Monday, November 29, 2010

Unconditional Love Ain't Perfect

It amazes me each time I meet people who seem to believe that love will cure everything or save anyone if you just love enough. If you believe that, then try loving a fear-aggressive dog out of growling and biting, or an addicted loved one out of drinking or using. It just doesn't work.

You can love the children you raise with all your heart and soul, but unless you have created rules and boundaries and taught life skills, they can still sink into a sad and futile existence. I think that PAs (potential adopters) believe that loving the child they adopt will make everything okay and that is one of the biggest fallacies, going. In thinking that way, they overlook the fact that there is a very real and painful issue in the life of that child which needs to be acknowledged and addressed. Sending the woman who gave birth to that child a few pictures and a letter once a year is NOT going to cut it.

I love all of my children, no matter what they say or do. But I do not support them in destructive, self-defeating or criminal behavior. My grandmother once said about my father, the proverbial black sheep, that she loved him and if he were to kill someone (which he never did..he wasn't that far gone), she would hold his hand all the way to the electric chair. But she wouldn't try to save him from facing the consequences of his actions. It's hard for a lot of people to see the love in that, but it's there.

When we finally are reunited with our adult, surrendered children, I see a lot of us wanting to indulge, coddle and coo while the adoptee is wondering what the Hell is going on. This is, for many an adopted person, a new concept. Most of us were made mothers when we gestated and gave birth and we will react and respond as mothers. To expect anything else of us is unrealistic. And, for us to expect an instant response and understanding of our motherhood is also unrealistic. So we're screwed from the get-go if we don't get a handle on expectations and understanding early on.

When raised and surrendered children are born, they don't come with how-to manuals with clear guidelines. Most of us just do the best we can and learn as we go. We love our children with all our hearts and souls, but we can make mistakes along the way. That is when love should be the fuel that runs the problem-solving engine. Love, on its own, is not enough.

Loving unconditionally doesn't mean loving perfectly. And it doesn't mean that we give until we are empty and expect nothing in return unless you are one of those professional martyr moms and that is a whole other blog. It means that, no matter what our child might do or say and how bad it might be, we love that child anyway. It does not condone nor accept bad behavior, verbal or physical abuse or emotional manipulations. It doesn't accept disregard for our worth and rights as people. But it does pretty much guarantee forgiveness when it is asked of us.

Mothers are human beings. We can be cracked, broken, burned and bedeviled by our traumas and miseries as badly as our children can be by our errors or the trauma of being adopted. Some mothers, unfortunately, don't know how to love themselves, even a little bit, so, though they may feel love for their children, expressing it appropriately is difficult.

Above all, even the best, wisest, most unconditionally loving mother in the world cannot fix their adult child. I remember the line in "Independence Day" when the estranged wife of Jeff Goldblum's character said that "love was never the problem" when speaking of their estrangement. Love, even of the unconditional variety, is not a miracle tonic. You can love with all the intensity of a mother and not be able to surmount other roadblocks to a relationship. We are left with what is and how we deal with it and each other is up to each of us.

But, for most of us, the love is there, unconditional, forgiving and even a point. The bitch of it is, as this nasty month of adoption-worship finally comes to a close, we wouldn't have to worry about any of this if we had been given the support to remain together as a family. Again, I am not speaking to the minority but to the many of us who truly wanted our children...ALL of them.

I would hope to see a day when this issue becomes a non-issue, when caring for children in need is done with true altruism and human, imperfect, unconditional love can be enjoyed by all. That would be Utopia with a bit of an edge, don't you think?


Von said...

We live in hope hey?

Lori said...

Robin - LOL - I have been trying to describe this very thing for a long time....thank you! So eloquent, in your usual style.