Wednesday, August 18, 2010

There IS a Difference

To look at them, you wouldn't think that there is a difference other than the obvious physical traits. But, imagine that one is a natural mother and the other is an adopter. They both stand the same chance of divorce, dysfunction, addiction, abuse and other things of that nature. That is something that I have never argued.

But there is still something that happens in most adoptive situations that very seldom occurs in natural families. All Mother jokes aside about guilt trips, most normal, natural mothers do not make their emotional welfare the responsibility of their children. Most children raised by their natural mothers don't feel the need to protect their mother's emotional well-being. That is primarily an adoptive thing and here's why.

The adoptive situation is dysfunctional from the get-go because there is no real altruism in adopting, especially in infant adoption. That baby, and it could be any baby because no adoptee is "chosen" by anyone, is adopted, usually, because the PAPs cannot or think they cannot conceive. That inability to conceive is never addressed through any kind of counseling so it is a part of the psyche of the adopter. It is just assumed that adopting will solve the problem. So, from infancy, that baby is there to make the adopters feel better about their life situation. This is what the Industry promises. The very construct of adoption is a fantasy with the idea that "as if born to" means that child will take on the characteristics, likes, dislikes, talents, etc., of the adoptive family. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have heard an adoptee say, "I never felt like I fit in with my adoptive family."

The adopters are usually not very happy about there being another mother "out there" and, should she appear in the flesh, they are often faced with a hard reality. They cannot erase DNA. So they, either subtly or overtly, expect loyalty and a sense of obligation that will keep the mother and natural family at bay. Often conditions are attached to the love the adopters give the adoptee when the mother is in the picture. A lot of adoptees don't like to accept this as fact, even as they are evincing the behavior that proves the point. While they may have felt a sense of not belonging, they cannot risk the only security and identity they have ever known by trusting the adopters to love them unconditionally. So they defend and protect and hold on tight.

In order to do this, they will often try to build a niche into which they can place the relationship with the natural mother. The problem with that is that we mothers don't go easily into the niches, especially those of us who have fought for and regained the self-esteem we lost when we lost our children to adoption. I think a lot of mothers are in a type of fantasy, as well, when we expect to reunite and become "instant Mamas." Of course, we get disabused of that fantasy in a big, hot hurry. For me, I would not want to try to "re-raise" an adult child.

We get a lot of mixed messages from "you will never be my mother" to "forsake all others and be my MOMMY." There is every level in between and when you factor in the lies, the subtle messages and, at times, overt hostility, there is no big, happy, extended family waiting in the reunion scenario for most of us. At best, it is an on again, off again walk through an emotional mine field. Now I don't know how other moms handle this or feel about it, but I am 65, retired and tired and just want some peace. I don't really care if there are those who disagree with me about whether or not adopters act like...well, adopters. But I am not going to pander to the obligation, fixation and dysfunction.

There is no way I will be batted back and forth like a badminton bird in order to have a relationship with any of my children, raised or reunited. But, there are also no conditions on my love. It is there and I am there for all my children. If they are angry with me for any reason, unless I feel that I have, indeed, wronged them, they can just scratch their mad spot, as my grandmother used to say. They will always know how to find me if they need me.

Denying the truth of the fact that adoptees are made responsible for the emotional welfare of their adopters is, to me, like denying the inevitability of death. It is what it is and it is obvious to all who really look. I guess the reason it is denied is a lot like a friend of mine was describing..whatever situation you are raised in , you think it is normal for everyone. She was raised by an alcoholic father and a codependent mother. She was in her teens before she realized that heavy drinking and the results of that addiction didn't happen in every household.

So I disagree that this kind of attachment is as prevalent in natural families as in adoptive. To be honest, in most natural families, we don't need that kind of emotional reassurance from our raised children. Love is most often easy and comfortable and, usually, not questioned. Yeah, there are a few natural parents that lay harsh trips on their children and are dysfunctional. But they are a minority just as adopters who kill the children they adopt are in the minority.

But that emotional obligation thing? Hey, that's the majority in adoptive territory.

*Note: I have put in bold face the sections that I think a few should re-read. Yes, I know that there are some dysfunctional natural families where a natural parent will try to lay an obligation trip on their raised children. I also know that, not being adopted, most of these kids rebel and go their own way without hang ups from "deserting" their parents. I suggest that everyone read in CONTEXT, not just CONTENT. I stand by every word as my honest observations. OK?


Anonymous said...

Excellent post, as usual. :)

Wrt the "adopters choosing a kid" part: I have recently found out that I was not the first potential adoptee of my aparents. Before I came along, they had been promised a kid by another woman, only said woman scammed them, and the kid had already been scheduled to be adopted by someone else, and so as with every other "pet rescue", I just happened to be next on the list.

