Monday, February 28, 2011

They're All Alike...Aren't They??

I went through a period in my life when I pretty much judged all men by one standard. In my mind, they were all out for one thing only, incapable of fidelity and emotionally immature. I was pretty darn smug in my biased wisdom as I tarred each and every male with the same brush. After all, I had learned my lesson about the opposite gender through hard and painful experience. With a flick of my wrist and a twisted grin, I would proclaim, loudly, that "Men are all alike."

Was that fair of me or even accurate? NO. I was guilty of what I call "Center of the World Syndrome." If it was true for me, it was true for everyone. My experience with men, save my grandfather and a favorite uncle, was hurtful and traumatic. I obviously had a lot of maturing to do and I don't wonder that my first marriage was not very successful. While I don't think it was all my fault, I am sure that my attitude towards men didn't help anything. Thank goodness I finally stopped calling all equines mules and got to know men as individuals. I  have a wonderful husband and some terrific male friends and my sons are terrific.

It's unfortunate that some seem to see ALL Natural Mothers based on their own negative experiences with their own. I can understand the frustration, anger and hurt that an adoptee experiences when their mothers are too frightened, ashamed or too indoctrinated by the adoption myth to be open to their surrendered children. I don't blame them for telling it like it is FOR THEM. But we are not all alike any more than all adopted people are identical. We don't hold a set of magic keys to open all the doors to all their mysteries, but most of us welcome our reunited children and do our best. Some of us even searched for our children.

When making a statement about something an Nmom has done that is unfair or unkind, I think it's important to make it clear that it is that one particular mother who is being cited. When you say "Mothers," it indicts us all. Being surprised or resentful when we object is ignoring the obvious. When we ask that you don't say this about all of us, that isn't an attack. It's simply a reasonable request based on fairness and logic.

Now, I want to address one issue in particular and that's the idea recently put forth that we think, because we gave birth, that we can control all our children into adulthood. Nothing is further from the truth. Were I to try to tell my adult, raised children that they couldn't associate with their surrendered siblings, they would laugh out loud. I have not had that kind of "control" since they were 13. True, there might be the rare controlling matriarch among us who tries, but I doubt if she would meet with a lot of success. On the other hand, there have been any number of Adopters who have issued just such an ultimatum to their adopted, ADULT children and were obeyed. MOST of us Nmoms are not that insecure.

But the bottom line here is that stereotyping anyone, especially in the adoption reunion, open records arena, is cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. The "Us against Them" schism between mothers and adult adoptees as two separate groups IS unnecessary and counter-productive. All it takes to avoid this is to be careful to own our own situations without presenting it as an across-the-board portrayal of all mothers OR adoptees.

We have joined with adoptees in an effort to balance the scales for mothers, support the rights of our children to their original birth certificates and to bridge the gap between the two parties. I am sure that there are some mothers that would rather we wouldn't do that and some adoptees that would rather we not even show up in San Antonio in August.

But this is about all of us..not just the adoptee and not just the mother. There are decades of secrets, lies and painful experiences from which we all need to heal and even more decades of discrimination against both that must cease. We're all sensitive from our experiences. It doesn't take much to touch off that raw nerve on both ends of the discussion. Unfortunately, there are those among us who are so angry and so settled in that anger that trying to get those individuals to see reason and temper their comments with equity and compassion is dust in the wind. This is where I think we ALL need to be careful, adoptees and mothers, not to let those who have not dealt with their anger direct our actions.

I wish I could be mother to all the adopted adults who have met with heartache. I wish they all could be made welcome by their mothers and natural families.And I wish that the mothers who have been treated badly by the adoptee could have the kind of adult child that I have had the pleasure to meet, know and grow to admire and care for. I wish they could experience the love I have received from  my adult, reunited children. I wish reunions were all wonderful but even the best have their thorny moments. 

If anything gets done, it will be done better, quicker and more fairly if we do it together. I reiterate; We mothers of SMAAC support adoptees in their quest for open access to their Original Birth Certificates. We also believe that adult adoptees have the right to free association with any other adult, natural family members they wish to contact. And in saying that, we represent the thinking of the majority of Natural Mothers. Most mothers do NOT want to control their adult children. We're past the point where we want the aggravation. We know how to cut apron strings and nudge the young ones out of the nest.

