Part Three ~ The Adverse Effects of Denying Contact

I am a firm believer in karma. I also believe in sayings like “what goes around comes around.”. Anyone who has ever played tether ball knows this is true even if they had to get smacked in the head to learn it. I believe that every action has a reaction and that no matter how small or seemingly inconsequincial every decision you make changes the course of life from that moment forward.

Having this belief has led me to become something of an overthinker. Which would explain my post writing at 6:30 on a Sunday morning. It can be a real hinderance but I also know it makes me a morally responsible person. I have certainly been known to act off the cuff but for the most part I give a great deal of thought to how my actions will affect others. This has never been more true then it is with contacting my birth family. I have become almost paralyzed by the desire to do the right thing when it comes to any interaction with them. I would never intentionally do something to cause them pain. That’s not to say that I haven’t made decisions that caused them pain. Simply making contact with my siblings caused my birth mother pain but it was not a decision I took lightly nor did out of spite. I agonized over it for months.

This brings me to my third house cleaning topic;

Denying Contact

or

Personal Responsibility and Moral Integrity

There seem to be an alarming number (not a statistic, just an observation) of birth parents denying contact lately. Maybe I just notice it more now that it is personal, I don’t know, but regardless of the number of contact denials or the reasons for denying contact I think it only fair that those who would deny contact have the decency to REALLY TRY AND UNDERSTAND how their decision affects those they leave behind for a second time. Ouch, right? But that is how it feels. Like a big fat rejection alllllll over again.

I don’t want to speak for others so I will use “I” instead of we but don’t let that stop you from owning this if you have denied contact. Denying contact is in and of itself a very selfish thing to do. I know life owes us nothing but air but if you make a decision that will cause another human being pain you must, even temporarily, sit with it. If you can’t do this you lack moral integrity, the cornerstone of a life lived with meaning. Yes, it’s that important. It’s called personal responsiblity and everyone should have it.

The first and probably biggest adverse effect contact denial has is the feeling of absolute and utter rejection. As an adoptee I have felt rejected by my birth mother my whole life. I found a way to live with this by justifying her decision to relinquish me with a huge imagination. Stories such as she was too young or too poor to keep me coated my thoughts like a protective shield from the nasty feeling of rejection. As an adult who has taken the time to understand the deeper aspects of a woman who relinquishes I can put things into perspective on an intellectual level but there is still a little child deep inside of me that very much lives with the title “Reject”.

To deny contact is to verify that I am a reject.

Feeling like a reject and feeling unworthy probably go hand in hand but I think unworthy can stand on it’s own as well. We can reject something and still know it’s worth. Feeling unworthy for me means that the rejection could possibly stem from somehow not being good enough. If I were famous, or a doctor, or a judge, or a scholar…..would I be worthy of getting to know? Does that seem silly to you? Silly or not they are thoughts that have run through my mind.

To deny contact is to verify that I am unworthy.

One of the biggest problems for me as an adoptee has been thinking I am unwanted. Even though I had two parents who very MUCH wanted me, even though I have a husband who very MUCH wants me (the list goes on) I still have lived my life as though I were unwanted. It is deep and real and damaging. I have a hard time learning after all these years that the people who do want me will not change their minds. That some day they will wake up and simply not want me anymore. I fight this feeling constantly reassuring myself that I am wanted. When my birth family denied contact they told me in no uncertain terms “You Are Not Wanted!”.

To deny contact is to verify that I am unwanted.

No matter the level of disfunction in one’s family (and I dare you to show me a family without some level of disfunction) you would hope you always feel loved. People show love in a myriad of ways. Not all of them healthy but it’s there all the same. Feeling loved I think is the most important feeling in the world. Without it you lead a colorless existance. Feeling unloved just zaps the color right out of things. It also leads to some very poor life choices, always searching for that which you lack and usually looking in ALL the wrong places. I wonder if we search to fill a void that truly only one person can fill?

