Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Adoptive "Parents": NOT

More than any other, just writing this post has proved the most upsetting. It makes me feel with sick with guilt. I logged back on to get rid of it, but I've decided to let it stay because it's how I'm really feeling now.

No matter how desperately my adoptive parents wanted to believe that our family was "no different" than others, as it turns out, it was.

Not talking about adoption, pretending it was no big deal, distancing themselves from nosy neighbors and finally, my mother's histrionic reaction to my occasional questions, all failed. Miserably. They could not control the secret. The secret controlled them. It controlled me. Until now.

I no longer think of them as my parents.

They are the people I was placed with - selected by a social worker during the "matching" period in the failed social experiment of Closed Adoptions. They raised me, happily at first, until I graduated from high school, then retreated in resentment and crushing disappointment. I was supposed to be the solution to their problems: the longed-for dutiful daughter who would stay close and not abandon them. Instead, I got a full-time job, saved my money and paid my way through college (NOT the snap it sounds-a time of lonliness, confusion and grueling schedules). They turned their backs then, my adoptive mother bitter and angry. Sometimes, a year would go by without her speaking to me. And my now ailing adoptive father, who suffers the isolating consequences of Narscisstic Personality Disorder, is still my responsibility...but not my father. I need to think of him that way in order to cope. He's always been child-like. He's never been able to parent. I've always had to parent him. Therefore, he's not my parent.

This rethinking of my family troubles me at the same time I understand its necessity. It's just not nice. And I'm basically a nice person. But a tired one. All this dealing with adoption is as exhausting as it is critical.

My therapist says I may not always feel this way. That it's part of the PROCESS of grieving, something I've never allowed myself to do before, having been so busy parent-and-people-pleasing. So I'm grieving. And my adoptive parents are finally losing their hold. Maybe that's a good thing.



Blogger Third Mom said...

Nina, I hope it's OK for me to say I think it IS good that your a-parents are losing their hold. No adoptive parent has the right to believe their children owe them ANYTHING, least of all love.

6:32 PM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

I think it is good that your aparents are losing their hold on you too. You have your own life. Apparently you were not allowed to separate from you aparents in any healthy way due to the role reversal they put you in. You lost out not only on being parented but also a childhood since it was consumed caring for them. Very sad.

Because they are losing their hold and once the grieving is over, perhaps there will come a time to celebrate your liberation.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous mia said...

I too at almost fourty am finding my independance from my parents, carving my own existence which unlike the past is not dependent upon their expectations. Better late then never right? ;o) Do you ever find yourself back sliding? I struggle with the forward motion of it all. It can be draining. Sounds like you and I have similar parents. Even the whole matching outfit thing but I was much younger (like 3,4,5) during that "twin" phase my mom went through. I find it wierd. Very very wierd. Looking at the photos of us in our matching outfits is freaky.

7:37 PM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

Good point Mia....I think everyone finds themselves "slipping" back into the role of a child around their parents. I know if I am around my mom and she tells me to do something, I hardly ever question it. I just do it - maybe she is just conditioning me for marriage too (okay bad joke!). But it is true that becoming "adult" with your parents is a process.

Makes me wonder about whether a person who has been adopted and establishes a relationship with their parent has to go thru the childhood role before getting to the adult role with their parent. I wonder if it has to be "sequential" or is that just something that is lost.

4:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nina, wow, I can so relate to this post - all the way to no longer thinking of them as my parents. It actually gave me chills reading it. I struggle with whether I'm "doing the right thing", whether I'm "being nice" or not during this separation. But I'm just so tired of being controlled - I just can't do it anymore. Thanks for posting this - makes me know I'm not alone.

1:40 PM  

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