Thursday, February 22, 2007

After Reunion: Figuring It Out

Suz, in a comment to my previous post, asked some important questions from the perspective of a mother in reunion. She also said something that I've thought a lot about. From her perspective, lack of feedback (silence!) after reunion feels like punishment (being doled out by her daughter). Suz, I'm sorry.

It got me to examining my own silence: eleven days.

Am I trying to punish my mother?

What am I doing? What do I want? Do I want continued contact? Did I accomplish what I needed with one meeting?

Not sure. Just not sure.

It's sooooo BIG.

Today was a sad day. A really sad day. A "how could you have left me? day. And an angry one, too.

My adoptive Dad has been especially whiny/complainy/needy the last couple days. Nothing new. Just his old narcissistic self multiplied by age/dementia.

My mother intended for me to have a better life. That's what she wanted. Instead, I was placed with a low income family without a value for education and with a long, rich history of neurosis.

She says she marched into the public adoption agency intent on adoption from the first. She received financial aid in exchange for her commitment to surrender. She says she refused to hold me because she didn't want to get attached. She had no idea I was placed in foster care for a month. She asked few questions, trusted the system. She did not call the social worker to inquire after my welfare. I DO feel abandoned and not surrendered or relinquished.

My mother is a sweet little old lady. She also showed no emotion during our meeting, not to say that she felt none. I do believe she "split off" that dark period of her life. I can feel it. She talks about that time - and me as an infant - as if it happened to somebody else and that baby is not me.

Intellectually, I understand why she does this. It is how she has coped.

But from my perspective, post reunion, it feels like I have been split off. That I am not real. A nonperson. And while she has been entirely agreeable in meeting with me and reaching out and answering all my questions (except the last name of my father), because she is so detached, it feels like another abandonment.

My silence is probably more about self-protection than punishment. All mothers are different. This is one adoptee's reaction to a particular mother who is much older and in a much different emotional place and stage than many first mothers. Maybe this reunion suffers from bad timing. Really bad timing. Maybe I should have done this sooner when we were both younger. Maybe there's such a thing as leaving something too long.

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16 Comments:

Blogger suz said...

Intellectually, I understand why she does this. It is how she has coped.

Totally totally get this feeling. Its what I was saying in my other comment. I can intellectually understand my daughters behavior, reaction, need for space, etc.


Emotionally? I dont. I hurt. I cry. I feel like I am the bad dirty slut girl again only now its my daughter punishing me instead of my parents, the agency, etc.

THANK god I have been through enough therapy to realize that is MY issue and not hers..I dont project it on to her. I just hurt silently alone (except when I am whining on your blog).

Yup. I undertand, only in reverse.

9:23 PM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

You could be right Nina. Your mom at 84 years old is not about to change her thought process at this stage in her life. You both felt a need to meet and answer as many questions about each other's life as possible yet even that cannot ever fill the void of what should have/could have been but wasn't.

I can't imagine all the emotions that one experiences at a time like you are going through. The closest would be akin to a grieving process initiated again by the reunion. Denial of being a person, the anger bubbling up again over how could she be that way, the bargaining of why me, the depressive/quiet stage, and then finally acceptance of what was and cannot be changed except for oneself.

It sucks. Its hard but eventually the peace it hopefully brings makes it worthwhile. (hugs)

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Mom2One said...

I'm so sorry, Nina. It has to hurt. It just has to hurt A LOT. *hugs* are about all I can offer.

There have to be a lot of "maybe's," a lot of "what if's." The truth is, you can't really know if things would have been different if done sooner, if done differently. It's so hard to know, it's impossible to know. My concern with the "maybe's," the "what if's" is that it seems like a way to blame yourself for things not going well. Or am I off base here? It's just not your fault.

She's built up quite a protective wall, your birth mother. To protect herself. She just doesn't realize how much it hurts you. And I'm so sorry about that. Just big huge *hugs* to you, Nina. The biggest possible.

~ AKA Judy

3:22 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Suz, We HAVE to talk about all this somehow. At least we - mothers and adoptees - can have a good whine and a moan (credit: lyrics by Lilly Allen, British pop phenom)and in the process learn an important thing or two from each other!

Leroy, THANK YOU for putting a framework on the ups and downs of all this: grief. Duh!!! I hadn't been thinking of it in this context even though that's exactly what it is. Spoke to my niece yesterday about all this and how she was feeling about the reunion (still good-whew) and my mother's only comments were that I had a "pleasant personality" and that I was too thin. So yes, I think she's certainly not going to change now and she's heavily invested in how she thinks of my adoption and seems, at the end of her life, happy and content with that decision...just at the time I'm awakening from the brainwashing.

Judy Judy Judy...Hah! I never thought I'd get to say that! I'll take the big hugs. I'll also take your sound advice and not blame myself...which I think I was beginning to do. I am determined to make today a happier, better one and take a weekend breather!

HAPPY FRIDAY EVERYONE!!!

8:18 AM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

Happy Friday to you too Nina! I am glad your niece is still communicating with you. It is a connection from whence you came :) And this whole thing is about connections that were disconnected a long time ago - at least that is what it seems to me as an outsider peering in.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous JanetShaw said...

This post made me reflect on why we adoptees go "silent" after reunion. When I met my b/mum, she told me she never thought about me, that I was nothing like her and that she needed "space". So I had nothing to respond to. But then her parents made contact with me and sounded very welcoming. I met them and got the absolute opposite reaction. But then I retreated into silence in a big way. I was confused because of the reaction I'd got from my b/mum. Were these grandparents for real? Or would they sudddenly reject me too? It was all too frightening, and I needed to try and sort myself out. I was lucky, they were very patient with me. I think it was only wehn I wrote my book about my adoption experiences that they finally understood where I was coming from. Boy, adoption is complicated! BTW, muy b/mum is still in her "space" 22 years later!

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