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;
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?