As far as "Control?" I can just hear all of my children, raised and reunited, saying, should I try to exert control over their associations, "Get REAL, Mom," followed by belly laughs.

I so hope this clears smoke from the issue and that all my adopted friends know it is meant for a few, not all, and is a clarification, not an attack.


Chris said...

Speaking just for me...a woman, who happened to give birth to 4 children and raised to adulthood 3 of them. I have as much control over any one of those 4, as I do controlling whether the sun shines or when it sets. My very adult children are the only ones that can control or not control, any thing in their individual lives..that's up to them. Of course I have the eldest daughter..who has always been welcomed into her siblings lives, in the past 12 years we have been reunited. She has chosen not to walk thru that door..that's her choice, that's in her control and no one elses. But I can say this...her siblings have reached out to her, time and time again..she ignores over these many years. I do believe the sibs have now determined that their sister wants nothing to do with them. Now they have closed the door also. I still see my eldest daughter, but now I rarely speak of her to her sibs..because the sibs have determined..she doesn't want to know us, we don't want to know her anymore. And I don't push the subject with the other 3. But I think my eldest is OK with her choices and she chooses to rarely speak of her be it..I don't push that either. Afterall...I have no control..I can only control myself and some days that's enough of a singular, difficult task just for me. Actually, in all honesty, I really abhor having to use that word 'control' here. I liken that to it's use in Al-Anon/AA..if you have to use the word 'control'..shows just how 'out of control' one might be. How about we all just act like adults...whether one be a nmother, adult adoptee or an adoptive parent. Give respect to each other, as the adults we're all suppose to be. Though I still believe respect is earned, is a 2-way street. There are no more babies, there are no more young mommies, there are no more newly adoptive parents...once reunion has happened, we are all adults. As I have said many times before and will say again and again...I only surrendered one newborn for adoption....not thousands. I'll take her heat and have, I also know when I have put the lid on that heat...but I don't accept *others* 'heat''s simply not mine to accept, hold and/or own. I wish us all well and hopefully the word 'control' will become a word less used and practiced less frequently, in the adoption community and/or in reunion.

Robin said...

I totally agree with you about the concept of "control" Chris. Yet I see so many trying to manipulate and control, not even realizing what they are doing. The bitch of it is that nothing is under anyone's control. Humanity has raced down a slippery slope trying to obtain or maintain control.

Also, in reference to our children and family, "control" would mean we are responsible for the behavior of other adults. I don't want that responsibility, even if I could have it. I've raised my children and I am done.

Sandy Young said...

It seems to me that we have grieved the loss of the infants shortly after we reunited. The babies are gone.

I have wondered, many times, how they think that this reflescts on the wonderful lives, advantages, and marvelous rearing that they insist they had that allows them to be so dismissive and rude to the women to whom they owe their lives. Do they not understand that their actions reflect on the rearing they received? Even the same respect offered to strangers would be superior to what most mothers receive from not only their own lost children but many other adoptees as well. It often seems they were indeed raised by wolves.

Jenn said...

Adult adoptee chiming in here. Thank you for this post. You're 100% right, we need to work together if we ever want to accomplish anything. I haven't walked in your shoes, you haven't walked in mine, and that needs to be respected. At the same time, just because my mother can't accept me, doesn't mean that all mothers are bad. I wish my mother was more like you. I think that some adoptees are hurt so badly that they take it out on whoever they can. Sometimes it's easier to take it out on an understanding mother than tell our own how much we're hurting. Doesn't make it right though...

Again, thanks for this post...

Robin said...

Thank YOU, Jenn, for the honesty of an adult who can reason with her emotions. I don't, for one minute, think that a mother rejecting her adult child is, in any way, right. But it is her choice and her loss. Too bad for her. YOU are still worthwhile in every way. The problem, the fear, the shame, the antiquated guilt..all those are hers. The pain will lessen with time and who knows what the future will bring. Meanwhile, know that you are lovable and important to others just as you are.