Monday, March 28, 2011

Mother Non Grata

She personifies the adjective "harmless" and "kindly." She simply and ingeniously expresses her love and her pain to those who take the time to listen and understand. She's never really done anything to hurt anyone. Her only "crime" is a non-crime. She gave birth, was unmarried and was coerced into surrendering her son during the Era of Mass Surrenders. She knows, now, who and where he is. But he wants nothing to do with her.

She doesn't want much...just a chance to look at him, a hug, some conversation. Her heart is full of love for him but it is now couched in the pain of his rejection of her. She is treated like a threat..this bright senior, who walks with a cane. She wonders how he might explain to the police if they were called to remove her from his doorstep. "Officer, this woman is stalking me?" Yeah, that is one dangerous granny, there, Fella. This is my dear friend and she hurts in her heart.

She has lost her child and that child's children and generations that will come. Would it hurt him to make those tiny concessions....to send her an occasional "Hi, How are you?" Who would he be betraying? His adopters might be putting pressure on him. He might be holding his anger to him like a toddler holds on to a blankie. As toxic as that misguided anger is, it is the devil he knows. To let go of that resentment, and to honor this woman's place in his life is a proposition that must terrify him. Anger is a surface emotion. Scratch it, and you usually find fear and sadness.

She still hopes and prays that he will give her a chance to see him, just once, to explain what happened, to let him know he was and is loved. Maybe that is what he is fearing. That the lies about the careless and uncaring beemommy will come tumbling down around him and the truth will put its light to the dark and unreasoning things he has been told or has imagined and made real. I fear he might wait to see that light until it is too late.

I've heard, directly from the mothers, of many such cases. Mothers aren't the only ones who reject. Even those of us with relationships often get reminded of how secondary we are in the lives of our adult children. When you are told, "you only gave birth to me," or "it was meant to be that I was adopted by my (adopters)," when you are treated as nothing more than a repository for medical information and are not even allowed to attend important events in your adult child's life, you know you are being punished. Because, because, because...no matter what kind of papers we did or didn't sign...we became MOTHERS when we gave birth to you. We've been slapped in the face enough for one lifetime, don't you think?

I think that some are dismayed to find that we are not sluts, crack whores or deviants. There is the occasional exception that proves the rule, but the majority of us are accomplished, educated, some of us married,  grandmothers with talents and self-respect. My daughter told me, when we reunited, that "it was okay" if I didn't know who her father was. WTF?? I know of another mother who is at the "it is what it is" stage who was told by her adult child that it would have been easier for her if Mom had turned out to be a drug-addicted prostitute or words to that effect. The stereotype of the surrendering mother doesn't help us a bit. I would hope that our adult children would love having a natural mother they can respect. We are not that kind of person now, and we weren't then.

Most of us understand that our children are going to feel love and loyalty for the people who raised them. But I can remember someone saying to me, about 17 years ago, "If a mother can love more than one child, why can't a child love more than one mother?" I dunno about that one. Usually we are all allotted only one mother and, if your family is like the majority, you had to share her with siblings. I wonder if sibling rivalry is all about fighting for the parents' attention? That has to be a part of it.

But I digress...or maybe not. I have also seen many an adult, who was adopted as an infant, resent the fact that the Natural Mother went on with making some kind of life for herself. It matters not to them that we carried the loss and the grief with us for the lifetime of that surrendered child. What matters is that they seem to often see us as, somehow, undeserving of any kind of life if we "abandoned" them. How dare we have other children? How dare we love those other children? How dare we laugh or love?

Not all the angriest adoptees are the ones who are rejected by their Natural Mothers. There are many who are wanted, welcomed, searched for and loved who just want that woman to bow, scrape, beg forgiveness and rot in solitude or, at the very least, sit in the back of the bus and only come forth when invited and then, the head must be properly bowed. In many cases, she is either pulled forward and pushed away at the same time, or else she is cut off, entirely. She is a non-presence in their lives. These are the ones who need to do a reality check and grow up, quickly, before their brain sets up like cement.

So rejection is a double-edged sword. It cuts both ways and leaves wounds on the mother every bit as often and as deep as those on the adult child. It's funny in that the adoptee rejects the mother because of all the lies they were told. The mother rejects the adoptee because of all the lies she has told herself. Either situation is dysfunctional and unfair to all involved.

To these adult children of surrendering mothers and to the mothers who live their own lies....it's time to grow up, gear up and face the truths and accept the love. There are a lot of us moms who don't have a whole lot of time left.

