adoptee, adoption, birthmom, birthmother, coersion, family trauma, Mother's day, multi generational, speaking out, survival, trauma
Every year Mothers day comes around I am unsure of how I’ll be. I was going to write a post for mother’s day, but this year was a hard one. It’s hard for so many reasons. When you have as many ties to adoption in your family as I do, stepping on a landmine is easy.
When I was first pregnant with my son, and mothers day rolled around I was 8 and a half months pregnant. I was already being courted by my sons adoptive parents and being heavily groomed to believe I would not be able to raise him on my own. My dad and I were sitting in the living room, having our morning coffee, and reading the paper. I looked up and said, “Dad, today is mothers day… did you forget me?” “He briefly looked up from his paper, and said “You’re not a mother yet.” “Dad, this is the only mothers day that I will get to spend with my baby, and I am a mother, it’s not like I can put the baby down!” and I stood to the side to show him my massive belly. I tried not to be hurt, but I was. Later that day, my dad came home with flowers and a card for me, and I felt heard. In fact, I still have that card…and every other card he has ever given me for mother’s day. You see, after that day he never forgot me again. It would be another ten years before I had a baby of my own to raise, but every year like clockwork, my dad would send me a mother’s day card, and it meant the world to me.
It was more than just remembering I was a mother, even with the loss of my son. It was the not forgetting that mattered. In order to remember me, he needed to remember my son. I wanted him to acknowledge my grief, to recognize that Mothers day is a hard day for me, even now that I have my own child to raise. One does not cancel out the other. Ever.
This year my family, who I am estranged from, added a new member. My sister had a baby boy. It really messed me up, and triggered me in ways I wasn’t expecting. I wrote about it here. I wondered how this ‘legit’ baby boy would change my family. How would my dad react to having his very own ‘legit’ grandson? Would he now forget about my son? Could my son be replaced?
On Mother day this year, I did not receive a card from him. First time in 20 yrs. I received an email instead. It read “Hope you have a wonderful day today and you are so lucky to have such a wonderful daughter !!!!!!!! Enjoy your day!”
Ummm…what?! Most of you won’t see anything wrong with this message. In order to understand you would have to see many years of messages acknowledging BOTH of my children. I do have a wonderful daughter, but he wouldn’t know that. He hasn’t seen her since she was two. He sends cards on birthdays and sends gifts on Christmas, But he has never come to visit. He does however visit my sisters kids regularly. After his message I felt like I had been kicked in the gut. To top things off I was already triggered because for unforeseen reasons, my daughter was seeing her dad on Sunday instead of Saturday as he usually did. I felt turned inside out. I felt uprooted not having my daughter there on Mothers day. It was made worse knowing that I wouldn’t receive any message from my son this year either.
For reasons I don’t understand, and have not been told, my son is not currently speaking with me. He does this every once in a while. This last episode was brought on by a conversation we had at the beginning of the year. He will message me out of the blue and demand pictures, or ask questions and if I don’t answer right away he gets angry. I am always quick to respond because I’m scared that if I don’t do as he demands that he will stop talking to me. I respond even when I’m not ready, especially when he wants to video chat. I’ve only had three of those in the last ten years. I always say yes, because who knows when he will want to again? I realize now I just sell myself short. The last video chat was because his girlfriend wanted to “meet” me. I sat there making small chat with her while he was off in the background cooking something. I was asked to turn my head to the side. I was asked to show her my ears. I felt like a circus freak, on display. He came back and we talked briefly then he had to go. I felt used. After that, nothing for months.
Then he goes away traveling, and all of a sudden we start speaking regularly. I learned more about him. He learned more about me. I thought we had turned a corner, I was really excited. I suspect he was drunk for that last conversation. He was quite candid that his relationship with his parents wasn’t great. That he felt out-of-place, different. I tried to soothe him by sharing that him and I are a lot alike in our mannerisms, looks and personalities. I wanted him to know he’s not “different” in fact, him and I would fit in well together, but I think that made things worse. After that I would send him a little messages once a month or so, but no response. I thought he might break the thaw for mother’s day, but I was wrong. It hurt. I tried to tell myself “I’m fine, I’ll be fine, don’t think about it.” We all know that’s impossible. My daughter not being there, and my dads thoughtless message magnified everything. I peeked in on adoptionland but everyone was triggered and raw and picking fights everywhere. Mothers day is probably the hardest day in adoptionland. We are all just trying to get though the day, Mothers of loss and Adoptees alike.
My older sister, who was lost to adoption, put out a Facebook message to both her moms. She acknowledged our mother by calling her “my tummy mommy”. That phrase disgusts me for so many reasons. My mom loves it. It’s so hard to be in a family who refuses to see the tragedy of what adoption has done. My mother, my older sister, and my younger sister all believe adoption is such a positive thing. I am the outcast because I spoke up. I realized this year, on mother’s day that the relationship I had hoped to have with my older sister will never happen. Shes not interested in having a relationship with me. Every time I have tried to talk to her, she’s always “so busy” or I get one word answers back days after I send her a message. She has lots of time to get together with my mom and sister though. There are many pics that prove that. It’s time for me to walk away. If I want to get real about it, my original intent was to find her for my mom, because I saw how she suffered without her. It’s because of me they are reunited. I was a fool to think I would be part of it. I did my part. I tried my best and really opened up to her when I wrote about what happened when I did reunite them.
These last few years my health has really changed the way I see things in my life. I no longer will be anyone’s circus freak, doormat or punching bag. I will no longer stay silent about things that hurt me for the sake of “keeping the peace” because when I do, it stays inside me and festers making me sicker. If my son were to write me and suggest we reunite face to face, at this time in my life I would say no. Not because I don’t want to, but because he doesn’t treat me with respect.
