do it willingly, willing to take whatever crumbs they can get and bite their lips until they bleed. Some of us get tired of the eggshell walk and bloody lips and speak the truth, even if it means that the adult child will bolt.

I used to wonder why they would cling to the lie. I understood the love they would have for the adopters, but had a hard time with the obligation and protectiveness of the adopters' emotions. But then I learned from adoptees, themselves, that it was what they were adopted to feel and do and what they were trained to feel and do and it is the only identity and life they know. Add to that the feelings of abandonment and pre-verbal grief, and the adopter's gift to many of our children, a sense of self-entitlement, and it's a bomb about to explode with the least provocation on our part.

The act of ending a reunion by an adoptee seems to be 50% fear of the truth and 50% the need to punish Mommy for something over which she had no control. Well, I am not going to stop telling the truth and I am not going to accept punishment. I'm enjoying the peace and absence of drama. I felt a little guilty about that until I read MM's blog. There is so much validation there. When a reunion is ended by a mother it is either a case of extreme short-sightedness, too much adoption Kool Aid, extreme fear or, for a few of us, pure exhaustion.

Maybe, one of these days, someone will come out with a primer on reunion which will really be effective. Perhaps people will go into counseling prior to reuniting to deal with that inner girl who was shamed and used and that baby who pined for Mommy. It's a wide-open field for the mental health professional who wants to approach it with eyes unclouded by adoption propaganda. 17 years ago, reeling from the grief realized in my conscious mind by reunion, I addressed the County Mental Health Commission meeting in my home town. I asked them to look at the mother of adoption loss as a case of unresolved deep grief and unearned shame. Later, I would learn that it was more. It was also the very real presence in our lives of Post Traumatic Shock Disorder.

We are still reaching out to each other for healing. I have even received healing and understanding from many adult adoptees I have met in my journey. Since I am not their mother,  therefore not someone in whom they have an emotional investment, they can help me understand things from their end, as I can help them understand things from ours. One lovely woman, who is funny and brave and hurting from the rejection she has received, told me that facing the truth about their adopters' roles in their pain is one of the most difficult and painful things to do for an adoptee but necessary for growth and healing. Yes, I can see that.

But, you know what they say about the truth. It CAN set you free. I love you, and always will. But I cannot lie to you, re-raise you or settle for crumbs.

It is what it is.


Lori said...

Robin, exactly...

Stephanie said...

Just wonderful, Robin... that's all I can say.

Linda said...

"But then I learned from adoptees, themselves, that it was what they were adopted to feel and do and what they were trained to feel and do and it is the only identity and life they know."

Exactly. Sometimes, I call myself an adAptee- I learned to adapt to whatever situation I found myself to be in.

Some adoptees are strongly against likening the adoptee's experience to "Stockholm Syndrome", but the first time I really looked into it, I realized the similarities are too great to ignore.

I adapted to survive. Breaking free from that mindset was not easy- it took me my entire adulthood to do so.

Never be silent!!!

Sandy Young said...

I cannot speak for the feelings of the adopters, but I can speak to the things that I know and I know that to raise a child to fulfill your need and then base the raising on a lie is not a healthy way to raise a child.

The loss continues long after the original one.

Robin said...

@Linda, What is impressive is that you have had the courage to do the work. No matter how often anyone tells the truth, until someone is ready to accept it, it will not be heard.

Sandy Young said...

@Robin, that is the sad and bitter truth.

Robin said...

And another mom just ended a reunion due to verbal abuse. Why do some of these adult children think they have the right to talk to us any way they choose? I feel like Shylock..."do we not bleed?"

jenny81271 said...

Robin you never cease to amaze me at how dead on you journey of search so far has been surrounded by adoptees, and so I hope to understand a little better...and yet I know in the end that what I feel is changed but the same. I wonder sometimes if I ever will understand the stupidity of adoption...probably not!!

Von said...

'was what they were adopted to feel and do and what they were trained to feel and do and it is the only identity and life they know.' Raising a child in that way is the ultimate in wickedness and dysfunction.You mothers suffer, some adoptees suffer without knowing why.Adoption is a curse that has blighted the lives of millions.