15 comments:

Jennifer said...

This couldn't have been better said, thank you for this piece, My adult reunited non present son, cut me off after he was very rude and disrespectful and I called him on it so he cut me off, he is controlled terribly I think he is trying to control me as he has no other control in his life, sad but true.

shescomeundone1958 said...

Oh, Robin,this post hits so close to home. You have nailed it, and described my situation completely. Reading this, I am crying deeply, because I am struggling on this very morning with accepting that my children choose to see me as, and treat me in the ways you have described above. I struggle with wanting to at least know how they are, but knowing that this is the kind of behavior I must accept to know this. Today, I am seriously considering closing that door. I love them. I love me. Having this punishing behavior in my life, feels like a heavy weight trying to pull me down. Fortunately, I am very strong and compassionate with them and myself. But on these dark days, I consider giving them what they seem to be trying to provoke; my abscence from their lives. Then there is something that I sense underneath their punishment, cruelty, and disrespect; it is a deep pain. I wish that they would allow me to give them the love that I have for them. In time, it might sooth some of that hurt, but they can not. On this day, I struggle with these things, and I feel a strong need to move in one direction or the other. But instead, of choosing a direction, I choose to stay still and just love them, in spite of the way they need to view me or think of me to maintain their grip on their lives. I choose to gently tell myself, to forgive them for they know not what they do.

Miriam said...

Thank you very much dear Robin. My son doesn´t want to talk to me. We are in contact but when we coincide in the chat, he allways have an excuse to say bye. He doesn´t want to see me. I only know him in photographs, and he doesn´t answer my messages. He told me he was saving money to come to know me, but he changed his mind...

Anonymous said...

Bravo Robin. In complete agreement and living this daily.

Suz Bednarz said...

Bravo Robin. In complete agreement and have been living this daily. I hope I get to meet her before I am indeed with a cane.

http://lookslikeuptome.blogspot.com/ said...

Robin, Thank you for expessing what so many of us have felt over the years. My son's birthday is next Sunday and I've go no clue as to how he feels about me or if he wants to continue a relationship. So I send my biannual Christmas and birthday cards to him and his children in hopes one day our communication will open up again.

Von said...

So much damage from the lies and myths of adoption which harm us all.

Robin said...

Von, it boggles the mind. There is so much pain and so much confusion. People who have never dealt with this have no idea what it's like.

mom lost 66 said...

robin todays blog sounds like you
are writing about me.
I thjink i am making a copy and
sending it to my son all he could do is return it to me it would not be the first time

Lori said...

Once again you have spoken my life outloud - I hope you don't mind, I intend to quote you on my blog. Much respect.

maryanne said...

We know who we are but our surrendered kids do not, and sometimes they see us very differently, and yes, as a threat or a nuisance. The nice little grandma really can be a stalker, in the emotional sense, if she persists in making contacts after being told not to. Being told by a stranger that they love you can be frightening, and we do start as strangers to our kids, even though we remember them.

I made the mistake of coming on too emotional and needy to my young son, when he was just getting out from under a mother who was manipulative and mentally sick. I can see now how he may have perceived me as just another one of those Mothers, the last thing he needed.

Some adoptees never want anything to do with their original family no matter what their mother does, but others can be scared away by our actions in contact and reunion. I do not feel my son owes me anything. He has never been anything but polite. even when he was not interested in communicating for many years.

Robin said...

It would be totally unfair to the mother to whom I referred to let this comment go, Maryanne. She has done nothing but contact him when she knew who he was. She is definitely NOT a stalker, has not been harassing him and does not make a pest of herself. She just wants to see her son. I think it is unfair on both ends when we deny even one meeting.

maryanne said...

I meant nothing against the specific granny in your example, which already had the concept of stalker and calling the police in the narrative. If she has not harassed her son she is not a stalker and it is a shame that he won't meet her even once. That is always sad, especially when the adoptee will not even give a reason why. I feel bad for any mother in that position.

Robin said...

That was a hypothetical example, Maryanne. We joked about what he would do if she should show up on his doorstep, leaning on her cane. She would never do that. It isn't in her makeup. And no, he has given her no real reason as to the "whys." I consider it casual cruelty.

Anonymous said...

@ Maryanne:

Pls. do not speak for all adoptees. While our mothers seeming like strangers to us, may be true for some, it is very untrue for me.

That I recognized her as my mother, astounded and shocked me and engendered a lot of existential angst for me.

Her telling me in our first contact that she had loved me and continued to love me did not scare me but surprised and comforted me.


Joy