Insight

A couple of people recently have asked me for some insight into why their adult child will not put forth any effort at having a relationship with them. I have been thinking a lot about the possible reasons adoptees have for denying contact or pushing away the idea of working toward a healthy relationship. I think it’s easy for me to understand why someone (meaning another adoptee) might not embrace the idea of a relationship. I see a great many factors involved which could put someone over the top, emotionally crippling them from any sort of productive action and let’s face it- a relationship on any level takes WORK. What it must come down to then must be those willing to do the work and those not willing to do the work.

So, do you REALLY want some insight? OK, but it’s not pretty. I’m definitely NOT saying any of this is justified or correct, kind or morally just. I am simply saying I can put myself into these uncomfortable shoes long enough to help (my friends who asked) better understand possible reasons for terribly confusing reactions by their adult children.

Here goes-

(I) have not come to terms with these emotions yet so this is why I (adoptee) can’t have a relationship with you:

ANGER. Anger at being given away. I know, I know, you’re saying it wasn’t like that, but I am just trying to take it down to bare bones. TECHNICALLY I was given away and that makes me angry.

LOYALTY. Loyalty to the parents who did want me. Good or bad they took the job my own mother didn’t want. ***A particularly strong emotion if you happen to live with parents who have made it very clear how THEY feel about being “replaced”.

GUILT. Guilt for experiencing twinges of something undefined. Something pulling on my heartstrings in the recesses of my mind that says “mother”. These are very confusing feelings toward someone who in fact has not been my mother.

FEAR. Fear of the unknown. Who are you? Will I like what I see? What if I don’t? What if you are a horrible person? What if you’re not a horrible person? That would almost be worse because then I would have to accept that all of the fantasies I made up about you are true and that would leave a hole in my heart I’m not sure could ever be filled.

CONFUSION. Not sure how to act upon the idea of allowing such an intimate stranger into my life. Where will you fit? How will this work? Honestly I don’t know if I am up to the task.

REJECTION. Fear of being rejected a second time. Fear of letting you in just to have you walk away. You did it once, what’s to say you won’t do it again? Something about me wasn’t good enough. What happens if you find out I am STILL not good enough? Is this worth the risk?

CONTROL. I have had none from the day I was born. I have SOME now and I’ll be damned if I am going to give that up. I get to call the shots. How does it feel? How do YOU like other people making decisions for you? It sucks doesn’t it?

Do you have a son or daughter you don’t understand? Are their actions confusing, cold, distant, hurtful? Consider: The mind is an amazing thing. If all of these emotions are too overwhelming we simply wrap them ALL up into a neat little package, stuff it into our sub-conscious and falsely call ourselves…………..indifferent.

OK, there you have it. The bitter truth. How do I feel about it personally? Well although the emotions are understandable I find those adoptees willing to remain indifferent to be weak and honestly a bit lazy. I think it’s sad because they are only hurting themselves. It makes me sad because even stored in our sub-conscious those emotions will eat us alive if we let them. A person living in a place of indifference can’t fix a problem they do not see. So the emotions go unaddressed and indifference can go about it’s business, unnoticed, eating away our souls.

Now, I would really love SOMEBODY to give ME some straight answers as to why my mother would HONESTLY choose to remain in the place of indifference over working at a relationship with her daughter. A daughter who came to terms with each and every one of the feelings listed above. NOT an easy road but I did the work. Why won’t she? Am I simply not worth the effort? I want answers. REAL answers. Not the simple “she is just in so much pain over loosing you that she can’t deal” answer. You want to talk about pain? I know pain. Forgive me for not allowing that answer to suffice. I want to understand why I am not worth the effort. What emotions (like I gave above) do YOU (first parents) feel that could possibly have kept you indifferent? Anyone?

And while were at it, how about Adoptive Parents sharing their true emotions about reunion? What feelings did you have to work through to put forth the necessary effort? Are you still working on them?

Adoptees did I miss anything? Do I have this all wrong? Do you agree or disagree?

Let’s lose the sugar coating for five minuts, it’s really not doing anything for any of us and quite frankly I’m not really into sweets all that much. I not only want to understand, I NEED to understand. Thank you so much for helping me because I cannot get these answers from the people I should be hearing them from.