The most primal and instinctual love, the one you are supposed to be able to count on above all else is the love between a mother and her child. We are given a mother when we are adopted and in turn she (hopefully) gives us the love every child deserves. That unconditional, unbridled love that only a mother can give. But, (and I’m sorry if this will hurt for an adoptive mother to hear which I suspect it will but it must be said) it is not a replacement for the love of a biological mother. It is a completely different matter all together. EQUALLY IMPORTANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But different.

I personally feel that for an adoptee to be told by their birth mother that they are and always have been loved is paramount to a healthy existance. Even if said birth mother does not have the ability to establish or maintain a relationship it is important to let your relinquished “child” know that you love them. This is NOT A GIVEN SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU MADE THE UNSELFISH CHOICE TO OFFER US A BETTER LIFE!!!!!!!!!! I REPEAT, IT IS NOT A GIVEN!!!!!!!!! YOU MUST ACTUALLY SAY THE WORDS AND MEAN IT FOR IT TO BE EFFECTIVE!!!!!!!!!!

To deny contact is to verify that I am unlovable.

We all have skeletons in our closet. We all have things in our past that are difficult to revisit. We all have choices we must live with and some of them bring regret. The difference between allowing our regret to consume us and choosing to use it to color our existance is moving forward confident in the fact that we make the right choices now, not in spite of our regret but because of it. Sometimes this means moving out of our comfort zone to do the right thing by another. In the long run these are the choices that bring healing to our lives and color to our world.

What kind of person are you? If you passed a stranger on the street and knew that a simple gesture of kindness could make a dramatic and profound difference in their lives would you keep walking? How much more so would your desire be to do the right thing, the morally just thing…………………….. if that stranger were your child?

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Part Three ~ The Adverse Effects of Denying Contact

  1. suz

    Ugh. This post caused a crazy feeling me. I thought too many things at the same time.

    Have you read the Fessler book yet? “The Girls Who Went Away”. It gives some insight into what those mothers went through in the 60s and one could infer that some of that experience causes their denial of contact.

    I personally could never ever imagine it but I surrendered my child in the mid 80s. Somewhat different world then.

    I could also relate to this but from the other side. While my daughter did not deny contact, she definitely is not exactly thrilled with it. Keeps me very very distant. Some argue its her age, give her time, etc. That may be true. It may also not be true.

    Bottom line is that I agree with you but its also very psychologically complex for the moms who deny contact. They need help. They need understanding and comfort and validation. From other sisters of loss most likely. Just my guess.

  2. Mia

    My reply is going to be honest and sincere and sent with the utmost respect.

    This post wasn’t about WHY my birth mother denied contact at all. This post is about what happened to me as a result of her denial.

    I have not read Fessler’s book (although I plan to) but I have spent countless hours reading others, talking with moms who relinquished and doing everything humanly possible to understand. This has not been reciprocated by my birth mother in any way, shape or form.

    That’s just for the record though because ultimately regarding this post it is irrelavent.

    I know that some of the same emotions are felt by birth mothers who have adult children who do not give them the time of day. A very dear friend of mine is one of them and I have sat with her in her grief on numerous occasions, helpless to ease her pain, angry at the cruel nature of fate. But that story is not mine to tell it’s hers.

    This is my story. The real life results of my birth mother’s decisions and how they have affected my life. How, regardless of her reasons, the choices she has made have affected me.

    (((Suz)))

  3. Mia

    One more thing Suz and again said with compassion and love…

    Feeling the way I do having been denied contact by my birth mother makes me wonder if the sister’s of loss club may not be exclusive to birth mothers because what I am experiencing sure feels like a loss to me.

  4. Makes me want to shake some sense into that woman. I’m so sorry you are going through this.

  5. Oh, I wept.

    All of this right here? That’s why I keep contact with Munchkin’s family. It’s painful. And sometimes it downright sucks. But my child is worthy of my love. My child is beyond wanted. She is NOT a reject. And my GOD, she’s the most loveable thing on the planet.

