Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Disappointing Birthmother Reunions

Recommended Reading: A Large, Messy Mosaic: What have we learned from 30 years of open adoption? This article ran in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle Magazine and can be found at www.sfgate.com. Type in "open adoption" in the search box. Adoptees from the closed era who are dealing with disappointing reunions may find it especially interesting.

and...you've GOT to read MarleyGreiner's post at www.bastardette.blogspot.com titled, "I've Heard This Song Before, Identity Bashing and the Trashing of Katrina Clark."

Technically, I shouldn't use the word "reunion" because I haven't met my birthmother yet and today, I'm not sure I want to.

Someone said it's the process of searching and finding that gives us power and helps to make us whole. Maybe it's not necessary to actually meet face-to-face.

I've had two self-centered adoptive parents who put me in the role of emotional caregiver, I'm not sure I can handle a third parent who doesn't seem to regret her decision to relinquish and has no "filters." She says pretty much what is on her mind and some of that stuff is painful to hear. My a-dad also lacks "filters" but with him, I know what to expect.

My birthmother has an untapped arsenal of foreign weaponry. She's a nice person, is not malicious and means no harm, but those barbed arrows hurt all the same. Like the time she went on and on about her firm choice to relinquish while her mother, sisters and eldest daughter begged her not to and called her "heartless." She seemed so proud that she had "done the right thing" and defied them. Look at how well you turned out, she seems to be saying. I guess she didn't hear the pain in my voice when I tried to describe the feelings of not fitting in with my adoptive family, my child-like father, my domineering-controlling mother.

So now I'm angry and I'm grieving. And I'm glad about that. Those feelings are long overdue. I can actually feel myself becoming a real person. More authentic.

So what am I thinking today? I searched. Check. I found. Check. Got to know her. Had lots of long talks. Got my backstory and learned about my heritage. And now I'm feeling bad. Her cavalier attitude toward my adoption may be a coping mechanism for her, but it's not healthy for me. I'm not calling as often. I'm putting up some emotional boundaries. I've learned it's important to take care of yourself when important people in your life are careless with their words. And you know what? All those "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" sayings were a load of crap. Words do have power.



Blogger Joy said...

God, I really love the way your mind works, that sticks and stones reminds me of the Sundays, and there version of it,

"Sticks ans stones may break my bones, and words will just finish me off"

yeah, that is unfortunate that she doesn't understand, but how many people understand or even care to understand the adoptees pov, that is kinda how we got here

9:08 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

You know, now that you say that - how many people even care to understand adoptees pov - you got me thinking. That article about open adoption was lacking something...and I couldn't put my finger on it...but the adoptive parents got a lot of play and so did some birth relatives but no much the adoptees (one is private and didn't want to speak), but that could have been addressed by broadening the article to include other adoptees. Back to your main point...yeah...sometimes, in the best of the child translates into what's best for others.

9:37 AM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

Reading your blog reminds me of how powerful words can be...as in the Bee Gees song: "Its only words, but words are all I have to take your heart away." I wonder how many moms sing that one about the kids they gave up.

5:00 PM  
Blogger elizabeth said...

Nina I sure hope you have better luck working through your grief than I have. I often wonder if it will ever end.

And I hope this comment gets posted, I've been having some problems posting comments.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous mia said...

I like that.......emotional boundaries. Good for you Nina. Good for you!

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