If you are so inclined write about it on your blog and give me the link so I can post it here:

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35 Comments

Filed under Adoptee Family

35 responses to “Insight

  1. suz

    Not and adoptee of course, but wanted to note I agree with all your suggestions/theories on why adoptees deny contact. I have seen it and experienced it first hand.

    True to my nature, i would like to reverse it and ask you to answer this:

    What should a mother/father faced with an adoptee like those your reference above do? Do we back away? Leave them alone? Talk? Wait? Drop a letter once a year for the rest of their life?

    I have my own views/approach to this but i am curious what an adoptee like yourself would say.

    As a mother of loss, I cannot answer why a mother would deny contact. I simply cannot fathom or imagine it. I can only summise that I have had opportunities, intelligence, love, caring, support, therapy or other things that they did not have. I dont know. I do know you are BSE and BSE moms seem to have many different views/feelings than younger moms like me. Cultural shift? Society? I dont know.

  2. suz

    oops, i should clarify. I am asking what a natural mother/fathershould do when faced with the distant adoptee? (I did not mean to ask what adoptive parents should do).

  3. agree 10000000% Part of it is that the adoptees may have these feelings under the surface for a lot of their lives so it isn’t an easy thing to get thru. Also, fear can be a great motivator and a strong demotivator as well. Fear of rejection, fear of not showing loyalty, fear of not being wanted or loved, fear of the unknown. Over time, they can all become anger as a defense so even if you get thru the first layer, you still have all the others.
    What was that shrek line about ogres being like an onion?

  4. Suz you deserve an answer to your question but I certainly don’t have one to offer.
    My question here isn’t what I should do about E’s behavior because I can’t DO anything about it. Only she can. I only seek to understand what is going through her head. Until I do I can’t forgive her and I really NEED to forgive her.

    In the beginning, before you even found your daughter did you go through conflicting emotions regarding the possibility of reuniting? Fear? Anger? Resentment? If so why? How did those emotions affect your feelings (even if it doesn’t make sense) toward your daughter? Maybe they were brief, maybe you didn’t have them at all but I don’t see how anyone could be as open to reunion as we (people like you and I) are without working through some seriously negative emotions first.

    Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there are some people for whom the conceivably unnatural circumstance of reunion came more naturally? I was definately not one of them. I had to really work at it, made TWICE as hard because I was/am doing it alone.

    As for the idea that it may be generational – I don’t know. I suppose BSE mothers have different (and possibly more) layers to work through to get to the point where they can reunite. I get what you are saying abut the BSE but in my case I wasn’t scooped. More like passed. So I don’t know if in E’s case the era would have influinced her? Maybe. I just don’t know. Another question I would love to have answered.

  5. Wraith: You have to peel away the layers to get to the heart?

  6. yep, because it’s the armor we protect ourselves with, whether it actually protect or or causes more hurt in the long run is a different matter.

  7. suz

    Mia – Not sure you want me to answer this here. Perhaps I should blog about it. But I can try to be brief. This answers the following:

    In the beginning, before you even found your daughter did you go through conflicting emotions regarding the possibility of reuniting?
    Not really. I always intended to find her. Since the day I let her go. I was very resolute in finding her – and finding her not just for me but for HER. I had read so much on primal wound, had so many adoptee friends, so many support groups attended, I really believed as her mother, I owed it to her. I was so ignorant when I let her go. It was my responsiblity to undo as much of the damage I had caused (if even under coercion and intimidation). I had no set expectations on reunion or what she would or should be like. (Though this did change once I was into reunion). I did have this visual of what she would LOOK like..and I was wrong.

    Fear? Anger? Resentment? If so why?
    Towards her? I was never fearful of her. Never angry at her. Never resented her. I did expect to be rejected. I wasnt. I wasnt welcomed with open arms but I wasnt rejected. But even that is crazy making. As Marther Luther Kings says “lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection”. I found myself actually WANTING to be rejected and wanting her to be angry. That I could understand. That I had textbook explanations for. Same goes with being welcomed. The inbetween/limbo stuff is very hard to navigate.

