Have you ever crawled into bed at night, so tired and sleepy that you can't wait to hit the pillow only to lie there, wide awake, while your brain goes into overdrive? I had one of those nights not too long ago. It seems that the more I tried to stifle the inept problem-solver between my ears, the harder the wheels turn.
It's not an uncommon phenomenon. My hubby is the world's worst at being unable to sleep in. Once he wakes up, no matter how early, his active brain won't let him go back to sleep. That is why I find him asleep in his recliner so often. All those thing he felt MUST be done, that wouldn't let him stay in bed, don't get done. It's a vicious cycle.
But I digress. I started thinking of all the things that I had discovered about surrender, society, adoption, reunion, closed records and the memories of my time in the Unwed Mother Hot Seat. I started playing "what if" and imagining what I would have done differently and how. I flashed back to April 30, 1993 and my first reunion (I had two that year...WHEW!) and what I might have done and said had I known then what I know now.
I remember that contentious phone conversation with the woman who adopted my daughter and I went through a litany of other things I might have said. When she told me to "cease" the "nonsense" of reunion, I just replied that I was leaving that up to my daughter. I came up with quite a few much better responses 18 years too late.
One of them was a keeper, though. It was a point we Mothers have discussed among ourselves on many occasions. Say it takes 18 to 22 years to raise a child to productive adulthood. Once our children have reached that point, they become responsible, in every way, if we did a decent job, for themselves. But, even though my daughter was in her 30's at the time of reunion, divorced with two children she was raising, the woman who adopted her still seemed to think of her as a possession...an eternal child. I wish I had said, "She belongs to neither of us. She is her own person, an adult. We have no control over what she needs, wants or does. Live with it!"
If we do our jobs well, and forge bonds of love with the children we raise, then there will be a relationship after they have left the nest. But their decisions, their relationships and their lives are their own. No one "owns" them but themselves. It is a natural part of life that children grow and go, form partnerships and start their own cycle. It is natural but it seems that, in adoption, there is an "eternal child" clause. Someone once likened it to slavery and it does have its likenesses.
There are many Mothers who have had an adopter tell her that she was their worst nightmare. That is the insecurity that goes with adopting. The one thing that the courts of this land cannot create with their almighty decrees, contracts, agreements and judicial signatures is that blood bond. That has to be what the adopters can't face. The fear of losing the child they raised to the Mother who bore that child tends to interfere with a fully healthy relationship. If they have done their job well, then that shouldn't be a problem. And it wasn't for my daughter. Her love for those she calls her parents never wavered. But their fear still invaded what could have been a wonderful reunion.
I understand the fear, but I don't condone holding an adult hostage to it. My daughter was threatened with having herself and her children cut out of the will. What should have been parental love became conditional. I felt sad for all of us. While I respect my daughter's feeling where the people who raised her are concerned, I found that I had little feeling for them one way or the other once I worked through the anger. It wasn't about them...reunion was about US.
All that should be a moot point by now, since both of them passed away within a couple of years of each other a few years back. I have neither resentment nor any other feelings for them. They were not and are not a part of my life.
Yet, in my daughter's life, their ghosts loom large. Though several years have passed, she can tell you the exact date of their death without having to refer to any paperwork. She still mourns and I wonder if it is them or the idea of the dream of the "ideal" life and family she had that she mourns.
My mother passed away 43 years ago. The only reason that I can remember the date is because she died at Christmas. I can't tell you the date of my father's death. I remember them on Mother's Day and Father's Day and sometimes will have a memory that makes me smile. I miss them but know that this is the cycle of life. I do NOT post paeans of praise and love to them on the anniversary of their deaths, nor have I held my grief to me like Linus held his blanket. Grief is a process with a beginning and an end and reaching acceptance and peace is the goal.
That's when I realized what was keeping me awake. I was trying to free my daughter with my mind. No can do! The only one who can release her into a full and happy life is HER. I can toss, turn, suggest, obsess and you name it and it won't do a lick of good. I needed to let go and let IT go. "What if" is a dangerous game to play when you need sleep.
I finally nodded off and slept late the next morning...if you call 8:00 AM, sleeping late. The problem was solved by my recognition of the fact that I can't solve the problem. I had a chuckle at my own expense, talked about it with my friend, and, for the most part, am letting it lie. I took a mental health day, yesterday. I didn't watch a minute of news, chatted a bit online with some friends of like mind, and took an afternoon nap with hubby and pooches.
It felt so good, I just might do it more often. And I slept so well, last night.