Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Have You Ever Noticed.....

....that there are just no guarantees when it comes to life? My dear friend, Sandy, reminded me, on the phone just the other day, that I was wanting such when it came to the life and welfare of my Rocky-dog. Life is in constant flux, for all species including humans, and nothing is written in stone when it comes to day-to-day life. I am sure that John Lennon didn't expect to step outside the Dakota and run into Mark David Chapman. I am so glad that he wrote "Imagine" before that awful day." Never" and "Always" are terms I am learning to avoid. Hey, better late than never...ooops!

I remember being promised a lot when I was forced to surrender my two oldest children to adoption. A promise is a guarantee. I was promised that there were wonderful parents waiting to take them as soon as they left the hospital. Not so. Both spent a couple of months in foster care. I didn't find that out until I read the non-ID and I was furious. I had spent over 30 years operating under a certainty that there was a seamless and painless transition for my children.

I was guaranteed that my children would never notice my absence and that they would be as happy as any other child and well matched to the adopters. Well, again, those promises fell way short of the mark. Both of my children definitely noticed my absence and that vague feeling of "not totally fitting in" was with them as they went through life. I was even told that they would not even have a desire to know me. Well, flabber-my-ghast,  if that wasn't a missed call. My daughter searched for over a decade and my son had been signed up with a reunion registry for years. Who'd a thunk it? I was tentatively searching because I was almost positive that neither would want a thing to do with me. I was terrified of what would happen when I found them, picturing them looking down their noses at the woman who bore them but was deemed unfit to raise them.

The other guarantee, the one I call "The Biggie," was that my children would have a better life than I could give them. Granted, they had more in the way of material things. Their adopters were not poor. But I have seen nothing in the way they were raised or the values they were taught to convince me that they were any better off. The families into which they were adopted were just as dysfunctional as any can be. Their confusion, grief and other adoption issues were ignored and they were told lies. I didn't stay single, I didn't stay young and I sure didn't remain unable to support myself. And I started mothering my raised children while still quite young and, with the usual human imperfections, still managed to do a credible job. Adopters are human beings and, as such, are just as imperfect as the rest of us. How little self-esteem I was left in the campaign to take my children is evident in the fact that I thought such paragons as were described to me even existed. How we do tend to judge others' outsides by our own insides.

Wedding vows are sort of a guarantee that two people give each other, yet divorce happens. Maybe that should be a limited guarantee. It was only with my current husband that I became lucky in love and I live each day with him in the moment. We make plans, but I try to remember that life is what happens while we are making our plans. Another relationship, that which occurs in reunion between Natural Mother and Adoptee, carries no guarantees. Some get on like a house on fire. For others, it is a stop and start proposition with occasional brush fires. For a few, it is an impossible, heartbreaking disappointment. Reunion is usually a work in progress, no matter how good or how bad.

Some people seem to think there is an implied guarantee in reunion...that all our pain and issues will be resolved. Gee, I just made myself laugh out loud by typing that. Adopters see an implied guarantee in the very act of adopting...that their infertility issues will disappear and that "as if born to" is a reality. I remember the dismay of my daughter's adopters over her insistence on searching for me and then, actually finding me. That one threw them, one of them saying, "We were told this would be impossible." Looking for a guarantee there, were you? I guess I disappointed them by not dying, evaporating or being sent to a penal colony on one of the moons of Saturn.

While I believe that a promise made should be a promise kept, I also think that insisting on guarantees for everything can prevent us from seeing the nuances in life and all it entails. We can become tied to the absolute and guilty of dichotomous thinking, seeing all things as black or white with no shades of gray. Here's an example of a nuance: Many adopted people say that Natural Mothers should not have equal access to records because we "signed away our rights." OK..first of all, we surrendered our PARENTAL rights, not our civil or human rights and, surrender or no surrender, we remained mothers. Does a woman who loses a child to death in infancy not deserve the title and respect due a mother? Oh, and that signing thing? Many of us signed nothing. I remember signing the surrender document with my daughter, under duress (I either signed or I couldn't go home, I was only 16) but I don't remember signing a thing with my son. In some states, the mother's signature isn't even necessary.

The one guarantee that everyone assumes we were given was that nebulous "privacy/anonymity" thing and that is the biggest lie since the first politician started spouting them. That was a guarantee given to and for the ADOPTERS and the industry couldn't even live up to that one. Now the industry is trying to cover its rear-quarters by trying to influence legistlation that will, you guessed it, place the onus of responsibility for their broken promises on the mothers. Sorry, kids, but Mommy's medical/psycho-social history is none of your business unless we choose to share it with you, privately with no intervention from the state.

You know, I just realized that the much-touted Freedom of Information act specifically excludes adoption. You watch..they will try to get the HIPAA laws amended to specifically exclude natural mothers. Just because I am paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me.

Stop and smell the reality. We aren't promised a tomorrow, as far as that goes. And, as we learn far too often in life, promises are easily broken. We remember the past because we can learn from it and there is, sometimes, some unfinished business there. We make plans for the future because we humans are dreamers and there is nothing wrong with that. But we live in the here and now and the nature of the now can change, minute to minute. Serendipity and sudden tragedy are apt to pop up at any moment.

Case in point is that our decisions concerning the life and welfare of our Rockster have changed with his condition and with more complete information. And we decide knowing that there are no guarantees that something will be sure to work, 100%.

We do the best we can to prepare and protect ourselves, and those we love, but we do so best when we realize that there just aren't any guarantees. Imagine that.


EiMertens said...

"How little self-esteem I was left in the campaign to take my children is evident in the fact that I thought such paragons as were described to me even existed. How we do tend to judge others' outsides by our own insides."

Wow Robin - that really hit home for me. One of the craziest things about reunion for me is how shocked I was to realize that my daughter's adopters were not perfect and that my daughter didn't have a perfect life. How could I have still have believed that fantasy as an adult? You summed it up right there. I thought/was convinced that I was so unworthy to raise her that anyone else had to be better. And I guess what kept me going through all the years of separation was the idea that the perfect parents had raised her and that she was blissfully happy with her adoptive family.

Thanks for continuing to write while going through your ups and downs with Rocky. It's very hard for us to know the right thing to do for our dogs when they get sick since they are such troopers. I hope you and Rocky have a lot more good times together.

Sandy Young said...

Boy, if that Sandy friend of yours is so damn smart, why ain't she rich? LOL

Good post, Robin. You hit all the major nails right on the head!

PS, my moderation code was mycows...LOL

Lori said...

Having lost two family members (husband and sister) this year I know that nothing is writ in stone. I bought the bull, then when I found her, the reality shook my entire world.

Great post.