    How did those emotions affect your feelings (even if it doesn’t make sense) toward your daughter? Maybe they were brief, maybe you didn’t have them at all but I don’t see how anyone could be as open to reunion as we (people like you and I) are without working through some seriously negative emotions first.

    My only conscious emotion prior to reunion was one of desire and that I had to find her. There was a fear of rejection but since I kind WANTED that it wasnt that scarey. Post reunion, my feelings and desires did change. Not hugely and not negatively…I just found myself wanting and being more angsty and anxious than I was before.

    As noted previously, I did indeed work through alot before. I read tons, talked with many, had online support groups, many adoptee friends. I was able to develop a great deal of compassion and understanding. I have also been in therapy for years off and on.

    Dunno. I guess I am somewhat of an enigma?

  8. Mia, It shows that you’ve done a lot of work and soul searching to come up with such an inclusive list. This is an exceptionally great post. As for reasons why some adoptees may not be all that motivated to work on certain relationships, I wonder if part of it may be the “windows up” defense. We KNOW that some relationships may be a little unpredictable or scary or threatening in some way and we “roll up our windows” so we don’t get sprayed with road gunk. That metaphor, by the way, is not mine. My therapist actually suggested I “roll up the windows” when I meet my birthmom and family next weekend because they’ve said some things that are unintentionally hurtful…like when my birthmom called her pregnancy with me a big boo-boo/giant mistake. Intellectually, and as a woman, I GET it. OF COURSE her unintended pregnancy was a boo-boo! But I FELT awful. Windows-up may be a survival tactic that, when we are not intentionally employing it, we are doing so subconsciously.

  9. Mia, You got it right, in my opinion. I can’t think of anything to add. I don’t have any explanation for why E behaves the way she does however it’s sure as HELL NOT BECAUSE YOU AREN’T WORTH IT!!! Of course you are worth it. If anyone has a flaw, it’s her for not climing the highest mountain and crossing the widest sea to give you the answers that you are seeking. I’m a fixer so it’s hard for me to admit that I can’ t help you. I want you and Wraith and Chez all to find what you need in your firstmoms. Sometimes it’s harder for me to read your posts than write my own. As a parent, I do not understand your first mother. I’m sorry I can’t do more to help you heal. Many hugs, Rebecca

  10. Incredibly powerful post, Mia. As a newbie to finally starting to dig deeper than I ever have before about how I, (as in ME, not my parents, friends, other family members, family friends, society, culture, others in the triad, etc.) really feel about my adoption, this post was incredibly validating.

    One of the recent revelations I’ve had that was probably a no-brainer and so overtly obvious to everyone else, but something that I’m really coming to grips with – is realizing that because cognitively I know the chances of finding my parents is SO remote, and some would even say, impossible, I’ve been able to cling on to this fantasty about how our reunion would really happen – as to NOT think about all of the very raw and real emotions you’ve described. I’m coming to realize that maybe it wasn’t necessarily me being naive or a coward, as I sometimes thought I might be for not really seeing this so clearly until very recently – but rather as Nina & Wraith spoke to in terms of a defense mechanism to protect ourselves.

    Again – your candor, eloquence and your willlingness to just put it all out on the table moves me and gives me hope. (((Mia)))

  11. I am soooo tired and will comment more tomorrow on everyone’s thoughtful insight. First though I want to clarify what I meant by weak and lazy because I know those words can trigger a lot of stuff for people.

    I know all about defense mechanisms, believe me. When I talk about being weak and lazy I say that fully admitting that I was such for years. I was afraid, which made me weak. I was not in a place where I could handle the internal work involved in facing my fears. My defense mechanism was simply not dealing with it at all. That is what I mean by lazy. It was more used as a description than an accusation.

    At some point I realized that the benefit of having some sort of relationship with my mother was more beneficial than anything I would face by confronting my fear. So I did the work. It was/is hard work and maybe that is my biggest problem; coming to terms with the fact that I could have just skipped it and the outcome would have been the same. But even typing those words now I know that isn’t necessarily true. Deep down I know this is work I have to do.

    sigh…..

    I have so much I want to say to each of you but it will have to wait until tomorrow so I make more sense. Thank you all so much for taking the time to share such intimate parts of yourselves. It means a great deal to me.

