Sunday, December 24, 2006

Losing Respect for my Birthmother

It's mind-boggling, cant-believe-it, isn't-this-a-nightmare-news in an already confusing birthfamily reunion that makes blogging a blessing and those who take time to read and comment SO APPRECIATED!!! Thank you Being Me, Leroy, Elizabeth, in reunion and Cloudscome.

For those reading about it for the first time: In short, seven months after searching and finding my birthmother, I'm told she allowed a child in her care to be sexually abused by her husband over a period of years. That my mother is still in denial. That this child, now a woman, never received family help or support. That news of my adoption unleashed a tsunami of anger and sadness and confusion in this woman, a close relative.

So what am I thinking today?

Maybe the better word is feeling. I've lost respect for my birthmother. Did I ever have it in the first place? Was it there to lose? If these allegations are true, it's going to be very hard to feel a connection to her. After a brief honeymoon phase, I began to detect a cavalier attitude toward my relinquishment...which is probably some sort of emotional cover. Fine. But it's not healthy for me. Maybe I've already gotten what needed to be "gotten" from my search. Maybe some day I'll learn some stuff, process it differently and gain sympathy and understanding for my mother.

Did a little bit of reading about child sexual abuse, of which I know zip. Dead on, Leroy, sounds like denial is shockingly common amongst those who knew of it and did nothing to prevent it. That woman often choose their mates over their children. That the victims are left to deal with its aftermath by themselves.

I'm going to mail this relative this book. I told her she was a victim. That she has a right to her anger and her feelings. That she needs therapy ASAP. She has never been told any of these things and she cried with relief.

But where - if anywhere - do i fit in to this DRAMA? And it's a big one encompassing all sorts of other family problems, filled with details I know nothing about. And for every story, there are other sides of which I can never know.

It's my birth family. My blood family. Yet not my family. Practically strangers. Our connection is tenuous. I am an outsider. What responsibility do I have except to this relative who reached out to me in her pain? How much do I really want to get involved? What will be asked of me? What role will I be expected to fill? Just the other day, I received a lovely note from another birth relative welcoming me to the family, saying she'd love to meet me. She is a recovering drug addict. It's possible I am perceived by this big, extended family of strangers that I am relatively sane, sober and normal...someone they can finally turn to. That's more than a little scary. I was thinking this, not wanting to think it, when my husband cautiously expressed his concern.

So this nagging worry, anxiety, sort of sits there. I want to say, hey folks, I was given away! I have my own issues! I can't handle yours, too.

But wow, I am soooo glad I've dealt with biggies like working on my people-pleasing and Nina-to-the-rescue-tendencies! I'm much better at setting boundaries, taking care of myself and not letting myself get emeshed. I realize that now. This news, even five months ago, would have sent me into a tailspin. Now, while it's worrisome, it's in perspective and I'm getting mentally ready to check-out, enjoy Christmas and not even think about the downside of adoption!

So there! That's the good news! Therapy and blogging and searching and finding even this nightmare of a situation has an upside. And for all that, I'm grateful...which is not be confused with being a grateful, happy adoptee. (Don't worry Joy, I haven't crossed to the dark side!)

Merry Christmas!



Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

Merry Christmas to you Nina! You are much healthier than your birth mother and probably always will be. The best that can probably be hoped for is the person who was sexually abused and is now willing to talk about it. Hopefully she will avail herself of therapy and that will in turn draw your mother into it as well. It does sound like there was and still is a great deal of dysfunction within your family of origin. That is not to say any of us live in a family totally functional, just that some are more than others.

I would have the same concerns as your husband and voicing them as well. Good for you in recognizing your own need for boundaries. I would stay on the sidelines of this DRAMA and let it unfold. If it were me, I would tell the victim that what happened to her wasn't her fault and now she can do something (like get therapy) to help her with the many issues sexual abuse inflicts on children and then what it often does to adults later in life, especially within relationships. It is complex and very sad.

The good news for you though is that you are "feeling" alive this Christmas. I do hope you enjoy it like none other!

9:07 PM  
Blogger Joy said...

Hi Nina

I am sorry, just catching up, I don't know what to say, more later Joy

10:22 PM  
Blogger singing feather said...

I couldn't have said it better then Leroy. Christmas is almost over so I wish you all the very best things for the new year.


5:12 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Hi Nina. I am new to your blogs so please accept my apologies for any assumption made here.

I believe you have done a brave thing here researching your biological roots. You didn't know what you would be landing yourself into, but you did it and unfortunately you have landed yourself into something which is more complex, as you said, than you bargained for.

Unfortunately, no matter what happens from here on, this family is yours and you cannot change that. I feel for you because you didn't know what laid ahead of you.

I hate the word "victim" and I prefer the word "survivor", but speaking from the point of view of a survivor of incestual abuse, the "victim" of this abuse will need all the support and help she can get.

I can understand that this will be hard to take on, but never-the-less, this family is your birth family and the person who was abused will need any support and help she can get from you.

As for your birth mother, I would not necessarily act with animosity against her. She is probably just as overwhelmed as you and she possibly is living in denial in order to protect herself mentally. After it has sunk in, (if it ever will properly), she will probably need support herself.

Has she told any member of the authorities? She needs to tell the authorities and feel that she is believed, even if it just by yourself. To feel that she is believed will help her to deal with the problem more.

Those who have been abused feel they are alone in the fight against the abuser. If you can give her the support she needs, it will be a great help to her.

If you need to talk and seek advice, feel free to email me. I am available to read and reply to anything you send me during weekends. My email address is

I wish good luck to both you and the abused person.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Thanks all for the support and insight. This IS a really weird situation because I've never met any of these birth family members before. Today, the way I'm looking at it, I'm not feeling animosity but a sort of wariness. There are far too many details for a blog, but apparently, when the police did investigate due to complaints brought by another family member, my birthmother told the child in her care to lie to the police and say it didn't happen. Does this take it out of simple denial and put it someplace else...complicity? In any case, I think what some birth family members have been trying to tell me is that my birthmother has some very big, serious problems and that I was better off being raised by another family. I think animosity is too strong a word to describe what I'm feeling toward my b.m. but every conversation we do have she raises the fact that she "rescued" this child from a bad home situation and took her into her home. And now, I'm thinking, out of the pot and into the frying pan...of sexual abuse. And Chris..I'll use the word survivor instead of victim...words are important and it is an important distinction.

1:33 PM  

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