Saturday, September 11, 2010
Respect Vs. Emotional Caretaking
Here she is, the epitome of fecundity, Gaia, the earth mother, ancient Goddess of fertility. She is the personification, in her bulges and fleshy folds, of the fear ancient men had of the mysteries of the female who brought forth life....something they, as males, couldn't do. It is interesting to see that, once ancient man connected the act of intercourse with the production of children, men started owning and subjugating women so that they could be sure the offspring were of their seed....and, because they are bigger, stronger and they could.
We fertile women certainly took a tumble off that divine pedestal..from life-giver to breeder in just a few thousand years. Now, it seems that the child-takers, rather than the life-givers, are the ones who get all the kudos and halos.
A friend on Facebook said something very profound in a discussion. I hope she doesn't mind if I cite it here. "All babies turn into toddlers and then kids then teenagers etc. They are supposed to learn to think for themselves and be independent people. It is not their job to shower parents ( either adoptive or bio) with gratitude. We are supposed to raise them to be independent and think for themselves. It is healthy if they feel safe enough to not try to cater to the parents and can show us even their worst side. If someone wants or expects something different don't have kids (either store-bought or born to you)."
This simple but pithy comment exemplifies, to me, everything that is dysfunctional in adoption, especially adoption as it has been practiced in this society. The infant goes to a home with expectations already on his/her shoulders. They are the cure for the adopters' infertility, the keeper of the "as if born to" myth and the caretakers of the adult adopters' emotional welfare. I get a daily "I love you" from my raised kids because that is something we have always done. But if I have emotional quandaries, they are mine, not theirs. And I would rather have their natural respect and love than be a burden on them, expecting paeans of gratitude and loyalty.
My raised children have never idealised me. They love me, warts and all, and we have butted heads just like all mothers and children have since families came into existence. I am taken aback when I see adult adoptees bending over backwards to express their gratitude and loyalty to their adopters. It really isn't natural. The premise for that behavior is also in error, said premise being that the adopters rescued them from a fate worse than death, that of being raised by their natural mother who, the adopters will intimate, "didn't want them." That idea is just more manure on the giant, reeking pile that is adoption mythology.
An adult adoptee was trying her hand at writing fiction. She liked the Sci-Fi/Horror genre, so that is where she was going with her writing. The monster in the picture was a sort of ghost, vicious, faceless and female. The heroine bore the name of the woman who adopted her. This was prior to her reunion with her natural mother. Can we guess who that monster represented? But I was more taken up in the virtues and strengths she attributed to her heroine. NO WOMAN is that pure, good, strong and flawless in real life, including those who adopt. Such a person would bore me to tears and, I am thinking, would not make very good mother material. I would hope that a good mother would understand their children's flaws and love them unconditionally because she is totally aware and accepting of her own. In other words, she is REAL.
With some adopted adults, I have seen their growing-up years as more being indoctrinated rather than reared. Some become so immersed in the fantasy that there is no room for the natural parents if they refuse to worship at the adopters' shrine. I can respect the feelings of love and attachment the adoptee has for the adopters, but I don't think I should be required to deny my true feelings by giving lip-service to a fantasy.
I can think for myself because I was raised to do so by a mother who did not expect beatification or undying gratitude. She was a real rose, but she had her thorns. My emotions, therefore, are my own responsibility, not my raised or surrendered children's. How can they be expected to deal with their own lives and emotional growth while working to protect my view of my role in their lives? That role is something that is just there. It needs no bolstering or reinforcing. I have allowed them to get on with their own lives. That's what real mothers do. We let go and, if we are lucky, our children love and respect us for it.
I don't think there can be much respect for either the adopter or the adoptee if the emotional welfare of each is dependent on the other. This is co-dependence and it is very unhealthy for all concerned. As for me, I prefer handling my own emotional welfare. My adult children, all of them, should be and are, I hope, seeing to their own. I only worry about one who has enshrined her adopters in a way that has estranged us. I cannot join her in her illusions and that is not in her comfort zone. I miss her, I love her and I wish her well. I can't say that there is not the motherly part of me that worries about her...that worry is there. I think that comes with being female. But it doesn't consume me.
And I would rather my children respect me than be responsible for my feelings, especially after I am dead and gone. And Kiddos? There comes a time when we are no longer responsible for your feelings, either.