    See you in the morning! Sweet dreams……xoxo

  12. Mia this is an amazing post, and I don’t think you missed anything.

    I cannot imagine completely denying contact straight away. I was the polar opposite of this of course. But then I’m a freak within adoption, so I probably have nothing of real use to add to this discussion.

  13. A great post Mia…not being an adoptee or an adoptive parent, I can only come at this from an “outsider” point of view. I agree with with all the reasons you gave for an adoptee not wanting a relationship with their bparent(s) and I would add one other category: Other. Only because every person is an individual that has the ability to decide whether they want to be in a relationship or not and with whom. There may be un/explainable reasons or simply a preference – I don’t want it.

    I got your drift about being lazy too…and I think that whatever definition you want to assign that, any can fit. Some folks, let’s face it, are just not wanting to put forth the effort…not now or maybe ever. I think your term of “indifference” is a good one. Too many people today are not in touch with themselves much less with family. How can they know anyone else if they first don’t know and like themselves?

    The questions are hard and the answers are not easy either, if there are even answers known. As several have said, there is no understanding when there is no communication. When parents and their children refuse to know each other or don’t care enough to know, it defies logic and humanity (not that humanity is always logical).

    I look forward to reading other’s comments. Certainly a post that made me think. Thanks for sharing everyone!

  14. Oh, gosh, Mia – I hope you didn’t think that I was reacting in a defensive way towards your post – I’m sorry for any confusion. . .I never felt that there was any accusation being made.

    Everything you described so resonated with my recent acceptance of my”Ah-ha” moment about my Korean parents that it was just so validating to see your words and to know that they’re NORMAL feelings one would have when faced with the very real possibility (one that is so far removed from me at this particular point) of entering into reunion with one’s parents. For a very long time (and there is a part of me that still holds onto bits of it, I must admit) I envisioned this fairy-tale of a reunion happening – – maybe because I had it in my head that it probably would never happen – so why not dream the best dream imaginable, right?

    Now that I’m starting the search – with infinitesimal steps – I immediately saw myself in your words and was just very reassuring to say the least – in a good, uncomfortable kind of way – if that makes any sense!! 🙂

    I really loved this post.

  15. Yea I would like those answers as well. I don’t know if I will ever get them though. Wraith, I guess I am a ogre then. Not only do I LOVE onions but also I have layers upon layers of protective wear around my heart.

    Loved this post Mia absolutely loved it.

  16. Suz I get what you mean about wanting clarity. Maybe that is part of my problem. E has never come right out and said she doesn’t want me in her life. It’s as though she doesn’t want me AND doesn’t want to close the door completely. It’s confusing.
    I do think you are an enigma but in a very good way.

    Nina I know how much words like that hurt. We know we weren’t exactly planned but hearing your own mother call you unwanted right out loud like that is seriously hurtful. I know first hand. People would always try to reassure me that my conception didn’t really matter but on some level it must or words like that wouldn’t hurt. Windows UP! ;o)

    Rebecca I’m a fixer too. It makes this situation all the more frustrating because I can’t “fix” this. I keep thinking if I can UNDERSTAND it I can fix it. Meaning me of course, I know E has to do her own fixing.

    LeRoy we do have the ability to decide but I would like to think a mother would be instincually exempt from “deciding” not to at least try.

    Paula I didn’t think you were being defensive at all. I wanted to be clear about what I said because I chose to use strong words.
    I used to think that fantasizing about a particular kind of reunion was dangerous and left a person open to dissapointment. I’m not so sure that’s true anymore. The vision of how things could be can both motivate and sustain us during our search. It would actually be a really great topic to write about. Paula I know your search may seem insurmountable but try to remember two things-
    One; it is the search itself that changes you more than anything and two; miracles happen every single day.

    Amy me onion loving ogre too….ugh. ugh.

  17. Elizabeth you always have good things to contribute to the conversation! Under the circumstances how could you not be the polar opposite? Polarities offer insight too. Sometimes more.

  18. Mia…when does a mother lose her instinct…or does she ever?

  19. My point exactly. As a mother myself that is an absolutely foreign concept to me. What you asked me here is just a much shorter version of the questions I ask in this post.