This to me is not a big deal, aside from it being weird to think about someone else growing up living 'my life' - it does however, seem to scare other people. I mentioned the same today to someone (from my recently discovered biological family) as I've just said above, and I got told that I "shouldn't think like that." I asked her why, and pointed out that all it is is acceptance of the truth, and just because the truth isn't pretty, doesn't mean that we have to deny it.

Anyway, I'm gonna shut up now, otherwise I'm likely to "go off on one", which is only gonna lead to thread drift and confusion. *grin*

Unknown said...

Being in the on again, off again variety of reunion, I can attest to the truth of that statement, as I believe that the rest are also. This is a very good post, Robin.

I have often wondered how the industry, the social workers, the adopters have NOT questioned the fact that, through adoption, they are raising children to adulthood based on a lie? How can one raise solid citizens when their entire life is based on lies upon lies, and then make them the keepers of the family honor, to boot!

Well said, as always.

Anonymous said...

My one adopter friend told me that she had a closer relationship with her natural son than the boy and girl she adopted before he was born...I was not surprised...

Anonymous said...

Can I get an AMEN. You hit on several issues that I have struggled with in my now, cut-off reunion. One, my children are not responsible for fixing their adopted parents insecurities that have resulted from infertility and the lack of counseling to help them (adopters) deal with said insecurity. My son and daughter would and have argued this point with me to the death, my death of course. Two, I have no desire to be in a relationship where I am required to pretend that I am not the Mother of my son and daughter because it is "politically incorrect" as my son put it. F' that! I will not be put in to a little box where I am expected to behave a certain way and buy into the whole 'born as if" fantasy. Oh Hell no! I won't do it because it strips away at my soul, which is the essence of who I am. I love G & J no matter what choices they make, my love is as constant as the sun. This does not mean that I will go along with behavior designed to malign and marginalize me as a human being and a Mother.

Once again you have written what is in my heart and on my mind; and while I am sorry that we have these
painful things in common, it is good to know that I do not stand alone.

KimKim said...

So true so well said, again thank you.

Robin said...

OOOPA...Hit the wrong word and deleted this when I should have hit publish.

Just Me has left a new comment on your post "There IS a Difference":

"I never felt like I fit in with my adoptive family."

Yes - I have felt and still feel this way today at 34. But sadly, I also do not feel that I fit in my birth family either. Forever doomed to this constant state of limbo.

Adoption creates in many of us adoptees this kind of Frankenstein; our creator (aka birth families) has abandoned or rejected us but we are so different from our earthly families (aka adoptive families) that we feel utterly alone and out of place no matter what we do.


*While I disagree with the across the board idea of abandonment or rejection, I can certainly understand its meaning here.

glory said...

Since I do not have raised children, I have never spent much time thinking about differences in amothers and natural mothers other than the most obvious characteristics. You put into words something I know to be true about my son's attachment to his amother. He feels VERY responsible for her well-being and she has managed to elicit that in him. It saddens me deeply because I question how much he was ever shown a real, unconditional love. How can he ever learn that when he never received it? It hampers him in all relationships, including one with me.

Thank you for well written comments.


jenny81271 said...

I have come to realize that when the "social wrecker" said my daughter's parents would be hurt if we reunited that they had put guilt on her...Imagine being the middle child, in a family with two children born to the adopters.....Oldest son can go off to India for an adventure, younger sister married young with tons of daughter in the middle, stays home, and becomes a teacher, like myself and her father, and takes the traditional road because "her parents wanted her to"....guilt consumes you....I hope it doesn't kill her. I hope she dances...

Myst said...

Fabulous post!! Exactly my thoughts, just never known how to get them out. I wish more people could see the light... if you know who I mean :)

Jennifer said...

Excellent insight, but really, shouldn't everyone KNOW this? Shouldn't the United Nations have a specific committee dedicated to eradicating adoption in all the world due to it's immeasurable human rights violations? Shouldn't every town, city, state and country have social services for the support and encouragement of the "natural" family?

While I agree that some families are dysfunctional and some children need to be removed for a time, possibly years or decades, at what point is it not a human rights violation to sign away your own human rights and your own human? Why is not long-term foster care and social service the solution? A minor/addict/mentally unstable individual is legally prohibited from doing most things in our country - dying for our country, driving a car, signing a legal document - UNLESS that legal document is signing away her rights to her child.

Finally, at what point did our society say that a child was so insignificant that what was best for him did not matter?

Thank you for making me feel like I am not alone.

Robin said...

@7rin. Honey, often when you "go off on one" you bring up some good points. ~hugs~

Anonymous said...

But the very first statement isn't true. Adopted kids represent a larger number ratio wise in the lock-up and rehab sector. They don't have the same chance as everyone else. Yes I have seen a great a-parent family or maybe two. But I also see the 'I wonder what we will do, they just are genetically inferior' Breaks my heart

Robin said...

Anon...I was referring to the adopters and nparents..NOT the babies. I know the stats.