    No matter how much it sucks for ME, I will keep on keeping on. I do not wish for her to EVER feel those things though, realistically speaking, she’s going to feel them on some level. Which is why I’m here: to assure her that those feelings are skewed and that I have always and will forever love her.

    *BIG FREAKING HUGS*

  6. Mia

    You are a wonderful mother Jenna and I’m sure it’s going to show in the healthy, well adjusted adult your daughter will become.

    I hope you and Kim and Suz and EVERY birth mom who comes here and supports me on this journey knows how much it means to me.

  7. Thank you very much for saying those words. I needed to read them.

  8. Mia;

    I support every last step you make. You’re a great woman. And writer. And you’re just super cool. 🙂

    Thanks. Got a bit misty eyed myself.

  9. I have recently helped a man try to get through to his mother, he has tried for ten years and she would not respond and phone calls eneded in you have the wrong person. I live in the same town as her and my calls got her to at least admit he was her son, but she still refused contact. I tried to talk to her mother to mother, to no avail. His heart break was so heart breaking to me and I felt so much anger towards her, I feel like its the one thing a mom owes a child, at the very least a converstion about how you got here and the circunstances of your birth. He was relieved to hear her aknowldge him, but he still wants that conversation. My heart goes out to you and what you write about here. Msp

  10. Mia

    MSP it’s nice to know people understand. Especially by birth moms who get it! It makes it less about me not feeling worthy and more about her just not being a very nice person.I felt like I was being denied something I was owed for a long time. I felt a greater sense of loss back then though. Thats why I had to come to the place where it is more about her not choosing to do the morally just thing. It was harder to live with feeling I was being denied something I deserved than it was a case of her just not being a very good person. I know they are pretty much the same thing but the latter was easier to live with.
    Does that make sense?

  11. It makes perfect sense Mia, and it is all about her, what ever her reasons they are not about you. I know that my friend kept feeling like it must be something about him and I had to keep reminding him that he was only 4 days old, that he was a sweet innocent baby how could there have been anything about him, it was whatever it was in her that made her go the route she did.
    I totatlly understand how it feels personal.
    Its hard for me still to see moms do this, I always think of how much they hurt that they have to go to such degree’s to keep thier children at arms length, dare not let the reality of them come into view or the dam of defense might break.

  12. Oh, Mia… my heart just goes out to you.

    I’ve been thinking a LOT about you lately… While you and I have very different circumstances surrounding our adoptions… we each have our share of pain. But to be rejected by your birthmom AGAIN… Mia… when I just think of it… I feel as though my own heart is being ripped out of my chest.

    I am so sorry, Mia… so incredibly sorry. I wish I had more to offer other than my understanding.

    I’m going to be blogging about this in the near future… and will definitely be linking to your site.

    Smooches, darlin’.

  13. Mia

    MSP:I think you are exactly right and can you imagine living like that? What a rediculous burden to carry around on purpose.

    Manuela said: I wish I had more to offer other than my understanding.

    That is sooooooo good enough Manuela! Well that and maybe a cup of tea at your favorite restaurant if we ever come to Canada. ;o)

    You are very welcome Peter.

  14. Mia,
    I am so, so sorry.
    “it is not a replacement for the love of a biological mother. It is a completely different matter all together. EQUALLY IMPORTANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But different.”
    You are very right, and it’s not okay not to feel both.

  15. Mia

    Well at the very least it’s not O.K. for others to tell you that you are not O.K. for feeling both.(WOW lot’s of gramatical errors there!) Some friends of mine have no desire to search and I must admit it drives me a little nuts but I respect them all the same. I have to wonder though if it has never been brought to their attention by their adoptive family that it would be O.K. with them if they did? I wonder if that would make a difference?

  16. Don

    Hi, I was just passing by and came across your blog.

    I see you’ve put a fair bit of effort into it. My own blog covers the subject of Color Contacts.

    Drop by sometime.

    Regards,

    Don

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