  20. but is it “losing” her instinct, or burying it in layers of anger and fear as well?

  21. You know Wraith I think it would feel good to hear E say “I do care….I just can’t.”. I guess what I am saying is I would much rather know it’s buried instead of thinking she either lost it (like one would something of little importance) or worse, that she never had it to begin with. The latter would bother me because we share DNA among the obvious, more hurtful reasons.

  22. An interesting concept to contemplate. Are we born with certain instincts that come out when certain conditions exist…that is perhaps they become “honed” when one reaches adolescence by maturation?

    If so, can instincts be killed or become latent given another set of circumstances – parents pressuring person into surrending a child, no resources, depression? Only to reappear or exert itself at a later time (like adult child contacts you)?

    It is the nature vs. nurture combination it seems to me that might provide the answer. Nature being the inate instincts everyone is born with and then nurtured (brought out) by our enviornment (or driven inward).

    Maybe I am all wet on this, but sounds feasible.

  23. You know I am an adoptive mom. I have fear. I fear everyday that I am doing/saying/being the right thing. If I talk about L or adoption am I creating stress for BJ? Am I too concerned about my obligations to L that I am being age inappropriate with BJ? If I don’t talk about adoption will BJ just bury her thoughts? How do I communicate that I love her and lay the foundation that she can talk to me even when the thoughts and feelings are complicated or hurtful? How do I do what is right for her when I don’t recognize some of her personality in myself? I have fears about L; if I pursue this relationship for BJ now, and it complicates our nice easy life will I regret it? Is that selfish to feel that way? Is it ok to just want L in our lives later? I don’t have feelings of rejection per se, minor worries about how being adopted could complicate the teen years and how will I know the best way to deal with it. Sometimes I do wish that BJ was born to me just so we didnt have to deal with these extra issues. At the same moment I know she wouldn’t be who she is if she were born to me and I wouldn’t trade one thing about her

    I am glad there is a growing community of adoptive parents who think like I do, but really its just a handful, online anyway. People in my life find my perspective quite shocking.

    I really do hope to hear from adult adoptees what felt good, positive, safe and welcoming from their adoptive parents. What ways or things did their adoptive parents do that were well intentioned but counter productive in supporting them and their exploration of self as an adoptee. There isn’t much of that online. I hope it isn’t because it isn’t there, but that it is less motivating to write about. But I read adoptees, always looking for what to do right, what to avoid. And I also try to remember that adoptees as a group are all indivduals like any class membership and that BJ won’t necessarily feel or think like anyone else.

    I have pain. But it is usually momentary and situational. It does hurt when BJ says – you are not my real mom. But I just try to feel that in the moment, not let her see it and tell her that I am real, that L is real, and that I will always, always be there for her and with her. I don’t know that there is much that I can do about that. She doesn’t say it (right now) to hurt me. It is when she is trying to figure out L. I hope that her getting it out and testing the waters will reduce the likelihood of her using it to hurt me when she is a teen and doing the separation from parents thing. I worry about the teen years the most as it relates to adoption. I don’t understand how the task of separating from parents to become indepedant is challenged by the adoption task at that age of finding a new family to integrate with. That is sort of why I want some contact now, so that BJ can incorporate L into her self concept now in more stable and less hormonal years than the teen years.

    Anyway, you asked adoptive parents to be real in their feelings – so there are my ramblings on it.

    On, E – I only know small pieces you have shared, but my father (whom I did not grow up with) is clinically narcisistic. Completely unaware of others feelings and how his actions impact them. Wants others available to him when he wants them but doesn’t want to spend time or have a relationship. Sometimes when you write about E, it sounds familiar like that.

  24. Thank you so much for your comment Marlene. I will reply as soon as my kids aren’t bouncing all over the place and I can think. lol
    Soon!

  25. I can’t really agree or disagree with anything you’ve posted (I’ve been very fortunate to have both of the families I have). I think you were wonderfully thorough in your reasoning.

    It’s so hard to figure out why some people react to things the way they do. Nature? Nurture?

  26. justice

    Mia,
    You’ve given me a lot to think about.