As for my dads message on mother’s day? I thought long and hard about saying something. He is the only family member I have left that speaks to me, since I opened up about the way I feel about how adoption has affected our family. I came to the conclusion that I needed to stand up for myself. He had never forgotten to mention my son in 20 yrs. I was not giving him a free pass to not acknowledge him this year. I agonized over whether to send it. I really got clear on the reason I was sending it, and what I was expecting to get back. I wanted him to hear me. I wanted him to know it still hurts. I wanted him to know I haven’t forgiven him for pulling the rug out from my feet at the 11th hour. I didn’t expect a response. This was entirely for me. Here is what I sent back. Names have been omitted to protect privacy.
“I have two children. Mother’s Day is bittersweet. I won’t hear from one, and the other is with her dad today. Now that you have your own “legit” grandson do you think you can erase my son? I’ll never let you forget. I’ll never forget what made the “choice” ( of course it can’t be called a “choice”when the other option you had been taken away at the 11th hour and you have no other alternative.) for me. When I begged to keep my son, and you said “don’t do this to X and Y, you’ll break their hearts” and when I begged for help, and reminded you this is your grandson too, you said ” if you bring that baby home, you don’t have a place to live” just like that. After renovating the basement for me and the baby. After helping me take night school courses to open my own daycare to support us.
What you didn’t consider was the grief that would be never-ending for me. What you didn’t consider is MY SON is really angry at me for “giving him away.” His parents have bad mouthed me all his life and he’s confused because the mother he was told of is not the same as the one he communicates with. He was told I didn’t care about him, and that when I had his sister I walked away. I didn’t want to see him anymore.(Readers: the open adoption was closed by his amom when I has his sister. She claimed now that I had a child of my own I didn’t need to see him anymore) He was told when he was small that He couldn’t be alone with me because I might try to take him away. X really warped him. He hates her. He has a lukewarm relationship with his dad, but they both are disappointed in him because he loves music. He’s in a band. That’s what he wants to do. That’s his families traits coming through, and he’s being shit on for being him! They reject who he is at a soul level. That’s what happens when a child is ripped from his roots. He swims rootless in a sea of confusion. God doesn’t put babies in the wrong womb Dad. He was meant to be mine, and he should have been. Adoption has been a tragedy for mother and son. Who knows if we will ever find our way back to each other? I just want you to say sorry Dad. Hindsight is 20/20. If you knew then what you know now, and you knew how much suffering would result, I know you never would have given up on us. It would have been hard for a bit, but I know, for me, so many other painful situations that came after could have been avoided had I not been so wrecked by losing my son. Don’t ever forget him again. Ever. Having my daughter doesn’t make it all better. It doesn’t erase all the suffering. At times it magnifies it, a glaring reminder of all I’ve lost. I’m ending this email now. I’ve read it to (my partner) and we’re both now in tears. He knows all to well what it’s like to grow up without your mother.”
Phaydra, you are so brave to say how you really feel, my heart breaks for you and your son and I pray that one day he will come back to you. He looks just like you and that fact that he is pursuing his passion of being a musician against their wishes, shows me he has a strong personality too, just like his Mom. You can be very proud of the young man he is. I am sorry what adoption has done to your family.
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I feel so much like you. Anger over what was done to us. Alienation from family. I’m the other side of the coin, an adoptee, but I know that I lost everything when I lost my family, and nothing has ever changed my mind.
I just don’t understand people. How can they be ok with this going on?
Yet, they are, they are. And some of them are my family members, bio and adoptive.
Mom, hiding in the 'closet' today said:
I agree with iwishiwasadopted, “I just don’t understand people. How can they be ok with this going on?”
Being asked the question, “can’t you find anything good about adoption?” makes me physically sick. Of course those that ask that question (in my experience) were part of the “wrecking crew” or are the beneficiaries of my or another mother’s loss. They need to have their conscience soothed. Sorry, no can do. I’d be lying if I said yes and there are enough lies in adoption already. I find nothing good about worldly adoption. Maybe that’s because I can widen my thinking to exactly how this usually affects the human beings that were severed from each other.
I hope your dad can appreciate what you have said …and…. realize that you do love him. That’s the funny thing about parents who were instrumental in the loss of our children, even through the pain and loss and (often) their refusal to understand and acknowledge our grief and loss, we keep coming back to them. We don’t give up on them. I can’t figure that out. Why do we do that? Why do we keep trying? We need them? Why would we keep going to them to meet our needs when… they failed us so miserably? Are we trying to ‘atone’ for our “””””sins””””””? Are we motivated by the “you can come back, but don’t bring a baby”? Are we needing to be accepted because HEY, we don’t have our baby because of you and why aren’t we “good enough” to be considered human ( a daughter worthy of love, COMPASSION, understanding, support, help) now? Will I never be ‘good enough’? You implied that we would only be “good enough” (maybe) if we give baby to someone else and forget and NOW be as though life is all sunshine and roses..? Your “can’t we forget the whole thing ever happened?” HELL NO. It did happen. Your daughters (we mothers) wanted our infants, our child! Unwanted daughter… If I’ll only be “good enough” if I put on the ‘life is all sunshine and roses’ pretense after so great a loss, is the only way you will accept me then you have condemned me to never be ‘good enough’ in your world. If I am not ‘good enough’ for you then why do you continue to hound me with phone calls or letters or expectations of phone calls, visits, and a relationship? Why am I not good enough WITH my pain and my loss as well as the sunshine and roses that are a part of life? MY life? my Child’s life? They will ALWAYS be our children. Separation, time and distance will not and does not ever change that.
Phaydra, you got me to rambling here with an e-mail, so to speak, for my family member. Maybe you have helped me to find the words to say. These relationships are hard to mend but I so hope that there will be healing. For us all.
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