Saturday, April 02, 2011

Floods, Rugs and Reunions

There are floods and there are Tsunamis and earthquakes. They all cause damage to homes and people. So does the separation of mother and infant. There is even good evidence that the stress of coercion and isolation and worry during pregnancy can cause life long problems for both the child and the mother. Like a flood, the water may eventually recede but the damage is done.

We have watched as the people of Japan try to pick up the pieces after a disaster of historical proportions. For some, still searching for missing family, the tides may return the bodies of their lost ones, but there will be no repairing them. There will be no joyful reunion for these people.

Anyone who has ever been inside a flood damaged home knows that much has to be discarded before it can be rebuilt and it will never be the way it was. Many an opportunistic business will try to convince you that if you use their product or call their service, it will all be just like new. That's not a reality where there has been a true disaster. Sometimes, when the waters soak the rugs and the walls, there is nothing to do but rip up the carpet, tear out the drywall and try to build up again or throw up one's hands and relocate to an area where the danger of such a catastrophe is lessened.

I watch as so many mothers and their adult, reunited children reach, hungrily, for some kind of normalcy in their relationships. It's not easy to do when there is so much damage that has been exacerbated by years of ignoring the waters that inundated the rooms of their perceptions, psyches and hearts.

Some folks, when flooded out, scrap the whole mess and build something different. I wonder if that is what we should do. We are more than mere friends. We share flesh, blood, DNA and the trauma of that separation. When we finally reconnect, we are familiar strangers...known but unknown..and it is awkward and emotionally draining on both ends, and hard work to find that place where we can be comfortable with each other.

It is a fact that many of us spend our time with each other walking on eggshells, careful of every word we say. Some of us suppress our true feelings and don't always respond with honesty for fear of chasing the other away. Using the flood analogy, we dry the walls as best we can, then throw on some primer and paint..cosmetically okay, but the rot is still in the walls.

From overly courteous to overtly hostile, these relationships run the gamut. Perhaps the best thing to do is to really scrap the whole thing and start from the ground up. We can't re-birth and re-raise our adult children and the regression so often seen where the adult adoptee goes back to being a wounded infant and we regress to the frightened, shamed and bullied girl can't make for a healthy relationship, especially if we lay that on each other.

Have you ever searched the racks, looking for a special occasion card for your reunited child or your Nmom and tried to find one that doesn't refer to shared experiences of a life spent together? That is what is missing. That is what cannot be repaired or renewed.

Here's a concept. What if, before we explored the relationship, we worked on those issues within ourselves with professionals, support groups, etc. and allowed those inner babies and girls to grow up along with the rest of our beings before attempting reunion? I know too many who have said, "had I only known......." The fact is that, when many of us entered reunion all those many years ago, we had no idea we had been in a flood. We counted on love and the excitement and drama of the event to carry us on into the future. WRONG.

Let's face it. The government isn't the one to do the healing and the Industry? Well that's laughable. To ask an adoption professional to help us heal is like asking the fox to look after the hens. They want us to just go away and shut up and they want our children to be good little life-long possessions and be properly "grateful." We have straight search groups. We have search support groups. We have support groups for reunited mothers and adoptees and for those in search. But we have no real, designated, pre-reunion support and information groups that are effective in helping those involved get off to a better start and how to anticipate and navigate the flood waters of old pain and confusion.

Right now, if you look at some of the forums where those in troubled reunions congregate, you'll find nothing more than a major, nasty bitch-fest. There is no progress...only spinning of wheels. Hostility is encouraged rather than explored and abated. I wonder how much of that fury and frustration comes from wanting something we just can't have?

The damage is done and the phenomenon of reunion has introduced a whole, new classification of parent/child relationships. Years, fears, secrets and lies have flooded the rooms of our emotions and psyches and, once the mess is cleaned out, then something new has to be built in its place. It is what it is.

I consider myself to be the only true mother to my surrendered children. I get a lot of flack for that but that is how I feel. That is why I use the term "adopters." That's my own, personal conviction. But I know that I was an absent mother for the first 30+ years of their lives and I understand, accept and respect the feelings they have for those who raised them. I just do not feel constrained to share those feelings. So I can't be Mother in the traditional sense and they can't be my children in the traditional sense. Like I said, the shared life experience isn't there. It was lost in the flood. But, maybe there can be a new class or type of the Mother/Child dyad born out of the simple need to connect and know.

So, perhaps we need to seek out this new model for the Reunited Mother and her Reunited Adult Child. Was our mistake always in trying to recapture what had already been damaged beyond repair? When all the flood has left is a foundation, then you build on that. I don't have any magic answers as to how, but I have a couple of ideas of my own..too late for me and many others, but maybe not for some of the younger members of the closed, secret adoption era. Don't have unrealistic expectations of each other and realize that you are starting from the ground up. I'm sure others might have wisdom to add to that.

Meanwhile, I have stopped trying to save the rug that was inundated with water, mud and worse. A shop-vac is not going to save it.

Who knows what we can build if we throw that rug away, tear out the soggy drywall and decide, together, how and what to build from the foundation?


Sandy Young said...

Well said, Robin. I am about to go on a trip that circumvents the faulty structure and goes to where there is solid timber, or so I hope. I may be building a newer, elevated structure without the damaged supporting structure even connected. We will see what happens....

Von said...

So true. I too will only ever use the word mother for my mother, it is the respect she deserves.
You know if we could all prepare better for reunion and then make a contract only to tell the truth and to bear with the consequences we might get somewhere.

Sunday Koffron said...

UGH! It certainly seems like Mother Nature is quite pissed at us humans, I am sorry you are suffering her wrath, but it sounds like you will turn it into the opportunity to build something fresh. I wish you all the luck!

Trina said...

I have been doing my own work, since my son turns 18 later this year. I want to know so much about reunion, from others personal experiences. It is so sad and heartbreaking to see that most are frustrated!! It seems doomed before it even begins. I underestimated what they meant when they said adoption is permanent. I thought reunion would make it all better.

Pollie said...

Robin,you cut to the core and tell it like it is! You ,are again,so right in ripping that curtain of secrecy,lies and revealing adoption for what it is. A failed social experiment that doomed our life from the get go....but made a multi billion dollar industry to the baby brokers,and adopters.