    Why do people do the things they do? Most of the time they don’t even know what they’re doing much less why.

    As far as I can tell we get afraid of exposing our inadequacies. We’re weak and lazy like you said.

    You know the value of working and facing your fears. What brings one to the point of courage?

    As for E., I doubt that her instinct is truly gone. Lost among the layers but still inside.

    Look at your own strength and willingness.

  27. I know a first Mom who doesn’t want contact at all. Mostly because she never told anyone that she had a baby. None of her five children know of their sister, and she thinks if they find out they will hate her for not telling them, especially the two eldest, as they would have been full sister and brother. Also she is ashamed, because she listened to her then husband when he said “you bring that kid home and I am leaving”. She would have a lot of questions to answer. Secrecy, that is what she fell into and now she can’t get out of it. There is only two or three people that know and she is afraid of the repercussions of telling all now. In the sixty’s, you were told to get on with your life and not tell anyone.
    Great post, sure answered some of my questions.

    Linda

  28. reunionwritings

    What a great post, I might have to link this one.

  29. What a great post, Mia, and great comments, too!

    There is one thing I hope mothers will consider that some comments touched on but didn’t really zero in on. That is, another potential problem with adopted people over which they havve virtually no control. It depends, of course, on the circumstances of their birth and what happened soon after.

    Here is a snippet of one of dozens of abstracts (and articles) that may explain some behavior:

    “Deprived or abnormal rearing conditions induce severe disturbance in all aspects of social and emotional functioning, and effect the growth and survival of [neural components] ….These immature limbic nuclei are “experience-expectant,” and may be differentially injured depending on the age at which they suffer deprivation ….If denied sufficient stimulation these nuclei may atrophy, develop seizure-like activity or maintain or form abnormal synaptic interconnections, resulting in social withdrawal, pathological shyness, explosive and inappropriate emotionality, and an inability to form normal emotional attachments. ”

    This info is a downer, no doubt. The good news is that recent research tells us that the brain is more plastic that we thought and this damage can be corrected.

    Most adoptees from my era (I was born in ’53) are likely to have suffered this damage because we were institutionalized in an environment of minimal contact for the first few weeks of life prior to joining our adoptive families.

    If the parenting style of the adoptive parents followed the “cry it out” philosophy, that certainly exacerbated the long-term effects.

    Sorry. I can be no fun at all sometimes.

  30. Wow so much to take in, not only from the amazing, incredible and insightful post, but from all the amazing, incredible and insightful comments as well.

    I have another thing on the adult adoptee question, which is probably all of the above combined, but it’s kind of a familial brainwashing that goes on.

    I saw it in my adopted family. It’s the constant reminder YOU WERE WANTED. YOU WERE CHOSEN. WE ARE SUCH A GOOD FAMILY. YOU ARE SO LUCKY over and over and over. Then I had a zillion cousins, aunts and uncles who would always repeat the same thing. I think if you grow up without a lot of outside influences, and you hear this parrotted to you again and again, about how happy happy happy you should be, this sinks in. Especially if you were brought up in an atmosphere of “The family is everything. Anyone outside the family is a threat.”

    And on the other question you asked: You’re worth it. You’re so, so worth it. I don’t have the slightest clue. Anything I’d say would be only conjecture, and projecting my own fears of rejection. But you’re worth it. A million times over.

  31. At last got round to reading this post – and all the comments attached.
    WOW – another amazing post by Miss Mia.
    You have an amazing gift to not just hit the nail on the head – but ram it home for good measure!!!
    These emotions are so very very true – and I also have worked through alot of them -or perhaps it’s just always an ongoing battle with them – especially as I’m dealing with traits that have been instilled in me since soon after birth.
    It has taken me until now to be able to let myself feel safe enough in “ME” to be able to go on this journey of tracking down my mother – and look toward some kind of “reunion”.
    But – just like you – I have hit a brick wall from my mother – with the sentiments of – “having trouble coping with the pain of you coming back into my life” – – – – – – – – – – I haven’t the words any more to explain the intense pain that this causes.
    I’m sitting on the fence with you Mia – waiting for our number to come up – and waiting for it to finally be OUR turn to be noticed and not ignored.
    Hugs, C. xxxx

  32. Marlene I had some thoughts about the discussion of L with BJ and then I went and read your blog and realized you are two steps ahead of me. Trial and error isn’t it? There sure isn’t a manual for this! I stand by what I said; BJ is a lucky little girl. Allowing her to set the pace is probably the best thing you thought of. You have made it clear that no question is a stupid question and that you are open. As an adoptee I would have to say that is probably the most important step. xoxo

    Julie I’m going to quit playing with you if you keep making me work so hard. lolol Great info. to ponder.

    Theresa I think it’s unanomous, the term Chosen is definately O U T this season. ;o)

    I really appreciate the kind comments everyone left regarding E. It helps. Some day I will have clarity about it and with that I hope will come some peace.

  33. Once again, this is an excellent post you’ve written, Mia!

    Like Marlene, I have some fears as an adoptive mother…fears and questions about the “right” way to handle the adoption of our son now that the deed is done.

    Is it okay to openly discuss Snuggle Bug’s adoption with strangers before he’s old enough to do so on his own? Will he see it as an invasion of his privacy later and resent me for it?

    By not openly discussing his adoption with strangers, will it make him feel as though adoption is shameful and he should hide the fact that he came to be a part of our family through adoption? I never want him to feel that way!

    How should we handle things when he starts school? Do we tell teachers that he was adopted or do we wait until a class project comes up that may prompt us to have that discussion? Or do I wait and let Snuggle Bug decide if/when he wants to share that information with others at school.

    How will we handle things if/when Snuggle Bug asks to meet his first parents. They’ve told us they don’t want to meet him before he’s 18. Given the fact that he’ll know from day one that he was adopted, what if he wants to meet them at age 8 or 10 or 12? What happens if we contact them and they say they’re not ready? What if they say they are? Will I be willing and able to put my son’s needs first and not feel threatened by any growing relationship that might develop between them (I like to think so, but do I know this for sure)?

    What’s the best way to raise my son to feel comfortable sharing with us his mixed emotions about adoption without him feeling as though he’s betraying us?

    How do I help Snuggle Bug to grow into a confident young man, given the additional layer of adoption in his life?

    Like Marlene, I would also appreciate hearing from adult adoptees what felt good, positive, safe and welcoming from their adoptive parents. What did they wish their adoptive parents had done differently?

    For now, we’re taking things day-by-day. We’re showing Snuggle Bug that we love him dearly, through our words and actions. We’re trying to find age-appropriate ways to introduce him to the concept of adoption. We’re keeping our promise to his first mother by sending her regularly scheduled updates. And, most importantly, we’re trying to educate ourselves along the way…for his sake, as well as ours.

    I hope you find the answers that you’re looking for in trying to understand the actions, or lack there of, of your first mother.

  34. OW what a great comment. I think I may take some time with this and write a post. You and Marlene posed some important questions that deserve the attention of all of us.

  35. Mia, this post is brilliant. I am an adult adoptee and I don’t think I can add to the list.
    I am also in the same position as you with a birth mum who doesn’t want to work on the relationship. My b/mum only agreed to meeting me because she thought I might go to the papers (I’ve got a drama queen as well!). Her reason is that terrible “s” word – secrecy. She has never told anyone, never will. It’s a shameful thing for her to have had a baby and given it up. The longer she leaves it, the deeper the secret is buried.
    To Marlene – wow, what a great adoptive parent – the positive things my adoptive parents did for me were to actually ask me if I wanted to search for my b/parents when I turned 18. They always supported me, were never fearful, and kept me going when times got tough (I’ve written about this in my book, ‘Beyond the Red Door’). On the point of them not being fearful of losing me, can I reassure adoptive parents that they won’t lose their child. My adoptive parents are my parents; no one else can take their place. Now as for what they didn’t do during my growing years…they never spoke to me about what I might be feeling, the wonderings about where I came from, who I might be like etc. They thought, erroneously, that if I didn’t speak my feelings, that they weren’t there. But I was so confused and so sure that I shouldn’t say anything, that life became very difficult. So I’d advocate for asking a question now and then, giving your child a chance to express how he/she feels. Just my thoughts.

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